I am a wife, a mother, a singer, a songwriter, and most of all, I am an adopted child of God who wants nothing less than to be His vessel to share His light and His hope, love, and joy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God's Requirements for the Christian Life: Part 2 of 2

Dear friends and family,

In my last blog post, I mentioned God has four requirements for being a Christian. You don’t just get saved…you have taken on a new lifestyle! First, you must be repentant of your sins. Secondly, you must believe and accept Jesus as Savior. Thirdly, you must be baptized in water and by the Holy Spirit. Many people get baptized in water and not by the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Spirit is actually more important because that is how you proceed to live the rest of your life for Christ: by God living in you and guiding you in the form of the Holy Spirit! I cannot stress this enough.

Someone mentioned to me that they think water baptism is no longer a requirement. Well, there are certainly enough scriptures to support baptism, and many are in the New Testament! And let me ask you this….is it easier to debate the topic your whole life and possibly be wrong, or to get baptized? Baptism is a public display of your faith in Jesus, a symbol of His death and resurrection, and it is a symbol of you washing away the sinful nature of the old man and become a new creature in Christ! How hard is it to get baptized? If you want to avoid this small step, how will you endure a lifetime of Christianity and trials?

The fourth and final step I want to discuss in regard to living out Christianity is obedience and fleeing from sin! Some people overemphasize scriptures about grace and think that is a license to live however they please! This is a lie from the enemy to steal people…souls…from God!

Ephesians 4:22-24 says: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

God wants us to put off our old fleshly, sinful nature and start putting on Christ, becoming more and more Christ-like! No, we will not be exactly like Jesus because we all have different callings, different personalities, different gifts, etc...but we can start to have a nature and a mind that is Christ-like. That nature is righteousness and the fruits of the spirit: joy, peace, love, goodness, longsuffering (perseverance and patience), gentleness, meekness (humbleness), faithfulness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Romans chapter 6 explains how we are not to live like all we need is grace and that a life of righteousness and obedience isn’t important…Romans 6:1-2: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Verses 15-23: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! (Yes, he says that phrase again!) Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Philippians 2:12-18 describes working out your salvation!...Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Romans 12:1-3 instructs us to renew our minds and judge ourselves: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Consider this…if someone tells you they’re sorry, but they would do what they did again in a heartbeat, then you would not consider them sorry, right? The same way if we repent of our sins, we show our true repentance by turning from sin. Acts 26:20 again says: I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

Galatians 5:13-26 clearly defines we have a right and wrong way to live and note that the important “fruits of the Spirit” are identified here, meaning how we demonstrate we are filled with God’s Holy Spirit (the fruits are worth mentioning twice): You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

James 2:14-26 basically says that faith without good works and obedience is no faith at all. It’s like saying you have faith that eating better will make you healthier, but yet you don’t eat better. Then, wouldn’t you agree that that faith is pretty useless? Here is the scripture: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Luke 3:7-14: John the Baptist told the crowds of people coming to be baptized that they needed more than faith and baptism!! He said: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

Matthew 7:15-23 warns of people who may come in Jesus’ name but are not His children and that not everyone who believes in Jesus will be saved, just as mentioned above that the demons believe and tremble, but they will not be saved: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Mark 8:34-38: Then he (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life (the way their flesh desires and wants to live) will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Mark 9:42-50 speaks metaphorically of getting rid of the things in our life that cause us to fall: If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched. ’Everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Hebrews 6:4-8;11-12 speaks of how you can fall away from faith if you’re not careful: It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned...We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Acts 10:34-36 reiterates that salvation is available to ANYONE through Jesus and obedience: Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Galatians 6:7-9 speaks of how we will reap what we sow in life: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The entire book of 1 John makes it as plain as day that sinfulness leads to eternal punishment and obedience to God and ceasing from sin leads to salvation! There is also a common theme of LOVE. God is LOVE (1 John 4:8) so a LOVE walk is vitally important! This means LOVE in ACTION! These are five short chapters you must read!

I have highlighted some verses that stand out to me:

Chapter 1:5-10: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Chapter 2:3-6: We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 9-11: Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. 15-17: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Chapter 3:6: No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. 8-10: The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 13-18: Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 23-24: And this is His command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Chapter 4:7-11: Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 16-21: God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Chapter 5:1-5: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 10-12: Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The entire book concludes on this verse! 21: Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

This is the bottom line of the Christian life! We lay down every thing that we place higher that God! We place God on the throne of our life! God is first!

2 Corinthians 10:4-5: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I’m going to stop at strongholds for a second in case you never heard of that. Strongholds are things that control your life and your mind that are not God! Things like fear, insecurity, hate, unforgiveness, alcoholism, drug addictions, sexual promiscuity, pride, idols (other "gods"), lust for MORE and MORE, never being satisfied with the things you are blessed with! Also, ANYTHING that distracts you from God and consumes your time and your mind! It can be television, the computer, the internet, shopping, eating/gluttony, partying, being a workaholic (or the other extreme of laziness), money, people pleasing, and the list goes on and on! Examine yourself! What is distracting you? What are your idols? Do not be deceived into thinking everything you do is innocent and justifiable!!!

Psalms 101:3: I will not look with approval on anything that is vile (evil/sin).

James 4:1-10: What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 speaks of becoming more Christ-like over time as a Christian: But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (freedom from strongholds). And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Here’s a warning to watch our walk in Christ so that we do not fall: 1 Corinthians 10:5-12: God was not pleased with most of them (the Israelites in the wilderness with Moses); their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters (setting up idols to replace God), as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble (complaining and showing lack of faith), as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Hebrews 10:24-31 speaks of the importance of gathering with other Christians and the importance of turning away from sin when you are a child of God: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Hell!). Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The entire chapter of 1 Timothy 4 speaks of the importance working out your faith, and that abandoning the faith IS possible!

Here are some highlights of that chapter: Think about this first verse, among other scriptures I am sharing in this post in comparison to the old saying and man-made belief of “once saved, always saved”…1: The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith…12-16: set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Read Revelations chapters 2 and 3 where seven churches are addressed. Without going into depth in these chapters, I will just summarize what these churches were rebuked for. In other words, they needed to make changes to be right in God’s eyes. Those things included: they had forsaken their first love for God, they had turned to idolatry and lust and other sins, they had false prophets who were speaking against the Word and condoning sin/immorality, they were dead in deeds (basically, the church had fallen asleep), and they were lukewarm in their faith, not having the fire and passion of Christ…Does this sound like the modern church at all?

When Jesus was asked, "what is the greatest commandment?", He answered in Matthew 22:37-40: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In 1 Corinthians 5:13-16, I love how Paul says we should be willing to look like “we’re out of our minds” for Christ’s sake. We should be able to give up our reputation and approval in man’s eyes for the love of God: If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you (people). For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view (judging people the way the world judges people instead of the way God judges people and their hearts)…

1 Samuel 16:7: The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance (beauty, physical traits, composure, clothes, wealth), but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:10: I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

In Luke 21, versus 1-4, Jesus looks at the heart of a poor woman: As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Is your heart tied up in worldly pleasures and treasures or does your heart belong to the Lord? Luke 12:34 says: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:24: No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 25 paints a very sobering picture about judgement day! The day God separates His children from those who are not! Notice that it will have a lot to do what how we live out our Christianity! Verses 31-46: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

‎God desires to find people who TRULY have a heart for Him! He wants to use them to be His light and He wants to bless them and strengthen them to do His work! 2 Chronicles 16:9 says: For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

As a final thought…we as CHRISTians follow Christ! We do not follow denominations. We follow Christ and the Word! We need to get unified! Doesn’t this appeal from Paul sound much like the church today?! 1 Corinthians 1:10-17: I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I love you and hope you have a wonderful, reflective, and thankful Thanksgiving that is full of love!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God's Requirements for the Christian Life: Part 1 of 2

Dear Friends and Family,

At first I was going to call this blog post the True Way to Salvation, but I know there are many opinions on what is and isn’t required to actually be saved and spend eternity in Heaven. So instead, I’ll just call these God’s Requirements for the Christian Life, and let the scriptures speak for themselves in regard to salvation and Christianity!

I feel a strong sense of urgency and importance in people reading and understanding these words and scriptures, so I encourage you to read it a couple times or read it and meditate pieces at a time if this is too much to digest in one reading! After all, it took me several days to write it, all glory and thanks to God!

If someone asked you how they can be saved or know Christ, can you really tell them? Could you lead them to Christ? Did you actually go through all of the steps yourself? I have listed four important steps, which I will be posting to my blog in two parts.


Step one is admitting you have sinned and repenting of your sins. This is a step many in outreach skip because they don’t want to preach the ugly stuff…they want to lure people in with words like, accept Jesus into your life and He will give you a new and improved life! He will answer all your prayers!

Many only want to hear the feel good messages and things that make them happy and inspire them. They don’t want to hear the things that make them feel bad or convicted about themselves, and they don’t want to be taught or counseled about what they may be doing wrong, according to the Bible. And when the Christian life isn’t easy and gets hard, many “Christians” fall away. They didn’t count the cost (Luke 14:25-35) and part of that cost right up front is having a repentant attitude. Here is some of what the Bible says about our sinfulness and need to repent:

Romans 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Acts 3:19: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…

Acts 2:38: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mark 6:12: They (Jesus’s disciples) went out and preached that people should repent.

Luke 24:47: (Jesus said) and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Mark 1:15: Repent and believe the good news!

Acts 26:20: I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

Acts 17:30: …now He commands all people everywhere to repent.

Acts 20:21: I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

1 John 1:8-10: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.

There are more scriptures the tell us to repent before accepting the Lord, but I hope those will suffice to convince you!


Another important step that most Christians don’t have a problem with believing, but other religions do, is that Jesus is Savior and we must accept Him as your Lord and Savior in order to be saved for all eternity!

John 3:16 is the most quoted scripture to salvation and is often mistaken for the ONLY step to salvation: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him (Jesus) shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 14:6-7: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:24-25: but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Acts 20:21 again: I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

John 17:2-3: For you granted him (Jesus) authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Romans 3:22: This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Acts 4:11-12: Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected (abused, mocked, and crucified), which has become the cornerstone. ’Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

See Isaiah 53 to read a tragic but beautiful and moving prophesy of what Jesus did for YOU and me! PLEASE don’t let it be in vain…

2 Peter 3 is one of the many scriptures that warns and promises Jesus is coming again! Will you be ready?


The next step is that we must be baptized in water and by the Holy Spirit! Being baptized in water symbolizes publicly our repentance and cleansing of our sins. It also symbolizes Jesus’s death by crucifixion and His resurrection. This is another one many people want to skip! Or they may get baptized in water but not by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God living inside of us! The Holy Spirit leads us, guides us, comforts us, ministers to us, manifests gifts and fruits of the Spirit through us, and even can intercede on our behalf! If the Holy Spirit is not in us, Christ is not in us, which is clearly stated a couple of the scriptures to follow. The Holy Spirit is not optional in being a Christian because He is part of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; see this site for more about the Godhead).

As I mentioned earlier, people love to quote John 3:16 as the end all and be all of Christianity. However, that’s just PART of what this chapter and what the Word has written about the road to salvation. People too often take on verse out of context and you really MUST look at the surrounding and correlating scriptures! In that same chapter in verses 3-8: Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Acts 2:38 again: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:5: People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist said: “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He (Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Mark 1:4: And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

John 14:15-26: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus reminds his disciples to wait on receiving the Holy Spirit: Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:15-17: They prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:1-9 speaks of believing and of baptism by water and by the Holy Spirit as three different important steps: While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him…

Colossians 2:12 describes the symbolism of the water baptism: having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Romans 8:5-17 speaks of living by the flesh versus living by the Spirit. When the Word speaks of flesh, it speaks of our human nature and tendencies for sinfulness and selfishness: Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

1 Corinthians 2:10-16: these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

How to receive the Holy Spirit? You must repent, accept and believe in Jesus, be baptized in water, and then you can simply receive the Holy Spirit in faith or ask God to be filled by the Holy Spirit! Don’t believe me? This is what Jesus says in Luke 11:5-13 about asking: Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Read 1 Corinthians 12 about the gifts of the spirit, meaning the different gifts given to those who have received the Holy Spirit in order that they may be used of God. Keep in mind that it may take some time in the Word and in the Holy Spirit for these gifts to manifest, and you may have one or many!

I hope you have a blessed day in the Lord! Know that I love you enough to care that you know the truth and are saved!!! Look out for Part 2 and share this post!