Riff's Christian Journal

A Layman's View Of Christian Theology

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

Easy Way To Know God’s Will

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By being a true disciple of Jesus you can know what is the will of God for you in any situation. In Psalm 32: 8 God tells us this:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.”

God does this through His Word. As we read and study the Scriptures on a regular basis God will take what we learn and use that for instructions in living a life devoted to Him, and for guiding us in our daily life.

As God works in us He will let us know, by what we have learned through our study of His Word, what His will is for us in any situation where we seek His guidance. He will speak to us through an inner voice or by giving us peace that we have made a right decision.

By learning His Word, and in seeking His guidance on a regular basis, we can learn to recognize and know what is God’s will for us in any situation.

The “easy” secret to learning God’s will for us is to first read and know what is in God’s Word. How about you, do you really want to be instructed and taught by God?

By being in God’s Word on a regular basis you can be guided by, and know, what is God’s will for you.

God will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, and He will guide you according to His will, but only when you take the time to read and study His Word.

Only by knowing what is in God’s Word will you ever know the will of God, and have the faith needed to trust in Him for the outcome.

Written by Glenn Riffey

March 5, 2017 at 6:38 pm

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

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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