Category Archives: Salvation

Full Assurance – Hebrews 10:22

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:19-23).

As we continue to work through the book of Hebrews in our Bible study, I am amazed time after time after time by the goodness of God. A wretched sinner like me can enter the holy places of God with full assurance? How can that be? Full assurance to come into the presence of God? Really?

If I look inside myself, I can never have that assurance. But if I put my trust in what Jesus, the great high priest, has done on the cross then I can have assurance. He shed his blood so my sins are covered. He paid the price to redeem me from my sin and spare me from the judgment and wrath of God. And God is faithful to keep his promises. So I do not have to worry that God will change his mind and decide that perhaps my sins are too great.

Do you have that assurance? The Bible tells us that we can. If you do not, then perhaps you are looking in the wrong place. No other religion can provide full assurance of salvation. But, be warned that Jesus also described false assurance:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

Those individuals had a false assurance based upon their good works. Look to Jesus alone for the assurance that you can draw near to God, because he alone is faithful.

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High-Def Sins – Hebrews 4:13-16

A few months ago while I was in Seoul, I noticed a peculiar form of censorship on the Korean TV programs. All cigarette smoking was blurred out. You could see a person move their hand up to their mouth. You could see the smoke when they exhaled. The only thing you could not see was a clear image of the actual cigarette held between their fingers. I would imagine that every Korean child over the age of 5 can tell you what the person on TV is doing despite the blurred image. I failed to see the benefit in altering the television programs in this way.

blurred_cigaretteIt did get me to thinking that how we try to hide our personal sins is probably akin to Korean TV censorship of cigarette smoking. We like to think that we are successfully hiding our sins. And, sometimes we are able to hide them—but only from other people.

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).

God sees past our vain attempts to hide our sins. Our attempts at hiding them are far less effective than even the ridiculous pixelating of Korean TV. Our sins are not hidden or even slightly blurred. Rather we are left naked and exposed to the judge of the universe in all of our ultra-high definition wretchedness. In the book of Revelation, those who do not have their sins forgiven are described as calling on the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the all-knowing God.

Thankfully, for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, our sins are not merely blurred out, but removed as far as the east is from the west. The very next verses in Hebrews chapter 4 provide the comfort we so desperately need after reading verse 13.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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Filed under Judgment, Salvation

He Always Lives to Make Intercession – Hebrews 7:25

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

As we continue to work our way through the book of Hebrews in our Sunday morning Bible study, we hit that verse last week. Wow! What a powerful verse (set in the powerful context of Hebrews 6-10) demonstrating the great assurance of salvation we can have in Christ Jesus. I know that my salvation is not at risk because Jesus not only lives again after paying for my sins on the cross, but he always lives to make intercession for me. I did not save myself. I am not keeping myself saved.

budda_statuesWhat a contrast this provides to so many man-made religions. Religions in which their objects of worship are not alive. Religions in which Jesus does not save to the uttermost, but only helps out after you have done enough on your own. Religions in which you can lose your salvation today when you sin and then have to work to reacquire it through rituals. And then face the same challenge again tomorrow. Religions in which you hope you have done enough good to counter your bad.

I have been saved to the uttermost and continue to be saved to the uttermost because Jesus lives. Not because of anything I have done. Hallelujah and Amen!


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Prescription or Description – Hebrews 5:9

And being made perfect, he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:9)

How we approach the Bible often drastically impacts how we read many verses, including the one above from Hebrews chapter 5. Is this verse giving us a prescription about how we must behave in order for Jesus to be the source of our salvation? Or, is the verse describing the behavior that is seen in those for whom Jesus is the source of their eternal salvation? To put it simply:

  1. Does Jesus save me because I obey, or
  2. Do I obey because Jesus has saved me.

toby_keithI believe how we answer this often comes back to our view on the central character of the Bible.  Do we believe the Bible is about God and how he is accomplishing his glorification. Or is the Bible primarily about us? In the words of Toby Keith:

I wanna talk about me
Wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see

The Bible certainly paints us as the high point of his creation. In thinking about that fact, we can easily miss that little ol’ fact that even if I am the high point of creation, I am still just a creation. Not the Creator. Big difference. In fact, an infinite and eternal difference.

So, looking back again to Hebrews 5:9 through the correct interpretive lens that puts God front and center, we can see that answer 2 must be correct. Particularly when taken in context with the whole book of Hebrews. Jesus does not save us “after all we can do.” Rather, we do all we can because Jesus has saved us.

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Salvation in no one else – Acts 4:11-12

crossMost Christians are familiar with the passage in Acts 4:11-12 in which we are told that Jesus is the only way we can be saved:

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12).

It is interesting that the Old Testament records a passage written about 700 years prior to Jesus in which we are taught that the LORD (literally Yahweh) is our only Savior:

You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:10-11).

Sine we know that Jesus is also fully God, these passages are easy to harmonize. It is also a great reminder that God’s ultimate plan of redemption for his people has never changed. The depth of the revelation culminated in the coming of Christ Jesus, but the plan was clear from the beginning.

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Everything in subjection to him – Hebrews 2:7-8

Throne and footstoolOccasionally…OK…quite regularly, it is helpful to go back to Scripture and be reminded that God really is the sovereign king. That Jesus really is in control of every little bit of this broken, sinful, messed up world:

You made him [Jesus] for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him (Hebrews 2:7-8).

I sometimes, quite selfishly, desire that Jesus would come again immediately. Then, I think of so many friends and family that are not saved. Friends and family that, if Jesus came today, would only experience his eternal judgment and not his eternal grace and love. And, I can only be thankful that Jesus continues to be patient with them as he was patient with me.

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Religious people are less intelligent than atheists – 1 Cor 26:30

A recent headline on my news reader trumpeted, “Religious people are less intelligent than atheists.” To which I respond, so what? I would even tend to agree that many of the things that “religious” people believe in are down-right ridiculous. Even if the article said that Bible-believing, born-again, Christians named Dale are less intelligent than atheists, I would still shrug my shoulders with indifference. Why? Because the Bible tells us that God chose his people for his purposes, not because we are more intelligent or nicer or even more religious:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Did you notice the emphasis on God’s choosing? If we get offended because perhaps religious people (or even Christians, in particular) are less intelligent, are we not then assuming that we are, in some way, worthy of God’s election. Are we not looking for a reason to boast?

It is an easy trap to fall into. But Paul goes on to remind us that we are in Christ Jesus because of God:

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

All the glory and honor for both my salvation and my faith goes to God alone; not God plus me. So, I will boast in the Lord!

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Filed under Christian Life, Salvation

I wish my brain would just ignore my heart

What I believe with my mind and with my heart often seem to be two different things. I know from Scripture that God can save absolutely anyone he chooses to save. No one’s sin is so great that they cannot be forgiven through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah wrote:

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save (Isaiah 59:1).

Yet, my heart often tries to convince me that the sinful world I live in cannot experience revival. That God cannot reach this nation. That this God-hating, sin worshiping, immoral world is beyond the reach of the Gospel. That there is no hope of revival in America any longer.

But these thoughts of mine are sinful. Wickedly sinful! It is a reminder that my “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). That I could doubt, even for second, the ability of God to move in the hearts of people and save them is wickedly sinful…and arrogant.

Yes, this nation is truly full of God-hating, sin worshiping, immoral people—like I once was. And if God can save me, then he can save them too.

This past weekend at church, we had an uplifting report given by missionaries who serve primarily Iranian refugees living in Turkey. The missionaries reported on the miraculous work the Holy Spirit is doing among the Muslim world in bringing people to saving faith in Christ Jesus through the preaching of the Gospel. This report was both encouraging and convicting. Encouraging to see what great things God continues to do in this world. Convicting because I regularly doubt his ability to do so.

Forgive me Lord God for thinking that your arm is too short to save. Thank you Lord God for continuing to work despite my unbelief. “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

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The ditch on the left and the right – Ephesians 2:8-10

As humans, we have a tendency to go to extremes in either one direction or the other. And, as I seem to recall reading in a quote from Jonathan Edwards, Satan likes to push us hard toward those extremes. Satan does not care which ditch we end up in, just that we end up in a ditch.

We can see this problem when looking at two sets of Scripture versus. In the first passage we have:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Awesome, excellent, reassuring words. The danger here is that we can fall on the side of cheap grace and think we can go on sinning so that God’s grace can abound. By no means! (Romans 6:1-2).

On the other side we have this passage:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We can focus on this verse and zero in on the good works we are doing and believe they are at least a part of the reason God loves us and saves us. Crash! Now we are in the opposite ditch and Satan can again rejoice.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit put these 2 passages right next to each other AND in the perfect order. As many of you likely noticed, these verses are taken from one continuous passage:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

What comes first? Saved by grace through faith. What does it deny? Being saved by your works. What comes last and after you are saved? The reminder that you were created to go do the good works God has prepared. Perfect balance and perfect order. If we can can keep the whole passage in focus, we can avoid those nasty ditches on both sides no matter which way Satan tries to push.


Filed under Christian Life, Salvation

Recognizing our spiritual poverty, beggary, and slavery

A man must feel himself in misery, before he will go about to find a remedy; be sick before he will seek a physician; be in prison before he will seek a pardon. A sinner must be weary of his former wicked ways before he will recourse to Jesus Christ for refreshing. He must be sensible of his spiritual poverty, beggary and slavery under the devil, before he thirst kindly for heavenly righteousness, and willingly take up Christ’s sweet and easy yoke. He must be cast down, confounded, condemned, cast away, and lost in himself before he will look about for a Savior (Robert Bolton, Instructions for a Right Comforting Afflicted Consciences, 1640).

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Filed under Salvation, Sin