Riff's Christian Journal

A Layman's View Of Christian Theology

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

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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

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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

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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?

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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?”

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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

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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

How Deep Is Your Trust In God

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Trust is a word that is not used that much in biblical teaching these days, yet it is central to the faith of all of God’s elect. For without faith no one would be able to trust in the Lord, and the level of faith that one has will determine how deep is their trust in God.

One of the first verses that I ever learned as a new disciple of Jesus is the following from Proverb 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.

Once learned, however, I started to wonder about how does one trust and from where does it come? In looking up the definition of “trust” I learned that, basically, it is a level of confidence that someone has in another person; confident in the fact that what someone has said they would do they will actually do.

So, the question is this, “how does one gain trust?” If we believe what we are told from someone in whom we have faith that they speak truth, will we not trust in them to do what they say? But wait a minute. From where comes this faith? Where does it originate?

In thinking this I remembered another verse that was one of the early ones that I took as a guide in growing with Jesus in my walk with Him. It came from Hebrews 11: 1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith – the substance of things hoped for. It is evidence that generates our trust. Here we can see the connection. Depending on our level of faith will determine how deep is our trust. Where, then, do we get this faith?

Here is where I like reading the 1599 Geneva Bible, because in it the translation makes more sense, and I believe is more accurate, than any modern language. One verse that is in all translations is this – Romans 10: 17

Then faith is by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Knowing from where faith comes sure helps because our faith – faith that we think we have – is considered as nothing. Unless God gives us the ability to hear and understand the Word of God, we will not grow any faith, and only perfect faith is the faith that God will accept; for we are imperfect people and any faith that we have is an imperfect faith. If we cannot generate any faith that God will allow from where, then, does this faith come?

In Romans 3: 20-22 we read (pay special attention to verse 22 and the parts that are in bold lettering)

20 Therefore by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the Law cometh the knowledge of sin.

21 But now is the righteousness of God made manifest without the Law, having witness of the Law, and of the Prophets,

22 To wit, the righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all that believe.

Now you might think that this is a lot to read but it shows from where the “faith” originates that we need to not only believe in Jesus but to also “trust” in Him as we grow and walk with Him.

We are given the “faith” of Jesus, which is a perfect faith and the only faith that God will accept. Think of this. We come to God and we say that we have our own faith by which we believe. Another one comes and says “Lord the only faith that I have to offer is the faith of Jesus given to me so that I could believe”. Which faith do you think God the Father will accept?

Which one would you accept?

When we come to Christ and bow to Him as Lord and receive Him as Savior we can only do so by faith; faith that we cannot generate because we are spiritually dead and can do nothing to please God. So we are given the gift of faith with which to believe:

For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God – Ephesians 2: 8

With this gift of faith, faith that comes from Jesus, we are not only given the ability to believe in Him but we also learn to “trust” in Him. In our walk with Jesus we will learn to have confidence that He will do what He says He will do, and it is with the “faith of Jesus”, given as a gift, with which we can then live our lives in trusting the Lord with all our hearts, not trusting in our own understanding, and in all things that come our way – the highs and the lows, the good and the bad, the rough path and easy road – and in “all” of these things we will have the faith to trust in God no matter what the situation.

So, the more “faith” that we have, the faith of Jesus that was given to us as a gift, the more “trust” we will have in the Lord our God. Faith and trust go together. You cannot have deep trust without perfect faith. Faith is a gift. God takes the faith of Jesus and gives it to us and with this perfect faith we can have trust in our Lord. When we “Trust in the Lord with all our heart” we do so with the “faith of Jesus”.

As we grow in our walk with our Lord we will begin to see our faith increase from the highs and lows that we experience, as we see the Lord working in our lives in all our ways, and we will also notice, and acknowledge, a deeper trust in our Lord in reigning over our lives, and we will find ourselves heading down paths that we normally have not taken with a trust that says, “wherever you lead I will follow”.

Faith is a gift and trust is the evidence of that faith. Why would anyone want to trust in their own imperfect faith when the faith of Jesus is the only true faith that provides us with the ability to trust in our Lord?

So, how deep is your faith? I guess it will depend on whose faith you are trusting…

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

July 3, 2016 at 6:52 pm