Repentance before Salvation?


I had some very interesting discussions after writing two relating articles about faith verses works.  Is a person saved by faith alone or does he or she have to do something to earn their salvation?

I believe that the scriptures are very clear that people are saved by grace through faith and not of works. “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.” Eph 2:8,9.

Now to me it can’t get any clearer than that. Paul wrote this so that no one can boast about what they did in order for God to save them from wrath.

One person was bringing up repentance, he wrote that repentance is part of salvation, which means that the repenting person is actively involved in the salvation process. Is that really so, do people have to repent before they are considered saved? Repentance means a change of mind/heart. I believe that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, He is in the world to convict people of their sin. Some receive it and some will reject the truth. My pastor once gave a nice analogy about repentance.

When the Babylonians invaded the land of Israel, they took captives and transported them to Babylon which was in what is  now modern-day Iraq. The Babylonians not only took the people, they burned down their homes to the ground, so that there was nothing for them to come back to. That is what believers should do, burn down their homes, spiritually speaking.

The question is, does repentance come before salvation and can we consider repentance as work?  I believe that repentance must come first. There are several verses that would back up that believe. Jesus spoke of repentance many times in the gospels. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”Mark 1:15.  Jesus confirmed that a person must repent, which means the acknowledgment that they have missed the mark and are sinners in need of forgiveness.

Luke wrote: “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38.  At first glance that sounds like that a person needs to repent before receiving the Holy Spirit, i.e to be “born again.”

Peter was talking to the Jews that had rejected Jesus as their Messiah. It was the day of Pentecost. Many believed that day, about 3000 souls were saved. The crowd listened to Peter as he preached that  Jesus is the promised Messiah and many had a change of mind (repentance). They believed the words of Peter and realized that Jesus was the Messiah that the patriarchs and prophets spoke about. That change of heart was a genuine repentance which resulted of the Holy Spirit indwelling them.

Question, was that change of mind the works of man or was it the Holy Spirit that convicted the crowd?  It is interesting, because in the very next verse, Peter said this: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:39. “As many as the Lord will call.”

Sounds like it is God’s work. He is the initiator and He is the One that saves. Did these 3000 people do any kind of works or did they simply believed God through the message preached by Peter? Where did the faith that they all  had come from? Did they earn it or do something that triggered faith in them? I believe that is was the work of the Holy Spirit that convicted the people and brought about a change of heart. They heard and believed the truth.

Paul said in the book of Ephesians, Faith is a gift of God. It is all God’s sovereign work and I believe there is nothing anyone can do to either earn salvation or work for their salvation. People are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. No one can please God by their works. Abraham had no works, yet God declared Abraham as righteous. “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Gen 15:6.

Abraham was justified because of his faith which was given to him by God. Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the Faith chapter or hall of faith. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham are on that list. Did Abraham do any work in order to be declared righteous? Was it works or his faith that made him righteous before God. It was faith in God and His promises that gave Abraham a righteous standing before God. Abraham had nothing to boast about, it was all God’s action and all the glory belongs to Him.

The Bible is very clear about that our works cannot please God. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Heb 11:6.

“Diligently seek Him.” I believe that God works differently in the life of every person. Some may hear the gospel preached at a crusade or at a church or maybe from a person that witnessed to them. They hear the message and believe and at that moment the Holy Spirit comes into them, making His abode. They heard and believed, changed their minds and received the gift of salvation. It was the Holy Spirit that worked in them and brought the conviction of their sins. God drew them and they repented.

I can only speak about my own experience that I had on that day when I received the Lord.  I did not go to a church or crusade. Nobody witnessed to me. I hit rock bottom about 6 years ago from alcohol abuse and I sat on my patio all by myself, feeling miserable. I remember it so vividly, I cried out, “God if you exist, please help me. I do not want to be like this any longer. This is not me!”

From that moment on my life changed. Something happened that was so amazing. I believe that a genuine repentance happened that day that came from the heart. I did not say, “I repent. I repent.” I do believe that God saw my heart that morning and that it was a genuine admittance that I was wrong and I was in need of a Savior.  God began a good work in me from that day on, I never had a desire of drinking again. I firmly believe that the Lord took that desire from me completely. I ask the Lord to forgive me for all the things I had done.  I was forgiven and born again that day and fell in love with Jesus my Lord and Savior.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about repentance, sin or anything else that the Bible teaches. I didn’t know about justification, sanctification, let alone the grace and mercy of God. All I know is that the Lord came into my life that day and I never have looked back. How was I saved? By my works?  I certainly had no works to boast about. I can’t say that I was an atheist or agnostic. I believed that there was a God, but I never paid any attention to Him or knew much about Him.

On that day something happened and I know that the Holy Spirit came into my life and changed me. Where did this faith come from? Not from me, I had no faith before, it was a gift of God. I believe that God knew that this day of my surrender would come long before I was even born. I lived a life seeking my own pleasures for 46 years  and when I hit rock bottom, He was there. God is always there, all a person needs to do is to make a U-turn and there He is.

On that day I was justified because I believed God, just as Abraham did so many years before me.  Justification is instant and cannot be changed or improved on. Sanctification is a life long process in which the Holy Spirit works in the lives of  every believer to conform them more and more into the image of Christ. That I agree requires participation of the believer, the willingness to surrender all to Him. That is the sanctification process, the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer.

Sanctification can be painful at times, the Holy Spirit is pointing out what needs to be purged and done away with in our lives. Sometimes we may put up a fight to surrender it all, but one thing is for sure,  the Holy Spirit is patient and longsuffering, but He will never let us get away with what is not right in the sight of God for long.  He will sanctify us. Sanctification is a process, the Holy Spirit teaches us and shows us what needs to be purged out of our lives. This is the continuous work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the sanctification of every believer.

We need to see things from a spiritual level rather than from the human level. God gave us spiritual understanding and the mind of Christ. God wants us the be holy as He is Holy. He will complete that work.  “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;…” Phl 1:6. Again,  not our work but His work. He began the good work and He will finish it.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Phl 2:12, 13. 

I know that some may not agree with what I’m writing and I am not being dogmatic about this whole issue. I do believe however that it is not us but God that has done it all for us. We have nothing to boast about, not about our own goodness or how wonderful we might think we are and how we deserved to be saved by God. It is by His grace and because He loved us. He loved us so much that He became flesh to become one of us and to die and shed His blood on the cross. That is unconditional love and what could I compare that with? Before I say I did this and I did that, I look at the cross and say;  Jesus did that. The thief on the cross?  No works and nothing to boast about, yet he was saved by the Lord.  The thief had a change of mind that was genuine and from the heart. That in my opinion is what it is all about, the heart. People in the world have a heart problem with a God shaped hole, a void that only God can fill. The Holy Spirit calls people to repent, some will hear His voice and some will not.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16.

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Fig Leaf Religion


Once again I had someone argue with me on my Facebook page about salvation after reading my blog “Faith or Works?”  This person believes as does his church that works are required in order to be saved. He cited of course the passage in James chapter 2, which some believe contradicts Paul’s writing in Ephesians chapter 2.

Paul and James do not contradict one another. Paul writes about salvation from God’s perspective and James from a human perspective.

Saving faith in a person should be evident in their lives by the fruit they bear. As Jesus said, by their fruit shall you know them. A genuine believer that is saved by faith should bear good fruit for the kingdom.

It amazes me that there are so many people that cannot and will not receive the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  They think that there must be something that they have to do to be saved. I guess some of of it is our human nature, but I have witnessed and seen numerous people spending years to argue that works need to be included. They argue that faith in God alone is not enough and that we have to do something more than just believe.

I don’t see how anyone can come up with a works based salvation message. I cannot find that anywhere in the pages of scripture.  It is all God’s work and nothing that we have done. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He send His only begotten Son.  (John 3:16)

We are all declared sinners before God, not one is righteous on their own. “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” Rom 3:10, 11.

God has declared that ALL of mankind has fallen short of His perfect Holiness.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23.

It started in garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and they ate from the forbidden tree. That one act of disobedience caused sin to enter the world and the result was a spiritual separation from God. Adam and Eve who once were in perfect harmony with God found themselves separated and soon after witnessed what their disobedience had brought forth, the first recorded murder when Cain slew Abel.

I can only imagine what Adam and Eve must have felt on that day when they saw the outcome of their sin. The result of sin is death. They did not die physically, but they died spiritually. There was nothing that Adam and Eve could do to atone for their sin. They tried to cover up their disobedience with fig leafs, thinking that God would be ok with that. But it was not ok, God clothed them in animal skins, signifying that blood was required to atone for their sins. The blood of an innocent animal could only cover their sins but not take them away. Later when we come to the time of Moses, God instituted blood sacrifices as part of the law.

Just as Adam and Eve covered themselves in fig leafs, so are many people today have a fig leaf religion. They think that they can appease God on their own merit. They think that by their “good works” God will look at them as righteous before Him. That is a false hope, there is absolutely nothing that any of us can do to please God with our works. God provided one way and one way alone and we must receive that way.

The only way provided is through the precious blood of Christ. The shed blood of Christ on the cross was sufficient and acceptable for the Father. Jesus is our propitiation, the passover lamb. He that knew no sin became sin for us and died for us, so that we may live eternally with Him.

To all those who think and teach that faith in Jesus alone is not enough and that certain works are required to earn salvation are gravely mistaken. The law could not justify anyone and no one was or is able to keep the law perfectly. If any of us were able to keep the law, than Christ died in vain. People that want to live a life of bondage to the law are destined to fail. The law is perfect and breaking one of them means breaking all of God’s law.

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom 3:20.

Paul wrote to the Galatians: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:22-26.

Yet there are those who insist that works are required, the write books about it, they preach from the pulpit and keep their congregation under legalism and bondage. Christ came to set us free from all of that. We are no longer under the law but under grace. The gospel i.e. the good news is so simple, but people have to make it complicated and the put heavy burden on others. This is not what Christ came for and it is not what God wants.

Jesus came to die on the cross for us. He left His place in Heaven to become one of us and to take our sins upon Him. He didn’t have to do that, but God so loves us that He send His Son Who willingly gave His life. That is something to rejoice in and to be thankful for. But what do so many denominations and churches do? They overlook or don’t understand the true meaning of God’s grace and teach others that the have to live by certain rules and regulation in order to be saved.

They have teachings that are not biblical and not be backed up by the scriptures. They twist and turn verses or built their whole theology around a couple of verses, failing to compare scriptures with scriptures. It is no wonder that non-believers sometimes mock Christianity. There are so many denominations and branches of churches out there, teaching different viewpoints and are convinced that the are the only “true church.” There is a lot of confusion out there among the various denominations.

No wonder that Christians look divided, rather than being of one mind. They follow the teachings of men rather than what the word of God teaches.

The only way someone can be saved in by believing in Jesus by faith. It is not Jesus plus, it is Him alone and only through Him and Hid finished work can we be justified before God. It is not our righteousness that God looks at but His righteousness that was imputed onto every true believer. Thank you God for Your mercy and for Your grace. Thank you Father for giving Your only begotten Son.

Thank you Jesus for setting us free from the bondage of law and that you have broken the wall of separation so that we may come boldly before the throne of God.Thank you for giving us Your perfect peace.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:1, 2. 

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Rom 3:21-28.

Father Abraham


So many times I have heard pastors and others say, read your Bible daily, make sure you go to church often. I know people who get up very early in the morning to do their devotionals or have certain routines in their daily walk.  Before you misunderstand me, I agree that we as believers should be in the word and study it. I also believe that we need to be in fellowship with one another to sharpen and encourage each other. Prov 27:17.

The reason I’m writing this is because I was thinking about Father Abraham.

The Bible teaches that we as believers in Jesus Christ are sons and daughters of Abraham. “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” Gal 3:7.

That made me think, most of us have more than one Bible, we read and study it and we go to church. We have home fellowships and study groups, conferences, conventions etc. We are on the social networks sharing our faith with others and so on. These are all good things and we should and need to share our faith with others that may not yet know the Lord. On the other hand there are many that claim to be Christians that go to church on Sundays, listen to the sermon, give an offering and think they’ve done their duty.

Is that’s what it takes to be a Christian?  What about Abraham whose name was Abram when he was called by God to leave his country of Ur and to go to a place God would show him?  Abram was a gentile i.e non-Jewish when he was called and through him and his son Isaac the nation of Israel came into existence.  Abraham was before the law that came 430 years later through Moses. Abraham did not have the law, the Bible, a church to attend or any of the things that we enjoy today. Yet God declared Abraham justified and righteous.

What was is that made Abraham righteous before God? Was it his works or a weekly routine?  Did Abraham do any of those things that get emphasize in the churches today and people feel obligated to do them, thinking that otherwise they are not alright before God?

There are many that feel condemned if they don’t read the Bible for a few days or miss church a few times. Is that what God requires of the believers? I don’t think so.

Now again, don’t get me wrong, as believers we should know the scripture and they should be on the heart of every true believer just as King David said: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11.

As I mentioned before, Abraham did not have the scriptures as we know them today. He did not know the written law, but God declared him righteous. Abraham was declared righteous because he of his faith and he believed God and His word. “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Gen 15:6.

Abraham believed God and His promises. It was faith and faith alone and not his works that gave Abraham a righteous position before God. “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Rom 4:2.

Just as the Galatians did in the days of the apostle Paul, so many people today  think that they are justified because of their works. That is contrary to what the word of God teaches.

“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Gal 3:2, 3.

Believers in Christ Jesus are justified and declared righteous before God because of their faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross through His blood. He has done it all for us and there is nothing that anyone can do to improve on that by works. It is by faith alone. Believers are saved by His grace through faith. “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.” Eph 2:, 9.

Just as Father Abraham believed God, so must we come to Him by faith. The law, works, the physical church or certain denominations cannot save a person, neither can a pastor or anybody else. It is by believing in Jesus Christ that saves a person.

The thief on the cross had a change of mind/repentance in the last moments of his life, no works to speak of, yet Jesus told him that he would be in Paradise with Him. It was faith that saved the thief. And so it is with every believer, we can read the Bible over and over again, attend church 5 times a week, but the only thing that truly saves is faith.

Please don’t stop reading and studying your Bible or stop going to church, that’s not what I am trying to say. I have met so many people in person and online that think that they are obligated to do certain things in order to be alright with God. The only way to be alright before God is to believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Faith or works?


There are some that firmly believe that the Bible is full of contradictions. Are they right, does the Bible contradict itself? The most common one that people use to proof their case the Bible contains contradictions are the writings of Paul and James. Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians writes:

“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.” Eph 2:8, 9.

Paul clearly states that believers are saved through faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Saving faith is a gift and it was given by God to the believers. They cannot earn it by works or any other means. Salvation is truly by God’s grace and through faith in Christ alone.

Wait a minute some argue, what about James, he seemed to think that works are required in order to be saved. Is that what James is saying and people use it to point out a contradiction to what Paul wrote?  Paul wrote “not of works.” James mentions works. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:17, 18.

An obvious contradiction some would say. But is it really a contradiction? Let me first say that there are no contradictions in the Bible, there might be some words that got lost in translation from the Hebrew or the Greek into English where the  translators could have used a different word, but there are no contradictions.

Are these passages in conflict with each other? Did James contradict Paul when he wrote that faith without works is dead? I don’t think so at all. The most simplest way of looking at these two passages is that Paul wrote from God’s perspective or the divine level and James wrote from the human perspective, the human level.

Paul makes it very clear that man cannot save himself. No matter how hard someone might try to reach God by works or religious rituals. Salvation is a free gift of God by His mercy and grace. It is His divine action that saves the believers, not the other way around. God did what we could not do for ourselves. He made the way to be reconciled with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, our propitiation. Many times in the Bible we read “I will.” It is God that saves.

James is saying that someone can say that they have faith which cannot be seen. Anyone can say, I have faith and I believe in God, but they do not show or bear any fruit at all. They may go to church, read their Bibles, look spiritual and act holy but in reality they are unfruitful. They go through the motions and that’s what James is saying, true saving faith should be evident in the believer by how they live and how their faith in Christ produces fruit, some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred fold.
What did Jesus say about faith and bearing fruit? There are many passages of course, I will use the gospel of John to show what Jesus said.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.: John 15:1-8.
Abiding in Christ is the key, faith in Him and Him alone saves a person, not works. Good works or bearing fruit is the evidence of faith. There are many within the Christian faith that teach that works are required and in order to be saved you have to do this or that. Those are either cults or legalistic people who do not know or understand the grace of God. They are in bondage to themselves. If anyone ever comes to you with that kind of doctrine, point them to the thief on the cross. He had no works to show for that would save him, yet Jesus told him that he would be in Paradise with Him. The thief on the cross believed Jesus and had a change of mind (repentance).

“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. 

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3.  James 2:23.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16.

http://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/doesnt-james-214-18-make-it-plain-that-good-works-are-required-for-salvation-3/

Sinless Christians?


I have had several people tell me over the years that they are sinless and sin no more. Their argument is that born again believers are a new creation and thus they cannot sin and they have overcome sin through the power of the Holy Spirit. They quote 1 John 3 which says that a believer can no longer sin.

“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” 1John 3:9.

Sounds pretty convincing and convicting doesn’t it? Is John saying that a believer cannot sin and if he or she does they are of the Devil?

Let’s go back a few verses: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” 1John 3:3-6.

They following contains a few exerts from commentary by John Stott and David Guzik. I ‘m gonna put some closing thoughts at the end.

Sin is lawlessness: John defines sin at its most basic root. It is a disregard for the law of God, which is inherently a disregard for God Himself.

We often fail in the battle against sin because we won’t call it for what it is: lawlessness, an offense against the Great Law Maker, God. Instead, we say things like “If I’ve done anything wrong . . .” or “Mistakes were made . . .” and so forth. Call it for what it is: sin and lawlessness. “The first step towards holy living is to recognize the true nature and wickedness of sin.” (Stott)

You know that He was manifested to take away our sins: John here defined the mission of Jesus Christ at its most basic root – to take away our sins. The angel Gabriel promised Joseph regarding the ministry of Jesus: “you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin.” Luke 1:21

Jesus takes away our sin in the sense of taking the penalty of our sin. This is immediately accomplished when one comes by faith to Jesus.

Jesus takes away our sin in the sense of taking the power of sin away. This is an ongoing work in the lives of those who walk after Jesus.

Jesus takes away our sin in the sense of taking the presence of sin away. This is a work that will be completed when we pass into eternity and are glorified with Jesus.

He was manifested to take away our sins: This is the work of Jesus in our life. It is a work we must respond to, but it is His work in us.

We cannot take away the penalty of our own sin. It is impossible to cleanse ourselves in this way. We must instead receive the work of Jesus in taking away our sin.

We cannot take away the power of sin in our lives. This is His work in us, and we respond to that work. Someone who comes to Jesus does not have to clean themselves up first, but they must be willing to have Him take away their sin.

We cannot take away the presence of sin in our lives. This is His work in us, ultimately accomplished when we will be glorified with Him.

In Him there is no sin: Jesus had no sin to take away; therefore He could take away our sin, taking it upon Himself.

Abiding in sin or abiding in God.

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Whoever abides in Him does not sin: Since sin is lawlessness, a disregard for God ( 1 John 3:4) and since Jesus came to take away our sins (1 John 3:5), and since in Jesus there is no sin, then to abide in Him means to not sin.

It is very important to understand what the Bible means – and when it does not mean – when it says does not sin. According to the verb tense John uses, does not sin means does not live a life style of habitual sin. John has already told us in 1 John 1:8. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. In 1 John 1:8, the grammar indicates John is speaking about occasional acts of sin. The grammar of 1 John 1:6 indicates that John is speaking of a settled, continued lifestyle of sin. John is not teaching here the possibility of sinless perfection.

“The present tense in the Greek verb implied habit, continuity, unbroken sequence” (Stott); the NIV has the right idea when it translates these verbs with phrases such as keeps on sinning, continues to sin, and he cannot go on sinning.

Whoever abides in Him does not sin: John’s message is plain and consistent with the rest of the Scriptures. It tells us that a life style of habitual sin is inconsistent with a life of abiding in Jesus Christ. A true Christian can only be temporarily in a life style of sin.

Paul’s teaching in Romans 6 is a great example of this principle. He shows us that when a person comes to Jesus, when their sins are forgiven and God’s grace is extended to them, they are radically changed – the old man is dead, and the new man lives. So it is utterly incompatible for a new creation in Christ to be comfortable in habitual sin; such a place can only be temporary for the Christian.

In some ways, the question is not “do you sin or not?” We all sin. The question is, “How do you react when you sin? Do you give into the pattern of sin, and let it dominate your lifestyle? Or do you humbly confess your sin, and do battle against it with the power Jesus can give?”

This is why it is so grieving to see Christians make excuses for their sin, and not humbly confess them. Unless the sin is dealt with squarely, it will contribute to a pattern of sin that may soon become their lifestyle – perhaps a secret lifestyle, but a lifestyle nonetheless.

What is important is that we never sign a “peace treaty” with sin. We never wink at its presence or excuse it by saying, “Everybody has their own sinful areas, and this is mine. Jesus understands.” This completely goes against everything we are in Jesus, and the work He has done in our life.

Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him: To live a lifestyle of habitual sin is to demonstrate that you have not seen Him (in a present sense of the ultimate “seeing Him mentioned in 1 John 3:2), and that you have not known Him. There are some people so great and so wonderful that seeing them or knowing them will change your life forever. Jesus is that kind of person. (David Guzik)

So, if some claim that they are sinless, are they deceiving themselves? I strongly believe so. As long as we live on this earth in our earthly bodies we cannot and will not be perfect. They only sinless and perfect One is our Lord Jesus Christ. If people could be perfect and sinless on their own, than Christ did in vain. Why do we pray the Lord’s prayer where it says “forgive us our trespasses?” Why did Jesus in His letters to the seven churches ask them to repent? What about the passage in Revelation?

“Then “I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” Rev 12:10.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” 1 John 1:8-10.

 

The Grace of God


I believe that many believers have never really fully comprehended what grace truly means for the believer.  We hear the word grace many times, we hear about justice and mercy. Let me first say that mercy and justice are very much different from grace. Justice is something that we all deserve for we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.

Mercy is not receiving what we deserve. We are all guilty before God and because God is a just God, He has to punish the sinners. He cannot compromise His perfect law and justice. If any of us committed  a crime in this world and we had to appear before a judge and the judge would say, “you know what, I feel great today, I let you go.” That judge would not be a just judge. Crimes require a penalty, either with a fine or jail time.

The same thing is true with God our heavenly judge, He cannot just say, “don’t worry I let you off the hook.” A just judge will give a sentence that fit’s the crime committed, but he cannot let the person go free without any kind of  penalty. That is justice according to the laws of the land. The judge hands down the punishment, a fine of $50.000 for the crime committed. The person say’s “I don’t have that kind of money.” The judge decides because the person can’t pay the fine, to impose a jail sentence instead. Just as the officers begins to handcuff the person someone comes in and pays the fine for the convicted criminal. The man is free to go, someone paid his  fine for him. Not only that, when the men goes to his bank, he finds out that there is a deposit on his account for one million dollars.

That is what God did for us,  Jesus paid the penalty for the sinners. He took all the punishment that we deserved upon Him at the cross. He is our propitiation i.e appeasement.  It is by God’s grace that those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are pardoned from their sins. The sinner is justified before God because Jesus paid it all. We were all deserving of the judgment and the punishment is eternal separation from God. But because God in His mercy and Grace gave His only Son so that we may live. Grace is a free gift. We cannot earn it or improve on it.

All believers are declared justified before God and that is just like we never ever sinned. God sees us through the blood of Jesus and He sees His righteousness. It is not by our righteousness or good works, it is the righteousness of Christ that was imputed onto the believers.God has bestowed His grace upon the believer and His grace is sufficient and will never wear out.

Many believers are trying so hard to please God, either by good works or some acts of righteousness. They live a legalistic life with commandments and ordinances and the result is that they have placed themselves into a life of bondage. They live under constant condemnation because they never feel that they are good enough. They are working so hard that they have forgotten the grace of God that they are trying to please God in the flesh which is impossible. No one can please God by the works of the flesh. One of the last words of Jesus on the cross were, Tetelstai or, it is finished.  Relax, Jesus did it all for us. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

I believe that we need to remind ourselves sometimes that it is by God’s grace that we are saved and that there is nothing we can do to change that. He will never leave us nor forsake us. None of us is perfect and if we could be perfect on our own,  Christ died in vain. We all stumble from time to time or mess up, but God’s grace covers it all.

The believer is justified the moment they believe in Jesus, that is unchangeable and irreversible. There is sanctification and that is a life long process. Everyday we are conformed more and more into the image of Christ. As we let go of the things of this world we draw nearer to Christ until the day arrives that we will be glorified with Him.

In the meantime listen to the still small voice and abide in Christ and He will finish our faith. He is the author and finisher of our faith. To me that sounds like that Jesus is writing my book and with every chapter written, I’m one step closer to heaven.

I thank God for His grace and His love and mercy towards me. Without the gift of grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, I would be hopeless and lost. Thank you Lord for revealing Yourself to me when I needed You most. You are the way the truth and the life. Thank you Father for your grace and I pray that many will come to realize that you love them and that they would turn from the world and embrace you and you promise of everlasting life.

“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”Eph 2:8,9.

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1, 2. 

American Christianity


I hear about Christians getting slaughtered in Sudan or persecuted and killed in the Middle East by radical Islamist just about everyday. There is a pastor in Iran,  Youcef Nadarkhani that has been sentenced to death because he is a believer in Jesus Christ. The Iranian regime, governed by Sharia law gave him a chance to recant his confession in Christ which he did not. This man is a true believer that even though he was threatened with hanging he will not denounce his faith in Jesus. The Iranian regime has also declared that their goal is to wipe out Israel from the map and Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever happened. I was watching the O’Reilly factor yesterday and the son of Oliver Stone whose name is Sean Stone converted to Islam and is pretty much a defender of Iran and it’s regime. 

Newsweek has a bloody picture of Jesus on its front page with the title “War on Christianity.”  There is an all out war against Christians around the world.  This war is real, in Sudan the Arab radical Islamist from the north slaughter the black Christians in the Nuba mountains which is the border between Northern and Southern Sudan. They kill men, women and children with machetes, burning down churches by the churches. These brothers and sisters in Christ endure heavy persecution and many are facing death by the sword. Christians are hated by radical Muslims and there is no tolerance towards people of a different faith.

Everyday I read the articles and reports about what’s going on and it saddens me to hear and see these gruesome reports that come out of Africa and the Middle East. The Syrian government is killing its own people, Iran will soon have a nuclear weapon to attack Israel and the war against Christianity is becoming a reality. Can we as believers here in the west, especially here in the US even imagine what these brothers and sister have to endure and face everyday? The White House and the President who supposedly is the most powerful men in the world has been silent for the most part on many of these atrocities. Just yesterday Franklin Graham was on Pierce Morgan’s show talking about the crisis in Sudan and how the radical have once again started to bomb the churches in the Nuba mountains.

He also addressed the dire situation the Iranian pastor is facing and that he could be hanged within days. Graham said that the President hasn’t called anybody to the White House for a prayer meeting or to put pressure on the Iranian regime to free Youcef Nadarkhani, instead the President apologized to the Afghans because our military accidentally burned some Qur’an”s.  He did that on the same day when two American service men were killed because of the incident. What is wrong with that picture? Mr. President, stop bowing down to the Saudis and stop your political correctness when dealing with countries like Iran. We don’t have to apologize to the radical and the radical regimes, they attacked us. They should apologize to us for killing our brave service men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. Christians didn’t fly the planes into the World Trade towers, radical Muslims did.

These are the same fanatic radicals that want to wipe Israel off the map, destroy America and the West. If any Muslims says that Islam is a peaceful religion, I doubt that very much and if the so-called peaceful Muslims are silent about what’s going on with the radicals of Islam, than they have become irrelevant.

Thinking about that, made me wonder, what are we as Christians suppose to do about this? Let me say first that I am not talking about every believer here in the US, I’m just broadly generalizing and please don’t take it personally if you read this. There are many good and strong believers that care and go out of their way to help those in need.  In general however, most of American Christians go to church on Sunday’s and think they have done their duty. They sit in a nice comfortable pew and listen to either a sermon or a Bible study in an air-conditioned facility, coffee and donuts afterwards, a little fellowship and off they go. Is that all or should we be more in tune about what’s going around the world to our brothers and sisters in the faith? There are a lot of activities and events, special concerts and many programs throughout the week. That in itself is not a bad thing, but are we that voice in the world for those who have no voice and are desperately crying out for help? Do we genuinely care about people who are persecuted and killed because they believe in Christ?

I hope that many of us are. I have to admit that we live pretty comfortable lives here in the US, which may change one day. Are we ready for that day? Or will we unlike the Iranian pastor turn away from Jesus because of persecution? We are living in days where prophecies are being fulfilled just about everyday, yet many of the churches or denominations have no clue about Bible prophecy or what some of these current events mean to us as believers. We are living in the very last days and I believe that the Lord will come soon for His bride. Will He find us sleeping as the five foolish virgins or awake and on alert as the five wise once? Israel is God’s time piece and we need to look at Israel because everything relating to the end times is centered in Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount or the epicenter.

I wish I could go over to Iran and talk to Ahmadinejad and ask him to let  Youcef Nadarkhani go, or to be in Sudan standing with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes I feel like James and John who asked the Lord if they should call for fire to rain from heaven and make an end to all of this. There are many good Christian organization already over there. There is Far Reaching Ministries  led by Wes Bentley that trains chaplains  for any kind of situation that may occur.  Many of them know that they may never come home again. They are risking their lives every single day for the furthering of the kingdom and they are willing to give their lives and reach people with the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

I don’t have all the answers, but there is one thing that we as believers can do. Praying without ceasing. The prayers of the saints avails much. We can be a voice if we want to and not let the opposition silence us as some would love to do. The Lord Himself said: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Mat 5:13.

If we are silent we will loose the good fight and we will be trampled under foot. Political correctness is killing this country and the liberal agenda is anti Christian. Just as the liberals are uniting for their causes, we as believers can unite and speak up and fight the good fight. We can be that voice crying in the wilderness….unless we let the enemy silence us.

Personally, I would like to finish the race as Paul did: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2Ti 4:7.