Devotional for Thursday February 14th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “You have to work out your salvation.”

 

In my twenties and thirties I was a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not “The Terminator” Arnold, but the “Mr. America” Arnold, the body builder. I wanted to be a body builder too. I wanted to have 20 inch biceps and be able to bench press small automobiles.

 

I had a copy of Arnold’s book “The Education of a Body Builder”. It was filled with suggested workout routines and lots of pictures. I had an image in my mind of what I wanted to be like, and I had a plan to follow to help me get there. Well, I never even came close to Arnold’s stature but for about ten years I was kind of pumped-up and muscular. (Linda tells me I was more of a muscle-head than a muscle-man but sometimes she gets mean like that.)

 

In Philippians 2:12 the Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of working out and building up, and he applies it to the process of sanctification. Here Paul tells us that we have to “work-out” our salvation. He does not say that we have to “work for” our salvation, we’ve already addressed that issue – salvation is by grace not by works. But he does say we must “work out” our salvation. By that Paul means the same thing Arnold did. If you want big muscles, a big physical stature, you have to do your exercises. Likewise, if you want a big spiritual stature you have to do your exercises – you have to do the things that will help you to grow.

 

This second stage of the salvation process, the stage the Bible and theologians refer to as “sanctification” is a growing period. It is the time when we are supposed to be learning, changing, and slowly becoming more and more like Jesus.

 

Once upon a time, earlier in life, I wanted to become more and more like Arnold in physical stature. Now I realize it would be much better to become more and more like Jesus in spiritual stature. That’s what the process of sanctification accomplishes for us. Our exercises for this spiritual development include things like daily prayer and Bible study, worship, full participation in a good church family, acts of service to those in need, good stewardship, and the other basic disciplines of the Christian life.

 

When I was trying to grow physically I relied on Arnold’s book “The Education of a Body Builder” as a guide. If you would like a great book to guide you in learning and applying the basic disciplines of the Christian life I can think of none better (after the Bible itself) than Richard Foster’s classic work “The Celebration of Discipline”. I think you would find it very helpful in guiding and accelerating your spiritual growth.

 

I encourage you, as part of your daily routine, to “work out” your salvation.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Wednesday February 13th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”

Our Bible verse for today: “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy …” 1 Corinthians 1:2 (NIV)

Our thought for today: “Your salvation should change how you live.”

The first stage of the salvation process was the actual moment of placing your faith in Christ and having your sins forgiven. Although that decision may have taken a long time to arrive at, the actual moment of forgiveness, and the consequent new birth, happened in a moment, in a flash.

The second stage involves all the rest of your life and it is the stage of salvation that Christians struggle with the most. This is where you live-out what is already true of you. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the Apostle Paul wrote about the new birth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Now that you are a new creation you should live your life in a new way. What has happened inside of you should cause a change in how you live.

However the change is not instantaneous. Instead it occurs slowly and progressively over a lifetime. This is the part of the salvation process known as “sanctification”. “Sanctification” is a big fifty-cent theological word that simply means “To make holy. To dedicate, consecrate, and set-apart for a divine purpose.”

That’s you. Now that you belong to Christ you have been set-apart, dedicated, and consecrated for His divine purposes. You are in the process of being transformed from the person you were into someone who is holy and who reflects the attributes of Christ. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 1:2 when he reminded the Corinthians that as Christians they had been sanctified – they had been set-apart, dedicated, and consecrated, and then they were called to live holy lives.

That was true of them and it is to be true of us too. Your salvation will be perfected and complete in eternity. But between the moment of forgiveness, when you placed your faith in Christ, and your eventual perfection, once you are in heaven and you are the person you will be for eternity, there is this long process of transformation as you progressively become more and more like Jesus. That’s the life of the Christian.

In the days to come we will talk more about what the actual process of sanctification consists of, and why it is so important.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Tuesday February 12th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”

Our Bible verse for today: “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply?” Romans 6:1 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Don’t live in cheap grace.”

In one of his songs the singer Jimmy Buffett has a lyric that has become famous over the years. It goes, “Oh there’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning!” He’s referring to those who live like the devil all week long but then sing like a saint on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, we all know the type. In fact far too many Christians are the type.

In 1937 the great German theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer published one of the most important Christian books of that era. The title was “The Cost of Discipleship”. In that work Bonheoffer introduced us to the concept of “cheap grace.” He wrote:

“Cheap grace is preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ ….”

“Grace” is the undeserved blessings of God freely bestowed upon us by a loving and merciful God. Applied to salvation the grace of God is what saves us even though we don’t deserve to be saved. Salvation is the ultimate expression of God’s grace, and it is also by God’s grace that we remain saved no matter what. “Once saved always saved” is true only because of the grace of God.

But that truth often creates a problem, this is where “cheap grace” comes from. Cheap grace is what Paul was writing about in Romans chapter six. People can be tempted to conclude that since they are saved, and since they can never lose their salvation, they can live any way they want and still go to heaven. That’s a gross cheapening of grace and it’s the problem both Paul and Bonheoffer attempted to correct. It’s also an issue that we will address in our consideration of this second stage of the salvation process.

Now that you are saved, and since you can never lose your salvation, are you therefore free to just party hearty for the rest of your life? Does it really matter how you live?

The answer is “yes” it sure does, and we will now spend a few days exploring the issue of why it does matter so very much.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Monday February 11th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”

Our Bible verse for today: “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Your salvation is secure.

John 5:24 is another passage in the body of New Testament literature which teaches us about the permanence of salvation. Here we read Jesus assuring us that if you have made the decision to place your faith in Him for the forgiveness of your sins, then you have experienced that new birth He taught about in John 3:3. Such a person has been “born again”. They have passed from death to life and now will never come under judgment for their sins. And the interesting thing about being born is that once you have been born, you cannot be unborn. Once it happens it is a done deal.

John 3:16 is also a familiar verse for most Christians and it is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching about being born again. In John 3:3 He said that you must be born again. In John 3:16 He said that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but has eternal life. But eternal life is not something that begins when you get to heaven, it begins the moment you place your faith in Christ. It begins in the moment of being “born again” and it lasts forever. Eternal life is by definition “eternal”, it is life that does not end.

At this point in our discussion of the security of the believer we haven’t even come close to covering all that the New Testament teaches about it, but I think we have covered enough to make the point.

To summarize what we have learned: God loves you with unconditional love that does not end. Despite your sin, His deepest desire is for you to spend eternity with Him in heaven. So He sent Jesus to earth to pay the penalty for your sins so that through faith in Him, your sins can be forgiven and it is therefore possible for you to go to heaven. Then God sent the Holy Spirit to convict you of your need to be forgiven, and to draw you to faith in Christ. All throughout your life the Spirit works quietly behind the scenes creating situations and opportunities for you to come to Christ.

So God has gone to extraordinary lengths to provide for your salvation; it is the deepest desire of His heart and He has worked very hard to bring it about. Therefore once He finally has you, there is no way He is going to let you go. You are His, and Satan cannot have you back. That’s what Jesus meant in John 10:29 when He said that no one will snatch His sheep out of His hand. Now that you are His, He will not give you up. That’s the assurance we have. Once saved, always saved.

Tomorrow we will begin our discussion about the second stage of the salvation process, and what salvation looks like in the life of the true disciple of Jesus.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

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Devotional for Saturday and Sunday February 9-10

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”

Our Bible verse for today: “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “You cannot lose your salvation.”

“Once saved, always saved”. That neat little phrase captures the essence of an important Biblical doctrine known as “the security of the believer”. The doctrine of the security of the believer teaches that once you have made a sincere profession of faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of your sins, you are saved and nothing can ever change that.

Some people struggle with this. What if you don’t “act” as if you’re saved? What if you claim to be a Christian but then you act like the devil? Or, what if you really were saved at one time but then you kick the dog, steal your neighbor’s newspaper, cheat on your wife, or even murder someone? Are you still saved then? Those are good questions.

In John 10:27-28 Jesus made it clear that if you really are one of His followers (if you ever made a genuine profession of faith to trust Him for the forgiveness of your sins), then you belong to Him, you have eternal life, and you will never perish. Additionally, just for emphasis, He emphatically states that no one (read Satan) will ever snatch you out of His hand.

Please note that Jesus made no mention there as to whether or not you are a good and obedient little sheep. He seemed to be referring even to the black sheep of the family. That passage teaches that f you really are His then you belong to Him for all eternity and nothing will ever change that. Here’s another one. In Romans 8:38 the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor power, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul ran out of words and rhetorical devices in his effort to explain that if you belong to God then there is nothing in all creation, nothing in the physical world or the spiritual world, no angel or demon nor anything else that can ever separate you from God. That, by the way, would include your bad behavior. “Nothing” in all creation can separate you from God once you are His.

The Biblical doctrine of the security of the believer is important and therefore it’s a subject God devoted a lot of ink to in the Bible. There is much more than we can adequately cover in a single devotional message, therefore we will continue this discussion tomorrow.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Friday February 8th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”

Our Bible verse for today: “In the same way, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” Matthew 18:14 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “God is even more concerned about your salvation than you are.”

When it comes to having a sense of security about salvation the two most common questions people have are “Am I really saved?” and “Can I lose my salvation?” The answer to the second question is a lot easier than the answer to the first. We’ll come back to the issue of whether or not you can lose your salvation tomorrow but first, let’s be sure you really are saved.

Only you and God can know for sure if you really are saved. However, I can offer you some insights that you may find helpful. First of all, as Jesus taught in Matthew 18:14, it is not God’s desire for anyone to be lost. That’s the starting place for this discussion. God does not want anyone to be separated from Him for eternity. The Bible, from start to finish, is all about salvation. It’s about God drawing people to Himself. Matthew 18:14 is just one of the many places where Jesus helps us to understand the heart of the Father about this. God is even more concerned about your salvation than you are.

Second, it is the job of the Holy Spirit to draw people to faith in Christ so they can be saved. That is one of His primary roles on earth. “When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.” (John 16:8). And, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13).

There are other verses that teach the same lesson about the role of the Spirit in drawing people to Jesus, but I think you get the point. All throughout your life the Holy Spirit works to create opportunities for you to be exposed to the truth of the Gospel, and He creates situations that help you to appreciate your need for a Savior – all to draw you to faith in Jesus. This is a direct result of the Father’s desire that none be lost. This doesn’t mean that all will be saved, but it does mean that the Father wants all to have the opportunity to place their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

God wants your salvation even more than you do. Therefore if you have ever had that moment in time (as we discussed in yesterday’s devotional), when you made a sincere profession of faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, then you are saved. God loves you and He wants you in heaven with Him. He sent His Son Jesus to pay the penalty for your sins, and then He sent the Holy Spirit to draw you to faith in Jesus. So if your profession of faith was sincere then you are saved.

Now the question is whether or not you can lose your salvation once you have it. We will discuss that tomorrow.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Thursday February 7th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”

Our Bible verse for today: “Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again.” John 3:6-7 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Salvation occurs in a moment when a decision is made.”

Nicodemus was intrigued and confused. He was a trained religious professional, a Pharisee who had spent years upon years studying the Old Testament Scriptures and he knew his stuff. Or so he thought.

But along came Jesus and Nicodemus realized there was an important element in his relationship with God that he had somehow missed. He knew that somehow, in some way, Jesus was the answer. So he came to Jesus secretly, at night so nobody would see him, and he asked Jesus to help him discover what he was missing in his relationship with God.

John 3:7 was the answer. “You must be born again”.

All of us are born once, physically. But in order to be alive spiritually we must be born again. At the time He creates us God breathes a living spirit into us and gives us the breath of life (Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4). But in the spiritual sense that Jesus was teaching about in John 3:6-7, that spirit is actually not alive in a relationship with God. Paul teaches this in Ephesians 2:1 when he writes that before salvation “… you were dead in your trespasses and sins …”

The spirit within you was a dead thing that could never be allowed into heaven. It was contaminated with sin and it was dead to God. Thus, the new birth Jesus spoke of. The dead spirit must be born again with new life. Jesus then went on in John 3:16-18 to explain that the new birth occurs in a moment of time when a decision is made to place your faith in Him for the forgiveness of your sins. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life …”

The Apostle Paul expanded on this teaching about the new birth when he wrote in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” And also in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come.”

When it comes to being “born again”, salvation is a one-time event. It happens in a moment of time because of a decision you make to place your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins – and you never need to repeat the experience. Salvation is permanent. You cannot lose it and you never need to repeat it. This is often referred to as “once saved always saved” or, “the security of the believer.”

Tomorrow we will consider the doctrine of “the security of the believer” and I will help you to see that once you are saved, you are always saved.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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