Posts tagged ‘salvation’

Justification & Peace With God

The concepts of justification and peace with God are intimately tied together. After all, how would someone who is not justified and therefore an enemy of God, have peace with that same God? But how does that justification occur? It occurs by faith, which is our belief and trusting in Christ for our salvation.

Here is the way the Apostle Paul was inspired to describe it in Romans 4:1-8.

“What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

And whose sins are covered;

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.

Later in the passage in verses 23-25, Paul summed it up this way:

“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

With that as the background, Paul was inspired to write the following about the way that is related to justification and peace.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, [a]we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  Romans 5:1-2

In Israel today, there is no peace. Even on days when no warfare takes place, there is not peace. You cannot have true peace if there is the constant threat of war breaking out. This is why our relationship with God can be described as “peace”.  Due to our justification, there is no more possibility of war with God. The wrath that was due for our sins was borne by Jesus on the cross. That’s why he is called “the propitiation for our sins”. 

But many will say that it cannot be by faith alone.  Surely works must be added to it in order to receive salvation. We have to “do something” we can see to receive this salvation. But faith is not something you can see, and neither is the new birth! (John 3:3) Yet what about James 2? Doesn’t James say we are justified by faith AND works? Let’s take a look at what James says.

“You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” James 2:24

But in James, the subject of salvation is not being addressed. James is talking about how faith is proven genuine in the sight of others.  Justification does not always refer to salvation. The context determines the meaning, and in this case salvation is not the subject.  Here is an example of another place in the New Testament where Jesus uses the same word in this way.

Luke 7:34-36 New King James Version (NKJV)

“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a [a]winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

In this passage, wisdom is proven genuine in the sight of others by those who are following its principles. No one would say that “wisdom is declared righteous and saved by her children”. That is definitely not what Jesus was trying to say. In the same way, James is saying that others know our faith is genuine because they see it walk out in our actions.

So we have peace with God because we have been justified by faith, and also because we are no longer having sin imputed to us. Like Paul says in Romans 4:8, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”  We could never have true peace, which is the absence of the threat of war, if we are one big sin or incorrect doctrine away from losing our salvation.  That’s why it is so blessed that the Lord no longer imputes sin to our account! So if you have trusted in Christ for salvation and done what Paul said later in Romans 10:9-10, you are justified and truly have peace with God!

The Galatian Warning

The Warning of Galatians: Adding On

There is a basic and critical question that every Christian needs to answer for themselves: “What am I trusting for my salvation?”

In my youth and some of my adulthood I was taught and promulgated the Five Step Plan of Salvation. What could possibly be the danger in that? Well, we are to trust solely in Jesus for our salvation, and if we overemphasize checking off the boxes in the Five Steps over faith in Jesus, we run the risk of trusting the Plan instead of the Savior! “Trust” is one of the primary meanings of “pistis”, the Greek word translated “faith”.

Let’s see what Paul taught in Galatians 5 on this subject.

(Gal 5:2-6 ESV) “I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.  3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.  5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

Now many will jump to say that Paul is only talking about the Law of Moses, and they would be half right. Paul certainly has the Torah in mind, but look at the basis for his argument.  Why is it that insisting on circumcision as a condition for salvation leads to a false gospel? Because Paul says that circumcision doesn’t count for anything. The only thing that counts is “faith working through love”. Because circumcision is neither faith nor love (even though someone might endure circumcision to show his love or faith in God), it doesn’t count. As a result, it destroys faith.

Really. Period. “You who would be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.”  Is this because there is something terrible or sinful about the law? No! The Law was perfect. The reason, as stated by Paul, is that the Law is not faith in Jesus.  Paul didn’t say, “You are following the wrong law.” He said “You’re following Law rather than faith in Jesus working through love.”

Adding circumcision to faith in Jesus as a requirement of salvation damns. And that’s a false gospel, as Paul declared in Galatians 1.

So what’s the difference between requiring acapella singing or weekly communion, or a plurality of elders as a condition of salvation? Both add to faith in Jesus. Both make faith insufficient. None are faith working through love.

That is not to say that obedience and works don’t matter, but that they aren’t the path to salvation. They are, rather, evidence of salvation because they are fruit of the Spirit, which only the saved have. We should teach what we believe regarding worship or church organization. But we are not authorized to make those views conditions of salvation. They aren’t faith in Jesus working through love. They just aren’t!  The saved will inevitably seek to obey and be fully committed disciples.

They will get some of it right, and some of it wrong. Perfection will not be achieved in this lifetime, and grace more than covers our mistakes, both moral and doctrinal. Just hold to faith in Christ and let His love work in you as a fruit of the Spirit. But do not add to what is required for salvation. It is faith working through love. Period.

Wishing For Living Idols

First of all, the seed of an idea that the Lord planted in my mind for this post came from hearing a short portion of a Sunday sermon from last week by Pastor Scott Hagan from Real Life Church in Sacramento. Not only is he spot on, but we graduated from high school together, so he must be cool, too! 

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (‭Exodus‬ ‭20‬:‭4-6‬ NKJV)

Idolatry. Perhaps no other sin is as universally condemned in Scripture as idol worship. A curse came with making something with men’s hands and worshipping it. No matter the quality of the workmanship, and how fervently you hope and dance and cut yourself and worship, that idol will never be the Living God. It just won’t happen.

But that is precisely what is going on right now with the gay “marriage” debate. People are using logic, law, and doing everything in their power to make same-sex marriages a reality. But the truth is, that no matter how many marches, and court decisions and laws that human beings pass, it will never be a REAL marriage. Here’s why. 

and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭5‬ NKJV)

God made this principle clear in Genesis, and jesus quoted it here in Matthew. He made the principle clear. Man joined to wife equals one flesh. But just to make sure we don’t miss it, Jesus says this in the very next verse. 

So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭6‬ NKJV)

Did you catch that? The husband and wife don’t join themselves together, nor does a minister join them. God is the one who makes the two of them one flesh as husband and wife! No matter how people hope and pray and litigate and legislate, anything other than this has not been joined together by God and is therefore not a marriage. And my opinion and your opinion have no bearing on the matter! To teach otherwise is to make a God in our own image, and have Him do what we wish Him to do. But that amounts to idolatry, and brings a curse instead of the desired blessing!

So what are we to do? We are to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). And know this; you cannot speak a lie in the love. God is love, and He cannot lie. Satan is the father of lies, and has no love in him. In fact, the most spiritually dangerous thing we could ever do is to speak a lie and attribute it to God! No, the most loving thing we can do is to tell the truth about same-sex marriage with as much love and compassion as we can. But it must be grounded in truth! 

We must show our love by proclamation of the truth laid down by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭9-10‬ NKJV)

But we are to do so humbly and in love, knowing that we all have besetting sins which we all fight on a daily basis. We must tell of the power of God to deliver anyone from the grip of the strongest sin! Our faith and our message must rest, not on human wisdom, but on the delivering power of God. That’s why Paul goes on to say this:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭11‬ NKJV) 

We must hold out this message of hope and deliverance to anyone and everyone who will listen, homosexual, heterosexual, or anyone else! Without altering the Word of God or lowering His standards, we must tell the world that Christ came to save sinners, so that qualifies each of us for His salvation. We are not judging anyone. We are letting them know that God has already judged everyone, including them, and that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭8-9‬ NKJV) 

When this is our message, we will be the God honoring, Christ exalting, Gospel spreading, disciple making, and people loving Church that we are commissioned to be in this World! 

Infants Who Die

On November 2nd, 2001 our daughter Sarah Elizabeth was born. Tragically, she passed from this life eight hours later, after midnight on November 3rd. These two days have been rough for me ever since that time. John Piper once compared grief over the death of a child to an amputation. Unlike a gunshot wound, once the healing is done, the arm is still missing. Then follows the feelings of loss over what might have been and dealing with the gone-ness that will never be resolved this side of eternity.

On question that comes up occasionally is that of what happens to infants when they die. I am completely sure that God saves them and takes them to heaven, but what do I base that on from Scripture? Glad you asked.

It is not that infants are not fallen along with Adam like the rest of mankind. They are. Romans chapter 5 makes that abundantly clear. It is, however, a matter of accountability before God. I would begin with what jesus said to the Pharisees in John 9:41.

” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”

The culpability is based on their ability to see what jesus taught, but rejecting it. Because they had been exposed to the truth and rejected it, the were still in their sins. Infants cannot perceive the message and have no sin in this regard.

But what about those who have never had the Gospel preached to them? Paul addresses that question in Romans 1:19-20 and it directly pertains to what we are speaking about here.

Romans 1:19-20
” because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

What is of necessity implied here, is not only that those who have not formally heard about God have no excuse because of how God has revealed Himself in the natural world, but that those who are incapable of reasoning and observing creation DO have an excuse! This would mean not only small children, but also those with mental capacities so severely diminished that they are unable to perceive God in creation.

So based on those Scriptures, along with others, I would tell parents who have lost a child that they will see that child again, and that their loss is not an eternal one. Of course that assumes that the parents are believers, too so that they can be in heaven as well.

God is able to cover those who have an excuse due to early age or mental capacity due to His mercy, and the shed blood of Jesus for sin. In the end, what was written in Psalm 119:68 will still be true of God.

Psalms 119:68a
” You are good, and do good;”

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Does He Know You?

There is a vast difference between knowing about someone and actually knowing the person. I could spend the next few years in researching the life of George Washington for a new book. I could read his personal journals and everything discovered by historians. And even if I feel like I know him, I will never be able to say that George Washington is my friend and we know each other! While a relationship certainly involves learning about them, gaining that knowledge is no substitute for know the actual person.

Jesus, in Matthew chapter 7 talks about this, and it is a passage that is cause for serious reflection by Christians. Jesus is talking about the judgment, and differentiates between the two groups of people in a very revealing way.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)

There are some important things to notice here.
1. Both groups, the saved and the lost, were verbally calling Jesus “Lord”. Jesus is not diminishing the importance of being our Lord, but is rather emphasizing that just saying the magic words is not what means you have a relationship with God.

2. If we look at the entire passage, keeping His commandments is a sign of one who is saved. If I can say this in a positive sense, obedience is a symptom of having a relationship with Christ.

3. But here is the danger. If you look at what the lost ones say, they were doing all the right things as well! What causes their confusion is that they thought that if they did all the things they were supposed to be doing, they would have a relationship with Christ and go to heaven. If their checklist was complete, someone told them, then their performance was satisfactory and they would make it in.

4. From the passage, what is stated as the determining factor was whether or not Jesus knew them. Did they have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ? What got them into heaven was not what they did, but who they belonged to. According to John in 1 John 2,

“He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (I John 2:4-6)

If we concentrate on deepening our relationship with God, the good works will be a natural reflection of the vibrancy of that relationship. Our lives will show the power of the love of God working within us. But if we lack that love, we run the danger of doing the works out a need to be right with God through our performance and not have that relationship. Our lives will not be characterized by “faith working through love”, and whatever is not of faith is sin. Even the seemingly good things we do will be sinful because they weren’t done in faith and love. We will be practicing lawlessness and not even know it. If it takes the threat of losing your salvation and going to hell to motivate you to obey God, then you are already backslidden in heart. Are there things you are doing because God said to do it or else, you have fallen away.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)

We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, must make our aim the same as that if the apostle Paul — to know Him!

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11)

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Fulfilling the Law

There are two types of leaders that really bother me. One has all the authority they need, but refuses to use it. The other is someone with no authority, who thinks he has it anyway. Both usually result in a train wreck. Jesus Christ was neither of those. He had full authority from the Father, and used it perfectly! This astonished those who heard Him teach.

And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28, 29 NKJV)

Does this just mean that He was assertive in His tone, or pontificated with skill? No, I believe it goes deeper than that. The previous verses come at the end of the “Sermon on the Mount” recorded in Matthew chapters 5 – 7. And unlike the scribes, who would just read the Law, Jesus was actually expanding upon it! Let me show you what I mean by that.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17)

The word translated fulfill there is the Greek word pleroo (play-ro-o) which includes the concept of completing or filling up. What kind of man would dare to say that he was coming to complete that which had been handed down in fire, earthquake and smoke at Mt Sinai? Only God could do such a thing! This begins the anger in the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees that will one day lead to His crucifixion. They never dispute Jesus’ miracles, and never try to. This assertion of power equal to that of God was enough to incite hatred in their hearts and charges of blasphemy.

Jesus fills out, or completes, the law in a series of “you have heard” and then “but I say” statements. These serve to bring the Law from the outside (mere physical performance) to the inside ( the condition of our hearts). Appropriately, Jesus starts with the Ten Commandments. He takes the commandment on murder and fulfills, or completes it.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21, 22)

Next, Jesus fulfills/completes the commandment regarding adultery by making it a heart issue first and foremost.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28)

Then we come to bearing false witness. Jesus fulfills/completes the commandment by saying not to swear by anything, but to let your answers stand on there own veracity.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33-37)

In dealing with our enemies, Jesus again takes us to the heart of the matter.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. ..
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:38, 39, 43, 44)

But why do this at all? Why not just say that He was coming to replace the Law with a new one? Because we need the Law to demonstrate to ourselves that we are lawbreakers, already sentence to eternal death by a just God. Without that, the Gospel will be an abstract concept, and not the truly “Good News” that it is. We need the Law to show us our need of a savior and to take us to the cross to find Him.

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:22-24 KJV)

The Law gets us to the cross, where grace takes over and leads us to God by faith. We don’t abandon obedience to the commands of God, but are rather changed from the inside out. On the inside, we are justified by faith, and on the outside, we are clothed with Christ at baptism for all the world to see. Just like putting clean clothes on someone covered in mud doesn’t make the person clean, we clean up the inside by justification (Romans 5:1) and only then have them put on Christ in baptism for all to see (Galatians 3:27). Christ is put in before He is put on!

But again, we must begin with the Law, and the realization of the just penalty for sin. Only then can, or will we want to, go to the cross for payment of our due penalty. Then, and only then, are we reconciled to God.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach- (Colossians 1:19-22 NASB)

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The Role of Fear in Conversion

For many years preachers of the Gospel had a reputation for “hellfire and brimstone sermons” designed to scare people into salvation. While that kind of preaching is more rare these days (perhaps too rare?), one wonders if fear should not still play a role in conversion. We would all like to think we respond to Jesus Christ solely out of love for Him, but even then there is an element of eternal self preservation involved. Let’s take a look at what role, if any, fear should play in conversion.

My thesis here is that yes, fear should play a role, at least initially, in conversion. For it is only when a sinner sees his helplessly position before the Judge of the Universe that he or she is moved to ask in utter despair, “what must I do to be saved?” That moment is called conviction, and it can only be brought about by a sinner accurately seeing the inevitable doom that awaits him unless someone can do something to save him. And I would even say that without conviction of sin and the realization of helplessness before God, the Gospel will not be the “good news” of salvation through the atonement by the blood of Christ that it is supposed to be. This all sounds good, but are there scriptural examples that will bear this out? Glad you asked!

For our first example, lets look at the Jews gathered for the feast of Pentecost in 33 AD. Near the end of Peter’s discourse, the text says this:

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37 NKJV)

This “cut to the heart” is way more than feeling bad about what had happened, as if it had all been a big misunderstanding. They had been looking forward to the coming of Messiah for thousands of years, and when He came, they had murdered Him. Just a minute before, Peter had applied an Old Testament passage to Jesus and said, “Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’ (v.35) This was not a picture of a king with an ottoman in from of his padded chair. This was a picture of someone with their foot on the neck of their enemy! It would have hit them suddenly and piercingly that unless they did something, the wrath of God was going to be upon them. It was this conviction of guilt and fear of judgment that prompted the question “men and brethren, what shall we do?” So while fear was not the basis for the entire process, it did play a vital role in getting them to a place where they could view salvation as good news indeed!

Well that was great, but are there other examples beside just this one? You are asking great questions! Yes, lets now turn to Acts 9 and look at the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Back in chapter 8, we are introduced to Saul in this way:

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. (Acts 8:3)

And chapter 9 starts off with a further window into Saul’s mission in life.

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest (Acts 9:1).

This is a man who has made it his mission to eradicate these disciples of Jesus from the face of the earth. He is utterly consumed with what he views as a righteous zeal for God. Then everything changes on the road to Damascus when he has an encounter with Jesus.

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” (Acts 9:4, 5)

Suddenly Saul is confronted with the truth about who he has really been persecuting via prison and murder. This had to be a frightening experience that shook him to his very core. And that’s what it needed to be in order to convict Saul of his sin and bring him to an accurate realization of his true spiritual condition. The narrative describes his initial response as:

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6a)

Once again, a sudden revelation of impending judgment and his utter inability to save himself brought about the needed question of, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”.

Well we want to confirm everything in the mouth if two or three witnesses, so lets look at one more – the Philippian jailer in Acts 16.
Here we have a man whose very life depended on how well he did his job. Any prisoners that escaped took his life with them. He is there one evening while his two newest prisoners are doing what everyone would do in the innermost depths of a filthy Roman jail – singing praises to God! And not only the jailer, but the other prisoners were listening, too. Then two miracles happen! There is an earthquake that loosens everyone’s chains and opens all of the doors, and also no prisoners left the building in spite of their newfound freedom! It is dark (about midnight) so the jailer decides to save himself torture and the execution of him and his family by drawing his sword to take his own life. His thought may have been that there would be less shame for his family if it looked like he had died trying to prevent the escape. Suddenly Paul cries out to stop him!

But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. (Acts 16:28, 29).

Again we see someone trembling and asking the correct question! The jailer knew that this was nothing short of a miracle, and wanted this God that not only had the power to deliver His servants, but gave them enough joy that they would be singing praises at midnight in utter darkness and filth.

And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30, 31)

There is true benefit in telling the lost about the reality of their predicament outside of the saving work of Christ that has provided a way of escape. We exclude this part of the message at our (and their) peril. Does that mean that every time you preach with conviction of sin in mind and people are “cut to the heart” that they will all be converted to Christ? No, some will still not surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. In Acts 7:54, they were cut to the heart and gnashed their teeth at Stephen, and later killed him. But nevertheless, that does not excuse skipping it either. They may repent, or they may kill you, but that doesn’t excuse changing the message!

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