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04 May 2012

Living in Love - 04 May

This is the final day in the most challenging Bible study I’ve ever undertaken. I pray that it has blessed (and challenged) you as it has blessed (and challenged) me.

We know that God showed His love by sending His Son to become the sacrifice for our sins. We know  came to the earth and lived a sinless life, then voluntarily went to the cross. We know that our sins were left on the tree, and that His wounds healed us. We know we are to model agape love to all we meet. But what’s the ultimate purpose? To bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Many people call themselves Christian, falsely believing that if they are not Jewish some other religion or worldview that they are automatically Christian.  Those people are on the road to hell if they haven’t acknowledged Christ as their personal Savior.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved*.14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:9-15 (ESV)

*And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Joel 2:32 (ESV)

Salvation is easy. We just have to confess and believe. Getting to the point of belief and confession can be problematic. Our culture devalues Christians. Our media and entertainment tries to make Christians look foolish. Athletes who have a strong testimony are admired – and laughed at. It can be difficult for a person to make the “leap of faith” to Christianity. Look at Romans 10:10 - For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
What happens when you “confess”? You tell what you’ve seen and know. Is that “confession” supposed to happen only in church – or is that confession shown in the way we speak, act, and live our lives? Do we need to “confess” only once, or is it a daily activity?

How could you use these verses to explain to someone that “communing with God in nature” on the weekends isn’t Christianity? What would you say to the woman who knows she’s a Christian because she “attends church every Sunday”? How could you use these verses to respond to a person who say’s he is a “good person” and therefore God MUST allow him into heaven?

Yipee! I don’t have any responsibility! I’m not a preacher! Uh … no. Humans learn through both speech and action. You model Christ every day. One of the greatest compliments I can receive is to hear someone tell me that I seem “different” from others. That’s Christ in me. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen enough! Guess I need to work on that modeling behavior more.

Is it easy to be a Christian?

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” Matt 16:24-27 (ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19  We love because he first loved us. 20  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:7-21 (ESV)

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:19-26 (ESV)

Lots of stuff to think about here! We see that love is the mark of the one who Knows God. we know it’s an active kind of love. Because we can’t see God, we need to show God, and faith without works is a dead faith. Simply confessing isn’t enough – even the demons do that! We need to show God’s love (that’s the “preaching” part from Romans 10:15).

And finally, remember that Jesus wants everyone to have the opportunity to be saved. He tells us:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:20 (ESV)

Have you heard Jesus’ knock and opened the door? If you have, what are you going to do to show and tell others – to live out the two greatest commandments?

If you’ve not answered Jesus’ knock, you can do so today. You need to believe, receive, and confess. The first step is belief. Do you:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:9)

If you believe that, then tell Jesus! Say a prayer. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just thank Him for the free gift of salvation, tell Him that you have sinned and fallen short of what He expects (Rom. 3:23). Confess that you know you deserve death and hell (Rom. 6:23) and ask Him to forgive you and help you turn your life around. Remind Him that you know that He bore YOUR sins on the cross, and that His wounds heal you (1 Peter 2:24).

If you have prayed this prayer, please email me so I can rejoice with you. If you do not currently attend church, I can help you find a Bible-believing and Bible-following church. If you do attend church, please let your pastor know (and let me know, too!) so he can rejoice with you.

Next week we start a study on living victoriously. I pray that you will meet me here on Monday, Bible in hand, to delve into God’s Word again. Thanks for completing this study with me.

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