Riff's Christian Journal

A Layman's View Of Christian Theology

Why A Christian Should Not Say “This” To A Non-Christian – Part II

with one comment


In Part I of this study the premise of it is that the one thing that a Christian should “not” say to a non-Christian is this, “God loves you just the way you are”. The reason that this statement should not be said is that God does not love us just the way we are. If He did, why would He command men everywhere to repent.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” Acts 17: 30

Think of that statement. God wants everyone to “repent”. In the Greek it means “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction)” You see God does not love us as we are because we are walking in a way that is disobedient to the way that He does want us to be. We are seeking to do what we want and not what He knows is best for us, and the fact that we choose not to be obedient to Him and to do things our way is why He is angry with us.

God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day. Psalm 7: 11

Jesus also said, “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13: 3 & 5

The Apostle Paul also preached repentance as in Acts 20: 20, 2120 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So you see, God is angry with us and even as we saw in Psalm 5: 4, 5, He also hates they who do walk in disobedience to Him.

4.         For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with you.

5.         The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You “hate all” workers of iniquity.

Repenting of the way we are, the life we live, is a prime requisite for all who do not want to be cast into Hell and there spend eternity. For as Jesus said in Luke 12: 5

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

Jesus tells us to fear Him Who has the power to cast us into Hell and to repent or we, too, will all perish. Is that what you want? Do you now see that God does “not” love us as we are?

However, if you want proof of God’s love it is here in the command to “repent”. Think of this, if God does not really care about us, even in His anger and hatred, He would not give man a way for us to know and experience His love and it is in the word “repent”. To turn from what we are like to being the kind of person that He wants for us to be. But, there is a condition to this love and it is found only in Jesus.

You see, man must pay for the sins he has committed, and payment extends to all eternity. But, if we turn to and believe in the One Who has made a way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins, because He has paid the penalty for all who will be “forgiven”, we can receive this salvation from being found guilty and in not having to face the wrath of God that is to come. It is in the person and work of Jesus that this can be found.

In speaking of Jesus, the Apostle Paul said this in Acts 4: 12

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus is the only person that can provide the needed forgiveness for our sins and He is the only One Who can provide salvation from paying the penalty for our sins.

Repentance is just the first step. Unless one also believes in and receives Jesus as Lord and Savior then repentance alone will not save you. In John 3: 36 it is written:

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Repentance is where one starts. Having turned back towards God, to do His will, we need to obey, and are now able to do so, to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. In doing so we know that we are saved for it is only by God’s power are we able to do this.

Let me leave you with just a couple more verse. If you will do what it says it will be proof to you that you are not only forgiven for your sins but are now saved from facing the wrath of God. This verse is found in Romans 10: 9, 10, 13

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

And know this. In John 14: 21 & 23 Jesus tells us this…

21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Would you also not want to know the love of God? Can you not repent of your sins and turn towards God and call upon Jesus for forgiveness? Would you not rather know and experience the love of God than to face His wrath? You can as God draws you to do so. By repenting of your sins, and in calling upon Jesus, you will be loved by God, and God will come and make His home with you.

It is a far better thing to do – to repent – and live with God than to refuse to do so and spend eternity in Hell. To repent is the beginning of knowing and experiencing God’s love. Will you not do so right now? Call upon Jesus and be saved and truly experience the love of God…

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

February 1, 2017 at 12:05 am

Why A Christian Should Not Say “This” To A Non-Christian

leave a comment »


We have all heard it before. It may have been in an evangelistic meeting, a bible study or even in a personal evangelistic encounter. The one thing that we hear the most at the beginning is that “God loves you just the way you are.”  But, does God really love the sinful person?

Think about this. If you are a non-Christian and you hear someone say that “God loves you”, would you not be happy to hear that? Of course you would. So, if you then are told that you need to come to Jesus and be saved your first thought might be … Saved? … Saved from what? … And why?

This is why a Christian should never tell a non-Christian that God loves Him. The fact is that God does “not” love the non-Christian. In Psalm 5: 4, 5 we read:

4.         For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with you.

5.         The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You “hate all” workers of iniquity.

Basically the word iniquity means “sinful”. Who is it among us that are without sin? The answer is no one is without sin. We are all sinful people. Not only is God not pleased with they who are not disciples of Jesus, He hates them as well; not just their sin but “them” the non-Christian.

There are other verses in the bible that explain this, and many more that say specifically who it is that God does love, and we may look at them in a later post.

Because we stand in a sinful state before God He demands from us that we pay the penalty for the sins we have committed; having been found guilty for not being obedient to His holy Law that He has given to us to follow.

You see, God is a holy God; perfect in every way. He expects from us to be perfect as well, but we are not perfect. We are workers of iniquity, doing what we want and not what God wants. We always seek to do our will and we do not want the things of God. We are actually hostile, or enemies, to God. In short, we have offended this holy God and in His justice He demands retribution because of it. This is what angers Him and why it is that He hates they who do offend Him.

However, even in our sinfulness, being enemies of God, we are given an opportunity to make amends to God for our sins. For God knows that we are acting in ignorance to what we are doing. That is why God tells us in Acts 17: 30 the following:

30.      Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

So, even though God does not love us in our sinful state, He does give us a chance to turn from our sinful activities and come back to Him so that we can know His love. But, before we can do that, we need to know what the consequences are for our sinfulness, and what needs to be done in order not to be found guilty for our sins on the coming judgement day.

Sinful man does not know that God has a hatred for him, and that he already stands condemned before Him. The unsaved person needs to be told about this and be given the chance to repent for his sins, and be told in Whom it is that he must believe in order to receive forgiveness. 

In our next message we will look at what the two choices are for the sinful person, and why we must, by faith, believe in Jesus in order to receive forgiveness for our sinful life and be brought into the family of God where we can know and truly experience the love of God.

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

January 1, 2017 at 3:00 pm

And We Knew Him Not

leave a comment »


It is that time of the year again. It is the Christmas season and in the midst of all of the glitter, decorations and materialism some find time to recognize the coming birth of Jesus. Each year, though, it seems that the babe in a manger plays a smaller role in the season as more and more people see this time of the year less as celebrating the birth of Jesus and more as a time for spending money, giving gifts, and most importantly – gift receiving. However, it has been this way from the very start.

Yes, it is the time for celebrating the birth of Jesus but so few people actually know who Jesus is. There are, as it seems, even some who call themselves Christians who know or really care about Jesus other than the fact that He is the babe in a manger; with shepherds on the hillside and three Wise Men  coming from the East to worship Him.

Like I said, though, this is the way it has been ever since Jesus was born. In the Gospel of John 1: 1 – 3 & 10 God tells us the following:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

Can you imagine it? If we would be truthful, however, we would all admit that we would have been the same. We would not have recognized the Creator of all things. That God came down to be with us and to show us our sinfulness, and how it has separated us from Him. He came to remove that wall of separation so that we could have fellowship with Him and to be forgiven for our sins, and we would have none of it.

We like our sin. We do not want to change, and we want to keep what we have and not care about the babe in the manger after He is grown. We do not want to see that He is the One Who is offering Himself to be the one to bring us back to God. Our sinfulness will not let us, even today, see that Jesus is the Creator of all things. That He is the one who has given us life and breath and all things to enjoy in grateful praise to Christ our King.

The One Who laid out the universe and created man in His image, however, still calls out to us today to come to Him. Not just to see Him as the babe in a manger but to see Him as He really is – The Creator who has made all things, and to know that without Him nothing was made that was made. He is still in the world today, in His people, and the world still does not know Him.

The offer of salvation, of being forgiven for our sins and to submit to Him as Lord, and to believe in Him and to receive Him as the only One who can save us from the coming wrath of God is still being held out to us by Jesus. Only He can forgive our sins. Only Jesus can offer us eternal life in Heaven.

Now is the time to see Jesus as God, not just as a babe in a manger. Now is the time to come to Him, to see Him as Lord and to ask Him for forgiveness for our sins, and to believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead and so be saved from the wrath to come. Then will you be able to see Jesus for who He really is; as the Creator of all things and worship Him and Him alone as the one Who has made all things. For Jesus, as He was in the beginning, Who was the Word and, as the Word, is God.

For when one recognizes Jesus as the Creator, and to know Him as our Lord and Savior – as God, is what makes Christmas truly “Merry”…..

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will…

Written by Glenn Riffey

December 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Christianity Is Not A Political Party

leave a comment »


As a disciple of Jesus I am constantly amazed how someone always seems to identify their Christianity with being either a Capitalistic Conservative Republican or a Socialistic Liberal Democrat. When in fact Christianity is neither.

Basically capitalism is based on greed… more money, bigger home, better job, etc. and keep all they get, and socialism is based on the power of the elite few who take from everyone and enslave the populace to government programs. Neither party truly espouses Christian values unless it will get them some votes.

Jesus taught us not to have a love for money, nor should we have a desire for it, and money is at the root of all that is capitalistic. Without greed there is no capitalism. Jesus also taught not to desire to have the power to Lord it over others nor to regard one person better than another. Without the desire for power over others and in telling them what they can and cannot do you have no socialism.

In short, being a disciple of Jesus means being content with what you have. We are to work for what is given to us on a daily basis, whether working for ourselves or for others, make what is needed for daily living and whatever excess we have we are to share with others who are truly in need. If we have food, clothing and shelter that is all we should desire.

Think about it … if we deeply trust in Jesus for providing us with our daily needs what more do we need? God knows our needs and Jesus promised that if we would seek the Father and to rely on Him to provide us with our daily needs that He would do so.

We as Christians are not to live as the world lives, nor to desire the things of the world. Our desire is to be where our home is in Heaven with our Father who is Lord of us all. We should not seek to have a political party tell us what we should do or to tell us for whom we should vote and then believe their promises of what they will do for us if we would just turn our vote over to them. Once you are devoted to one you are then enslaved by that system and you will have a tendency to believe that they can do more for you than God will do.

If you want to vote for someone during an election then at least look for what Christian values they hold, and not the values that they tell you they have, but the values they show by their actions. Remember what James told us:

James 2: 14-20

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[d] works, and I will show you my faith by my[e] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

If the person you are considering does not show their faith by what they do, the faith that they say they have is dead; they have no faith – just lies. And if no one reveals by their daily life that they do not have any Christian values at all then you need to stand aside and let God put into office the one that He wants and then to trust in Him for what the outcome will be because of His decision.

Yes, Christianity is not a political party. Being a disciple of Jesus is living our daily lives as if we are just passing through on our way home. Nothing here should be of top priority or desire – only the will of God is where our desire should be. As for me, I would rather be known as a disciple of Jesus than being identified with any political party.

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

November 6, 2016 at 7:21 pm

As A Christian – Are You Living By Faith?

leave a comment »


In the Bible there are several verses that make the statement, “the just shall live by faith.” Basically these verses are talking about having faith in Jesus for our salvation and that by trusting in Him and His finished work, and not in our own good works, we have received forgiveness for our sins and have been granted eternal life in Heaven.

However, there is another way at looking at the statement, “the just shall live by faith.” For instance, read the following verses from Proverbs 3: 5, 6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Here we are told to “trust in the Lord”. What is trusting but the very act of having faith. Depending on how much faith we have will determine how much we will trust. Since we are told to trust with all our heart shows that we should have strong faith in the Lord for what is happening.

Living by faith is basically just trusting in the Lord for the outcome, no matter what we see or do not see – what our understanding is of the circumstances – and that we know that in our trust in the Lord He will lead us in the direction that He wants us to travel.

As our faith grows so does our trust in Him. In our trust of the Lord we will not look to ourselves for the answer. We will look to God instead. The results are that we will see how God is working in our lives, and we will have more peace by our Trust In The Lord.

How about you? Are you living a life of faith? Only by having strong faith can one truly

“trust in the Lord with all of our heart”.

Written by Glenn Riffey

October 2, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Have You Ever Thought … “What If I Am Not Chosen?”

leave a comment »


Reformation theology believes and teaches that man will never, of his own will, ever choose to believe in Jesus as Lord and come to Him to receive forgiveness for sins, and so be saved from the wrath that is to come from God.

They cannot do so for they are spiritually dead in their sins; enslaved to their sin and bound by Satan; and that they do only what their sinful and selfish will allows them to do. Being in this state of total depravity is the reason that the Bible teaches that no one seeks after God. Even Jesus says in John 5: 40:

“You will not come to me that you might have life.”

Basically, since this is the condition of man, God in His wisdom and love has chosen to save a people for Himself, even if no one deserves to be saved. So, God has chosen those who will be saved, and all He has chosen for salvation will come to Jesus to have life.

When I talk with people about the doctrine of election someone will always ask me, “what if I am not chosen?” My response is this. What makes you think that you are “not” among the elect?

It is not for us, you me or anyone, to know who are the elect. What we are to know is if whether or not we want to be among the elect and so be saved. If someone says that they do not want to be so, then they have no right to be upset if they are not; for they already believe what they want to believe.

Someone else might say, “But what if I want to come to Jesus and I am not among the elect?” Again, one needs to ask themselves “why” they want to come to Jesus and believe on Him, and how come it is that they want to do so?

Jesus said in John 6: 37

“All that the Father gives to me will come to me; and he that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.”

If you find that you have an urge to confess that Jesus is Lord, that you know you are a sinful person and want to be forgiven for your sins, and you believe that only Jesus can forgive you and save you from the coming wrath of God, and you believe in your heart that God the Father has raised Him from the dead know this. You can only do so because it is God’s will that you do so!

Think of this. In the second part of 1 Corinthians 12: 3 we are told:

“No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.”

Only they who have born again by the Spirit of God have the Holy Spirit living in them, and it is the Holy Spirit Who gives them the freedom to confess that Jesus is Lord. In fact, only by having the Holy Spirit can they understand the spiritual things of God, like the good news of salvation found only in Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 2: 14 we read:

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.”

As you can see, unless one has the Holy Spirit in them they cannot understand the Gospel of Jesus, neither can they call Jesus Lord and to believe on Him as the Savior of their sins. Only they who have been born again will have the Holy Spirit in them, and only the elect of God will be born again.

They who choose “not” to believe in Jesus do so of their own will for it is the only thing their enslaved and sinful will allows them to do.

So, if you are worried that you are not among the elect the answer lies in you. If you are, the answer is already in your heart and in your mouth as you confess that Jesus is Lord and that you believe that He has been raised from the dead.

If you still have worries about being among the elect remember this from Acts 2: 21

“whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Can you do that? Do you have the desire to call upon the name of Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Remember what Jesus said, “ whoever comes to me I will not cast away”.

Will you not do so right now? Call upon Jesus and be saved. Then you will find out that “yes” you are among the elect of God, chosen to be forgiven for your sins and that you have been saved from facing the wrath of God which is to come on that great and final day of judgement.

Do you want to be among the elect? Then confess with your mouth that only Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead and you will be saved. Then you will know that “yes” you are chosen. That you are among the elect of God…

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

September 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Elect – Whose Salvation Is Kept By God

leave a comment »


In Christendom there are two views of thought when it comes to keeping one’s salvation once they have been born again by the Spirit of God.

In short, they are Free Will and Election. Free Will salvation states that Jesus has done all He can in providing a blanket salvation that covers everyone and that now it is up to man to decide whether or not he will accept or reject the offer of salvation that Jesus gives. Basically man is responsible for his salvation because he must now do his part in receiving the salvation that Jesus has provided.

Since man is responsible for receiving salvation, by choosing, of his own free will, to accept or reject the offer, he places himself in the position of being responsible for keeping this salvation. Since it was by his decision to accept Jesus that he was saved, he now has to work daily to make sure he does not do or say anything that could cause him to lose it. In addition, he must also take care not to become complacent of his salvation and decide somewhere down the road to turn away from Christ and, in doing so, he would lose his salvation never to get it back again.

If you look at it in that respect you can see how one who believes in Free Will salvation really does not have any lasting assurance, or even peaceful assurance,  of his eternal salvation still being with him when he dies. This is because it is his responsibility, by his power, that he must rely upon in order to keep the salvation that he chose to accept, that Jesus provided for all to receive.

The other view of keeping one’s salvation is that it is not by man’s power or will that this is done by it is due to the power of God that it is kept.

You see, in the doctrine of election it is God who looks at man and sees that spiritually he is dead to God. Un-saved man does not want to bow to the God of the Bible – Jesus. Un-saved man does not want God, does not look for Him and is actually at enmity with God. Basically, God sees that man, of his own will, will never chose to accept the offer of salvation because he really does not believe that he needs to be saved, that he has been good enough to get into Heaven on his own goodness.

So, God, in His great desire to have a people of His own, chose from before the beginning of time who would be saved and, in His time, they come to Jesus for forgiveness and they do so willingly. This in itself is another story for another time.

What this means, however, is that under the doctrine of Election it is God’s responsibility not only to save someone it is also His responsibility to keep that person saved. In a section of 1 Peter chapter one is a little known verse that so many gloss over that explains this well. However, in order to understand this you must read the verse in its context; which we will now do.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you(the elect), who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In writing to the pilgrims, Peter calls them the elect (select, chosen) and in talking about their salvation he finishes with saying that it has been made ready for them, for their arrival in Heaven, and that they are being kept by the power of God until then.

This way, since salvation under the doctrine of election is the responsibility of God in saving they whom He choses, it is also God’s responsibility to keep them saved. And, many time Jesus made the comment that of all that God the Father has given Him He would not lose any of them; not one soul will be lost whom Jesus has saved.

Since it is the responsibility of God to save whom He wills, it is also God’s responsibility to keep them saved whom He has chosen for salvation. To have this knowledge that it is God who works in me to will and to do of His good pleasure provides for me, as it should for all who have been saved by His power, great assurance of my eternal salvation because it does not depend on me in keeping my salvation because I am being kept saved by the power of God.

Salvation, from start to finish, is all of God. It is by His will that anyone is saved and it is by His will that they whom He has saved will be kept saved.

Jesus has given us the promise that “ALL whom the Father has given Him will come to Him and that He will not reject any of them, and that He will keep them until the end and that He will not lose not even one of them.”

I guess the question now is… who is responsibility for your salvation and for keeping it?

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

August 7, 2016 at 1:00 am