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4 Reasons we are saved by grace & not by works

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Yes. It’s true. We are not saved by our works, but it is only by the grace of God that we are saved. So what is grace and how does it work into God’s plan of salvation? I’m glad you asked.

Important words:
Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
Sanctification: the act of setting apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use

Grace is unmerited (We didn’t “do” anything to earn it.) It is a gift from God. The apostle Paul teaches us in Ephesians 2:8 that the only way we can receive the gift of eternal life is through faith alone. Any idea that you can be saved by your own works is contrary to God’s word. It is easy to get caught up in the “works” of Christian life, but never believe for one second that it is your works that will get you to heaven.

Reason #1
If anyone could be saved by his/her own good works, then the death of Jesus Christ would be unnecessary. But we know the reason He died was because there was no other way by which guilty sinners could be saved.

Reason #2
If anyone could be saved by his/her own good works, would be his own savior and could worship himself. This would be considered idolatry, and God forbids it (Ex. 20:3)

Reason #3
Hypothetically speaking: If you could be saved through faith in Christ plus your own good works, you would have the impossible situation of two saviors—Jesus and the sinner. Christ would have to share his glory of saviorhood with another, and this He will not do (Isa. 42:8).

Reason #4
Finally, if anyone could contribute to his/her salvation by works, then God would owe it to him. This, too, is impossible because God cannot be indebted to anyone (Rom. 11:35).

Going to church every Sunday does not save you. Being baptized does not save you. Living by the Ten Commandments does not save you. Living a moral and respectable life does not save you. Giving to charity does not save you.

You may be wondering at this point: “Why should I do these things, if they don’t save me?” Good question! Good works are the product of salvation. You are not saved by good works, but because you are saved good works follow.

Grace gives us what we don’t deserve and Mercy keeps us from what we do deserve.
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No One is Righteous

9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:9-10)

Have you ever come across a Christian who gave an arrogance of being righteous? The type that judges a person based on their past? If you don’t know anyone, then maybe I’m talking to you. I have been guilty of doing this before.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 3:10 that there is no one that is righteous. Merriam-Webster defines righteous as “free from guilt or sin”. It bothers me when I see Christians attempting to spread God’s word in arrogance and condemnation. As if they have never sinned or made mistakes. While I do not condone sin, I do believe what God’s word says in Gal. 6:1.

Sometimes, we can get so passionate about God’s word on issues of abortion, homosexuality, and adultery (just to name a few) that we loose sight of the true purpose of evangelism. It is not our place as Christians to “condemn the sinner”. Our calling is to empower the nonbeliever through God’s word. We must remember to give encouraging words.

Am I asking Christians to “water down the truth”? By no means! But I am saying to consider the instructions from your Father. If it doesn’t have love, then it can’t be of God. Screaming phrases like “abortionists are going to hell” and “gays are going to hell” are not words of encouragement. Although the repeated act of giving into the temptation without repentance of sin will lead to this end, we as believers do not have the authority to condemn. Besides, most nonbelievers know that what they are doing is wrong. They are not hungry for condemnation from you. They are hungry for direction…a way to escape the power of sin through Christ Jesus.

As believers, we must remember to stay humble whenever we are spreading God’s word. We can not be arrogant and boastful. Christians are charged to spread God’s word in love. (Gal. 6:1) Besides, how does condemning someone help spread God’s word. Nonbelievers need instructions. And we must be willing to give the instructions that will lead to a conviction in love.

Think about the methods you use to spread God’s word. The next time you attempt to evangelize, ask yourself “Is this in love?” or “How can I say this in a more empowering way?”

I thank God for you and may God continue to bless you.
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How Can I Get Black People to Come to My Church?

Between Two Worlds: How Can I Get Black People to Come to My Church?

As I was reading through my blog roll I found a really interesting article at Shhh...Listen.

Someone asked a very serious and humble question. ”How Can I get Black People to come to my Church?" I find it to be a great question. Wouldn’t it be great to see people of all ethnic backgrounds worshiping and praising God together. You know, there’s no race in heaven. So what’s keeping us from reaching this goal?

This series of posts really got my mind to wondering. Do you know how much larger and faster the kingdom of God could progress if we all were on one accord. You know, like actively serving the community as Christians versus serving as [Fill in the Blank] Church. I get goose bumps just thinking about the impact that would have.

I believe this brother has done a fine job of answering that question in two parts. Now all everyone has to do is take action. Share your thoughts.

Part 1
Part 2

There is also an outline of the articles along with a discussion going on at Between Two Worlds. Check out both of them.

God Bless
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Homosexuality Debunked

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (Gal. 6:1 NKJV)

24Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Rom. 1:24-27 NKJV)

Excerpt from Believers Bible Commentary

Homosexuality is being passed off today by some as a sickness and by others as a legitimate alternative lifestyle. Christians must be careful not to accept the world’s moral judgments, but to be guided by God’s word. In the Old Testament, this sin was punishable by death (Lev. 18:29; 20:13), and here in the New Testament those who practice it are said to be worthy of death (Rom. 1:32). The Bible speaks of homosexuality as a very serious sin, as evidenced by God’s obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah, where militant “gays” ran riot (Gen. 19:4-25).

The gospel offers pardon and forgiveness to homosexuals, as id does to all sinners who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians who have fallen into this heinous sin can find forgiveness and restoration through confessing and forsaking the sin. There is complete deliverance from homosexuality to all who are willing to obey God’s word. Ongoing counseling assistance is very important in most cases.

It is true that some people seem to have a natural tendency toward homosexuality. This should not be surprising, since fallen human nature is capable of just about any form of iniquity and perversion. The sin does not exist in the inclination or desire toward it but in yielding to and practicing it. The Holy Spirit gives the power to resist the temptation and to have lasting victory (1 Cor. 10:13). Some of the Christians in Corinth were living proofs that homosexuals need not be irrevocably bound to that lifestyle (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Pray for the deliverance of someone you may know that I practicing homosexuality. If you are homosexual, pray to God for deliverance and restoration. God bless you all.
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Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:20-21 (NKJV)
Wow! Have you ever wondered what happens to the people who have never heard God’s word? In some countries, Christianity is not the main religion. The apostle Paul makes it very clear that God has showed his existence to all man since the beginning of time. How?-you ask. Through His eternal power and through His creation. How can you look at the stars, the moon, the animals and all that is around and never believe that there is some entity more powerful than you? You can not have a creation without a Creator and with the Creator comes power.
I believe Paul when he says that everyone receives an opportunity to know the truth based on what God puts before them. Some just choose to reject it by not believing. So how can a person be guilty for rejecting a Savior that they never heard of? I’m glad you asked! Continue reading to Romans 2:12-15.

12For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness… (NKJV)
Paul tells us that it is not enough for us to hear God’s word; we also have to be doers of God’s word. To make it plain, I’m not saved by hearing the word of God and I’m not condemned by not hearing God’s word. I’m saved for believing and obeying God’s word. We have an innate knowledge of what is right and wrong. We know by instinct that it is wrong to steal, lie, murder, or commit adultery. How do we know?-Because God placed that in us from the beginning of time.

But don’t be so quick to judge those who don’t believe. It is our calling as Christians to spread “the good news”. Yes, faith comes by hearing and hearing, the word of God. But it’s clear from these scriptures that it is up to each person to believe. We must seek God, not the other way around. Pray for a friend, relative, co-worker, or stranger that is unsaved or un-churched.

May the peace of God be with you all.
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To Die is Gain!? Really!?

Excerpt from Sunday’s Sermon: Carlos L. Kelly, Senior Pastor
Series: Philippians: Joy For the Journey
Subject: “It’s Not About Me”
Scripture: Philippians 1:21-26

Phillipians 1:21: For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (NKJV)

Some of you may be thinking: Wow! Now that’s spiritual maturity! But Paul makes an excellent point in Philippians. How do you view death? Are you afraid to die? Paul’s life was centered on Christ. So he viewed dying to being with Christ as something far better than living this earthly life. It takes someone who is connected with God to be able to view life from this point of view. (In my opinion, the only point of view.) You see, death is only gainful when you are connected to God. It is then that you are sure that you will spend your eternal life in heaven. A new life that is free from the presence and influence of sin. No sin means no sickness or suffering.

Remember, God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to pay the debt for all man’s sin. (John 3:16) All we have to do is confess our sins, repent (requires a complete about-face from sin), and accept Christ as Lord in our life. (Romans 10:9) Those are the steps to being saved and understanding the viewpoint on life that Paul expresses in Phillippians 1:21.

What does it mean for Christ to be Lord of your life? In order to live a life with Christ as Lord, you have to be willing to let God be your navigational system. With this approach to life, you will always get to the right place at the right time. Who or what is navigating your life? Is it the people you try to impress? What defines your life? Is it your car, your house, your education? You will be much better off letting Christ define you, by making Him the center of your life. Besides, trying to please people will only drive you crazy!

Notice that Paul has a conflict. Paul’s will to die and be with God in heaven is different from God’s will. Watch how Paul handles the situation in verse 1:25. Paul comes to the realization that God will not call him home until his purpose is complete here on Earth. Are you walking in the purpose that God has for you? You do know you that you have a purpose right?
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Part-Time Christian

How far would you go to stand up for your Christian belief? Do you walk according to God’s word on Sundays only or are you a daily walker?

I used to be the former. Sunday was my “get holy” day while Monday through Saturday were anything but holy! - From filling my mind with explicit rap and seductive R&B to having sex before marriage. I would party on Saturday night and be the first to church on Sunday morning. Was I by myself on this one? Not hardly.

I loved to praise and worship God on Sunday because it was sooooooo easy. I was surrounded by people that were willing to praise and worship. But when Monday rolled around and I was surrounded by people that didn’t know Christ, I shed my Christian exterior for what I thought was more appealing to my peers.

I failed to realize that I was being a stumbling block for someone who didn’t believe in Christ. You do know what a stumbling block is, right? Well, I can explain. A stumbling block is when a person who claims to be a believer in Christ performs an action that is not in line with what God’s word says and as a consequence people who are watching believe the action is acceptable before God. A lot of people like to put the pastor on the hot seat for stumbling and most fail to put themselves under the magnifying glass and examine where they have fallen short. Don’t fall into this way of thinking. Besides, your peers are more likely to see you stumble before they see your pastor because these are the people you interact with daily.

So…Why did I live this double life? Why do we do it? Are you ashamed of the Gospel? Or afraid of its righteousness? I used to be the latter. I knew what was right, but I didn’t want to be confronted on my wrong. Not only that, I liked what I was doing. At the time, it felt so good, at least to my flesh, but deep down I knew that I was missing something.

Paul says in Romans 1:16-17:

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

So I say to you, don’t be ashamed of the gospel. Share God’s word, just as Paul did, to believers as well as nonbelievers. I didn’t say beat people over the head with God’s word. Don’t be arrogant, but present God’s word in gentleness. Yes, there is a way to be bold without being judgmental. We’ll learn more about Christians being judgmental later in Romans. Keep a daily connection with God so that you will be more apt to live by His word daily. Don’t settle for just being a Sunday believer, God will not accept this form of worship. I serve an all or nothing God. If you’ve noticed that you may be a part time Christian, you’ve made the first step towards changing. Put in the work. Imagine how great God’s kingdom would be if we all were full time believers.
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Romans Rocks!

I am just starting a new bible study on the book of Romans. Man is it awesome! Don’t worry, you won’t be left out. I’ll be sure to share all of the juicy details with you. Even better, you should read along with me! I’ll periodically publish topics and posts that describe what I have found in my studies. Boy are you gonna be blessed!

Make sure you add me to your followers list if you haven’t already done so. That way, you will be the first to know when I have new content available to read. I plan to post at least three times a week. I also would love to hear your comments. Well, with that said, lets get to it! I guess you can tell I’m excited.

When studying a book of the bible, background information is a great place to start. You know. Stuff like…Who is the author? When was it written? Who was it originally written to? I’ve conveniently packaged all of Roman’s background information in the paragraph below for your ease of reading. However, I would advise that you use my study notes and info as a “supplement” to your bible intake.

It is normally a great idea to know the author of whatever you may be reading. In this case, the apostle Paul is the author of Romans. Paul was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul’s Jewish name is Saul of Tarsus (present-day south-central Turkey). Tarsus was well known for its intellectual environment. In other words, it’s apparent that Paul grew up with a great education. Paul called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. He was very firm on spreading “the Gospel” to nonbelievers. Paul was not perfect. No man is! Before Paul became a Christian (follower of Christ), he violently persecuted the church. Paul would be the first to tell you that he was the chief of sinners before he was converted. So you want to know it happened? It’s all available in Acts 9:1-31.

It is believed that Paul wrote the letter to the Romans in the city of Corinth circa A.D. 56.

The letter to the Romans was addressing how Christians should live. Both Jews and Gentiles. (Believers and non believers)

Okay so now we have the basics. Stay posted as there will be more posts to come. The book of Romans is filled with answers to some of today’s toughest questions. Here’s a list of a few things that stood out to me in Romans 1. We will be discussing the following issues with more details in later posts.

  1. As Christians, we should be bold in our faith, but not arrogant. (Romans 1:16-17)
  2. At some point in our lives, everyone has a chance to except Christ as their Lord and believe (Romans 1:20)
  3. Homosexuality is not of God. However, this does not give us the right to judge. (Romans 1:26-27)
  4. If you choose not to follow God, he will turn you over to your sinful ways. (Romans 1:28-32)

    Well that’s all for now. Chew on that and I’ll get back to you later. May the peace of God rest with you all!~
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