Tag Archives: salvation

When I Die, Have Church!

Don’t Make Her Buy the Car Alone

My feelings are pretty raw at the moment. It was today that I presided over the funeral for the father of a 16-year-old girl. It broke my heart as I watched her weep over his casket. My own eyes filled with tears.

Several years ago I used to be in the funeral pre-planning business. Even to this day I firmly believe making funeral preparations in advance is a very wise and loving thing to do. That was especially evident this week when I talked with the 16-year-old who had to handle all the arrangements for her deceased daddy. She literally had no idea what to do.

Do you have children? Would you force your teenage daughter to buy a new car… after a couple of hours of sleep… an emotional wreck… and whatever she purchases, if she makes a poor decision, spends too much money, or does anything she regrets, too bad – no returns?

Well, forcing your teenage daughter to handle your funeral arrangements after you die is not much different from forcing her buy a new on the worst day of her life. How is that being responsible? How is that taking care of those you love? It’s not! And that is why I want to make it very clear right now what I want for my funeral.

My Wishes

The following is not meant to be an official funeral pre-arrangement, but it will give you an idea of what I want to take place after I die. My wife and children, should they outlive me, will obviously have the right to do whatever they desire, but the following is what I want, if possible, to take place.

  • Music. I want good music. I don’t want canned music from the funeral home’s collection; I want LIVE music! The only exception to the live music would be a recording of Building 429 singing “Where I Belong” somewhere in the service. I will leave it up to my family to call on the groups that I want to be there, but I want God-honoring, Spirit-filled, praise-filled music that sets a tone of victory and celebration.
  • Preaching. Yes, I want somebody to preach. And when I say “preach,” I want somebody who’s fought a few battles, spit in the eye of the devil, experienced amazing grace, and is unflinching in presenting the life-changing, soul-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want someone who will be able to open up the Holy Writ and let it fly. But I don’t want some guy who’s all emotion; I wan’t someone who can rightly divide the word of Truth. My life is a testimony to God’s amazing grace, and I want someone who can tell what that’s all about.
  • Shouting. Friends, today I instructed my youngest daughter to have at least one Church of God lady standing by (with a $50 retainer, if necessary) to belt out a few hallelujah’s and praise God’s if the crowd gets too quiet. I would be very disappointed to find out the people at my funeral were sad, downtrodden, mournful, and blue. Seriously! Rejoice in hope! Shout with joy! Give glory to God! Make my funeral a celebration of salvation! A celebration of Jesus! I want some hankey-waving, chandelier-swinging, back-of-pew running, excitement in the place 🙂
  • Shout at my casket. No joke, I want everyone in the place to face the casket and yell my name. Then, I want you to wait. Why? Because I want you to hear the silence – because I won’t be there! Yell my name and see if I’ll respond, then make it known that what’s in that casket is nothing more than an empty shell; Anthony’s not there – he’s gone!
  • Bag Pipes. There’s just something special about “Amazing Grace” played on bag pipes. That’s what I want at the cemetery.
  • An Invitation to Accept Jesus as Savior. Folks, I’m a preacher. What else would honor my memory more than to have someone be born again at my funeral? It happened when I preached at my father’s funeral back in 1991, so shouldn’t I hope for the same at mine? You see, therein lies the hope…the joy…the expectation…the comfort…the consolation…the peace that passes all understanding.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. – 1 Corinthians 15:19-20

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 KJV

When I die, put away the timer, tell the funeral director to go eat lunch or dinner, and… JUST. HAVE. CHURCH!

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Life/Death

Jesus Paid It All and the Payment Was Permanent Part Seven

A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

The Doctrine of conditional salvation, or that one can lose their salvation, is a product of Satan himself. I am not saying that those who believe it are of Satan; I am saying the thought is from him. Why would I say such a thing? Allow me to briefly explain. First, let’s take a look at the following passage:

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

In that passage, Paul was speaking to saved believers. What he was passing along from God was that we are to put on our helmet, and that helmet is the helmet of Salvation. He simply meant that Satan desperately wants us to be in a constant state of doubting our salvation. Paul was teaching us not to be distracted by those doubts, but to live secure in the assurance of our status as reconciled children of God.

Why does Satan care? The basic reason is that if we rest assured that our salvation is secure, then we can move along to the work God really wants us to do.  If we spend our entire lives in a mad scramble to stay saved, then that is all we can do. I hate to sound repetitive, but it’s not about us! It is about our works done to honor and glorify God and not our efforts either to get saved or to stay saved.

As with works based salvation, works maintained salvation becomes about men rather than God. God has laid out the conditions that must be met for salvation: repentance toward God and faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Any other rules are not God’s rules, they are man’s rules. Who makes any such list of rules and conditions necessary to maintain salvation? Some person, of course. When we follow rules set by man, we begin to abandon God’s guidelines as revealed in His Word. When we do that, we begin to follow men rather than God; worse, we begin to follow ourselves. And that is what got us into trouble in the first place way back in Genesis Chapter 3

Are you saved? If you are, rest assured that your salvation is secure for all eternity. Quit worrying about what you have to do to keep it, and get busy doing the works God has actually called you to do.

Are you lost? Understand that this security can belong to you as well. Admit you are a sinner. Agree with God that He is right and you are wrong. Turn from your sin. Believe that Jesus paid your due penalty on the cross, and accept Him as your Savior and Lord today. Then, pick up your cross and follow Him.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, salvation

Hope for the Dead

Sometimes we encounter people who give every impression that Hell will be their final abode. With bombastic, hate-filled, vulgar declarations they condemn the idea of a Creator and swim deeper into the sea of their depravity.

However, because of His love and mercy, God draws men and women while they are yet immersed in their sin. Therefore, the hardest, vilest, deadest sinner you know might be the one closest to new life in Christ.

Never assume; just keep praying.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! – Ephesians 2:4-5 CSB

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Worms Need a Savior

We All Do It

There are many people in the world that call right “wrong,” and wrong “right.” As a matter of fact, we all do it, and probably a lot more often than we think.

When is the last time you broke the law and sped down the highway? Did you justify your actions with something like, “They should have never made the speed limit that low.” When is the last time you watched a rated-R movie and condoned the sex or violence as “art” or “entertainment”? Does Philippians 4:8 (whatsoever things are pure…think on these things) ever cross your mind?

Friends of Murderers 

But before you get all depressed and feel like you have no moral high ground, at least you don’t steal from your parents, do you?

The one who robs his father or mother and says, “That’s no sin,” is a companion to a man who destroys. – Proverbs 28:24 HCSB

Simply put, the one who steals from his own mother and father, especially one who thinks there’s nothing wrong with it, lives in the gutter of humanity. He’s no better than a worm.

I personally like the way the New Living Translation puts this proverb:

“Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.”

Oh, but wait! What does the Bible say in 1 John 3:15? It says: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…” A murderer! Seriously, I can’t stand the scum who would rob his parents and say, “No big deal.” That kind of person needs to be dealt with in the harshest manner. These guys are nothing but gutter-dwelling, scum-sucking worms.

But then again, what the thief, the hater, and the murderer really need is a Savior.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I? 
 – Isaac Watts (“At the Cross”)

 

The only problem is that too many of us are unwilling to admit we are “worms,” too.

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Jesus Paid It All, and the Payment Was Permanent (Part 4)

Guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Not only does The Bible teach that grace and security are not a permit to sin, but Christians should keep in mind that we all face a judgment one day.  Understand clearly that a truly saved person will never face judgment for their sins; the issue of Heaven and Hell is decided only in this life. Believers will, however, be judged at some point in time for how they lived their lives for Jesus Christ while they were alive. The ultimate goal of every believer at the Judgment should be to hear the same words the  good steward heard in the Parable of the Talents which Jesus told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Let’s take a look at this judgement believers face. We learn in Romans 14:10-12 as Paul wrote to the Roman believers, that we will all stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and account for how we lived our lives for him. Since we aren’t going to be judged for our sins what then is the purpose of this judgment? The judgment believers face is to determine our rewards we will receive for the things we have done for Jesus while living. One of the best descriptions of what will happen can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

What we receive are crowns for various services we have rendered on behalf of Jesus Christ during our lives. Descriptions of these can be found in several places in Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10.

You can also read a full post on rewards for believers here

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Jesus Paid It All, and the Payment Was Permanent (Part 3)

I am really enjoying the regular Wednesday-morning guest posts by Wally Fry (Wally Wednesdays). They have truly been a blessing.  – Anthony


A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Perhaps the biggest argument against the Doctrine of Eternal Security is that it somehow becomes “a license to sin.” In other words, one can become saved and then go out in the world and do whatever one chooses with no consequence. After all, one’s sins past, present and future are all forgiven.  Technically, that is a true statement. Technically a truly saved person, no matter how far they might backslide, is still forgiven and heaven bound.

Sadly and to the discredit of churches today, we do much to foster this skepticism about the Doctrine of Eternal Security. We have pews full of people who only darken the doors of a church for an hour on Sunday morning, then barrel back to the outside world and conduct themselves just like, or worse than, the rest of the world.  This same group of people justifies their behavior by resting on some claim that they are saved, so..”I’m all good, I’m saved and heaven bound. Jesus has forgiven me so it’s cool.” This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.  Salvation is not about getting a ticket to heaven punched. God truly, deeply loves us and offers us the gift of salvation, but salvation is not about us! That’s Joel Osteen talk for sure. Read my post on just who worship is for and why we are saved here.

A quick summary is in order here. God was not sitting around in Heaven lonely one day and decided to create humanity to alleviate His loneliness. God is self existent and self sufficient and has no need for us whatsoever. God does not save us so that He can fill some empty void in His existence. We were only created for His honor and glory in the first place. In fact, the entire plan of redemption formed before the beginning of time was simply to declare God’s glory to the universe.

The point of this is God does not save us “for” us. He saves us for a purpose and a reason, and the reason is not us.  The most notable Bible passage on salvation based on grace not works is of course Ephesians 2:8,9. Where people go wrong, however, is they stop there.  Because right after God makes it clear through the Apostle Paul that works don’t save us, He goes on to tell they whys of our salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

That’s just a start. There are numerous passages that teach us the a true saving faith will produce fruit(works). These are merely a few.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22.23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1 John 3:6-9 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

The Apostle Paul answered the question about Eternal Security being a permit to sin very directly in Romans 6:15-23. This question is far from a new one.

Romans 6:15-23 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Clearly, salvation is not a permit to sin at will. God said that in His Word. Also, clearly, God has expectations of us once we are saved.

Coming up…Part 4 Rewards for the believer

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Which Way Do We Go?

How often do you argue with your phone?

Maybe a better question would be, “How often do you disagree with Siri or Google over directions?”

Last week I was invited to be the guest speaker at a church I’d never been to before. I knew the general direction I was supposed to go, and I had a general idea where to make some turns, but even though I had the address I wasn’t sure how to get there.

As we were getting close to where I knew we were supposed to turn off of the main highway, I asked my wife to use her iPhone to look up the address and get directions. You’ve done that before, right? And most of the time things go just fine and I get to where I need to go.

On a side note, I do miss those days long ago when I’d sit down with an atlas and local maps in order to plan a trip out of town. Planning trips that way always made it seem like I was heading out on an adventure. GPS has taken all the fun out of road trips.

Well, my wife entered the address of the church, pressed the “go” button, and down the road we went until we found the first turn.

I don’t know about you, but despite the amazing technology, even though Siri and Google rarely lead me astray (I did say “rarely”), there’s always this uneasy tension which keeps me from totally trusting the little gadget in my hand.

Anyway, we drove for only a couple of miles until we came to a split in the road. Right there in the middle of the road was a big white sign with a big black arrow painted on it. Above the arrow was the name of the church I was trying to find.

As I slowed down, my wife repeated the words of the digitized direction-giver, “Keep right.” I said, “But the sign says that we should go left.” Then Valerie replied, “All I know is that the phone says we should go right.”

Risking my own embarrassment and a potential “I told you so,” I followed the instruction of the big, black arrow and went left.

In just a short while we came to an intersection where we would have to make another choice, either left or right. Once again Steve Job’s creation sweetly advised me to “Make a left, and proceed blah blah blah blah.” However, right in front of me, as plain as black paint on a white sign could be, there was a big hand-painted arrow pointing left, and right above the arrow was the name of the church we were trying to find.

“You know,” I said to my wife, “this is one of those times when a good, biblical lesson about the spiritual life could apply.” I continued, “Instead of trusting the phone, why not trust the sign that was obviously placed by someone who’s been down this road before?”

We made the left – despite Siri’s protests – and found the church no more than a quarter mile down the road.

Here’s the thing. The world is full of all kinds of information and advice, and much of it is spot on. However, when it comes to the road that leads to a peace that passes understanding, to a relationship with my Creator, to Heaven… I’d rather trust the One who has already gone this way before.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

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