Riff's Christian Journal

A Layman's View Of Christian Theology

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.

Advertisements

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

The Verse That Brought Repentance

leave a comment »


When I was just a young boy, I attended an Anglican church faithfully. I was an acolyte, president of the church youth program and a lay reader. I was a Christian; or so I thought. It seemed, as it turned out, that I was only a Christian in name only (a CINO).

You see, in being a Christian in name only can be very deceiving, and so many people today are doing the same as I, and are only CINO’s, and do not realize that they are “not” heading for Heaven. I hope you are not one of them.

Then, as an adult, one day came when I heard about two verses in Proverbs 3 that for the life of me I could not get them out of my mind. They bothered me to no end and I just had to find out how to do what they were saying, because I could not do so of my own will; and therein lay the answer.

The two verses to which I refer are these:

Proverbs 3: 5, 6

5. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. 

6. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.

 I tried and I tried and I just could not get myself to trust in the way that these verses wanted for me to do. No matter what I did I just could not trust in the Lord. Sounds terrible, does it not?

Then it hit me. How could I trust in someone who I do not know? Who was this Lord in whom I am to trust? Could it be this Jesus I kept hearing about? Oh, yeah, I heard about Jesus, and how they would call Him Lord every time I had gone to church, but I really did not know Him. I had to find out – who was this Jesus.

I knew that my bible was my only true source for learning about Jesus. I had some knowledge of the gospel of John, so I started my reading about Jesus with that book.

Admittedly, the first time through it I really did not get much understanding from it. So I began to read it again and each time I would read a chapter or two I would ask Jesus to give me understanding in these words that I might learn more about Him.

Little by little a verse or two would stand out and they would be quite interesting in little ways, and I realized that I began to trust more and more this Jesus about whom I was studying and to whom I was praying. Then one day it hit me about whom Jesus was – or is. Jesus is God!

By now, not only had I become more dependent on Jesus in giving me understanding in the bible but more importantly, unwittingly, I also became to trust in Him in helping me in my daily life.

I would ask Jesus with help at work, when I was driving and in just making daily decision. I was always, and still do, asking Jesus for guidance in making all kinds of decisions, and trusting in Him for the outcome, as well as trusting in Him to change my direction on anything, if I was going the wrong way.

Through hard times and good times I was looking to the Lord for guidance, even when I did not or could not understand why sometime was happening. Even when my wife was diagnosed with cancer, she is now cancer free. I found myself asking for stronger faith so that I would have deeper trust in the Lord for whatever would happen or in what would be His will.

That is when I realized that in turning from myself, from my self-will, and trusting in the will of the Lord, what I had done was to repent of my own sin of self-will.

This was something I had done all my life. I would look to myself to trust in my own understanding, in any situation for the answer, and to have the self-serving nerve to direct my own life.

It was these two verses from Proverbs 3: 5, 6 that led me to repent of the sin of trusting in myself and to turn to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, and to come to an understanding of whom is Jesus.

It is in Him that we are to trust for the outcome for all circumstances and situations, and to submit to His Lordship over us in directing our life as He wills.

You see, we are to trust in the Lord Jesus on a daily basis, and to keep trusting in Him even when we do not understand what is happening or why.

In addition, when we acknowledge Him as being Lord of our lives, as God, Jesus has the right to take us down the path that He knows is best for us, and one that will glorify Him.

All it takes is an understanding of who is Jesus, and repentance on your part. That is to turn from your own selfish ways of trusting in yourself, to submitting to the Lordship of Jesus over you.

Only then will you ever find true Godly direction for your life.

Written by Glenn Riffey

October 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Not Planted By My Father

leave a comment »


Mat 15:10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 
Mat 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 

Mat 15:12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 

Mat 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 

Mat 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. 

 My Dad was born on a farm in 1908 that lay in a wonderful valley next to a mountain in the hills of West Virginia. The farm was about a mile across the valley over a dusty and bumpy road from the little town of Lost City. Most of the folks, in and around Lost City, had a garden of their own in varying sizes depending on their ability and family size.

Being the middle brother of three, he learned early what farm life was all about. They grew their own food and had livestock for their meat, poultry and fish from the river that flowed through the valley. They learned how to hunt for game and wildlife for eating as well.

When he was old enough for school he had already learned the basics of farming; one of them being growing the crops, and when and how to bring in the harvest. This was very important as when the crops were brought in they were canned and stored away for winter food.

The most important thing was not to remove improperly the good crops so that nothing bad was included in the canning process. You see, as the crops that they had planted were sprouting and growing to full potential, other non-eatable plants, that they had not sown, would sprout and grown along with them.

If the plants that they had not planted were pulled to soon it may have been possible for them to pull up the good plants as well, which is not what was wanted; for the roots between the two may have been intertwined as they began to grow. So, to keep the good ones they would let the un-wanted plants that could not be pulled grow along with them.

At harvest time, as they were pulling up the good plants, my Dad along with the rest of the family, knew what they had planted and separated them from the bad plants, and took the bad plants and set them aside in a pile of their own for burning later on.

Only what the family planted would be kept for eating through the winter months, and they knew what these plants were for they had planted them. They knew their own plants and what the plants were that they did not plant. The crops that they did not plant they uprooted up and burned them; for these plants had not been sown by them.

In the same way God has planted a garden as well. He knows who are His whom He has planted and they whom He has not planted. Just as Jesus said in the verses quoted above.

– For another good explanation of how God plants and what he does at harvest time, read the Parable of the Weeds found in Mathew 13: 24-30.

How about you, which one are you – a good plant or bad? Here is how you can tell.

If you can do as these verses say, and say it from a changed heart, then as these verse claim you will have been found to be a good plant…

Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  

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

Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 My prayer for you is that you can do as these verses say and are able to do so right now. Call upon Jesus and proclaim Him to be Lord, and find you to have been saved by Him all along.

Written by Glenn Riffey

September 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Born Again By God’s Will – Not Man’s

leave a comment »


In the Gospel of John chapter three, Jesus tells a Jewish religious leader that unless one is born again by the Spirit of God not only will he “not” see the Kingdom of God but he will also “not” enter into the Kingdom of God.

The Religious leader is surprised and asks how this can happen? Jesus responds by saying that as the wind blows where it wishes – from where it comes and where it goes – so is everyone born of the Spirit of God – The Holy Spirit chooses whom He wills and we know not why.

So many people believe that man has the power to choose whether or not to be “born again”, and that he can do so whenever he wants. Not so says the Bible.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John many people will use verse 12 to back up their claim of man’s ability to choose to be saved or not but, they never follow up with verse 13 which explains how this – being born again – happens. Here are the two verses as they read:

Joh 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: 

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

You see, verse 12 without verse 13 is meaningless. Yes, verse 12 says that man can receive Jesus and to believe on Him, but verse 13 tells us that He must first be born again in order to be able to so do. And this act of being born again is “not” done by man’s own choosing (by man’s will) but that it is done by the will of God.

As the wind blows in the freedom it has, to come and go as it pleases, so is everyone born of the Spirit of God.

When Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus and yelled, “Lazarus, come forth!” Was he able to say, “Yes, I will come forth.” No, God first had to put life into him, in a sense – make him born again, before he could respond. Life always comes before response in a dead person; even in one who is spiritually dead.

In our sin nature that we all have, we are all spiritually dead to God. That is why Jesus told the religious leader that we must be born again or we will not be able to enter Heaven when our life here on earth is finished.

How about you? Have you really been born again and, if you are, was it by your will that you chose to do so, or was it by God’s will who chose you to be born again?

As for me, it was by God’s will that I am born again. He chose me, I did not choose Him .

Written by Glenn Riffey

August 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

The Gospel Is Not An Emotional Message

with 2 comments


I am sure you have either seen, heard or been witness to a worship service where the minister gives a fervent appeal to come forward and “accept” Jesus as Savior.

There is the usual emotional music designed to pull at the heart strings and the pleading of the leader saying that Jesus is just waiting for someone to come to Him.

You know, none of that is biblical. You will not find anywhere in the Scriptures someone zealously appealing to people to “accept” Jesus as Savior. It just did not happen.

Repentance is the first and most important step that one needs to take before believing the Gospel. For if you will not repent, believing the Gospel will not save you. To repent means not only to have a change of heart as to the sinful life you are living, but also to turn your will over to Jesus to no longer do what you want in order to do the will of God.

Now here is where we find an excellent biblical example of being instructed in the best way of sharing the Gospel message. In 2nd Timothy 2: 24, 25 the Apostle Paul writes the following:

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 

25 In meekness instructing those who are in opposition; if God perhaps will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 

In these verses there are no instructions on bringing an emotional message or of pleading with the ones to whom you are speaking. We are to be calm and gentle in telling others about Jesus, and why it is important for them to repent and believe the Gospel.

No pleading needs to be done. No music to tug on the heart strings. No cries of Jesus waiting for someone to come forward and “accept” him as Savior. Just you being yourself and telling others about Jesus, trusting in God as to their response.

As Paul told Timothy, “Perhaps God will give them repentance… “

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

July 2, 2017 at 4:45 pm