Category: New Life

Is Love Your Greatest Motivation?

Is Love Your Greatest Motivation?

Many people say that they will do almost anything and everything for the people they love. Are you one of them? Is love your greatest motivation for your actions? What about those who kill themselves or others for love?

Bible Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:14a

For the love of Christ compels us.”

What Love Can Do

There is no doubt that John Denver is one of the greatest singers of all time. He started his singing career in the 1970s with folk music. Four years later, he became one of America’s best-selling performers.

If you are a John Denver fan, you must be familiar with his songs which are mostly about love. There’s “Perhaps Love,” “Falling Out of Love,” “Is it Love,” “Love is Everywhere,” and “Love Again” just to name a few.

I think it’s interesting that John Denver knew that “love is the greatest motivation to bring peace to this world.”  I don’t know if he was born again or not because he kept repeating that showing love can bring peace to this world. But as good as that may sound, retribution does not bring peace. 

God's Love for the World

God Demonstrated True Love

Is everyone capable of love? We’re all created in the image of God and love is one of God’s eternal character. So yes, we all know how to love. The more important question is, can we love with the kind of love that God has for us? Probably not! We may not even know what love is according to God’s definition.

Our problem is God has already defined what love is, which is impossible to imitate without His help. We cannot love the same way God does without Him enabling us. And it takes humility on our part to be able to do it. Unless we humble ourselves before God and admit our inability to love like Him, we are not able to love like Him. 

That was part of the reason why Jesus came to earth to die and rise again. We were all bound to be separated from God for all eternity because of sin. But God loves us so much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus did not only give us the commandment to love, He showed us how to do it (John 13:34).

Experiencing the Love of God

Since Christians have experienced that love, God tells us to go live like that love is real and true.  As 2 Corinthians 5:15 implies, we can only live like it is real and true by living for God. This includes glorifying God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Glorify God In All You Do

Another way of showing our love for God is by obeying His Word and commandments (John 14:15). Just to get things straight, we don’t obey God so that He will love us. Rather, we obey God because we love Him. As one Bible teacher said, “When we love, we obey.” Love should be our greatest motivation to obey God and His commandments.

Do you ever find it difficult to obey God? You should not because God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3

How well do we know God’s instructions for our life?  How often do we worship and learn what His Word says? Have we all experienced God’s love and received His free gift of salvation?  If not, why not ask Him for it now? 

Loving Others As God Loves Us

If we are going to live out His Word, because it is the Truth, shouldn’t we be loving others as Matthew 22:37-39 and Luke 10:27 says? 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus has silenced the Sadducees, they came to Him to test Him. They asked Jesus which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses. In reply, Jesus told them of the first and greatest commandment “to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.”

But He did not stop there. Jesus went on to say that the second commandment is “to love your neighbor as yourself.” First of all, I do not know of anyone who does not love himself/herself. People take really good care of themselves because they love themselves. We exercise and practice a healthy lifestyle because we love ourselves.

If it’s love that motivates us to do all these things for ourselves, love should also motivate us to want others to be saved. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you wouldn’t want them to depart from this earth without Christ, right?

Loving Others Can be Uncomfortable

Loving others can take many different forms but it can be very difficult or uncomfortable. I know many Christians that do not know how or even want to give the Gospel to other people. If they don’t get saved, they will spend eternity in hell, do you want that blood on your hands (Ezekiel 3:18)? 

The Second Greatest Commandment

I get it; people can be hostile because they don’t want to acknowledge their sinfulness. Your closest friends might hate you; they may even cut ties with you once you start telling them their need for Jesus. But it is more loving to tell someone the good news even when they do not like it, than letting them be lost knowing that God could save them.

Jesus died to save all sinners. That includes the people you know. Are you willing to kill your selfish desires to bring others to Jesus?  Do you love them enough to share what Christ has done on the cross to save them from sin?

Final Thoughts

God sacrificed His Son so that we do not have to suffer eternal torment in hell. Christ left His throne in heaven. He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8). God did not have to do any of these but He did. Jesus almost couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from His Father, causing Him to cry in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But Jesus endured the cross because He knew that His sacrifice would mean reconciliation between God and man (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Love is God’s greatest motivation for sending His only son to suffer and die for us. Our Lord gave His life to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin so that we might live with Him for all eternity.

It’s all about love. Love should be the greatest motivation for Christians to obey God and to get others to trust in Jesus as their Savior.

Love requires sacrifice. How much are you willing to sacrifice for God and others?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

The Essential Commandment: A Disciple’s Guide to Loving God and Others by Greg Ogden

Is it really possible to live out the Great Commandment? Jesus thinks it is. And with Jesus, Ogden has found, it is possible–and essential.

In this practical, in-depth handbook, Ogden draws from his years of pastoral experience training and discipling others to help us truly be changed by Christ into people who love God and love others with all that we are.

Following the format of his bestselling Discipleship Essentials, each chapter includes:

  • a core truth
  • a memory verse
  • an inductive Bible study
  • a reading on one aspect of the Great Commandment

Thoughtful questions will also help you examine your heart and life and move you to open yourself to God’s transforming work. Above all, Ogden helps you see that the Great Commandment is actually a great invitation to join God in bringing His kingdom to earth.

And as you learn to do so, you’ll find that the greatest commandment leads to the greatest life possible.

How Do I Know I’m Going to Heaven?

How Do I Know I’m Going to Heaven?

The Bible says that after we die, we will spend eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell. But can anyone be certain where they’re going? Do you know if you’re going to heaven or hell?

We all want to know exactly where we are going after we die, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to know where they will be spending eternity? But can we really know? The answer is yes!

The Word of God makes it clear that we can indeed know where we will go after this life is over.

The Choice is Ours to Make

Going to heaven or hell is a choice each of us has to make.

Man is destined to hell because of sin. But God so loved the world that He sacrificed His only Son to redeem us. Jesus suffered and died so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Notice that one still needs to trust in Jesus to be saved from eternal condemnation in hell. Jesus’ sacrificial death has opened the way to heaven for everyone. However, this does not mean everyone automatically goes to heaven when they die. We can either accept God’s promise of eternal life or reject it.

Choose Life Not Death

Eventually, the choice we make in this life will determine where we will spend eternity.

If you haven’t accepted God’s gift, would you do so today and be assured of spending eternity in heaven with God? 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

We Can Know Our Final Destination

If we place our faith in the Lord, we can know that we will go to heaven when we die. In 1 John 5:12, we read God’s promise.

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

We can know that we have eternal life if we put out faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. By the way, we need to know that eternal life is something that belongs to believers only. While it’s true that unbelievers will exist for eternity, they will not have eternal life.

Those who willfully reject God will be eternally separated from God; they will be in a state of eternal death. This is in direct contrast to the future of those who have trusted the God of the Bible.

The Scripture also says that “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). The moment we confessed Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God gave us the right to become His children (John 1:12).

And if we are God’s children, we can know for sure that we are going to heaven when we die.

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Believers Already Have Eternal Life

Christians know they have eternal life because God has promised it in His Word. But eternal life is not something believers will possess only in the future. We discover that we have eternal life now.

Jesus said this in John 5:24 (NIV).

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

We have already gone from death to life.

Contrary to what some teach and believe, we can get to enjoy eternal life the moment we trusted in Jesus. We don’t have to wait for “eternal life” because it’s not something that starts when we die. The focus of eternal life is not on our future, but on our current standing in Christ.

Eternal life is ours right now!

Eternal Life is Knowing God

On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He prayed to God the Father on His way to the Garden of Gethsemane.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

What is Eternal Life

Here, Jesus defines eternal life for us. Eternal life is knowing God; it’s a relationship with God the Father through the Son, Jesus Christ. The great news is that it never ends; it is indeed eternal!

Do you know the only true God? Do you have a relationship with the Father through His Son? Enjoy eternal life now and be assured of going to heaven by accepting God’s gift of salvation.

Know the Person You Trust

The apostle Paul said he knew whom he had trusted or believed in (2 Timothy 1:12).

“For this reason, I also suffer these things. Nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

We too can know in whom we have believed. Christians are assured of going to heaven because they can trust in the promises of Christ. Our God who promised is faithful, even when at times we’re not.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

As evident in the New Testament, we can have eternal life by trusting Christ as Savior. The moment we professed our faith in Him, we can be sure that we are going to heaven.

Final Words

Death is real, so are heaven and hell. And the Bible is very clear of who gets to enter heaven; it is limited to those who have trusted in Jesus as their Savior.

Jesus said there is only one way to reach the one God who is in heaven; it is through Him and Him alone (John 14:6).

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Nobody gets to heaven by their good works. Contrary to what many people think, a person does not go to heaven because they’re good. First of all, no one is good enough (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:1-3).

Also, no one is kept out of heaven because they’re bad. Whoever gets to heaven goes there because of God’s grace, not their own good deeds (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 of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Our salvation from sin, our eventual entrance into heaven, is a “gift” from God. Have you accepted God’s gift?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home by Randy Alcorn

We all have questions about what Heaven will be like, and after twenty-five years of extensive research, Dr. Randy Alcorn has the answers.

In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date, Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it―a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ’s presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it.

This is a book about real people with real bodies enjoying close relationships with God and each other, eating, drinking, working, playing, traveling, worshiping, and discovering on a New Earth. Earth as God created it. Earth as he intended it to be.

The next time you hear someone say, “We can’t begin to image what Heaven will be like,” you’ll be able to tell them, “I can.”

Are All People God’s Children?

Are All People God’s Children?

I often hear people say, “We are all children of God and so we must treat each other like family.” In a general sense, this is true. All men and women are God’s offspring in that He is the Creator (Acts 17:2-29).

However, this relationship is not sufficient to offset the penalty of sin. It’s because we are all sinners separated from God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, for a sinful person to become a child of God, a miraculous transformation must take place.

The Doctrine of Adoption

In regeneration, God gives us new spiritual life within and in justification; God gives us a right legal standing before Him. But in adoption, God makes us members of His family.

Thus, we can define adoption as an act of God whereby He makes us members of His family. The doctrine of adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God and with His people.

That leaves us with the question, “If we only become children of God through adoption, whose children are we before that?”

The Doctrine of Adoption

In John 1:12, we read that only those who receive Christ and believe in His name are given the right to become God’s children. By contrast, those who do not believe in Christ are sons of disobedience and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3; 5:6).

When the Jews who rejected Christ claimed that God was their Father, Jesus said, “…you are of your father, the devil…” (John 8:41-44).

From Slave to Son

When Christians are adopted into God’s family, a dramatic transformation of status takes place from slave to son. As God’s sons, we can call God, “Abba Father,” and become heirs of God through Christ (Galatians 4:6-7, Romans 8:15-17).

But if we are God’s children, are we then related to one another as family members? Certainly! This adoption into God’s family makes us partakers even with the Old Testament-believing Jews. Paul says that we are all Abraham’s children as well and children of the promise (Romans 9:7-8).

Paul explains that this status of adoption into God’s family was not fully realized in the Old Covenant. He says, “Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law… the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:23-26).

While the people of Israel knew God as their Father, the full benefits and privileges of membership in God’s family did not come until Christ.

Evidence of Adoption

If we are, indeed, God’s children, what evidence do we see in our lives? The clear evidence is the fact that the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that we are God’s children.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6)!

We also see in John’s first epistle how he places much emphasis on our status as God’s children. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. Beloved, now we are children of God … (1 John 3:1-2).

Notice that John frequently refers to his readers as “children of God.”

Although the New Testament says we are “now children of God,” there is another sense in which our adoption is still future. We will not receive the full benefits and privileges of adoption until Christ returns to give us glorified bodies (Romans 8:23).

How Do We Become Children of God

Adoption vs. Regeneration

There’s a common notion that we become God’s children by regeneration. This is because the imagery of being “born again” in regeneration makes us think of children being born into a human family.

However, the New Testament never connects adoption with regeneration. Rather, the idea of adoption is opposite to the idea of being born into a family. Adoption is connected with saving faith. This is to say that God has adopted us into His family in response to our trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 and Galatians 3:23-26 make it clear that adoption follows conversion as God’s response to our faith. Furthermore, Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:6 does not refer to the giving of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Rather, it is an act of the Holy Spirit in which He begins to bear witness with our spirit that we are members of God’s family.

This work of the Holy Spirit assures us of our adoption. In this sense, Paul says, God causes His Holy Spirit within our hearts to cry, “Abba Father,” after we have become sons.

Adoption vs. Justification

Just like regeneration, justification is distinct from adoption. God could have given us a right legal standing before Him without making us His children. This is why it is important to recognize how great our privileges are in adoption.

As mentioned in the first part of this post, adoption has to do with our relationship with God as our Father. When we were adopted into God’s family, God has given us many of the greatest blessings that we will know for all eternity. When we realize how great these blessings are, knowing that God is not obligated to give any of them to us, we will also exclaim:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1)!

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The Benefits of Adoption

I mentioned several times that there are blessings that come with becoming members of God’s family.

1. God Becomes Our Father

The first and greatest benefit or privilege of our adoption is being able to speak to God and have a relationship with Him as a Father. As we pray, “Our Father in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9), we realize that we are His sons, not slaves. Thus, we relate to God as a child relates to his or her father.

This relationship to God as our Father is the foundation of many other blessings of the Christian life. It’s true; God is our Creator, Lord, Master, Judge, Teacher, Provider, Protector, and Sustainer of our existence. But the most intimate role that conveys the highest privilege of our fellowship with God for eternity is Him being our heavenly Father.

2. God Loves Us and Cares for Us

Another benefit of adoption is that God’s love for us and cares deeply for us. As His children, God our Father has compassion on us (Psalm 103:13, NIV). Moreover, our heavenly Father gives us many good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and a great inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4).

The privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit is also a benefit of adoption (Romans 8:14). This is a moral benefit whereby the Holy Spirit puts in us desires to obey God and live according to His will. As God’s children, we must submit in obedience to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit.

3. God Disciplines Us

Still, another benefit of adoption that we may not always recognize is God disciplining us (Hebrews 12:5-6; Proverbs 3:11-12). The author of Hebrews explains that God is disciplining us because we are His legitimate children (Hebrews 12:7-8).

As our heavenly Father disciplines us, we grow in righteousness and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10, NIV).

God Disciplines Those Whom He Love

4. Fellowship with Other Believers

Finally, we also have privileges of adoption that affect the way that we relate to each other and affect our own personal conduct.

Because we are God’s children, our relationship with each other is far deeper and more intimate than the relationship among angels. Many passages throughout the New Testament refer to Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ.

See Romans 1:13; 8:12; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 6:8; James 1:2; Matthew 12:50; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Philemon 1:2; and James 2:15.

This indicates the strong consciousness they had of the nature of the church as the family of God. As members of God’s family, we are to work together for the good of the family and the honor of God our Father.

Conclusion

All people on the earth are God’s creation but not all of them are God’s children. Scriptures are clear! Only those who place their faith in Christ become members of God’s family.

Have you received Jesus as your Lord and believed in His name? Did you receive the “Spirit of adoption” by whom you cry out, “Abba Father?”

If you are not yet a member of God’s family, why don’t you confess your sins right now? Acknowledge you’re a sinner, believe in the Lord Jesus, and receive God’s forgiveness for your sins. In response to your faith, God will give you the right to become His child and adopt you into His family.

As a result of your adoption, you will be able to enjoy the many blessings and privileges of being a child and son of God.


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children by Robert A. Peterson

In an age of family breakdown, loneliness, and insecurity, we need more than ever to grasp the meaning of being sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Surprisingly, theologians have devoted little attention to the biblical teaching on adoption.

This book views the many facets of God’s saving grace through the lens of the Bible’s family imagery. Combining careful exegesis with gripping personal stories of father-child relationships, Robert A. Peterson brings home the warmth and wonder of biblical adoption.

The World’s Hatred on God

The World’s Hatred on God

The world hates God, thus, they are a threat to Christians!

This is very clear not only from the Scriptures but based on everything that’s going on around us. But this should not come as a surprise to all followers of Jesus Christ.

Bible Verse: John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Jesus Teaches His Disciples
Photo Credit: Live in God’s Light

Hate and Rejection from the World

Before His departure, Jesus warned His disciples that the world would hate and reject them. No matter how wonderful Jesus’ message was, His followers should expect to be rejected because of who they are.

The disciples knew exactly what it meant to be hated by the world. After Jesus departed, they were all persecuted and died as martyrs, except for John. God’s enemies tried to kill John by boiling him in oil but he miraculously survived.

The early Christians knew and had experienced the hatred of the world. We can read their stories in detail in the book “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” But martyrdom is not a thing of the past. Christians all around the world continue to endure great persecution because of their faith in Christ.

In this World, Out of this World

The world is hostile towards God. And so, it follows that it is hostile towards those who believe in God. Jesus tried to comfort His disciples by telling them that the world’s hatred was first directed towards Him.

Then Jesus goes on to explain further why the world would hate those who believe in Him. He said, “Because you are not of the world…” Yes, we are still in this world but we are not of this world.

God chose us out of this world and we are in many ways different from the world. Therefore, the world hates us.

At War with the World

Considering every Christian is a part of a spiritual war, we should not trust any unbeliever to give godly or biblical instructions. They don’t have your best interest in mind.

God gave us every remedy for ailments in nature. They are called essential oils. Why trust doctors that believe people are getting better and better when in reality we are decaying. Doctors most of the time are peddling snake oils in the form of petroleum-based pharmaceuticals that only lead to more issues?

Christians are at Wat with the World

Why not use what God has given us in nature? Because they hate God, they will persecute Christians. The socialists hate God because they want an all-powerful government.

All religions hate God because they want people to keep trying to earn salvation. Atheists hate God because there is suffering in the world. As we are getting closer and closer to the return of Jesus, persecution of Christians will only increase including in America.

How should Christians respond? God wants us to love our enemies so they may see God’s love for humanity. We are sheep amongst wolves (Matthew 10:16).

Don’t try for retribution. God will take care of that. God does want us to be wise to their wicked methods.

Satan is the God of this World

They hate God because they are children of Satan. Satan hates people in general because they were made in God’s image. That is why Satan wants all people to be dead.

The pharmaceutical industry has been using aborted babies in vaccines for years. When people take those vaccines, Doesn’t that make them a cannibal or at least an accomplice to murder? The new Covid vaccines will stop reproductive organs from functioning properly. Not to mention the 1000’s of people dying from these shots.

Satan is behind the murder of people, however, it happens. Because they hate God, division will occur. Why is the world so divided? Too many people are believing the lies that Dr. Fascinating, Bill Gates, President Biden, the pharmaceutical industry, etc. actually care and want your best interest.

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Final Words

God created you. God loves you. We sinned but Jesus died to save you from your sin. If you have never received this free gift of salvation, why not now before it is too late? To every Christian, when persecution comes to you, take heart God is with you. He will enable you to speak for Him.

We do not need to fear what this world can do to our bodies. We must remember that when we die, we will be with God as 2 Corinthians 5:8 says. We have nothing to fear when God is with us. How much faith do we have?

Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). God sent us into this world, He will enable us.

God bless!


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Get a copy of my book “Life According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

Do you know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Did you know that God wants to prepare you during this life to live in heaven with Him? Does your purpose for life evade you?

In Life According to The Truth. Disciple of Jesus Christ, Michael Heilman honestly writes about the issues facing the church and how to live the victorious Christian life.

Michael expounds on biblical principles God has applied to Michael’s life and led to God’s blessing in many areas of his life. With illustrations, humor, and most importantly scripture, he explains to any born-again believer who is spiritually wandering through life, how to be spiritually blessed by God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In this devotional Bible study, you will be enlightened in regards to:

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life
  • How to love God
  • How to love others
  • How to discern God’s will for your life
  • How to be confident with your identity in Jesus Christ

Life is difficult, but God can enable you to have abundant joy. If you are a born-again believer that needs encouragement, this book is for you.

Blessings for Being a Christian

Blessings for Being a Christian

Have you ever had someone asked you why you’re a Christian? Most people may think that believing in God is just all about going to heaven when you die. But as wonderful as that may sound, there’s more to life in heaven for a follower of Jesus.

There are wonderful blessings for being a Christian which we can enjoy even while we are still on this earth. I’m talking about some specific blessings that Paul mentions in his letter to the Romans.

Bible Verse: Romans 5:1-11

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

The Blessings of Justification

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We Rejoice in God’s Blessings

In listing the blessings in the fifth chapter of Romans, Paul tells us how wonderful it is to be a Christian. Our justification is not simply a guarantee of heaven, as thrilling as that is. More importantly, it is also the source of tremendous blessings that we enjoy here and now.

1. Access to God

This is the first blessing Christians get to enjoy (Romans 5:2a).

Remember, the Jews were kept from God’s presence by the curtain in the Temple. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the holy of holies. And even then he got to do it once a year on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:7).

The Gentiles, on the other hand, were kept out by a wall in the Temple with a warning on it. Anyone who went beyond would be killed. But when Jesus died, the veil (curtain) was torn in two (Matthew 27:50-51; Luke 23:45) and broke down the wall (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus has become our Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens. So, now we can come boldly to God’s throne that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

We can come to the Father through Jesus Christ, ask Him anything and He will do it (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24). What a wonderful blessing it is that we can come to the Father anytime through our Lord whom God appointed as our mediator.

The Blessings of Justification

2. Glorious Hope

Having “peace with God through our Lord” (Romans 5:1) takes care of the past; God will no longer hold our sins against us. But the “place of undeserved privilege” where we now stand takes care of the present. We can now confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory (Romans 5:2b).

How do we share in the glory of God?

When we got born again, we have received the Spirit that brought about our adoption as God’s children. And since we are God’s children, we are His heirs. Together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory (Romans 8:15-17).

See also John 17:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:14, Ephesians 2:6; 2 Timothy 2:12.

3. Strength to Endure Trials

We can rejoice too, even when we run into problems and difficulties because we know that tribulations will develop perseverance in our lives (Romans 5:3).

Just because we have received justification that we can escape from the trials of life. As we go through trials and depend on God’s grace, the trials only purify us. God is working in us to develop character.

Sometimes we question why God allows His children to suffer. But as 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NLT) says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

James, the Lord’s brother, also encourages every child of God to persevere in James 1:12.

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

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4. God’s Love through the Holy Spirit

Our hope in God will not lead to disappointment because we know that God loves us. God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us (Romans 5:5).

God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us (John 3:16). Even while we were still in our sins, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Now that we are His children, surely He will love us more. The inner experience of this love through the Spirit sustains us as we go through problems and trials.

Knowing that God loves us unconditionally is a blessing that we should never take for granted. Instead, we should strive to love God and live a life that brings glory, honor, and pleasure to Him.

5. Saved from God’s Wrath and Judgment

Man’s broken relationship with God was restored as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are no longer enemies with God. The death of Christ and His blood made right our standing with God (Romans 5:9-10). Paul argued from the lesser to the greater, the unsaved person is one of God’s enemies because he cannot obey God’s law (Romans 8:7).

But God did not declare war on humanity. Instead, He sent His Son as the Peacemaker that people might be reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:11-18). If God saved us when we were his enemies, surely He will keep on saving us now that we are His children. We can be sure that justification lasts.

Thus, we shall be saved from His wrath that will be poured out upon all the inhabitants of the earth. There is coming a time when God will not only restore the nation of Israel but will also judge the wicked, unrepentant world. Prophetic books such as Daniel and Revelation talk about this future judgment of God in detail.

But the bride of Christ, the church, is not appointed unto God’s wrath. We are appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Here’s a beautiful song called, “Blessings” by Laura Story from the album of the same title released in 2011.

Closing Words

The blessings we have freely received and can enjoy as children of God are profoundly amazing.

First, we are no longer estranged from God but have been placed in good standing with Him based on His grace. We can come to Him at any time for the help we need. Praise Jesus; what a comfort that is.

Secondly, we can rejoice in the glorious hope of sharing in the glory of God not only in the future but even at present. Third, we can also glory in our tribulations knowing that God can (and will) sustain us. And this is how God builds in us a better character.

Fourth, we will have a deeper awareness of the love of God through the Holy Spirit. And finally, we can rest in God’s promise that we will not suffer His wrath.

Our heavenly Father loves us and cares so much about us that He did not want us to perish. He gave His only begotten Son to take our place of punishment on the cross to reconcile us to Himself.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Romans: Grace, Truth, and Redemption by John F. MacArthur

Paul’s letter to the Romans is an inspired masterpiece of doctrine highlighting God’s grace, truth, and redemption.

Within its pages, the apostle shares his message of good news and eternal salvation with the church advises believers on theological truths, gives practical applications for living the Christian life, and shows how God’s righteousness comes by grace alone through faith in Christ.

The book of Romans underscores that Christianity is far more than just a doctrine—it is an essential road map for daily living.

The MacArthur Bible Studies provide intriguing examinations of the whole of Scripture. Each guide incorporates extensive commentary, detailed observations on overriding themes, and probing questions to help you study the Word of God with guidance from John MacArthur.

Do Not Fear, Trust God

Do Not Fear, Trust God

With everything that is going on these days, people, including Christians are gripped with fear. But what does that say about your faith in God? Why are we choosing fear over faith?

Bible Verses: Matthew 8:26a & 2 Timothy 1:7

Matthew 8:26a

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Choose Faith Over Fear

Jesus’ words could be said to any number of Christians today. Everyone is fearful at some point in their life. Any circumstance we can’t control can cause fear, but does that mean we should be afraid?

In Matthew 8:23-27, we read the story of Jesus calming the storm. As Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, a fierce storm suddenly struck the lake and the waves started breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping so the disciples went to wake Him up crying for help. And Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

Jesus Calms the Storm

Jesus undoubtedly knew that the storm was coming and certainly could have prevented it. But He permitted it so that He might teach His disciples some lessons.

Jesus was asleep because He could rest confidently in the will of His Father, and this was what the disciples should have been able to do. Instead, they became fearful and accused Jesus of not caring. The disciples have been with Jesus for a considerable amount of time. They witnessed all the wonders and miracles that He performed.

Yet, they chose fear over faith when faced with a fierce storm knowing that Jesus was with them.

Do Not Be Afraid

Understandably, unbelievers would be fearful of a virus they can’t see. They don’t believe in an omnipotent God that can control the weather or diseases as Matthew 8:23- 27 and Exodus 9:9 says.

But why are there so many Christians that are afraid? If we are truly saved, why do we need to fear anything? 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

We all deal with fear. For some, it’s fear of public speaking; others are afraid of getting rejected, others are afraid of failing, others are afraid of losing their job.

But we need to understand that fear is not from God; it’s from the enemy. Fear is a powerful weapon of the enemy and he never misses an opportunity to use it whenever he gets the chance. And he is doing it right now. For more than a year now, the coronavirus pandemic has caused people all around the world fear and worry.

Yes, the virus is real; it’s highly infectious and deadly. In fact, it has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in America alone. So, I don’t blame people for being afraid and following all the guidelines given by the so-called “health experts.”

Do Not Fear, Trust God

Put Your Trust In God

In 2020, Christians did very little to stand up against the governors’ shutting down churches, requiring masks, and closing down the jobs of many people out of fear. In 2021 many Christians are getting vaccines out of fear. WHY?

Satan uses fear to control us. The mainstream media are manipulating us by controlling our perception of the world. Why aren’t we turning to God and His Word for guidance in these troubled times?

If we truly believe God is in control, and the Bible is true, where are the Christians willing to live like it is true despite what the media, government, doctors, CDC, and the UN say? This is true for everyone. If you want to see God work, you need to trust Him.

Final Thoughts

Even when we don’t always see immediate results, we can trust God because He is trustworthy. Jesus said there would be hard times (John 16:33). But also He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

If you have never placed your faith in Jesus Christ to save you, you can even now. He is waiting for you to choose Him over fear, why not now?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Fear Not: Living Grace and Truth in a Frightened World by Eric H. F. Law

Learn how to face your fears and live into courageous and faithful action with Fear Not. Americans live in a culture of fear, whether we know it or care to admit it.

Who will attack us next? Who will steal our jobs? Whose relationship undermines the sanctity of mine?

In an era when manipulative messaging is unavoidable, politicians, media, marketers, and even faith leaders play on our fears and use them to win elections, gain attention, sell products, and influence the way you view those around you — all in the name of claiming power.

Fear Not subverts insidious fear-based messaging with the creation of courageous communities committed to truth-telling, grace, hope, and love.

Drawing on decades as a community-building and church growth leader for churches and nonprofit organizations, Eric H.F. Law shares practical resources and processes for bringing diverse people together to build authentic relationships and share their truth.

Each chapter includes suggested activities and questions for discussion and tips for creating small discussion groups.

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Scripture puts repentance and faith together as different aspects of the one act of coming to Christ for salvation. It is not that we first repent and then trust in Christ, or trust in Christ first and then repent. Rather, repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus occur at the same time.

When we turn to Christ for salvation from our sins, we are simultaneously turning away from the sins that we are asking Christ to save us from. If that were not true our turning to Christ for salvation from sin could hardly be a genuine turning to Him or trusting in Him.

Repentance and Faith Must Come Together

Repentance may be defined as “a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”

This definition indicates that repentance is something that can occur at a specific point in time. It is not equivalent to a demonstration of change in a person’s pattern of life.

Like faith, repentance is:

  • an intellectual understanding (that sin is wrong).
  • an emotional approval of the teachings of Scripture regarding sin (sorrow for sin and a hatred of it).
  • a personal decision to turn from it (a renouncing of sin and a decision of the will to forsake it and lead a life of obedience to Christ instead).

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Repentance and faith are simply two different sides of the same coin or two different aspects of the one event of conversion.

One who genuinely turns to Christ for salvation must at the same time releases the sin to which he or she has been clinging and turns away from that sin to turn to Christ. Thus, neither repentance nor faith comes first; they must come together.

Paul summarizes his gospel ministry as one of “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

Genuine Repentance Involves Faith in Christ

Yes, sometimes faith alone is named as the thing necessary for coming to Christ for salvation. We see this in scriptures such as John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9.

These are familiar passages and we often emphasize them when explaining the gospel to others. But what we do not often realize is the fact that there are many other passages where only repentance is named. Simply because it is assumed that true repentance will also involve faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

The authors of the New Testament understood so well that genuine repentance and genuine faith had to go together. Thus, they often simply mentioned repentance alone with the understanding that faith would also be included. It’s because genuinely turning from sins is impossible apart from a genuine turning to God.

When we realize that genuine saving faith must be accompanied by genuine repentance for sin, it helps us to understand why some preaching of the gospel has such inadequate results today. With no mention of the need for repentance, sometimes the gospel message becomes only, “Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.”

Preaching the need for faith without repentance is preaching only half of the gospel. It will result in many people being deceived, thinking that they have heard the Christian gospel and tried it, but nothing has happened.

Genuine Saving Faith equals Genuine Repentance

Faith and Repentance Must Continue

It is important to realize that faith and repentance are not confined to the beginning of the Christian life. They are rather attitudes of the heart that continue throughout our lives as Christians.

Concerning faith, Paul tells us, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). He certainly means that these three abide throughout this life, but he probably also means that they abide for all eternity.

If faith is trusting God to provide for all our needs, then this attitude will never cease, not even in the age to come. But in any case, the point is made that faith continues throughout this life.

Although initial saving faith and initial repentance indeed occur only once in our lives, when they occur they must constitute true conversion. The heart attitudes of repentance and faith begin at conversion should continue throughout our Christian lives.

Each day, there should be heartfelt repentance for sins that we have committed. Also, faith in Christ to provide for our needs and to empower us to live the Christian life.

Reflection and Challenge

Many people say they believe in God, like Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. Although the attributes of these gods are all different. Who is right? They all cannot be right.

I know based on the authority that the Bible is God’s word to humanity. Acts 20:21 proves that Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are all false religions.

Acts 20:21 also proves that God is knowable and personal, which is the opposite of all far east religions because they have impersonal gods. Why repent to something you cannot know personally? God has revealed Himself to humanity by becoming a man: the God-Man; the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:1, 14 says that “the Word was God, was with God, and became a Man.” That is the Trinity in a nutshell. Muslims hate even the mention that God became a man and is Triune. Not to mention, Islam teaches a works-based salvation. But repentance implies surrendering and admitting our inability to save ourselves.

Closing Thoughts

I have heard Calvinists accuse Baptists that repentance is a work. That is just not true. Repentance is just humbly surrendering and admitting our inability to change ourselves and believing Jesus can change us.

This verse even refutes the worldview of dualism. If God is good and evil, why repent to someone no more righteous than we? Obviously, Acts 20:21 is teaching God is holy and righteous. We cannot earn salvation; it can only be given to us through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Many times, I wonder how many Christians are even truly born again. If we all truly humbled ourselves and surrendered our will, our desires, and choices to God, why don’t we listen and apply God’s word to our everyday lives?

Too often biblically solid sermons are heard but are never applied to our lives because we are too proud to think we need to live like God’s Word is true. Nobody is as humble as Jesus, because nobody else is God.

Are we all willing to repent of our pride and request for more humility?


Reference:

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem 

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Get a copy of my bookLife According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

Do you know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Did you know that God wants to prepare you during this life to live in heaven with Him? Does your purpose for life evade you?

In Life According to The Truth. Disciple of Jesus Christ, Michael Heilman honestly writes about the issues facing the church and how to live the victorious Christian life.

Michael expounds on biblical principles God has applied to Michael’s life and led to God’s blessing in many areas of his life. With illustrations, humor, and most importantly scripture, he explains to any born-again believer who is spiritually wandering through life, how to be spiritually blessed by God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In this devotional Bible study, you will be enlightened in regards to:

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life
  • How to love God
  • How to love others
  • How to discern God’s will for your life
  • How to be confident with your identity in Jesus Christ

Life is difficult, but God can enable you to have abundant joy. If you are a born-again believer that needs encouragement, this book is for you.

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

We often hear people say that suffering is a result of God’s judgment. Who is not familiar with the Great Flood in Genesis 7? We read how God was grieved when He saw the extent of human wickedness on the earth. So, God decided to destroy every living thing that He has created (Genesis 6:5-7).

Can we then conclude that the sufferings people are going through are God’s punishment upon them? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God is love (1 John 4:8)? That God’s love caused Him to sacrifice His only Son on the cross to save us (John 3:16)?

Yes; God is love but He is also just and righteous (Psalm 89:14).

God Heals a Man Born Blind

In John chapter 9, we read the story of a man who has been blind since birth. As they passed by where the man was, Jesus’ disciples asked Him “whose fault is it that he was born blind” (John 1:2).

Instead of seeing the man as an object of mercy, the disciples saw him as a subject for a theological discussion. The disciples had been trained as young men in the Mosaic law. They learned that “God does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7, NIV). That “God punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

The Healing of the Man Born Blind

Note: Some ancient rabbinic writings also speculated on the possibility of sinning in the womb or a preexistent state.

The disciples were sure that the man’s congenital blindness was caused by sin, either his own or his parents. But Jesus disagreed with them (John 9:3).

The Consequences of Sin

Adam’s disobedience brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).

Adam and Eve sinned, and their offspring grew increasingly wicked and rebellious (Genesis 4:1-24). David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband (2 Samuel 11). David’s children grew up to cause him continual distress through their violence and selfishness.

Only in rare cases, after God’s longsuffering and mercy have been exhausted did He punish His sinful people. We read in 1 Samuel 2:12-36 how God dealt with the family of Eli. Also, God sent Judah and Israel into captivity (Hosea 11:1-8; Jeremiah 25:1-11) because of their idolatry and disobedience.

In the final analysis, all physical problems and human sufferings are the results of our fall in Adam. The consequences of sin that come upon sinners and their descendants are usually natural consequences rather than God’s divine judgment.

So, to blame a specific disability on a specific sin committed by a specific person is beyond any man’s authority. Only God knows why babies are born handicapped. And only God can turn them into something that will bring good to people and glory to His name.

God brought about suffering in the life of the blind man to reveal God’s work in him (John 9:3). This also happened so that he might become a blessing to the disciples and a blessing to those who would read John’s gospel.

The Consequence of Sin

Does God Carry Grudges?

The concern of the disciples about the man born blind sounds more like the superstitious fear of many in the world.

They think that God holds a grudge against them because they have offended Him in some way. They feel guilty for not acknowledging or confessing their sins. This often distorts their perception of God’s attitude toward them. And they expect Him to bring judgment into their lives at any moment.

Repentance, confession, and acceptance of God’s forgiveness are important ingredients for spiritual peace and good mental health. Inner turmoil caused by a guilty conscience can cause all sorts of fears about divine punishment.

God carries no grudges. If there should be a situation in which God needs to correct our life through suffering, He will let us know. God disciplines us as a godly father disciplines a child. Never will our heavenly Father corrects us vindictively. Rather, He does it in a kindly fashion (Hebrews 12:5-11).

God’s Intent for Suffering

Trials and sufferings are part of life and Christians are not exempt. Some might have expected life to be easy and smooth sailing after becoming followers of Christ. But such is not the case; it’s going to be a battle all the way!

Dealing with the trials of life is never easy. But knowing the promises of God’s love in His Word enables us to experience inner peace and joy.

Suffering is painful and perplexing but we know that God has a purpose for allowing us to experience them. God uses suffering for our spiritual development.

Final Thoughts

When we see other Christians suffering, it is never our place to presume God’s intent for them. There might be instances when people suffer as a consequence of their actions. But oftentimes in the Bible God uses sufferings to enact tremendous good rather than to punish.

God has an infinite capacity to effect goodness amid our pain and difficulty. We see this principle in the life of Joseph, Job, and of course, the Lord Jesus Himself.

Let us love and comfort our fellowmen in their suffering and trust that God will work all things out for their good (Romans 8:28).


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: If God Is Good: Why Do We Hurt? by Randy Alcorn

Out of the deepest hurts of the human condition, Randy Alcorn brings into clear focus our most pressing questions about evil and suffering—including those that wrench our souls when we or someone we love is victimized by evil or assaulted by disease.

He faces these questions with seasoned sensitivity, skillful insight, and a heart of compassion. He dodges none of the difficulties, and never lapses into platitudes, hand-wringing, or oversimplification.

On this troubling but inescapable topic, you’ll find frank acknowledgment of the inherent limitations that set humanity apart from the God who has none. There’s also generous, real encouragement that brings God nearer in our understanding when we need His comfort the most.

And amid our heavy doubts and swirling confusion on this topic, Randy Alcorn points us ultimately toward Jesus as “the only answer bigger than the questions.”

The Power of God in Prayer

The Power of God in Prayer

Do you sometimes doubt the power of God in prayer? Is it because you prayed for something and God did not grant it? Do you know someone who used to be a Christian but quit because God did not give him what he prayed for? Isn’t God a loving God, kind, and generous?

Whatever it is that may have caused us or others to question if God works through prayer, rest assured He does. God is still God. He is enthroned in the heavens above and hears even the silent prayers of our hearts.

When Things Get Tough

More or less two weeks ago, the news about the deadly floods in Germany broke. One headline news read, “Climate scientists shocked by the scale of floods in Germany.” What took place was something unexpected and the cities that were heavily affected declared a “state of emergency.”

I immediately contacted a friend who recently flew there to make sure she’s okay, and thank God, she’s fine. She lives in the southern area which is far from where the flash floods are happening.

A day after, we learned that China’s Henan province was also affected by severe flooding. To make matters worse, several dams and reservoirs have breached warning levels. Flights and trains in many parts of Henan have also been suspended.

Flash Floods

We may not have family, relatives, or friends living in Germany or China. But for sure, every single one of the victims has had somebody grieving for their loss.

You see, it’s hard enough to see the people we love going through difficult times. It’s much harder because there is nothing we can do about their situation. We feel powerless and at times useless, as we watch them go through challenging times

As a result, we can quickly become frustrated, sad, and scared.

The Power of Prayer

Think about how the church at Philippi must have felt knowing what Paul was going through. When they heard of Paul’s imprisonment, they sent Epaphroditus with financial help. But that was all the Philippian church could do. They loved Paul dearly, thus, knowing the struggles he had to endure broke their hearts. They were 4600 miles away and had no political power to change the situation.

But the Philippians knew the power of prayer, so they prayed to God. Paul wrote:

“… Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18b-20, NIV).

What does this tell us? That when God’s people intercede for one another, God takes affirmative action. This principle remains true even for believers today.

Intercessory Prayer

To intercede means to “to come to God on behalf of another.” In other words, when you intercede, you are asking God for something on behalf of someone else other than yourself.

The Bible calls this “standing in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30). We see this in many different places throughout the Bible. For instance, Abraham pleaded with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33). Moses interceded on behalf of Israel (Exodus 32:30-33).

In the same way, the Philippian believers went to God in prayer on behalf of Paul. They understood perfectly that there is a direct correlation between God’s actions and the prayers of His people.

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Partnering with God in Prayer

We often hear Christians say that we can partner with God through prayer. God partners with His people to bring about His will and purposes. And the Philippians accepted God’s invitation to partner with Him in bringing to fulfillment His desires for Paul.

Today, God is giving us the same invitation to partner with Him in prayer. Would you accept His invitation?

Now, let me make this very clear. When we intercede, we should first seek to know God’s will and desires for the people we are praying for. This is crucial because not knowing the will of God may lead us frustrated in the end.

To partner with God does not mean manipulating God to agree with what outcome we want. Rather, we must become aware of God’s will and desires for someone and join Him in that.

The apostle Paul was aware that the Philippians were praying for God to help him. And the Philippian church knew that God wanted good for Paul. Even amid trials and difficulties, God is good and He desires what is good for His people.

God Desires Good for His People

It’s easy for us to become discouraged and frustrated when faced with an impossible situation. But Psalm 100:5 (NIV) says, “The Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

1 John 5:14 (NLT) also assures us that God hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.

When we pray God’s will for His children, we can come to Him confidently. But despite knowing this we don’t always feel like we can come to God confidently. It’s because we are not sure if we will pray for the right things.

We may not be able to always discern the will of God perfectly. But we can trust God because He is good. God will not give someone something that isn’t good for them simply because we asked for it.

God Helps Us Pray for the Right Things

What if we run out of things to pray for? Or when we do not know what to pray for? Romans 8:26-27 gives us the answer:

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Not only that; Jesus who is seated at the right hand of God is also interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

Final Thoughts

There is power in prayer. We see God’s power in action when His people come to Him in prayer. When we intercede for one another, God brings to pass His will and desires in our lives and the life of others.

Let us then boldly approach the throne of God through prayer for ourselves, for one another, for our nation, and the world.

Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence and we shall receive His mercy to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Let us give thanks to the Holy Spirit, to our Lord Jesus who intercedes for us, and to the Father who hears every word of our prayers.

Let us continue to intercede for one another just as the Philippian believers did for Paul.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz

Bestselling author Anne Graham Lotz will teach you how to pray effectively for your nation, for your families, and yourself.

Many people today find that their prayers don’t “work.” And like a broken cell phone, DVD player, or TV remote, they throw prayer out as unnecessary “clutter” in their busy lives.

Anne Graham Lotz has found that while prayer does work, sometimes the “pray-ers” don’t. So she has turned to the prophet Daniel for help.

The Daniel Prayer is born deep within your soul, erupts through your heart, and pours out on your lips, words created by and infused with the Spirit of God quivering with spiritual electricity.

It’s really not an everyday type of prayer. It’s a prayer birthed under pressure. Heartache. Grief. Desperation. It can be triggered by a sudden revelation of hope. An answer to prayer, a promise freshly received a miracle that lies just over the horizon.

Join Anne in a thrilling discovery of prayer that really works.

Recognizing a True Church

Recognizing a True Church

There are true and false churches. How do we recognize a true church? But what makes a church true or false? Is it possible that a group of people who claim to be Christians does not exhibit the qualities of a true church?

In the early centuries of the Christian church, the idea of a false church is unpopular. There was only one worldwide church, the “visible” church throughout the world, and that was, of course, the true church. This church had bishops and local clergymen and church buildings that everyone could see. Any heretics who were found to be in serious doctrinal error were simply excluded from the church.

What is the church?

The church is the community of all true believers for all time. It is made up of all those who are truly saved. Paul says this in Ephesians 5:25, “… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

The term “the church” here is applied to all those whom Christ died to redeem, all those who are saved by the death of Christ. They include all true believers for all time, both believers in the New Testament age and believers in the Old Testament age as well.

How to Recognize a True Church
Photo Credits: Religion News Service

Metaphors for the Church

Scripture uses a wide range of metaphors and images to describe to us what the church is like. In several passages, Paul views the church as a family (1 Timothy 5:1-2; Ephesians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). We are therefore brothers and sisters with each other in God’s family (Matthew 12:49-50; 1 John 3:14-18).

A somewhat different family metaphor is seen when Paul refers to the church as the bride of Christ. He says that the relationship between a husband and wife “refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). He goes further to say that it resembles an engagement between a bride and her husband-to-be (2 Corinthians 11:2).

The Bible uses other metaphors for the church such as:

  • Branches on a vine (John 15:5)
  • A building (1 Corinthians 3:9)
  • A field of crops (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
  • An olive tree (Romans 11:17-24
  • A harvest (Matthew 13:1-30; John 4:35)

The church is also viewed as a new temple not built with literal stones but built with Christian people who are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) built upon the “cornerstone” who is Christ Jesus (1 Peter 2:4–8).

We are also viewed as God’s house (Hebrews 3:6), with Jesus Christ Himself viewed as the “builder” of the house (Hebrews 3:3). The church is also viewed as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Finally, the church is viewed as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into the church.

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The Marks of a True Church

At the Reformation, a crucial question came up: How can we recognize a true church? Is the Roman Catholic Church a true church or not? To answer that question, people had to decide what were the “marks” of a true church. What are the distinguishing characteristics that lead us to recognize it as a true church?

The Bible does speak of false churches. Paul says of the pagan temples in Corinth, “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20). He tells the Corinthians, “You were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols” (1 Corinthians 12:2).

These pagan temples were certainly false churches or false religious assemblies.

What constitutes a true church?

1. The Word of God is Rightly Taught

In large measure, there was an agreement between Luther and Calvin on the question of what constituted a true church.

In the Lutheran statement of faith, they defined the church as “the congregation of saints in which the gospel is rightly taught.” Similarly, John Calvin said, “Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists.”

It seems appropriate that we take Luther and Calvin’s view on the marks of a true church as correct still today. Certainly, if the Word of God is not being preached, but simply false doctrines or doctrines of men, then there is no true church.

Preach the Word

2. The Right Administration of the Sacraments

This was probably stated in opposition to the Roman Catholic view that saving grace came through the sacraments. Thus, the sacraments were made “works” by which we earned merit for salvation. In this way, the Roman Catholic Church was insisting on payment rather than teaching faith as the means of obtaining salvation.

There are two ordinances of the church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. An organization that practices baptism and the Lord’s Supper is a continuing organization and is attempting to function as a church. But it is not merely about instituting these sacraments; it’s more about administering them the “right way.”

Groups who do not administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper signify that they are not intending to function as a church.

True and False Churches Today

People often ask, “Is the Roman Catholic today a true church?”

We cannot simply decide for the Roman Catholic Church as a whole because it is far too diverse. Some Roman Catholic parishes certainly lack both marks. And some view participation in the sacraments as a “work” that can earn merit with God. Such groups of people are not the true Christian church.

On the other hand, there are many Roman Catholic parishes in various parts of the world today where the local priest has a genuine saving knowledge of Christ. They also have a vital personal relationship with Christ in prayer and Bible study.

JW's and Mormons: Are they False Churches?

What about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

We might have difficulty determining just how much wrong doctrines can be tolerated before a church can no longer be considered a true church. But there are many clear cases where we can say that a true church does not exist.

The Mormon church does not hold to any major Christian doctrines concerning salvation or the person of God or the person and work of Christ. Clearly, it is a false church.

Similarly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach salvation by works, not by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. This is a fundamental doctrinal deviation because if people believe the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they simply will not be saved. So the Jehovah’s Witnesses also must be considered a false church.

Bottom Line

When the preaching of a church conceals the gospel message of salvation by faith alone from its members so that the gospel message is not proclaimed, the group meeting there is not a church. When a group does not administer baptism and the Lord’s supper the right way, they are not a true church.

We can distinguish between a true and false church by using the Word of God. A true church has Christ not only as its foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) but also the cornerstone of that foundation (1 Peter 2:7). One last thing, the true church governs itself by the authority of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Are you in a true church?


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Reference Material: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell.

Bible Doctrine takes a highly commended upper-level textbook on systematic theology and makes it accessible to the average reader. Abridged from Wayne Grudem’s award-winning Systematic Theology, Bible Doctrine covers the same essentials of the faith, giving you a firm grasp on seven key topics:

  • The Doctrine of the Word of God
  • The Doctrine of God
  • The Doctrine of Man
  • The Doctrine of Christ
  • The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
  • The Doctrine of the Church
  • The Doctrine of the Future

Like Systematic Theology, this book is marked by its clarity, its strong scriptural emphasis, its thoroughness in scope and detail, and its treatment of such timely topics as spiritual warfare and the gifts of the Spirit.

But you don’t need to have had several years of Bible school to reap the full benefits of Bible Doctrine. It’s easy to understand–and it’s packed with solid, biblical answers to your most important questions.