In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but he was sent to bear witness of that Light. 1st John 1 - 8.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1.
Throughout the Bible, faith is mentioned almost everywhere so it must be an important trait to be reflected in our lives and not just by mouth only. And we need to do everything possible to guard this gift of salvation that God has given us through Jesus in His grace, which is seen as positional and in two parts, firstly when you first believed and then secondly after death, that is, before or during Tribulation, or whether you are raised alive at His coming at the end. God is guarding our salvation in Heaven and we have to do our part to the best of our ability and guard it here and faith is what guards it. And that alone should tell you how important it is. Belief in God is a physical perception in our mind that He is, and isn't easily seen but faith is different in that the evidence of faith is clearly seen, or perceived by others. If we live by faith, which means living for the promise that is unseen and above us and not by what we see, which is only earthly and of no value whatsoever. And if we allow Satan to take it from us while we are here, we won’t get to collect the reward when everyone will stand before Jesus. Our salvation, and the path to receive it is the only thing that really matters and we should all understand and remember that.
The definition of faith is an acceptance of that which we think to be true, that which we cannot prove.
And faith simply means believing in God's promises and what Christ has done for us through the cross to make our salvation possible - that is the first part. We trust in God that He will do what He says - that is the second part. Faith and belief are not quite the same - there are many that say I believe in God and anyone can say that, which is well and good but so does Satan, and what hope has he? Faith is so much more and on a higher level, faith is trust in an assurance in God and Jesus, and confidence that His promises will never fail, which means we are not to lose our spiritual sight of those promises. And that also means to continue in faith in the way that Jesus established for our benefit and doing whatever He asks, Matthew 7: 13 & 14. Faith and trust go hand in hand, one doesn't happen without the other. Faith and trust is also a commitment and there are many examples of faith and trust throughout the Bible.
Hebrews 11 is a beautiful chapter completely dedicated to telling us what faith is and gives an account of those who have passed before us and is encouraging to read. I particularly like verse 13, which says: These all died in faith, not [yet] having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Shouldn't we always try to emulate what they did? And who can say that they didn’t experience similar struggles of their own at times – after all, they were only human too and suffered the same things as we do and is no different today. Just as God was the same yesterday, is today and will be tomorrow – so is Satan, until his end and this is not a game with him - it has deadly consequences. And we need to remember, Satan knows that God loves us and regards us as His children, so Satan in his jealousy hates us and wants to destroy us if he can. This is my hope that I can achieve what they did before us and hopefully, it is yours too.
And Ephesians 2: 8, 9 tells us: For by [God’s] grace are ye saved through faith; [in Christ] and that [salvation is] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [through Jesus' crucifixion] Not of works, lest any man should boast. This gift is such a precious thing, it’s not something you can visibly see but you can see the evidence of it in those who are living for Him. And if we say we are living for Him, aren't we hoping that others can see it in our lives - then we should all have one mindset, to reflect Jesus in everything we do, the one we love - that is, we hope others will see that we openly and boldly love Jesus, who unselfishly gave His life that we might have life, and they might eventually want His salvation. Hebrews 11: 6 says: But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Faith is a fragile thing at best, and must be fiercely maintained. I cannot even hope to emphasize that last point enough, for without faith, salvation is impossible. When the storms of life come – and they will, faith is so easily lost. How we stand up to the tests will determine our reward and sadly, for some, no reward at all. Salvation isn’t a one-off thing and then you forget about it once you've received it, by not doing what is required of us, it is ongoing right up to your last breath. And this will always come down to what you value the most – are you just living for the things of today, which are perishable and mean nothing, or for the promised rewards tomorrow which are everlasting and forever. It isn’t something that we have to face alone to overcome all the difficulties this life will throw at us and there will be many trials in the Tribulation soon to come but God has said He will not leave us alone. Isaiah 49: 10 is a wonderful promise - They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them. And 49: 15 says in part, yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. This is an encouraging verse and Matthew 6: 25 - 34 tells us more about how He will provide for His own during that time of trouble. There will be many doubts and fears in these days and many times we will have to see things by faith and not through our own eyes - we need to remember these things when Tribulation arrives because if we forget them, we may easily fall. And many think it's so far off, there's no point in thinking about it now, and so many don't know just how close it is, or even know what's coming but there are the few who do know and understand just how close it really is.
Some of my favourite verses are in John 3: 16 & 17, which says: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. Note that I've emphasized might because there are many who will preach that you cannot lose your salvation once it is given, which is a lie but verse 18, which must be read in conjunction with the others, clearly says something very different - He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This verse, and many others makes it clear that salvation can be lost if you don't continue and many, who should know better, will wrongly preach that salvation cannot be lost once it's given, which is one of the worst of lies and those who preach it are only leading themselves and others into complacency. And by complacency, I'm meaning that it's all too easy to fall into the belief, I'm safe now and I don't need to be quite as diligent. Anyone who preaches or falls victim to this lie has absolutely no knowledge of scripture, or the truth of it. And for most of those, they didn't even really begin, or are less than lukewarm. That is not to say that if you were once a believer and you've 'fallen away' that you can't regain your salvation, for God is able to graft you in again - if you are sincere and before your death. Romans 11: 22, 23 says, Behold the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity, but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also if they abide, not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. And that is truly, a wonderful promise to those who are troubled. Who can fathom His grace and patience, He is the anchor to our soul.
No matter what adversities we may face, and at times they may seem so overpowering that we may even contemplate giving up - but there is no salvation and no reward in giving up. And if you think about it, continuing isn't the problem. That's the easy part - keeping hold of faith is harder. Keeping hold of faith is believing in something we cannot yet see and we can now understand the term - blind faith. Even in such times, if we just firmly resolve to continue - things may be falling apart around us but if we keep in the front of our mind - just continue, - just continue, He will see us through whatever if we don't lose faith. So - Hold on to faith no matter what.
And that will never be more important than in the 2nd half of Tribulation.
The moment we believe we are all given the Holy Spirit as a gift from Jesus. That is not to say you will recognise him straight away, unless it's necessary, it usually takes some time. Faith is not a visible or physical thing that you buy over the counter and like everything pertaining to God and Jesus it is a spiritual thing, which is within. And as we grow through reading the Bible and faith grows in us, we will become aware of ‘the Spirit’s workings’ teaching and guiding us, even correcting us so that we may be found worthy to be presented before Him without blame. Above all; we need to show that we bear the marks of Jesus upon and within us - who knows, there may be others who are watching your life and your walk. If we don’t take pains to show others who we are living for, we are just containing it within and that is self-centeredness. And in the soon to come Tribulation, that may be difficult for some but we are all given a gift to help others and try we must. And for many, that may lead to the loss of our lives but nevertheless, just remember, Jesus did it and suffered all for our sake. So don't ever be afraid to let your love show for Jesus, even if it leads to our own detriment. Our given responsibility is to help others in this fight, if they will listen. It is our job to plant the seed, God will do the watering and He will do the increase through the Spirit.
Faith is increased by prayer and studying His word as much as you can and if you neglect either of these requirements, you will only grow so far. For some, if either of these essentials are neglected it may even diminish to the point of lukewarmness. As already mentioned, faith is a fragile thing and must be constantly fed for it to increase - it's like learning a difficult skill, you have to constantly practice or the skill diminishes and faith is no different - if you don't keep applying yourself to it, it too will diminish. In simple terms - occasional reading or stop reading altogether and you soon forget about salvation as well. And who do you think helps that 'diminishing' along? You, yourself in rebelliousness and Satan.
There will never come a time when you think you know it all. The Bible is a complex book and to know it all in complete depth would take, for so many, more than one lifetime. Most will understand only a small part of it, and that is dependent on the the Spirit being in you - and if that isn't the case, you may be perceiving it the wrong way. Praying for the Spirit's help before reading any part will be of benefit to you.
Belief is only the beginning and I’m sure that you can understand even in an earthly example it’s not quite the same. Believing that an earthly object or something similar is what it is will not increase your belief that it is – simply because it already is – but faith will increase if you feed it. Faith, being a spiritual thing, has to be fed in order to grow and as a simple analogy – a seedling will quickly die without sufficient watering. As mentioned above, when someone plants a seed, God will do the watering and that watering comes from reading the Bible, and then being willing to be led by the Spirit. Faith is like a tender plant, it starts off small but the more you feed and care for it, the more it will grow. The first part that is underlined in that sentence is describing faith in a visible way, the last part is describing the spiritual aspect. It's also like a sincere friendship with someone dear - in this instance namely Jesus and faith isn't something that can be turned on or off at any time to suit your own circumstances, it is to be constant, not hot one day and cold the next, that is the definition of being lukewarm. And Jesus has some stinging words about that for those in this era of Laodicea - Revelation 3: 15 - 17. It is to last forever and having faith is truly a trait to be guarded. In Matthew 17: 19 - 20 Jesus tells us even His disciples had difficulty with faith and He likened faith to the size of a mustard seed - it is so small it is easily lost. Faith is not an object you visibly see, it is a characteristic that is within you and you should strive to allow it to grow and show the marks (traits/qualities) of it to others. Faith is to be shared, not contained within - If someone should enquire of your belief, respond in a way that shows how much you love Jesus and what He has done for you, which was suffering the cross. And tell them that He did it for them too. Hopefully, that will strike a chord.
Sometimes all of us can feel a little lost in the pressures that surround us in one form or another and we can all feel that we've slipped a bit at times if we've relaxed our grip on the things we value most. And this can come from so many things and some are known to us and some are unknown - just everyday things brought about by unnecessary worry that can lead to less reading, less thinking about spiritual things, less time in prayer - even none at all, which only increases lukewarmness. I don't mean satanic attack, although that will happen to all of us and we must keep our guard up at all times. Satan is always watching and waiting for an opportunity and we tend to unconsciously, or perhaps blindly forget that because he isn't seen - nevertheless he is always there. I'm meaning the little things that can mount up over time, which are insidious and can have a damaging effect on faith if we don't check it and realise that we are causing our own problems at times. So just remember, as I've already said, he hates us. And if a person hated you in this life, wouldn't you always be on guard - and Satan is a far greater enemy than anyone around you. Faith is such a fragile thing at best and we must do everything possible to maintain it. Faith and trust go hand in hand and if we let it slip to a dangerous point, there is so much to lose. Proverbs 25 - 27 are good to think on, Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
He who walks straight rarely falls - Leonardo da Vinci.
It has been said by professional musicians that if you neglect to practice, even for one day, you will notice it. If you neglect to practice for more than one day, others notice it. If you neglect practicing for a week or so, everyone notices. And that analogy is the same across sports as well - which if you think about it, it's really laziness. Well, if you let your spiritual momentum slip too much for more than a few days, perhaps even for a few weeks, it has now become the beginning of lukewarmness, and guess who notices that?
Matthew 13: 3 – 8 speaks of the sower and the 4 types of ground where the seeds fell and each type of soil only produced a certain growth.
Very briefly, in the parable of the sower, a sower goes out to sow seed in 4 different types of ground: Hard ground, Rocky ground, Thorny ground and Good ground. Satan causes the rejection of the truth and loss of faith in the first three types.
1. The seed that falls on the hard ground beside the road is quickly stolen by the birds and is likened to a person who hears the word but doesn't really believe it because they haven't protected it. Their hearts, like the ground, is so hard the roots cannot penetrate it and the seed quickly withers away.
2. The seed that falls on the rocky ground springs up quickly but perishes because it's roots lack sufficient depth in the shallow layer of soil over a substrate of rock. A person hears it with gladness but doesn't have the strength or the will to stand up to storms and quickly fades in times of distress.
3. The seed that falls on thorny ground is choked by the weeds that grow up around it. This person hears it and believes it but it is quickly strangled by other matters which prove to be more important than salvation. They are distracted from the truth by the cares and worries of life.
4. The seed that falls on the good ground is the person who readily accepts it and believes it and continues to grow and produce fruit even among adversities. Faith increases because it is continually nurtured and cared for by making a habit of reading and thinking about Jesus. They are willing to be a help unto others. (These 4 points cited from ichthys.com)
Everyone can understand the analogy in these 4 points, which is, the percentage of those few people who accept what Jesus is holding out to us in His unfailing love is small compared to the many who reject it without a further thought.
To us it is given the free choice as to what type of soil we become.
1st Corinthians 6: 9 - 10 tells us of things that are displeasing to God and to attain salvation they must be repented of, or you run the risk of remaining tainted with sin. We can take comfort in verse 11 which says: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. There is only one sin that is not forgiven - that is rejecting the One who made salvation possible for you. Which, if you think about it, is the same as 'blasphemy against the Spirit' - do it to one and you do it to all three. And because of our sinful human nature, there is no-one without sin, and we all fall at times but He will cleanse and redeem every one of us if we confess those sins, repent, and try our best to change. He knows it's not easy for any of us and the first thing about change, is just making your mind up to try, and little by little, we can all do it, and He will help us if we allow Him. Remember that saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day".
On faith and continuing:
In Romans 11: 22, 23 that I've written above, and the next verse below speaks about continuing also.
Colossians 1: 23 it says in part: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and was preached to every creature which is under heaven. The last part of this sentence that I've underlined, Paul was talking about those who had heard in his day in the world at that time but doesn't mean that it has continued with the same vigour today. Where Paul says and be not moved away means to be 'steadfast' in continuing. There are many definitions for steadfast - the two I like best are loyal and faithful.
In both instances Paul is encouraging us to continue in faith and mentions - if thou continue twice . . . he didn't just say 'continue' on it's own without prefixing it with IF before it, IF is specific and then he reinforces it with be not moved away.
In the verses in Romans, Paul is talking about two types of persons - to the one who will continue there is goodness, to the one who falls away there is severity and gives a warning - otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. God's mercy is truly unfathomable but there is a limit to His goodness. The second verse is a promise - God is able and will graft them in again if they turn from their unbelief. And that is mercy.
Since faith can be lost and salvation depends on faith, then salvation can be lost. So it's easy to see faith and continuing are linked.
That simple sentence, as well as the verses above it, are so very important when you think about it completely and should be enough to make anyone who believes in OSAS - Once Saved Always Saved, to have second thoughts on it. Salvation is a gift, which was won at the cross and to be highly valued and you are given a free choice to either accept and believe it, which is faith and leads to life, - or reject it, which leads to death, Matthew 7: 13, 14. And so many don't understand what that means - everyone knows that in the natural sense, death follows life but are ignorant of the spiritual death that some will suffer after the physical death and if they knew that, some might think differently. But it doesn't have to be that way - understanding the strait gate verses are linked to salvation.
The Bible tells us that we all have a choice of two resurrections. All are offered the free gift of salvation, which is eternal life and to be part of the first resurrection. And they are all those believers both alive and dead, that are risen with Jesus, 1st Thessalonians 4: 16 - 18, when He returns at the END of the Tribulation, Matthew 24: 29, 30 - before the millennium. The resurrection of unbelievers at the end of the millennium, who have already died - leads to the second death, Revelation 21: 8. Those unbelievers, who are alive and make it through the Tribulation and then enter the millennium but fail to accept the gift of salvation that is still on offer during that time, and if they succumb to Satan's temptations when he is released from the abyss at the end of the millennium, they too, will perish in the spiritual, second death at the very end - otherwise the millennium would be pointless. And so now we know there are also two destinies - one is eternal life, the other is eternal torment - of which, the choice should be easy, yet so many will not accept what Jesus is freely offering. It's that human nature thing again.
There will be many times that we will suffer setbacks as we go through life and some can cause extreme hardship - even to the point of doubting your faith. But in these times of trials we can always remember those before us - and some suffered more than we have. I try to remember Job when adversities threaten my faith - and Job was a man who had everything and lost nearly everything, even his children, yet he steadfastly kept his faith no matter what came. We belong to our Lord, Jesus Christ, He bought us with His death and He has the right to use us as soldiers in the fight in whichever way He determines to be best. The book of Job can help us all in hard times.
Small advances are better than nothing, and they almost always precede large advances. Spiritual momentum is difficult to attain and easy to lose. The solution is, fight the fight as best you can day by day and don't worry about yesterday. We can't afford to let past failures stop us from making progress today, nor yesterday's success that can lead us to become complacent today. This is a day by day fight - and we are all in it until we see the Lord face to face. (Paragraph cited from ichthys.com) As a simple example of moving forward, it is virtually impossible to stay upright on a bicycle without falling, unless you're moving forward - and so it is with spiritual momentum, that is, by continuing in faith - moving forward. An easy analogy to understand.
Romans 10: 17 says, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Sadly in this late age of Laodicea that we find ourselves in, finding a good place to hear the word has become very difficult even now and will get worse as the day draws near - Matthew 7: 15 is very severe and clear in what it says but we can all exhort one another to continue. And we should all think again - am I going the right way? Matthew 7: 13, 14 may not be relevant to you right now but when the anti-Christ and the false prophet rise, it will be very significant. And all should carefully think about that.
Matthew 18: 20 says, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. There has been an increasing fundamental shift in what people value in their lives today, which has led to spiritual paralysis and loose standards. It's easy to understand why Jesus mentions being lukewarm in the last days. So many have drifted away from spiritual matters being overtaken by material things. Finding sound teaching in the coming days will become harder and harder and many will ignore certain scriptures for whatever reasons and still blindly revere the hired men within the church system, following vain traditions. John 10: 1 - 13 is unwaveringly clear about that, particularly verses 12, 13. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. Colossians 2: 8 says a similar thing: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Attending churches is NOT a prerequisite for your salvation, nor does it guarantee it. Matthew 23 is very stinging, the verses in 13 & 14 saying, But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites? For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows houses, and for a pretence make a long prayer: Therefore ye shall receive the greatest damnation.
You can see by the tone of these verses above and the verses below, Jesus was scathing of those responsible for bringing those around them to repentance and salvation. He knew by their actions in those days what their true character was - He is likening them to thieves. I once knew a man who used to attend a church where he lived and he was asked by the pastor, would he bequeath his house to that church on his demise? And that still happens today, which will get worse in the coming days. I could say more about these verses but they speak for themselves. The only words that need revising for a Christian perspective today are Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
And 25 - 29 isn't a glowing report card, particularly verse 27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! These words were spoken by Jesus then and they are meant to be seriously thought on - they are no different for today.
As mentioned, Jesus knew of the hypocritical stance of the leaders in those days - not much has changed today. Some start with the truth, then twist it to a lie - perhaps they are a little more 'street wise' and are able to subvert the truth without many noticing. And further, by starting with the truth it can end up with something far from the truth, which has come from their own minds. And if you think I'm being a little 'over the top' or excessive, just remember how Eve was lied to because she thought he was a friend. That's why you should always check what they say from your own Bible, as-they-say-it. Any pastor worth his salt should always tell you what chapter and verse they are speaking from so that you can follow along. Even so, you still need to be wary - if they say something that doesn't seem to agree with what you're reading, they are subverting the truth and there are many who will try to because they are very good at it and are believable.
Amos 8: 11 - 13 tells us: Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst. Amos is telling us of those in his day who would not come to God but more so in our own days where God will send strong delusion to those who refuse to come to Him, believing a lie - 2nd Thessalonians 2: 11.
If I were to single out any verses that show what Jesus is asking us to do, the following two verses in John 4: 23, 24 say it all and must be understood. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. - Which has absolutely nothing to do with churches yet so many in this day turn a blind eye to these verses simply because they are not properly understood.
These are two very important verses and if we break them down into groups, they become more easily understood - But the hour cometh, and now is, this is specific and also a directive, not to be put off for a more convenient time but right now. Putting a most important requirement off to another day could result in being too late, as no-one knows the hour we will depart this life. This is a decision that must be made before you die, as Isaiah tells us in 38: 18, they that go down into the pit cannot hope for the truth. Then Jesus goes on to say, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: This also, is an important directive - that we must worship Him in spirit and truth and needs to be fully understood, which is done in your mind and heart - nowhere else, and is clear. Jeremiah says in 29: 13, And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart . . . And isn't that saying the same thing, in spirit? I think everyone, if they look into that verse can see its true meaning. Verse 23 finishes with, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. Some verses in scripture say seek and ye shall find, which is placing this responsibility on us but here we read of something truly amazing - that God is seeking us too! Then in verse 24 it re-enforces again, God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. There are many other verses that Jesus Himself said that say the same thing and you can find them if you look for them.
Thinking further from worshiping Him in spirit, and relating it to prayer. There are many who are weak in faith and lukewarm - some do pray but very infrequently, or only when things become difficult, and because of that they are only half-hearted in their belief that they are actually speaking to God. Which is really disbelief that He is really there, and that's just because we can't see Him, so it would just be a pretence - what else can it be? If that's what you think, that is an attitude you must cast away immediately - God is real and He does hear, so change your mindset and pray as if He was right beside you, not as if He was somewhere far away and you will find it easier. As an analogy, talking to someone face to face is easier for continuity and flow than in an email - so believe that He IS there, and just let it come from your heart - this is what I'm meaning. Once you realise and believe that He is there and listening, you will find prayer will come easier. There are many verses that tell us God hears our plea, it comes down to faith and belief. Because you are now a child of God, and we've all seen a child talking to their parents with a child-like love - and they believe what they're told . . . become like that.
The sooner you adopt this attitude and pray daily - and there is nothing to stop you doing that is there? Think about Daniel, he prayed 3 times a day everyday. Because of that, Daniel was a man very much favoured by God and the Spirit rested on him. And there's no reason why we can't be like Daniel, we just need to get more serious about our direction.
Just like the strait gate verses in Matthew 7: 13, 14 that not many really understand properly but if you take the time and consider these two verses mentioned above fully and completely with the strait gate verses, the meaning becomes clear - that both are spiritual, not earthly. That is, we are told by Jesus to worship God in spirit - through the heart and mind, and because we can't see Him, how else can it be? Matthew 22: 35 - 37 says exactly that.
Just as there is nothing earthly about worshiping Him in spirit, there is also nothing earthly about entering the strait gate either. And that is what most, even many believers, can't get past. Can it be any simpler? Now if you can accept what has just been said and realise that Jesus created the strait gate through His death on the cross, it wasn't here before then and is revealed to all by the Spirit, if they are willing. Perhaps, as an easier way to understand it, I should say we are led in the narrow way by the Spirit. Faith and belief is a spiritual thing, that is, it happens in spirit, in your heart and mind, it cannot be any other way. It's not a physical thing, you cannot see it but you can see the evidence of it in those who know it. So where Jesus says enter ye in at the strait gate, that is a specific directive, which is in spirit and there is nothing in this earth that is earthly that relates to the strait gate. Those two verses do not say otherwise.
Salvation is given by Jesus the moment we first believed through the Spirit - everything pertaining to God, Jesus and the Spirit is in spirit as mentioned above and finding the way to heaven is also done in spirit. Matthew 7: 13, 14 tells us how to achieve it through the strait gate and I hope, after you've read this article, you might like to visit that article and it's about faith too. You can find it at the end of this article. Briefly because I've mentioned it, there are many who have wondered about those verses but have never really understood them, yet knowing they're in scripture and Jesus spoke them, so they must be important. Jesus made it simple, through your mind and heart, which is the opposite of following vain traditions. Only two verses, you would think that should be easy enough to understand, yet so many wrongly think it's through a church - just look at the verses again, the verses are clear, the instructions are clear, nothing about churches. As just mentioned, through your heart and mind, and is in spirit, which leadeth unto life - the last part of verse 13 - and few there be that find it is the summation of those verses.
If there are any of you who read these articles and you are part of the church system but you are disillusioned by it and if you're looking for something better, visit ichthys.com - I promise you, you won't be disappointed - save it to favourites, you will be going back to it many times.
As mentioned above, as long as we continue in the belief that we have and do what is expected of us by trying to help our brothers and sisters who don't yet know Him, we, and hopefully they too can be assured of salvation, that is what 'your good works' are - Ephesians 2: 8 & 9, particularly 9. It's simple really, if you don't continue you are throwing away your faith, and your salvation. Keep your faith by continuing and you keep your salvation. Even if Satan is trying to convince you otherwise by thinking your sins are too much for God to forgive, all you have to do is come to Him in prayer, confess those sins (as a whole, you won't remember all of them) and He WILL forgive you - so we can now see that the simple act of continuing in faith is all that's needed. And it begins by throwing away the belief that has been ingrained over many years, that you must attend a church to receive salvation.
In the latter days there will be a dearth, meaning a scarcity of good, sound teaching not found anywhere - Amos 8: 11 - 13 that I've mentioned above. In these days to come, Satan's objective is to eradicate all forms of Christian beliefs and I suspect, one of the things he will cause to happen is Christian articles like mine and many others will be taken down or banned from the internet by the anti-Christ and if that happens, the Bible and the Spirit will be our only source of truth. And many who are genuinely seeking truth will depart the church visible because of their fallen disposition and impending coercion by the false prophet, into a one-world-religion, instead of reliable Bible reading and some will just desert them completely because they've been offended. And if that happens to you just know it's not your doing.
Those of you who are watching world events will know that a one-world-religion agreement in principal was signed in June 2020 between Pope Francis and the Islamic Grand Imam, leader of Egypt's Al-Azhar and is clearing the ground for further talks, which would suggest that the Pope is the false prophet - time will reveal it. This agreement is the start or beginnings of more to come - it is not yet universal involving all religions as it is the anti-Christ who gives power to the false prophet to complete it and neither have yet risen, although both are earthly men and are alive right now. Revelation 13: 1 - 10 is describing a one-world-government, particularly the last part of verse 7, which says: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations - that will be implemented by the anti-Christ in the beginning of the 2nd half of Tribulation. Then, from verse 11 - 18 it describes a one-world-religion, particularly verses 14 - 18. That too, will be fully implemented in the 2nd half. In 2015 the Pope visited the US and in a video he was seen by many to say that "all religions should combine into one". Make of that what you will.
The Bible is the only source of legitimate truth and Satan doesn’t want you to know it in any measure. Human nature being what it is, reading the Bible is often put off in favour of other pastimes but just remember, it’s Satan who puts up the detour sign because he knows our rebellious nature and we must try very hard to overcome that. How much you give in to that will determine your level of growth and possibly your salvation as well. If you knew what governs your salvation and the little it costs to gain it and the rewards promised, which are beyond earthly comparison, wouldn’t you do your best to attain it - and not lose it? Human nature is a strange thing and when you receive something that is free, some will truly value it above everything else because they've understood the cost, and yet others will place no value on it whatsoever and I often wonder if there was a price on it, would more want it? And many might think, If I could just see or hear Jesus I would believe - Well many saw and heard Him when He was here and yet they still didn't believe. The same thing will happen after Jesus returns - the millennium being their very last opportunity. And thinking further, remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus - Luke 19 - 31 but particularly verses 26 - 31 which says: And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then said he, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. How little some will value such a priceless gift, which is faith in salvation and forget the cost. So many are only looking at the visible things that mean little instead of the invisible things that are above and mean everything. If I could instil one thing in you and one thing only; Salvation is the only thing that really matters.
Having faith and holding on to faith are not quite the same. Having faith is believing that the Bible teaches us about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit is true. Holding on to faith is more about the battle that each and every one of us will experience in one way or another once we’ve made a conscious decision to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. And to win this battle we need to believe in a power outside of ourselves. In our own power we are very weak and we are not strong enough on our own, Satan will easily make ‘short work’ of us as he is a master deceiver. We were all in the battle even before making this decision – we weren’t completely aware of just how much we were kept bound. No-one can attain salvation in their own volition or power without having accepted Jesus as your saviour – it’s just not possible and it begins with a simple prayer from your heart and then repenting after that, which is changing your spiritual direction. There are many who may think their sins are so bad they are unforgivable and that is NOT TRUE and you know who is telling you that. There is no sin so great, except one, which is rejecting Jesus completely by not returning before your death - that He won’t forgive if we confess them in genuine remorse and once confessed they are forgiven and don’t have to be said ever again. And you know the best thing about that - God forgets them too! Isaiah 43: 25 says: I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Having a contrite heart means it has been bruised, hurt and crushed and God will delight to heal it. And just think, if God is willing to forgive and forget our sins, surely it's not too hard for us to give Him our lives in return, not too difficult is it?
A broken spirit and a contrite heart God will not despise. Psalm 51: 17.
Romans 10: 9 tells us, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, [which begins in prayer then telling others] and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For such a reward, it’s not a big demand is it? For some, who were 'of the world' before realising there must be something better, and then finally coming to God, perhaps even close to the eleventh hour, and because of their past ways they may be a little awkward to outwardly show they now live for Jesus. Don't ever be afraid to throw off that old man, you are now a new creature in Christ and there are so many rewards. Perhaps the best example is Paul - you can read about what Paul did to the early church in Acts, he tore the early church apart, persecuting many and causing their deaths until Jesus revealed Himself to him on the road to Damascus. From that moment he was a changed man, eventually, even overcoming the suspicion that was heaped upon him to become 'one of the best'. To digress here for a little explanation - by saying the early church, I'm not meaning buildings of any description, I'm simply meaning people. I've already said above how things were in those days and that is why Jesus brought His disciples out of what was at that time, and because they, the church, was persecuted by the authorities of the day, they had to meet in secret in peoples houses - to escape persecution and possible death. That is what pure, undefiled religion is - even when 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name, Jesus in in their midst. And if you consider these things, you can also understand why Jesus eventually made the strait gate available through His death.
Disbelief and human nature is the condition that is holding so many back but there is more to gain than there is to lose. There is little or no benefit in holding on to what once was, just let go. 2nd. Corinthians 5: 17 has some encouraging words: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. The ONE and only requirement is to continue in faith.
Another couple of favourite verses are in Hebrews 12: 1, 2 and are good to think on, Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. We can be so thankful that Jesus was prepared to suffer that cruelty for the likes of us who are unworthy and He knows our every weakness, (as does Satan) and we will all fall from time to time but you can rest assured He will always help us to our feet and encourage us to continue. I’m sure you can see that as a beautiful picture. You may not be aware of those around you who are watching your walk but be assured, there is a great cloud of witnesses above you who are rejoicing in heaven and cheering you on in this race. The rewards promised for finishing this race far outweigh the alternative of giving up. This race isn't only for the swift or the strong, the weak can win it as well and if others can be encouraged by our weakness and we show that we are continuing, even in weakness, it doesn't go unseen by them or Him. We have not yet resisted unto blood and some may have to.
To digress a little and knowing that we are now all standing on the very edge of the Tribulation precipice with such a short time left before it begins, 2020 could be the start of worse to come on an exponential scale. The CV pandemic is sweeping the world with no end yet in sight and no-one knows just how long it will continue. Here in Australia it's only just beginning, they are saying it will be longer than 6 months, possibly 12, even 18 months, no-one really knows - and now we are entering into the 3rd year and no-one knows what's next. And with Tribulation a few short years away, who can say it isn't a wake-up call from God? After all, He has been asking everyone to come to Him for the last 6000 years and accept the salvation that Jesus paid the highest price for and grace will be no more. And something that may not have crossed many minds in this - there are many governments in various countries who are beginning to say that when a reliable vaccine is produced it will be mandatory to take it before borders are open to international travellers and of course, some won't want to accept it until it is proven to be safe, which is understandable. Now that it has been proven to be safe, some governments in some countries are beginning to say 'no jab - no job'. And taken even further, 'no jab - no dole'. I believe that should be mandated everywhere to help eradicate it as fast as possible. And I know that may seem a draconian measure but this virus is taking so many lives and yours could be the next life lost. Those who are listening to certain media and 'conspiracy theories' that are false, are putting their own lives as well as the lives of others at risk, which is hard to comprehend - are people really that stupid in this day and age? Think about how long effective vaccines have been around, Polio and other ailments were once a dreaded disease and have now been eradicated because everyone accepted those vaccines were safe. And I can't remember any rejection to that then. In some countries that have certain diseases, you have to be vaccinated against those diseases if you're wanting to go there, and that didn't stop people from being vaccinated. Apologies for digressing. Now if you think about it, it could also be seen as an example of Satan 'pulling the strings' to blindly follow his directions to accept the mark when he indwells the anti-Christ in the beginning of the second half of Tribulation - Revelation 13: 16, 17. It will be promoted as being in our best interests but in fact it will be the largest form of population control ever seen. But please, don't misread what I've just said, I'm meaning at that time - not now.
Remembering Job and thinking further, Satan is going to orchestrate many more disasters as a 'softening up' strategy making it easier for him to cause so many to fall away and accept the mark, mainly through fear - all of which is allowed by God to try and bring more to realise the error of their ways and change before it's too late. All those who are going to change will and all those who won't, simply won't. This crisis certainly makes it clear that if we can get this sort of worldwide dislocation from the 'normal' so quickly now, before the Spirit's restraining ministry is removed out of Satan's way and before the anti-Christ comes on the scene, there is no anticipating just how rapidly things will change once Tribulation begins and sadly for some, faith will be in short supply. That isn't to say the Spirit is removed from believers - he's only out of Satan's way opening the path for it to begin. But one thing is certain, after this is over it isn't going to be 'business as usual' and then BANG!, all of a sudden Tribulation begins very shortly after. It will be one thing after another, building to such an extent that the beginning of Tribulation may largely go unnoticed by so many, being 'dumbed down' by these events, except those who know and are watching for it. This crisis could be just the start of worse to follow and when the next one hits, everyone may be included. And knowing just some of the things we read of that is soon to befall us, it is so important to know Him, in whom we love and trust and know that He has everything worked out to the last detail.
A simple story of faith and belief in my own life that changed my perspective many years ago. It was a time before I truly decided to turn my life over to God when I was inwardly questioning things and I used to wonder, why didn't God leave something on this earth that left absolutely no doubt or question that God is who He is. Well the realisation came one day - He did leave something here and I was standing on it! Another time later when I was teaching a particular hobby - I can't quite remember how the conversation came up during a break, a young girl asked me a similar question and I simply recounted that experience but I could see it wasn't enough so I asked her - Thinking about the distance the earth is from the sun, what would happen if the earth was twice that distance away?
She thought about it and said, We'd probably freeze.
I then asked, So what would happen if the earth was even a quarter of that distance closer?
Straight away, We'd fry was her answer.
I then said, So who put it at that perfect distance? - I think you've answered your own question.
In the above paragraph I've explained it in simple language, Romans 1: 19, 20 explains it in truth in scripture. And in reality, no-one can deny it.
I particularly like what it says in part in 1st Chronicles 28: 9, If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever. Pretty clear isn't it.
After learning about what we will face when Tribulation arrives in a very short time, and I've covered this in other articles, there are many who will ask - Why has God brought it on our generation and not previous generations? Well, if you think about it there is a very simple answer. God in His mercy and grace has allowed ample time for all to come to him in submission and confession and changing your direction. And some may still say - But why us? And the answer is still the same. Every generation has steadily got worse over the last 6,000 years, we just happen to be the generation living at the end of that timeline of human existence, which God has already decreed and we are now so close to when God will say - Enough is enough, how many warnings do you need? And anyone who wants salvation must realise that it must be claimed before you die - there is no hope beyond the grave, Isaiah 38: 18. And most know the story of the 99 sheep and the one that went astray, Matthew 18: 12 - 14. The lost sheep is a beautiful story of the love that He has for us all and all those 'lost sheep' will be found, at the eleventh hour so to speak - you only have to look at the fallen state of the world right now to realise this and in John 10: 16, Jesus tells us He will bring them, which is a beautiful story. What I'm saying here is 'the last lost sheep' won't be found until late in the 2nd half of Tribulation and God will not waste any further time after that event before Jesus returns and He knows who that person is. That is not to say there won't be any lost sheep amongst the unbelievers who enter the millennium at the end of Tribulation and that is another story but briefly because I've mentioned it - it's only the unbelievers who refused the mark that will enter the millennium, where they will still have opportunity if they repent - they just don't know yet, that they too, are still lost sheep in God's eyes. If that wasn't so the millennium would be pointless. And this all ties in with the 7,000 year / 7 day timeline, which is God's timeline of the history of man - we are now almost at the end of the 6,000 years or 6th day of that timeline, which includes the 7 years of Tribulation, only leaving the millennium of 1,000 years to come. And that should tell you just how close Tribulation really is.
In case you're not familiar with John 10: 16: And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. That is a beautiful story of hope for all who are lost sheep.
And Paul mentions, One Lord, one faith, one baptism. Ephesians 4: 5.
Much of the Bible has to be spiritually discerned, especially Revelation, which is helped by the Spirit and unless you have the Spirit guiding you it can be difficult to completely understand - He will not come to you unless you do your part. While all over-comers are believers, not all believers will be over-comers, so belief is the first quality and priority. All believers receive salvation on believing, over-comers receive additional rewards for their efforts in defeating their adversities. In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus through John, tells the seven churches from Ephesus in the first days to the present Laodicea how He will reward an overcomer. Revelation 3: 14 - 22 speaks of this Laodicean age we now find ourselves in and verse 21 would be an unexpected, beautiful reward and I'll write it here for encouragement. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. For myself, I am not worthy of such a reward, I will be happy and blessed, just to see Him from afar.
You may like a story of a little boy in a race, briefly condensed from the original.
The whistle blew and off they went - to be the hero was each boy's desire. One boy in particular, was in the lead and thought "my Dad will be so proud". As he sped down the field and crossed a shallow dip, the little boy who thought he'd win, lost his step and slipped. As he fell his Dad stood up and his anxious face, to the boy it clearly said 'get up and win that race'. He quickly rose and ran - behind a bit, that's all. So he ran with all his might but his mind went faster than his legs and he slipped and fell again. And through the laughing crowd he heard the words again, so he jumped up to try again 10 yards behind the last. Faster and faster he ran only to slip yet again. Defeated, he lay there silently with tears in his eyes. I've lost, he thought, so what's the use? I'll live with my disgrace. But then he thought of his Dad who soon he'd have to face. Get up it said - get up and take your place! So up he rose to run once more refusing to forfeit- at least he wouldn't quit. Three times he'd fallen, three times he rose again, still he ran till the end. The crowd cheered the winner but when the fallen youngster crossed the line in last place, the crowd gave a greater cheer for finishing the race. Listening to the crowd you would have thought he won, and to his Dad he said, I didn't do so well.
To me you won his father said. You rose each time you fell.
I pray that we may hear those words from our dear Father as well for all of us.
And thinking further, this story reminds us of Peter when he denied Jesus three times after the cock had crowed three times and later when he was full of remorse and bitterness from his denial, Jesus forgave him in mercy and asked him three times, Lovest thou me? - Feed my sheep. This wasn't meant to convict Peter but to show him how much Jesus loved him and if we really think about it in that light, how many times can all of us say Jesus has forgiven us, which is a lesson for all. I think we can all recount how many times we've now forgotten so we shouldn't be too critical of Peter.
If anyone is interested and would like to read more of my articles, rather than searching for them, just click on the titles below and it will take you there. These articles are about salvation, some more direct that others but all will be of benefit to you. And if you deem them worthy and true, you might like to save them to 'favourites' for future reference. You don't need to save all of them as they are all here - if you'd like to have them, simply save this one. I constantly review and update these articles as the Spirit teaches and whenever I review them, if you've saved them they are updated on your computer as well. You may even want to forward them to friends.
- THE RAPTURE PRINCIPLE: Is It Before, During, or After?
Many have differing views on this and I think the reason people believe something is because they heard it first from someone else and most believe the first thing they hear if it seems to be true. But you should examine it yourself before you agree.
- Do You Know What Time it REALLY is?
So many are just drifting in this world on a windswept ocean without a thought of the rocks ahead that are so close. And with so little time to alter course and steer a safe passage - now is high time to think about salvation.
- The Strait And Narrow Way - Not Many Really Understand These Verses, Do You?
So many put their faith in the church system, tying it to salvation but are blind to the perfect way that Jesus made available for all who would earnestly seek it. Nothing that is of man is the strait and narrow way.
- Read Your Bible - Doing So Leads to Life.
There are so many today who sadly, don't read the Bible and have no idea of the beauty it contains.
- Chronological Timeline of the Events in Tribulation
AND SO THE END BEGINS . . . .
- END OF DAYS - Just How Close Is Tribulation, Have You Any Idea?
It is so sad that so many are completely unaware of the days we are living in and of what is coming in just a few short years. And even worse, much less care. Was it Jesus who coined the term 'If they only knew?'
- The Workings of the Holy Spirit
The Spirit is a gentle thing and he will come to all who earnestly seek him.
- SIN - The Wages Of Sin Is Death.
Sin is a subject not many are willing to address, thinking I've still got time to fix but no-one knows the hour of their departure. The past is where you learnt the lesson, the future is where you apply the lesson, don't give up in the present.
- The Genesis Gap.
Was there a world in existence before the flood of Noah? Look a bit closer, scripture will reveal it.
- This Is My Commandment That Ye Love One-Another As I Have Loved You.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- ETERNITY - Have You Ever Wondered, Where Will You Spend Eternity?
If you lived in the Sydney area in the 50's & 60's there's a very good chance you saw this word in yellow chalk on street corners. It was also seen in Newcastle and Wollongong.
- The Spirit of Life - God's Gift To Us
This article is about the natural and spiritual timeline of man from Birth - to death. And how God made Adam from clay and then breathed life into him, and is exactly what He did to us, which is the very life within us. But so many are blind to it.
Jack Jenn (author) from Living in hope on planet earth. on August 11, 2020:
I'm so glad in my unworthy state for a little more to that verse in proverbs you mention and Jesus' forgiveness is so great - Matthew 18: 22 is unfathomable too - Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but until seventy times seven.
That is mercy undeserved.
I appreciate your comment.
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on August 11, 2020:
When we fall we must rise again bible says righteous may fall seven times but he will always rise again.
“Pro_24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”
We must never give up in faith, for when we do not expect he will appear.
Jack Jenn (author) from Living in hope on planet earth. on August 04, 2020:
Thank you so much for reading the article and I'm glad you found something in it useful. Those words are an inspiration to me too and unlike that boy in the race who fell 3 times but rose again to finish what he started, I have fallen, oh so much more but He knows our every weakness (as does Satan) and as long as we never turn away, He will help us to our feet and set our direction again. I'm sure you can see that as a beautiful picture. No matter how weak we are His hand is still outstretched in love toward us.
It's a race not to quit or to win but to finish and He will help all of us if we allow Him.
My best regards,
Belinda jordan on August 04, 2020:
How great are the words here about gods gift to us and grace, and not works.and l love the words you rose each time you fell, l know in my life l have fallen so many times but when ,people run from me when l fail ,and fall, but l never give up because my father in heaven says l will never leave you .so l jump back in the race,because when l finish my race l want Jesus ,my father ,to be there to welcome me home and say you made it daughter you finished the race,
Jack Jenn (author) from Living in hope on planet earth. on December 18, 2019:
Thank you for reading it and I hope it was of benefit to you.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 18, 2019:
Interesting analysis. Thanks.