What is the “basic framework” of the Bible?

Let’s go back to some basics about the bible and what it says about God, Jesus, religion, and other topics often criticized by the uninformed skeptic. In general terms what does the bible have to say in its historical and forthright pages?

The Bible recounts the interaction of God with his people. It is split into two sections, the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). The Old Testament is the record of God’s dealings with his chosen people, Israel, and covers the time period from the “Beginning”—whenever that was—to roughly 500 BC.

The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus (shortly before the AD 1 mark), tells of his life, teaching, death, and resurrection, and includes numerous texts written to the first generation or two of Christian believers, up to the end of the first century. A key thing to remember about how Christians read this big book is that they have always insisted on two simple things: first, that the Old Testament points forward to what Jesus would do in the New Testament; and, second, that we must therefore read the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament.

The Bible is a story that stretches from creation to eternity, giving everything in between a particular shape and substance. In Bible-speak, this is called “salvation history” or “biblical theology,” an account of how God planned, revealed, and executed his purposes for the world.

The message of both the Old and New Testaments is vertical and horizontal, partly about love for God and partly about love for neighbor. The Ten Commandments, which introduce all of Israel’s laws, consist of four commandments about what one does for God, followed by six commandments about the treatment of others. The rest of the Bible, this vast story, concerns God’s remedy—in biblical speak, “redemption.”

Redemption in the Bible is not just a spiritual rescue. It involves three dimensions: God intends to redeem our relationship with him, our connections with one another, and our enjoyment of creation itself. The Bible’s redemptive plan is not just about putting souls into heaven. God wants to redeem all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven—which doesn’t leave much else!


Saving Faith Isn’t Easily Satisfied

If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. (Hebrews 11:15-16)

Faith sees the promised future God offers and “desires” it. Dwell on that for a moment.

There are many people who water down what saving faith is by making it a mere decision with no change of what one desires and seeks. But the point of this text is that living and dying by faith means having new desires, making changes, and seeking new satisfactions.

Verse 14 says that the saints of old (who are being commended for their faith here in Hebrews 11) were seeking a different kind of country than this world offered. And verse 16 above says they were desiring something better than what a present earthly existence could offer.

They had been so gripped by God that nothing short of heaven would satisfy. Are you being gripped by God and what He offers?

True saving faith is this: seeing the promises of God from afar and experiencing a change of values and heart so that you desire and seek after the promises above instead of what the world has to offer.

A prayer for us today

Father, you’ve made me your child through your Spirit. In your kindness you have adopted me and delivered me from sin and death. Remind me today what it means to be your child. 

It’s so easy for me to live every day on my own terms. Help me live it in light of your grace.

Thank you for accepting me as I am but not leaving me the same. In Jesus’ name, amen.”


God’s Message To Us

Signs on the highway show us many different sorts of things. Speed limits. Animal crossings. How to find a rest stop or avoid a construction site. Similarly, all of creation is a sign communicating God’s message to us. He speaks to us through a full moon, waves crashing against rocks, or a vividly colored aspen tree. As we look upon the wonders of nature, something inside us resonates with the glory, power, love, and beauty of the Creator.

The Lord expresses His message in still another way that may initially be hard for us to comprehend as love: through the fall of man. You might wonder, If God loves us, then why would He let the first couple sin, spoiling the perfection they enjoyed in the garden and breaking the fellowship they had with Him?

The connection between God’s love and man’s sin is freedom. In giving Adam and Eve the option to obey or disobey, God demonstrated that He has not created us as robots, incapable of making choices. His love does not restrict our freedom to do right or wrong—even if that involves our saying “no” to the God who created us. However, having the freedom to choose means we will make mistakes and disobey the God who loves us.

But the wonderful news is that God expresses His love toward those who have rebelled against Him, through His gracious offer of salvation and forgiveness. Jesus Christ, who paid our sin debt on the cross, is the ultimate expression of divine love.


Eleventh-hour Breakthrough

Eleventh-hour Breakthrough

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

One of the greatest hope-killers is that you have tried for so long to change and have not succeeded.

You look back and think: What’s the use? Even if I could experience a breakthrough, there would be so little time left to live in my new way that it wouldn’t make much difference compared to so many decades of failure.

The former robber (the thief on the cross next to Jesus) lived for another hour or so before he died. He was changed. He lived on the cross as a new man with new attitudes and actions (no more reviling). But 99.99% of his life was wasted. Did the last couple hours of newness matter?

They mattered infinitely. This former robber, like all of us, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of his life. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). How will his life witness in that day to his new birth and his union with Christ?

The last hours will tell the story. This man was new. His faith was real. He is truly united to Christ. Christ’s righteousness is his. His sins are forgiven.

That is what the final hours will proclaim at the last judgment. His change mattered. It was, and it will be, a beautiful testimony to the power of God’s grace and the reality of his faith and his union with Christ.

Now back to our struggle with change. I am not saying that struggling believers are unsaved like the robber was. I am simply saying that the last years and the last hours of life matter.

If in the last 1% of our lives, we can get a victory over some longstanding sinful habit or hurtful defect in our personality, it will be a beautiful testimony now to the power of grace; and it will be an added witness (not the only one) at the last judgment of our faith in Christ and our union with him.

Take heart, struggler. Keep asking, seeking, knocking. Keep looking to Christ. If God gets glory by saving robbers in the eleventh hour, he surely has his purposes why he has waited till now to give you the breakthrough you have sought for decades.


Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation?

Answer: First, the term Christian must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer or walked down an aisle or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian. A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9).

So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? It’s a crucially important question. Perhaps the best way to answer it is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation and to study what losing salvation would entail:

A Christian is a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). A Christian is not simply an “improved” version of a person; a Christian is an entirely new creature. He is “in Christ.” For a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be destroyed.

A Christian is redeemed. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18–19). The word redeemed refers to a purchase being made, a price being paid. We were purchased at the cost of Christ’s death. For a Christian to lose salvation, God Himself would have to revoke His purchase of the individual for whom He paid with the precious blood of Christ.

A Christian is justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). To justify is to declare righteous. All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and “un-declare” what He had previously declared. Those absolved of guilt would have to be tried again and found guilty. God would have to reverse the sentence handed down from the divine bench.

A Christian is promised eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Eternal life is the promise of spending forever in heaven with God. God promises, “Believe and you will have eternal life.” For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would have to be redefined. The Christian is promised to live forever. Does eternal not mean “eternal”?

A Christian is marked by God and sealed by the Spirit. “You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14). At the moment of faith, the new Christian is marked and sealed with the Spirit, who was promised to act as a deposit to guarantee the heavenly inheritance. The end result is that God’s glory is praised. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to erase the mark, withdraw the Spirit, cancel the deposit, break His promise, revoke the guarantee, keep the inheritance, fore go the praise, and lessen His glory.

A Christian is guaranteed glorification. “Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). According to Romans 5:1, justification is ours at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification comes with justification. All those whom God justifies are promised to be glorified. This promise will be fulfilled when Christians receive their perfect resurrection bodies in heaven. If a Christian can lose salvation, then Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies.

A Christian cannot lose salvation. Most, if not all, of what the Bible says happens to us when we receive Christ would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation is the gift of God, and God’s gifts are “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). A Christian cannot be un-newly created. The redeemed cannot be unpurchased. Eternal life cannot be temporary. God cannot renege on His Word. Scripture says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

Two common objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation concern these experiential issues: 1) What about Christians who live in a sinful, unrepentant lifestyle? 2) What about Christians who reject the faith and deny Christ? The problem with these objections is the assumption that everyone who calls himself a “Christian” has actually been born again. The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a state of continual, unrepentant sin (1 John 3:6). The Bible also says that anyone who departs the faith is demonstrating that he was never truly a Christian (1 John 2:19). He may have been religious, he may have put on a good show, but he was never born again by the power of God. “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). The redeemed of God belong “to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

Nothing can separate a child of God from the Father’s love (Romans 8:38–39). Nothing can remove a Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28–29). God guarantees eternal life and maintains the salvation He has given us. The Good Shepherd searches for the lost sheep, and, “when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:5–6). The lamb is found, and the Shepherd gladly bears the burden; our Lord takes full responsibility for bringing the lost one safely home.

Jude 24–25 further emphasizes the goodness and faithfulness of our Savior: “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

(article reblogged from “Got Questions.com”)


The Process of God’s Judgment

If you’re like me, I‘ve thought about what it will be like to stand before God in the last judgment. I realize that Revelations gives us an accurate look into the future, however, some times I just wonder what it will be like in heaven and to talk to Jesus. Recently I came across the following article that paints a picture of what things will look like and how God will respond to us. The purpose of my post today is not to make anyone uneasy but to give us all a picture of what we can expect. For me, having this picture adds another dimension to my understanding of the last judgment. I hope it will be for you as well.

What about the last judgment? Will our sins be remembered? Will they be revealed? Anthony Hoekema puts it wisely like this: “The failures and shortcomings of . . . believers . . . will enter into the picture on the Day of Judgment. But — and this is the important point — the sins and shortcomings of believers will be revealed in the judgment as forgiven sins, whose guilt has been totally covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Picture it like this. God has a file on every person (“the books” of Revelation 20:12). All you’ve ever done or said (Matthew 12:36) is recorded there with a grade (from “A” to “F”). When you stand before the “judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:1) to be judged “according to what you have done, whether good or bad,” God will open the file and lay out the tests with their grades. He will pull out all the “F’s” and put them in a pile. Then he will take all the “D’s” and “C’s” and pull the good parts of the test out and place them with the “A’s”, then put the bad with the “F’s”. Then he will take all the “B’s” and “A’s” and pull the bad parts out of them and put them in the “F” pile, and put all the good parts in the “A” pile.

Then he will open another file (“the book of life”) and find your name. Behind your name will be a wood-stick match made from the cross of Jesus. He will take the match, light it and set the “F” pile, with all your failures and deficiencies, on fire and burn them up. They will not condemn you, and they will not reward you.

Then he will take from your “book of life” file a sealed envelope marked “free and gracious bonus” and put it on the “A” pile (see Mark 4:24 and Luke 6:38). Then he will hold up the entire pile and declare: “By this your life bears witness to the grace of my Father, the worth of my blood and the fruit of my Spirit. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

[reblog from John Piper Ministries]