12/19/18

"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS" God's Perfect Spokesman (1:1-3) by Mark Copeland


 "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

God's Perfect Spokesman (1:1-3)

INTRODUCTION

1. In our introductory lesson, we saw how "The Epistle To The Hebrews"
   is unique in its beginning...
   a. There is no mention of the author's name, nor the recipients
   b. Rather, it starts like an "essay" - cf. He 1:1-3

2. We also noted regarding the purpose of the epistle...
   a. To encourage Jewish Christians to remain steadfast in their faith
   b. Accomplished by showing the superiority of Christ and the New
      Covenant

3. That superiority is demonstrated through a number of contrasts...
   a. The very first contrast begins in these first three verses
   b. In which Jesus is contrasted with the prophets of the Old 
      Testament

4. In this lesson, we shall take a close look at the contrast...
   a. Noting how God spoke "in time past", and how He speaks "in these
      last days"
   b. Observing how Jesus is certainly qualified to be "God's Perfect
      Spokesman"

[We begin by considering what is said regarding...]

I. GOD'S SPOKESMEN "IN TIME PAST" (1)

   A. THE EXPRESSION "IN TIME PAST"...
      1. Refers to the period of time prior to the coming of Jesus
      2. I.e., that period of time described in the Old Testament
         (Genesis-Malachi)

   B. GOD SPOKE "TO THE FATHERS BY THE PROPHETS"...
      1. The "fathers" would be the ancestors of the Israelites
      2. The "prophets" would include great men like Samuel, Elijah, 
         Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel
         a. The Hebrew word for "prophet" means "one who boils over"
         b. It refers to one who is inspired by God to speak for Him 
            - cf. 2Pe 1:21
      3. At times, the prophets themselves were unsure of what they 
         spoke - 1Pe 1:10-12

   C. GOD SPOKE "AT VARIOUS TIMES AND IN DIFFERENT WAYS"...
      1. His revelation did not come all at once, but progressively at
         different times
      2. His methods varied as well, using visions, dreams, symbols, 
         etc.

[So God has clearly revealed Himself as One who "speaks"; that is, He 
communicates His will to mankind! What He revealed through His prophets
"in time past" is certainly wonderful, but now consider what we learn
regarding...]

II. GOD'S SPOKESMAN "IN THESE LAST DAYS" (2-3)

   A. THE EXPRESSION "IN THESE LAST DAYS"...
      1. Literally, "at the end of these days", which may be understood
         as referring to either:
         a. The closing period of the Jewish age (cf. Milligan)
         b. The period of the Messiah (most commentators)
      2. The Old Testament often spoke of "the last days" 
          - e.g., Isa 2:2; Micah 4:1
      3. As such it often had special reference to the age of the Messiah
         a. The apostles spoke of their time as the time of this 
            fulfillment - Ac 2:16-17
         b. Thus it denotes the final phase of history, brought on by
            the first coming of Christ, continuing until His second 
            coming and the consummation of all things - cf. He 9:26;
            1Pe 1:20; 1Co 10:11

   B. GOD "HAS SPOKEN TO US BY HIS SON"...
      1. God has spoken once again, but note the contrast!
      2. "In time past" it was through "prophets"; but "in these last
         days" it is by "His Son"!
         a. God has sent His own Son to speak for Him!
         b. As wonderful as the prophets were, how can they compare to
            God's own Son?
      -- There is no contrast, especially as we read on and notice...
      
   C. THE EXCELLENCE OF "GOD'S PERFECT SPOKESMAN"...
      1. Jesus is "the appointed heir of all things"!
         a. The author may have had Ps 2:8 in mind, for in verse 5 he
            quotes from Ps 2:7
         b. As the "beloved Son", it is only natural that He would be
            the appointed heir
         c. What does "all things" include?
            1) All that the Father has! - Jn 16:15
            2) The authority to raise and judge the dead - Jn 5:26-29
            3) The authority to rule in heaven and on earth - Mt 28:18
            4) This authority Christ has even now! - Ac 2:36; 10:36;
               Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22; Re 1:5
      2. Jesus is "through whom He (God) also made the worlds"!
         a. Not only the "Heir", but also the "Creator"!
         b. For it was through the Son that God created the universe 
            - cf. Jn 1:3; Col 1:16
            1) All things were created "by (or through) Him" (He is the Creator)
            2) All things were created "for Him" (He is the rightful Heir)
      3. Jesus is "the brightness of His (God's) glory"!
         a. In Jesus we see the very radiance of the glory of God!
         b. As John wrote, "...we beheld His glory, the glory as of the
            only begotten of the Father..." - Jn 1:14
         c. When we behold Jesus, we see an extension of the glory of God!
      4. Jesus is "the express image of His (God's) person"!
         a. He is the exact representation of God's being and 
            character! - cf. Col 2:9
         b. Therefore Jesus could say...
            1) To Thomas:  "If you had known me, you would have known
               my Father also; and from now on you know Him and have 
               seen Him." - Jn 14:7
            2) To Philip:  "He who has seen Me has seen the Father;" - Jn 14:9
      5. Jesus is "upholding all things by the word of His power"!
         a. Not only the Creator, but also the Sustainer of the 
            universe - cf. Col 1:17 ("in Him all things consist")
            1) By His word the universe holds together!
            2) All He has to do is say the word, and the universe is no more!
         b. Note well:
            1) This illustrates the power of His Word
            2) Shall we not listen when He speaks? - cf. Lk 6:46
      6. Jesus has also "by Himself purged our sins"!
         a. A clear reference to His death on the cross for our sins
         b. This speaks to His role as our Redeemer, a theme that will
            be prominent later in this epistle - cf. He 2:17; 9:26,28
      7. Jesus has also "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on
         high"!
         a. This Jesus did when He ascended to heaven - Ep 1:20; 1 Pe 3:22
         b. Sitting at the right hand of God is a place of honor, but 
            for Jesus it is also a place from which He reigns!
            1) As indicated in Ep 1:21-22; 1Pe 3:22
            2) It is true that He is waiting for the His enemies to be
               made His footstool (He 10:12-13), but He is reigning
               until that time! - cf. 1Co 15:25-26
            3) As stated in Ps 110:1-2, from which the author to the
               Hebrews quotes, the Messiah was to "rule in the midst of
               Your enemies"
         c. Thus Jesus is truly "the ruler over the kings of earth"
            - Re 1:5; 17:14

CONCLUSION

1. The sentence does not end with verse three...
   a. It continues on into verse four, with a declaration of Jesus' 
      superiority over angels
   b. But that verse and the rest of the chapter we shall save for the
      next study

2. But what have we seen in this lesson?
   a. God is clearly a God who speaks, He makes His Will known to mankind!
   b. And now He speaks through His Son, Who is:
      1) The appointed Heir of all things!
      2) The Creator!
      3) The brightness of God's glory, the express image of His person!
      4) Our Sustainer, Redeemer, and King!

How can one turn their back on Him?  Especially when the Majesty on 
high proclaimed at the Mount of Transfiguration:

   "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" 
                                       - Mt 17:5

Are you heeding the words of the Beloved Son, "God's Perfect 
Spokesman"? - cf. Mt 28:18-20; Re 2:10

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Two Different Questions: What and When? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1864

Two Different Questions: What and When?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


“Do you believe that baptism is essential for salvation?” “Yes.” “So you believe in water regeneration?” “No.” “But you believe that you must be immersed in water before your sins are washed away?” “Yes.” “So you believe that the power to wash away your sins is in the water?” “No.” “How can you say you do not believe in water baptismal regeneration if you think that a sinner is not saved until after he is baptized?” “Because when one is saved and what saves a person are two different questions.”

The Bible makes clear that Jesus saves. “[A]ccording to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). It is by His grace that we have hope of eternal life (Ephesians 2:5,8-9). We are “justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9). We are “redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). “Jesus Christ...loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5). As Jesus ate with His disciples the night before His crucifixion, He said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). What is it that saves a sinner from eternal separation from God? What is the remedy for sin? Without any doubt, “the blood of Christ” is what saves us (Hebrews 9:14). The idea of water having some kind of spiritual regenerative power is never taught in Scripture, nor have I ever met a member of the Lord’s church who believed such.

Another question altogether is when something happens. Naaman was healed of his leprosy (by the power of God!) when he washed in the Jordan River seven times (2 Kings 5:1-19). The blind man of John chapter nine was healed of his blindness (by Jesus!) when he washed in the pool of Siloam. And what about a sinner? When does the blood of Christ save one who is separated from God spiritually? The answer to that question is found in such passages as Acts 22:16 and Acts 2:38 (among others), which discuss water baptism. Once Saul (later called Paul) came to believe and confess that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, and expressed sorrow for his sins (cf. Acts 9:5-11), Ananias, whom God had sent to Saul, instructed him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). A sinner has his sins washed away when he is “baptized.” [NOTE: The participial phrase, “calling on the name of the Lord,” describes what Paul was doing when he was baptized and had his sins washed away (cf. Acts 2:21,38)—see Miller, 2003; Lyons, 2004.] Sadly, many have read Acts 22:16 and rejected the necessity of baptism because they approach their study of this verse with the wrong question in mind. This verse does not tell us whatsaves, but rather when a person is saved, i.e., has his sins washed away. Passages of Scripture such as those previously noted (e.g., Matthew 26:28, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Revelation 1:5) answer what saves, but in order to find out when a person is saved, one must consult passages like Acts 22:16 and Acts 2:38.

In short, the blood of Christ is what saves a sinner. But the blood of Christ washes away sins when a sinner confesses faith in Christ, repents, and is baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). May God help us to understand the difference between what and when, especially in regard to salvation.

REFERENCES

Lyons, Eric (2004), “Calling on the Name of the Lord,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/597.
Miller, Dave (2003), “The Bible is its Own Best Interpreter,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2293.

Truth and Feelings by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=333


Truth and Feelings

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Many people in society contend that there is no absolute right way to do things. The idea is that one way might be right for you, but not for another person. Each person does what feels right to him, and that is right for him. This view says that your way is fine for you and my way is fine for me, and everyone does what he thinks is right. Each way is as good as another and none should be called the right way.

This idea is especially common in religion. The masses are content to believe that one religion is as good as another. Most think that as long as a person is sincere in what he believes, then that person is alright. According to this idea, the various religions, denominations, churches, and synagogues are all just different ways to get to the same place. Those who think this way do not believe that any one religion 
is the right religion. It might be the right religion or church for you, but it cannot be the right religion, because they believe there is no one right religion or church. Is this idea correct? Is there no real, absolute truth? Are all churches and religions just as good as another? Let’s see how this idea works in real life.

Suppose a math teacher places the following problem on the board for her class 2 + 2 = ____. She explains to her class that this is an all-or-nothing quiz. The correct answer is worth 100 points. A wrong answer results in a zero. Suppose a person feels very sure that the answer is five. In fact, suppose the teacher goes out of the room and the entire class votes that the answer is five. Furthermore, suppose the history teacher comes in while the math teacher is out, and explains that the answers three, four, and five should be acceptable as long as each student firmly believes that the answer he or she writes is right. Is any answer except four going to be right? Absolutely not!

Sadly, people do not see that the same principle applies to religion. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” In John 14:6, Jesus boldly stated: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” It really is as simple as 2 + 2. There is only one way to heaven, and Jesus is it. This is hard for some people to accept, but it is the truth—the absolute, unchanging truth. All those people who are trying to get to heaven through Buddha, Muhammad, Judaism, or countless other religions will be lost if they do not turn to Jesus and do things His way.

It also is the case that many sincere people feel that they are doing right, but are not. The apostle Paul is a great example of this. Paul (whose name was first Saul) thought that Christians were wicked. He thought they were pulling people away from the true way to heaven that he believed was found in the Jewish religion. Because of this sincere belief, he persecuted the Christians. He obtained authority from Jewish authorities to throw Christians in prison. When Christians were on trial for their lives, Paul voted that they should be killed. He sincerely believed that he was doing what God wanted him to do. In Acts 23:1, while he was speaking to the Jewish leaders, Paul said, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Paul felt as though he was serving God, but he was not. In fact, he was serving Satan and fighting against God, in spite of his sincere motive. He was sincere, but sincerely wrong.

When Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, He told him that he was sinning (Acts 9). He instructed Paul to go into the city of Damascus where he would be told what he must do to get right with God. Saul believed Jesus, and did exactly as he was instructed. After Paul prayed and fasted for three days, a man named Ananias came to Paul and told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Paul was baptized for the remission of his sins, and was added to the one true church that belongs to Christ. Paul’s sincerity did him no good until he found and obeyed the truth.

In John 8:32, Jesus explained, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Later, Jesus explained that God’s Word “is truth” (John 17:17). We have been given God’s Word—the Bible. Jesus said that these words will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). At the Judgment, our lives will be compared to the truth found in the New Testament. If we have followed Jesus’ words, we will go to heaven. If we have not followed them, regardless of how sincere we were, we will go to hell.

North is always north, two plus two always equals four, and Jesus is the only way to get to God and heaven. Let us live our lives, not according to what “feels” right, but according to the truth that is found only in the Bible.

Too Militant? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1250

Too Militant?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The conspiracy to revise the past in order to make it match the current “politically correct” climate of society is manifesting itself in a myriad of ways. One is the ongoing effort to produce gender-neutral translations of the Bible. Another is the attempt to eliminate any indications of the Christian religion from public life—whether “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance or the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Center building. Perhaps you remember in the late eighties when a mainline protestant denomination considered removing from its hymnal “Onward Christian Soldiers” due to its militant, warlike lyrics.
All of these efforts share in common the fact that they are based upon frail human perception that constantly undergoes alteration with the passing time, rather than being based upon unchanging principles and absolute values that have been articulated by God. “Onward Christian Soldiers” was written by an uninspired human being, and needs no defense. However, opposition to the song raises a broader issue that does merit consideration. Those who find the song objectionable, obviously possess in their own minds a standard with regard to the use of militant terminology in Christian hymnody. They feel that such warlike language is inappropriate and unacceptable. However, the real concern should lie in how God feels about the matter. What does God’s Word say about the propriety of militant language in Christian parlance?
The New Testament repeatedly describes the Christian life metaphorically as a battle to be fought and a war to be waged. Timothy was told to “war a good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18), to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12), and to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). Paul described his ministry as a “fight” (1 Corinthians 9:26; 2 Timothy 4:7). He characterized his right to receive monetary support as comparable to that of a soldier (1 Corinthians 9:7). Early Christians endured warlike struggles and conflicts (Hebrews 10:32). Christians are told to “put on the whole armor of God”—which includes taking the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:11-17). They wear “armor of light” (Romans 13:12) and “armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Corinthians 6:7). Even the specific parts of the Christian’s armor are identified (Ephesians 6:14-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). Christians use “weapons” in a “warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
When one bothers to consult divine guidelines, one finds that inspired writ frequently represents the Christian’s existence as analogous to that of a soldier. In fact, the song “Onward Christian Soldiers” does a good job of capitalizing on this perfectly scriptural metaphor. Perhaps as society is in the process of abandoning the Christian worldview, devotees of New Testament Christianity ought to get busy emulating their militant and warlike King Who, with flaming eyes and followed by the armies of heaven, “judges and makes war” (Revelation 19:11).

Tolerance, Diversity, and Division by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2083

Tolerance, Diversity, and Division

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


One of the “big myths” of society that surely will go down in history as a significant contributor to the moral decline of America is the incessant clamor by liberals for “tolerance” and “diversity.” They insist that those who oppose same-sex marriage are “intolerant” and lack basic human “compassion.” They maintain that “diversity” and “tolerance” (code words for acceptance of homosexuality) are healthy for society, and that those who oppose homosexuality are merely “demonizing people for political advantage” and “perpetuating division” (Obama, 2004).

Satan is slick. He uses “devices,” “wiles,” and “snares” (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:26) to distort people’s thinking. He is a shrewd master of advancing his agenda by disguising the immoral with a righteous veneer. If people give in to emotional impulse, rather than thinking rationally, logically, and biblically, they will swallow the propaganda and embrace Satan’s ploys.

The fallacy of such “reasoning” is made apparent when placed in syllogistic form:
1. Everyone should be compassionate, tolerant, and accepting of diversity;
2. Homosexuality is one form of diversity;
3. Therefore, homosexuality should be accepted/approved; to fail to do so is intolerant and divisive.
Few would disagree with the first premise. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves every person, and He requires Christians to do the same. However, toleration cannot and must not extend to any practice, action, or behavior that is evil, immoral, and sinful, i.e., out of harmony with God’s will.

Using the above line of reasoning, the tolerance/diversity umbrella ought logically to apply to pedophilia, necrophilia, incest, bestiality, and every other aberrant sexual behavior. Similarly, the same principle ought to apply to murder, stealing, drug dealing, and every other illegal action. Are we simply to cancel all laws in the United States that govern human behavior—on the guise that to enforce them is “intolerant”? Are we to open the doors of all the prisons in the country and free the criminals—on the grounds that to fail to do so is to “perpetuate division”? By such foolish thinking, placing anyone in prison constitutes a lack of “compassion.”

The tolerance/diversity viewpoint is completely nonsensical. If applied consistently and thoroughly, it would lead to social anarchy, rampant lawlessness, and the destruction of society. Opposing homosexuality, abortion, and a host of other social and moral evils is not incompatible with compassion and tolerance. One can oppose and punish murder while still maintaining compassion for the murderer. The overarching, governing principle is the recognition of and submission to the absolute standard of morality given to the human race by the God of the Bible—the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Those who reject that standard, thereby elevating their own fleshly appetites above the transcendent Creator, one day will face the consequences: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Those who consider themselves more tolerant and compassionate than God need a healthy dose of humility to alter their skewed perspective:

Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:1-2, emp. added).

May we be among “those that tremble at the commandment of our God” (Ezra 10:3).

REFERENCES

Obama, Barack (2004), “Obama on Marriage,” Windy City Times, November 2, [On-line], URL: “http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=4018.

Love by EE Healy

http://www.eehealy.com/commentary/a-love.jpg


Can Someone Fall From Grace? by Trevor Bowen

http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/apostasy.html

Can Someone Fall From Grace?


Introduction

Rooted in the doctrines of Calvinism, the idea that "once one is saved, then he is always saved", is often used to comfort Christians and give them confidence towards their final salvation.  However, while the Bible does provide a basis for confidence, it does not teach that Christians cannot fall from grace.  Moreover, the teachings of Jesus and His apostles actually warn Christians to beware the danger of falling away.  The Bible even contains examples of people who did fall away.

Warnings Against the Possibility of Apostasy

Several passages in the Scripture warn against the possibility and danger of one becoming an apostate, or falling away.  The Bible uses several different phrases to refer to a Christian’s action of falling away from the faith, both in their practices and in God’s judgment.  These passages speak clearly of not only the possibility, but the looming danger of falling away.  Please read the following passages:
"Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today', lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."  (Hebrews 3:12-13)
"Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? ..."  Hebrews 2:1-3
"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore, let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall."  I Corinthians 10:11-12
All of these warnings would be meaningless if Christians could not fall away.  Therefore, the very existence of these warnings proves that Christians can fall from grace.  But, this point is made even clearer when we investigate examples of Christians who struggled against falling away, and some who actually did.

Examples of Apostasy

The most powerful example of a Christian struggling to remain faithful is the example of the apostle Paul.  Considered by many to be one of the strongest and most active apostles, Paul not only felt the danger of becoming apostate, but he also wrote about it to help warn those who were over-confident:
"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."  (I Corinthians 9:27)
If the apostle Paul had not achieved a state of permanent perseverance, then how can we expect to remove ourselves from the danger of becoming "disqualified"?  Shortly after writing this statement, Paul warned the Corinthians with the statement, "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall."
In addition to these warnings, the New Testament contains examples of other Christians who actually did fall from the faith.  The Christians at Galatia had succumbed to a false doctrine that was rampant during the early New Testament era.  This doctrine involved binding parts of the obsolete Old Testament, such as circumcision.  Consequently, the apostle Paul cautioned the Christians in Galatia that they had actually fallen away by accepting this false doctrine.
"You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4)
Not only had the Galatian Christians become apostate, they had become apostate by what may seem to us a small thing.  This is a lesson to us about God’s judgment upon those that add to, or take away from His Word.
Besides this example, the Scriptures contain other cases of individuals who were overcome by sin and no longer in fellowship with God.  The following statement was issued by the apostle Peter to a new convert, Simon, who had just recently sinned:
"Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." (Acts 8:22-23)
"... Having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymaenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."   ( I Timothy 1:19-20)
In this last passage, we learn of two Christians that had suffered spiritual "shipwreck".  From these cases, we can understand that Christians can and do indeed sin so that they may fall away, and no longer be in relationship with God.  How severe is this separation?  From the passage in Galatians 5:4, we discover that they had actually become "estranged from Christ".  This is a terrible condition because only those who are "in Christ" will be saved (Galatians 3:26-27Ephesians 1:3-7). Therefore, one can and will forfeit salvation by practicing sin or by adopting false doctrines.

The Good News

While the Bible does teach that we can fall from grace, it does not teach that this condition must be permanent.  The entire book of Galatians is evidence to this fact.  The book was written to encourage and call to repentance those who had become "estranged from Christ".  So, what are we to do if we find ourselves in this condition?   The Bible teaches a clear course of action for any and every sin:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9)
The verse corresponds with the instruction that we examined earlier, which was given to the new covert, Simon.
"Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." (Acts 8:22-23)
These passages teach a clear promise from God:  If we will but simply confess and repent of our sins through prayer, then God will forgive us.  However, this process of repentance towards forgiveness should not be confused with the initial conversion process.  In each of these cases, the people given the above instructions were already Christians.  The Bible teaches a different plan for salvation for becoming a Christian and receiving the initial forgiveness of sins.

Conclusion

Although the idea of "once saved, always saved" provides comfort and confidence in our ultimate salvation, it is an empty hope that deceives its believers into a false sense of security.  As with any question or teaching, we must be sure to examine the Scriptures to see if it is true (Acts 17:11).  When we do turn to the Bible, we learn of numerous warnings against over-confidence, and to take caution against falling from the faith.  Besides this, we see examples of great Christians, like Paul, who struggled to remain faithful; moreover, we sorrowfully read of Christians who failed in this struggle.  
Fortunately, God offers a means of being forgiven when we do stumble.  He has promised to forgive us if we through prayer, repent and confess our sins to Him.  However, the very fact that Christians who sin, need to ask for forgiveness is another proof to the Bible's truth:  Sin, both before and after our conversion, separates us from God.  If we do not repent in either case, then we can and will forfeit our salvation and God’s grace.
 Trevor Bowen

Exactly Who is Jesus Anyway? (Part 1) By: Ben Fronczek

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=1300

Exactly Who is Jesus Anyway?   (Part 1)

By: Ben Fronczek


Read: John 1:1-14  (Click on verese to read)
Too many times we see things, or hear about something unfamiliar or new and we:
– Assume we know all about it. Or, we think we understand more than we really do.  Or, we guess a lot about what we see or hear.
Unfortunately some people do the same thing when they consider or hear the name of Jesus.
Each day people pass by our church buildings, some simply stare at the old building, some may wonder what we do inside. Some could care less. Some may even make fun of what we do here and shake their head as we enter this building as they drive by.
I wonder, ‘How many really have any idea who Jesus is?’
Maybe this is why so many people choose not to go to church anymore.
Over the next few weeks I would like to share with you a few lessons on WHO JESUS REALLY IS. I don’t think we can possible understand everything about Him, but I do want you to know some of the amazing facts that the Bible has revealed about Him.
Jesus has  been named and described in many ways; for example:   ●The Prince of peace  ● the King of kings   ●the Messiah     ●the Lamb of God   ●the Christ     ●Raboni (or teacher)  ● Savior    ● the Son of God  ● the Son of man   ● the capstone   ●  the cornerstone   ● wonderful  ● Counselor   ● Immanuel  ● Light of the world   ● Bread of life   ● and the Lord
Some evil men called Him Beelzebub (or lord of the flies). Some today have doubts about Him, or just consider Him a nice guy, or just a prophet.
So many descriptive titles. So the first thing that I would like to touch on is the fact that JESUS IS GOD!
Jesus is the ‘one and only God’. He is, ‘God of the universe’, the ‘Almighty Creator’ of all heaven and earth.
I personally believe that the theological term, ‘Trinity’  has confused many of us as to the true identity and nature of Jesus and understanding that HE is God.
Through the ages this term has been used to describe a plurality of God’s being; the idea that God is somehow 3 persons, yet one.
The term ‘Trinity’, was coined by the 3rd century theologian, Tertullian, and was first used by Theophilus of Antioch.  Unfortunately sometimes meanings of words change over the passing of time.
I hope to clarify how this term was originally used, and how our understanding of it differs today. I would also like to share with you my understand of how God has revealed Himself to us throughout the ages based on what we see in Scripture.
In reference to the definition of three persons, yet one, one Scholar  wrote:  “The word person has changed its meaning since the 3rd century when it began to be used in connection with the three-foldness of God. When we talk about God as a person, we naturally think of God as being one person.  But Terullian writing in the 3rd century used the word ‘person’ with a different meaning. The word ‘person’ was originally derived from the Latin word, ‘Persona’, meaning an actor’s face mask; and by extension, the roles which the actor takes in a play.
By stating that there were 3 persons but only one God, Tertullian was asserting that all 3 major roles in the great drama of human redemption are  played out by the one and the same God. All three great roles in this drama are all played out by the same actor, God. Each of these roles reveal Him in somewhat different ways, but it is the same God in every case.
So when we talk about God as one person, we mean one person in the modern sense of the word, and when we speak of God as 3 persons, we mean 3 persons in the ancient sense of the word.”         
masks                     
Any other definition would portray God as a committee of individuals. It is God, the one God alone manifesting Himself in different ways as He saw fit throughout Human history. For example, consider some of the different ways God has revealed Himself in scripture taking on different roles for a particular purpose
The following are some different ways God has revealed Himself throughout history:
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1) God appeared ‘Man-Like  Genesis 3:8  ‘God walked in the garden…’   Gen. 18  ‘The Lord appeared to Abraham and ate with him…’ Gen. 32:22-30  ‘Jacob wrestled with God…’
2) God appeared in ‘super natural’ forms    Exodus 3:1-6  God appeared in the flaming bush and spoke to Moses. He called Himself (YHWH) or YAHWAH – the ‘I Am’, ‘He who is active and present’.
Exodus 19:16-20  God appeared before Israel in Mt. Sinai as a pillar of smoke, lightening, fire, with a loud trumpet blast, and caused tremors.
God also appeared as a pillar of cloud and fire to lead the Israelites. Exodus 13:2116:10; 33:9; 40:36-48 Numbers 12:5; 16:42-43; Deut. 1:32-33; 31:15.
3) God Appeared as ‘the’  Angel of the Lord  (Not just any angel) 
 Judges 13:1-24  Manoah recognizes the Angel of the Lord as God.
4) Jesus and others refer to God as the FATHER    Psalm 68:4-5,  Isaiah 64:8Matthew 6:9, 7:11; Romans 8:14-17James 1:271 Peter 1:17
5) God Manifest Himself as a Holy Spirit   The Hebrew word for Spirit (ruach) means ‘wind’ or ‘breath’. It suggests the idea of an unseen power, movement, activity, or force.
 Though we cannot actually see the movement of air or wind we can see what it does. In much the same way God, as He manifest Himself as the Spirit, though unseen is present, and at work in His creation and in us.
It is in the form or Person of the Spirit we see God as ‘All Knowing, the All Powerful Force, and everywhere present Nature’.  Read Psalm 139:1-16
6) God Became Flesh – Born of woman, yet the Son of God – Jesus Christ  Read: John 1:1-14; 17:1-5;  Philippians 2:5-11    ;  Col. 1:15-23 & 2:9-12,   I Tim. 3:16;   Heb. 1:1-3
I believe that it is important to remember God had a special purpose in mind as He appeared in different forms. The angel of the Lord, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are ONE and the same, just a different (persona) or manifestation of our one God, playing or accomplishing different roles. As a man, Jesus has physical limitations (eg. He cannot be divided or present everywhere at once or omnipresent), whereas God in Spirit form can. And likewise the Spirit could not have been the perfect sacrifice for our sin; it needed to be a man or ‘the Son of Man’, flesh and blood. Each manifestation is still the same person – God! Jesus is GOD!
I would like to share with you a verse that helps me see and understand more about the true nature of Jesus:
In Colossians 1, describing Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote,  15 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”(1:15-17)    In 2:9 he also wrote,  “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”
So what do we see here in this passage?
#1. Jesus is God in the Flesh – or in human form.  In John 1:1-14 we read that “In the beginning and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  And in verse 14 it says that this WORD “became flesh.” (Jesus!!!!)
Jesus is God!  In John 14 we see an interesting discussion between Jesus and His disciple Philip:    “Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.””
#2. Also according to Col. 1, Jesus holds the #1 supreme position in the universe.       Vs. 15 states that ‘He is the first born OVER all creation.’  In verse 10 it says,  “He is the head over every power and authority.”  In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”Also see Phil. 2:6-11 ’His name is above all names.’   and before Him every knee will bow.          
This is why Jesus is referred to as the ‘King of kings, and the Lord of lords.
#3. Jesus Created all things – HE IS THE CREATOR!  – Of all things in Heaven and on earth. – of all things visible and invisible – everything!  See John 1:3;  & Hebrews 1:2..
4. Col. 1:17, not only lets us know that He is the Eternal God‘existing before all things,’ Jesus is also the One that holds all things together.   He is the ‘atomic glue that hold all matter and anti-matter together and in place.  Take Jesus out of the equation and everything we know would just fly apart even down to the molecular level. Everything would just dissipate and vaporize. John 1:3 adds that He is also the source of life itself!    What is the origin of life itself? Jesus!
5. In Col. 1:9 Paul sums this up by writing,   For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head overevery power and authority.”
Who is this Jesus we worship? He is God, the one who emptied Himself of so much glory and majesty and became a man, flesh and blood.
The writer if Philippians put it this way in Chapter 2(I like how the Amplified Bible translate this verse)
Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]
Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,
But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!”
When we call upon the name of Jesus, when we say His name, and when we worship Him here in this building or someplace else we worship God, God who stepped out of His home and true element to become like one of His own children, like you and me but without sin so He could save us, make us whole and one day bring us home.
This is why we love Jesus. This is why we call Him ‘Lord’. It is because       HE IS GOD!
I therefore proclaim that Jesus is worthy of our: HONOR – RESPECT – WORSHIP -TIME – and ALLEGIANCE.
HE is our GOD.   HE created us. HE sustains us. HE came to us  in the flesh to help us understand God  like never before. HE loved us. He even died for us on that cross  to pay the penalty for our sin.
What and Awesome God we have… AMEN!
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566