Riff's Christian Journal

A Layman's View Of Christian Theology

Simple Doctrine of Election

leave a comment »


There are two different views of salvation in Christian theology. In both of them, there is the cause and effect doctrine for how one is saved from facing the wrath of God and spending eternity in Hell.

On one hand, there is the doctrine of “free-will”. It says that man has the ability to choose of his own free will, when faced with the gospel of Jesus, whether or not to accept Jesus as Savior and so be saved or choose to reject Him and go on his merry way. In this, man can save himself, as his salvation is based upon what he does first and then God responds accordingly.

However, in the doctrine of election, as Jesus says in the Gospel of John chapter six and verses 44 & 65, “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (or enables) him.” In response some will say that God draws “all” men. If that were the case then everyone would be saved for in the same chapter Jesus also says, “All that the Father gives me will come.”

Now we know that not everyone will be saved. Therefore, we see then, that God will only draw certain ones to Jesus and they, and only they who are drawn, will come to Jesus and be saved. It is they who will be told about Jesus and will hear the gospel, as we are told in John 6: 45, “And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to me.” In this, we see that God is the cause of man’s salvation and man responds by willing coming to Jesus.

So, in free will salvation man acts first and then God responds, but in the doctrine of election, God acts first and man responds. Who ever acts first is the cause and the effect is salvation.

As we have seen, of his own free will, man cannot choose to come to Jesus, as the Father must first draw him, and they who are drawn, and who are taught about Jesus, will come willing and so be saved.

Man’s will cannot save him as it takes God’s will to save man (see John 1:13).

In the first chapter of Ephesians 1 – 14 Paul, in writing to believers only, writes so beautifully about how and why God chose to save whom He wills…

Eph 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Eph 1:2  Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Eph 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Eph 1:6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Eph 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Eph 1:8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Eph 1:9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Eph 1:10  That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Eph 1:12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Eph 1:13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Eph 1:14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Man cannot save himself. It takes God to save man and God will save whom He has chosen. If it were not so, He would not have written about it to tells us so. Whoever calls upon the name of Jesus, and confesses that He is Lord, is one who has been saved. To do so in submission to Jesus is proof that one has been chosen by God for salvation.

How about you? Do you think that you have been saved by your own free will? Alternatively, are you saved because you were chosen by the will of God to be saved? Remember, all who call upon Jesus and submit to Him as Lord will have been saved already.

Advertisements

Written by Glenn Riffey

May 6, 2018 at 5:29 pm

The Resurrection Of Jesus Affirms Christianity

with one comment


The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in world history. Had this not occurred Christianity would just be a false religion, just like all of the other religions. While I could describe this event, and why it is important to mankind, in my own words, I do believe that by letting the Bible tell it, in God’s own Words, would be a far better thing to do. Therefore, here is what God says as found in 1 Corinthians chapter 15…

1Co 15:12  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

1Co 15:13  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

1Co 15:14  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

1Co 15:15  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

1Co 15:16  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

1Co 15:17  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.

1Co 15:18  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

1Co 15:19  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

1Co 15:20  But now is Christ risen from the dead…..

Yea, indeed, is Jesus risen from the dead and is alive today in Heaven, and He lives in the hearts of those who are His disciples. And, because Jesus is risen, man can be forgiven for his sins and be guaranteed to spend eternity in Heaven. Only they who repent and believe in Him, and who submit to His will and obey His commands, will know the love and forgiveness of God.

Yea, Christ is risen…

He is risen indeed…

Written by Glenn Riffey

April 1, 2018 at 5:00 am

Do Not Separate What God Has Created

leave a comment »


This month my wife and I celebrated our forty ninth wedding anniversary. Over the years, we have in so many ways become almost like one person. It was like when Jesus said, “And the two shall become one.”

As a man and a woman, God has designed us so that we come together in a natural pleasurable physical way. No other form of intimacy can say the same. For no other form of sexual intimacy would be natural because we are not built that way.

I gave some thought as to why Jesus said what He did so I took a look at His statement about marriage in the Gospel of Matthew and found where Jesus said this:

Mat 19:4  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

Mat 19:5  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and the two shall be one flesh?

Mat 19:6  Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.

What is interesting is that there is so much more than what we can see at first glance. Jesus did explain that when God created mankind He made them to be a male and a female and He blessed them, and they were to be fruitful and to multiply. Moreover, He went on to say that, they are to be in one union and one in nature. In this way, God had ordained that this union, that we call marriage, is to be a union of one man and one woman. Nothing else will do.

In fact, the idea of marriage between a man and a woman is so important to God that He commanded us not to separate what He has joined together. Not only is this to be a command for the two that become married but to all of us, married and single. We are to acknowledge that it is by God’s command that a marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and that man should not even try to make marriage anything other than a union between one man and one woman. To do so would be disobedient to God’s will.

God has made men and women to be different in so many ways, both physical and mentally. A man cannot give to a child what only a mother can give, and a woman cannot give to a child what only a father can give. It takes both sexes to raise a child as God has ordained.

Marriage between a man and a woman is the true order of life that God has created.

As my wife and I have been together for these number of years, we realize that it has been by God’s grace that we have loved each other as He loves us. It was by Him that we have been joined together and it is by His will, and not man’s will, that we have stayed together.

It is said that others want to be joined together because of love, but it has also been said that, “Love does not rejoice in iniquity (sin), but in truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)

Maybe that is why God has said that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman. Any other choice is rejoicing in sin. That is why God has said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man separate.”

Written by Glenn Riffey

March 11, 2018 at 5:00 am

Who Is Your Valentine?

leave a comment »


Ah, love. Valentine’s Day is a time for showing how much you love someone and for showing gratitude for the love that someone has towards you. Have you ever thought how someone’s love towards you affects how you love that person in return?

When you truly love another and you know how much they love you in return does it not give you a wonderful sense of gratitude for that person making it so easy to love them by the way they show their love for you?

In a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians – the true born again disciples of Jesus – at Rome he writes the following:

Romans 5: 9 ….. But God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Think of that. Jesus died for us while we were still in our sinful state so that He could bring us into the family of God. How great of a love that must be. In fact, in the Gospel of John 15: 13, Jesus tells us this:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

What love it is that Jesus must have for His people that He would lay down His life for us so that we would have life eternal. Jesus has done for us what we could not do for ourselves and has provided forgiveness for our sins, and because of what He has done for us, by His great love for us, we now have assurance of eternal life in Heaven. We do not have to fear facing God’s wrath or of being cast into the lake of fire to suffer eternal punishment for our sins.

There is no greater love than this.

So, this Valentine’s Day, if you are a true disciple of Jesus, why not share the love of Jesus to that special person here on earth in a way that would honor the love of Christ for us. Not by laying down our life for them, but by laying down our own selfishness and love them with a love that expects nothing in return.

As Jesus loves us so should we love others. For loving others with an unconditional love is showing the love of Jesus. What greater love is there than by loving others as Jesus loves us?

By doing so, you just might discover just how much Jesus really does love you.

Written by Glenn Riffey

February 11, 2018 at 1:00 am

Simplistic Christianity

leave a comment »


What does it mean to become a Christian? Simply put, it means to become a disciple of Jesus. So, how does one become a Christian?

That is a good question. Let us see what the Bible says about becoming a Christian in a very simplistic way.

In the Gospel of Mark 1: 14, 15 we read the following quote by Jesus:

Mar 1:14  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Mar 1:15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Here Jesus simply says, “You repent and believe the gospel.” The word repent means “to think differently, that is, reconsider morally to feel compunction.” We are to admit our sinfulness, have a desire to change morally, and to ask for forgiveness for having lived our lives as we want instead of what God wants; to want to live for God and not for ourselves.

The second thing that Jesus said was to believe the gospel. What is the gospel? In First Corinthians chapter one and beginning with the first verse, the Apostle Paul states very clearly what is the gospel:

1Co 15:1  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

1Co 15:2  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

1Co 15:3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1Co 15:4  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Now we have the simple basics of how to become a Christian; repent and believe the gospel. You have seen what it means to repent and you now know what the gospel is in a very simplistic way. So, how does this all work together?

When God draws someone to Jesus, in doing so, He also gives them the power to repent and to believe the gospel, giving them the ability to do the following as we read in Romans 10: 8 – 10:

8. The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9. That if thou you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

So now, you know what it means to “repent and believe the gospel”. In doing so you will receive forgiveness for your sins, have everlasting life with Jesus in Heaven, and you will know what it is truly like to feel the love of God.

The alternative? Read this from the Gospel of John 3: 36:

Joh 3:36  He that believeth on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

When you compare the two choices, and you have “only two” from which to choose, Simplistic Christianity does not seem like a bad choice after all.

The Secret of Christmas

leave a comment »


When you hear the word “Christmas”,  what is it about Christmas that you think? Maybe it is about a lighted Christmas tree or it could be about a little baby lying quietly in a manger somewhere.

Of course, one could think of Santa, angels on high, wise men from the East, or even shepherds on a hillside with their sheep. And you know, in today’s world none of these would be a wrong answer. However, none of them tells about the real “Secret” of Christmas.

See, if you can see the secret in the following verses taken from the Gospel of John chapter 1:

1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1:2  The same was in the beginning with God.

1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

1:4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

1:5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

1:10  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

1:11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

1:13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Do you see it? The secret of Christmas is that God lowered Himself to become a man, to be among us to show Himself that He is who He says He is. That by Him we can be forgiven for our sins and be given eternal life all because He has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

God became flesh and dwelt among us and to they who would receive Him (Jesus), to believe on Him and to submit to His will, they would find that God first had to give them the power to become one of His children in order to respond. This happened, not because we were born into a Christian family, not because we did something worthy of salvation, nor because we of our own will chose to receive Him. No, none of these can be true. Only because God has willed it is anyone born again into the family of God.

That is the Secret of Christmas; God coming down to earth, and as the God/man Christ Jesus, provided salvation for all who would be forgiven of their sins because of the atoning power of his birth, life, death, burial and resurrection all because we could not provide for ourselves what is needed for salvation.

If you can truthfully say that you have been born again by the Spirit of God, because it was God’s will to do so, then Christmas can be a most wondrous and Merry Christmas. For you truly know the “Secret of Christmas.”

Written by Glenn Riffey

December 3, 2017 at 3:30 pm

A Psalm For Thanksgiving 

leave a comment »


When I was just a youngster, I was a CINO. That is, I was a “Christian In Name Only”. Oh, but I was a very good CINO. I attended Sunday School every week. I went to Vacation Bible School every Summer. I was a member of our church youth group. And I served on the alter with the Pastor during church services.

One Summer at VBS we were given the task of memorizing a Psalm by the end of the week, and that Psalm was Psalm 100. I did it. I memorized it and I was very proud of myself for having done so. However, I did not get into what it was actually saying. It was not until I became a true “born again” disciple of Jesus that this Psalm came alive and made sense in its message.

Psalm 100 is a very good Psalm to use for giving praise and thanks at Thanksgiving. As you read it, take notice of whether or not you see Jesus in its words. If you do not, maybe you should heed Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1: 10 when he said, “give diligence to make your calling and election sure. “ Just to give evidence to that fact that you, too, are a true “born again” disciple of Jesus.

Psalm 100 – A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving

1. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 

2. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 

3. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 

4. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 

5. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. 

 

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

November 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm