Blessings of our Salvation

Our salvation is more than “my sins are forgiven,” or “I’m going to heaven when I die.” Here is a partial list of gratitude-inducing blessings that belong to the child of God. Our salvation is greater than we can conceive of. Don’t deprive yourself of experiencing the fullness of salvation that Jesus has won for you. “I’m a good person who goes to church” doesn’t come close.

There’s a hymn that tells us to count our blessings. May this list be a starting point to relish all that has been given us. In addition, for those who long for more out of their life, check through these to see what you still have ahead of you. Not all blessings of salvation come on the first day of receiving Christ. Many take time and effort to develop or appreciate. For instance, the believer who keeps complaining during hard times has not developed hope yet, which is being confident of a positive future in spite of present circumstances. True hope develops over time as we weather the trials and see God follow through. Continue reading

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How do you respond to the light?

People respond to rebukes in different ways. The wise and righteous in God’s eyes will be grateful for the insight shared about their shortcoming. All others will get angry and some even violent. We’ve read of words getting out of hand at a party and someone storming out and returning with a gun: or a table conversation turning uncomfortable when the offended party responds to the accusation with tension. Continue reading

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Cultural Christianity

When I was having a discussion with an atheist the other day, he voiced the usual objection about Christianity being the only way to Heaven while other religions were unfairly left out. Over time, I had come across several different ways to address this, but there is one aspect about this issue that is seldom brought up. It’s the issue of cultural Christianity.

We take on the religion that is dominant in our area. If you live in Mexico, then you are probably growing up Catholic, for example. Middle East countries have their distinct sects of Islam. Other countries have their dominant religion. Although we treat Christianity as unique among these religions, we fail to take note that many church-goers attend because of culture; that is, they go because it is the usual thing to do, and they’ve been going that church because their parents did. Continue reading

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You can tell you are a Pharisee when …

… you are told an uncomfortable truth about yourself and you get angry.

Sometimes when I tell the truth about someone’s sinful condition, people get mad and say hurtful words in response. (These are people who go to church.) This is no different than the way the Pharisees responded to Jesus and the truths He spoke about their lives. Their darkness was brought to light and they did not like it. They got mad and wanted to destroy Him.

When Jesus said uncomfortable things in His disciples’ hearing, what did they do? Many disciples left Jesus while those close to Him responded, “To whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Continue reading

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Hope and the Christian

Hope is not merely a religious word for a theological concept, but an internalized, deep conviction developed over time, just like many other convictions that have grown on us. For example, we may develop a deep appreciation for someone when we observe how helpful she is to us. The appreciation is a conviction that wasn’t there before, even though the word “appreciation” has long been a part of our vocabulary. So we can know what hope means without really possessing it. Continue reading

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Dealing with a Deceitful Heart

God spoke to us through Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked. How is this seen in our lives? Here is one example. When I am overwhelmed by worries and fears, then my heart has fooled me, since it is making my imaginary troubles greater than the Savior can handle. The heart is also desperately wicked in these circumstances, for in choosing to deal with the problems apart from God, I have put myself in the place of God. Continue reading

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Grace and Works Go Together

I fear we are limiting God’s grace in our lives. I’ve seen two different aspects of God’s grace testified to. We often emphasize salvation is by grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9). In this passage, grace is God being merciful and benevolent toward sinners, especially toward the undeserving, to save through faith. We could not do anything to save ourselves, so God in His grace saved us apart from any works of our own when we simply trusted in His Son. This absolutely biblical aspect of grace is rightly preached and believed in the churches. When it comes to salvation through Jesus, it is by faith apart from any works of our own. But there is another aspect of biblical grace that seems to be little known and applied. Continue reading

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Called to Forgive

How important is it to forgive those who have wronged us? Jesus spelled it out for us by first telling us the horrible fate of those who offend us:

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)

Why does He pronounce such a terrible judgment upon these offenders? Because He came to save and recover people’s faith in God. If we are the offender who breaks up people’s relationships, we destroy God’s work. We become enemies of God. Continue reading

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What character traits does Jesus want to see in His church when He comes again?

Or, are you ready for a reward?

When I wrote my book, Ready for a Reward, I examined verses that were related to the end times which also mentioned a character value. That is, the verses had two aspects:
1. A time frame of just before, during, or just after the Lord’s return
2. A value that pleases the Lord

For example, in Matthew 25:21 we read: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Both key aspects are in this verse. These words will be spoken after the Lord returns, when He rewards His servants. Plus, this verse emphasizes the Lord’s values of faithfulness and a job well done. So I can be confident of a joyful meeting when I follow through to the end on the task the Lord has given me, and do it well. This is a person who is ready for a reward. Continue reading

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Reflections on salvation from John R. Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ

I am currently enjoying John R. Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ, as an eBook on my Nexus 7. I’m going slowly, savoring Christ on every page, even going back a few chapters to re-read them before moving on. In this post I want to share about four aspects of our salvation that are so huge that the Bible gives us long, jaw-breaking words to describe them. The ideas are not new; the book just explains in a way that made them so rich and God so praiseworthy. I’ve been able to add these new reasons to my stable of ways to praise of God. I’m confident that you will too. The four words are propitiation, redemption, justification, and reconciliation. Let’s take them in turn, in my own words. Continue reading

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What did Jesus mean when He said that unless we renounce all things, we can’t be His disciples?

The Gospels record the instances when Jesus approached someone and invited him to come. One by one the people left their livelihood to travel with Him. To fishermen Simon, Peter, and Andrew He said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-20). The disciples literally left all — jobs, homes and families — to follow Jesus. Is that the call Jesus is making to us? For He said, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).

Question: Are we to be followers who leave our jobs, homes, and relationships for Him, literally walking or driving away from all that is familiar to us? Continue reading

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We’re Kidding Ourselves

There’s something about us that just refuses to take correction from others. Whether they tell us our fault timidly or strongly, we just don’t get it. The Bible tells us why, though: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

In that verse, the Lord tells us the enormity of our fall into sin. The heart is deceitful. The heart is desperately wicked.

When we hear correction and refuse to listen, that is our heart being deceitful; it has fooled us into thinking that we are better than we are. It keeps us in our cocoon of self-righteousness. Then we act inappropriately (that is, in any way other than with repentance) – that is the wickedness in us acting in rebellion against God’s truth. Continue reading

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Top 10 Posts of Doubt Busters

These are the all-time top 10 posts for Doubt Busters by page count.


Don’t reason and faith contradict each other?

People ask this question because they have an erroneous definition of faith. They think that faith means to believe something without proof. The Bible never uses that definition. On the contrary, the God who said, “Come, let us reason together,” left many proofs to build up our faith. Faith is knowing something is true. Biblical faith is not about hoping something is true, or wanting to believe something is true. Continue reading

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A Sure Thing

Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 remind us that God rescued the Israelites from their slavery among the Egyptians, bringing them through the Red Sea miraculously, then through the desert for training in trust. God promised them a land filled with “milk and honey,” a good land, unlike anything they had experienced in the days of slavery past. But in the desert trek, things take a turn for the worse: instead of praising God for the Promised Land to which He is surely leading them, they complain over their current harsh conditions. After one final act of rebellion, in which they sent spies into the land and panic when they find it filled with monsters, God decides to leave all the complainers outside the Land and let in only the two who held fast to God’s promise – Joshua and Caleb – and bring in the children of those who did not believe. So all the adults of that time died in the wilderness. Continue reading

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Let us give thanks to the Lord!

In Everything Give Thanks (art by Steve Husting)

In Everything Give Thanks (art by Steve Husting)

Thanksgiving message I gave in 2015 

One phrase repeated in Psalm after Psalm after Psalm is, “Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good” (Psalms 136:1). Maybe it’s repeated so often because we forget. When we give thanks, it’s because we remember. We are called to remember. We see this when God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and led them up to the Promised Land. At that point, Moses told the children of Israel to remember that God brought them out of Egypt’s slavery (Deuteronomy 15:15). Instead of being afraid of the inhabitants of Canaan, remember what God did to Pharaoh and his mighty army, drowning them in the depths of the sea (Deuteronomy 7:18). We remember what great things God has done for us, and the right response is thanksgiving. The children of Israel then entered the land, fought and won it. Continue reading

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What is Faith?

First we start with faith’s source, which is God:

Romans 10:9
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

Faith comes as a the result of knowing that God has spoken to you. In the context of Romans 9-10, God speaks the good news of the gospel through a preacher, and the hearer is convicted of sin because he recognizes the truth of what is said and connects it with God. He is so convinced of its source that the person repents and changes as though the inner speaker was actually God. The person has a confidence that God has spoken. Continue reading

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How do we harmonize the nativity accounts of Matthew 2 and Luke 2?

Some Bible scholars have tried to harmonize the birth stories of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. When they have been unable to do so, they have concluded that the stories are fictional, myths, merely figurative. Most of the public Christian seminaries and Bible colleges, even many of the more famous names, teach that much of the historical Bible accounts are not literal.

How dangerous is this kind of thinking? In one case, they say that the signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24 to help us determine the true Christ at His coming from the false christs are merely figurative, rendering them absolutely useless for detecting who the real Christ is. Just the kind of deception the Father of Lies loves to pass around, isn’t it? So one false christ years ago justified himself by saying that just as the Christ will come in the clouds, so he came from the clouds in an airplane. When we don’t take the historical aspects seriously, we open the door to much deception and confusion. Continue reading

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If we are saved by grace, then why would God judge us afterward?

“Why would God judged us if we are saved?” Throughout all the statements of judgment in the Scripture, especially in the gospels and epistles, God is stating that we are responsible for our actions after we are saved. All of life teaches us that there are consequences for the choices we make. That is a spiritual law as well. You cannot expect to break a civil law and receive no consequences, even if you have been awarded a prize as the most noteworthy citizen of the state. Likewise we cannot expect to break a spiritual law and not suffer the consequences. God is now our Father, and He will deal with us as His children (Hebrews 12:7-11) and discipline us to train us to be godly men and women. We will receive chastisements in this life; God will administer negative consequences for us making poor choices if God is really our Father. Continue reading

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Is there a difference between children of God and sons of God in the New Testament?

Is there a difference between children of God and sons of God in the New Testament? Yes. Galatians lays a good foundation for the meaning of these two terms, and from those verses we can see echoes throughout the NT. These passages imply that God is not satisfied that we are “saved,” going to church, and being nice people. He is looking for mature believers who have specific qualities, and those qualities cannot be developed in our own strength, doing good deeds that we’ve thought up, or participating in religious routines, such as Jewish laws. It must begin with the training of the Spirit, and continue with Him.

God sees the end of the life and what character our choices and responsibilities are making of us. He wants His children to grow up into persons of responsibility so they could handle the heavier duties of ruling in the kingdom. No father will place his sons at the top of his business empire without carefully targeted training over the years, and it is so with God and His children as well. Continue reading

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Morning Affirmation

Reviewing God’s truths for me.

I am a new creation in Christ. God is my heavenly Father and has abundantly proven His love for me by the willing sacrifice of Jesus Christ for my sins. (So there is no need for me to start a question with, “If God is love, then why….?”) He has placed me into His family and I have the right and privilege of coming to His throne at any time.

Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, my sinful self was laid in the grave and the new creation has risen with Him to the heavenly places. I can now die to the sinful temptations that come my way and resist their feeling of power – for they are only feelings with no real power. Continue reading

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Why is there suffering in the world?

Someone asked this question on suffering at Christianity Stack Exchange, a site where I answer questions now and then. One of the answers to this question (given by a resident of Cape Town, South Africa) was so comprehensive regarding suffering that I thought it worth sharing his or her nine points here. This is my edited version of the answer given; you could read the original on this page.

Why is there suffering in the world?

1. The first and best answer to suffering is the free will defense, in which people are able to make choices for good or evil. God made us as free people, not robots — people who cannot do certain things are not truly free. So we endure affliction at the hands of people who use their liberty to hurt us deliberately or indirectly.

2. The ability to suffer physical pain fulfills a valuable function: it signals that our body is about to be damaged. Without it we may be incurably harmed. Many medical diseases are accompanied by pains of all kinds, and they rouse us to seek a cure before it is too late. Emotional and psychological pain can also drive us to seek help.  Continue reading

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Book Review: Switch On Your Brain

God has designed our brains to work with his program of changing lives. God not only tells us what to do, but has given us everything we need to follow along with his program. An obvious example would be giving us a mouth so we can pray, worship, and encourage others. He not only tells us to care for others, but has given us hands and feet to carry out acts of compassion.

In Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, Switch On Your Brain, she reveals several fascinating features God has built into our brains that, when scripture is followed, results in mental and emotional healing and peace. (Yes, she’s a Christian and a scientist.) The brain has healing aspects built into its nerve/cellular structure. It repairs itself, removing the edge from bad memories, negative behaviors, and emotions. The brain physically uses God’s truths to heal itself. Continue reading

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Would God punish his people in the next life?

The general idea among Christians is that since Jesus was punished for our sins, then the people of God will not face any punishment. The Bible clearly says, “Christ died for our sins.” And on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” But does it clearly say believers will never receive chastening from God? Can believers received negative consequences for their actions in this life and the life to come?

Does God deal with his children’s wrongdoing during this life? Yes. Here are two examples. Continue reading

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Leaving the Faith? Watch out for this logical fallacy

Many young people who leave home for college life end up abandoning their religion and moral constraints. (This is what the college professors and staff want them to do.) They are convinced by their professors that their religion was something their superstitious parents clung to, and the children don’t need those beliefs anymore. They are now free to choose the direction of their own lives. So, many young people are persuaded to leave their faith.

This reasoning the staff uses is based on a logical fallacy. A logical fallacy is a process of reasoning that is flawed. In this case, the fallacy is saying that if it is true for a part, then it is true for the whole. It goes like this.  Continue reading

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Why does God tell us to love our enemies?

In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus tells His hearers to love their enemies: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

I see several reasons why God would want us to love our enemies.

1. He knows our tendency as angry human beings to do worse to our enemies than they deserve. Our hatred is seldom bothered by ideas like fairness. Example out of a newspaper clip: There was an argument at a party in L.A. where a person heatedly goes home, returns with a gun, and shoots the other person. Really? Continue reading

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Promises and Warnings

What is the purpose of the promises and warnings in the Bible? They serve the same purpose as promises and warnings in regular life. If we examine the promise to see if it had merit and follow through, we’ll get the benefits. If we examine the warnings to see if they have merit and heed them, we’ll be spared the negative consequences. There is nothing supernatural about this. Continue reading

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The Deceitful Heart

I consider myself a good person, not from any genuinely good works that I am doing, but because I’m not doing bad things, or I’m not as bad as “those people.” That’s deceitful thinking, because Jesus said that no one is good except God. We fool ourselves in this area because we do not compare ourselves to the perfect man, Jesus Christ, who always did the will of God. Continue reading

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Our “silly little sins”

I recently answered a question sent to me from This person, who is quoted below, thought her sins were silly little sins and she wondered why she was unable to get over them and stop repeating them. My reply comes from over 30 years of walking with the Lord. I doubt I could have given this reply after just ten years.  Continue reading

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Is a “personal relationship” with Christ necessary for salvation?

A “personal relationship with Christ” is a phrase used among born-again believers to contrast an impersonal relationship with God. (Another popular phrase among born-again Christians is, “Relationship, not religion,” which says the same thing.) But is this idea actually taught in the Bible? Do we need a personal relationship with Jesus to be saved? Continue reading

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What part of life is religious?

How much of life is religious, and how much is not? How much has to do with God, and how much does not? Is “church time” the religious part, and outside church, life is not? A response of Jesus addressed this issue when He answered the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus’ answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:36-39). These two commandments encompass all of life, so all of life is spiritual, sacred, religious. Continue reading

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