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The Need for Faith in Uncertain Times

In a world filled with bad news, is there any good news in the world?  Yes, indeed there is and I am glad to share some good news with you.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things” (Rom. 10:15).  The good news (gospel) is that God loves us and He has sent His Son into the world to pardon our sins, and He offers us eternal life as a free gift by faith.  Jesus said these famous words, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (Jn. 3:16-17).  Do you have this life?  Have you trusted in Him for salvation?  I present the following in the context of ultimate contingency planning in uncertain times, and the urgency for “situational awareness” that we all need a Savior.

 

Paul writes, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Of course, in order to be saved we must first realize that we are lost.  There can be no good news without first knowing the bad news that we are all sinners in both our thoughts and deeds.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).  This universal truth goes back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve fell into sin, thus we are all born sinners and suffer death.  “Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).  The really good news is that Jesus died a substitutionary death on the cross for our transgressions and He gives us new life that is everlasting.  “When you were dead in your transgressions…He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 1:13).  Eternal life is a free gift by God’s grace when we trust in Him by faith alone.  We cannot be saved by our works or good deeds.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).  This message is pretty clear. Blaise Pascal once said, “There are only two kinds of people; the righteous who believe themselves to be sinners, and the rest, sinners who believe themselves righteous.”  In order to be declared righteous in God’s sight we would need to perfectly obey the moral laws contained in the Ten Commandments, but we all fall short of that standard.  “For if a law had been given which was able to impart life,” says Paul, “then righteousness would indeed have been based on law” (Gal. 3:21).  Paul further argues, “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus…since by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified….For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:16-21; Rom. 2:28). Paul is here referring to the Law contained in the Old Testament, but the New Testament (covenant) is based on Christ’s final atonement and forgiveness of sins, which we can appropriate by faith.  Paul concludes by saying, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Do you have this peace?  Do you have this assurance?  Do you think you are basically a good person?  If so, I invite you to take the brief self-test at the following link and find out for yourself.

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As indicated in the above review of the Ten Commandments, we all fail God’s moral standard of goodness because God looks at the thoughts and intentions of our heart, and not just our external deeds (Mt. 5).  God has made us in His moral-rational image (imago dei), and only a Biblical worldview helps us answer Life’s Three Big Questions, which includes where did I come from, why am I here, and most importantly, where am I going?  The Bible states that God created all things (Gen. 1:1; Rom. 1).  The Lord says, “It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.  I stretched out the heavens with My hands, and I ordained all their host” (Is. 45:12).  God is our Creator, and thus we are not simply a random product of Darwinistic evolution (Heb. 3:4).  And why are we here?  The Westminster Catechism affirms, “The chief end of man is to know God and enjoy Him forever.”  How do we know God?  Only through Jesus the Christ (Messiah) who is also the God-Man.  “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…He made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:19-21).  In other words, Jesus appeared as a Man in order to die; but He also had to be sinless in order to be a perfect sacrifice as required by the Law (Ex. 12; Jn. 1:29).  “For in Him,” writes Paul, “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).  Thus, the Holy Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:18).  God has now reconciled a world of fallen, sinful creatures to Himself, and Paul makes the amazing statement that this was “…the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11).  Do you want to know the eternal purpose of the universe and the meaning of life?  Here it is – and this has everything to do with the final big question in life, where are you going?  Do you know where you are going if you died today?  God loves you and He wants you to have the assurance of eternal life and enjoy Him forever in heaven by surrendering your life to Him. The Bible says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after this comes the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).  You only have one life to live.  There is no reincarnation or second chance with eternity. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Mt. 7:13-14).  To enter that “narrow heavenly gate” you have to understand the gospel and be willing to repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation.  The following is an excerpt from my book to help you better understand the good news (gospel) that Jesus has died for our sins and how a person can become His child and experience true happiness.

This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance.  Now repentance is no fun at all.  It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie.  It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years.  It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.  In fact, it takes a good man to repent.

Lewis is right.  It does take a good man or woman to repent.  It takes a good person to admit that he has been wrong, to mourn over his sin and be willing to trust God to change his life.  But as Paul says, “The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret leading to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10).  No one who has ever repented of his sins and put his faith in Christ for salvation has ever regretted it.  The only regret you will ever have is that you did not come to Him sooner.  Before he was martyred in a South American jungle, Christian missionary Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool to give away that which he cannot keep to gain that which he can never lose.”  Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mk. 8:35-36).  We are to give ourselves completely to God.  He is worthy of our love and trust in Him.

 

Finally, faith means to trust, and this trust is in Christ.  Faith also involves a person’s intellect, emotion, and will.  Our mind must be changed, our heart surrendered, and our soul converted.  Genuine, saving faith is trusting or believing in Christ completely, and this means that there are essentially two things faith is not.  First, faith is not superficial or temporary.  Some people believe in God only when there is a crisis or special need.  But Jesus said these are the kind of people “who have no firm root…but are only temporary” (Mk. 4:17).  To be superficial means “presenting only an appearance without substance or significance.”  Jesus said this is like building your house upon the sand (Mt. 7:26).  It can look good on the outside, but in the end it will not hold up.  You can’t play church and you can’t fool God.  He knows everything. Secondly, faith is not just believing some facts about the gospel.  James writes, “You believe that God is one.  You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (Jas. 2:19).  The Devil believes in God, but he hates God.  It’s easy to say that you believe in God, but are you really trusting in Him?  Judas traveled with Jesus.  He believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  But he was not willing to believe in Him for salvation, and ended up in hell for all eternity.  My friend, you can know all about food, but that will not satisfy your hunger.  You have to receive it.

 

John writes, “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He [God] gave the right [the authority] to become the children of God, even to those who believe [trust] in His name” (Jn. 1:12).  Genuine, saving faith is going all the way with God.  It means to come to Him just as you are.  Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (Jn. 6:37).  The Lord promised, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).  The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).  Paul adds, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved…. For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:9, 13).  Right now you can do this and experience forgiveness of sin and happiness forevermore.  An old preacher once put it this way, “When you were born you cried and people were happy.  When you die people will cry, but then will you be happy?”  

[End of excerpt]

 

Yes, will you be happy in that day?  I pray that you will be.  This is the ultimate question – the ultimate contingency plan for eternity.  Paul wrote, “Blessed (happy) are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (Rom. 4:7-8).  This is the good news my friend, and the Lord is patient.  Peter says, “The Lord…is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).  Someday His patience will run out and Paul states that “He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Jesus] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).  The proof of the resurrection is not only the eye-witnesses, but changed lives like the Apostle Paul!  Paul formerly persecuted Christians and then had a dramatic encounter with the risen Christ, which he recorded in Acts 9, 22 and 26.  Because we have a risen Savior He is still changing lives today.  As Dr. Charles C. Ryrie notes, “The gospel is based on two essential facts: a Savior died and He lives…without the resurrection there is no gospel.”  This is why Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6).  Jesus said that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).  It is by His mercy that He has saved us and we are “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit. 3:3-7).  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” writes Peter, “who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance…reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).  Heaven is a real place and the Bible says that “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has entered the heart of man all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).  This is a great promise and the following 4-minute video by Pastor Greg Laurie explains how we can get right with God and can have the assurance of going to heaven when we die.  I pray you will listen and give this your serious consideration in these uncertain times.

How Can We Get Right with God?

As Pastor Laurie has shared, Jesus came to pay a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.  That’s pretty profound isn’t it?  But that is the good news, and the Bible says that “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). In the Old Testament, David penned, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.  He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.  The Lord keeps all who love Him” (Ps. 145:18-20).  The Lord wants to have a personal relationship with us through faith, but it must be based on the truth of the gospel.   As Billy Graham has said, “Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship.”  And this means a relationship with God through His Son.  This is the narrow gate “that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Mt. 7:14).  I invite you to listen to the following sermon by Dr. John MacArthur as he explains the meaning of this text found in The Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament. Please give this your very serious consideration.

The Only Road to Heaven (Matthew 7:13-14)

In the above link, Dr. John MacArthur makes it clear that we will all live forever, and there are only two options for eternity:  Heaven or Hell.  We must enter the “narrow gate” that leads to heaven, and that is through Jesus alone.  As mentioned, heaven is a real place.  It is a perfect place.  Jesus told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also” (Jn. 14:3).  David wrote, “Thou wilt make known to me the path of life.  In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).  In THIS LINK, Dr. John MacArthur shares a series of messages on where heaven is, what heaven is like, what we will be like, how we will relate to one another and to God and what we will do in eternity.  Unlike the narrow gate, the road is broad that leads to hell.  Jesus said, “the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it” (Mt. 7:13).  The Lord has warned that “in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 22:13).  For those who reject Him “these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mt. 25:46).  This is the really bad news.  There are not “many” ways to heaven, and Jesus did not die needlessly.  Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).  Do you have this abundant life?  “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:11-12).  Many people may admire Jesus and His teachings, but they don’t have the life.  As Dr. MacArthur concludes above, “You can have your happy religion of tolerance, or you can come to the truth and forever be given life.”  I pray that you will do this.

 

I would like to leave you with a few thoughts.  If you would like to have the peace and assurance of eternal life I encourage you to read your Bible.  Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).  By faith we can free from doubt, uncertainty, guilt and punishment.  We need to abide in His word to become wise.  “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7).  A person is no fool to give away that which they cannot keep to gain that which they can never lose.  Peter reminds, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).  “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool…For My hand has made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.  “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Is. 66:1-2). I pray you will humbly trust in him.  As Pastor Laurie indicated above, if you would like your own Bible you can request a New Believer’s Growth Packet for new or growing Christians.  I personally recommend the NASB Ryrie Study Bible for a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of His word that is available on Amazon.com.  If you have expressed faith in our Lord, Dr. MacArthur would like you to have a FREE BOOK entitled Welcome to the Family that serves as a practical guide.  

 

I appreciate your reading about the good news and I would love to hear from you sometime if you have further questions.  In this uncertain world God has never promised us a smooth flight, just a safe landing when we are trusting in His Son.  This life is transitory and Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10).  “For He has delivered us from the domain of darkness,” writes Paul, “and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14).

As most of you know, my degree is in theology and we need a Biblical perspective on life and current affairs.  We are in a battle between the forces of good and evil, and we are to be “the light of the world” just as He is “the light of the world” (Mt. 5:14, Jn. 8:12).  Someday His kingdom will triumph over the domain of darkness in this world.  Until then, we are to be His disciples and share the truth that sets men free.  For “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).

 

Yours to that new heavens and new earth,

You can listen to our monthly commentary, and other interviews I do, on politics, religion and economics with a Christian worldview that is archived at the Reckoning Hour at THIS LINK.

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© All Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible. www.lockman.org

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To summarize the gospel, we must acknowledge that we are lost sinners; we must understand that we are saved by grace alone and not by good works or deeds; we must recognize that Jesus is God, and further, that His death has paid for our sins and we now have complete forgiveness of sins.  The final step to salvation is “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).  The Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30).  Dr. Henry Thiessen defines repentance as follows, “We are not saved for repenting, but if we repent. Repentance is not a satisfaction rendered to God, but a condition of the heart necessary before we can believe unto salvation.”  Repentance is a change of heart or change of attitude toward God.  It involves the whole person, meaning a person’s intellect, emotion, and will.  In other words, once we understand the facts of the gospel (intellect), this produces a proper response (emotion), and results in a decision (will) to surrender ourselves to God.  It also means surrendering to God on His terms.  In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis makes the following observation about repentance:

Excerpt from America’s Financial Reckoning Day, p. 280

The Reckoning Hour with Chuck Coppes

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