My Spirit, My Responsibility – day 01

http://bible.com/r/LY.1 I just finished day 1 of the @YouVersion Plan My Spirit, My Responsibility. Check it out here:

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Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation? By: R. C. Sproul 18 July, 2014

Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation?
FROM R.C. Sproul Jul 18, 2014 

We may live in a culture that believes everyone will be saved, that we are “justified by death” and all you need to do to go to heaven is die, but God’s Word certainly doesn’t give us the luxury of believing that. Any quick and honest reading of the New Testament shows that the Apostles were convinced that nobody can go to heaven unless they believe in Christ alone for their salvation (John 14:6; Rom. 10:9–10).

Historically, evangelical Christians have largely agreed on this point. Where they have differed has been on the matter of the security of salvation. People who would otherwise agree that only those who trust in Jesus will be saved have disagreed on whether anyone who truly believes in Christ can lose his salvation.

Theologically speaking, what we are talking about here is the concept of apostasy. This term comes from a Greek word that means “to stand away from.” When we talk about those who have become apostate or have committed apostasy, we’re talking about those who have fallen from the faith or at least from the profession of faith in Christ that they once made.

Many believers have held that yes, true Christians can lose their salvation because there are several New Testament texts that seem to indicate that this can happen. I’m thinking, for example, of Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 1:18–20:

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Here, in the midst of instructions and admonitions related to Timothy’s life and ministry, Paul warns Timothy to keep the faith and to keep a good conscience, and to be reminded of those who didn’t. The Apostle refers to those who made “shipwreck of their faith,” men whom he “handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” This second point is a reference to Paul’s excommunication of these men, and the whole passage combines a sober warning with concrete examples of those who fell away grievously from their Christian profession.

There is no question that professing believers can fall and fall radically. We think of men like Peter, for example, who denied Christ. But the fact that he was restored shows that not every professing believer who falls has fallen past the point of no return. At this point, we should distinguish a serious and radical fall from a total and final fall. Reformed theologians have noted that the Bible is full of examples of true believers who fall into gross sin and even protracted periods of impenitence. So, Christians do fall and they fall radically. What could be more serious than Peter’s public denial of Jesus Christ?

But the question is, are these people who are guilty of a real fall irretrievably fallen and eternally lost, or is this fall a temporary condition that will, in the final analysis, be remedied by their restoration? In the case of a person such as Peter, we see that his fall was remedied by his repentance. However, what about those who fall away finally? Were they ever truly believers in the first place?

Our answer to this question has to be no. First John 2:19 speaks of the false teachers who went out from the church as never having truly been part of the church. John describes the apostasy of people who had made a profession of faith but who never really were converted. Moreover, we know that God glorifies all whom He justifies (Rom. 8:29–30). If a person has true saving faith and is justified, God will preserve that person.

In the meantime, however, if the person who has fallen is still alive, how do we know if he is a full apostate? One thing none of us can do is read the heart of other people. When I see a person who has made a profession of faith and later repudiates it, I don’t know whether he is a truly regenerate person who’s in the midst of a serious, radical fall but who will at some point in the future certainly be restored; or whether he is a person who was never really converted, whose profession of faith was false from the start.

This question of whether a person can lose his salvation is not an abstract question. It touches us at the very core of our Christian lives, not only with regard to our concerns for our own perseverance, but also with regard to our concern for our family and friends, particularly those who seemed, for all outward appearances, to have made a genuine profession of faith. We thought their profession was credible, we embraced them as brothers or sisters, only to find out that they repudiated that faith.

What do you do, practically, in a situation like that? First, you pray, and then, you wait. We don’t know the final outcome of the situation, and I’m sure there are going to be surprises when we get to heaven. We’re going to be surprised to see people there who we didn’t think would be, and we’re going to be surprised that we don’t see people there who we were sure would be there, because we simply don’t know the internal status of a human heart or of a human soul. Only God can see that soul, change that soul, and preserve that soul.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

@copywrite: Tabletalk magazine

INSIGHTS FOR STUDENTS

Detour: An unplanned visit and a conversation spawn a new church ================================================================ Acts 16 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Acts 16:9 In his travels, Paul concentrates on the chief trade towns and capital cities of the Roman […]

Teresa of Avila…

Teresa of Avila: Carmelite Reformer

Quote: “So great was my distress when I thought how ill I had repaid Him for those wounds that I felt as if my heart was breaking, and I threw myself down beside him.” (Teresa of Avila)

Catholic Spain in the sixteenth century specialized in spirituality. Religion out-ranked all other facets of life. For Teresa, the Christian faith was as natural as breathing. Growing up in good times, she was a lively and fun-loving Spanish damsel. A daughter of privilege, she enjoyed dancing, horseback riding, chess, and especially romance novels of chivalry. But she also fanaticized about dying as a martyr preaching to the Turks in Palestine. In fact, at age seven she had run away with her brother to seek martyrdom, only to be spotted by an uncle and brought back home.

Teresa’s teen years were marked by the trauma of her mother’s death and her own illness, which prevented her from finishing her education with nearby Augustinian nuns. She strived for piety, floundering until she read a copy of Jerome’s Letters , a volume that affirmed women in monasticism. Determined to keep that tradition alive, she left home at twenty to join a local Carmelite convent. Poor health continued to plague her, however, and during her first decade as a nun she was filled with doubts: “I went through a life of the greatest conflict. On the one hand, God called me; on the other, I followed the world.” Following the world, in her mind, was failure to live up to the strictest standards of asceticism. She lamented Carmelite slackness, determined to demonstrate her own devotion to God. She refused to see visitors and reportedly lashed herself “until the walls of her cell dripped with gore.”

Her “conversion” came at age forty. One day while participating in the liturgy, she suddenly comprehended for the first time the suffering Jesus, wounded and dying. “So great was my distress when I thought how ill I had repaid Him for those wounds that I felt as if my heart was breaking, and I threw myself down beside him.”

In the following years she continued to struggle with poor health. At the same time, however, she experienced ecstatic visions. The raptures occurred with more frequency, and some feared that she has gone mad or is demon possessed. In fact, she wondered if the ecstasies were the result of a “troublesome disease.” But she was eager that others find this same mystical union with God by following her meditation program — four stages described as tranquility, union, ecstasy, and spiritual marriage.

For Teresa, love consisted in justice, fortitude, and humility, ideals which corresponded with her determination to reform Carmelite houses and to establish new ones throughout Spain. No more laxity and easy living for the nuns. Aided by her strong will and charismatic personality, she gained a following; and in less than twenty years she establishes fifteen new houses.

But her success was met with suspicion. A papal thug sent to investigate concluded that she was not acting properly for her gender. Teresa feared she will be imprisoned, but the pope ruled in her favor and she was permitted to continue her itinerant work of reforming convents. The pope was particularly impressed with her work in reclaiming Protestants to the Catholic faith. She regarded the Protestant Reformation as a grave threat to true religion: “Had I a thousand lives,” she vowed, “I would give them all to save a single one of the many souls which were going to perdition.”

Teresa’s legacy involved more than her active public ministry. In 1562 she published her Life, a spiritual autobiography; and three years later, The Way of Perfection, written primarily for her nuns encouraging them to continue their struggle against the Protestant heresy. Her most important work, The Interior Castle, was not published until a few years before her death in 1582. The castle is the soul, and there are seven apartments representing seven stages of growth through prayer, the final and innermost apartment culminating in complete union with God.

Despite having to face the Inquisition and accusations of mental instability, Teresa’s reputation was secure at the time of her death, and just four decades later she was canonized. Five years earlier she had been named Patroness of Spain. In 1970 Pope Paul VI bestowed upon her (with Catherine of Siena) the title Doctor of the Church, the first women to be so named. She was specifically honored as the Doctor of Prayer.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker Buy the book! The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical “what if?” questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.

When Your Mess Becomes Your Message

When Your Mess Becomes Your Message Micca Monda Campbell

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)

My brother is a recovered addict. For twenty years, he was absent from our family due to addiction issues. Countless times we thought he was dead, and according to statistics, he should have been.

However, God happens to be in the restoration business. He is willing to restore and heal all who come to Him. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what has been done to you. God is willing and able to turn any tragedy into triumph. My brother is living proof.

After entering many programs with hopes of success and end results of failure, my brother finally found the answer: Jesus. It wasn’t until my brother met the Lord that healing and true change occurred. Suddenly, all things became new.

What’s most exciting is anyone can experience this kind of freedom!

The truth is, we don’t have the strength, will power, or ability to free ourselves from bondage no matter what the bondage is-drugs, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, or fear. Until we renounce our sickness and surrender to Christ, we will never experience freedom. On the other hand, when we are willing to give King Jesus our mess, He turns it into our message.

Not a day goes by that my brother doesn’t look for opportunities to brag on God and share His message of hope.

Take a few summers ago, for example. One evening, our families gathered for dinner at Red Lobster. His treat! Twenty-six year old Tiffany was our server. Right away, we noticed two things about Tiffany. She was a natural with people, and she was very pregnant. While we enjoyed her kind service, we had no idea that God would turn the tables and call us to serve her in a unique way.

It started when my sister refused to allow my brother to buy her dinner. While my sister loves to give to others, she’s not so good on the receiving end. I, on the other hand, understood that it gave my brother great pleasure to pick up the check. The Lord knows I didn’t want to deny him his blessing!

Poor Tiffany found herself caught in the middle of the argument. Eager to win, my brother said to our server, “You see, I was a drug addict for years. During that time, my sisters did a lot for me. Now, I just want to bless them as they have blessed me.”

Tiffany’s eyes widen. “You were a drug addict?” she inquired. “I would have never guessed.”

“Yes. I was,” my brother replied. “But Jesus changed all that.” From there he told Tiffany his life-changing story.

“I went from being lost to being found; from being homeless to being a homeowner; from being an employee to owning my own business; from being bound by drugs to being set free in Christ.”

Tears filled Tiffany’s eyes as we shared God’s love with her. That’s not all. Later that week, we confirmed God’s love to her by presenting her with a baby gift.

Oh, friends, when you and I-like my brother-allow God to turn our mess into our message, He not only changes our lives, but He changes the lives of others too.

Dear Lord, Your mercy astounds me. Your goodness overwhelms me as I cry out “heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I will be saved.” God, give me opportunities to speak of Your hope so that others may know Your goodness and salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources: Do You Know Him?

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

Visit Micca’s blog for more encouragement on how to turn your mess into a message and see the miracle of God’s work in your own life.

Reflect and Respond: Are you longing for freedom? Renounce your sin and ask Jesus to save you and heal you. Then, tell people of His wonders this week!

What is keeping you from completely surrendering your struggles to God?

Do you look for ways to brag on God by sharing your story? Why or why not?

Power Verses: Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (NIV)

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (NAS)

© 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries 616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

There is much more importance in our lives than “STUFF”, our relationships, and commitments to ALL should be of much importance.

There is much more importance in our lives than “STUFF”, our relationships, and commitments to ALL should be of much importance.  

“Exhortation to brotherly love.”

13.  Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

14.  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren, He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15.  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

16.  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17.  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

18.  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

19.  And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20.  For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

21.  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

23.  And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

24.  And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.  And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

~1 John 3:13-24~   KJV

 

As we move toward the beginning of the new year of 2012 I weep in what I see around us daily.  Those who know me personally, know how much emphasis I place on U.S. missions.  Why could there be more than an estimated 6.2 million Americans who don’t know our Lord and Savior; Jesus Christ?

Recent news of the actions of a group of youth, know in the social media world as a “flash”, breaking out in fighting and rioting at the Mall of America, and the innocent people injured by flying fist, and chairs by total strangers without any knowledge they would face such cowardly acts as they were going to the mall to exchange or return CHRISTmas gifts to stores.  It sure didn’t take long for the Spirit of Brotherly Love to move on out, and greed, and hatred to move back in, or did it even leave for a day, “The Most Holy Day”?  I don’t think so at all.

The scriptures I have shared today for your own personal study are not difficult to understand, the Lord makes His wishes very clear to all…LOVE, above all things.  I double spaced between each verse so as it is more clear to see in each verse how simple His commandment here in 1st John is. 

I do see one thing that has made itself clear, that being if you are near the Mall of America there is a massive mission ground there that needs attention TODAY!  Take up your cross my brethren, picking up also the Full Amour of God (prepare yourselves in scripture). As there are many there today, store employees, to maintenance workers, to security guards, to patrons who are this moment seeking understanding for these self-centered, childish, and criminal acts that have scared many for life.  The Lord has given us the tools, He has also given us “fee will”, what we do with these opportunities is up to us, or what we fail to do, well, that will be decided on the day of judgement.  This we can rest assure of!

We don’t all live in that area of the country, but we sure can not use that as an excuse for a battle ground for the Lord?  All we have to do is step out our front door anywhere in America; as that 6.2 million lost souls are many, and cover much ground all around our country. 

I have found that over the last few years finding someone to witness to is not  hard at all, it seems to me that more and more people are in search of “A” path, and presents us with a great opportunity to obey our Lord and Savior by way of the Great Commission.  The scriptures flow with two of Gods greatest commandments that bring much glory to the Lord, those being we are to “LOVE one another, and we are to BEAR WITTNESS unto ALL.  I leave you with five more scriptures pertaining to witnessing, I pray that the Lord will bring conviction unto all your hearts today, and that your goal for 2012 above all things will be to server the Lord, our Redeemer; wherever you may go, and in so doing know that HE is with you always, even unto the ends of the earth, so sayeth the Lord thy God.

Amen.

“Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:  For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt  thee: for have much people in this city.”

~Acts 18:9-10~

“And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.  For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.”

~Acts 22:14-15~

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

~Titus 2:15~

 

In Christ,

A. T. Smith

The Implications of God’s Dominion for Dealing With Pain and Loss.

Today’s reading: Job 41:11 & 34

Nothing belongs to us, not even our selves. Strictly speaking, we do not even own our private feelings and thoughts. The fact that God asserts his absolute ownership at this point in the book is significant for how we understand personal pain or loss. Bitter as this “pill” may be to swallow, we have to acknowledge that God doesn’t owe us a thing. Whether he gives or takes away (see Job 1:21), or even if he allows our bodies or minds to be wracked with pain, we are to praise and adore his name. This is not to say that we are necessarily to thank him for pain or calamity (though this may sometimes be appropriate). But he does expect us to praise him in spite of and through the hard times. What would it mean for us to truly live in the light of God’s absolute ownership, to live out in our daily lives the knowledge that we have been “bought at a price” (cf. Ps 24:1; 50:10; 1Co 6:20; 7:23)? And what a price!

Bestselling author Philip Yancey has delved deeply into the “problem” of pain. He addresses the quintessential human question: Where is God when it hurts? Yancey’s final thoughts from his book by the same title:

He has been there from the beginning, designing a pain system that still, in the midst of a fallen, rebellious world, bears the stamp of His genius and equips us for life on this planet.

He has watched us reflect His image, carving out great works of art, launching mighty adventures, living out this earth in a mixture of pain and pleasure when the two so closely coalesce they sometimes become almost indistinguishable.

He has used pain, even in its grossest forms, to teach us, asking us to let it turn us to Him. He has stooped to conquer …

He has let us cry out and echo Job with louder and harsher fits of anger against Him, blaming Him for a world we spoiled.

He has allied Himself with the poor and suffering, establishing a kingdom tilted in their favor, which the rich and powerful often shun.

He has promised supernatural strength to nourish our spirit, even if our physical suffering goes unrelieved …

He is with us now, ministering to us through His Spirit and through members of His body who are commissioned to bear us up and relieve our suffering for the sake of the head.

He is waiting, gathering the armies of good. One day He will unleash them. The world will see one last explosion of pain before the full victory is ushered in. Then, he will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain shall be no more.

Think About It:

Why do people sometimes feel that God “owes” them something? What is it in human nature that leads people to question God? How is it possible to praise God in and through your pain?

Pray About It:

With a friend or in a group, as the body of Christ, lift up each other’s pain and sorrows to God in prayer.