Friends,
God is sovereign and can therefore require whatever He wants of the humans He has created. His Word reveals that He has ordered us humans to respond with obedience to the revelations and commands He has given and that this is the way to abide in Eternal Life. (Mt. 19:17 // 1 John 3:24) In other words, God, being the sovereign ruler of the universe, has decreed a law that humans participate, thus act upon, all that He has told them to do, and to do so with willing and eager fervency. (Mark 12:30 w/ John 14:15)

This being the case, let’s think through the misleading doctrine of “Faith Alone” that teaches that salvation is all a work of God and that we humans have no ability to take part in our salvation. Let’s ask: If this gospel message states that salvation is “by faith alone”, then is faith not something we do? Moreover, why is it also stated that salvation is “by grace alone” and “by Scripture alone” and “by Christ alone”, if it is only “by faith alone”? Is this not contradictory and nonsensical talk?

Is faith necessary for a person to be saved? Yes, but one’s faith must be in Christ. And is it necessary that one’s faith be in the true Christ –the One who is revealed in the Scriptures? Yes. So if salvation requires that we have faith, have faith in Christ, and have faith in the Christ whom Scripture reveals, is this all it takes? Or is the grace of God also necessary? Of course –God’s grace (His mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and pardon) is also necessary.

Then what about obedience? What about holding to Christ’s teaching so that we can know the Truth that sets us free? What about following Him, putting His words into practice, and walking in the will of the Father? Doesn’t Scripture tell us over and over that these things are necessary as well? It does. And what about our effort in doing so? How can anyone teach that effort is not necessary when Jesus warned us to “make every effort to enter” salvation (Luke 13:24) and Peter taught the same? (2 Pe. 1:5-11 & 3:14-18) Shouldn’t the mantra then be, “Grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone, Truth alone, effort alone, obedience alone, and the Father’s will alone”? Oh, and shouldn’t, “…and perseverance till the end alone” be added also? For Jesus says, “The person who endures till the end will be saved.” (Mt. 24:13) However, if all these things are necessary, then why even use the word “alone”?!

Let’s ask this: Does salvation require that a person walk in the will of the Father? Yes. Jesus affirms in Mt. 7:21 that it does. There He says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who is doing the will of My Father who is in Heaven.” So rather than saying, “Salvation is by faith alone”, wouldn’t it be more correct to say, “Salvation is by living, and continuing to live, in the will of the Lord alone”? To live in the will of the Lord means that one must believe in Christ and the Gospel, and believe it enough to obey it, follow it, abide in it, and thus be walking the path of eternal life. To teach that one must live in the Father’s will (which means to be consistently obeying Christ’s teaching) in order to be saved, certainly implies faith, for without faith no one could do it. Indeed, to live in the Father’s will, a person must be walking in the Spirit’s power, and in order to do that, a person must have faith. Consequently, to teach “Faith Alone” is terribly misleading, for as Ja. 2:24 also informs us, we are justified by what we do and not by faith alone. Even the demons have a type of faith. They know who Jesus is and what He has done.

So what about the doctrine we keep hearing that teaches that salvation is all of God and humans are completely passive recipients? Is such doctrine true? It is not. It is a doctrinal system made up by men. They use the Word of God, but they twist it as they incorporate the teachings of men. Therefore, by promoting a counterfeit, their listeners are not set free. Rather, it is by adhering to the True Doctrine as revealed in God’s Word, that we are set free, enabled to keep walking in freedom, and are thus eternally saved.

God ordered that humans be co-participants with Him in their salvation. Being that He is sovereign, God was fully entitled to pronounce this binding law, and, as a result, with a whole Bible revealing what God expects of us, we humans are left without excuse.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
My dad sent this link to me this afternoon that someone had sent him. The song and scenery definitely inspire worship to God, the wonderful God who created this amazing universe with all the beauty of landscapes, seas, and sky, as well as all the exquisite creatures! Truly, how could anyone say, “There is no God”? His existence is proclaimed throughout the world, in every budding flower, glorious waterfall, pounding wave, the wonder of changing seasons, and everything else.

Here is the link:

http://www.andiesisle.com/magnificent.html

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Day before yesterday (Thursday) I stopped at an animal feed and tack store I used to go to back in the 90s –back before we moved away, along with our horses, to the country for 14 years. Since we moved back over two years ago, I’ve driven by there quite a few times, but, being we no longer have horses, I’d not stopped there. However, over the last few months, the store seemed to “jump out at me” when I’d pass on that freeway, and I felt burdened for the owner (I’ll call him Ron for privacy reasons) who I used to repeatedly witness to. I wondered if I should stop and try to witness to him again, but then I felt that he had likely died, was in a nursing home, or just wasn’t working anymore. I mean, I remembered that he’d said he was 71 years old the last time I’d stopped by there, and that was about nine years ago. Besides, why try to witness to him again since the last few times I’d tried, he had seemed to be more and more vehement against the Truth to the point that he would not even entertain the idea that God exists. In fact, when I’d reminded him that he’d told me years before that he’d been planning, at one time in the early part of his life, to be a preacher, he acted as if his notion had been one of imbecility.

Well, so, two days ago, being that I’d not found an item at Home Depot that I wanted, I decided to try this feed store. I went in and saw a man who had worked there back in the 90s, so I right away asked how he was, how his dad was (fine, was the answer), and then about Ron. The answer shocked me: “He passed away two months ago.” I couldn’t believe it. Just two months ago? If I’d stopped by earlier this year, I could’ve witnessed to him! He may have had a chance to repent. Did he repent? Maybe. So I asked, “Did he ever turn to God? I’m the one who used to always preach at him.”

The man shook his head and said that no, he didn’t think so. I was crushed. I had prayed for Ron many, many times for years and years. I’d witnessed to him often. I’d tried to reason with him.

When I was leaving, I talked to another worker who was driving the feedbag lift. He told me some of the details and also about Ron’s wife of 62 years (who I’d also spoken to about God sometimes). “She’s upstairs. Go up and talk with her.” So I did and I learned more –that Ron had actually had a stroke on Jan. 18th at work –at the feed store– but hadn’t died until early April. I also learned that he did not repent in the least. The other details I won’t repeat because they weren’t pretty and it all was in stark contrast to the several godly people I’ve watched deteriorate and die over the last few years.

I felt sick, devastated, and wanted to cry when I left the feed store and the next morning I did cry hard, thinking again about how a soul, whom I felt had been (partly) my assignment, was in Hell. I also thought about how I’d read Ezek. 33:1-20 early Thursday morning about our responsibility to warn others, despite their response, so that their blood would not be on our head.

I’m not saying I felt overwhelmed with guilt; just mostly extreme sadness. For truly I had tried hard when I used to shop there, and I do believe there is a time to “shake the dust off…” (Luke 9:5) Even my husband, when I told him Thursday evening about Ron’s death and that I wished I’d witnessed to him one last time, immediately said, “He wouldn’t have listened.” Maybe it was the Holy Spirit saying this to me through him to comfort me. Because it’s exactly what I heard in my spirit when I drove away from the feed store deeply distressed that I’d not visited sooner. I don’t know. But just in case… Just in case, if I had stopped by even after his stroke, I think I would’ve tried to visit him at the hospital and witness to him again. I know that the Lord, because of His tender-loving-mercy, wanted that sinful man redeemed back! Was he like the prodigal son, but one who never returned? It is heart-breaking to think of Ron in Hell now. How enormous his regret must be!

Well, the next day, (yesterday) I went witnessing at the bus and train stops, and as usual, I had many excellent conversations. But one, the last one, and which lasted two hours, was an extra-special comfort and privilege for me from the Lord. The guy was so hungry for the Word of God and every time he asked a question, the verses just spilled out of my mouth so fast I really couldn’t even say all the ones that were coming to my mind to give him as answers. This man (whom I’ll call Dwight) was so excited the whole time and so eager and so repentant. Halfway through, he told me some of his story and pointing to the hospital band on his wrist, he told me that he has lung cancer but wants badly to serve the Lord in the remaining time he has left. It was my sign, “Christ’s cross doesn’t cover a continuation in sin. (Heb. 10:26-31)” that he said struck him when he saw it and made him suddenly desperate to be right with the Lord.

What a privilege and comfort the Lord was giving me through Dwight, for as we conversed, I heard the Lord’s soft voice reminding me that although my efforts hadn’t saved Ron from Hell, my efforts were turning this man, Dwight, from his careless path toward Hell. How compassionate God is! Even now, I get tears.

Dwight was so appreciative of my efforts. He kept thanking me for my time and I kept telling him that it was an honor to discuss God’s Word with someone so receptive. He said that he’d been on his way to talk with someone at the hospital about his soul as it regarded his likely imminent death, but that this conversation had been just what he needed. For though he said he’d always had a love for God and His Word, he had been living sinfully, believing that he was safe to sin. How thankful he said he was that the Lord had allowed him to see the Truth before it was too late!

And I’m thankful too. Very thankful.

What if I’d not gone witnessing yesterday? What a huge blessing I would have missed. And what would Dwight have missed? Heaven? Only the Lord knows.

But I have to also ask, what if I would have gone to the feed store over the last nine years? Could I have persuaded Ron to turn from his sins and hand his life over to Christ?

“When I [God] say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for [in / because of] his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for [in / because of] his sin, but you will have saved yourself.” (Ezek. 33:8,9)

This post isn’t about if I’ve saved myself by having witnessed enough. It’s about not forgetting to do all that can be done to save others from Hell.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Yesterday I did a search on the false doctrine of hyper-grace and found an excellent sermon which I listened to carefully in its entirety. I urge everyone to do the same. Here it is:

https://vimeo.com/59298991

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

P.S. Besides Dr. Brown pointing out numerous Truths, I also found it special that the Lord confirmed to me what I had written in my last post about the importance of all Scripture, including the Old Testament.  What I learned that I hadn’t known, is how prevalent it is becoming that “Christians” are throwing out the words of Jesus as they insist that Paul’s message of grace negates Jesus’ hard words, and particularly because Jesus spoke them to the Jews and before the cross.

Friends,
A prevalent belief: That we as Christians are to take our instruction from the New Testament but not from the Old Testament. However, this view should concern us, for it is not what God’s Word tells us.

Rom. 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…” This is referring to the past writings of the Old Testament Scriptures, and we should note that it says, “everything that was written… was written to teach us.” Yes, “everything”, and to teach us –those receiving the Book of Romans then and now. The verse goes on to say that the Scriptures give us encouragement and hope, while the verse prior (v. 3) gives a quote from Psalm 69:9. Why would the New Testament quote the Old if the Old Testament’s doctrine is nothing we are to now regard?

Actually, the Holy Spirit-inspired New Testament has scores of verses that it quotes from the Holy Spirit-inspired Old Testament, for indeed, all of God’s Word is pertinent for us today. Jesus confirms this when, in Mt. 4:4, He quotes Dt. 8:3, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Again we should note that “every” word God utters, and has uttered, is to be that which we must live by. But to do so, we must study it.

In 2 Tim. 3:16,17 we read, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul was writing this to Timothy and he tells him in the proceeding verses to continue in what he has been taught, for “from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (v. 15) These Scriptures, which Timothy had grown up learning, were the Old Testament Scriptures, and from this passage we, along with Timothy, can understand that ALL Scripture, being it is God’s breathed-out words, is to be used for training us in the Truth.

“But we are not under the Mosaic Law,” someone may counter. This is true, for even the Israelites, whom God covenanted with by using the Law (Ex. 19:3-6 // Lev. 26:46 // Heb. 8:7-9), and this so as to show them their inability to walk righteously without the Savior (Rom. 7:13,24,25), have been freed from that Law (1 Pe. 1:18-21) so that they, along with all who love the Truth, may “serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom. 7:6) By serving under the Spirit’s control we are able to meet, as all who have a conscience know we must (2:13,14), the requirements of God’s Moral Law (8:1-4), please God (v. 8,9), and be made permanent members of His family. (v. 13,14 // John 8:31-36) We do have to obey God’s Law. Not the Mosaic Law, but instead “the Royal Law found in Scripture” (Ja. 2:8) which is, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (same verse // Mark 12:31) and, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” (See Mark 12:30) Jesus has told us that, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22:40) Therefore, when He says, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (19:17), we must recognize that obedience to the Law of Love is, most definitely, required for eternal life. (See also Mt. 25:45,46 and 1 John 3:10.) So by carrying out God’s commands, we reveal whether or not we truly follow Love’s Law. (1 John 5:2,3)

Jesus says in Mt. 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus is explaining that He came to execute what was prophesied about Him in the Old Testament and to provide the Way for us to be cleansed, pardoned, and reconciled to God –and to remain in that state. He explains in verses 18-20, as well as in the rest of the chapter, that God’s commandments in the Old Testament are not only to be upheld, but that perfection to Love’s Law is now the rule. Yes, perfection. As Ja. 2:10 warns, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” True, “if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate [Jesus] who speaks to the Father in our defense.” (1 John 2:1) However, we must repent and walk in the Light to be forgiven and purified. (1:5-9) In other words, we must walk obedient to God’s commands (2:3-5) just as Jesus did. (v. 6)

Can we have a proper understanding of God’s character, promises, commands, and ways if we ignore the Old Testament? Certainly from the New Testament alone we can have a basic knowledge of the Gospel, but our understanding will be stunted. If the angels long to look into the Old Testament prophesies concerning Christ’s sufferings and future glories (1 Pe. 1:11,12), and if the prophets, realizing they were speaking of future things (v. 10,12), “searched intently and with the greatest of care” (v. 10) as “the Spirit of Christ in them” (v. 11) instructed them, should we neglect to study their writings and how Christ has and will fulfill them? Understanding “that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Pe. 1:20) but were instead God’s own words (v. 21), should we not heed the admonishment to pay attention to the writings of the prophets (v. 19) so that the Light shines ever brighter in us and through us? (See same verse) We should!

To not discern events prophesied in Scripture can incur our Master’s rebuke, such as those did to whom Jesus exclaimed, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25) Two verses later we read, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (v. 27) “ALL the Prophets… ALL the Scriptures…” And in verse 44: “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Being that Acts 3:21 tells us that Jesus “must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets”, should Old Testament study not remain applicable for sufficient spiritual insight? It should!

But it is not only prophecy that we learn about in the Old Testament. We learn about Love’s Law, the Way of holiness, and about God’s workings in the past –all of which train us in our walk of faith. By referring to God’s dealings in the Old Testament, the New Testament uses it to encourage us as well. One such example is in Ja. 5:10 which says, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord”, and then continues in verse 11 to speak of the blessing of persevering as it reminds us of Job’s perseverance and what the Lord finally brought about for him. Another example is when, in referring to Old Testament saints who exhibited faith, Heb. ch. 11 devotes itself to these so as to remind us of how God rewards faith.

The New Testament uses the Old Testament to warn us too, and lest we be tempted to sin, to fear God and His judgements. For example: The Israelites rebellion in the desert (1 Cor. 10:1-13) which was “written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (v. 11); the fallen angels, the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pe. 2:4-10); Cain, Balaam, and Korah (Jude 1:11), as well as Enoch’s prophesy about the ungodly (v. 14,15), and numerous doctrinal verses such as “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.'” (Rom. 2:6 quoting Ps. 62:12 and Pr. 24:12) Certainly we should familiarize ourselves with the whole counsel of God’s Word!

As we go back to Rom. 15:4 and read the whole verse, we read, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Truly, meditating on Scripture –all of it– keeps God’s requirements at the forefront of our minds and fills us with Christ’s Spirit of Life so that we can walk in the Truth, obeying God with power, conviction, confidence, faith, wisdom, purity, love, and perseverance. (Dt. 6:6,7 // Josh. 1:8 // John 6:53-63 // Rom. 10:17 // Eph. 5:1,2 // Col. 3:2,16 // Ja. 1:21-25 // 1 Pe. 1:22-25)

So where is Love’s Law taught? Is it taught only in the New Testament? No. It is also taught in the Old Testament. All of Scripture gives us examples that warn us, teach us, comfort us, strengthen us, convict us, reveal Doctrine and the character of God to us, point us to Jesus who is Israel’s promised Messiah and Returning King, and explain to us how to best worship God, please Him, and serve and love both Him and others. All of it is our spiritual food. All of it brings us knowledge of God and His ways. All of it is what we live by so as to be filled with God’s divine power and nature. (2 Pe. 1:3,4) All of Scripture –both Old and New Testaments– are to be read, studied, followed, obeyed, honored, and trusted. ALL Scripture is God’s own breathed-out, divine words; and along with His Name, He has exalted His Word above all other things. (Ps. 138:2) So then should we.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Tomorrow is National Day of Prayer here in the U.S.A. so tonight I decided to meditate on some Scripture verses about prayer. I took note that several emphasized being faithfully devoted to it and engaging in it at all times. Here are the notes I jotted down tonight as I read and learned from the verses:

Phil. 4:6 –In every situation we are to pray with thanksgiving and complete trust in God.

Rom. 12:12 –We are commanded to be faithful about praying.

1 Thes. 5:17 –We should pray always, meaning continually.

Col. 4:2 –We are told to devote ourselves to prayer.

1 Pe. 4:7 –We are told to be alert and sober-minded so that we can pray. (Yes, it is so true that in order to pray we must be attuned to what and who needs prayer, and if our thoughts are cluttered up with worldly or frivolous thoughts, then that which needs to be prayed about will escape our attention.)

Luke 18:1 –Jesus teaches us that we should not give up in petitioning Him.

Mt. 6:7 –However, persistence does not mean it is repetitious mantras that God wants.

Acts 16:25,26 –Along with our petitions, we should sing praises to God. This adds to the power of prayer!

Mt. 6:6 –We should pray when we are alone with God, not pray for publicity’s sake. (Praying while all alone with God should be a daily, unhurried event, for this creates intimacy with our Lord as well as an ability to focus our minds on seeking Him and His will without the distractions of other noise.)

Mt. 18:20 –When praying with others, it need not be a crowd, for the Lord promises His presence among even two or three.

Acts 1:14 –We are to be praying constantly with other faith-filled people. (Why are so many churches not encouraging prayer meetings? If the early church was constantly meeting for prayer, why aren’t we doing so even once a month?)

Ja. 5:16 –Do we believe that righteous people’s prayers are powerful and effective, as this verse says? Then let’s utilize our privilege!

Ja. 1:6 –We are not to entertain doubt, thinking that God probably won’t answer, for…

Mark 11:24 & 1 John 5:15 –As these two verses remind us, when we pray, we are to believe firmly that our request is granted.

1 Chron. 16:11 –We are to continually seek the Lord, His strength, His presence, His guidance, and trust that when we look to Him for help, He is there for us!

Amen!

Being that most of the year is spent praying for that which concerns us individually, let’s take tomorrow to join others in praying for our nation and its leaders, for the up-coming presidential election, for the pastors and all those responsible to teach God’s Word, for parents and others who have influence over youngster’s minds, and for the immorality, idolatry, and injustice that blankets our land to stop. Let’s pray that Americans repent. Let’s pray that God intervenes in mercy, cleanses and heals us, brings the wicked to their knees, and delivers the contrite from sin and evil.

Let’s take a stand and prostrate ourselves before the Great Throne of Grace. Let’s petition God and believe that He has granted our requests.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Someone sent me this link yesterday of the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” and truly, the words and tune are peace-giving as they help us turn our eyes to our Savior:

https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/579

She also sent me a devotional message about the hymn at this link:

https://wordwisehymns.com/2012/04/20/jesus-i-am-resting-resting/

I’ve quoted several times this week Jesus’ words in John 14:27 where He tells us that He gives us His own peace, and that it is not like the peace the world gives, which, we know, is fleeting or even false and deceptive. Jesus then tells us in this verse to allow our hearts to be neither troubled nor afraid. Our Lord is letting us know that to abide in Him is rest for our souls. And as He says elsewhere, fellowship with Him is where we drop our burdens, exchanging them for His good and rest-filled plan for our lives. (See Mt. 11:28-30)

Many people seem to be living with fear and anxiety, and almost everyone probably feels troubled in some way. Jesus tells us not to be so, but to instead receive the peace and rest He gives. As we take Him –He who rules over the wind and waves, and He who is the One who is “called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), we do truly abide in Rest.

As we read the words of this lovely hymn again, let us allow Christ’s Spirit to fill us up with His rest and peace, and continue there in faith.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel