The True Story Of “Lilly” (Part One)

This article is part 1 of 2 in the series The True Story Of “Lilly.”

When we see grown people suffer from abuse, it bothers us, but when we hear or see a child being abused, we are incensed. It reaches us deep in our souls and we cry out for justice for the defenseless. Why doesn’t someone do something? Well, someone did, for ‘Lilly’.

During ancient times, children that were unwanted were sold to pay off family debts, and if they were deformed they were killed or just left to die. Yet some cultures considered children with deformities as special, revered as holy, able to communicate with the gods.

Modern concepts have evolved from locking up children with deformities in asylums, to actively endeavoring to discover and develop the potential that each one has. There are many organizations that are actively helping children and adults with handicaps…

The story of “Lilly” is true. I have changed and left out names and places,  to protect the privacy of all involved, but it is a story that needs to be told.

She was born to a very devout but misled couple who did not understand God’s love or His  grace. She was born profoundly deaf. ‘Lilly’s’ parents, failed to see her as a blessing from God. They could have found help… even though finances might have been a hardship. There were programs available, books in libraries to help parents raise children with hearing impairments, schools for the deaf… so much help was (and is) available. They could have found support groups where parents gather and share information to help each other face the same challenges. ‘Lilly’s’ parents did NONE of these things. At least they could have institutionalized her, which sounds harsh, but it would have been a blessing compared to what they did.

Because of her parent’s poor knowledge and understanding of God’s word, His love, and grace, and because of their extreme beliefs, they failed to see the potential that was there. Instead they took her imperfection as a sign of some grave sins in their lives. (Like the ‘friends’ of Job, who believed that all suffering was a sign of sin, (Job 4ff). Even the disciples of Jesus had this belief, (John 9:1-2), but Jesus corrected them.

‘Lilly’s’ parents, filled with shame and fear that their primitive fundamentalist friends would judge them as sinful, boarded up the windows of a small room, with a 40 watt bulb for light hanging from the ceiling, and locked her away. (Out of sight…. out of mind.) This was her home and all she knew. For TWENTY ONE YEARS ‘Lilly’ existed in a world of almost non-existent love, human-kindness and communication, no radio, no television, no books, no windows… nothing. Her parents taught her nothing but pain and hardship. The world for her was dark, lonely and uncaring. ‘Lilly’ was ‘planted’ but didn’t have the nourishment to ‘germinate’ and ‘grow’. Yet every seed has the potential for growth under the right circumstances.

In a world where abuse was rampant, Christianity flourished. Everywhere the teachings of Jesus took root, the value of life and family relationships have changed for the better. “Training up a child in the way he should go…”(Proverbs 22:6), NEVER INVOLVED OR CONDONED ABUSE! “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1), while it instructs children to obey parents, does not authorize abuse. “Fathers, do not exasperate (act unreasonably) your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Please… IF REAL ABUSE IS SUSPECTED, GET INVOLVED. Break the cycle of abuse.

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The True Story of “Lilly” (Part Two)

This is a true story, but names  We have changed, and omitted names and places to protect the privacy of those involved.)

Lilly was twenty one years old, deaf, locked up and abused, and places when she became so sick that she could no longer be hidden where her parents had kept her up to this time. The doctor was brought to the house, where he immediately recognized the abusive situation, and notified the authorities. Mercifully, she was taken from her parents and moved to a special home where she was loved and cared for. Her parents were tried and went to prison. Lilly, was sent to a facility for trainable mentally emotionally handicapped adults for assessment. She had no communication skills, and when tested, her I.Q. measured between 6 and 10, which is not trainable. They were about to give up on her, when a caring teacher intervened. “Let me teach her sign language… then re-assess her. What have we got to loose?!” Further he said, “I just want 6 months to try and teach her.”

The challenges for the teacher and the student were many, as you can only imagine. There was much at stake for Lilly, who was crying out for help.  ‘Lilly’s’ special classes began and from day one there was progress. ‘Lilly’ was like a sponge, soaking up information. It was like someone had flipped a switch. All he had to do was input the information and she seemed to be able to utilize it.

She began by learning words and their hand signs, objects and their signs, the sign language alphabet, numbers, and on and on. She had started learning and was not going to stop.  Daily learning activities were done, using the ‘reverse sequence’ technique to teach ‘personal care’. When he taught her to tie shoe laces, he let her do the last thing, (pull the loops tight). Then he would do all but the next to last two steps plus pull the laces tight, and so on, till she could do it all. The teacher said, “You can teach almost anything by breaking it down into enough steps, and using the reverse sequence technique.”

In six weeks she had learned over 300 word signs, plus hand signs for all the teachers and staff, and helpers, and all the students at the school, as well as how to write the words for the signs.

Within three months her I.Q. was at 120, she was reading at a seventh grade level. After six months, tested for the last time, she was at 160!!!
After 4 years, ‘Lilly’ had graduated from high school. Before she was 30 she had completed her Masters and Doctorate Degree. She had earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and English, a Masters Degree in Special Education for the hearing impaired.

How many children have been treated as though they were an ‘inconvenience’, ‘in the way’? How many ‘Lillys’ have been crushed?

The people were bringing babies and children to Jesus so He could touch them. His disciples rebuked the people for bringing children, they were ‘in the way’. Jesus rebuked them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…”(Luke 18:15-17).

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(This interesting study is used by permission from Olan Hicks)

There is a theory, widely held in Christendom, that Satan was once a chief angel of God in heaven and, as one writer put it, “Led the angels in singing praises to God.” (Hal Lindsey) The first thing wrong with that is that Jesus said it is not so. “He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth.” (John 8:44) Some versions read it “did not stand in the truth.” In the Greek text the word is “esteken,” a negative perfect tense verb. This means that he did not ever stand in the truth.

The theory that says the opposite to this is drawn from a careless misuse of some scriptures. In the Bible we first encounter Satan in Genesis 3:1, as a serpent. Note that this is at the very start of creation. The world was not yet populated, only two people existed on earth, but he is already Satan, the devil. Thus it is not right to think of him as becoming the devil at another time, centuries later in human history. Jesus was right in saying that he was totally evil from the beginning. Throughout the Bible he is never pictured any other way. Every appearance he makes is in pursuit of evil purposes.

Notice further that in Revelation 12 when there is “war in heaven” and Satan is cast out, the earth is full of people at the time. So it was many hundreds of years after he tempted Eve in the garden. The text says in verse 12, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth for the devil has come down to you, having great wrath because he knows that he has a short time.” This was not Satan’s origin nor was it his first evil act.

Thus many questions occur. When was Satan “in heaven” and what does that phrase mean? Did Satan start out good and later become totally evil or was he always that way? From whence comes the idea that he was once an angel of God in heaven itself?

The two sections of scripture that get mishandled in the course of drawing that idea are Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28. In Isaiah 14 verse 12 says, “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How are you cut down to the ground?” But back at verse 4 we find stated exactly who is in view in this section of scripture. “that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon and say…” Then follows the description of the fall of a great and mighty empire. This prophecy is specifically about Babylon, not about Satan. A sinilar thing is said in Revelation 14:8 where an angel says with a loud voice, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city. . .”  I do not know why the name “Lucifer” is included here but I do know that nowhere in this chapter is there any indication that it refers to Satan. That is purely human conjecture. In verse 16 this king is referred to as a “man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms.” Again here, the world was populated. There were kingdoms. So this is way forward in time from the garden of Eden, when Satan is already the devil. It certainly is not the time of his origin.

In Ezekiel 28:2 The word of the Lord said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre. ‘Thus says the Lord God. . .’” Here again the message is specifically addressed to  a human ruler concerning an earthly kingdom that will be thrown down. In the same verse the Lord says of him, “Yet you are a man and not a god.” At verse 12 Ezekiel is told to “Take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre” and then follows the words that men tend to apply to Satan. “You were the seal of perfection, (Verse 12) You were in Eden, the garden of God, (Verse 13) “You were prefect in your ways til iniquity was found in you.” (Verse 15) This does not mean it is applied to Satan. The context shows this one was a commercial trader.

Theologians recognize that Isaiah 14 was spoken to the king of Babylon and that Ezekiel 28 was spoken to the king of Tyre. But they assume that these have a secondary application to Satan. But this does not fit with the facts of scripture. Many Bible statements show that is not possible.

First, Jesus said that Satan was always evil and never abode in the truth. Second, his appearance in the tempting of Eve is a fact, showing that he was the devil before the earth was populated. Third, every action referred to in Ezekiel and Isaiah are done to humans, with an earthly population. Fourth, when Satan was “cast out of heaven,” (Rev. 12) he was cast down to a populated earth. Fifth, in heaven where the throne of God is there can be no sin, no evil. (Rev. 21:27) Satan, evil personified, was never there.

The fact is the Bible does not tell us about Satan’s origin. Personally I believe he is another god. Paul referred to him as “the god of this world.” (2 Cor. 4:4) I do not believe God would create something totally void of any good, which is how Jesus described Satan. But this is admittedly a guess.

What the Bible does reveal about Satan is exactly what we need to know, that he is evil, that he is a threat to our souls, and that he is very shrewd and constantly seeks to deceive us. When Jesus said, “I saw Satan, as lightening, fall from heaven,” I believe He was talking about his defeat when Jesus over came death. (Heb. 2:14-15) He was “in heaven” in the sense of what power he had, that he could possess a person without that person’s consent. But now Jesus has defeated him and thrown him out of that position. This is why James could say, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Satan now has to depend on being able to deceive you. He cannot take you by force. If we know that Satan is totally evil, if we are aware of his efforts to deceive us, and if we know that by faith we can win against him, then we know what we need to know. This is what God’s word clearly tells us. All else is speculation.

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“Redeemed” – Lesson Nine – “The Holy Spirit – How He Works In The Life Of Christians Today!”

This article is part 9 of 14 in the series Redeemed


The news of Jesus had been preached to the multitudes of people who were there from all corners of the earth, and were there specifically to worship God. Some, perhaps many of them had cried out for the blood of Jesus a month and a half before. They had watched as He was beaten, spit on, mocked, rejected in favor of a murderer, and made to carry His own cross. They had seen Him nailed to the cross and raised up, naked, wounded and left to die… They had heard Him cry out, “O God, why have you forsaken me?” They may have been amongst the ones who stood, watched, laughed and mocked the Savior.

He died, rose again on the third day, and now they are confronted with and must deal with their guilt. Convicted by Peter’s words in Acts 2, they cry out “What must we do?” Peter continues and tells them they MUST “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” Acts 2:38.

However, there is more promised besides FORGIVENESS OF SINS. The gift of the Holy Spirit, which is now a reality, is given to all who are followers of Jesus, Acts 2:39. In Acts 5:32 the writer says, “And we (Peter and the apostles) are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Jesus of course had promised the Spirit even before His death, (John 7:37-39). After all, the new birth (John 3) is one that involves “water” AND “Spirit.” The water referred to here of course is immersion in water, and the other element in this birth is that of the Spirit. In other words the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit then comes to live in us and we become body, soul and spirit beings.
The early church did not have the New Testament. It was being written, letter by
letter, to CHURCHES and INDIVIDUALS. When one was baptized, they were not given a copy of the New Testament with “Best wishes” written on the inside. Each Christian received the gift of God’s Spirit, literally living within them. Thus their bodies became “temples of the Holy Spirit” I Corinthians 6:19-20. It is the same for us today!

But what is the work of the Holy Spirit today in the life of the Christian? Well, the
same as in the First Century, the Spirit had then and has now a definitive work to do.

Paul writes, “ For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (I Corinthians 12:13).

We know the body of Christ is the saved, the church of God. We have learned that our entry into that body is the time we are born again of water and Spirit. Immersion in water is visible while being born of the Spirit is not, but it is just as real. Thus we are bound to the “body of Christ” with this new birth.

Football players when they are in practice, often wear T-shirts with “Property of St. Louis Cardinals” (for example). This section may be a bit repetitive, but it won’t hurt to look at it. As believers, “We are bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:20), and that price of course is the blood of Jesus, (Acts 20:28).

God showed His presence in the Old Testament tabernacle, which signified, “This is My place, and you are My people”, now He dwells in the Christian (His temple), (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

This indwelling is the mark setting the Christian apart from the rest of the world (the lost), as one who now belongs to God. The Christian becomes “Holy Ground”, (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22). So, “You belong to Me” is the idea here.

It is easy to “fall” from a legalistic system, but not from a relationship.

Sin will always be a part of our lives, and you as a new Christian especially will struggle with sin… but keep in mind sin is not your master, nor are you the servant and slave of Satan (Romans 7:18; 8:12-17). The Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts (Acts 5:32). Yet, ‘flesh’ (lusts/pride) and Spirit are pulling in opposite directions, always in conflict, (Romans 7:15-24).

As strong as the “pull” of the flesh is, the “pull” or influence of the Spirit in our lives as a
“paraclete” (Greek for “helper”) is greater. He is our Friend in time of need, comforter
that makes us strong and bold.

When we are born again we are made alive, and spiritual beings as a direct result of the Spirit’s part in the birth, and since this is so, we are given His Divine nature to partake in, (2 Peter 1:2-3).

Now we are not left by ourselves to deal with sin. His prompting and leading in our lives gives direction and help in dealing with sin. We often pray “guard, guide and direct us”, right? Well, either He does or He doesn’t. (I) We believe He does! THE ONE YOU SURRENDER TO, WILL RULE THE ONE YOU HEED WILL LEAD. THE ONE YOU SERVE, WILL BE YOUR MASTER, (Romans 8:5-9).

Yield to the Spirit and he will help you overcome the flesh and its power.

My favorite chapter in the Bible is Romans 8… Read it! Now read Romans 8:26-27. Powerful verses right? There are many times when we are trying to pray, and we manage to express some of our thoughts and feelings but then what about those things that we really have a hard time with. Things too deep to put into words.

Good news! The Spirit of God expresses them for you to the Father. He lives in you, so He knows your feelings, and expresses them to God. The most primitive prayer, the most inadequate words, are taken by the Spirit and expressed in words that are true expressions of your feelings and presented to the Father. The most withered and impotent cries, are heard with urgency and importance.

Never under estimate this point. Always remember, that when life and struggles are too hard, and the pain seems too great… when Satan appears too strong for you, and you fall before the throne of god, that His Spirit is INTERCEEDING and presenting your prayer before your Father! Never forget this!

Paul says, “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:9-11). (Underline that in your Bible!)

That is powerful. The Holy Spirit works in the lives of the Christian, not only now, but even when we pass from this life. Death is feared by one and all. Lately, we have witnessed on the news how ISIS has had Christians beheaded or shot, and who knows what else they will do. I have thought about this, and wondered what I would do in that situation… Christians in the early church of the First Century also were persecuted… DO NOT THINK THAT BECOMING A CHRISTIAN WILL RID YOUR LIFE OF ALL TROUBLE AND HEART ACHE. Becoming a Christian sets you against the world, and the evil powers of the world.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Death has been conquered by our Savior, and in Him WE ARE THE WINNERS, not death.

I would like to think I would say, “Father forgive them for they don’t understand what they are doing.” Then I would like to think, I would look back at my tormentor and say, “Send me home friend!”

Grow in grace!

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“Redeemed” – Lesson Eight – “The Brotherhood”

This article is part 8 of 14 in the series Redeemed

Paul says in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

If this were modernized it might read, “In Christ all the barriers, and prejudices are gone.
There are to be no Jew and non-Jew sides, no racial divisions, no social class divisions, no male or female prejudicial differences. Christians are equal and one in Jesus.”

So it is time to “nail this down” the “brotherhood” of Christ, belongs to Christ, no
one else. The church was ‘founded’ as a result of the work of Christ, and ‘built’ to accomplish (carry on) His work here on earth. Becoming a part of the brotherhood of Christ means ‘belonging equally to Him’, ‘united equally together’ in the work and mission of Jesus. Becoming one with Christ, we therefore become one and equal with each other in the fellowship of the saved, (Ephesians 2:14-22; 5:23).

Obedience does not change the gift aspect of this relationship for anyone. Salvation is no less a gift for the rich as it is for the poor. Salvation is no more a blessing for the man than it is for a woman. All are encouraged and expected to grow spiritually and be involved in evangelistic effectiveness. Whatever we do in Christ to further the work and accomplish the mission of Christ is BECAUSE of Jesus. Every single member of the saved community of Christ is the recipient of the gift of grace. (1) Brotherhood in Christ is a PRESENT REALITY, (2) Brotherhood in Christ is created by God, thus a DIVINE REALITY, (3) Everyone is equal in Christ.

There are no ‘big wheels’, nor ‘charter members’ who are ‘elevated’…We don’t vote on someone coming into the brotherhood to see if they are “good enough”, or “worthy”, because none of us are. The love we share for each other, is simply because of the love that Jesus has for each individual.

So, as surely as Christ has not loved us because of skin color, bank accounts, houses we live in, the jobs we may have, or the status we have in the community… each

“Human love” and “human mutual acceptance” and “human mutual interest in spiritual
things” is not enough. Human love and acceptance, loves and receives people for their own sake. Loving in Christ means we love people for Christ’s sake.

As surely as Christ did not choose on the basis of skin color or social status or moral
performance … our brotherhood with Him, is not based on race, color, or moral performance. Peter says, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (I Peter 2:17). Here he is ‘pointing’ in four directions, (1) towards God, (2) towards those that are without, (3) towards earthly rulers, (4) and towards the brotherhood of Christ.

Now that you are a believer, one who’s every sin is washed away, and one who’s every sin will be forgiven in grace by his blood; you have brothers and sisters all over the world. From every nation, and tribe on earth. You are part of a world wide body, church, family, of God in Christ Jesus.

Brotherhood is not a dream, a wish, a hope, a goal for which we strive. It is a present reality. Something to be enjoyed, and preserved by exercising love and patience, and applying the grace of God to each other. We dare not “disown” those whom God claims as His own!

“Honor your rulers” but “LOVE THE BROTHERHOOD”. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

When you are a Christian, you truly belong to a marvelous family, and brotherhood. Do all you can to encourage and build it up. Because we are “heaven bound”… together!

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“Redeemed” – Lesson Seven – “The Church – The Family Of God”

This article is part 7 of 14 in the series Redeemed

Let’s establish some basic foundational truths
1. THE CHURCH DOES NOT SAVE…. THE CHURCH IS THE SAVED, ALL OF THE SAVED. Outside the church one is not saved. Remember in Acts 2:38, 41, 47, that those who gladly received the words spoken by the apostle Peter, repented of their sins and were immersed into Christ, were forgiven and received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit… these were added to the church.
2. THE CHURCH BELONGS TO JESUS, since He bought and paid the price for “her” (Acts 20:28).
3. THE CHURCH IS NOT A BUILDING with a name on a sign outside.
5. THE CHURCH DID NOT HAVE AN OFFICIAL NAME. The names which are found on church buildings, are denominational, and the result of differences and division.  Jesus prayed for unity in His people, not denominations.

The nature of the church is seen in phrases used to describe relationships with the Head of the church… JESUS, with God, each other, and even with the world.

When you were born, you didn’t waddle down to the waiting room and choose a
family! You were born into a family! You “belonged” from birth to that family. When you are “born again” you are born into ‘a family,’ God’s family. You will have brothers and sisters you may not even know… simply because they too were “born” into that family. God our Father has been “adding” people to His family since the day of Pentecost. He only adds those that are saved, (Acts 2:47).

Paul says, “but if I am delayed, I write so you may know how you ought to
conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar
and ground of the truth, (I Timothy 3:15). While the church doesn’t save, (Jesus saves), it is the FAMILY OF THE SAVED. The concept of ‘family’, is used to convey ‘relationship’ which Christians have primarily with God thru Jesus, and therefore with everyone else who has this relationship. This is why Christians call each other ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.

Referring to the authority of Christ, Paul writes, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”(Ephesians 1:22-23). In Ephesians 4:4 he says, “…. there is one body…” (This means that there is one church, which is his body.) This is not said to be offensive… but to cause you to think. When a baby is born, does it matter which family he belongs to? Of course… there’s just one for that child… the one he is born into.) Paul says in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” The head (Christ), directs, and preserves, and instructs the body. The saved are members of that body – the church. No building is as beautiful as that.

Important!!! If you loose a member of your physical body, and the importance of
each member becomes very apparent. Same with the church, the body of Christ.

Christians are children in His family, members of the body of Christ, are servants in His
kingdom (under His Covenant rule). Paul says in Colossians 1:13, “For he has rescued us from the dominion (RULE) of darkness and brought us into the kingdom (RULE) of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

*** We no longer belong to “king” Satan, nor do we listen to his demands. We don’t march to the beat of his drums. So in regards to the world… those who are under this special rule of King Jesus, are to be DIFFERENT from the world (Romans 12:1-2), INVOLVED IN A SPIRITUAL WAR AGAINST THIS WORLD (James 4:1; I Peter 2:11; I John 2:15-17; Revelation 19:11) and thus we are to wear SPIRITUAL ARMOR (Ephesians 6:10-18).

It’s important not only to note that we are now under His special rule, but that it is a rule
of LOVE and GRACE. He loves His people tremendously, and continues to bless and forgive and help them. God (Jesus) is King, the church is His Covenant people, His word is the ‘guide book’. John says, “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). (Thus not only is Jesus King of all kings… He is our KING.)

“THE CHURCH” (Colossians 1:18), This is the word in Greek, “ekklesia” and means “called out. It was in the New Testament times used of any assemblies called out for a specific purpose, but it came to be used of God’s people. “Called out ones,” The idea is that God’s people are those called out of the world to be different… like Jesus.

“THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON” (Col. 1:13) The kingdom we speak of here is that “rule” which was given to and remains with Jesus (Matthew 28:19). The relationship would necessarily be that of Christians being the subjects of the King. Following Jesus is not a burden, it is a privilege.

Here are some other designations and phrases found in the New Testament which are used in reference to the people of God under Jesus.

“CHURCH OF GOD” (Acts 20:28; Galatians 1:13),
“CHURCHES OF CHRIST” (Romans 16:16),
“BODY OF CHRIST” (I Corinthians 12:27),
“FLOCK” (Acts 20:28),
“BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE” (Revelation 21:2,9),
“TEMPLE OF GOD” (I Corinthians 3:16,17,19).

IMPORTANT!!! Again, not one of these designations were used as an “official name” for a ‘church’ sign. These designations all speak in different ways, of the relationship Christians have with God, Jesus, and each other… and in regard to the world (lost).

Well, the simple answer is “NO.” There were no denominations back then. Christians, met in each others homes, (Acts 2:41-47). Jesus prayed for unity, (John 17:20-21), not division (I Corinthians 1:10). The word ‘denomination’ refers to a particular group, with a particular name which believes in a particular way of doing things as opposed to others who claim to be Christians. This sets that group apart from others. In Mathematics, it refers to the bottom number of a fraction, which is the amount of times the top number is to be divided into. Therefore, put all this into simple terms, the whole idea of DENOMINATIONALISM IS WRONG, (especially within the body of Christ,
(Read I Corinthians 1:10-13)). We just want to be Christians, and meet where other Christians meet, how about you? When the early church was established on Pentecost, the first thing on the agenda in their “business meeting” was not the choose a NAME! or BUILD A BUILDING!

Look at Acts 2:41-47 “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Look in Acts 6, where the church chose spiritual men to help free the hands of the apostles toevangelize, by taking care of the needy within the church. Traditions, human regulations, names, organizations, robes, titles, creeds, are wrong, and hurt the Savior that died for us…. ALL THEY DO IS DIVIDE. This also explains why people today are so confused, and or turned off at “church”. ALL DENOMINATIONAL NAMES ARE SIMPLY BARRIERS TO THE UNITY THAT JESUS PRAYED FOR AND SHOULD BE REJECTED. JUST BE A CHRISTIAN

Why be a simple New Testament Christian? Planting the “seed of the kingdom” (Luke 8:11), the word of God, we learn: 1.) what the early church was, 2.) how they became disciples, 3.) their worship (which was pretty simple), 4.) their designations, and the relationship to Jesus and each other, 5.) their joy which came from grace, and 6.) their hope because they are the ones Jesus is coming again to take home to be with him.

Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?

When we follow their examples, Jesus will add us to His Family, body, kingdom,
church. Call yourself a Christian, (Acts 11:26). You won’t be the only Christian, but you
will be a Christian only.

Then you meet with those who are in the “family of God”.

SOUL WINNING – IS NOT WHAT YOU DO, BUT WHAT YOU ARE! A disciple is a soul winner, a disciple. Say what?! A “soul winner”! Someone who shares their faith, in love, patience, example of changed life, gentleness, and kindness and concern. Why? Why not?! If Christ has changed your life… why not share the good news with others? It is the natural outcome of becoming a Christian.

Look in Acts 8:4 new Christians who were being persecuted for their faith also but still went everywhere sharing Jesus with others. The church grew in a fantastic rate. This is fulfilling the love command of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, to go everywhere and share Jesus, make disciples of every nation. It is a world wide goal to reach everyone.

Every believer is a sermon read by all they come into contact with. This affects your life, all of it, your family, your job, your play, your driving. It’s not a game, not a social club where you make business contacts… It is the saved of God.

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“Redeemed” – Lesson Six – Saved By Grace

This article is part 6 of 14 in the series Redeemed

WHY have a chapter on ‘GRACE’ following a chapter on ‘OBEDIENCE’? Is OBEDIENCE opposed to GRACE? Good questions, which we intend to try and answer in this short chapter.

(Before I get into this, let me encourage you to the study “Amazing Grace Bible Study” which is a series on this website. It is longer and goes a good bit deeper into the subject.)

My Dad said some things which I think are important here…
“I do not believe in believing. I Believe in God!” Faith without proof of faith is “dead” according to James 2:24-26. Real or genuine faith is seen in obedience (Hebrews 11). Faith, in order to be powerful must be anchored in something else… not in itself! Faith must be firmly anchored in God and real faith will be seen in actions of a surrendered life. The important thing here is not how much faith you have, for it will grow… it is the object of your faith.

“I do not believe in repentance, I believe in God!” “I do not believe in confession, I believe in God!” “I do not believe in baptism, I BELIEVE IN GOD!” – “He commands these things…. that is good enough for me!”
Radical statements? Yes! But very necessary, sense we often tend to miss the whole point, which is to surrender our life to JESUS in the process!

Salvation is BY GRACE.
No one FORCED our Father to send His Son to this earth to die for us! No one twisted His mighty arm and made Him cry “Uncle.” No powerful politician, or king, or dictator, forced the God of this universe to allow His Son to give his life for us… SALVATION IS BY GRACE!

Things to consider.
Paul says, we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

“ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF SALVATION IS BY (God’s) GRACE.” This means, everything God has done and does in saving man, is GRACE. Think about it… God is not under ANY obligation to us! He is not in OUR DEBT! We are in ‘debt’ to HIM! Even when we obey his commands… HE IS NOT IN OUR DEBT! Because even our obedience is imperfect. When we become a Christian, our Christian ‘walk’, is not a 50/50 proposition! We were not saved and given a Bible and told, “Good Luck!” It is by “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT GRACE.

Add to this…

IT IS BY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT (Man’s) FAITH THAT BRINGS ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SALVATION.” One is either saved or lost. There is no ‘in-between’
ground. The Bible knows nothing of, “kinda saved”, “sorta saved”, “probationary salvation”, “maybe saved”, “I hope I’m saved” systems. These come from a misunderstanding of GOD’S GRACE. It stems from the belief that His grace is tiny, narrow, and almost not there. THIS IS AS ABUSIVE OF GRACE AS GOING TO THE OTHER EXTREME AND USING GRACE AS A LICENSE.

To hear the Gospel, believe and embrace it’s truths, and turn to Jesus from self and sin,
confessing his name, and being baptized into Christ, are the simple terms of salvation offered by His grace. This obedience in no way EARNS SALVATION… that just cannot be done! Paul said, “5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

Why do people ‘pit’ what comes from grace against grace? The Bible speaks of saving grace, singing grace, strengthening grace, praying grace, giving grace, forgiving grace, growing grace, powerful grace, wonderful grace… amazing grace. We cannot buy it, earn it, or re-pay it. We can receive and stand in it… that’s it.

Put all this together and you have a marvelous God who loves us so much that He was willing to take the first step and send his only Son so we sinners could be saved!

God’s plan of salvation, is a plan of grace. It is grace from beginning to the end. A Christian is covered by His grace from beginning to the end, as long as he stays in Christ. The “good works” of the Christian, are not TO BE SAVED, but BECAUSE WE ARE SAVED. Paul says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). These are not, NOT, works of merit… but natural fruit and results of true faith, and love in and for Christ and the sacrifice on the cross which he provided.

Grace is the MOTIVATOR. Grace is also the INHIBITOR (of going back into sin). For after leaving the “pig pen” of sin, why on earth should I long to go back!!! Grace is ROOM TO MAKE MISTAKES (not an excuse to make them), REPENT, AND GROW. Grace destroys guilt and motivate us to a life in Christ.

Works (fruit) of righteousness are altogether different from works (of merit) which can be boasted about. Our works are the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).Jesus said, 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you” (John 15:5, 8, 16).

Conversion changes the nature of a person. God is enthroned – Jesus becomes Lord – the Holy Spirit dwells within and “guides, guards, directs” the life of the Christian. Yet the Christian still has the power of choice… whether or not to follow the Spirit of God.

Does an orange tree eat it’s own oranges? Would an orange tree produce oranges, if no one ate them? So it is with the child of God… He produces fruit (a life, actions, works), not from guilt, or threats of intimidation, but because it is his new nature!

Attending the assembly of the saints, praying, giving, singing, studying the scriptures, being kind, loving, patient, long suffering, joyful, etc… are products of the new nature… not the result of a CHURCH PROGRAM. It is who (who’s) we are, that we produce fruits of righteousness. It is the very purpose of the believer, and as he produces fruit, he is assured of even greater ‘crops’ to come.

SAVED! What a glorious sound. Redeemed, by the blood of the Lamb. Justified by a most marvelous grace of God. Born again, all things become new. All this and heaven as well.

Now, let’s review REFER TO THE CHART: (1) Adam sinned… prophecy of a coming Savior, (2) Abraham’s call… a promise of a coming Savior, (3) The Law of Moses given… the need for a coming Savior, (4) The cross of Christ … The sacrifice of the Savior, (5) Simple New Testament Plan of Salvation, (6) Saved by grace – the ultimate gift of God and conversion… the nature of God in man.

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“Redeemed” – Lesson Five – The Simple New Testament Plan of Salvation

This article is part 5 of 14 in the series Redeemed

To the truth searcher, the one wanting to know what God’s will for him is, this is easily the most important question. You may not understand everything about the Bible, but then neither did the 3,000 who responded to Peter in Acts 2. They just knew that they needed forgiveness of their sins, so they cried out “What must we do?!” (Acts 2:37).

This is why we will not ‘muddy the water’ with other things which so many think one must know. We can study those things later if needs be. Our concern is simply with whatever has anything to do with this all important question. For this reason, we have laid the foundation, showing how God’s plan to save man (which He had in His mind
before time began (Ephesians 3:5-6) came into being.

For sure ‘the plan’ has more to it than “do this or that”, because it involves the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the blood of Christ which cleanses us from sin (Matthew 26:28; Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9).

Keep in mind, we will be studying “SAVED BY GRACE” in the next lesson. The reason is because so many think that when we speak of things we ‘must do to be saved’, that we are talking about EARNING OUR SALVATION. Not true! Obedience is not to be construed as ‘earning’. The 3,000 mentioned in Acts 2 which responded to Peter’s message, were told to repent, and be baptized… and when they did, they earned absolutely nothing. They received two gifts which comes from grace… SALVATION and

Let’s begin…
The word “Gospel” comes from a Greek word which means “good news”. The Gospel does not involve countless rules and regulations. It is simple, and yet it is difficult, because it speaks of a radical change in life. It calls on people everywhere, from every nation and tribe, to place their absolute trust, and allegiance in King Jesus! I hope you are about ready to do just that! The Gospel is ALL ABOUT WHAT GOD HAD DONE to save mankind. God CAUSED IT, DESIGNED IT, PLANNED IT, PURCHASED IT and REVEALED IT. All a believer has to do is RECEIVE IT.

But how is this done?

We are not trying to be overly simple, nor insulting. It does matter what is heard, and who we listen to… There are indeed many false teachers in this world of 4700 different religions. False teachers teach things which are just not so, but they add a bit of truth here or there, to make it look like truth. This is why we ENCOURAGE you, to not believe someone just because they claim to be ‘teaching the truth.’ It is up to you to study, and test what is being taught, to see if it is true or not. This includes the
lessons being presented here. TEST IT! LOOK UP THE SCRIPTURES! Write down your questions and let’s get some answers.

Faith in God comes as you study God’s word, and accept it’s teachings. Paul said, “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16 But not all the Israelites accepted. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Romans 10:15-17). Some of Jesus’ last words (which have been recorded)
are “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 (compare this with Mark 16:15 and Luke 24).

The reason for the emphasis is to show how important all of this is and what it leads to. As we study about Salvation, we are also studying about becoming a “disciple of Jesus” or followers and learners. Disciples are to spread the news to everyone.

Hearing the good news will have one of two responses. Either one will accept (believe) it, or reject it. The choice is personal, and a heart thing. Judging is not allowed, neither is manipulation and coercion. Encouragement, warning and urging is ok, because this is what Peter did on Pentecost (Acts 2:40). Belief is synonymous with faith, and these are equal to trust. There is NO SUCH THING as “Faith Only” salvation. It is not taught in the scriptures. Even though there are many scriptures on faith. The faith spoken of in John 3:16; Romans 4 and other places is A FAITH WHICH IS SEEN IN ACTION. Look at Hebrews 11, and read the whole chapter and see what faith ‘did’. “By faith Abel offered…” “By faith Enoch was taken from this life…” “By faith Noah built…” “By faith Abraham obeyed…” “By faith Moses chose…” “By faith Israel passed through…” “By faith the walls of Jerico fell….” FAITH WAS THE POWER BEHIND THE ACTION! (No action… no faith!) One will either express faith in action or reject faith, which
will be seen in the actions of continued disobedience. James said, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

To ‘repent’ simply means “to change your mind”. Of course this will result in action as well. An unbeliever who repents, has come to believe and decided to change. It is hard to say which comes first, but we know both faith and repentance are very important to becoming a Christian.

The thief, quits stealing, the adulterer quits committing adultery and is faithful to his wife, the murderer quits murdering, the liar, quits lying. The thief begins to work for his money. The adulterer commits to faithfulness. The murderer, becomes a respecter and defender of life. The liar, becomes truthful. When we repent, we are repelled by the former way of life, even though there may be some inevitable consequences of a past life. Luke records in Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” There is no other time to do this, for the truth searcher… than NOW!

All who were called by Jesus, confessed him openly and without shame. This does not mean a disciple is perfect in this… Peter is one which stands out as an example for this. You remember at the trial of Jesus, Peter denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:34-35, 69-75). Peter repented in tears for sure. Then in John 21, Peter is restored. Later he openly stands up for Jesus, (Acts 2).

Baptism is a command (like all the other things mentioned here) of Christ. “Whoever
believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Peter said, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Notice what happened when Phillip preached about the “kingdom”… “But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). Cornelius and his household were told by Peter,  “…be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ…”(Acts 10:48). (Read the chapter and
see that Peter had to be convinced that he was to not only speak to the Gentiles but teach them about Jesus!) Look at the example of Paul, Silas and the Philippian Jailor. “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized” (Acts 16:30-33). (The Jailor was told to
believe, and then was told what to believe, and then was told to be baptized.)
Paul tells his own story in Acts 22 and relates how Ananias told him, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). READ THE CONTEXT ON ALL OF THESE EXAMPLES!!!

Baptism is a command of Christ. It is an immersion in water, and yet there is nothing special about the water itself. The key to all of this, is in a person’s willingness to surrender, and turn their life over to Jesus, to obey and follow him (be His disciple). If Peter had told the multitude to “Repent and clap your hands three times….” And if Jesus had said this before… then this would be easily understood by everyone, and we would be telling you to do the same! He didn’t say this, he said, “Repent and be baptized…”

Later Paul writes to the Roman Christians about their life in Christ and how one should not abuse God’s grace and continue sinning… “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:3-5).

Do you believe in Jesus? Are you ready and willing to turn from sin? Will you stand up for Christ and confess your faith? Then you are commanded (and encouraged) to be baptized! DO THIS TODAY and YOU WILL RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF SINS and THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Acts 2:38-39; 5:32).


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