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What Is Salvation? Ephesians 2:1

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Last Wednesday my family celebrated Buddy’s 11th birthday. I don’t know his true birthday, only that he was a summertime puppy. However, a little over 8 years ago on August 21st, 2011, I picked up Buddy from Barbara, who was working with Silky Terrier Rescue as a foster mom, so that’s his unofficial birthday. He’s been a great little pal and I’m very thankful to them both for rescuing and fostering Buddy till he came into my life. And am praying that Buddy will have many more happy and healthy years.

It’s my belief that many people don’t understand what salvation is, not only nonbelievers, but also many people who claim to be Christians. I agree with the Basic Gospel ministry that many preachers teach only “half a gospel”, i.e. that to become a Christian you repent of your sin. True enough.

But the problem with humanity is not that we sin, but that we are sinners. We sin as a result of who we are: fallen humanity. Whether you believe in Adam or Eve or not, the point of the story is that humanity chose to believe satan, rather than God. They chose to be their own gods and choose for themselves right and wrong, rejecting God as their Lord Who defines right and wrong.

We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God is a triune being–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So, we too, were once triune beings–body, soul and filled with God’s Spirit. When our human ancestors rejected God, the Holy Spirit left the human race. As a result, we are all born incomplete: body and soul only. Everyone is born spiritually dead. That is why everyone feels incomplete and tries to fill that emptiness with food, drugs, alcohol, pleasure, sex, whatever, to make that wrong feeling go away. But it never works because that hole in your soul was meant to be filled with God’s Spirit only. Nothing else will satisfy and make you feel complete.

What that means is that, as Apostle Paul explained to the Ephesians who lived in a culture steeped in the occult:

“You were dead in your trespasses and sins,…” Ephesians 2:1

Doing good works or being good or knowing enough or being wise isn’t going to give you life. The problem isn’t just that you are bad and God is good; the problem is that you’re dead in your sin and need spiritual life.

And only Jesus Christ can give you life.

That’s the problem that unbelievers don’t understand. And what many Christians don’t understand, either. It’s not about a list of rules to obey. Christianity isn’t just a religious system: It’s about your soul being resurrected spiritually from the dead so that you can interact with God. Only spiritually alive people can enter heaven; only spiritually alive people can relate to God the Father.

It is the reason why, after Adam and Eve listened to satan and rejected God’s authority, that they ran and hid from Him. And God was walking around asking, “Where are you?” It wasn’t that God isn’t omniscient and didn’t know where they were physically; it was because they were no longer connected to Him spiritually (Genesis 3:9).

Jesus died for our sins; He took the punishment we deserved to satisfy God’s wrath for our sinful behavior.

But Jesus was also resurrected from the dead, proving He was God in the Flesh (Immanuel, Matthew 1:23). When we put our faith in Him, we are also resurrected from the dead with Him and seated in the heavenly places with Christ. Which is the symbol of baptism: having our sins washed away and then resurrected to a new life.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surprising riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”–Ephesians 2:4-9

So the main point I’m trying to get across is: your works don’t make you right with God because you’re spiritually dead without the Holy Spirit indwelling you. You have to become spiritually alive and trying to be good doesn’t cut it. You can never be good enough to earn the Holy Spirit. You receive Him by asking in faith, admitting that you are sinful, i.e. cannot meet God’s standards and need Him to change you through His resurrection power.

It takes away all boasting before God because you cannot stand before Him and say, “Look how good I am. God is really pleased with me.” That’s what Christians call “legalism”: thinking that you can follow God’s rules to be right with Him. And those people are usually mean and judgmental. It may not be that they are not saved but that no one properly explained to them what salvation is after they accepted Jesus by faith.

Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”–Luke 11:13

After accepting Christ, you’ll once again be whole: body, soul and Spirit.

Much love from Dawn and Buddy

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There is much more that could be said to clarify, but, hopefully, I’ve laid the foundation for a greater understanding of why we need Jesus in our life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Wet, Matthew 23:27-28

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When I walked Buddy tonight, I tried to reign him in on his leash to keep him close to me. Not to restrict his movement, but to try to shelter him under my umbrella so that he wouldn’t get wet from the intermittent rain. Being the usual headstrong terrier, he kept resisting me and pulling out from under the protection of the umbrella, with the predictable result.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem,…” Jesus lamented in Matthew 23:27-28. “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”

God calls to each of us to run to shelter under His protecting umbrella, yet people think God is trying to crimp their lifestyle with His rules of behavior, so they willfully resist Him and go their own way. As a result, they get wet with the eventual unhappiness and consequences of their behavior. Sometimes they even curse God for their circumstances, when all along He was warning them to turn back.

But God is merciful and loving. When you repent of your willful disobedience, He opens His arms wide and pulls you into His loving embrace. He doesn’t reject anyone who comes to Him.

“And the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”–Jesus, John 6:37b

Why not give your heart to Jesus now?

Dear Father, I thank you that Jesus, God In the Flesh, took the punishment for ALL my sin on the Cross. And was resurrected bodily to give me eternal life. Please forgive my sin. I invite the Holy Spirit to live His life through me and to guide me. Thank you for loving me.

Please attend a church service this Easter where Christians love and worship the King as described in the Bible. And let them know that you just recently gave your heart to the Lord so that they can assist you in your new life’s journey.

God bless.

Dawn and Buddy

 

Why The Flood Still Matters, 2 Peter 3:9

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As I detailed in an earlier posting, Buddy was so proud of himself when he grabbed my donut that I had left on my bed one morning instead of eating for breakfast. When I returned from work, he proudly greeted me with his prize. I laughed; after all, it was my fault. Buddy didn’t deserve punishment for only retrieving what I’d forgotten.

God is the same way with us. He is not eager to punish humanity for its sin. “For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but the save the world” (John 3:17). God loves us, yet He hates sin. So He sent Jesus to take our punishment for His anger at our wickedness.

Apostle Peter echoes Apostle John’s words in his second letter to the church. He warns them that in the last days before Christ’s return, people will mock God, saying that because Christ has not yet returned, there is no coming Judgment. History flows along as it always has, with humanity in charge.

“But when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that…the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”–2 Peter 3:5

I wasn’t raised Christian and struggled with the concept that an all powerful God could come down as a man and live amongst us. I read the “Origin of the Species” by Charles Darwin and a biography on Darwin, in an attempt to embrace atheism after some negative experiences with Christians I’d met who were a little too eager to convert me. But I’d had two years of biology in high school, plus a math teacher who emphasized logic, and noticed there was quite a lot that was unscientific about Darwin’s book and a lot of unverified fact that was assumed and mere conjecture.

When I took a course in Mythology at the University of Washington, I expected to learn about Greek and Roman mythology. Instead, I had a professor who seemed hellbent on discrediting Christianity. She mentioned that every culture in the world had a flood myth.

“Wait a second,” I thought. “If there really was a flood, wouldn’t every culture in the world have a remnant memory of it, passed down through the generations? If there wasn’t a flood, I’d expect many cultures NOT to have a flood myth. Yet my professor just said every culture had one.”

My now deceased uncle was a college professor, so I knew better than to believe unquestionably everything my instructors told me at the University of Washington. I maintained my intellectual discernment when listening to lectures–thinking critically, not just swallowing everything I was told without mulling it over first.

This incident was the turning point in my life on a path toward coming into a relationship with the true and living God about 5 years later.

I believe so many unbelievers are insistent on discrediting the existence of the flood–and to discredit the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah–because they want to deny that there is a judgment after death and that they’re accountable for how they live their lives. Despite the fact that there are fossils of sea life in unlikely places, like mountain tops, and that dinosaur remains are discovered in piles in alluvial sediment, as if swept away by a vast push of water and deposited.

Yet, the Bible tells us:

“it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”–Hebrews 9:27

“Then I saw a great throne (in heaven) and Him who sat upon it…And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds…And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”–Revelation 20:11-15

God delays judgment, however, because He loves each one of us and wants us to repent and reconnect with Him. I believe this is why we sometimes feel frustrated, wondering why evil people continue to act wickedly and don’t seem to be punished: God is giving them a chance to turn their lives around. He isn’t eager to discipline anyone.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord. “Therefore, repent and live.”–Ezekiel 18:32

It’s really easy to escape this judgment.

“And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”–Apostle Peter, Acts 2:21

“Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”–Jesus, John 8:24

When you recognize that you’re a sinner who cannot earn your way to Heaven, because you’re not able to meet God’s perfect standard, and call upon the name of Jesus, believing that He is God in the flesh, Who took the punishment for God’s wrath at sin, you’re saved.

“We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 3:28

“For by grace you have been saved though faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that n one can boast.”–Ephesians 2:8-9

To illustrate:

God, 100% perfection, is on one side of a cliff and flawed humanity is on the other side, two miles apart. Between us is a deep gorge, the bottom so far down that even Wile E. Coyote would be afraid to tie an Acme rocket to his back. Some people, because they are really good people, try to jump across and make it maybe twelve feet, then plunge to the bottom. Some people, because they are sorta good and sorta bad, are able to jump eight feet and then plunge to the bottom. Some people are so bad and nasty, they cannot jump at all and just trip and fall to the bottom.

The point is, no matter how good you are, you cannot jump far enough because the only way to get across to stand before a 100% loving and holy God is to be 100% good. For example, you blew it the first time you yelled, “No!” at your mother when she asked you to do something (or your guardian, if you weren’t raised by your mother).

But Jesus stands in the gap, his arms stretching out toward both sides, connecting the two cliff faces. You can walk toward Heaven across His holy arms.

If you have trouble believing, just start on that road by asking Him to give you the faith to believe. He loves that prayer and will answer.

God bless you.

From Dawn and Buddy

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PS. Many thanks to WordPress for allowing us freedom of speech. There are a lot of issues with social media platforms discriminating against speech their founders don’t approve of. Thankfully there is still someplace people can still blog freely. If you don’t like my blog posts, just don’t read them or don’t follow me. I won’t be offended. I believe in freedom.

How to Fight Evil, Ephesians 6:10-18

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As much as we love our pets, they are not made in the image of God, as we are.

Buddy does provide me with unconditional love, his companionship, and another listening ear to keep me from feeling afraid at night when I’m alone. He would risk his life to protect me from someone far bigger and stronger than he is.

But Buddy cannot protect me from supernatural danger.

Based upon the story of the prophet Balaam and his donkey, it’s possible that the animals are able to see spiritual entities more easily than we can. (Numbers 22:21-33) But this is speculation on my part.

“Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day…”–Ephesians 6:10-12

So what is this armor? The summary is: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). (versus 14-17)

And how do we do that? Pray (vs 18) at all times and “be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might” (vs 10).

Please note: HIS MIGHT, HIS STRENGTH. And we access His power and might through prayer, reading and memorizing the Word of God (Holy Bible), and believing what the Bible says (faith) and acting according to its instructions (obedience).

Faith in the Word of God: trusting in the hard times that God is faithful, loves us, and will keep His promises to us. Obeying and acting according to God’s ways, although sometimes it FEELS better to do something else. But we cannot know what those promises or instructions are if we aren’t reading the Bible, the source document for those promises.

The Word of God is our only offensive weapon against evil. It’s really important, in these difficult and deceptive times, to meditate upon the word of God day and night (Psalm 1:2). Its our filter to recognize lies.

Jesus gave the example of how to defeat the devil and his deception, by quoting from the Old Testament, and relying upon the Word of God when Lucifer came to tempt him after his 40-day fast. After successfully passing the three temptations, Christ began his earthly ministry (Matthew 4:1-11).

And it’s vitally important to pray that the Holy Spirit guide us before we begin reading a Bible passage. It is spiritually discerned, requiring His guidance. (I Corinthians 2:13)

The world offers lots of distractions: movies, video games, YouTube, Facebook, the Internet (blogs–EEK!), cable news, etc. that can keep us from taking some time to read the Bible.

I’m planning to blog more on these verses, but please note that in these trying times, when we see so much fake news and anti-Christian bias (and anti-Semitism) increasing in the USA, to remind ourselves not to be angry or hateful toward those who who are in bondage to untruth.

For instance, I just read this verse recently:

Apostle Paul adjures us to be “in no way alarmed by your opponents, which is a sign of destruction for them…”–Philippians 1:28

I really needed to be reminded of this admonition. When I hear the news, it’s easy for me to be alarmed. The Holy Spirit has to check my thoughts frequently some days as I get frustrated with deceived, or deliberately deceptive, people who spread lies and seem to get far more media attention than the good people trying to protect our laws and Constitution. I have to remind myself that it’s a sign of their ultimate destruction, their pending separation from God forever, and to feel sorry for them, rather than be angry, and pray for them to repent and escape judgment.

By praying for someone else in spiritual bondage, I am blessing not only the other person, but also myself: My spirit calms down and someone is getting prayed for who really needs it. Following God’s instruction is better for my health, because I’m not stressing my spirit with anger. Also, I am reminding myself, when I pray for those I feel frustrated toward, that I too was once deceived and separated from God and His life-giving Spirit, and needed mercy, before I finally believed that Jesus was Immanuel, God in the flesh (Matthew 1:23), Who died for my sins and was resurrected to give me everlasting life through the power of the Holy Spirit. It helps to humble me and not “virtue signal” or feel superior to someone else.

God bless you.

Please stay cool in these hot times.

Dawn and Buddy

PS. I do believe animals go to heaven. I’ll blog on that one day. (Revelations 5:13) And once again, where I was intending to go with this posting, I meandered elsewhere. But I pray what I should blog about before writing one word. I have to trust that this is what someone who reads this posting needs to “hear” right now.

Propaganda, Proverbs 18:17

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Buddy was sitting on my bed tonight, watching me as I sat on the floor, studying my Bible. He seems to be carefully examining and thinking about what I am doing.

The longer I am a Christian, and the longer I study God’s Word–The Holy Bible–I realize that Biblical wisdom can be applied to every aspect of our private and public lives.

Proverbs 18:17 states, “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.”

One of our country’s foundations is the importance of free speech. The Founders believed that when people of differing opinions are able to debate freely, the truth comes out. I truly believe it’s vitally important, not only as a Creative (person who is artistic), but also to maintain our nation’s freedom, that we allow free speech.

However, “”The naive believes everything.”–Proverbs 14:15

There are a lot of people in the USA who do not question what they hear from our media. They listen to only one point of view and don’t expose themselves to people who think differently. But the Bible warns that we need to hear both sides before we come to a conclusion (Proverbs 18:17 stated above).

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”–Proverbs 27:17 By engaging in discussion or vigorous debate with others, we sharpen our views and, also, discover where our arguments are weak or wrong.

Propaganda thrives when people refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints, because they don’t have all the facts to discover if they really have the truth or not.

I believe it’s one of the enemy’s tactics to keep people isolated and not listening to one another. For instance, someone who refuses to associate with Bible-believing Christians because their pagan worldview may be questioned “and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)”

So I believe it’s vitally important for Christians to promote and protect free speech. As a nation, it’s one of our most unique and precious possessions.

And a gift from God.

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If you’re ready to start learning about a new view of who you are, please continue reading. You are not an accident of an indifferent universe. You were designed by God (Psalm 139) and have a purpose for your life. To get to know this God who loves you, please pray the below:

God, I believe that you want me to know You. But because You’re 100% holy and blameless, I am separated from you by my sin. I ask you to forgive my sins. And give me new life in Christ, Who died for my sins, taking the punishment I deserve. There’s no way that I can earn Your forgiveness, so I accept Christ’s sacrifice for my sins as a free gift. I ask that the Holy Spirit enter into my heart and give me His life. And teach me to grow in a knowledge of You and Christ so that I can learn to discern truth from error. Thank You for loving me and making me a new Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God bless you and lead you to a Bible-believing church.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

God’s Compassion, Ezekiel 18:32

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Anyone who knows me knows that I adore my little Silky terrier, Buddy. He has a unique and spunky personality and I’d miss him terribly if anything ever happened to him. I don’t love him because he’s perfect, but because he’s my pal.

Do you ever consider that God would miss you terribly if you didn’t go to Heaven after you died?

There is a mistaken idea that the New Testament God is kind and compassionate, but that the Old Testament God is cruel and uncaring. But that’s not true.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”–Ezekiel 18:32 (Old Testament)

Because God is perfectly holy and cannot tolerate evil, He won’t permit us to enter Heaven because we’ll mess it up, just as we’ve messed up earth. Just listen to the news every day: Do you want that in Heaven?

However, He found a way to fellowship with unholy people by sending Jesus to die for our sins.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”–John 3:16-17 (New Testament)

God the Father has no desire to see us perish eternally. He wants us to be with Him. If we are willing to humble ourselves–forsake our pride and admit that we have fallen short of His holy standards–He covers our sin with the blood of Jesus and no longer sees it.

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12 (Old Testament)

God the Father loves you. And so does Jesus. He suffered a terrible death to pay for your sins. And the Holy Spirit loves you too and will live within you and help “guide (you) in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.”–Psalm 23:3b

All you have to do is believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, admit you’re a sinner and cannot meet God’s righteous standards, and ask Him to forgive you and enter into your heart.

And He’ll do it immediately because He loves you and wants you to be with him–for eternity.

God Is Love, 1 John 4:16

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One reason I love this photo is because I love Buddy. He is great company, particularly when I’m alone in the house at night. And because I love him, I don’t think about the bad boy things he has done: I see him as perfect and totally lovable.

The Apostle John, who laid his head against Christ’s breast when Jesus walked the earth, declared that “God is love,”–1 John 4:16

When most people think of Heaven, they think of angels on clouds and green meadows full of flowers and meeting their loved ones again, looking young and healthy. They usually don’t think of it as a place where God dwells.

Since God is love and dwells in Heaven, guess what Hell could be defined as? Not as a place of fire and brimstone, but a place where God does not dwell, a place totally absent of love.

Please think about that. Hell is a place with no mercy, no kindness, no laughter, no joy, no peace, no faithfulness, no goodness, no patience, no freedom…(Galatians 5:22) I’m sure you can think of many others.

I think most people, if mentally healthy, would prefer to go to Heaven and not Hell, but they have a misunderstanding about how to get there. This will shock most people: IT’S NOT BY BEING GOOD! or , like pictured in an Egyptian papyrus painting, I have, “IT’S NOT BY HAVING YOUR GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGHING YOUR BAD.”

To address the latter firstly: If you think it’s by having your good deeds outweighing the bad, how do you define your good and your bad deeds? God is perfect. His definition of “bad” is far broader than ours is. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I realize how bad I really am, because I become more familiar with what God’s standards really are. When someone asked Jesus what he must do to “inherit eternal life”, Jesus responded, “No one is good except God alone.”–Luke 18:18

This seems to me a really iffy program to place my hope on to obtain eternal life in Heaven. How do you really know when your good deeds outweigh your bad? How many points does gossip get versus donating a toy to Toys for Tots? That method would keep me awake at night.

Most people don’t understand the gospel (which means “good news”). It’s not good news to tell me that I need to work really hard to be good and hope that maybe I did well enough to pass muster on Judgment Day. God cannot tolerate evil, i.e. sin. He demands perfection. In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus declared, “You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:48  I blew that one a long time ago.

That’s why Jesus had to die. Only He was good enough, being God in the flesh, to live a perfect life and take our punishment for God’s wrath against sin. We don’t do anything to earn Heaven except humble ourselves and admit we’re sinners and need Jesus’ blood to cover our sin for us. And because He rose from the dead, proving Himself to be God and His sacrifice acceptable, ask Him to empower us by giving us the Holy Spirit to live His life through us.

Then God sees us as perfect and totally lovable, just like I love my Buddy.

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12

And that’s good news, not working for my eternal life but accepting that Jesus already did it for me.

Sadly, admitting they’re not perfect is just too difficult for most people.

PS. If someone says this is wrong, it’s not by faith in Christ but good works, then ask them, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

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If you agree with me, “Hey, I’d like to go to Heaven and live with this loving God for eternity, and I know I’m not perfect, I’ve missed the mark,” please pray:

Dear Father, I’m sorry I’ve screwed up and fallen far short of your standards. I know I’m far from perfect but I believe you love me and want me to spend eternity with you. I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and died for my sins. That He lived the perfect life I couldn’t live. Please forgive me and grant me Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Amen.