In-House Tracts Blog
From Faith To Faith
I suppose that most people tend to stay in the same religion in which they were born. I was born into a Catholic family and was raised as a good little Catholic. I went to Church on Sundays and used the kiddy envelopes to put some coins into the collection basket. I was asked to become an altar boy but declined because I was too shy. I learned that my church was the one true church and my religion was the one true religion. Later I learned that my Catholic bible was the one true bible. I suppose if I had been born into a Jehovah Witness family my one true religion would be the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Or if I had been born in Saudi Arabia my one true religion would be Islam and my one true bible would be the Koran. As Einstein said, it’s all relative.
I quit attending Sunday Mass regularly after I graduated from High School but resumed after I married. My sons attended Catholic schools and one became an altar boy. At one point I attended Mass daily, sometimes twice a day. I wore sacred medals and scapulars and said Rosaries. I had fierce arguments with my brother over Jesus and Mary. I started reading the bible and became fascinated with Genesis 1:26, which led me to try to reconcile some of my Catechism teachings with the bible, but discovered disagreements. I tried desperately to see Jesus in the bread on First Fridays Adoration but could not, and my faith soon faded. I had to find something else.
I used to hate religious radio and television programs. And I didn’t care for the music or the normal talk shows on the radio on my work drives to Mississippi before I retired. But at least there was no chitchat on the religious talk shows so I started listening to those. Most of what those religious guys would say were in agreement with my Catholic teaching. But once in a while they would contradict and I would think that’s because they didn’t have the Catholic advantage. And I would get angry if they said anything against Mary.
But after a while, I started listening to the message instead of getting mad at the messenger. And I would call and ask for their brochures and tapes and videos. They would speak of being “saved again.” What was that all about? They would speak of a “personal Lord and Savior.” What was this “personal” thing all about? I thought Jesus died for the whole world, not for any particular person. And they would back up what they were teaching by referring to verse such-and-such in the bible. So I would get out my Catholic bible and the reading would be close, but not the exact words. So I thought, they must be using the King James bible and decided to buy one.
But it was a strange feeling going into a Christian bookstore. I had just gotten used to going into Catholic bookstores. The lady showed me where the King James bibles were (there were many kinds, even Catholic bibles) so I bought one that was recommended on TV. The format was completely different from my Catholic bible but at least I would now be able to follow along.
However, I have since learned that Catholic and Protestant bibles agree with each other on all major points of theology, and largely agree on most other points. The wording may be different but the teaching is similar. In fact, all quotes that follow are from my Catholic New American Bible.
One of the things that got me interested in the bible was listening to radio and TV pastors speak of prophecy and the end times. It would remind me of the readings at Mass that would refer to “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” I would think, that’s me, wailing and gnashing. Oh sure, I would feel good after going to confession, but that would never last long. No, there was really no hope for me at all. I would never be good enough for heaven, so there was nothing left for me except the hope of Purgatory rather than wailing and gnashing. What a thing to hope for! But those guys on radio and TV would show from the bible that wailing and gnashing was just for the “lost”, not the “saved”. They would say that there was nothing anyone could do to be good enough to escape God’s wrath. The only requirement was faith in Jesus Christ.
I would also hear at Mass once in a while: “The wages of sin is death.” That didn’t sound too good, since I was always sinning. And of course, it tied right in with wailing and gnashing on judgement day. Those verses were written especially for me. I would sin and collect my wages of death and wailing and gnashing. But those radio and TV preachers would say that faith in Jesus Christ gives us everlasting life and spares us of that death.
But on the other hand, I believed in God and that Jesus died for the sins of the world. I’m part of the world. But I learned that’s not what the bible means by being a believer. Just believing intellectually is not what God wants. James 2:19 says even the demons believe and tremble. What God wants is for us to believe with our hearts. I learned that believing in Jesus means trusting completely that He died for my sins, and that he died in my place.
Although I continued attending Mass on Sundays, I quit going to the weekday Masses. But then it got to the point where even Sunday Masses were not fulfilling to me. Oh, it was nice seeing friends and all of that, but my spirit was just not being fed from the Mass itself. So I decided to put my faith where my heart was and make the big break.
But it was very hard to do. It really took all the courage I could muster to leave my church and go alone to another church. I tried one church nearby because I used to watch the pastor on TV. Their service was in two parts - the first hour was praise and worship and the second hour was the teaching. But when the band started playing it felt more like entertainment than praise and worship. I gave it one more Sunday but couldn’t take it any more and decided to try somewhere else.
Every time I’d go down Carol Sue toward Whitney in my neighborhood I’d see this sign for Heritage Bible Church. So I decided to give it a try. And it was the most amazing thing, because the pastor turned out to be someone that I had been listening to each morning on the radio.
To say that I was excited and blessed wouldn’t be the half of it. I had been wishing for that kind of church near my home. The pastor does not preach, but rather teaches from the bible. He encourages everyone to verify what he teaches against the bible. I have learned how to read the bible by paying attention to context, and not just pick a verse here and there and apply my own or someone else’s meaning.
When I would discover a new truth in the bible I would get excited and tell my Catholic friends, but there was little interest. And when my friends would hear that I left the Church few seemed interested in why I left, except one or two. Some would say, “I’m happy for you. We all need to find God in our own way,” or “All religions worship the same God,” or words to that effect. Most would say nothing. Only one friend was concerned enough to inquire as to why I would want to leave the traditions and rituals of the one true Church, and even offered to bring me back into the fold.
But I did not leave one church to join another church, nor did I leave one religion for another one. What I actually did was leave one relationship for another. I left a relationship with my former church and religion, and began a new relationship with Jesus and my Father, which is in heaven. And I abandoned one faith (in my works, which was hopeless) for the faith of Jesus Christ. I am now a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Although we are all creatures of God, not all are children of God. We become children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)
Becoming a child of God has reinforced things that I learned as a Catholic. But it has also allowed me to discard errors that I had previously learned.
1. God alone is God. I was taught in Catechism that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-hearing and all-present, which is also taught in the bible. I was also taught that certain people who die and go to heaven could hear the prayers of people on earth and petition God to grant their requests. Blind faith in this teaching allowed this belief to persist until I placed my faith in Christ. A little thought on the matter will reveal a problem: to be able to hear the prayers of every living person on earth at once, one would either have to have super hearing and communication skills (there are hundreds of languages in the world), and/or be everywhere on earth at all times. Those are attributes that only God possesses. Not even an angel can be in all places at once, and they are the only beings used as God’s messengers. I must have a faith that is reasonable and makes sense, not a blind faith. God alone is God.
Scripture reveals the fallacy of believing that others can have attributes of God. The bible reveals that God alone is God and that he shares his glory with no one.
Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, Israel's King and redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; there is no God but me.
Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD, this is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.
2. Authority. We submit to authority to teach us our faith. There can only be one authority; otherwise conflicts and confusions arise. The above remarks on prayers show just one example of tradition contradicting scripture. The choice I had to make was this: which authority was I going to submit to, God’s (the bible) or man’s (traditions). I chose God. But how do I know that the bible is the word of God, or that there even is a God?
The reason men have authority is because they either claim the office by force or else they are voted into the office. However the reason the bible is authoritative is not because men say so, but because of the evidence. The bible was penned by approximately 40 people (most of whom never knew each other) of varying backgrounds, education, and countries over a period of about 1500 years. And all of their writings flow together with a continuity that is nothing short of miraculous. Historically proven prophecies concerning Jesus, the Jews and the Gentiles have been fulfilled to the letter. This is strong evidence that someone outside our realm (God) inspired all those people to write all of those scriptures and to collect them all together into one book. The evidence says that people did not originate the book, but that God wrote the book through people for the specific purpose of revealing his righteousness to us.
The bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:36, “All scripture is inspired by God…”
2 Peter 3:15-16 tells us that Paul’s writings (and thus, the New Testament) were all considered as being scripture, that is, inspired of God.
3. Traditions. Some say that scripture is not complete enough to base our faith on, and that it must be supplemented with traditions. If the scriptures are of God, who knows all, etc., it is unreasonable to say that His word alone is not sufficient for me. I must have a faith that is reasonable. The apostle Paul tells us that the scriptures are sufficient to bring a child to salvation.
2 Timothy 3:15 and that from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Traditions can be good or bad, depending on their foundation. Jesus rebuked the Jews for forsaking the commandment of God in favor of their own traditions (Matthew 15:3, Jeremiah 6:16).
The bible is especially negative on future traditions, and actually predicts and warns against them (see the two epistles of Timothy). Traditions change over the years, and not always for the better, but scripture, the inspired word of God, is sure and steadfast (Psalm 119:89). When Jesus and Paul wanted to drive home a point, they would say, “As it is written,” not “According to tradition.”
4. Works. Based on their foundation, works can also be good or bad. Building hospitals and nursing homes and caring for the poor are all good works. But we do these things to help our fellow man, not to earn salvation. One does not have to be a Christian to do these things. A heathen can build hospitals and feed the hungry and care for the needy, etc. But that doesn’t mean he is going to heaven.
The word of God teaches that good works are the results of being saved, not the means of salvation.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
The bible also teaches that our rewards in heaven are based on our good works. Paul tells the Corinthian believers that the only works worth doing must be based on Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Our works will be tested by fire on the day of judgement (the Day). Good works (gold, silver, precious stones) will receive a reward (wage), whereas not-so-good works (wood, hay, straw) will be burned up. However the person will still be saved and not denied heaven if his trusting faith is in Jesus Christ.
5. Faith. Faith plus experience allows me to sit in a chair without fear of it breaking. I was taught that faith in Jesus plus faith in my church plus faith in my works would get me to heaven, maybe. But neither my church nor I had any experience in going there. However, Jesus has experience in going to heaven, and is preparing a place for me there if I would put my faith in Him alone. Since I have no experience in getting to heaven, the only logical thing to do is to place my trust in Jesus to get me there. The bible tells me that faith alone in Christ alone is the pathway to heaven. I have one logical faith in Jesus for salvation, not several blind faiths.
6. Salvation. It is of utmost importance to settle the question of salvation. No one can save themselves or anyone else. The LORD himself said through the prophet Isaiah that He alone is our savior.
Isaiah 43:11 It is I, I the LORD; there is no savior but me.
Peter also declared that salvation comes only by the name of Jesus, and not by anyone else. In Acts 4 and 5, Peter and John got arrested twice for preaching Jesus and were brought before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin gave them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in His name. Their reply in Acts 4:19 and 5:29 was that they would obey God rather than them. In Acts 4:12 Peter said, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved." And once I discovered that Jesus is the only one that saves, there was no option but to turn to him.
The Gospel of John was written specifically to show how to get saved.
John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. [20:31] But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Over and over, John and Paul tell us that everlasting life (salvation) comes by belief or faith in Jesus Christ, and no one else.
John 3:15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
3:18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.
Romans 4:3 For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; [2:9] it is not from works, so no one may boast.
The whole purpose of publishing this testimony is to express the confidence of my salvation, not doubting, with the hope that at least one person will come to realize the folly of trying to earn salvation; but rather, salvation comes only through the righteousness that is in Christ Jesus. This righteousness is given freely only to those who place their complete trust in Christ. When I leave this earth I will be accountable only to Jesus, and I will be able to bow my knee (Romans 14:11) and say, “I trusted completely in you, Lord.”
My faith in Jesus is reasonable, sensible, logical, biblical and complete. Jesus shows us the way to eternal salvation. In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There it is, straight from Jesus. He said that HE is the way. And he said that he saved me because of his mercy, not because of my good works (Titus 3:5). And since I am now a child of God, he gave me salvation, not probation, and will not disown me when I sin (1 John 2:1-2).
The grandest feeling in the world is to know that your salvation is secure in Jesus. It gives you a peace you just can’t imagine. That’s what I have - a peace “that surpasses all understanding” [Philippians 4:7]. I know where I am going when the time comes. There will be no wailing and gnashing of teeth for me.
- - - Final Thoughts: - - -
Do you have eternal life?
Read John 3, Romans 3,4.
Accept Jesus Christ As Your Savior
Do You Care Enough?
Hallmark has a motto: “When you care enough to send the very best.” Many, if not most, would answer, yes, if asked whether they care about their salvation and where they will spend eternity. But the larger question might be, “How much do you care?” Some might say they care so much that they participate in sacraments every month or every week, or even every day. Some may even say they care enough to try to live right every day, taking care not to break any of the Ten Commandments or the commandments of their church.
But sin, like death and taxes, is unavoidable. Sin also disturbs the conscience to the point of wanting to make reparations. But when we do things such as performing various sorts of penance and sacrifices, etc, in an effort to pay for sins we are in effect working for, or trying to earn righteousness and salvation.
However, there is a huge problem with working for salvation. No one knows exactly how much work is required. Should we pay for big sins only or also for little sins? Should we pay a little extra just to make sure? Should we do these things at least once a year, once a month, once a week – who knows? Human nature being what it is, we do the best we can. We just keep doing whatever we’re doing over and over and hope we die in a state of grace, in between states of sin. There is no security in this system of works. There’s got to be a better way.
There is also a more serious problem with this system of paying for sins. It just can’t be done! It is impossible! The bible tells us that “the wages [payment] of sin [singular – any sin] is death” (Romans 6:23). That is, the only way to pay for just one sin is to die for it. Doing penance won’t pay for any sin. Nor will saying prayers or giving to the poor. No, we cannot pay for just one sin and live to tell about it, for we would be dead. Again, there has to be a better way.
A more important reason why we cannot pay for our sins is that Jesus has already paid for them on the cross. Therefore the better (and only) way to obtain righteousness is to stop working to pay for our sins and just believe and trust that Jesus has already paid our penalty. The bible tells us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31), had no sins of his own (1 Peter 2:22) and was able to die for the sins of the whole world! (1 John 2:2) But this is only the half of it. Not only did Jesus die for our sins (as the bible predicted), but also three days later he rose from the dead (as the bible predicted) – (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). That is, not only did Jesus Christ pay for the sins of the whole world, he came back to life from the grave to give the world someone to believe in to be justified (Romans 4:25).
Many say they believe that Jesus paid for their sins, but they don’t support this claim by putting complete faith and trust in Him alone. They insist on doing their own penance and sacrifices in addition to Jesus’ sacrifice of himself on the cross. But when we do these things we are sharing our faith between two persons, Jesus and ourselves. Hence, there is no guarantee that either person is reliable by himself to do the thing that is believed in. There can only be one object of faith for salvation. That object must be the person of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). When we do anything in addition to what Jesus has already done for us, we are not completely trusting that Jesus paid the full penalty for all our sins.
But the bible says that Jesus “by himself [no help needed] purged [clear of any charges] our sins [plural – all of them]” (Hebrew 1:3). So there is no need, nor is it even possible, to participate in any sacraments or rituals that will pay for our sins. They have already been paid for and purged. Once something is paid for it cannot be paid for again.
The bible further says that Jesus “offered one sacrifice [himself] for sins for ever” (Hebrews 10:12). His sacrifice was perfect (Hebrews 10:14). God the Father is propitiated [satisfied] with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the righteous for our sins – and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world! (1 John 2:2) Our sins have been remitted [released, forgiven], so there is no need to make any more offerings for sin (Hebrews 10:18).
Our spirit [not our flesh] must be “born again” to see the kingdom God (John 3:7). Since flesh can only beget flesh (John 3:6) we are “without strength” [powerless] to spiritually bring about our spiritual rebirth (Romans 5:6). However, our faith in Jesus Christ allows the Holy Spirit to beget our new spirit (John 3:6).
Only God can make ungodly man right with Him (Romans 4:5). Only God can justify us and give us peace with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Therefore we should change our mind [repent] about trying to become righteous on our own. We should abandon all efforts to pay for our sins, and trust solely and exclusively in Jesus Christ, who has already paid for all sins. To repeat, things that are already paid for cannot be paid for again (and again…).
The bible says that salvation [in the person of Jesus Christ] is THE GIFT OF GOD (Ephesians 2:4-9). Payment is neither required nor accepted. For if a gift could be earned it would not be a gift [something acquired without compensation]. Clearly, righteousness and salvation cannot be earned (Romans 4:1-5; Titus 3:5). It is one thing to reject a gift from another person, but pity the poor soul who rejects THE GIFT OF SALVATION from God. What answer would he give if asked by God, “Why did you reject MY GIFT?”
Man has an innate urge to worship something. More often than not we worship the wrong thing. But God gave us the correct thing to worship (John 3:16). He gave us His Son, who is trustworthy and is able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). All God wants from us is to accept His Gift by placing our complete faith and trust in His Son. The reward is everlasting life for this simple act of faith. Those who change their minds about working for salvation, and put their trust totally and exclusively in Jesus Christ, are rewarded with righteousness and salvation and everlasting life. Those who refuse God’s free gift of salvation and insist on working for it themselves can shamefully look forward to God’s EVERLASTING WRATH (John 3:18,36; Daniel 12:2).
The quintessential example of a person unable to work for salvation is the thief on the cross who was crucified with Jesus. Just minutes from death and with no chance for works, he acknowledged his sinful state and his just punishment, and asked Jesus for mercy when He came into His kingdom, thereby implying a faith that Jesus was the promised Messiah of scripture (Luke 23:40-43).
The bible states emphatically and authoritatively that not even God’s ceremonial/religious laws can justify us (Galatians 2:16). And if they could, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21). What chance then, can man-made laws have to accomplish this? It further urges us to free ourselves of the bondage of vainly working for salvation by these means (Galatians 5:1). Let us therefore heed the bible’s exhortations and place our faith alone in Christ alone for our salvation.
One final note: Bible verses which promise God’s righteousness or salvation or everlasting life through faith alone in Christ alone hold the same weight and authority as a contract which is guaranteed by God. Man plays no part in this contract other than to believe in the One who guarantees it – Jesus Christ. Adding anything to this contract, such as faith in one’s religion or church or baptism or rituals or works, is tantamount to making this contract null and void, with the person dying in his sins [not because of his sins – they were paid for by Christ], spending eternity in hell. We should tremble at this thought.
So back to the original question: Do you care where you will spend eternity? Do you really care enough to change your mind and abandon the present way you hope to get there? All it takes is faith in Jesus Christ. By placing your faith exclusively in Jesus Christ as your Savior (no additional faith in church or sacraments or anything else), and believing that Jesus has paid for all of your sins (something that is impossible for you or anyone else to do), you will become a born again (John 3:3) child of God (Galatians 3:26) who is guaranteed to have everlasting life (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13) with the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Second Chance Faith
When engineers, scientists, and other mathematician types want to test or prove some equation they use a technique whereby a variable is taken to various limits such as zero or one or infinity or some other extreme.
Now scripture tells us that salvation is granted to whosoever would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and only Savior [Jn 3:16; Acts 4:12].
Applying the mathematical limit technique to scripture we could assign the number infinity to the number of people that believe in Jesus. The result would be that all would be saved and none would be lost. But what if we assigned the number zero to the number of people that believe in Jesus? In effect we would be asking, What if no one believes in Jesus? Would that mean that He died in vain? God forbid!
Back in the Garden, God gave a command to Adam to not eat of one forbidden fruit with the promise that he would die if he disobeyed [Gen 2:17]. In effect, God promised Adam, "If you turn away from Me, the One who breathed the breath of life into your nostrils [In Him was life-Jn 1:4], and don't believe what I'm telling you, of your own doing you will loose your source of life and become ungodly and without strength [Rom 5:6] and die [Gen 2:17]."
However, Adam didn't fully realize the seriousness of God's command and promise, and did disobey Him. And as a result he did die. In effect, Adam turned away from his source of life, and instead believed one who could not sustain him and ate the fruit anyway. Adam found out that it's not a good thing to turn away from God and not believe Him. But God, in his wisdom and love and mercy had a plan to give man a second chance to believe Him.
Fast forward to the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus [Jn 3]. Jesus promised Nicodemus that if he believed what He was telling him, he would be born again and live forever [Jn 3:16]. In effect, the First and Second promises were two sides of the same coin.
The First Promise, to Adam, emphasized the negative aspects of turning away and not believing God (ungodly death would result). The Second Promise, to Nicodemus, emphasized the positive aspects of turning toward and believing God (godly reward of everlasting life). The Second Promise was a second chance at getting it right, a second chance at correcting Adam’s fatal error of not believing God.
Ah, but it’s not so much the fact that God so loved the world that he offered His Perfect Son to pay for all our sins that gives us eternal life. No, God so loved the world that He gave us a second chance to believe Him, to believe that He offered His Perfect Son to be His Perfect Lamb that paid for Adam’s sin of unbelief [Jn 1:29], and hence our sins and all sins. For if no one believed the Second Promise then Christ’s death, however Perfect, would have been in vain, and all would still be damned [Jn 3:18].
Notice that in both commands and promises, no work was required. By definition, no work was required in the First Command to not do something [do not eat of the fruit]. Neither is any work required in the Second Command, that is, to believe in Jesus. Also common to both commands, believing in God or Jesus alone is the key requirement to the benefits of God’s blessings.
When we add anything to the Second Command to simply believe in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation we are repeating the same sin that Adam committed in the Garden. How ironic! By attempting to earn righteousness and salvation we are actually condemning ourselves to God’s abiding and everlasting wrath [Jn 3:36].
But by obeying God’s Second Command a miraculous spiritual birth takes place. The Holy Spirit gives birth to our spirit [Jn 3:6] and we become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ [Gal 3:26]. Let us not be deceived by the simplicity of God’s Second Promise [2 Cor 11:3], that is, everlasting life is ours simply by faith in Jesus Christ [Jn 3:16].
Some religions promote, even command that salvation must be earned through prescribed rituals. The bible teaches just the opposite, that salvation cannot be earned, but is a gift [Eph 2:8-9]. We must be willing to believe God [i.e. the bible] rather than men [Acts 5:29]. Eternity is a long time and there is no second chance to change our minds after we die. No, the second chance only exists now, while we are alive [Heb 9:27].
So how about you? God has given you a second chance to believe Him – a second chance to do what Adam failed to do. Are you willing to abandon your belief in your religion or rituals or good works, but believe and trust in Jesus alone for your salvation? Failure to take advantage of this second chance at believing exclusively in Jesus for your salvation results in the wrath of God abiding on you forever. But the reward of obeying God’s Second Command is everlasting life [Jn 3:36]. I pray that you will take advantage of this second chance to believe God.
Good News For Sinners
Are you a sinner? If you say you are not, be careful of such a bold claim, for the bible says that every one in the world is a sinner [Romans 3:23]. It also calls us liars if we make that claim [1 John 1:8].
“Well, sure I sin sometimes”, you may say, “but I make up for it with prayers and good works, and get forgiveness of my sins through faith in Jesus and my religion. Then I’m clean as a whistle until the next time I sin.”
Ok, since you admit that you do sin sometimes, the bible has good news for you.
But first the bad news:
So, when all things are considered, what we think of as good news in our religion is really bad news because our religion is offering us a false sense of security, a false hope. “Well, is there no true hope at all?” we may ask. Yes, there is hope. Even though God’s righteousness cannot be earned, it can be obtained through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now the good news:
Blind faith in our good works or church or religion mean nothing to God. But focused faith in Jesus Christ the Righteousness will guarantee that we also will be raised from the grave to everlasting life.
All God requires of us is our obedience to put our complete trust and faith in the finished work that Christ has done for us on the cross. That faith must not be shared with anything or anyone else. When we do that, God imparts to us the righteousness of Christ and freely justifies us and we become born again to live forever with Christ. Failure to do this one simple act of faith will result in eternal separation from God and Jesus Christ in the Lake of Fire that was prepared for the rebellious angels.
It is a difficult thing for most of us to abandon our good works, for we feel that we should do something to earn righteousness. But God will not honor works of righteousness which we have done. Only by His mercy will he save anyone from His wrath. Having faith alone in Jesus Christ alone honors God and Jesus. But sharing that faith with anyone or anything else dishonors Jesus and what He did for us on the cross.
Can anyone claim to not be a sinner? The bible emphatically answers, NO. Do sinners deserve God’s abiding [lasting forever] wrath? Emphatically, YES. Can we do any kind of works to appease God and cause Him to turn away His anger? NO. Is there any hope at all of escaping God’s judgement on our sins? The good news is, YES.
Peter tells us in Acts 4:12 that there is only one name in the whole earth whereby we MUST be saved. Must, in the sense that if we don’t get saved we will never see heaven. And must, in the sense that we must get saved through the name of Jesus Christ. The name of our church cannot save us, neither can the name of our religion. Only faith in the name of Jesus Christ can save anyone.
Jesus told Nicodemus that we MUST be born again to see the kingdom of God [John 3:3]. That “born again” birth is a spiritual one. Physical water will not bring about a spiritual birth, neither will any other kind of physical ritual, no matter how holy it may seem. Only the Holy Spirit of God can bring about a spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit imparts a new birth to our spirit ONLY through our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
God urges us to not let the chance slip away if today we hear His voice urging us to place our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. There is no second chance to change our minds after we die. While we still have the chance, while we are still alive and can decide who will be our Savior, let us place our complete trust and faith in Jesus Christ, who freely gives us everlasting life with Him through that faith, but paid dearly with His own life to appease God forever for our sins. Do not harden your heart against the simplicity of placing your faith only in Jesus Christ for your salvation.
Are you ready to abandon your own efforts to become righteous, but rather fully trust and rely and believe in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Doing so will guarantee that you will be saved forever and have eternal life with Jesus. I pray that you will.
In 1971 John Lennon wrote a song called, "Imagine." In this song, Lennon imagines there is no heaven, no hell, no countries. Let us take this imagination to it's ultimate "nothingness." What would be left? Nothing? Not so fast. The bible tells us that there will always be God. That is, take away everything in the universe and God is still there.
Now let us imagine adding only one man. We now have God and one man. There are no "things." There is nothing to worship except God. And that is how it should be.
In this imagination adventure let us imagine God, who created all things, as being taller than the tallest mountain. He uses the tallest mountain as his foot stool. By comparison, the tallest man is rather small and insignificant. By comparison, it seems pointless and silly to obey another little man rather than God in spiritual matters. And it seems silly to worship another thing or person, no matter what title he/she has, rather than God.
Lennon also imagines there is no religion. Good luck with that one also, for by his very nature man is a religious creature. Man has an innate desire to worship. There is not a culture past or present that does not worship something. But more often than not, the object of man's worship is not the true biblical God. Man has many substitutes for God, such as himself, other men or women or children, animals, ideas, science, and even inanimate things, both natural and man-made.
So if we acknowledge that God is our creator, doesn't it follow that God is the only One deserving of our faith and worship and obedience? Should a lifeless man-made thing that will rust or rot or decay be worshiped? NO! Should any man or woman or child or animal or any thing which we make with our hands be worshipped? NO! How silly this must seem to atheists: to make something with one’s hands and then worship it.
The bible tells us that man is a sinner who cannot pay for his own sins. And that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. And that Jesus was buried, as the scriptures foretold. And that after three days in the grave Jesus rose again from the dead as the scriptures foretold. And that Jesus is still living and seated at the right hand of God the Father. And that Jesus is the only person worthy of our faith and worship. The bible further promises that whoever believes these things will have their sins remitted and have everlasting life with Jesus Christ. (John 3:16)
Does your church or religion teach these things? If not, you are being led astray, led away from God. The bible tells us to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:17-18) That is, get out of that religion and turn to Christ for your salvation.
So imagine if you will, the profit to your soul of worshiping Jesus Christ and obeying His commands, as compared to obeying your church or religion and worshiping what it commands. The bible says that if you do not fully believe and trust that Jesus Christ is your Savior who paid for your sins, but rather trust and believe in yourself or your church or religion or nothing, you will surely spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. (John 3:36; Rev 20:15)
Man has been on a quest for centuries to extend his life. However, those who know the Lord Jesus Christ know that this is a pointless quest, for man was designed to live forever. But sin disrupted man’s life. Even so, Jesus Christ paid for all of mankind’s sins, and man will in the end live forever. The only question is, where will we spend eternity? Will it be in heaven or the Lake of Fire? The most amazing thing is that we have a choice! The bible tells us to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31; John 3:36)
So take the time to consider eternity while you are still able, for we know not what tomorrow will bring. A heart attack? A fatal accident? Who knows? Eternity is forever and forever. Imagine spending eternity with Jesus in heaven or without Jesus in the Lake of Fire. Imagine that your choice will last forever and forever, with no chance to change your mind.
Imagine where will you spend it?
You don’t have to wonder – you can know it now.
BELIEVE IN JESUS NOW!
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Criticisms?
Mercy vs. Judgement
 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
Not only do we reap what we sow, but we also don’t reap what we don’t sow. That is, if mercy is not sown to fellow humans then mercy, of which we could all use a generous helping, will not be reaped at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Even though we have already obtained undeserved mercy through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can obtain additional mercy in the form of rewards by doing works of obedience and mercy to our fellow humans, especially in sharing the gospel of grace. But if we do not show mercy to others, then God will not be merciful to us at the Judgement Seat of Christ, and therefore judge us for not doing works of mercy.
 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
By God’s grace we are saved from His condemnation and abiding wrath through our faith [Eph 2:8]. Therefore James is not speaking of salvation here. Rather, he is speaking of being saved from God’s judgement at the Judgement Seat of Christ for our lack of mercy to others. Mercy and rewards are dispensed at the Judgement Seat of Christ on the basis of our works of obedience and mercy and love, not on the basis of faith. That is, faith alone cannot save anyone from the judgement of not doing works of mercy. The only thing that can save us from that judgement is to actually do works of mercy.
 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Who does not profit? Both parties. It certainly doesn’t profit the person in need of help. And it does not profit the person who was able to help. So for his lack of mercy, he will not be shown mercy at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
In order for faith to be useful it must be accompanied by works. By itself, faith cannot help anyone, and is therefore “dead” to mercy. Christ had faith in His Father. But had He not been obedient and put Himself on the cross, His faith would not have done the world any good at all. Christ demonstrated His faith to His Father by His work of obedience and mercy on the cross.
 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Here in the midst of one hypothetical example of faith without works [v15-17] and two real life examples of faith with works [v21, 25], James is teaching that faith in Christ must be accompanied by works. We can often observe that a weak faith produces hardly any works, while a strong faith can produce bold works that glorify the Lord [2Cor 5:7]. We should always be aware that works which glorify the Lord will bring mercy and rewards, while no works or works which only glorify ourselves will bring no mercy at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Vain, in the sense that we are just fooling ourselves if we think that we will get heavenly rewards and escape God’s judgement by relying strictly on our faith and not any works of mercy. This is a reiteration of v.17 with the emphasis on being foolish for not growing in faith and doing good works. Examples of lively faith with works follow.
 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Abraham’s faith justified God’s grace in imputing His righteousness to Abraham. But Abraham’s obedience in attempting to perform the sacrifice of his only son justified (or proved) his faith to God.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.  And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.  And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
The angel of the Lord, speaking for God, said, “now I know…” By being obedient in attempting to perform the sacrifice of his son Isaac, Abraham proved (or justified) his faith in God. Abraham was not trying to show his faith in God to his son Isaac, who was the only other person there. Rather, he was showing God of his faith in Him. It was not a work of mercy, but rather a work of faith and obedience.
 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Again, Abraham’s faith in God justified God’s granting Abraham His righteous. But Abraham’s work of obedience justified his faith in God. So, faith justifies and works justifies – only the sources and meanings of justification are different. God justifies His gift of salvation to the person who has faith in His Son, while man justifies his faith in Jesus by doing works of obedience and mercy and charity (a derivative of love).
 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
Rahab, hearing of the might and power and mercy of the God of Israel, how He brought them out of slavery in the land of Egypt and how Israel’s God was with them in defeating all enemies round about, knew that her city was about to be given over to the children of Israel [Joshua 2]. So Rahab performed an act of kindness and mercy by hiding the spies, in return for mercy being shown to her and her family when her city would be destroyed. Whereas Rahab’s countrymen feared the nation of Israel, Rahab feared the God of Israel (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom). This act of kindness justified and perfected Rahab’s fear of the Lord, that is, her faith in Yahweh.
 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Conclusion: Just as the spirit gives life to the body, so also works gives life to faith. Faith that is not accompanied by works is a faith that disobeys v1:22 to be doers of the word. And faith without works will result in judgement [v2:13] and loss of rewards, even though the believer will be saved from God’s abiding wrath [1Cor 3:15]. Let us therefore really be a kind of firstfruits that is called for in v1:18 by being merciful to others, especially in sharing the gospel so that they also can be saved. Let us have the dual motivation for doing good works by obeying God and obtaining merciful rewards at the Judgement Seat of Christ and into the Millennium.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Criticisms?