The Simple Word

Romans 8:1-2, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Sometimes a pastor or believer can spend hours trying to explain the Good News, it is our nature to plea, to try and exhort it the best way we can. But the word of God is so powerful, that if we look closely, salvation does not need to taught with confusing theological gymnastics.

The passage above is indicative of this. It goes straight to the heart at those world religions telling their congregation they are in effect “not free” and will not be free UNLESS they do certain things they task them with.

Here, Paul is indicating there are two laws. One is a law of the Spirit of life in Christ and a law of sin and death. Which law are you under? If you believe by church attendance, sacrament participation, commandment keeping, your own works, are the way to salvation, you are UNDER the law of sin and death! You are trying by this law to save yourself, by either trying to keep these laws or not break them. You have not been freed by them.

Now if we go back to verse 1, Paul says “therefore is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”. A key point to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. He then goes onto say “those who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”. Again, he contrasts two ideologies as he did in V2. Those in Christ are not those in the flesh under the law of sin and death.

Again, every world religion will attempt to say that the sinner is ALWAYS under the law of sin and death. They will put up roadblock after roadblock. They will protest Paul’s admission that one no longer under condemnation. Why? So they keep the congregant under the chains of their church. They don’t want them truly free, because they then lose control over them.

Study the world religions such as Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, Jehovah Witnesses, etc, and they all will declare that sinners are habitually bound by the law of sin and death. If you are apart of this false theology, you have willingly put those chains on. You are NOT free in Christ!

If God so wills, you will be put under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. Only THEN you are free from the law of sin and death! Repent of your sins, and believe this Good News! Pride in a world religion has shackled your salvation!

Series – Are You Sure Your Religion is Correct? Part 2

In the first segment, I discussed a friend of mine named Dan. I will now speak of another great friend of mine from childhood named Chuck.

Chuck and I met when we were 5 years old. We went to Catholic school together and formed an immediate friendship. Chuck is one the most caring people you’ll meet. He is not quick to anger, he is quite funny and has a deadpan humor which would send me into a giggling mode. He is a great father to his children and a great spouse to his wife. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed. Many times after I graduated college being broke, Chuck would give me $20 loans here and there to get me to my next paycheck without a condition. He is very loyal to all his friends and never judges anyone. Chuck ran into a bit of trouble with alcohol in his younger days, and paid his debt to society while repenting of his alcoholism. He did this all on his own without blaming others. A great and humble man.

Chuck is a lapsed Catholic. He like most Catholic youth stopped being a steady church goer upon around his 18th birthday. He never judged me because I still attended church. But I believe he became attune to the hypocrisy of it all much earlier than I and I respect him for this. In every respect, Chuck has done all those things Roman Catholics appeal to in Matthew 25, he has fed the poor, clothed the naked, visited those in prison, etc. but he would be condemned by the world religion of Catholicism because he does not attend Mass.

Chuck didn’t need a RCC to guilt him from right from wrong, he already instinctively knew this and unlike most church going Catholics, he was always honest and truthful and most of all forgiving.

Roman Catholics would most likely judge Chuck as lesser because of his past alcohol problem of which he overcame by the grace of God and thumb their noses at him because he stopped regularly attending church many years ago. But what Chuck possesses of which most Catholics do not are the qualities I described above. And above all he realizes he will never be perfect nor did he ever compare himself this way to others. He loves his neighbors as himself.

Chuck didn’t need a world religion to be an upstanding great man and friend! When I left the RCC 9 years ago and wrote some books, I sent Chuck a couple of them and also apologized to him for all my misgivings in our friendship.

Please pray for Chuck that he has placed his faith alone in Jesus Christ and that he sees eternal life with Him and the redeemed!

Series – Are You Sure Your Religion is Correct?

In this series, I am going to describe some close long personal friends of mine. They were close friends when I was a Roman Catholic and continue to be friends. I ask the Roman Catholic reader to closely pay attention and examine this carefully.

The first friend I will describe is Dan. Dan is one of the nicest, caring, hard working people you will ever meet. He has done everything and then some as described in Matthew 25. He has clothed the poor, visited those in prison, helped the hungry and sick, and has taken in strangers in need of shelter. Dan doesn’t curse nor lie, he is always honest, and he has had really no bad habits. His first wife left him for another man, but Dan took no revenge or had bitterness. He rather forgave her and helped her out through this when she needed him. He honors his parents like no other and loves his friends without condition. When I had some very low moments of my life, Dan was there offering his help. We called each other “brother” from the beginning of our friendship. From a human standpoint Dan is a morally great and honorable man in every respect.

Do you believe Dan is saved-going to heaven by what I described? Before you answer this, I hope you keep reading.

Dan is also an atheist. He doesn’t believe in the existence of God. He was raised this way, but it didn’t prevent him from doing what I said above.

If I compared my life to his as a Roman Catholic, I would definitely have been much worse as a sinner in so many ways. Sadly and ignorantly, I did not do so. Rather I thought by my church going and religious piousness, I had an edge on Dan because the standard was the church and my participation. However, that church involvement obviously was not working. I cursed, I lied, I was not honest, I was selfish, I was a habitual sinner in every respect. Compared to Dan, I was quite evil! But through my religion, I had really thought I was better because after all I believed there was a God. So THIS was the fatal and false comparison I was making for 43 years as a Catholic.

Am I better now than Dan now that I have been saved by Jesus Christ? From a human standpoint, I have made some great gains, however I am only better in the respect that now I am in Christ and that was NOT by my doing! It was ALL God, zero my involvement. Outside of Christ, I am worse! It is NOT church going which makes me better, it is not my works or repentance either, it is ONLY being in Christ which gained me an eternal life by the grace and mercy of God alone, not because of who I am, not because what I ever did, but because of what Christ did for me.

You see Roman Catholics, when I compare YOU as well to Dan, there is no comparison. Dan beats you hands down! He does ALL the things you could only hope to do, yet you aren’t. And he does it genuinely. But you believe you are somehow better than him because you are a church goer and Dan doesn’t believe God exists? I ask you to think about this! Roman Catholics love to cite Matt 25 and try to claim you are keeping the commandments, but are you? Dan does genuinely and easily, so is he saved, and are you on the way to heaven? Not according to the Gospel. In Dan’s case, he didn’t need a church to guilt him from right from wrong or how to live morally righteous.

There is just ONE way to eternal life, it is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. It is His perfect righteousness alone which saves a sinner. Once you start comparing yourself to an eternal holy God and not to other sinners, you may start to begin to understand WHY a Savior is needed. After this point, you will STOP comparing yourself to others and will be eternally grateful that God chose you for salvation. You will stop putting conditions on God as well such as He needs to do “x before you believe y”. Dan didn’t place a condition and yet does all those things you could only wish to do, yet he isn’t saved and you believe you will be?

Please pray for my friend Dan that God changes his heart so that Dan places his faith alone in Jesus Christ and enjoys eternal life with the rest of the redeemed.

Don’t Wait for a Birthday

Are there people in your life where you wait to celebrate their life once a year, mainly on their birthday? Have you asked why you are waiting for that day to do so?

God has not promised any of us a certain amount of birthdays, or days for that matter. Our end could come today, this week, next month. It might be too late to wish someone a good day or send them your appreciation. I guess I for one really thought about this with the death of my beloved dog, Leo, who passed away just a couple of weeks before his 8th birthday. He didn’t make it until that day, and if I had waited to celebrate his life, I would have regretted this waiting.

We often take life for granted this way. Some are only important to us on their birthdays, where we may send a Facebook greeting, and then wait another year. In the past year, I have lost many friends and in the years prior, many more friends and family. Wishing one a “heavenly birthday” might make you feel good, but you are merely guessing. The time to do celebrate is TODAY. Every day in other words should be celebrated with those you love, don’t take anyone for granted.

When You Lose Everything

Job 1:21 He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

The Book of Job is a great resource for those who suddenly have lost everything. This can come by the death of loved ones, a fire takes everything you own, a financial crisis which wipes out your entire life savings, an accident which cripples you, a storm which takes down your house and destroys all your possessions, the sudden loss of a career, a diagnosis of a deadly disease, a loss of a relationship, etc. Life will deal out these horrible circumstances.

When we lose everything, the test of whether you are a child of God or not is what we see of Job’s reaction when he lost everything, he did not sin. Even Job’s wife tempted him when she said “just curse God and die”, yet Job’s faith did not waver. Job figured out that it was the Lord who gives are blessings and indeed has the right to take them away for His will and His purpose, so there is nothing to curse Him for, but only to praise Him in this.

The test is where you turn. Will you give into the temptations of your fellow man or will you turn solely to God. During these times, the extreme stress and anguish can turn you every which way. If your faith has been granted by God, you will turn only to God to see His hand, His purpose, and His will in this just as Job. Job’s loss was a whirlwind. The devil was allowed to take his family, his entire estate, and then his health. The devil did not believe that this faith God granted was strong enough through a gigantic sudden loss, but as we know, the devil was wrong.

But it doesn’t stop the devil, he is a like a child who is told “no”, so he will continue to provide these horrific tests on God’s loved ones and will sadly be mistaken each time he has tried or tries. He will always be disappointed by God, “through all this, they did not sin”.

It is a huge test! A sudden loss in your life of everything is something we aren’t really prepared for. We might have made contingency plans in our mind, but when the loss comes it is realized and no amount of planning would have been helpful. It did not soften the blow.

There is always a purpose from God. In Job’s case, I believe it was a case of reaching his dear friends of whom Job probably did not share much of God to. They realized much through Job’s plight. And we read God restoring Job only after Job prayed for his friends.

Sometimes the purpose is to end something so that you could have NEW beginning! And that certain people you really didn’t expect or that you took for granted are given some light. God sees a million steps ahead of you, so trust in Him through these times. Really TRUST in Him every second of every day, and you will see things you did not see before!

The purpose for your loss will be God’s. It might be the same as Job’s or it could be He is doing other things specifically in your life. Maybe a new direction, a new outlook, a test of your faith to show the church you really are of God, or it could be to show doubting unbelievers that your faith from God is something to behold. And hopefully when that time comes, you remember the words of Job! “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

You see, it is easy to praise God when times are good in your life, when the world seems peaceful. It is WHEN you lose everything that this praise must come with the same vigor and understanding if your faith was truly granted by God.

Philippians 3:8
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ