Testimony of Scripture

A Changed Life

January 30 – A Changed Life

Scripture clearly reveals that God wants His children to be assured of their salvation (1 Jn. 5:13). The moment we were born-again, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13,14). We either have Christ within us, or we don’t; our souls are in union with God, or they aren’t. There is no middle ground. Historically, the Church has taught that assurance of salvation comes from the testimony of a changed life, the authority of God’s Word, and the witness of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist could spot a religious phony and wasn’t afraid to call them out. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance’” (Matt. 3:7,8). When I finally stopped playing church and came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, my life changed. Previously I had a religiously trained conscience that kept me from killing people, stealing other people’s property, or being mean to others, but I was a natural man who only thought of himself as being a pretty good guy (compared to others). After my conversion I started to feel convicted about issues I had rationalized before such as my struggle with lust (others do it), a foul mouth (nobody can tame the tongue), and self-righteousness (I’m better than most).

The apostle James wrote, “Show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). In other words, what you believe is demonstrated by how you live. People don’t always live according to what they profess, but they do live according to what they actually believe. If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence in the way you live to convict you?

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, http://ficmm.org/blog

Christ in You

January 29 – Christ In You

I was born and raised in the state of Minnesota. I have a little pin that says I didn’t miss Sunday school for nine years in a mainline denomination. I have never known a time when I did not believe in God, but I didn’t come to know Him until I was in my mid-twenties. If you asked me if I was a Christian prior to that time, I would have emphatically said “Yes,” but I wasn’t. I was an aerospace engineer at the time, and our department did the final testing on the guidance system for the Lunar Lander, which was an integral part of the Apollo Space Program. I had previously served in the Navy.

I was the All-American boy who didn’t drink, smoke, or cheat on his wife. We lived in suburbia and I pitched for a softball team, played golf in a summer league, and participated in a bowling league. I was the Senior Warden of a small Episcopal church, which is essentially the same as being the chairman of an elder board. The priest and I were invited to attend a Lay Institute for Evangelism. I really didn’t know what evangelism was. Had I known I probably wouldn’t have gone. It finally dawned on me that I was learning to share my faith, and I really didn’t have anything to share. One presenter asked, “If you took Jesus out of your faith what difference would it make?” I thought at the time, “I don’t think it would make any difference, I believe in God.” That question penetrated my soul, and today my whole ministry is based on “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Since I didn’t really know the Bible in those days, I wonder how I would have understood what the apostle Paul was writing in 1 Jn. 5:11-13; “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

After my true conversion I became aware that I was surrounded by many religious non-believers, as I had been. I am deeply concerned for those who have never really heard or understood the gospel that would lead to a saving faith, and equally concerned for those who are truly born-again, but lack assurance of their salvation, as was the apostle Paul when he wrote: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog

Past, Present, and Future Salvation

January 28 – Past, Present, and Future Salvation

The apostle Paul gives an important exhortation to the Church in Phil. 2:12,13; “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for His good pleasure.” There is a major difference between working for our salvation, which we can’t do, and working out our salvation, which we must do if we desire to fulfill our calling.

Many evangelical Christians are not aware that salvation, as applied to the believer, is presented in Scripture as past, present and future. In other words, the Bible teaches that we have been saved (Eph. 2:4,5,8; Titus 3:4,5), we are presently being saved (1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15), and we will someday be fully saved (Rom. 5:9,10; Rom. 13:11). No Christians have, or can experience, the totality of their salvation until they are absent from their physical bodies and clothed in resurrected bodies in the presence of God. We have not realized our salvation from the “coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:10), but we have the assurance that when that wrath comes, we will be saved from it. “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:13,14). Even though we are presently working out our salvation, we have the assurance of complete salvation in the future. “Marked with a seal” and “guaranteed” are powerful assurances from God. Meanwhile we are working out our salvation as we conform to the image of God as theologian Charles Hodge explained in The Way of Life (Paulist Press, 1987, pp. 217, 218):

A state of salvation is a state of holiness. The two things are inseparable because salvation is not mere redemption from the penalty of sin, but deliverance from its power. It is freedom from bondage to the appetites of the body and evil passions . . . ; it is an introduction into the favor and fellowship of God, the restoration of the divine image to the soul, so that it loves God and delights in His service. Salvation, therefore, is always begun on earth.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog

Significance

January 25 Significance

Adam and Eve had a defined purpose for being here. They were to rule over the birds of the sky, the beasts of the field, and the fish of the sea. In addition, they were to be fruitful and multiply. They didn’t search for significance. It wasn’t a need, it was an attribute. Ever since the fall, humanity has lacked purpose and meaning in life. “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). Peggy Noonan, the speech-writer for President Reagan and George H. W. Bush, said it well:

I think we’ve lost the knowledge that happiness is overrated, that in a way, life (this present physical life) is overrated. We’ve lost somehow, a sense of mystery about us, about our purpose, our meaning and our role. Our ancestors believed in two worlds and understood this world to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generation of man that actually expected to find happiness here on Earth, and our search for it has caused such unhappiness. The reason? If you do not believe in another, higher world, if you believe in only the flat, material world around you, if you believe that this is your only chance for happiness, if that is what you believe, then you are not (just) disappointed when the world does not give you a good measure of its riches, you are despairing.

Significance is an eternal issue. What is forgotten in time is of little significance. What is remembered for eternity is most significant. Humanly we try to immortalize earthy events by keeping diaries and records. Who won the World Series of baseball, or the World Cup of soccer twenty years ago? Who cares? But what happens when one sinner repents? All the angels rejoice. There are no insignificant children of God, because:


           Matt. 5:13        You are the salt and light of the world.

           Jn. 15:1,5        You are a part of the true vine, joined to Christ and able to produce 
                                much fruit.

            Jn. 15:16        You have been hand-picked by Jesus to bear fruit.

             Acts 1:8        You are a personal witness of Christ's.

           1Cor. 3:16        You are God's temple where the Holy Spirit lives.

          2Cor. 5:17f        You are at peace with God and He has given you the work of making peace 
                                between Himself and other people. You are a minister of reconciliation.

            2Cor. 6:1        You are God's co-worker.

             Eph. 2:6        You are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (spiritual realm).

            Eph. 2:10        You are God's workmanship.

            Eph. 3:12        You may approach God with freedom and confidence.

           Phil. 4:13        You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog

Security

January 24 Security

I believe God is shaking the foundations of this world. Never has there been a time in human history where unwelcome change is taking place so rapidly. People are turning off the nightly news, because they don’t want to hear about the struggling economy, or wars and rumors of wars. Should we put all our money in gold? How do we hide or protect ourselves from terrorists? Even our churches and schools aren’t safe anymore. Should you buy a gun and stock up on material goods to sustain you for a few months if society breaks down around you? Most of the inhabitants of this world struggle with feelings of insecurity. Where can you go and what should you do to be secure?

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). God’s peace is an internal order, not an external order. He told us that we would have tribulations in this present world. Security is relating to the eternal and not the temporal. If you are trying to find peace and security in the external and temporal world which you have no right or ability to control, you are going to struggle with insecurity. But if your identity and security is found in Christ, then you have nothing to fear, because In Christ:

           Rom. 8:1,2        You are free from condemnation.

            Rom. 8:28        You are assured that all things work together for good.

           Rom. 8:31f        You are free from any condemning charges against you.

           Rom. 8:35f        You cannot be separated from the love of God.

           2Cor. 1:21        You have been established, anointed, and sealed by God.

             Col. 3:3        Your life is hidden with Christ in God.

            Phil. 1:6        You can be sure that the good work that God has started in you will be finished.

           Phil. 3:20        You are a citizen of heaven.

            2Tim. 1:7        You have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

            Heb. 4:16        You can find grace and mercy in time of need.

            1Jn. 5:18        You born of God and the evil one cannot touch you.

If you don’t find your security in Christ, where else are you going to find it?

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog

Acceptance

January 23

Rejection is a painful experience, and we all take some steps to avoid it. Even those who rebel against the system have some inner need to belong. Often they have felt the sting of rejection, because they just couldn’t measure up to the required standards. Since they are no longer “one of them,” they seek out some other identity. Some become skin heads, nerds, and others dress in goth or join a gang. Being the member of a gang provides an identity and a sense of belonging, but it is destructive. Others strive for acceptance in the system, but often feel like second class citizens and live off somebody else’s identity or reputation and regularly drop their names. Some are determined to beat the system to make a name for themselves, and long for a lasting legacy.

Christianity can be separated from all other religious orientations by asking one question. On what basis are you accepted? Every other religion requires you to jump through some hoops, perform some service, or measure up to some standard. That may even be the case for membership in some local churches, but that is not the case with God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). God loves and accepts us unconditionally, gives us an identity, makes us a part of His family, and meets our greatest needs of acceptance, security, and significance. Because you have believed in God, you have been accepted as follows:


            Jn. 1:12        You are God's child.

           Jn. 15:15        You are Jesus’ chosen friend.

            Rom. 5:1        You have been justified by faith and have peace with God.

          1Cor. 6:17        You have been bought with a price and belong to God.

         1Cor. 12:27        You are a member of Christ's body and part of His family.

            Eph. 1:1        You are a saint.

            Eph. 1:5        You have been adopted as God's child.

           Eph. 2:18        You have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit.

           Col. 1:14        You have been bought back (redeemed) and forgiven of all your sins.

           Col. 2:10        You are complete in Christ.

Welcome to the family of God.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog

Reconciliation

January 22

Suppose you came across a dead person and you had the power to save people. What would you do? Would you give the person life? If you did that, that person would only die again. To save dead people you have to perform two functions. First, you have to cure the disease that caused them to die. “The wages of sin is death, . . .” (Rom. 6:23a). Jesus cured the cause of our death, when He went to the cross and died for our sins, but that is not all He did. Let’s finish the verse . . .”But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23b).

Under the inspiration of God the apostle Paul knew that we would see only the cross and not the resurrection. So in his epistle to the Ephesians he prays that our eyes would be opened to see our rich inheritance in Christ. To the church in Rome he writes, “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Rom. 6:5). For all you who think that Christ came only to die for your sins, the apostle Paul wants you to know that there is much more for you as follows (with my comments) in Rom. 8-11:

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Isn’t that great Christian, God proved His love for you, but is that all there is for us know? Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. Isn’t that great Christian, you are not going to hell. You have your “fire insurance,” but is that all? For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall be saved by His life. Isn’t that great Christian, someday we shall be saved, not only by His death, but also by His life. Do you feel in limbo? Then read on. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:3,4).

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog

Living Like You are a Child of God

January 21

The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to communicate God’s presence to us. First, He assures us of our salvation. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:14-16). Second, He guides us into all truth. “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you” (Jn. 16:13,14).

Why is it so important to know who we are? Because no person can consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with what they believe about themselves. If you don’t see yourself the way God sees you, to that degree you suffer with a poor self-image, and it will affect how you live. Notice how the apostle John emphasizes this truth. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are . . . Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1 Jn. 3:1-3). We are not trying to become children of God, we are children of God now who are becoming like Christ.

Suppose you were a prostitute and the king one day issued a decree stating that all prostitutes were forgiven. You saw the decree and believed it. Even though that is good news and you believed that you were forgiven, would that change your self-perception? Would it change your behavior? You are now a forgiven prostitute. But there is more good news. What if the decree also declared that the king was making you His bride. You are now the queen. Would that change what you believe about yourself? Would it change your behavior? Dear Christian, you are the bride of Christ. You really are a child of God, so let’s all live like it and become mature in our faith.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog

Dr. Neil Anderson’s Blog – January 2013

1/1/13 – Happy New Year!
1/2/13 – Welcome to My Blog
1/3/13 – Paradise Lost
1/4/13 – The Battle
1/7/13 – Spiritually Dead
1/8/13 – The Complete Gospel
1/9/13 – The Forgiveness of Sins
1/10/13 – Conscience
1/11/13 – The Battle for the Mind
1/14/13 – Who are You?
1/15/13 – Our Identity in Christ
1/16/13 – Eternal Life
1/17/13 – In Christ
1/18/13 – Walk by the Spirit
1/21/13 – Living Like You are a Child of God
1/22/13 – Reconciliation
1/23/13 – Acceptance
1/24/13 – Security
1/25/13 – Significance
1/28/13 – Past, Present, and Future Salvation
1/29/13 – Christ in You
1/30/13 – A Changed Life
1/31/13 – Testimony of Scripture