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Ye Must Be Born Again April 25, 2015

Posted by regan222 in Philosophy, Religion.
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Salvation by Grace

Sunday, April 19, 2015

11:35 AM

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

It has been said that the Preacher’s job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  If you didn’t come tonight to hear about everlasting life through the grace of Jesus Christ then you are exactly who I came to speak with.  I hope by the end of the evening you will be able to take comfort in what I say rather than be made uncomfortable by it.

We will be studying tonight in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  The letter to the church of Ephesus was, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, one of the epistles that Paul wrote while a captive.  Most scholars believe it was during his time in Rome, although some argue that it was during his captivity in Caesarea.  What matters is that in this letter the Apostle Paul, under the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit, pens one of the most doctrinally powerful statements in the entire Bible.  He outlines the path whereby men may be saved from the curse of sin they are living under.

First and most importantly, the Grace of Jesus is Exclusive.  There is not alternative salvation plan.  God doesn’t offer door #2.  The Bible tells us that there is only one name with the power to open the gates of Heaven for you.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jesus himself was very specific in describing the pathway to salvation.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the waythe truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The Greek text here has the same absoluteness that God used when He told Joseph to address Pharaoh.  The “I am” of the bible is a very emphatic way of speaking about one’ self.  It is like saying I and only I am.  In this we find what is commonly referred to as the offence of the cross.  This is the aspect of salvation message that the carnal world despises.  Salvation is open to all but it is exclusive in the method.  There is only one way.  Fortunately for us, it’s an easy way.

The Grace of Jesus Christ is not only Exclusive, but finding that grace is Easy.  Sometimes I think that is why it is often rejected.  The prophet told Naaman to wash in the river of Jordan and he would be healed.  Naaman got angry.  He was expecting Herculean tasks and thunder from heaven.

2 Kings 5: 13  And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

We want it to be hard.  We want the glory of the struggle but the glory belongs to God.  The struggle ended on Calvary.  We just have to accept the gift.  Maybe it offends our pride in our sinful nature.  Surely it can’t be that easy after all that we have done, and yet, the grace of Jesus is just that Easy and just that Effective.

The grace of Jesus, the sacrifice of his blood, is the only thing that will wash away the stain of Adam’s fall.

Joke about Don Knotts in the movie (“And they used Bon Ami!!”)

It is completely effective  and effectively complete.  When Jesus cried out “It is Finished” on the cross, he was not talking about his earthly life or his ministry.  He was declaring the work of salvation to be complete for all time.  It is done.  Nothing more needs to be added.  When the regeneration of a lost soul is begun, it is complete within that same instant.  The sins of the lost man are taken so far away that not even God can remember them.

Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be propitious to their unrighteousnesses, and their sins I shall by no means remember anymore.”

He will BY NO MEANS remember our sin or hold it against us.

So, the grace of Jesus is Exclusive; it’s Easy, and it’s Effective, and finally, the need for that Grace is Emphatic.

The Bible is very specific about who needs the grace of Jesus.  Ye MUST be born again.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

All men are born into Adam’s race and all men suffer Adam’s disgrace.

Ye Must be born again.

All men have sinned and all need a savior.  There is only one who is qualified but Praise God His salvation is enough for all.  And Praise God His salvation is free.  Free for the asking.  One thief on a cross mocked and scoffed and died in his sin but the other was justified; set free from a life of wickedness and sin, just.by.asking.

And now it’s your turn.  Remember what I said earlier about afflicting the comfortable.  This is it.  The gospel demands a response.  There is no middle ground.  Jesus told his disciples that whoever wasn’t for him was against him.

Matthew 12:20 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

If you have never cried out, like the thief on the cross, for mercy, then, when you stand before God, as all men must.  You will not receive it.

Revelations 20:11

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This is what awaits those who would deny the Grace of Jesus.  For those who accept it, like the Thief on the cross, they will spend eternity with the one who died that they might live.

Luke 23:43

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Won’t you join us?

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A Parable is NOT Two Male Cows August 19, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Religion.
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Tonight is just a short scripture study on a passage that caught my attention. I had always had trouble with the parable of the householder who sent servants and then his son to receive the fruits of the vineyard. It dawned upon me tonight just how clearly this parable demonstrates the Father’s plan for the son.

Matthew 21
33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

For those who think God unjust or unkind in His treatment of the unsaved, I offer this interpretation. The owner of the vineyard may do as he pleases with his property. He builds and develops it into a useful and profitable venture for his own pleasure. He then hired others, sharing his wealth with them, again out of kindness, to work the vineyard and gain profit from it.
When the time of harvest arrived and the landowner sends servants to collect his share, the workers kill the servants and refused to give the landowner his due. How would YOU feel? Instead of bringing grief and misery down upon their heads, the landowner gives them another chance. In SPITE of the fact that they killed his servants, the landowner was willing to allow them to stay employed. Would any of us be that merciful? When the landowner sent his son and the workers killed him, Jesus asked the pharisees and scribes what THEY would do. They said “Kill the workers.” Even here, the landowner is merciful. He gives the workers a VERY long time to repent and apologize before he brings justice upon them.

The story is a very accurate depiction of the interaction between God and man over the last 2000 years. God built and prepared a paradise for man and shared it with him. He allowed man to profit from essentially no labor. Mankind rebelled. God sent prophets and servants to woo humanity back into the fold. The servants were killed or ignored. Others were belittled and scoffed at. Sounds remarkably like the treatment most Christians get when they declare themselves believers. God sent His son to bring mankind into the kingdom, not by force, but by offering them everything they needed. Humanity treated the son even worse than the servants that were sent before. Even now, after ridiculing and killing God’s servants, humanity is allowed room to repent.

2 Peter 3
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

God is not ignoring the things that don’t please Him. He just does not want to punish and destroy people. The time is at hand. Today is the the day of salvation. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow and yet people live like they are going to live forever. News Flash: Death will NOT be cured before it comes for YOU. Be sure you are ready.

Ephesians 2
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Acts 16
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

Grace is free but any gift requires acceptance. You must be willing to believe. Belief is an act of will. Choose to believe and be saved. It’s as simple as that. If you have questions, comment below but remember…a sincere seeker will never be turned away but mockers will have no place in God’s heaven.

Ouch! Insight into Pain… May 22, 2012

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion.
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Today has been the most PAINFUL day of my life for a long time.  I am familiar with physical pain.  An automobile accident in my college days and a fractured spine that was never surgically fixed have left me with a very keen appreciation for the words 10% disability.  When they used those words on me after the accident I had NO clue what they meant.  I was invincible.  I got well and joined the Army a few years later.  Not mentioning that incident allowed me to enlist in the paratroopers and I currently have 47 successful parachute jumps (and NO unsuccessful ones).  Each of those impacts took a bit of toll on my remaining disks and vertebra but I was STILL invincible.

I got out of the Army and took up horses as a hobby.  I broke my own colt and, on occasion, she broke me.  Several violent crashes into the middle of the well packed and grass free driveway did nothing to reduce my love for horses (but those too reduced the amount of bone I have supporting my back).

Now at age (ummm well past 45 anyhow) I find that the words 10% disability have an entirely new relevance.  The disks I so thoughtlessly tortured in my youth are now bulging around the chipped and compressed vertebra in my lumbar spine.  The nerves (especially that nasty sciatic nerve) don’t fit through the little nerve tunnels like they once did and every so often they remind me of how badly I have abused my lower back and legs.  I have had dental work, giant boils in delicate places, broken arms, legs, noses, and other bits, and pretty well otherwise have violated the warranty on myself.  Yes I am fairly familiar with physical discomfort or so I thought until today.

I developed on ear infection today.  The same sort of bacterial infection that infants and toddlers get everyday.  As the pressure of fluid built up more and more inside my ear, I very quickly went through every type of OTC pain med in my home as well as most of the non-preacher words in my vocabulary.  I finally called to see the doctor at noon.  He gave me a shot to decongest my head and hopefully, relieve the pressure in my ear as well as a prescription of antibiotics and hydorcodone.  The wait from the end of my appointment until the prescriptions were ready was an eternity in the blackest pit of pandemonium.  The pressure eventually go so bad that my eardrum explosively decompressed.  It had been so packed full that even that rather dramatic display (I looked as though I had been shot in the side of the head from all the blood on my shirt) did not provide the expected relief.  I had been pinning all my hopes on one  little move to start the drainage and ease my pain.  The move had come but the expected relief never materialized.

I tried hot and cold packs, mashing and squeezing, everything I could think of.  I held my head in every position it could reach and once again went through my pain meds and non-preacher vocabulary.  Nothing would touch it.  The hydrocodone finally arrived and I completely destroyed the packaging getting it open. Instead of waiting the recommended 6 hours (who came up with THAT silly rule?) I took my next dose in 2 hours with exactly the same effect.  Finally, after 8 more hours of contemplating performing a self myringotomy with an ice pick, enough fluid drained away to give me some peace.  (It has been 12 hours and it still hurts, I just have a better perspective on what real pain is).

I wish I could say that gained some spiritual or emotional enlightenment from my trial today.  I kept looking for a lesson that I could apply and maybe share in the form of a sermon but I got nothing.  Pain is pain.  It can be ignored for a time but it will eventually break through and demand to be acknowledged.  I know it has its uses as a signal that something is wrong in the body but why not put in a cut-off switch so that when the body’s operator is aware of the problem and is doing all he can to fix it, the pain can be turned off.  It stops performing a useful function then.

About the only insight that I got today of any use was patience.  I may have used a word or two that I didn’t mean and I was probably not the friendliest guy around but I also did NOT start boiling water to sterilize the ice pick.  (It really was close).  Patience in a time of stress does not mean moving through life as though nothing is wrong with perfect composure while you are in pain.  Patience is getting through without doing something that can’t be fixed or forgiven.  Remember that the next time you are experiencing a painful trial (be it physical or otherwise).  Patience does not demand that you completely ignore your difficulty and breeze through the day with a smile, patience just says get it done in spite of the pain.  God can give you the grace to deal with anything but the reason He gives you grace is because the pain of the situation is still there.  So don’t quit.  You can do it.  (You might want to hide the sharper kitchen utensils before it gets really intense).  Nite all.