Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Roman Catholicism #5: Justification

Salvation has three tenses: past, present and future. 

 

II Corinthians 1:10 outlines these three tenses.

Past “Who delivered us from so great a death,

Present and doth deliver us,

Future in whom we trust He will yet deliver us.” 

In this and the following articles on salvation we will emphasize these three tenses as we consider the three major doctrines of salvation: Justification,  Sanctification and Glorification. 

First,  consider Justification.  

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the best place to find a clear explanation of justification..   The theme of Romans is the Righteousness of God. 

Our Desperate Need of God’s Righteousness

In Romans 1:18 through 3:20 we have the first truth that needs to be understood  and that is our desperate need of God’s righteousness.  Without it, no one can live in God’s presence. The problem is that no one is good enough or righteous enough to live in God’s presence in Heaven.  We are all born sinners,  hopeless and helpless to do right.  Romans 5:6,12-19,  3:23  Ephesians 2:12.  In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He demands in Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”  If that does not strike despair and hopelessness to your heart, I don’t know what will. We desperately need God’s righteousness.

God Counts Us Righteous

The second section of Romans deals with how God counts us righteous and fit for Heaven through His gracious act of justification. That’s the theme of Romans 3:21 through  5:21   Justification is God’s gracious work of counting me righteous  through the merits of the death and resurrection of  Jesus Christ who died and rose again to pay the full penalty of all my sins.  When I put my faith in Christ, God puts His righteousness to my account and makes me fit for Heaven.  I do not go to Heaven because I am good enough or because I live a righteous life.  No one lives the Christian life perfectly.  I go to Heaven because Jesus is my righteousness.  I Corinthians 1:30  Philippians 3:7-9 

As a wealthy man deposits a million dollars in the account of a poor man and makes him rich,  so God deposits Jesus’ righteousness to my account and makes me fit to dwell in His presence. II Corinthians 5:21 makes it so clear, Read the verse and let’s go through it together.  “He (God) hath made  Him, (Jesus) to be sin for us ( He bore my sins on the cross even though He was totally sinless) that we (sinners)  might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus). If you are still unsure of your salvation, I urge you to keep reading this verse and ask God to open your spiritual eyesight to understand it.  When you understand it and receive Jesus as your only righteousness, you will be born again and fit to dwell with God in Heaven. It’s not a difficult verse to understand. As a nine year old boy I was confronted with this truth and put my faith in Christ.  My life was changed from that moment on.  

Do you see it,  Friend?  When I admit I am a sinner and understand I am deserving of Hell and  I turn to Jesus to save me;  He takes my sins and gives me His righteousness as a free gift. Justification has nothing to do with my works.  It has nothing to do with what the church can do for me. It has nothing to do with my faithfulness as a Christian. It is all the work of God’s grace and it is received by my simple faith alone. 

Isn’t that good news?    That is why it is called The Gospel.  That is  the meaning of Justification.   When I see myself as a sinner and deserving of Hell and cry to God for His mercy and put my faith in Jesus who died and rose again for my sins; God takes my sins and puts them to Jesus’ account.  He takes the perfect righteousness of Jesus and put it to my account, making me fit to live with Him in Heaven. 

When Jesus died on the cross it became dark and God the Father turned His back on His Son.  Jesus cried out  “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” God gave Him no answer nor comfort..  He totally forsook Him in His death for our sins for, you see, He was bearing the sins of the world. He was bearing the full penalty for my sins. 

Thank God that because of His great sacrifice for me, I am now a child of God through  faith alone in Christ as my own personal Saviour from sin. Not the church, not baptism, not sacraments,  but Christ alone saves. Through faith in Him alone, I am  brought into fellowship with God and will dwell forever in His presence. 

If you see yourself as a sinner, will you right now bow before God and admit to Him that you are a sinner and unworthy of  being in His presence and that you are helpless to save yourself?  Will you look by faith to Jesus who died on the cross some 2000 years ago and rose again the third day to be your Saviour?  Will you ask Him to be your Saviour?  He will save you now.  Romans 10:9-11  He will justify you from all your sins and count you as righteous as Christ Himself.  The perfection demanded in Matthew 5:48 is the righteousness of Christ Himself, imputed to your account. 

Now continue in this study and discover what it is to be a saint.  Learn what God has started to do in your life if you are a believer  and what He is going to continue to do until you arrive in Heaven.  

April 25, 2006 Posted by | Roman Catholicism | Comments Off on Roman Catholicism #5: Justification

Roman Catholicism series #6: Who is a saint?

The Roman Catholic Church canonizes decesased men and women they consider worthy of sainthood. As saints, because of their holiness, they are said to have special access to God.  In times of special need, Catholics pray to the saints as mediators.

What does the Bible say about saints? Lots!  The New Testament is full of information about saints.  

Who are the saints?

Every sinner who puts his trust in Christ is saved and born again as a  child of God and is a saint. Saints are holy, set apart people of God.  All of the New Testament Epistles were written to born again members of local churches and they are all addressed as saints.  For a small sampling of this truth read some of Paul’s salutations to the churches. Romans 1:7  I Corinthians 1:2  II Corinthians 1:1  Ephesians 1:1  Philippians 1:1   Colossians 1:2 

Are saints always saintly? 

None of us are very saintly.  Learning to live as a saint is a life long process.  The son of a king is born a prince, but he seldom acts like a prince.  He has much to learn.  Tutors and governesses are used to train him to live as a prince. 

So we who put our trust in Christ are born again into God’s family as saints.  However, it takes a lifetime of being in God’s Word and being surrendered to the indwelling Holy Spirit for us to learn to BECOME Godly saints.  

In Ephesians 4:1 Paul beseeches the saints in
Ephesus to walk worthy of their calling as saints. That process is known as SANCTIFICATION.   Read more about that in my next article in this series on the topic.
 

Are you a saint?

If you are the typical failing Christian you may cower in shame and humility and say, “I’m no saint!”   But the fact of the matter is, if you are a Christian, you ARE a saint. In Heaven you will rejoice in the perfection Christ has given you. See the song of the saints in Revelation 5:8-10 

 Now if you are a Christian, get into the Word and start learning how to live as the saint, which you are.  

April 25, 2006 Posted by | Roman Catholicism | Comments Off on Roman Catholicism series #6: Who is a saint?

Prayer series #4: Lord, Teach Us To Pray

THE LORD’S PRAYER
Matthew 6:9-13 Luke 11:1-4
We want God to help us in times of crises, but do we know Him as our Heavenly Father and have we developed a daily walk with Him that keeps us in right relationship with Him to receive His help? We’re not ready to face the crises that come to each of us, unless we are walking in an intimate relationship with Christ.

Establishing a personal relationship with God
A right relationship with God can only be established through saving faith in Christ. Do you know God as your own loving Heavenly Father? Do you know His Son Jesus as your own personal Saviour? If not or if you are uncertain of this, please settle this matter before you proceed any further in this series on prayer. Go to the SALVATION link and discover the peace and joy of knowing your sins are covered and that you approach God clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

Now as a Christian you can begin your walk with God. You can begin to discover the joy of daily intimate fellowship with Him as you spend time reading and meditating on His Word, the Bible. If you are married and your spouse is a Christian also, spend time together in prayer each day and share your hearts with God and with one another.

If you have children at home, find a time to gather together for at least a short time of reading and discussing God’s Word together and sharing together in a time of family prayer. Make sure you keep this time geared to the age level and attention span of your children.

Expand your relationship with other Christians.
With your Bible, read the articles on this web site together and discuss them. Find a church in your community where the Bible is recognized and preached as the inspired, infallible Word of God and where Jesus is recognized as God in human flesh and that we are saved from our sins and given the gift of eternal life through faith in His shed blood.

If there is no such church within driving distance of your home, ask God to help you establish one by gathering friends and neighbors together for regular home Bible studies. Devote time to praying with your family and friends as part of your Bible study. Ask God to use you to lead others to Christ and to help them get established in God’s Word. When you have several families who share your burden for planting a church, contact a trustworthy organization or Christian school to help you find a faithful, trained pastor. There are several good, trustworthy sources I could recommend. These would be at the top of my list.
Bob Jones University and Seminary http://www.bju.edu
Independent Fundamental Churches of America http://www.ifca.org

Heavenly resources for prayer
Understand that if you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God lives within you to help you understand spiritual truths, to comfort you, to convict you of sin, to empower you to do God’s will and to help you in prayer. He does not pray instead of you. but He prays with you and through you as you pray. Romans 8:26-27

We learn to pray as we observe Jesus in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As you read these accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, take note of how he prepared Himself for ministry by spending much time in prayer with His Heavenly Father. Remember, He is your Father also if you are a Christian.

Note in the following references that prayer was a regular part of Jesus’ day. He prayed early in the morning, Mark 1:35 at His baptism, Luke 3:21 sometimes all night, Luke 6:12. Listen to Him pray for us in John 17. Listen to Him pray in the Garden of Gethsemane before He went to the cross. Luke 22:39-46

We also learn to pray by observing the Apostles praying. As you have time, make a study of the following passages. Acts 1:13-14, 24, 2:42, 3:1, 4:31-33, 6:4-6, 9:40, 10:9, 12:5, 12-16, 13:2-3, 14:22 16:16,25, 20:36, 21:5 28:8 Romans 12:12 I Corinthians 7:5 II Corinthians 1:11, 10:3-4 Eph. 3:14-21, 6:18, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2-3, I Thessalonians 5:17, II Thessalonians 3:1, I Timothy 2:1,8, 5:5, Hebrews 13:18, I Peter 4:7 Jude 20

Though we can learn from the Apostles, we do not approach God through the Apostles or through Mary or through any saint. Rather, we approach God directly through Jesus our only Mediator. I Timothy 2:5-6

These are just some of the passages in God’s Word that teach us about prayer. Certainly reading the Psalms is a wonderful way to learn to pray. It covers the gamut of all our emotions from anger and discouragement to praise and thanksgiving.

What does prayer do for us?
It allows God to transform our goals, desires and passions, making us men and women after God’s own heart. II Corinthians 3:18 We make ourselves available for God to use.

Learn to pray.
Prayer involves a learning experience. That’s why the disciples asked to learn to pray. Basically, we need to learn to pray as children. Pray simply as a child to his father.

Talk normally to God. Forget the so-called holy tones when you pray.

Don’t pray long prayers in public. In private, spend as much time as you desire.

Don’t recite memorized prayers consisting of vain repetition and fingering prayer beads as the heathen do. Matthew 6:7

Speak clearly to God. Don’t use trite meaningless phrases that ask God for nothing.

Ask Him for the things you need.

Be direct and to the point.

Ask in faith, trusting God to hear and answer. Matthew 7:7-11, 18:19-20, 21:22, Mark 11:24 John 14:3

Deal with sin immediately as the Holy Spirit convicts you, confessing sin as sin, and not merely a weakness or mistake.

Surrender to His Lordship, allowing nothing to come before Him.

Learn the habit of praying without ceasing as you drive (but keep your eyes open) or as you are washing the dishes or taking a walk or as you are lying in your bed at night, unable to sleep.

Above all, learn to conform your life to the will of God instead of asking God to conform to your will.

April 25, 2006 Posted by | Prayer Series | Comments Off on Prayer series #4: Lord, Teach Us To Pray