Introduction Coming to Know God

Introduction – Coming To Know God

Coming To Know God

By

Ronald Christian

An Indepth Study Of God's Plan Of Salvation

INTRODUCTION

One of the most if not the most important, day of my life was on March 12th 1956, when I was a mere eleven year old child. On that cold winter Monday morning, as I lay in my bed, heavy of heart because of a definite conviction of sin, I looked up toward heaven and prayed a simple but earnest prayer of repentance: 'O God, save my soul!' I repeated that prayer four or five times. The tears began to trickle down my cheeks, and I quickly arose from my bed and went to the kitchen of my home where I announced to my godly mother that I believed that I had just been 'saved'! My mother said something like this in reply to me, "That's wonderful, Ronny, I am glad to hear that!" She then, as I recall, continued to turn the pancakes which were frying on the grill. It was the next Saturday–six days later–that I found myself alone with my mother. It was then that I told her in more detail about my personal conversion. Assurance of sins forgiven had flooded my soul, and I was rejoicing that I was now a 'Born Again' believer. As a child, up until this time, I had been raised in the little white-framed Free Methodist Church where several of my ancestors had worshipped for many decades. My great, great grandfather was a charter member of that church, back in 1881! I had regularly attended Sunday School, had memorized Scripture, had learned many Bible stories from my mother, had regularly 'said' my bedtime prayers, and had generally lived a rather decent and moral life. But, as I prayed on that March 12th morning several years ago, I recognized that I had never personally been converted. Religious education had taken the place of spiritual conversion.

My childhood conversion was real and lasting, although I must say that there have been many subsequent commitments made to God, based on a deeper and more mature understanding of the Christian faith. Christianity involves cultivating a daily relationship of love with the Saviour.

The truths discussed in this book are the most basic, yet the most important, truths of Holy Scripture. This book is an indepth devotional study of God's Plan of Salvation–a plan that is simple enough for an eleven year old child to understand, and yet profound enough that the greatest theologians spend an entire lifetime studying the concepts contained in that Plan!

As a pastor in the Free Methodist denomination for nearly two decades, I have had the privilege of sharing God's Plan of Salvation (including many of the concepts discussed in this devotional book) with literally hundreds of people, both from the pulpit and in the classroom and around the dining room table in the homes of scores of families. I have seen hundreds of people–sometimes entire families at one time–pray the 'sinner's prayer' and wonderfully become 'new creatures in Christ Jesus' (2 Corinthians 5:17)! There is no thrill like the thrill of people gaining an intellectual understanding of the basic truths of God's Word which leads to a personal faith commitment to Christ as Saviour and Lord!

The Plan of Salvation can be reduced to a presentation so simple as the following: (1) The Fact of Sin (Romans 3:23); (2) The Penalty for Sin (Romans 6:23); (3) The Insufficiency of Good Works (Ephesians 2:9, Isaiah 64:6); (4) Christ Alone is the Answer (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). In fact, this is the simple plan that many people have used and have accepted with greatest success–both in presenting the Gospel and in finding Christ in the Gospel. Whether one is on the presenting end or on the receiving end, this is an adequate and accurate profile of the simple truths of God's Plan of Salvation. Of course, after presenting these simple facts, a human response to the divine offer of grace and forgiveness must be called for. That challenge to appropriate divinely-provided resources can be given in simple 'A, B, C' steps. What conditions must man the sinner meet in order to receive Christ the Saviour? Starting with the 'C' step: (1) 'Confess'– "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9); (2) 'Believe'– "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31); (3) 'Accept'– "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).

There is no message more important than the message of salvation that the Church must emphasize in its preaching and teaching. And yet, unfortunately, there are thousands of members in our local churches today who have never personally experienced the 'New Birth'. I have personally dealt with many who have told me, after they prayed the 'sinner's prayer', that they do not remember ever having heard a basic Bible message on 'How to Become A Christian', even though they had attended many church services. This is a tragedy, particularly when God makes it so clear in His Word (the Bible) that "unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

Part One of this two-part book provides a general survey of Salvation, while Part Two deals in considerable depth with God's Plan of Salvation, as taught in the first six chapters of the great Book of Romans. Thus, Part One is a topical approach, while Part Two is an expository approach to Scripture.

The book can be used in several ways. It can be used as a daily devotional guidebook, with the reader reading one page each day for approximately six months. Each page includes, along with the practical-oriented devotional reading, an appropriate Scriptural reference, a written Prayer For the Day, and a written Affirmation For the Day. Because the book is divided into twelve chapters, the layout of the book is designed in such a way that it can easily be used for an adult Sunday School course. The individual chapters contain enough content, and yet are short enough in length, that they could also well serve as material for small midweek study groups within a local church. There are thought-provoking questions listed at the end of each chapter, to provide class participants an opportunity to review and to discuss the main content of each chapter. Because there is a developing theme throughout the book it can also be used and read like any other 'regular' book.

There has been no book that I have more enjoyed writing and no content of any book that is more important to communicate. If all are sinners by nature and by choice, if Jesus died to provide an atonement for the sins of all people, if all humans are in a saveable state because of Christ's unlimited atonement and because of the universal gift of faith which the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon all persons, if God wills that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance, Jesus has commanded the Church to make disciples of all peoples (Matthew 28:19), if the angels in heaven rejoice exceedingly when even one sinner comes to repentance, and if it is appointed unto all men once to die, but after death comes the Judgement– then, in light of these basic Bible truths, should we not be most concerned that all persons everywhere understand God's Plan for human redemption? God has commanded all men everywhere to repent and to come to the knowledge of the Truth. If there is a 'heaven to gain and a hell to shun, and if hell was never prepared for mankind, but rather for the devil and his demons, then it stands to reason that all persons everywhere should be urged to repent and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus was born to die, in order that all persons everywhere can live eternally with God in heaven!

It is my hope that, through the reading of this book, believers may deepen their understanding and appreciation of God's wonderful Plan of Salvation (the plan which was hidden for generations, but now revealed to mankind in these latter days). It is my further and even greater hope that hundreds of sincere people who are 'hungry for God' may find this book an aid in their search for God. Nothing would thrill me more than to learn that someone found their way to the 'foot of the Cross of Christ' to find peace with God, through the reading of this book. "Coming To Know God" is the greatest privilege known to mankind!

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Ronald G. Christian

Fort Collins, Colorado

Introduction Overcoming Obstacles to Christian Growth

Introduction to Overcoming Obstacles To Christian Growth

Introduction To Book Six – Growth

By

Ron Christian

"Christ receiveth sinful men, even me with all my sins" – great words from a great song that describe God's great grace! But while it is true that Christ can and does transform sinners in a moment of time (when a sinner truly repents and turns in humble faith to the Savior), it is also unfortunately true that 'saved' persons often carry 'sinful attitudes' with them long after their initial spiritual conversion. This 'sinful spiritual baggage' can weigh down a Christian, causing great spiritual damage and even eventual spiritual destruction. 'Sinful spiritual baggage' like prejudice, judgmentalism, resentments, alienation in human relationships, unforgiveness, repressed anger and bitterness (which can cause 'depression'), unresolved grief. In this book (i.e. Book Six of the 13 Booklet Series on 'Growing A Godly Life') we will look at each of these above-mentioned serious problems which debilitate and threaten to destroy the life of a Christian. All of these constitute 'sinful spiritual baggage' which must be gotten rid of if one is to experience spiritual and mental and emotional health and well-being. Left to fester and to poison the life of a believer, eventually these sinful attitudes will snuff out all spiritual life!

Much could be said about each of the above-mentioned sins (which too often are left undealt with in the life of a believer) but let us in this Introduction seriously 'focus' on one of the many obstacles which threatens to undo many Christians – the problem of Prejudice. Thomas Duckworth, whose excellent article on Prejudice (the first devotional in this booklet) describes prejudice as judging a person by his appearance and concluding that you do not want to have anything to do with him. It is turning away from a person before you know anything about him. Prejudice is an ugly sin, too often tolerated in the life of a "professing Christian".

I have sadly discovered it in my own life, and perhaps you too have uncovered this ugly sin in your life. Christians need to rid themselves, not only of prejudice, but of all other 'sinful baggage' which is the cause of spiritual defeat. James wrote the following words to Christians: "Get rid of all that is wrong in your life, both inside and outside, and humbly be glad for the wonderful message we have received, for it is able to save our souls as it takes hold of our hearts." (James 1:21, Living Bible)

Prejudice – that widespread sin among 'professing Christians' – comes in many different 'forms'. There is racial prejudice, economic prejudice, educational prejudice, class prejudice, ethnic prejudice, gender prejudice, religious prejudice, and a variety of other prejudices. James exposed the ugliness of this sin, and he called upon Christians everywhere to cleanse themselves from this destructive problem. "Dear brothers, how can you claim that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, if you show favoritism to rich people and look down on poor people? If a man comes into your church

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dressed in expensive clothes and with valuable gold rings on his fingers, and at that same moment another man comes in who is poor and dressed in threadbare clothes, and you make a lot of fuss over the rich man and give him the best seat in the house and say to the poor man, 'You can stand over there if you like, or else sit on the floor' – well judging a man by his wealth shows that you are guided by wrong motives. Listen to me, dear brothers: God has chosen poor people to be rich in faith, and the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs, for that is the gift God promised to all those who love him. And yet, of the two strangers, you have despised the poor man. Don't you realize that it is usually the rich men who pick on you and drag you into court? And all too often they are the ones who laugh at Jesus Christ whose noble name you bear." (James 2:1-7, Living Bible)

There is not only prejudice against the "poor" (or, strangely, sometimes against the "rich", which is "inverted snobbery"), but there is also widespread racial prejudice – even among so-called 'Christians'. It has only been in recent years (since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.) that some all-white "fundamentalist churches" (in the 'Bible Belt' of American South) have 'allowed' the presence of 'Blacks' (African-Americans) into their sanctuaries. The prejudice of the 'Whites' (including 'Christians') against the 'Blacks' (including 'Christians') in the American South (and in some other places) has long been 'deep' and 'bitter'! Needless to say, such 'racial prejudice' is completely contrary to the 'spirit of Christ' (which is the spirit of acceptance and love). It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who had 'a dream' that the day would finally come in America when Black and White children would freely play together with no consciousness ("sensitivity') to the 'color' of their skin, that persons would not be judged (evaluated) by the 'color' of their skin but by the 'character' of their person! No 'professing Christian' has any 'business' ('right') to discrimination against any person for arbitrary reasons, like race, culture, economic status, education, religion. One form of racial prejudice is expressed by 'professing Christians' who are strongly opposed to interracial marriages. There is no solid Biblical or theological rationale for such opposition (did not Moses the Jew marry a 'black' Ethiopian?), but, nevertheless, there are many 'white, conservative, evangelicals' who continue to oppose "a black man marrying a white woman". One of the most pathetic (inexcusable) forms of racial prejudice is expressed by some religious folks who claim that, because Ham (the son of Noah) was 'cursed' (Genesis 9:18-25), all 'Black People are cursed' (to be subservient and inferior)! There could not be any worse form of Biblical misinterpretation and racial prejudice (performed in the 'name of religion')!

When my grandchildren were very young (verily able to talk), I taught them the following 'little verse':

"Jesus loves the little children, 
All the children of the world, 
Red and yellow, black and white, 
They are precious in His sight, 
Jesus loves the little children of the world."

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And Jesus loves the 'Brown' (Hispanic) children too – a rather large 'portion' of the American population! Jesus has 'no favorites', and there is 'no superior race'. All are created with 'equal significance' to the Lord God, and all are 'equally loved' by, the Heavenly Father! There is 'no room' for racial prejudice among sincere Christians!

Another 'form' of prejudice which Christians must avoid at all costs is 'educational prejudice'. This kind of prejudice can express itself in two different directions. There are some Christians who are strongly prejudiced against highly educated persons (including highly educated pastors and seminary professors). Some Christians appear to believe that 'ignorance is bliss' (a 'virtue'), and that if a minister has a PhD behind his name, he must be 'less spiritual'. I have heard several 'well-meaning' older believers belittle ('make fun of') ministers who had a "seminary education". One older minster whom I recently met (with whom I greatly enjoyed visiting and who 'appeared' to me to be 'a saint') talked jokingly (but nevertheless 'seriously') about 'seminary' really being a 'cemetery' (which 'ruined' most young men who were training for the ministry). It can't be denied that 'seminary training' has tragically been instrumental in the 'ruination' or many young men who were training for the pastoral ministry (because of the 'skeptical' and 'liberal' and 'anti-Biblical' attitudes of far too many seminary professors). But, to categorically 'condemn' (or 'belittle') all seminaries (and call them 'cemeteries') is foolish and naive and judgmental (a form of 'intellectual prejudice').

On the other hand, there are some 'elitist-type' Christians, whose intellectual conceit and contempt for the less educated Christians (including ministers who don't have seminary training), makes them equally unattractive and insensitive and unapproachable. These highly educated Christians find it difficult to accept the fact that God has often chosen persons with an average (or 'below average') 'formal education' to do some of His greatest work in His Kingdom! Those with a strong 'bias' against the uneducated ought to take another look at Jesus' Twelve Disciples, none of whom went to any college (and certainly not to any theological seminary). The Christian Movement, from the beginning, was a 'lay movement'! God is glad to use brilliant minds and highly educated persons, but God is able also to use an Amos ("an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit" – Amos 7:14) or any other commonly-educated persons. As far as I know, my own grandmother (a very 'saintly' and intelligent lady) 'graduated' only from 8th grade, and yet she was a 'student of the Word', and one who regularly read many 'Christian books', and one who taught adult Sunday School classes for several decades! A 'deep and seasoned' Christian, a wise and discerning counselor, a mighty prayer warrior, a fruitful and loving soul-winner! Weather highly educated (like the Apostle Paul) or uneducated (like Jesus' disciples Peter and John), persons can only be effective in their life if they spend much time in communion with Jesus Christ. "When the Council (Jewish Sanhedrin) saw the boldness of Peter and John, and could see that they were obviously uneducated non-professionals, they were amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them!" (Acts 4:13, Living Bible)

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No amount of formal theological education can take the place of a deep heart commitment to Jesus! Tragically, there have been far too many seminary-educated ministers who depended too much on their formal education and too little on the daily 'anointing' of the Holy Spirit! When the 'going got rough' in the pastorate, many of these 'beady seminarians' (who were 'proud' of their theological expertise) decided to 'throw in the towel' and 'call it quits' (as far as the pastoral ministry was concerned)! Even John Wesley, whose theological brilliance was unmatched and whose 'taste' for proper ecclesiastical form was intense, had a difficult time accepting the fact that God could 'call' and 'use' unordained and commonly-educated laymen to preach and to evangelize. It was only after Suzanna Wesley (John's mother) 'confronted' him about this issue (of lay persons preaching) did John Wesley see the wisdom of allowing laymen to preach. It was then that John Wesley laid aside his 'prejudice', and championed the cause of lay persons preaching the Gospel. God raised up hundreds of 'lay ministers' (unordained and ill-educated) to spread the Good News of Christ throughout England and other Lands!

"Intellectual prejudice" expressed in 'either direction' (i.e., taking 'pride' in intellectualism or 'scorning' intellectualism) should have no place in the life of a true Christian. All such prejudice must be expunged from the Christian!

Another form of 'prejudice' among Christians is "religious prejudice". There are too many Christians who believe that they have a special 'edge on God's truth', that they are the most enlightened and spiritually informed, that their church (or denomination) is 'more favored' by God than any other church. Such a 'sectarian' attitude is evidence of spiritual pride – the kind of pride which dishonors an all-loving God and engenders divisions and misunderstandings among Christians. Even though I personally cherish my Anglican Heritage (as a 'fifth generation' Free Methodist), I have always found it hurtful to listen to some of my fellow evangelical (conservative) Protestant ministers speak disrespectfully (and sarcastically) regarding Roman Catholics or Pentecostals or some other 'Branch' of the Christian Church (Body of Christ). Christ alone is 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life', but I believe that there are many 'ways' to God (but only 'through' Christ), and that there are many honorable ways to worship the Living God! Certainly God is too 'big' to be 'boxed' into anyone denomination or church!

Personally, I appreciate the large variety of way! in which my several relatives (and friends) love and adore the Precious Savior. One of my grandmothers was a devout Roman Catholic, and the other grandmother was a devout Free Methodist (as well as my mother and my wife and myself). My two sisters (and some of their family) are Presbyterians. My brother belongs to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. My oldest daughter and her husband (and their children) experience devout worship in the Eastern Orthodox Church. One of my sons-in-law was raised in the Episcopal Church, and he and his wife (my youngest daughter) have often worshiped in this liturgical church. I have one niece who married a Jewish man who has accepted Jesus as his Messiah. My

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niece and her husband, who joyously worship in a Messianic Jewish synagogue (church) each Saturday, have helped me to appreciate the "Jewish roots" of the Christian Faith. Both my aunt and her daughter (my cousin) were ordained Pentecostal preachers. Several of my friends (including fellow pastors) are Calvinist-oriented Baptists. One of the faithful 'donors' to my interdenominational organization (called "Christian Living Ministries") is a long-time devout Lutheran. For the last several years, my wife and I have attended a large evangelical (protestant) church – the Evangelical Free Church. I have a rather large number of friends who attend the Assemblies of God Church.

A person who follows the loving and accepting and tolerant Christ has no just reason to be intolerant, close-minded, narrow, exclusive, sectarian, bigoted, prejudiced against a fellow Christian who chooses to worship differently and to think differently than he does. Notes William Barclay: "The conviction that our beliefs and our methods alone are correct has been the cause of more tragedy and distress in the Church than almost any other thing. There are many ways to God. God has His own secret stairway into every heart. God fulfills Himself in many ways, and no man and no Church has a monopoly of the truth of God. It (Daily Study Bible; Luke; pg. 131-132)

Barclay notes that of all the greatest religious leaders none was such a pattern of tolerance as John Wesley (1703-1791). Said Wesley, "I have no more right to object to a man for holding a different opinion from mine than I have to differ with a man because he wears a wig and I wear my own hair: but if he takes his wig off and shakes the powder in my face, I shall consider it my duty to get quit of him as soon as possible. The thing which I resolved to use every possible method of preventing was a narrowness of spirit, a party zeal – that miserable bigotry which makes many so unready to believe that there is any work of God but among themselves. 'We think and we let think'. When his nephew, Samuel, the son of his brother Charles, entered the Roman Catholic Church, John Wesley wrote to him, 'Whether in this Church or that I care not. One may be saved in either or damned in either, but I fear you are not born again.'" (pg. 131)

God is much 'bigger' than any system of theology, or anyone 'type' of religious experience, or anyone 'branch' of God's Church (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant), or anyone 'way' of worship. Notes William Barclay, "There is room in the Empire of the Kingdom for a wide variety of beliefs. No man and no church has a monopoly of all truth. To think ourselves right and everyone else wrong can lead to nothing but trouble and bitterness and strife. So long as all these beliefs are stemmed in Christ they are all facets of God's truth. There is room in the Empire of the Kingdom for a wide variety of experiences. We do infinite harm when we try to standardize Christian experience, and when we insist that all men must come to Christ in the same way. One man may have a sudden shattering experience and may be able to point to the day and the hour, and the very minute, when God invaded his life. Another man's heart may open to Christ normally and naturally, and without crisis, as the petal of the lint-bell opens to the sun. Both experiences come from God and both men belong to God. There is room

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in the Empire of the Kingdom for a wide variety of ways of worship. One man finds touch with God in an elaborate ritual and in a splendid liturgy; and another finds God in the bare simplicities. There is no right or wrong here. It is the glory of the church that within its fellowship somewhere a man will find the worship that brings him to God. Let him find it, but let him not think this way the only way and let him not criticize another's way." (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; Luke; pages 184, 185)

Ridding one's self of all 'religious prejudice' is important, to help assure continuing healthy and dynamic growth in the Christian life.

Some mistakenly believe that a life which is free of all prejudice is a life that is free of all Intolerance. But such reasoning is erroneous. A Christian should rid himself of all racial and religious prejudice, and a variety of other destructive prejudices, but a Christian, at the same time, should never compromise with sin in the 'name' of 'tolerance'. A Christian, who seeks to be 'free' from the sin of prejudice, must also 'champion' the cause of righteousness, holy living, and moral purity. It is NOT a sign of 'prejudice' to stand against moral evil in society. To rid yourself (as a believer) of hurtful 'prejudice' is NOT to become indifferent to widespread evil in society (such as pornography, adultery, homosexuality, etc.). To speak against the sin of homosexuality does NOT make you a 'prejudiced' person or a 'hater of mankind'. One can be, at one and the same time, a 'lover of mankind' and a 'hater of sinful acts of perversion'. Laura Drewer's article in 'Week 24' entitled "Indifference Puts Blinders On Our Eyes" speaks well to this issue.

It is NOT a sign of 'wrongful intolerance' or of 'evil prejudice' for a Christian to have a high regard for justice, righteousness, and holy living. In our age of 'moral relativism', where moral distinctives are blurred, there is a need for a declaration of 'moral absolutes'. In an age of 'easy toleration', there is a need for strong convictions and a rejection of the 'false'. In our age where so many are doing that which is 'right in their own eyes', there is need for the prophetic voice which declares "Thus saith the Lord!" When men turn all the 'blacks' and 'whites' into 'pale grays', there is need for clear thinking regarding the 'morally good' and 'morally bad' (as taught by the Holy Bible and as generally recognized throughout the history of mankind). The believer must never deny the legitimate existence of some 'moral relatives', personal convictions, individual preferences, and cultural tastes, but neither must the believer deny the fact of 'moral absolutes' and 'universal principles' which apply to all persons, in all societies, in all ages. Adultery and homosexuality and murder are just as wrong today as they were when the Ten Commandments were first given! The fact that one is 'intolerant' towards evil (i.e., the violation of God's Absolute Moral Laws) does not make one a person who is full of 'prejudice' against lawbreakers (sinners). To say that you are 'intolerant' towards the sin of murder, is not to say that you are 'prejudiced' against the murderer. It is a misapplication of the idea of 'prejudice' to say that the 'unprejudiced

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person' is 'tolerant' of all behavior, regardless of how 'evil' or 'perverted' that behavior might be!

However, the Christian who is rightly opposed to 'moral evil' must not be hostile or hateful toward the' man of evil'. When one of my daughters was very young, she learned to make this important distinction. She said, "Daddy, God hates robbery, but He loves the robber!" It is all-important that the, believer has an intense hatred for sin and, at the same time, an intense love for the sinner! Unfortunately, some 'professing Christians', while they are championing the cause of moral righteousness, have turned against the sinners whose sins they so intensely hate. It is 'right' to boldly speak against the horror of abortion, but it is not right to hate the women who choose to abort their babies, and it is never right to plot the murder of abortionist doctors.

It is possible to be morally good and yet to lack loveliness, attractiveness, and graciousness' in the expression of moral righteousness. It is possible to speak out prophetically against adultery and homosexuality and drunkenness, for instance, and yet in the process lack tenderness and love for the 'fallen one'. It is possible to be practically and morally 'good' and yet not to be aesthetically 'good'. To be 'aesthetically good' is to be attractive, winsome, and lovely in one's actions of good. The goodness of justice and righteousness seeks to destroy personal and institutional evil (like homosexuality and adultery). The goodness of kindness and mercy, on the other hand, attracts the sinner (the lesbian or prostitute, etc.) away from her sin and 'perversion' to the beauty and purity of the altogether lovely Christ! The true Christian must never allow the 'warm love' in his heart to be 'chilled' by the rigor and coldness of his moral-codes. He must never be 'tolerant' toward sin, and he, at the same time, must never be 'prejudiced' against the sinner! While (properly) upholding strict moral and biblical principles, the Christian must always remain tender and responsive and loving towards people who are morally broken by sin. To reject sinners in their 'moral predicament' is to be guilty of the greatest 'crime' and 'prejudice' of all! The Christian must always be able to shed a sympathizing tear for sinners (who are in 'slavery' to their sins), without holding any sympathy in his heart for sin! The greater his love for the sinner, the greater his hatred for the sins which are in the process of totally destroying the sinner! 'Intolerant' towards sin, and 'unprejudiced' towards the sinner!

Why have I spent so much time and expended so much effort in writing about the 'sin of prejudice' (in its various forms and manifestations)? Basically for two reasons. First, because it is rather obvious, from my personal experience and from observation of the 'Christian Movement' in general, that "Prejudice" is a widespread 'problem' which is too often unrecognized and unchallenged. Great healing would happen in the lives of countless Christians (and in the "Christian Movement" as a whole) if there was a widespread recognition of this 'great evil', and if there was a deep repentance and an honest expunging of 'prejudice' from the individual and corporate life of Christians.

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The second reason why I have spent so much time and effort writing about 'prejudice' in this Introduction is to illustrate the fact that each of the many 'problems' ('obstacles') which are discussed briefly in Booklet Six, could be dealt with in much greater 'depth' than what was possible in this 'general treatment' regarding Christian Growth in this Daily Devotional Series. Each one of the various 'obstacles to Christian Growth' could have been 'analyzed' with at least as much 'interest' and 'application' as was the subject of 'prejudice' (but 'space' does not permit such analysis).

'Prejudice' is only one of the variety of problems which Christians must face and seek, by God's grace and through diligent human effort, to overcome. Besides the several 'problems' which were named at the beginning of this Introduction there are many others: living by 'feelings' instead of by 'faith'; inadequacy for life's tasks and God's assignments; discontentment with where one finds himself in life and failure to "bloom where you are planted"; loss of confidence in one's self or in one's Lord; discouragement; failure to maintain faith and 'high expectations' in God's miracle power; 'hurtful habits' and failure to exercise discipline to form 'new habits'; worry; negativism; loneliness; failure to forgive one's self for past mistakes and sins; self imposed 'bondage' to daily routine with a failure to take time to relish God's gifts of beauty and pleasure and recreation; a sense of personal insignificance and 'worthlessness' (low self-esteem); failure to guard one's mind from exposure to 'evil thoughts'. These are some of the many 'obstacles' which keep persons from growing dynamically in their Christian lives.

Another 'obstacle' which must be overcome is 'narrowness of outlook' – a failure to see 'reality' from God's broad perspective. Some Christians get too preoccupied with their own 'little world' and with their self-centered concerns, rather than seeing the 'big picture' from God's viewpoint. Christians need to be 'world citizens', not merely 'local citizens' who are preoccupied with their own 'agenda', their own small community, their own local and neighborhood issues. John Wesley, the great 18th century Anglican Preacher, Evangelist, and Moral Crusader, had a 'vision' from God to reach lost people, far and near. He said that 'the world was his parish'!

Another serious 'obstacle' which every sincere Christian must seek to 'overcome' is looking back to the past (with its many regrets) rather than looking ahead to the future (with its possibilities and opportunities). Christians need to follow the example of the Apostle Paul who wrote: "Dear brothers, I am still not all I should be but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us" (Philippians 3:13-14, Living Bible) Paul, whose past life was deeply marred by his many sins – religious bigotry and cruel persecution of Christ's followers – could have lived in 'constant regret' regarding his 'dark past'. But instead Paul chose to accept God's grace and forgiveness and to live in peace (with God and with himself), and to live with excitement and

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anticipation of heaven's future joys! A Christian is called to be 'forward-moving' and progressive in attitudes, rather than 'backward-looking' and defeatist in mentality! For a Christian, 'the best is yet to be' as he anticipates the 'new horizons' of tomorrow and the ultimate rewards of heaven!

HIGHER GROUND

I'm pressing on the upward way, 
New heights I'm gaining every day; 
Still praying as I onward bound, 
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."
My heart has no desire to stay 
Where doubts arise and fears dismay; 
Tho' some may dwell where these abound, 
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world, 
Tho' Satan's darts at me are hurled; 
For faith has caught the joyful sound, 
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height, 
And catch a gleam of glory bright; 
But still I'll pray till heaven I've found, 
"Lord, lead me on to higher ground."

CHORUS:

Lord, lift me up and let me stand, 
By faith, on heaven's table-land, 
A higher plane than I have found; 
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1926)

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Introduction Encountering the Living God

Introduction to Encountering The Living God

Before a person can experience a 'spiritual conversion', he first must experience a 'spiritual awakening'. He must encounter (confront) God, and he must recognize his own personal, spiritual need for God. This 'Collision with God' or inner awakening to personal need is the work of the Holy Spirit. "And when he (the Holy Spirit) has come he will convince the world of its sin, and of the availability of God's goodness, and of deliverance from judgment." (John 16:8, Living Bible)

Coleridge said that he believed the Bible to be inspired because, as he put it, "It finds me". Mark Twain once said, "Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand." It was the Holy Spirit who pricked the hearts of Peter's listeners on the Day of Pentecost. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles. Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) It was the Holy Spirit who awakened Felix to his spiritual need: "And as he (Felix) reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled." (Acts 24:25 a) Every person's inner moral condition is 'naked' and exposed before the 'eyes' of Almighty God! The 'all-seeing eyes' of God search the 'thoughts and motives and desires' of all human beings! However, God's exposure of a person's sin is not for the purpose of mere shame and humiliation. God exposes one's spiritual nakedness in order to clothe him with the 'garments of Christ's righteousness'.

After God awakens a person to his true spiritual condition, God calls that 'exposed sinner' to repentance. Repentance does not mean mere self-improvement. Mere 'human reformation' is not sufficient to heal the 'sin-sick soul'! A person may attempt to reform a pig by cleaning the pig up and by dressing the pig in clean clothes. However, until the nature of the pig is changed, the pig will go back into the mud puddle. A person's 'nature' must be changed by Almighty God. Self-improvement is not sufficient. A sinner must be divinely transformed. Also, repentance is not merely regret or remorse. Simply to feel sorrow about events in the past is not to change things in the present or in the future.

What is repentance? Repentance is a 'moral u-turn' . "A change of mind toward sin, from one of embracing to one of separation". (Stanley Walters) Repentance involves open confession of one's sins to Almighty God. A sinner must make a 'moral u-turn'. He must turn from his old life of sinning. C. S. Lewis describes repentance: "Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that yon have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor-is what Christians call repentance." (Mere Christianity; pg. 59) Repentance recognizes that sin is not only a violation of law (of God), but that it is also the breaking of a relationship (with God). Repentance is not only recognizing the fact of sin and the seriousness of

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sin's consequences, but repentance is also recognizing one's inability to save himself. To have a spirit of true repentance is to acknowledge one's personal helplessness. Before a sinner is ready to receive God's help, he must declare his own personal 'moral bankruptcy'! Repentance involves both a 'change of mind' (from an attitude of embracing sin to an attitude of hating sin) and a 'change in actions' (from a life of practicing sin to a life of practicing righteousness). Repentance does not mean, however, perfection in moral performance, but rather a new direction in life. To truly repent one must 'disagree' with his former prideful attitudes of self-sufficiency, and he must henceforth agree with God's grace-estimate of his moral condition.

The purpose for which Christ came (Luke 5:32), and the central message of the Gospel (Acts 3:19) is that men and women must repent and turn to God if they are to live. God's absolute requirement for salvation is repentance: "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30) Remorse is mere sorrow because of the consequences of one's sins. Repentance is a 'godly sorrow' over the sin itself, with a sincere desire to change one's life. True repentance means hating sin, accepting full moral responsibility for one's sinful actions, and turning completely to Christ for forgiveness and new life. The turning away from a life of sinful attitudes and actions is called repentance; a turning towards the Saviour for salvation is called 'saving faith'. The 'turning from' and the 'turning to' should take place almost simultaneously.

Repentance and faith are two sides of one coin or two halves of one whole. Repentance should always be inseparably coupled with faith. Repentance is forsaking sin, and faith is turning to the Saviour. The moment one forsakes sin, he must turn to the Saviour, for sin can only loose its grip on one's life when one surrenders himself to the stronger hold of the Saviour.

One is 'saved' by faith. Faith is a transfer of trust from one's self to one's Saviour. Saving faith is always accompanied by genuine repentance. Repentance is a change of attitude toward sin. Faith is a change of -attitude toward the Saviour, from one of rejection to one of acceptance of and surrender to the Saviour. Saving faith is "putting yourself in the care of One who can do something. It is a transfer of trust for salvation from self to Christ." (Stanley Walters) Faith is the total commitment of one's total self to Christ. Faith is throwing yourself upon God, like a drowning man throws himself upon the strength of the lifeguard. Only when one ceases to struggle and instead abandons himself to the Divine Lifeguard, is he 'saved'. The object of the sinner's faith must be Jesus Christ. Christ is perfectly trustworthy. "How did you like the airplane ride?" was asked of a nervous man who went up for the first time. "Very well," he replied, "but I never did put my whole weight down!" Faith means putting your whole weight down on God! Faith is self-abandonment to God and rejection of all attempts at works of self-righteousness. There are some who feel they must improve on their actions before they can come to God or be accepted by God. But the popular Gospel song well states the truth: "Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee

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whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come!"

Ask yourself if you have had a spiritual awakening, if you have truly repented, if you have exercised saving faith .. John Wesley, 18th century clergyman of the Church of England who is credited as 'Founder of Methodism', struggled hard and long before he discovered the way of simple faith (accompanied with true repentance) as the means to genuine salvation from sin. There were several 'dead-end-roads' which John Wesley traveled before he found the 'right road' to Christ. Even today, there are far too many who are traveling on those 'dead-end roads'.

There is the 'dead-end road' of Mysticism. Mysticism is an 'individualized' attempt to know God, unaided by any of the 'Means of Grace' (such as Christian Fellowship, the Bible, Prayer, Lord's Supper, Baptism). Mysticism teaches that a person can be 'united with God' without personal repentance and without obedience to any of the written laws of God. Mysticism centers on emotions and 'personal experience' without the need for any rational understanding of the objectively-revealed (propositional) truths of God. Mysticism involves personal withdrawal from any human association, and disdains any need for personal accountability to any group. Mysticism seeks personal Communion with God, and seeks to avoid 'contact' with other persons. Thus, the way of mysticism is the way of self-preoccupation, with little or no concern for ministering to the needs of other 'hurting people'. Mysticism, with its extreme emphasis on one's subjective relationship with God, minimizes the importance of obedience to God's objective commandments, and denies the Biblical teaching that 'good works' are the legitimate expressions of a true faith in God (i.e., mysticism denies that a 'saving faith' is a 'working faith').

After John Wesley was delivered from the snares of mysticism, he declared that, of all the enemies of Christianity, mysticism was the most dangerous.

There is the 'dead-end road' of legalist, which is an attempt to gain God's acceptance through strenuous human effort and law-keeping and human performance and personal moral achievement A legalist is one whose focus on a life of 'good works' is an attempt to make himself acceptable unto Almighty God. A legalist (rightly) acknowledges the importance of 'good works', but a legalist (wrongly) believes that it is 'good works' which justifies a person before God. John Wesley, along with many other earnest seekers (including Martin Luther), believed that one must greatly improve his own life and conduct before God could accept him into His family. One scholar characterized John Wesley's search for God through 'legalism' in this way: "He believed that a changed life was not the fruit of forgiveness, but its cause. Good works" Wesley said, come before forgiveness and constituted the title to it; they (good works) did not come after and represent its effects." (Quoted in "Age To Age, A Living Witness", by Leslie Ray Marston; pg. 27) At this stage in John Wesley's spiritual quest he failed to discern God's 'order of salvation', regarding the proper relationship between God's grace, and

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the Sinner's response to grace through repentance and faith, and the consequence (i.e., the fruit or evidence) of true saving faith which is a life of 'good works'. Ephesians 2:8-10 makes it clear that a sinner is save BY God's grace THROUGH man's faith FOR good works. "Because of God's kindness (grace) you have been saved through trusting Christ (faith). And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others" (i.e., a life full of 'good works'). (Ephesians 2: 8-10, Living Bible) The 'performance of good works' is important as evidence that one has truly believed in Christ as His Savior, but 'good works' are never meritorious (i.e., 'good works' can never make one worthy or deserving of God's favor and forgiveness and acceptance). Because one has been wonderfully 'saved' by Christ alone, the saved person deeply loves Christ and wishes to please Christ as an act of gratitude for salvation from sin. 'Good works' are the natural 'fruits' (manifestations) of love for the 'Lover of sinners'.

Wrote the apostle Paul: "The Scriptures tell us Abraham believed God, and that is why God canceled his sins and declared him 'not guilty'. But didn't he earn his right to heaven by all the good things he did? No, for being saved is a gift; if a person could earn it by being good, then it wouldn't be free- but it is! It is given to those who do not work for it. For God declares sinners to be good in his sight if they have faitb in Christ to save them from God's wrath." (Romans 4:3-5, Living Bible)

Not only were the ways of mysticism and legalism 'dead-ends roads' for John Wesley, but Wesley also learned that the way of ritualism was a 'dead-end road'. There was a time, before John Wesley received personal assurance of sins forgiven, when he sought to be right with God through the careful observance of religious rituals and ceremonies and rites and ordinances. Wesley finally learned (like many religious persons in our modern-day need to learn) that religious ceremonies such as Baptism and the Lord's Supper cannot 'save' a person. Of course, if one takes seriously the meaning of the words found in these ceremonies and turns wholeheartedly to the Living Christ to whom these ceremonies point, then that person would discover a personal relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. However, as is too often the case, these and other religious ceremonies and rituals are often endlessly and mechanically and thoughtlessly entered into without any accompanying personal volitional commitment and emotional response on the part of the person who is engaging in these ceremonies and rituals. There is nothing inherently 'evil' or 'harmful' about religious ceremonies and rituals, but the latter must always be seen as the 'means' by which a person enters into a personal and dynamic and trusting relationship with the Living Christ. It is too easy, as in the case of the Pharisees of Jesus' time, to begin believing that the mere observance of religious ceremonies automatically brings God's favor and establishes a relationship with God and assures one that he has a "passport' to heaven. It is possible for 'religiously-oriented person' to attend Church services weekly, and to be baptized, and to participate

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regularly in the observance of the Lord's Supper, and yet not to be 'born again'. Was not Nicodemus, the Jewish Rabbi, although he was a very religious person (whose observance of ritual and ceremony was exemplary) a man who desperately needed to be 'born anew'? (John 3)

John Wesley, whose observance of religious ritual and whose performance of good works and charitable deeds were most exemplary, learned the hard way that the 'religion of respectability' and the 'religion of formality' and the 'religion of rugged disciplines' could not bring peace to his heart and mind, nor assurance to his soul and spirit. Wesley discovered that mere 'morality' and 'ethics' and 'harmless living' could not give one a 'right standing with God'. When Wesley finally found the 'open-ended road' of faith which led him to a saving knowledge of Christ, he reflectively wrote about the futility of the way of religious 'formality': "Religion is commonly thought to consist of three things – harmlessness, using the means of grace, and doing good … Accordingly, by a religious man is commonly meant one that is honest, just, and fair in his dealings; that is constantly at Church and sacrament; and that gives alms … True religion, the consequence of God's dwelling and reigning in the soul … does not consist in any or all of these three things; but a man might both be harmless, use the means of grace and do much good, and yet have no true religion at all." (Quoted in "Blueprint For A Christian World"; Mary Alice Tenney; pg. 44)

Romans, chapters 1-3, is written primarily to contrast the righteousness of God's character with the sinfulness of man's character. The universality of sin among all humanity is the devastating conclusion of these three chapters.

In chapter one of Romans, "Paul had painted a grim and terrible picture of the heathen world, a world which was under the condemnation of God. With every word of that condemnation the Jew thoroughly agreed. But he never for a moment dreamed that he was under a like condemnation. He thought that he occupied a privileged position. God might be the judge of the heathen, but he was the special protector of the Jews. Here Paul is pointing out forcibly to the Jew that he is just as much a sinner as the Gentile is and that when he is condemning the Gentile he is condemning himself. He will be judged, not on his racial heritage, but by the kind of life that he lives". (Barclay's Romans, Daily Study Bible, p. 41)

Chapter one is a description of , down-and-out' Gentile sinners, morally perverted and grossly immoral. Chapter two is a description of self-righteous, hypocritical Jews who prided themselves in their racial descent, and claimed God's special favor because Abraham was the father of their faith.

The Jews' claim to moral excellence and spiritual eliteness is vividly described in Romans 2:17-20. "You call yourself a Jew; you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are

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instructed by the law; you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth." (NIV)

Chapter one and chapter two of Romans reveal two sides of one coin. The 'coin' is sin. One side of the 'coin' is the life of sensuality. The other side of the 'coin' is the life of self-righteous morality. Both ways of life are condemned by God. Neither the down- and-out sinner nor the up-and-out sinner can gain God's approval. Both the sins of the flesh and the sins of the spirit bring God's judgment. Irreligious passion and religious hypocrisy both bring God's severe judgment. Sinful actions and sinful attitudes are alike condemned. The sensual sins and the sophisticated sins alike are scrutinized. Neither the life of paganism nor the life of religion can gain God's approval. The repulsive life of sensual perversion and the respectable life of self-righteous morality are equally offensive to the all-holy God, and both ways of life lead to the same eternal destination.

There are two major flaws in attempting to gain God's approval by a life of outward morality.

First, the man of self-righteous morality is shallow in his understanding of the nature of sin. He can easily condemn the immoral behavior of 'out and out'sinners. Adultery, stealing, cheating, murder, and other such actions are easily and rightly condemned. But the man of morality finds it difficult to diagnose the universal disease of all mankind – the disease of self- centeredness. "The thing that is deeply wrong with human nature is not that some people commit adultery, and some steal, but that all of us are self-centered – the decent and the indecent, the nice and the nasty. Manners, polish, refinement, and culture only cover the disease, like rouge on the face of a woman dying of anemia. They can't affect the deadly disease underneath." (Questions People Ask About Religion, William Sangster, p. 58)

The second flaw in the man of self-righteous morality is his hypocrisy. Of the self-righteous Jews, God says, "You are just as bad (as the Gentiles) when you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are talking about yourselves, for you do these very same things. .. God will punish the Jews for sinning because they have his written laws, but don't obey them. They know what is right, but don't do it. After all, salvation is not given to those who know what to do, unless they do it". (Romans 2:12-15, Living Bible)

After experiencing the 'dead-end roads' of the intellectualism of the rationalist, and the rigid discipline of the legalism, and the subjectivism of the mystic, and the religious performance of the formalist, John Wesley finally discovered the way

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of faith and repentance which led him to a deep and abiding assurance of forgiveness and reconciliation and peace with God. Following a period of great sorrow and distress and "heaviness of heart", on May 24, 1738, John Wesley finally experienced the assurance for which he had long sought through the ways of rationalism, mysticism, legalism, ritualism, and religious formalism. In his 'Journal' he describes his all-important 'encounter with God': "In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in A1dersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

As John Wesley finally learned, and as the Bible clearly teaches (especially in the Book of Romans), there is only one 'open-ended road' which brings one into the 'Kingdom of God' – the road of faith in Christ alone.

Included in this 'Introduction to Book One' ('Encountering The Living God') is an illustrated presentation of the 'Plan of Salvation' showing (1) The Fact of Sin; (2) The Seriousness and Consequences of Sin; (3) The Insufficiency of Man's Self-Efforts to Save Himself; (4) The Sufficiency of Christ's Provision of Salvation; (5) The Conditions of Repentance and Faith which sinners must meet in order to receive God's gift of personal salvation; (6) The necessary follow-up Steps which new believers must take in order to become established in the 'Christian Life'.

Carefully 'contemplate' the following illustrated presentation of the 'Plan of Salvation' , and if you have not personally taken those all-important 'steps' of genuine repentance and faith (trust in Christ), be sure to take those 'steps' soon. And, after you have 'made your peace with God', you may find that this illustrated presentation of the Plan of Salvation will help you (as a 'tool') to share the 'Good News' with your friends and neighbors and associates and relatives.

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A Great Man Once Said,

Until He Finds "Rest In God"!

The Big Questions Of Life:

(1) WHO AM I?

(2) WHERE DID I COME FROM?

(3) CAN I FIND PEACE OF MIND?

(4) WHAT Is My PURPOSE FOR LIVING?

(5) WHERE AM I GOING AFTER I DIE?

(6) CAN I KNOW GOD IN A PERSONAL WAY?

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Every Person Has A God-Shaped Vacuum Within Him!

Many Are Trying To Fill That Vacuum With Substitutes For God:

Pleaseure!

Money!

Religion!

Power!

Morality!

Drugs!

Property!

Sex!

Alcohol!

Entertainment!

("Oh God, don't let me be disilusioned into thinking that the earth's treasures and pleasures can satisify me")

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How Serious Is Sin?

"For The Wages Of Sin is Death!" Romans 6:23

Definition:

"Wages: That Which Is Paid for Work or Services."

Sin Brings Misery and Unhappiness!

"Fleeting pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25)

"I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

"When I kept silent about my sin, my body
waste away through my graning all day long."

(Psalms 32:3)

"Our iniquities, like the wind,
take us away"

(Isaiah 64:6)

"There is no peace", says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:21)

"There is a way which seems right to a man, but it's
end is the way of death."

(Proverbs 14:12)

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Sinning Leads To Eternal Separation From God!

Revelation 20:11-15

It Is extremely Important
To Know That Your Name Is
Written In The Book Of Life

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Focus On: Actions Attmepting To Solve Human Problem: Resultant State Or Relationship
Outward Circumstances Give up business which has evil companions; abandon evil reading; move into new locality; establish new evnironment. Outward Reformation
Personal Habits No longer Drink or Smoke, or Lie, or Curse. Personal Reformation
Personal Discipline Exercise, Eat well, Develop the arts, perform good deeds, self-improvement Self-Improvement Cultivation
Personal Sins Confession; Repentance, Faith in Christ alone; Restitution, 'Means of Grace' Outward and Partial Transformation (Conversion)
Unsurrendered Self Total Surrender of Self (emotions, intellect, will) in Faith to Sovereign Lord. Inner Purity and Love, and outer Power to witness. (Increasing conformity to Christ-likeness.

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Can My Sins Be Forgiven?

"As far as the  east  is from the  
west , so far has He removed our
transgressions from us!"

(Psalms 103:12)

East West

"I will forgive their iniquity, and their
sins I will remember no more!"

(Jeremiah 31:34)

"The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins!"(Matthew 9:6)

Forgiveness Is The Loveliest Word In The English Language!

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For Whom Did Christ Die?

1 Timothy 2:4-6 1 Timothy 4:10

2 Peter 3:9

John 6:33 John 6:51 Colossians 1:20

EVERYONE!

Romans 5:18 Romans 11:32

2 Corinthians 5:19

Titus 2:11 John 7:37-38 John 3:14-17

Revelation 22:17 Acts 17:30

1 John 2:2

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Agreee Or Dis-Agree? True or False?

T God wants to save all persons. It is not God's will that any person perish. (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4).
T Christ died for all persons, thus providing a universal atonement which is adequate for the whole human race generally and every man individually. (1 Timothy 4:6) (1 John 2:2)
T Man is corrupted by sin or totally depraved, but God extends to every person a grace which enables him to turn to Christ for forgiveness. (Isaiah 45:22)
T Because every person is a free moral agent, he may, if he chooses, resist the grace of God (Joshua 24:15; John 1:11, John 1:12)
T Every person everywhere is commanded to repent of his sins and bel ieve in Christ (Acts 16:31; Acts 17:30)
T No person is excluded from salvation unless he excludes himself by willful unbelief.
T Because Christ died for all persons, all persons are in a saveable relationship with God, but only those persons who initially exercise personal faith in Christ and continue to exercise personal faith in Christ as Saviour will actually and ultimately be saved.
F Before the human race was created, God unconditionally chose some persons to be saved and some persons to be lost.
F God gives the gift of saving faith only to those persons whom He has chosen to save.
T Ultimate assurance of personal salvation is impossible apart from conscious, deliberate perseverance in faith.

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God Is A God Who Has Given Human Beings Everything Richly To Enjoy! 1 Timothy 6:17 b

A Beautiful World To Live In (Genesis 1:1)

  • Light

  • Firmamant (Heavens)

  • Land and Seas

  • Trees and Plants

  • Sun, Moon, Stars

  • All Creatures Big and Small

  • A Creative Job to Perform (Genesis 2:15)

  • A Loving Companion to Enjoy (Genesis 2:18)

All Things Bright and Beautiful

(Genesis 1:31)

"It was good"

A Trusting Relationship with God (Genesis 1:26-27)

A Big World To Rule Responsibly (Genesis 1:28)

"It is not good for the man
to be alone. I will make a 
helper suitable for him."

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Sin Marred God's Beautiful Creation!

What Is Sin? ? ? ?

Disobeying Holy Laws of God (Genesis 3:1-5) (1 John 3:4)

Gratifying Selfish Desires Apart From God (Genesis 3:6) (Galatians 5:19)

Breaking Loving Relationship With God (Genesis 3:8) (Romans 3:21)

What Is The Essence Of All Sin? ? ? ?

Self-Centered PRIDE

Do Decent People Need Saving?

"The thing that is deeply wrong
with human nature is not that some
people commit adultery, and some
steal, but that all of us are self-
centered - the decent and the
indecent, the nice and the nasty.
Manners, polish, refinement, and 
culture only cover that disease,
like rouge on the face of a woman
dying of anemia. They can't affect
the deadly disease underneath.
To be saved is to be saved from that
disease. We all have it; therefore
we all need to be saved." 
- William Sangster -

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What Is The Extent of Sin? ? ?

All Have 'Missed The Mark'

Definition: Harmartia (Greek word for 'sin')

'Missing the Mark' as when a spear is thrown at a target.

"There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)

Jews And Gentiles Alike Are All under Sin! (Romans 3:9)

All Persons are Sinners by Nature (Psalms 51:5) (Genesis 6:5)

All Persons are Sinners by Choice (Isaiah 64:6)

Sin Is Both

(Matthew 5)

Outward

Murder
Adultery
Stealing

Inward

Anger
Lust
Coveteousness
A Wrong Action
&
A Wrong Attitude
(Cheating, Lying, Stealing,
Adultery)
(Anger, Lust, Hatred, Resentment,
Greed, Jealousy

(Ephesians 5:3-7) (Matthew 15:19)

Sin Is Failing To Do What Is Good!

"Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, Sins." (James 4:17)

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What Are The Results Of Sin? ? ?

Shame! (Genesis 3:7)

Hiding From God! (Genesis 3:8)

Guilt! Blaming Others! (Genesis 3:12-13)

Fear! (Genesis 3:10)

Knowldege Of Evil! (Genesis 3:22)

Knowledge Alienation From God! (Genesis 3:23-24)

Sin Is Separation From God (Isaiah 59:2)

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What Conditions Must I Meet To Experience God's Salvation? ?

Awakening - Right Attitude Towards Your Condition
("I am a sinner and in need of a Savior!")

(John 16:8-11)

Repentance - Right Attitude Toward Your Sin
("I am deeply sorry for my sins and want the direction of 
my life to change!")

(Luke 15:11-32)

Faith - Right Attitude Toward Your Saviour
("I trust Christ alone to forgive my sins and to change my
life!")

(Romans 5:1-5 Living Bible)

Surrender - Right Attitude Toward Your Self
("I turn over the full controls of my life (my will, my
intellect, myemotions) to Christ, and will allow Christ
initiallyand daily to exercise His Lordship in my life!")

(Galatians 2:20 Luke 14:25-33 Living Bible)

Let's Look At These Conditions More Carefully:

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Awakening! John 16:8-11

God's Holiness

Man's Sins (John 1:4-9)

____ A 'Collision' with God!

____ Realizing I Am On The Wrong Road!

____ Admitting I Have A Spiritual Need!

____ No Longer Rationalizing My Sins!

____ Seeing My True Moral Condition!

____ Recognizing That I Need To Be Saved!

"The Word that God speak......... exposes the very thoughts and motives
of a man's heart."

(Hebrews 4:12-13 Phillips)

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Repentance! (Luke 18:9-14)

____ A Moral 'U – Turn'

____ Sincere Sorrow Over My Sins (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

____ Accepting Responsibility For My Sins

____ Turning My Back On My Old Way Of Life

____ Humble Confessing To God That I Have Been Wrong

____ Acknowledging My Personal Moral Bankruptcy

Definition Of Repentance:
A change of mind, from an attitude of embracing sin to an
attitude of forsaking sin, resulting in a change of direction,
from a life of practicing sin to a life of practicing righteousness.

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Faith

(Romans 4:1-5 Living Bible)

____ Turning From Sin To The Saviour

____ Transfer Of Trust From Myself To The Saviour

____ An Intellectual Assent To Truth Coupled With A Life Commitment To The Saviour

____ Putting My 'Weight' Down On The Saviour

____ Total Commitment Of My Total Self To Christ

Definition Of Faith:
Entrusting yourself totally to God, like a man sinking in quick sand who
ceases to struggle to save himself and instead clasps the saving hand of
the man who is standing on the solid ground near by.

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Surrender

(Luke 14:25-33 Living Bible) (Galatians 2:20)

'The Way'

Following Christ
Matthew 7:13-14Matthew 16:24

____ Forsake My Own Selfish Ways

____ Follow In The Footsteps Of Jesus

____ Turn Over the 'Title Deed' of MyLife To Christ

____ Put Christ on The Throne Of My Life

____ Allow Christ To Use My Talents In His Service

____ Learn To Live A Life Of Obedience & Love

"Were the whole realm of nature mine that were a present far too small! Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my ALL!"

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The Way To Eternal Life

  • Wealth Cannot Buy It!

  • Worldly Pleasures (Emotions) Cannot Bring It!

  • Human Reason (Intellect) Cannot Grasp It!

  • Human Effort (Will) Cannot Achieve It!

But

Faith Alone Can Receive It!

(Ephesians 2:8-9)

(Everyone Places His Faith In Someone Or Something)

The Object of Your Faith Determines

The Value of Your Faith.

Christ Alone Is A Trustworthy Object For Your Faith.

(Titus 1:1-2)

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Review:

  • God Is Good – "And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:3)

  • Man Is A Sinner – "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

  • Sinning Has Serious Consequences – "Evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to the death penalty from God." (James 1:5) (L.B.)

  • All Human Attempts At Salvation Are Futile – "There is a way which seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

  • Christ Alone Can Forgive Sins And Give Salvation – "Jesus said, 'Iam the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.'" (John 14:6)

Each Individual Must Meet Certain Conditions To Be

Saved!

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6. Each Individual Must Meet Certain Conditions To Be Saved

____ Awakening ("I Need A Saviour!")

____ Repentance ("I Turn From My Sins!")

____ Faith ("I Place My Trust Alone In Christ For Salvation!")

____ Surrender ("I Am Willing Obediently To Follow Christ Forever!")

When You Sincerely Meet These Conditions In Your Heart Christ Will!

A. Forgive you (the sins you remember, and the sins you don't remember!)

B. Make You God's Child (John 1:12)

C. Cone Into Your Life And Establish Fellowship (Revelation 3:20)

Let's Make A Commitment To Jesus Christ Now !

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A Prayer For Salvation:

"Dear God, I acknowledge that you are altogether trustworthy in your
character, and faithful to your promises. Abandoning all hope for salvation
in myslef, I cast myself helplessly and hopefully in your mighty saving arms!
I realize that I am a sinner and in need of a Saviour! I acknowledge that
you alone can forgive my sins. I am genuinely sorry for my sins, and I desire
to change the direction of my life, from a life of embracing sin to a life
of forsaking sin! I now confess all my sins to Jesus Christ, the sins I
remember and the sins I don't remember. I place my trust in Christ alone
for my Salvation. Thank you for forgiving my sins as you promised. Thank
you for coming into my life. I intend to live for you the rest of my life
with You as my Helper! In Jesus Name! Amen."

Is There Anything About This Prayer You Don't Understand?

Does This Prayer Honestly Express The Desire Of Your Heart?

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You Prayed:

"I now confess ALL my sins to Jesus Christ"

1. Was Your Prayer A Sincere Prayer?

2. If So, What Has Happeded To Your Sins?

3. How Do You Know Your Sins Are Forgiven?

(Remember We Are Saved by Faith, Not By Feelings!)

Assurance Of Eternal Life!

1 John 5:12 Says:

"He ("Jim, Sue, John, Mary, etc.) that Has

(present tense reality) the Son Has Life —- Now!"

(Eternal Life is not only a Future State Of Continuing Existence, but Eternal Life Is a Present Quality of New Life in Relationship With Christ!)

___ New Attitudes

(John 10:10) (2 Corinthians 5:17)

___ New Desires

___ New Relatoinships

___ New Direction

___ New Goals

New!

New!

New!

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What Must I Do Now That I Am Saved?

Follow  Christ …. One Step At A Time!

  • Daily Confess All Sins To Christ … To Experience Cleansing (1 John 1:9)

  • Daily Read The Bible …. To Learn Spiritual Truths (2 Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11)

  • Daily Pray To The Father …. To Develop Love Relationship (Matthew 7:7-11)

  • Share Your Faith With Your Friends … To Help Fulfill Christ's Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)

  • Attend Church Regularly … To Receive Encouragement From Fellow Believers (Hebrews 10:25)

  • Learn To Practice Tithing … To Honor God And To Support His Work (Malachi 3:8-10)

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