Christ Follower, or False Gospel Swallower?

By johninnc (with thanks to our friend Curtis for suggesting this topic, and our friend Preston who provided input through previous commentary)

John 10:27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 

The above verse is often used as a proof text by those who think that works are necessary for eternal life.

Following is an example from a recent comment:

Don’t you all have verse 27 of John 10 in your Bibles? Why are you quoting verse 28 ALONE without 27? John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, [they know My voice] AND THEY FOLLOW ME. And I give them eternal life …”

Following are excerpts from the sound Biblical response that our friend Preston provided, along with a link to the entire comment:

So do we have “to follow” to be saved. the answer is YES (but not by works). Let me explain…

although faith is NOT a work, Jesus called it a “work” in CONTEXT when He was asked, what must we do to work the workS of God” and Jesus replied, this is the work of God, that ye believe on the one whom He hath sent” John 6:28-29…

SUMMARY/POINT – what did Jesus say to do to have eternal life? He said to “believe in Him” or “TRUST in Him” to have eternal life. So if one “believes in Him”, that HE died for our sins and rose again they HAVE FOLLOWED and done the “ONE THING” that Jesus said to do for everlasting life.

http://expreacherman.com/2015/02/10/i-give-unto-them-eternal-life-2/#comment-53291

Despite the confusion caused by conflating following Christ in discipleship with believing in Christ as Savior, or perhaps because of it, it has become fashionable in the world of professing Christendom to use the term “Christ follower”  as a synonym for “Christian.”

The term “Christ follower” can mean a lot of things. One of the more benign uses of the term is to connote a Christian, who is a also a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, the term “Christ follower” can communicate much more sinister messages. Among them are:

  • That use of the term “Christian” should be avoided, because it carries  a stigma in broader society
  • That there are clearly-defined strata of Christians – that one is either a “Christ follower” altogether, or not at all
  • That the message of salvation is about what we are doing for Jesus, instead of what He has done for us
  • That believing in Jesus as Savior is not sufficient for eternal life

In his sermon entitled “Living in Light of Our Redemption”, delivered March 10, 2013, Tom Cucuzza discussed the use of the term “follower of Christ”, and how it communicates the wrong message. Following is a pertinent excerpt:

Minutes 41:10- 42:30

We don’t talk about believers anymore. Well, we do, ‘cause that’s what the Bible calls us. But, you know what? Because of the huge impact that those who are preaching Lordship salvation, which is works for salvation, because of the huge impact they’re having on Christendom today, the new buzzword is “followers of Christ.”

You hear that a lot – followers of Christ? A follower of Christ. Where’s the emphasis there? It’s on how you’re living, right? Not what you believe, but how you’re living. There are people who have followed the moral teachings of scripture their whole lives, who when they die, they won’t go to Heaven. They have followed the Sermon on the Mount as best they can. I’ve had people tell me “I’m going to Heaven.” Why? “Because I follow the Sermon on the Mount.” And I’m thinking, “no you don’t. No, you don’t. You can’t. It’s an ideal. It’s great. There are great principles there. I believe them. But, you know what? If you’re going to follow that, your gonna have to be perfect, and none of us are. You’re not gonna make it there by that.”

So, when somebody says, “oh, they’re a follower of Jesus”, my question is “what do you mean by that?” Well, usually they’ll say “well, they follow the teachings of Jesus.” Well, that has to do with how you live. Are you gonna get to Heaven by how you live? No. You get to Heaven by faith in Christ.

If you would like to know how to have eternal life, whether you are a Christ follower, or not, please click here: The Gospel

Something Greater than a Mother’s Love

By johninnc

My wife’s mother passed away last week, and I had the privilege to deliver the following message at her funeral. My wife’s mother (Doris) did not write this, but we are sure she would have approved.

Ephesians 2:4-7:

[4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
[5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
[6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
[7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

There’s something that Doris knows is true that she wants everyone else to know. I don’t think she would mind us paraphrasing for her. It goes something like this:

Dear friends,

There is an old adage that there is nothing greater than a mother’s love. As someone who has a mother, and is a mother of five, I understand why some would say this.

But, a mother’s love cannot compare to the perfect love that God has for us.

There is a God. He is the eternal creator, without beginning or end. He created everything, including you and me. He is perfectly holy, perfectly just, and perfectly loving. As such, He cannot allow anything that isn’t perfect into His presence.

You and I aren’t perfect. We have all broken God’s laws, and can’t do anything to fix that. Our efforts to work our way back to God are completely useless.

But, God loves us so much that He would rather die than spend eternity without us.

So, He gave his only begotten Son –Jesus Christ – God in the flesh – to reconcile us to Him.

Jesus had no sin of His own, but bore our sin so that we might be reconciled to God. He had no sin and we had no righteousness. Jesus took our sin from us. He made the complete payment for our sin, leaving us nothing to pay.

He did this by suffering a criminal’s death by crucifixion. He died on the cross, He was buried, and He was raised from the dead three days later, proving that His payment for our sins was accepted.

Anyone who believes in Jesus, and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection, has eternal life. Eternal life means that it can never be lost or forfeited. God no longer sees believers in their sins, but sees them as perfectly righteous.

People will tell you all kinds of different ways to have eternal life, or even that there’s no such thing.

Many people will tell you that Jesus is necessary for salvation, but that He isn’t enough – that you have to “do your part” by reforming your behavior, doing good works, and so on. But this is not true. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

You should listen to what Jesus has to say, above what anyone else tells you. Since Jesus is God, and God is perfect, He cannot lie.

Here is what Jesus says on how to have eternal life:

John 11:25-26:

[25] Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
[26] And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

I hope you believe this. I do.

Love. Doris

 

 

 

The Gospel According to Internet Comments

The false gospels that pervade our churches are reflected in comments that show up in response to articles on the internet. Whether the subject is moral, political, or religious, “defenders of the faith” can be counted on to respond with their versions of how people can receive eternal life.  I have rarely seen anyone who gets it right.

Following are some examples that I have garnered over the past few months. The comments are in italics, and my responses are in bold:

Jesus Christ, the Son of God loves you! As a matter of fact He loved you soooo much that He came to Earth and lived a sinless life and died on the Cross for your sins and if you Repent of your sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior, then you will be saved. Jesus Christ loves you! :)

 My comment: Repenting of your sins is not a requirement for eternal life.

…I have a changed life and heart after turning my life over to the god of the universe. I struggled for 20 years to obtain these changes to no avail. His word did the work that I could not. If you really want proof I can tell you how to obtain it, but you have to really be serious. If you are joking around it won’t work. If you really want to know and if God is real and He proves it to you will you give him the rest of your life? Will you make Him your God? If you are serious, God says that when you seek him with all of your heart you will find him. You must be willing to give up everything. If you are willing He will answer you. The God I serve cannot lie. Willing to take me up on it? I will lead you every step of the way.

My comment: We are not saved by giving God our lives. We are saved by believing that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead.

 It is also clear that there are those who don’t like rules, don’t want to be judged, and want unconditional forgiveness. Jesus didn’t say there wouldn’t be any rules. Jesus said “if you love me, keep my commandments.” So I can understand why some would want to call me a hypocrite for pointing to the commandments. Because it causes people examine their own faults. But the bigger picture here is that Jesus paid the price for sin. He didn’t take away the rules, but He paid the ransom for breaking them if we abandon our lawlessness and follow Him. To all sinners, there is forgiveness, but it wad bought with a price, and we must repent of our sins, abandon them and walk in the light. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t serve two masters. We can’t live in sin and live for God. True Love is Jesus dying on the cross for you while you were yet an enemy of God and extending peace to you if you will surrender your life to Him and follow Him and deny yourself.

My comment: This is full of errors. We are not saved by surrendering our lives to Christ, nor are Christians under the law.

 doesn’t matter if the muslims love and follow Jesus.it doesn’t matter if ISIS loves and follows Jesus or angels.if either group is not saved and have not repented for their sins all of the above groups are lost in eternal hellfire.without accepting JESUS as LORD and savior NO ONE can be saved according to the bible which IS GODS word.it is simple really,do you believe Jesus is the son of GOD and do you believe he rose from the dead for the remittance of sins? just pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart and save you and forgive you of your sins and GOD promises in his word you WILL be saved.this is the ONLY way to heaven.see Romans 10:9,10,11,12

 My comment: We do not have to repent of sins to receive the free gift of eternal life. Jesus is Lord – we cannot make Him Lord.

______________________________________________________

The Bible says that we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ

Ephesians 2:8-9:

[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
[9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

If you are a “defender of the faith”, but have never received eternal life by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, click here:  The Real Story

“I Give Unto Them Eternal Life”

Note: the following article was originally posted on July 30, 2014. I decided to re-post it today, in memory of my earthly father, who died yesterday at the age of 95, and in honor of our heavenly father who gave his only begotten Son through which all might be saved.

img_0677John10:28:  And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 

My family and I recently traveled to France for vacation. Among our stops were the beaches of Normandy, on which the allied invasion of France began on June 6, 1944 (D-day), and the American Cemetery.

These sites held particular significance for me, as my father was among the soldiers who fought in the Normandy campaign. He and my mother were able to visit Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-day about a month before we were there.

The American Cemetery tells the stories of many of the brave soldiers who fought and died to liberate Europe from the grip of tyranny. There is also a chapel at the Cemetery. The chapel contains an altar that tells the story of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to save mankind. The altar has an inscription that reads: “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH”.

This brief inscription, which quotes Jesus, is extremely well chosen. Its eleven words affirm many Biblical truths that are central to the gospel, including the following:

Jesus is God.   The Bible says that God grants eternal life. So, if Jesus gives eternal life, it follows that He is God in the flesh.

John 1:14:  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Eternal life is a gift.  The Bible calls eternal life a gift – unmerited favor.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

The gift of God is eternal life. Jesus is not only necessary for eternal life. He is enough. Believing in Jesus as Savior means believing that our good intentions or good works have nothing to do with receiving eternal life. Neither does their presence or absence prove whether or not we possess eternal life. We need only believe in Christ alone as Savior in order to receive eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Eternal life is available to everyone.  Who is the “them” to whom Christ gives eternal life? The Bible says that anyone who will believe in Christ as Savior will receive eternal life.

John 20:31: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.  

The God of the Bible did not choose some to receive eternal life, while making it unavailable to others. The Bible says that God desires that everyone be saved.

1 Timothy 2:4: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

Eternal life is eternal.  The doctrine of eternal security of Christians is taught throughout scripture. Eternal security is a necessary conclusion of grace. We cannot work our way into eternal life, and we cannot work our way out of eternal life.

Ephesians 1:13-14: In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Every one of the soldiers who has defended our freedom on the battlefield deserves our gratitude. Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, deserves our gratitude infinitely more. He died for our sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead. He offers us eternal life as a free gift.

All one needs to do to have eternal life is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Casting All Of Your Care Upon Him

1 Peter 5-6-7

By johninnc (image provided by Holly Garcia)

1 Peter 5:6-7:

[6] Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
[7] Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

For those who have received the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus, learning to cast our care upon God can be frightening. Our natural instinct is to try to fix our problems on our own, or do it with an “assist” from God. Satan preys on these tendencies.

But we really only cast our care upon God when we realize we are helpless. This is when we find ourselves truly humble. Sometimes, we wait until our own abilities are exhausted and then cast our care upon Him.

1 Peter 5:8-9:

[8] Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
[9] Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Our fleshly rendition of this passage is to keep an eye out for trouble, and to make sure to fight it off. But, we are no match for the devil. He doesn’t fight fair. He gets in our heads. He influences our thoughts.

Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:13 gives us the solution:

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The full armor of God is not His trappings.  It is God Himself.

Ephesians 6:16: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

The shield of faith – the object of our faith – is God Himself.

Psalm 28:7: The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

 The Lord is trying to teach us to cast our care on Him. He doesn’t punish us when we don’t – he allows us to feel the pain. But, he blesses us when we do.

Psalm 23:

[1] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[2] He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
[3] He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
[4] Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
[5] Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
[6] Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I find Psalm 23 to be one of the most comforting passages of scripture – the calmness associated with the Good Shepherd. He will come get us if we are in the ditch and call out to Him. He will defend us against the enemy. He is there for us always. Cast all of your care upon Him.

If you would like to know how to receive the free gift of eternal life Click Here

To Declare HIS Righteousness

By johninnc

Romans 3:26: To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

The more I think about what really keeps people from understanding the gospel, the more I am convinced that it is a problem of focus.

Once someone understands that he is lost, and helpless, then the full focus needs to be on Jesus – who He is, why He came, and how He has taken away the sins of the world.

Amytime the focus of our redemption is not squarely on Jesus, the  message gets confused or altered.

The questions about how Christians should live are not relevant to an unbeliever. The questions about any expectation of commitment are not relevant to an unbeliever. Whether or not one wants to live  the Christian life is not relevant to an unbeliever. Whether or not one wants to give up any sins is not relevant to an unbeliever.

What is relevant is this:

Is Jesus God in the flesh? Did He die for our sins (all of them, for everyone in the world – past, present, and future)? Did that include your sins – past, present, and future?  Was He raised from the dead, proving that His payment was accepted?

The “what if I?” questions need to be turned back and met with “what DID Jesus do?”

Romans 4:25: Who was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification.

—————————————————-

Following is a real-life example of a young man contending with highly-experienced purveyors of a false man-focused gospel. His questions are in italics and my answers in bold.

I have slightly modified some jargon, and edited for length. 

Recently there have been several preacher guys on campus. They are no doubt LS. I asked one of them what they thought about free grace and I told him my beliefs and MANY other students seemed very interested in what I had to say. Of course he was prepared with rebuttals but I wanted to hear what his arguments were because the students are annoyed at these guys and want to hear the actual gospel. Here are some of the things he said and I wanted to know what you think about them because I feel like this would be a really good opportunity to tell people about free grace.

1. They claim that they believe you can only be  saved by the blood of Christ, but you have to want to turn from your sins (repent). They say that repenting from your sins means that when you have the desire to sin, you decide to not do it.

The Bible calls eternal life the gift of God (Romans 6:23). A gift means something freely given, without cost or obligation to the recipient.

If we had to agree to go give up anything to receive the gift of eternal life, it would no longer be a gift. It would be a trade. That is the key concept in all of this. Salvation is God’s gift to us through Jesus.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The phrase “repent of your sins” never shows up in the King James Bible. Never.

“Repent”, when used in a salvation context, means to change your mind about what religious people tell you that you must do to be saved (such as turning from sins) and to trust that Jesus really did pay for all of your sins (past, present and future).

2. Every sin you commit comes from what is in your heart so if you are sinning you are not necessarily saved by believing that Jesus died for your sins.

Every sin does come from your heart. But, the Bible says whoever believes in Jesus as his Savior has eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited (see John 5:24).

3. The reaction to 3:23 was that it all men HAVE sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but that a person who is truly saved will no longer sin.

A good question for them: “Do you still sin?”

4. What I gathered from them was we are saved by WANTING to be saved and the only way to WANT to be saved is to try to stop sinning.

You do not have to try to stop sinning to be saved.

Romans 4:5: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

“Justify” means for God to declare someone “not guilty” of his sins, based on his faith in Christ. “Righteousness” means “sinless” – this is based on Christ’s righteousness imputed to you when you believe in Him as your Savior. It is not based on our righteousness in turning from sin or anything else.

The verse I cited above says God justifies (saves) ungodly people. The LSers are saying that you have to try to be godly (to be saved).

5. They talked about Matthew 21:31, Matthew 7:3, and the verse about plucking out your eye.

I’m not sure where they are going with Matthew 21:31 or Matthew 7:3. But, trust me – if none of these verses existed, they would find other verses to use to promote their false doctrine.

Regarding plucking out an eye – this is Matthew 18:9. No one has ever received eternal life by plucking out his eye. And, no one has been refused eternal life because he wouldn’t stop sinning (or even be willing to).

Romans 5:8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

What do you recommend I say to the people who want to listen because some people talked about it with me for a minute but I’m not prepared enough to have a good conversation. Also it would be completely pointless to try and argue with the “crazy preacher guys”. They are EXTREMELY well read.

The errors of these “extremely well read” people are no match for the Word of God.

Try this:

1. Everyone is a sinner
2. The penalty for sin is death (eternal separation from God in a place of conscious torment – hell)
3. One must be perfect to get into heaven. Not good. Not great. Perfect.
4. One cannot do anything of himself to obtain this perfection – this includes turning from sin, committing your life to Christ and so on. God offers eternal life as a gift – it’s not for sale or barter.
5. God provided a sin-bearer for us (The Lord Jesus Christ, God in the
flesh. He had no sin of his own, but he came to die for us, paying the full penalty for our sin. He was raised from the dead, proving that His payment was acceptable).
6. All we can do to receive everlasting life is to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
7. Eternal life, once received by faith in Christ, can never be lost or forfeited, no matter what happens in our lives down the road.

What is there to do to receive eternal life? Simply BELIEVE that Jesus made that payment for your sin – for you.

Don’t let yourself get drawn into the snares of the LS guys. Proclaim the truth to people who will listen.

Not everyone will believe what you tell them. That’s not on you. Your job is to tell them the truth. 

Jack Weaver – Now in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ

ShirlJackWed

2 Corinthians 5:8: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Jack Weaver, founder of the ExPreacherMan ministry, passed away this afternoon. Jack had recently undergone heart valve replacement surgery, and had been in the hospital for just over a month.

Jack loved the Lord, and had a heart for the gospel. He spent his life preaching, teaching, witnessing,  and leading people to understand the free gift of eternal life available through faith in Christ Jesus.

I am thankful for Jack’s life, his friendship, his mentorship, and the example he set in using his life fully for the Lord.

Please see the link below for Jack’s personal testimony:

Jack’s Testimony

I will miss Jack terribly, but I look forward to meeting him in heaven one day soon.

I will provide more details as they become available.

Thanks.  John