Grace, Faith, and Certainty


The following is from my friend Edward Fudge. This important teaching came to me in the latest issue of Edward’s popular gracEmail. If you are not a subscriber, follow the link and subscribe for interesting family news and great teaching from a great man of God.

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Someone asks how we may ever be assured that we are right with God, since our lives are always imperfect and none of us is without sin. 

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The gospel weaves a three-fold cord to wrap the gift of peace with God. These three strands are faith, grace and certainty, and Paul connects them in Romans 4:16. God’s promised salvation “is by FAITH,” the apostle tells us. That means we must trust God for it, because it rests on the performance of our Savior and representative, the Lord Jesus Christ. This salvation by faith is “in accordance with GRACE,” Paul continues.

It is God’s undeserved gift from first to last. And because God’s favor to sinners does not depend on anything he sees in us, but in his own character of love and mercy which he demonstrated in Jesus Christ, Paul assures us that the divine promises of forgiveness and acceptance are “CERTAIN to all those who are of faith.” The fulfillment of God’s promises depends only on God who promised. Too much so-called “gospel” preaching has been anything but gospel. Instead, it has been warmed- over, legalistic, man-centered, Phariseeism with a fresh slate of characters and a new set of rules. Praise God that is changing in many places, as the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit are bringing gospel revival and a new focus on Jesus Christ.

We have long SUNG the gospel, in hymns such as “Jesus Paid it All” and “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness” — even when the sermons have said something quite different. I thank God that he has spared me to see the same gospel message proclaimed boldly and without compromise from many pulpits across the land as well. And I praise him for every opportunity to be among those sounding out that proclamation of the everlasting gospel as we await the second advent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Blessed Assurance – 1st John (3rd post)


In the first post on the book of 1st John we learned the purpose of the book.

That you may know you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

And we learned who John wrote to.

Those who believe in the name of the Son of God. (I john 5:13)

The 2nd post addressed John’s statement of faith, his rationale for for his personal faith, and the foundational truths upon which every faith follower of Jesus must begin and end.

Jesus is God. 

Jesus is eternal.

Jesus is eternal life. (1 John 1:1-4)

The author states his message in terms hard to misunderstand. He is proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Godman who himself is eternal life. Fellowship with the Apostles and others of the family of the faith is only possible for those who have Jesus Christ. John says his joy will be filled out when this evidentuary truth is understood and accepted by those who believe on Jesus. (1 John 1:1-4)

Now that the purpose of the book is identified, the audience addressed, and the foundational truths of salvation stated, John begins presenting a series of proofs that separate true Christians from impostors.

How can I know that I have eternal life? How can you know? John begins answering the question.

Light vs darkness

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.6If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)

God is light“. Light, thought of in its most elementary meaning, serves a single purpose, it dispels darkness. Where light exists darkness is impossible. In the gospels again and again Jesus identifies himself as being light and the world as being darkness, John 1:4,5,8,9   John 3:19-21  John 5:35  John 8:12 and more.

The contrast is stark and unmistakable. God is light and those who are his walk in the light he is, and those who continue in darkness do not have God and have no place with God’s people. What a man says is not always consistent with what he is. Anyone who claims to be a Christian while he continues to live in darkness is a liar. (1 John 1:6)

You can see this regularly. A person by what he says is a Christian in good standing with God and the church but his life is inconsistent with his lips. How do you know if you are a true faith follower of Jesus, that you have eternal life? You live in the light. Your life is open to full disclosure, in your private and public life there is nothing you are trying to keep hidden from God or his people. What a man is either confirms what he says he is or condemns him as a liar who has no fellowship with God and his people.

Those who live in the light of God’s truth, doing the best they can to stay in the light of God’s revelation have fellowship with God and one another and the blood of Jesus keeps them clean from day to day. These are those who believe on the Son of God.

Unbelievers and make-believers, without regard to what they say have no fellowship with God and his children and you can know it by how they live. A true Christian wants to please God and walk with Him. A Christ rejector, or impostor, cares little about God’s will and lives his life to please himself.

How about you? How about me? Is your life and mine the sort of life that will stand the scrutiny of the light? Are we going to the light or trying to stand in the shadows?

(to be continued…)

For the true Light,

Royce

Blessed Assurance – 1st John (2nd post)


In the first post, the purpose of the book (…that you may know you have eternal life), was discussed and those to whom the book was written (…Those who believe in the name of the Son of God) were identified. These important beginning points are found in chapter 5.

In chapter 1 John lays out the basis for all he will say in the following chapters. John was concerned about those in the culture where these ancient Christians lived who were not right about Jesus. John at once builds an unshakable foundation for his personal beliefs and for that of his readers. He was not making a case for religion or theological dogma, he was presenting the living Christ.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. ( 1 John 1-4 )

These four introductory verses are crucial to everything that follows. There is a theological and doctrinal mountain here to be uncovered. If you miss the truths of these four verses you will not understand at all what God was offering and accomplishing in the person of Jesus.

Jesus is God

John’s opening words mirror his words in the gospel that bears his name. Here he says: “That which was from the beginning..” and in John 1:1,2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was witih God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God”

Jesus is eternal

In the gospel John talks about Jesus’ work in creation. Here he says “from the beginning“. His reference is clearly one to the beginning of creation. But, in 1 John he also goes further. Jesus is himself eternal life, He was with the Father and was made manifest to us. There was never a time when Christ did not exist, He was/is eternal. He has always been eternal life has always been with the Father and only recently made manifest to us. In Romans 1:17 the Apostle Paul says of Him, in describing the gospel, “the righteousness of God is revealed..”. Jesus is “the righteousness of God” ( 1 Corinthians 1:30), He has always existed but only in the gospel message was He revealed.

Jesus is eternal life

John makes clear that Jesus is the word of life, that it has been made manifest, and that we have seen and heard. John is not talking theory or some steps needed to become a Christian, rather he is talking about a man, Jesus Christ. He is talking about someone he and his fellows have seen, heard, and even touched. And make no mistake about this, this God-man who has been revealed is himself eternal life and righteousness. When you have him you are righteous before the Father and you can’t die because your life is his life, eternal.

Christianity is Christ! I have made this statement for many, many years to people who look at me like a calf looking at a new gate. But, contrary to popular opinion, the statement is true and sure. What a sinner needs is eternal life to replace his death, and he needs right standing (righteousness) with God from whom he is alienated because of his sins. Religion, church attendance, good works, baptism, confirmation, spiritual experiences, and every other experience you can imagine cannot give a sinner what he needs most. He needs eternal life and righteousness and the man Christ Jesus is both!

For Him,
Royce

(to be continued)

Blessed Assurance from 1st John


Few books of the Bible are more abused by misinterpretation than 1st John. I have heard teachers and preachers for 50 years use this book of the New Testament to teach the polar opposite of what John the Apostle intended. Every book in the Bible deserves to be read completely. I know of no book where this is more important.

My study of 1 John begins with the 5th chapter the 13th verse. A reader of 1 John must get here to learn who the book was written to, and why.

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. (1 John 5:13)

The aged Apostle wrote the words of 1 John in 90 to 100 A.D. from Ephesus. The community of Christ followers had become fractured in the 60 to 70 years since Jesus’ cross-work, resurrection, and ascension. There were a variety of unbelievers about creating problems by their false teaching about the person Jesus Christ. (In that regard not much has changed…) So to combat false teaching about Jesus, and to give blessed assurance to those who were trusting Christ, John addressed his first of three epistles to: “Those who believe in the name of the Son of God”.

John in fact addressed his book to the only people who were Christians. For there are no people who are true Christians who do not believe in the name of the Son of God. It is more than just believing facts about a historic man named Jesus. It is far, far more! It is about believing that God came in flesh, (the incarnation), and that this Jesus was the “Anointed One”, the “Christ” of God! It is faith in this holy God-man that sets the captive free, shakes off the clothing of death, and lives by the Spirit of the eternal God. The Scriptures are consistent and clear, those who put their trust (faith) in the Lord Jesus Christ have eternal life. It is these dear people, the family of God on earth, that John writes to. And he writes to them for a specific reason, “that you may know that you have eternal life”.

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John’s purpose could not be more clear. He wanted those who were trusting in Christ to know that they were safe. It matters not what the infidels are teaching, pay no attention to what the legalistic pretenders insist on, you can know you have eternal life. I think everyone would agree that “knowing” is different from hoping you have a thing. And to “know” is far more blessed than perhaps finding out at some point in the future. Now it is right to ask “What does this knowing rest upon?” John answers again from chapter 5.

“…for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:9b-12)

If you get nothing from 1st John but this section you have done well. If you are staking your life and future life on these claims you are indeed safe. And, as verses 10 and 12 make clear, unbelievers (or make believers) who do not have the Son do not have life. This is straight forward Bible doctrine it is not contradicted any other place in the Bible. It is just as true here as when Jesus taught the same truth to Nicodemus, the Jewish leader, over half a century earlier.

Never forget! Those who do not believe (have faith in..) are calling God a liar and are confirming their condemnation. This is where the rubber meets the road. What about Jesus? Jesus once asked his followers “Who do you say that I am?”(Matthew 6:15). Who is He to you? In the next installment on 1st John we will see who Jesus was according to the author.

Put your whole trust in Jesus.

Royce Ogle