Riff's Christian Journal

A Layman's View Of Christian Theology

The Verse That Brought Repentance

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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.

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Written by Glenn Riffey

October 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Not Planted By My Father

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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

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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

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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

A Simple Example Of Election Salvation

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I was looking out of my office window one afternoon and I became fascinated by this man who was standing in the middle of the sidewalk trying to hand out a drink of water to any and everyone who went by him.

No one was interested and they all kept walking by him as if he really was not there. However, every so often someone would look up at and walk slowly over to him. I could see them talking and then the person would take the water, break out in a big grin and drink the rest of it. They would hug and the person went on their way with a grin as big as the Cheshire Cat ever had.

What in the world was going on? Why would everyone walk by except for an occasional seemingly interested person? Ummm, I wondered.

Then I was shaken back to reality when the boss walked in and gave me some more work to do. I finished the afternoon, forgetting about that man with the water.

At quitting time I walked outside and boy was it hot. I then remembered about the man with the water. Was he still there handing out his water, and should I, would I dare, stop and try some. I looked and, yes, he was still there.

As I started down the street I began to feel a little uneasy just thinking about taking something that looked like water from someone I didn’t know. I then decided that no matter how hot it was I was not going to take the water. In fact, I was not even going to look over at him; just walk on by.

The sidewalk was crowded and I stayed to the outside, next to the street, so that I would not even walk close to him.

I was looking down and trying to think about anything except water when I heard, “Glenn!”

That was my name. Who was it that was calling my name? I looked around and suddenly saw this man with the water looking my way with an interesting grin on his face. “Yes,” he said. “That was me, Glenn. I was calling your name. I was calling you.”

I slowly walked over to him and he said, “Would you not like to have a cool and refreshing drink of water on such a day as this?”

At this point a drink of water sounded great. “I sure do,” I said. “How much is it?” His answer was quite a surprise. “This water costs nothing. It is a gift just for you and for those to whom my father has chosen for me with which to share.” “You are one of those who are on his list.”

I took the glass and drank some of the water. Man, it tasted better than any water I ever had. I quickly found myself drinking the rest from the glass, and just like that, my thirst was gone. Not only that, but I found myself wanting to spend time with this man.

I have never been separated from Jesus since I took that drink. That is some water.

Of course this is just a story, a simple example of how “Election Salvation” works. What I do want to get across to you, the reason for this story, is that unless Jesus calls you by name to come drink of the water that He has to offer, like everyone else who walked by, you too will walk by.

You will always refuse, of your own free (but enslaved) will not to accept the offer of salvation from Jesus.

Only those who are on God’s list, that He created before the foundation of the world, will Jesus call. In fact, in John 6:44, Jesus basically said that “no one can come to me except that the Father who sent me draws them to me, and all whom He gives me will come to me.”

So, let me challenge you. Would you like a drink of the water that Jesus offers? Keep listening for you just might hear your name being called.

Election Salvation is simple. You only need to be called and so be saved. Is that “your” name I hear Jesus calling?

 

Written by Glenn Riffey

June 4, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Prayer – Training For Trust

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Do you believe in the sovereignty of God? If you do not believe that God sits on His throne in heaven and does what ever He wills among the inhabitants of the earth you will never have a successful prayer life.

In 1st Thessalonians 5 Paul writes:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Prayer is not giving long winded prayers like you may hear in church, nor is it reciting something from a book, pamphlet or a sheet of paper. Prayer actually is just talking with God.

You see, God already knows what we are going to say. He knows our needs, desires and wants. He knows what problems we are going to have and what blessings we will be given.

What God wants of us is for us to trust in Him no matter what our situation may be. We know that God works all things for our good because we love Him, and when we trust Him we can be as Paul writes in Philippians 4:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

You see, from the time we wake up until we go to bed at night, we should constantly be acknowledging, and talking with, God; asking for guidance, for wisdom, patience and understanding; and more importantly asking for the faith needed to trust in God no matter what are our circumstances or the situation in which we find ourselves.

When we can learn to trust in God in all things we can have the peace that He promises, and we can learn to be content, because of our trust in Him and, as long as we are constantly talking with God in prayer, our faith will be at the level needed to hold onto that trust.

God is sovereign and He is in control of all things. Our prayers, our talking with Him and acknowledging our dependency on Him no matter what are our circumstances, will keep us strong in our faith in Him and with strong faith comes deep trust in our Lord and Savior.

Only through constantly talking with God, praying without ceasing, will we ever gain the deep trust that our Father wants for us to have in Him.

Prayer truly is the training ground for gaining the deep trust in God that we need to face any situation that life can throw our way, and be able to have the peace that God has promised to all who love and obey Him.

How about you, how deep is your trust? Maybe you should look at your own prayer life and just start talking with God yourself. I know He would love to hear from you.

Written by Glenn Riffey

May 7, 2017 at 2:28 pm

The Risen Christ Affirms Christianity

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Do you know that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead that Christianity is a false religion?

Read the following verses from 1 Corinthians 15 and think about them…

14 if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain.

17 and if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still in your in you sins!

You can see by these versus that Christianity depends on the fact that Jesus has been raised, bodily, from death and burial. So that we can read these versus, with certainty, also from 1 Corinthians.

3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead…

Christianity is real. Salvation and forgiveness is offered because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and all who believes in and receives Jesus as Lord and Savior will be forgiven, and will be saved from facing the wrath of God on judgement day.

Christ is risen … He is risen indeed!

Written by Glenn Riffey

April 2, 2017 at 6:39 pm