Ordo Salutis and Other Big Sounding Words – Part 2

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I recently was asked to respond to some questions about certain biblical terms that many people will hear that attend church or engage in Christian conversations. Sometimes these seem like such big and overwhelming words, but they are important to understand, not to sound important, but to understand how God works in the lives of His people.

Today I’m continuing to look at some terms you will hear in the church world. It may be very basic for some readers of this blog, but some may hear these terms and wonder if they are biblical or not.

Faith in Jesus – in the Greek language the word faith is pistis.  It also means belief or to be persuaded.  There are many key verses in understanding “saving” faith.  Saving faith will produce fruits in the life of a believer (Matthew 3:8), as opposed to just a shallow or intellectual belief such as James describes in chapter 2 of his epistle.

James 2:19-21 You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

John 2:23-25 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Here are two very clear examples of intellectual belief, without a heart change, and the kind of faith that leads to a new life is explicitly defined in Scripture as a gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. 

Faith also comes through the hearing of the word, so God’s word is the mechanism by which one receives faith.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

It is obviously quite important to understand in the proclamation of the gospel, that the law of God convicts the sinner of his need for forgiveness (second use of the law) and that forgiveness can only come through repentance and faith in Christ, but yet the great mystery is that God gives us the faith to believe.  The man of God must be properly equipped to give the correct message for someone to be truly converted.

Repentance – In Greek – metanoéō: to regret, repent, also to have a change of mind which produces a change of direction.  When God grants repentance, the hearer is able to turn from his wicked ways and embrace a new life which results in a dramatic transformation.  Matthew 3:8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance, leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Paul describes a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow.  Many people will mourn over their sin, but they mourn because of how it affects them, not that it was sin against a Holy God.   We must also understand that God grants repentance, which is consistent with the entire message of scripture that salvation is from God, 2 Timothy 2:24-26 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Accepting Jesus into my Heart – this is an invention of man and not a biblical concept.  Although from our perspective it seems that we have a role in salvation (responsibility of man), we do not believe that bible supports decisional regeneration.  The verse most people will cite is Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  However, this is not a call to salvation; it is Jesus speaking to the church and calling them to repent over their lukewarmness and their sin.  If we read all of Revelation 3 it becomes very clear.

The gospel message begins with a presentation of the law, showing a sinner their sin, their need for forgiveness, and Christ as the solution to their problem.  Then given this information a call to repent and turn from their sin and receive Christ in faith.  So the acceptance that is so often heard at large evangelistic campaigns and altar calls at church services, is not a biblical call. It most often involves appeal to emotion, through music and a slick presentation by a gifted speaker, but Paul tells us he did not come to them with persuasive words or excellent speech, but only Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) and listen to this in verse 5 …that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent and let everyone 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.”

It’s important to take this verse in context, as Peter had given a very convicting sermon and we can see in verse 37 that his message “cut them to the heart”.  This verse also ties in with Baptism, we would not believe that baptism saves, but that Believer Baptism is an external sign that one has been saved, and as Peter calls them to be saved and then be baptized.

See also Acts 8:38, the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.

Backsliding – is a modern concept of the church in the way it is now used.   While true believer’s may have times of spiritual drought in their life, if they are truly converted it is impossible for them to lose their salvation as we looked at with perseverance.  Most people use this term for a child that “received” or “accepted” Christ at a young age and then goes on to live a rebellious, sinful life.  If my parents knew the life I was living as a young man, they would have undoubtedly thought I was backsliding.  The truth is that I was never really converted.  This is why the doctrine of salvation is so important; most people do not understand salvation as the bible describes it.

Just a couple days ago I was having a discussion with my sister-in-law and she told me her daughter “believes” in God.  When I explained belief to her and asked her if her daughter has a new life, the light-bulb came on that her daughter is not really saved.  When we understand we are dealing with only two types of people in the world, either believer’s or non-believer’s we can then discern how to minister to people.    If people are believer’s and are sinning they need to understand the Third Use of the Law, if they are non-believer’s they need the Second Use of the Law, or in short they need the gospel to save their souls.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Kevin

 

My Bible…

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Psalm 119:159-162 Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.  The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.  Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word.  I rejoice at Your word as one who find great treasure.

I’ve been thinking recently about those that claim Christianity but never crack open a bible.  They don’t bring them to church, they rarely go to them for guidance and they don’t use it in the way it has been prescribed by scripture.  Can you truly be a “Believer” and never, if rarely, open God’s Word?

I know you can in extreme examples such as the thief on the cross, the Lord told him he would be in paradise with Him today.  This man never went to church and probably never read the Tora.  He was saved to glorify God, just like all Believers.  I’m not talking about something like this.  I’m talking about Joe Christian that attends a service frequently, probably weekly and would identify himself as an evangelical.  He might even say he’s “born again”.

I want you to look around this weekend when you go to church and see how many people are carrying their bibles.  Take a sampling and then do an estimated percentage in your head.  Would it be shocking if it was less than 50%?  How about less than 10%?  How many read their bibles daily?  According to a recent article by Christianity Today, 80% of church goers don’t read daily.  Here is the article.

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2012/09/lifeway-research-ed-stetzer-most-churchgoers-do-not-read-bible-daily.html

 

Are you in awe of God’s Word and find it as one who finds great treasure?  This may give you an indication of your condition before God.  Don’t check out just yet.  Why would I say that?

In Matthew Chapter 5 Jesus begins His Sermon on the Mount with what it means to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Do you remember this?  This is a road map to salvation.  You will be “Blessed” makarios – supremely blessed such as a blessing reserved for the “gods”.  I don’t intend this to be a lesson on the Beatitudes but I want to point to verse 6.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

This tells a considerable story about those that don’t hunger and thirst for righteousness.  They won’t be filled right?  You can’t hunger when you’re not hungry.  You can’t thirst when you’re not thirsty.   Jesus tells us if we’ve been poor in spirit and mourned over our sin, if we’ve become meek (power under control of the Spirit) we WILL then do these things.  This is a natural outflow of what happened to us in salvation.

Jesus said you will know them by their fruits.  What fruit is He talking about?  When Jesus changed my life, I had a desire to know Him more.  I wanted Him and His Word.  I craved Him like a hungry and a thirsty man starving in the desert.  It was my changed nature.  I didn’t force myself to “like” the bible.  It just was that way.

People come to church or profess Christ for lots of reasons.  Does it include a testimony?   “I was this….” (You insert all the nastiness you were) And now “I’m this…” (God changed you to something completely different) without a dramatic change in your life, your profession might not be real?

How many times have you been saved?  If it’s more than once you’re probably not saved.  Does that sound judgmental to you?

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   What was it like to be poor in the ancient world?  It was humiliating to say the least.  You had to beg for every scrap of food you ate.  You had to beg people to be merciful; crouched in the corner too ashamed to even look up.  This is what Jesus is describing.  We must come to a point where we realize we can do nothing for ourselves.

When did you realize that your sin separated you from God?  When did you understand that your sin had you headed to hell?  Don’t dismiss this today, I beg you.  Can you be saved without reading your bible?  Maybe, but I think it’s very rare.  Romans 10:17

The other reality of this is what Jesus called the wide road that leads to destruction and many go in by it (Matthew 7:13-14).  Read God’s Word and be saved.  I implore you today.  If you claim salvation and don’t hunger and thirst for God’s Word, I encourage you to examine yourself.

There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers. —Charles Spurgeon

Kevin