Thursday, February 28, 2013

What does it mean to "Receive Jesus"? How do I do this? Do I have to say the sinner's prayer? Should I "accept Jesus into my heart"?

If you have ever attended a church service or listened to a religious program, you have probably heard the speaker tell the audience they needed to "receive Jesus" to be saved.  Most churches teach you need to "receive Jesus", but differ on how this is done. Many churches teach that you have to say what is called "The Sinner's Prayer".

The so-called "Sinner's Prayer" usually sounds something like this:
Dear God,
Thank you for making a way for us to turn from the wrong things that we have done. I know I have done wrong things, but right now I want to look upon Jesus so that you will forgive me for the things I have done. Please let me receive Jesus into my heart. I want to live forever with God. Thank you for loving me.
In Jesus Name I Pray,
The "Sinner's Prayer" is NOT in the Bible.
Although the people who are saying the "Sinner's Prayer" are doing it with a sincere heart and are trying to do what is right, what they are doing does not result in receiving Jesus. In fact, the "Sinner's Prayer" or the idea of "Accepting Jesus into Your Heart" is not found in the Bible at all. The Bible Answer Show always wants to provide "Bible Answers" to questions. With this thought in mind we will examine what the Bible teaches about "How One Receives Jesus" and "Why We Need to Receive Him".

Why do I need to Receive Jesus?

Almost all religious people agree that mankind is plagued with a SIN problem. The only one who has never committed a SIN is Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:15). We, however, have sinned! (Rom. 3:23) "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Our sins make us deserving of eternal spiritual death (Romans 6:23). Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).

Since all have sinned, all need salvation. Because of our sins we deserved the punishment of death, but Jesus died for us so that if we "receive Him" we could have eternal life.

How do I Receive Jesus?
The passage in the Bible that mentions "receiving Jesus" is (Colossians 2:6-7).
"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude".
The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and the Greek word for “received” is the  paralambano which means "to join oneself with" (Perschbacher Greek Lexicon). To "receive Jesus" is the same as being "joined with Jesus".

How is one Joined with Christ?
Galatians 3:27 answers this question, it states: “...for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ". The Bible teaches that when a person is baptized into Christ they "clothe" themselves with Christ. This would be the equivalent to joining yourself to, or "receiving" Jesus.

Why Baptism?

Getting dunked under water alone does nothing special. But when one acts in faith, placing their trust in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and is baptized, they:
  • Put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).
  • Get “into Christ” (Rom. 6:3-4)
  • Receive the “forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38).
  • This gets rid of the sin problem!
  • When one is baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27, Rom. 6:3-4) they become partakers of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places that is only found “in Christ”.
    • (Eph. 1:3-14) Grace, redemption, forgiveness, inheritance, hope, the Holy Spirit and more are found "in Christ".
Everyone Can Receive Jesus!
  • When one truly believes in Jesus (John 8:24).
  • Repents of their sins (Luke 13:3,5).
  • Confesses the Lordship of Christ (Rom. 10:9-10)
  • Baptism then becomes that final point where one acts in faith and puts to death the old life, washes away sin, receives Christ and is born again. (Acts 2:38, 22:16, etc.)
What do I do After Receiving Jesus?
  • It is time to rejoice for your sins are forgiven and eternal life with God awaits you (Acts 8:39)
  • You are added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:41,47)
  • You shall then live your life for Him. 
    • Serving Him daily (Rom. 12:1).
    • Worshipping and fellowshipping with other Christians (Heb. 10:25, 3:13).
    • Avoiding sin while walking in the light till you go on to your reward (1 John 1:7)
Please email us if you would like to learn more about receiving Jesus
By CS - Scripture references from the NASB and ESV. Quotes from Perschbacher Greek Lexicon

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What does it mean to "know God"? How do I know if I "know" Him?

“Do you know Jesus?” is a phrase that is often repeated amongst Christian circles. Depending on who you ask, it can mean a variety of different things. To some, “knowing Jesus” means you are a frequent church goer, to others it may mean that you feel God has in some way providentially impacted your life. Most, Christians will admit that knowing Jesus is paramount to being saved, however, most cannot actually pinpoint what “knowing Jesus” means or entails. 

What does it mean to "know God"?

A Christian should be able to evaluate their commitment to a godly lifestyle and affirm whether or not they know God. John writes, "
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments...whoever keeps His Word, in him the love of God has been truly perfected, by this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5)
Knowing God is synonymous in 1st John with fellowship with God, and true fellowship with God comes from obedience to God’s will. If one doubts their relationship with God, a simple self-evaluation of their level of commitment to obedience will bear testimony to their level of love for God. 


Practically speaking, if one examines their life, their commitments, their time and their sacrifices, and finds obedience to God is their number one priority, they will know they “know God”. On the other hand, if one claims to know God, but their level of commitment declares otherwise, they are lying to themselves. John writes:
The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:2-4).
One who truly knows God is one who truly obeys. Let’s put into practice what we profess.


What does it mean to be "in fellowship" with God?

Fellowship is a word that is thrown around a great deal in Christian circles. It is a word that often conjures up several different images in our minds. To some “fellowship” represents potluck lunches, to others it may bring to memory teenage devotionals and to some it may remind them the close friendships they enjoy in a local congregation.'

What is "fellowship"?

The word translated fellowship in our New Testaments is the Greek word koinonia and it can be defined as a “relationship, communion, community, common purpose or sharing”. God desires to have fellowship with His children and we likewise should desire fellowship with Him. In fact, God sent His apostles to preach the message of Christ so we could have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3). This relationship with God brings great “joy” (1 John 1:4).
Great blessings accompany fellowship with God. 

Fellowship with God means Spiritual Communion

First, when we have fellowship with Father, we have fellowship with the Son, the apostles and all others who follow God. When we have fellowship with God we should never feel alone, because we share in spiritual communion with past and present believers (1 John 1:3,7). 

Fellowship with God means Being Cleansed of Sins

Secondly, when we are in fellowship with God we have the benefit of continual cleansing of sin. As long as we are in a relationship with God, as His children we can be constantly be made pure by the cleansing ability of Christ’s blood. God cannot have fellowship with sin, He is light and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5). Light is the absence of darkness, when we abide in the light (ie. fellowship with God), darkness is removed and we are found pure.

Great Blessings are Associated with Being "In Fellowship" with God

These blessings we have examined are wonderful representations of God’s care and concern for His creation. These blessings, however, are conditional upon us maintaing real fellowship with God, His Son and His church. We cannot declare to have a relationship with God and still be living in darkness. God who is light cannot be in the presence of darkness. (1 John 1:6) May we always abide in the light and reap the benefits of real fellowship with God. 


Can a person be forgiven if they won't admit they need forgiveness?

We have all  known someone who would never admit when they were wrong? No matter how insurmountable the evidence is against them, they will not confess to making a mistake. A follower of God cannot have this kind of mentality!  One cannot become a child of God if they wont admit sin. The apostle John wrote,  “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

God will not forgive the person who does not admit his need for forgiveness. 

Before one can become a follower of God, they must admit to themselves that because of sin they need God. Sadly, too many people adopt the “to big to fail” mentality and will never believe they have fallen. These people are deceiving themselves and can never be forgiven. God will not forgive the person who does not admit his need for forgiveness. 

God will forgive the person who admits sin.

On the other hand, if we are honest with ourselves, identify the sins in our life and confess our sinfulness before self and God, we can be forgiven. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness”  (1 John 1:9).

God is Truth and cannot be in fellowship with lies. Those in the light (1 John 1:7) understand that all have sinned and have no problem admitting it. From the admission of guilt comes the blessing of forgiveness. We all have all sinned, continue to sin, and will continue to sin. Even when we fail time after time again, there is still hope in Christ, for redemption and salvation.

How do I receive forgiveness?

The steps to receiving these blessings are simple. First, admit to self that you are not perfect, you sin and you need God. Second, seek out God and acknowledge His gracious and forgiving character. Third, with great joy and humble thanksgiving accept the forgiveness He continually offers. 
Depending on your relationship with God, the third step may take different forms. 

For those outside of a covenant relationship with Christ, accepting God’s forgiveness requires turing from sin, to God, and putting on Christ in baptism (Acts 2:38). For those already in Christ, accepting God’s forgiveness comes from prayer and an effort to turn from sin and back to Him.

Thanks be to God for continually forgiving us as we fall. Let’s not be so big, proud or self righteous that we never admit we need God’s grace. God will forgive you, if you are willing to admit your need for forgiveness. 

If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us”
 (1 John 1:10).

CS- Scripture references from NASB

Does history always repeat itself? Are we doomed to repeat the sins of those in the Old Testament?

The proverb “History Repeats Itself” is recorded as being stated all the way back to around the 1500s. Although the English phrase itself is only 500 years old , the principle is one that has been around long before. How many children do we often see making the same mistakes their parents made?  It often seems that we are doomed to commit the very same mistakes of those who have gone on before us. 

 We Can Learn From History

One of the beautiful things about history is we can read of the mistakes that were made, and learn from them. Paul had this in mind when he wrote in 1 Corinthians (10:11-12):
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”
Paul knew that we will often make the same mistakes of the past, but at the same time if we are wise, we will observe what happened in the past and learn from it. 

The Old Testament Was Written For Our Learning

One of the key purposes of the Old Testament today, is for us to read through it, and learn from the many mistakes that God’s people made. We are not so far removed from them to think that we do not struggle with the same things. They struggled with immorality, materialism and pride in the same way that we do. We need to be wise and utilize the tools that God has given us to overcome temptation. 

Conclusion: History Does Not Always Have to Repeat Itself.

We can learn from the Old Testament. History DOES NOT always have to repeat itself. Immediately after discussing the purpose of Old Testament history, Paul writes, 
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). 
We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. May we always learn from those who have gone on before us, and grow because of the lives they lived.

CS - Scripture quotes from NASB

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What am I supposed to do after I become a Christian?

A person who has learned about Jesus will hopefully decide to place his/her faith in Jesus and emulate His death, burial and resurrection in baptism (Romans 6:3-4). After one makes the choice to accept God’s grace in this way they are now “saved”! Often times after being saved a person will not know exactly what to do, or what God expects of them. This post intends to answer the question: “I am what?”

The book of 1st John deals with this question. In chapter one we learn that:
  • God is Light (1 John 1:5).
  • We have fellowship with Christ when we are in the Light (1 John 1:7).
  • We are not sinless (1 John 1:8,10).
  • Our salvation is not based upon us being perfect (1 John 1:9). 
After establishing these points in chapter one, the Apostle John gives some great points in chapter 2 on how a person is supposed to live post-conversion.

Understand that Grace Motivates us to Live Holy. (It is not a license to sin!)

  • (1 John 2:1) “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.”
  • Although our salvation is not based upon our sinlessness, God still wants us to not sin.
  • Because He Loves Us, We Live For Him!
    • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14)
Understand that Obedience is Required.
  • “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (2:4).
  • “Whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him” (2:5). 
  • “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (2:6).
Understand that there is Hope even when We Disobey.
  • “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1).
  • “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (2:2).
  • God Loves You!
    • (John 3:16) - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”.
  • Jesus Died For You!
    • (John 15:13) - “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”.
  • Live For Jesus!
    • (John 15:14) - “You are my friends if you do what I command you”. 
Once you are saved, it is your job to OBEY GOD.

BY Cliff Sabroe - quotes from NASB95 AND ESV BIBLE