The Christian is called to Faith, Love, Life in Christ, and Abiding Continually in His Holy Spirit
Christian Faith Consists of Believing God is Who He Says He is, Accepting All that He Says as Truth, and Walking in Accordance with Belief.
Christian Love is Service to Others, Especially the Church, in Alignment with the Will of God.
Life in Christ:
To Live in Christ Means Walking the Holy High Way of Christ as a Sacrificial Offering, Obeying the Will of the Father, Humbly Doing What is Right, Embracing Mercy to others, and Striving to Please God. This does not mean we can ever earn our way in, nor does it mean we might ever be worthy of him. grace is the unmerited favor of god. It simply means that if we love him genuinely and honestly, we care for the things that He cares for, and if we love him, we wish to please him and make those things a priority.
Abiding Continually in the Spirit:
To Abide Continually in the Spirit of God Requires Dwelling in His Holy Spirit, Repenting at His Rebuke, Drinking Freely from the Living Waters, Striving to Quench Not the Spirit, Hiding His Word in One's Heart, Desiring His Wisdom for One's Own, Doing the Sanctifying Works of the Spirit, Producing Fruit of the Spirit in One's Life, Functioning Not in Accordance with the Flesh but in Accordance with the Spirit, Rejecting the Lies of the Enemies of God, Defending the Faith, Rightly Discerning Truth, Abiding as a Living Stream and a Sheltering Rock in a Parched Land, and Acting as a Holy Vessel Filled Continually by God to be Poured Out When and Where He Commands.
How is one saved?
God sent His One and Only Begotten Son, Whom men call Jesus (the Christ), to Earth to live that we might know how to live, to die that we might have life, and to be raised from the dead that we might have hope. The one who places believing trust in the Son of God and Man, accepts the Atonement of Christ's Blood, and acts in alignment with these two things, even in so little a manner as confessing with one's lips that Jesus is that one's Lord, gains entrance into the Way and access to Christ. If they remain upon the Way by giving up willful sin and stubborn rebelliousness, and by submitting to Christ, they will not be ashamed when they stand before Him.
God searches for the forgotten, the lonely, the outcast, the afflicted, and the sinner. He sends His Emissaries of Peace to those dwelling under the oppression of this world, bound in chains of habit and ignorance and of wrong doing and wickedness, suffering under what is false, and offers them an invitation to freedom. He takes the lonely and places them in families. He takes the forgotten and causes them to be remembered. He takes the outcast and calls them accepted. He takes the afflicted and fixes all that was broken. He takes the sinner, cleanses the stains of this world, and calls them saints, priests and kings, even the Children of God.
If you hear Him calling you today,
Open to Him without delay.
You who answer His invitation may then enter into the Good, True, and Faithful Way. The one who refuses and remains steadfast in refusal cannot be saved. The one who turns aside takes a consequence upon himself for doing so. The one who follows, knows. The one who answers, receives. The one who seeks, finds. It is not rocket science, though it is also available and open to those who study rocket science. It is not an earning of salvation, but an earning of rewards. It is not a striving to perform, but a striving to please. In Him we become living sacrifices, offering our flesh by the Spirit in submission to His Will for His good purposes. We are called to be True Disciples of God and to make True Disciples of Men.
What I Believe Up Close
The Bible is the divinely inspired Word of the Living God, completely sufficient and without error in its original manuscripts. Due to the fact that languages change (especially with respect to time, distance, geographical boundary, and cultural identity), no single translation can perfectly convey a complete and clear meaning wholly in alignment with a source document; as a result of this, God's Word is sufficient, to varying degrees, also in its different translations.
For example, one verse may be written in several ways across as many translations, and all of them may convey differing emphasis (and, to some extent, meaning) while remaining, all the while, no less true for it in each translation. For this cause, it would be good to study the Bible in its original languages or at least to rely upon multiple valid translations in one's common tongue for study. Given the access we have been granted to various translations and resources in this highly technological era, we should never rely upon one translation as the only approved translation. Keeping to only one translation has been the source of many an error in understanding the fullness of God's Word. Also, that I may be entirely clear on this point, the Bible is the ultimate rule and has the final say on all matters of Spirituality and Truth regarding humanity, the Creator, and the relationship between the two.
Apart from the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the primary (and solely trustworthy and authoritative) source of our knowledge regarding God wholly and also more specifically His Son. Even those who may not have the Holy Spirit may have the Bible, though surely there are brothers and sisters in suffering where they have the Holy Spirit and yet no Bible.
Although men often claim that you automagically have the Holy Spirit if you accept Christ as your Savior, I tell you a good many of them would act differently if they had the Holy Spirit in-dwelling in them or did not quench what they were given long ago. Yet, we need guidance from the Holy Spirit to truly understand much of what we may read. Even the early followers of Christ who saw Him face-to-face required a personal act of God to open their eyes to all the ways that the Old Testament testifies about Him.
The Nature of God
God is Holy and Perfect, Omniscient and Omnipotent, Great and Good, Merciful and Loving, Eternal and Unchanging, Faithful and True, Generous and Patient, Righteous and Just, and all that these qualities imply. God is a triune being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Three-in-One, One God, not merely in purpose. He has always been and forevermore shall be; God Almighty. Above Him and beside Him there are no other gods. The characteristics of God are clearly seen in what He has made.
The Nature of Man
Man is created in the Image of God, but exists in a fallen state; as such, he requires mercy and salvation from God to enjoy eternal life and to evade the Wrath of Righteous Judgment. This salvation comes through the Grace of God alone, given by Him freely to as many as would become the Sons and Daughters of the Living God. It is received through faith given by God. It was purchased by Christ’s willing and necessary sacrifice upon the hill known as Golgotha or Calvary, this same Christ being Him Who was slain before the Foundation of the World. It brings about a changing work of God in the follower's innermost being, which is also referred to as being born again. Man cannot enjoy the life that is in Christ unless he is born again, that is, born of the Spirit.
Free Will and Salvation
The initial opening of the human heart by the Call of God is predestined because men and women who are lost in sin cannot freely and willingly choose God of their own accord. Some claim that if this were so, our God would be unjust, but they forget that it is God Who adds to our number daily if any are to be added. Our election to salvation is wholly a work of the sovereignty of God.
However, let me clarify, we are chosen first, but given free will to choose a response to His calling. If we receive Him, we are then made new creatures in Christ and given true freedom in Him to choose to continue in obedience or to turn aside and fall once more under condemnation. In this we find the key to reconcile the election and pre-destination of the Saints with the teachings of Jesus regarding the impure spirit who comes out of a person only to return later and those regarding the wicked servant who began beating his fellow servants only to be cut down at the Master's arrival and assigned a place with the hypocrites.
Here, then, is the key to understanding why Peter teaches that we ought to make God's calling and election sure. In this, we understand finally why Hebrews teaches us that a fate worse than death awaits the one who tramples on the Son of God, counting the Blood of the Covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing and insulting the Spirit of Grace. It is for this reason we are taught that continuing on in sin after embracing the Truth, both precise and correct, results in no sacrifice being left to atone for one's sins. It is also why we have need of endurance so that after we have done the Will of God we may receive the Promise.
Now we may fully understand why Jesus says that the one who knows his Master's Will but refuses to go do it or to prepare will be punished more severely than the one who does not know who does something worthy of punishment. The Spirit testifies that these things are True and Good. Those who deny this teaching, do not oppose me but God. Those who deny this teaching deny the Truth and betray the Word of God.
It is possible that when we reject Him and His Will as Christians we may find ourselves in a position like Jonah in the belly of the Deep awaiting an opportunity to return to obedience and wholly reliant upon the Good Grace of God for it. It is possible that when we reject Him, we may find ourselves envying the swine their slop, yet with a chance at redemption if God wills it. It is, however, also possible that when we reject Him and His Will we may find ourselves not spared, just like the natural branches broken off before us. It is also possible that when we reject Him and His Will we may find ourselves waiting in fear for judgment and a fiery zeal to fall, without a sacrifice left to us. It is possible that when we reject Him and His Will we may find ourselves confronted by an angry King at a time when we did not expect Him, who will judge and cast aside the wicked and lazy servant. Where is that line for each of us? Be sure you do not discover it. Be sure.
Many are called, but few are chosen. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. Do not be numbered among those who wail and gnash teeth in that Day. Remember Esau. Remember Lot's wife. Will you trade your birthright for a passing pleasure? Will you give up your future because you cannot let go of your past?
The Nature of Salvation
Salvation is not by works, but by Grace, given through the unmerited favor of God. None are worthy of Christ’s atoning blood. None are righteous and good, but God. The Adversary says that he will ascend and be like the Most High, but he lies and is the Father of Lies. The correct human response is to love one and reject the other. Salvation is not initiated by man, but by God. He calls, and we may answer if we are able to do so.
God the Son
Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father, was born by the Holy Spirit of a virgin, lived utterly sinless and obedient to the Father, died upon the hill once for all sin (a perfect sacrifice that only He could satisfy), was placed within the tomb, rose again on the third day, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, just as it is proclaimed in His Holy Word. He is very God, eternally co-existent with the Father and Spirit, the Word Eternal. And, though He is God, He also dwelt among us as one fully human. To say otherwise is to cheapen His Name, lessen His Glory, and trivialize His Sacrifice. He wept, He bled, He suffered, and He died just as any of us do when we experience the cruc-ible of this life. He is, therefore, no stranger to any of our griefs, sorrows, pains, hopes, or joys. Neither is He a stranger to any of our temptations, though He resisted and remains pure, without compromise.
God’s plan of salvation, the redemption of humanity through Jesus’ Sacrifice, was not “Plan B.” In other words, it was not an afterthought, but was ever—from before the beginning—God’s perfect plan. Satan’s rebellion was also not a surprise, but God being God gave free will to all. As a result, the existence of intelligent beings carries real meaning and consequence. Otherwise, we should all have been no more than robotic slaves, lesser even than animals, and without choice in any matter of import. Glory and praise be to God that He is Good.
The True Faith
We are saved through Grace by faith in Him alone. For this reason, though surely there is much wrong in many Faiths/denominations, the True Church of God may be found in many places. No Faith is the One True Faith except for faith in Christ. All of us will give an account one day. None of us should boast or think too highly of ourselves. We should, however, rightly use God-given discernment to judge the beliefs, philosophies, teachings, and morals espoused by others in the Name of Christ as we test the spirits to see whether or not they are of God.
Science and Faith
True Science and True Faith stand in harmony as witnesses to Truth. Whenever we find a conflict between the two, it is only because fallen humanity (sometimes on one side, sometimes the other, and sometimes both at once) has attempted somehow to subvert the Truth to satisfy its own desires (we are all fallen, subject to temptation and failure) or failed to comprehend what it has observed out of ignorance, willful or otherwise. Remember that Science tells us “How,” and Faith tells us “Why.”
Science, as a process of observations, can never reveal cause (as in reason) or purpose; it can only reveal the processes or patterns that give rise to manifestations which we are able to observe. It can reveal cause in a purely causal sense--meaning one process leads to another, which in turn leads still to another. It cannot tell us why friction causes heat, which in turn may start a fire; it may only tell us that it does, and in what exact manner it does so. In other words, Science never tells us the "Why," only the "How." As soon as we impute to a process purpose, we have disengaged in observation and have entered into speculation. Not all speculation is bad, but it has no place in declarative statements about the nature of the Universe and All Things. Failure to understand this has allowed much error to creep into modern "scientific thinking."
Conversely, Faith, as the substance of hope and evidence of the unseen, does not give us any insight to the mechanics of God's will or the processes of the Miraculous; if it did, it would cease to be, well, Faith. It does not inform us regarding the processes by which God forms us in the womb or made Adam in His Image. Science, however, might--if human observers can investigate the matter with any willful intent and repeated observations. Science cannot tell us why the cell divides, only that it does and, with careful investigation, how it does--what process(es) lead to the result of the actual division, so that the result may be predictable when all variables are known. Much error has crept into matters of Faith by ascribing to "SCIENCE" the ability to explain the reasons behind all things knowable and, often, seeking to leave God out of the matter entirely.
The moment that we deny these fundamental Truths, we have made for ourselves a religion of Science and a pedagogue’s ideology (or an ideologue’s pedagogy) of Faith. Both are false systems of this world with only the blind, the wicked, or the foolish willing to serve as acolytes and/or advocates. Science is not the enemy of God or Faith. Animals do evolve after some fashion in order to obey God’s great command to fill the Earth, just as all Creation must obey when the Father commands.
The nature of our relationship to God is such that life must respond to the Father's commands, and this results in many of the behaviors we may observe in the natural world. The drive to reproduce and fill the earth, though corrupted under the Fall, testifies to that fact. Not all will respond in like manner or to the same degree, but we do respond. We do not know the manner in which God created life, nor do we understand the processes involved. To debate evolution is both bad science and bad religion because neither side stands upon firm footing.
Christian, how do you know the methods our God employed and employs to bring about the present state of things? Consider this a moment: we believe that God has created each human being, yet we also know that a sperm joins an egg and produces a baby through the mechanisms of human reproduction—God-given mechanisms to be sure. Which is it? Does God create each human being, or is a man the result of the process of human reproduction? We would say that a human being is both created of God and grown through the process of human reproduction. Science and Faith stand together to testify to the Truth.
Quite often, when it comes to Creation, we somehow insist that it be ONLY a mystical process—which it is and remains to be sure—as if somehow to imply that there can be no observable processes involved, with utter disregard to the actual mechanisms God employs, whatever they may be. Human reproduction is indeed a wholly mystical process, though we think it de-mystified because we have documented and studied it. God creates a man and causes him to be born through a process that science can document. God creates through a process that science can document.
How is the thought of evolution itself opposed to God or His Word? You see, the arguments are not on sound footing. What we are actually arguing, albeit in a roundabout fashion, is whether or not the Creation occurred in six days just as the text says. I tell you indeed that it did, BUT our understanding is flawed. We debate that which we do not fully understand, arguing over things we cannot truly know, and thereby risk displeasing our God. It matters to Him what we argue in His Name. Consider Job.
For our good and for His Glory, this must change. In reality, when men argue these things they are actually arguing about whether or not God is real and whether or not the Bible is His Word. Such foolishness must be set aside: Of course, they are. God is Truth, the Bible His Word. The “Church” once argued other foolish things for the same reasons and with as much knowledge and conviction as they currently argue against evolution, as if to say they know from reading the text of the Genesis account exactly which processes God employed in bringing all things to their present state. Let us move beyond these matters to things of real substance and import. Such skirmishes serve the Enemy more than they serve our God because they divide and distract, bringing shame upon their cause before all humanity.
The Christian Life
The life of a Christian ought to be marked by a sacrificial love for the True Church of God, an active prayer life on all occasions and to all good purposes, an endurance (whatever the cost) for the sake of God and His Christ, and a thirst for righteousness and the things of God. We may not always live up to the mark, but that should never excuse us from striving for Him. And we are told to strive to enter in through Christ, the Narrow Gate and Straight Way. The genuine follower has, above all else, a personal relationship with God and cannot be severed from Him or His Love, except by his own choices. The measure of the true follower’s step is this: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. The follower’s greatest commandment is to Love God completely, without reservation, and the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves. The follower knows that all he has, he has because God is kind. The follower knows that all he is able to achieve, he is able to achieve because God is generous. The follower understands that we are blessed to be a blessing, we are filled to be poured out (though there will come a day when this changes in accordance with prophecies regarding the last times), and we ought to continue to do good unto all, but most especially unto those who are the Children of God. The Bible speaks of others, those who believe and fall away and those who are called wicked and lazy servants, who will face the Judgment of God, and we are warned not to be like them.
Many things have yet to come, and many things are still to be done. Among these, we know that the return of the Lord is imminent, that His Kingdom shall indeed come, and that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And we know this: an hour of trial is indeed coming upon the whole world, and Jesus has said to His followers, “Watch, therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.” We live in an hour of great peril and great hope. And, yes, there is a place of punishment for the wicked, but I am attempting to focus on God's love with this website because it is His goodness that calls us to repentance.