From Jeff Wallace: It is the Holy Spirit opening my eyes in ways only HE can, but as I read Scripture, the totality of amazing Truth and fluid beauty of God's Word validates itself over and over. If one really stops and takes in all that is stated and the way it is stated, I believe they will see, mankind, in and of themselves could not have put these words on paper as they are. It is so consistent in its righteousness, its holiness, its accurate awareness of man's depravity, and its message of God's omnipotence and greatness, consisting simultaneously of pure and righteous love and pure and righteous judgment.From Genesis to Revelation we see a very continuous, consistent theme of mans fallen state, his futility to cope with it, and Gods answer to this, in HIS Son Jesus Christ. Men, on their own, could not have understood this, could not have admitted this, could not have grasped this, in all its amazing fullness. God allows us, if we will open our eyes and our hearts, to have total confidence in HIM, by just this amazing book alone. Outside the pages of this great book, all else is just little man's opinion.
From T. Johnson: Here is a seven-step plan to open up the kingdom of heaven to the lost:
1. Why did the apostle Paul challenge us to test ourselves to see if we really have Christ in us (real faith) - (2 Corinthians 13:5)? The call of the apostle must be heeded!
"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified." 2 Co 13:5
[See also Search me, O Lord]
2. Why did Jesus repeatedly make reference to true and false belief / conversions in His parables (i.e.Matthew Ch. 13 Sower and the seeds; wheat and tares)?
"And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 'A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.' ...
"Then His disciples asked Him, saying, 'What does this parable mean?'
And He said, 'To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’
“'Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience." (Luke 8:4-15)
3. Are you aware that Jesus said their would be "MANY" who would be absolutely certain that they knew Him, even calling Him LORD, but that He would tell them on judgment day that He NEVER knew them (Matthew 7:13-23; 25:1-12)?
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Mt 7:13-14
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." Mt 7:15
“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who sdoes 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!’" Mt 7:21-23
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet athe bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, cthey all slumbered and slept.
“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom 1is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and etrimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
'“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Mt 25:1-15
4. So how do we prevent ourselves from being deceived?
After all, if a person is deceived, do they know it?
What is genuine belief?
What does it mean to be KNOWN by Jesus? (Define the difference between intellectual assent to the historical facts and a deep interpersonal relationship.)
5. How can a person be certain that they really do have genuine salvation? (By the witness from the Holy Spirit, a willingness to share in the sufferings of Christ, and by the practiced lifestyle of righteousness - Romans 8:15-17, 1 John 3; 5:10-13.)
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, 'Father.' 'The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Ro 8:15-17
6. (For pastors) Give an alter call by saying something like this: if you are not sure about the witness of the spirit of God in your life, if you have even the slightest doubt or concern as to your position before a Holy God and whether you are actually saved, then today is the day and now is the time to make sure that you are right with God! Tell them to stand up / come forward, for Jesus died for them openly and publicly to take away their sin. If they want to be real with God then do so before all men. Because Jesus said, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:38)."
7. Lead them in a prayer of salvation... then encourage them to foster and build upon their new special relationship with God through prayer and the reading and study of God's Word, the Bible, and fellowship with the saints.
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