Saturday, September 28, 2013

Triplets of Faith: Everlasting Gospel

Photo by ForestWander 2011

Even in Florida, cooler mornings remind me to thank God for changing seasons. These evoke memories of admiring majestic mountains painted so vividly from autumn’s palette, as I breathe in the aroma of crisp leaves crunching underfoot and hickory smoke from a wood-burning stove, and savor warm apple cider spiked with cinnamon, cloves and honey. God designed man in His own Triune image, to seek Him, to know Him, and to love Him as our Savior, Father and Creator of all. How can so many fail to realize this basic truth?

He equipped our body with senses, working together so perfectly to perceive all the beauty of His universe. These cry out to our mind that only a Supreme Designer could do this. And in our spirit, the seat of our emotions and soul, we long for the love, joy and peace (Galatians 5:22) found only in fellowship with Him. Only the fool says in His heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1; 53:1), for the universe declares His glory (Psalm 1:11), and all who deny it are without excuse (Romans 1:18-25)

God is unchanging, for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Yet He has revealed the specifics of His plan for mankind in different ways to different peoples throughout Bible history. Scripture speaks of  three true Gospels, or Good News of salvation, given by God’s grace as a freely given, unmerited gift that sinful man does not deserve and cannot earn (Ephesians 2: 8-9).

The Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14), directed to the Jews and the nation of Israel (Psalm 98:2-3), tells of Jesus Christ as the coming King of His Kingdom. The Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24) allows Gentiles as well as Jews to be saved by their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). And the Everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:6-7) warns of judgment by the One True God Who is to be worshipped as the Creator.

The basis of the Everlasting Gospel, as well as of the other two true Gospels, is faith (Romans 1:17) that God is the Creator, Who is Who He says He is. and Who will do what He has said He will do. The Gospel is Good News to those who believe it, but judgment to those who reject it. Faith in the One true God results in eternal, abundant life with Him (John 3:16; 5:2410:10), but disbelief results in eternal damnation in hell (John 3:18), forever separated from His light and love (Luke 16:23-26).

The Everlasting Gospel was first revealed to Adam and Eve, and it will be confirmed shortly before Christ returns as Righteous Judge, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Even before Christ revealed the Gospel of Grace to Paul, allowing Gentiles who placed their faith in Him to share in salvation, there were occasional Gentiles throughout preceding Bible history who were saved by faith in what was known about God at that time.  These included Rahab (Hebrews 11:31), Ruth (Ruth 1:16), and the Roman centurion (Mark 15:39). Jews as well as Gentiles were saved by faith that God was Creator of all, worthy of our praise, worship, and obedience (Hebrews 11).

The Gospel of the Kingdom is the Good News of salvation to Jews who trusted in Jesus as their promised Messiah during His earthly ministry and those who will do so during the Tribulation. And the Gospel of Grace is the Good News of salvation to Gentiles (and Jews) who placed their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Although the third Gospel, the Everlasting Gospel, promises judgment rather than salvation, it is still Good News to the nation of Israel and to the faithful remnant who refuse to worship the beast during the Tribulation, because it means that their ordeal will soon be over as Christ returns to defeat the Antichrist and the enemies of Israel at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).

Just before the Vial Judgments of the Tribulation, the angel will preach the Everlasting Gospel to people of every nation, kindred, and tongue. The message will be a warning to fear God, give Him glory, and worship Him, as the hour of His judgment is come. God is to be feared, glorified and worshipped as the Creator of Heaven, earth and sea, making this an Everlasting Gospel known since Adam and Eve. (Revelation 14:6-7). Those who follow this warning and die in the Lord will be blessed forever more, resting from their labors and honored thereafter by their works (Revelation 14:13).

Praise God that all who have been saved before the Tribulation will have a heavenly perspective on these events, viewing them unfold from above, for God will spare us from the wrath to come! Meanwhile, may we have the patience of the saints, keeping the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

© 2013 Laurie Collett
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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Are You Sure You’re Saved?

Minden Cathedral photo by TUBS 2010

What does it mean to be “saved?” Salvation, or receiving eternal life in Heaven, requires believing that Jesus Christ is God, the perfect, sinless Sacrifice Who died to pay our sin debt (John 1:29). Cults that deny His divinity fail this requirement.

It requires acknowledging that we are sinners deserving eternal death in hell, and repenting of our sins (Romans 3:23; 6:23). This knocks out Satan and his minions who believe and know the Bible and know who Jesus is (James 2:19), but who feel their sins are justified because of their pride.

It requires believing the Gospel of Grace, putting our trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only way (John 14:6) to Heaven (unlike Buddhists and others who believe in multiple paths to nirvana). Faith, no matter how intense or sincere, is saving faith only if it is faith in Christ and His completed work of salvation on Calvary’s cross.

It requires a personal relationship with Him, recognizing that we are sinners in need of a Savior and making Him Lord of our life. This eliminates those with a "head" knowledge of Who Christ is and what He did, without a heart relationship -- many professing Christians may fall into this category (Luke 13: 23-27). As our pastor once said, the distance between being lost and being saved may be only 18 inches – the distance between the brain and the heart.

Romans 10:9 [I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Once saved, we are always saved, because:

When we are “born again” (John 3: 3-8) by confessing and turning away from sin, and by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as the only way to Heaven, we are indwelled by and sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:13-14; Ephesians 2: 22).

We did nothing to merit or earn our salvation, and there is nothing we (or anyone or anything) can do to lose it or take it away, provided it was a genuine, heartfelt spiritual rebirth (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We are in the double grip of eternal security – Christ holding us tightly within His hand, which is held tightly within the Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).

No sin, past, present or future, and no trick or trap of Satan or his demons or of evil men – nothing --could cause us to lose our salvation (Romans 8:38-39).

When we are born again, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). One of the paradoxes of the Christian life is that we must die to truly live (1 Corinthians 15: 36-38). As we trust Christ as our Savior and turn away from our sins, we die daily to our flesh, that is, our sin nature, that would control us (Romans 6:6-14). We must fight this spiritual battle between our sin nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit by putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17). The change that He began in us at the moment of salvation He will continue until He brings us home (Philippians 1:6).

Before the beginning of the world, God knew who would be saved by accepting His amazing offer of eternal life by grace through faith (Ephesians 1:3-15), yet the mystery is that He did so without taking away our free will to choose eternal life in Christ or to reject Him and suffer eternal death in hell. God makes no mistakes, and if we could lose our salvation, His foreknowledge would have been wrong. 

Romans 8 describes the domino effect of God’s foreknowledge: because of it, He has predestined believers to be like Christ, justified (made “just as if” we had never sinned), and glorified. Because of that, we are beyond condemnation: God is for us, so who can be against us? (Romans 8:29-37).

God saved us for a purpose, and each of us is fitted into His body as precisely as a stone block is fitted into a cathedral vault. If one could lose their salvation, the building would fall apart (Ephesians 2: 18-22).

Although we must daily fight the battle between sin, which ultimately results in death (Romans 6:23), and the new, abundant life we received at the moment of salvation through the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ has won the war on our behalf. We know how it will all turn out; we can look forward not only to the Rapture but to His glorious appearing as we return to earth with Him to fight the Battle of Armageddon; and we can stand victorious on His promise of eternal life.

He has permanently conquered sin and death for all who trust in Him as Lord and Savior (1 Cor: 15:20-22; 55-57). Praise God for His amazing love, mercy and grace, allowing us to choose salvation through faith in His Son!  Praise God that He securely keeps that gift for us forever!

© 2013 Laurie Collett
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