OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[May 14]--Assurance, False and True

1 John 5:13

Remember when we talked a couple of days ago about repentance? I mentioned the controversy started by some teachers/preachers who taught that it’s possible for someone to believe in Jesus as their Savior and yet reject him as their Lord. Let’s talk a little more about that today, because it affects the aspect of soteriology we’re going to discuss, namely assurance of salvation.

How do you know that you’re saved, that you’re really going to heaven? You might say, “I walked down an aisle, said a prayer with someone, and I even got baptized. Isn’t that enough to know that I’m ‘in’?” Um, no. This is why I tried to emphasize before that it’s not the prayer that saves you, it’s the faith in Christ that saves you. That prayer, at best, is an official way to declare in your own mind and before all the earthly and spiritual witnesses around you as to what you’re doing, and it helps for you to understand exactly what’s happening. Those words are not some magical incantation that you have to get exactly right.

Let’s be clear here, like the Bible is: You're saved by grace through faith in Christ plus nothing. But how do you know that this faith is genuine? How do you know that you weren’t fooling yourself (and everyone else around you)?

That’s what we mean by the term assurance of salvation, and that’s where the controversy I mentioned comes in. Advocates of what they call “Free Grace” position (which claims that you don’t need repentance) say that all that’s needed is an acknowledgement of certain facts about Christ: He died for your sins, he rose from the dead, etc. Advocates of “Lordship Salvation” (like me) claim that there are some other criteria that need to be met. If not, then the Bible offers you no assurance.

The book of 1 John, like his Gospel, has an explicit purpose stated right there for you: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Yes, there are other issues, like Gnosticism (don’t worry about it if you aren’t familiar with it), but that’s his openly stated goal for this book. He wrote this so that genuine believers would know that they have eternal life. And as you read the rest of his letter, it's obvious that the converse is true as well: He wants to warn people who've fooled themselves to turn away from false assurance. He has three tests for you to take so that you can know that you’re actually a redeemed child of God.

First, there are right beliefs. Yes, that is necessary. Yes, we have a personal relationship with Christ, but that does include knowing certain things about him. For example, John says that we need to understand that Jesus came into the flesh from the Father. We also need to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Second, there’s the right love. In fact, this is the test that he harps on the most in his letter. It's impossible for you to belong to God and hate your brothers in Christ. You have to love your siblings in Christ, and you need to demonstrate it through practical service. If you don’t, no assurance.

The third is the right lifestyle. I tell you what, let’s get into that tomorrow, since that’s something that needs some time to do it any justice. I think we’ve gone into enough for us to absorb today, right?

Father, I believe that I belong to you. You’ve claimed me as your child, and I thank you. I want to show that, please.

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