Pick Up the Sword

The large majority of Americans are incredibly spoiled. This shows in every aspect of our existence, and especially in our faith.

The simple truth is that many believers just take their faith for granted. What we believe, why we believe, and what we ultimately must do about it seems to get lost somewhere–buried by the blistering pace of a life lived for self.

This is often taken so far that we all-together ignore some of the most basic tenets of Christian discipline. One of these that is so often neglected is the reading of the Bible.

Every year my pastor initiates what he calls Bible Sunday, if memory serves me correctly it should be just around the corner. This Sunday morning service is a public challenge to our entire congregation to read the entire Bible in a year. For the last several years I’ve accepted this challenge, and completed it.

I’ve been reading the Bible for most of my life. I started reading it regularly around the age of twelve. I started studying it as well in my teens. But for these last few years, challenging myself to read and study it with such an enthusiastic goal in mind has propelled my faith into brand new territory.

My passion for the Word is higher than ever. My devotion to sharing the eternal truths contained within is stronger than ever. My hunger for understanding is more heart-felt than ever. My capacity for Christian love and the fruits of the Spirit is more authentic than ever. My faith is better than ever.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. – Romans 10:17

To be the kind of creature God created us to be; we must pick up our Sword. We must learn it. We must love it. We must live it.

H is for Heaven

The final piece of the plan of salvation, one that allChristians will one day experience, is eternal life.  Jesus spoke often of it during His publicministry.  One of my favorite passages isChrist’s verbal exchange with the woman at the well in John chapter four, buthere are a couple more of His shorter words concerning heaven.
The thief comes onlyto steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have itto the full. – John 10:10
And if I go andprepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that youalso may be where I am. – John 14:3
Do we understand everything about heaven?  Of course not. Nevertheless, the Bible declares to us the reality of this eternalplace.  I’m so glad to know that we havean eternal home.

T is for Turn

Being reconciled to God along His plan of salvation meansthat at some point one must make a change. In other words, you must eventually turn away from the habitual failuresof the past to embrace a forgiving future life endowed by the Father.  Unless this turning to God takes place, thereis no salvation.  A commonly used wordfor this act of turning to God is “repent”.
I tell you, no! Butunless you repent, you too will all perish – Luke 13:3
To turn to God is to embrace the realization that you needHis forgiveness, you recognize it is available; you know it is impossible apartfrom Him, and you are desiring a new life.  I find it incredibly humbling that somethingwith such far reaching affects can be accomplished with such ease.  One need only do as described in Romans 10:9to find salvation.
If you declare withyour mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him fromthe dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
Turning means to walk away from sin, and selfishness, toembrace Christ alone.

I is for Impossible

Sin separates man from God. You need only to go back and read the third chapter of Genesis for thesad account of Adam and Eve and their failures in the Garden.  As a result of their actions God foreverremoves them from his presence.  A conditionwe all face prior to salvation is our eternal separation from God.
As it is written: “Thereis no one righteous, not even one” – Romans 3:10
It is impossible for God to allow sin into heaven.  God is loving and just, his judgment isagainst sin, and we are all sinners.  Howthen can a sinful person enter heaven, when God allows no sin?
Mercy triumphs overjudgment. – James 2:13
Just as we are inclined to communicate the necessity offorgiveness and it’s availability; it is also of upmost importance that we realizeaccess to God is impossible apart from God’s own means.

A is for Available

Just as the first talking point in the “plan of salvation”is forgiveness, or helping someone to realize their need for it, the second isthe availability of forgiveness to any who come to God seeking it.
For God so loved theworld that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall notperish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
Most of us are incredibly familiar with this oft-quotedpassage, but a key component of salvation that often goes overlooked is that itdoes require something on our part.
Not everyone who saysto me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one whodoes the will of my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 7:21
Forgiveness is available for all, but it is notautomatic.  It requires acknowledging ourneed for God, accepting the forgiveness that is available, and submitting toGod’s will for our lives.

F is for FORGIVENESS

So often Christians desire to share their faith with people,but aren’t really sure what to say.  Sometimesan authentic God-centered lifestyle really is enough to spark conversationabout faith, and sometimes it takes words, but at some point it will alwayslead to discussing what is commonly referred to as the “plan of salvation.”
I’m going to spend the next few posts looking at an acronymfor faith I came across while studying several years ago.  Yes, it is cheesy, as all good acronymstypically are, but its principles are superb. It is essentially your primary talking points when discussing salvationwith someone unfamiliar to this concept.
F is for FORGIVENESS.
In him we haveredemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with theriches of God’s grace. – Ephesians 1:7
Each of us needs forgiveness in our lives.  Your failures and moral misgivings are yourown.  No one else can vouch for them,well no one amongst your normal social circles. The fact of the matter is that we are, all of us, in desperate need of reconnectionwith the Father.  This is only achievedthrough forgiveness, which in turn only comes through Christ.
The first point of communication then is in helping someoneunderstand their need for God.  Untilthey realize this, there is no moving forward.

Some Presidential Thoughts

The following is a list of quotes about the bible from American presidents, courtesy of The American Patriot’s Bible.

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. – George Washington, 1st President

The first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible. I speak as a man of the world…and I say to you, “Search the Scriptures.” – John Quincy Adams, 6th President

That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests. – Andrew Jackson, 7th President

In regard for this Great Book, I have this to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the Good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President

Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. – Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President

If you take out of your statutes, your constitution, your family life all that is taken from the Sacred Book, what would there be left to bind society together? – Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President

The Bible is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God, and spiritual nature and needs of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation. America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture. – Woodrow Wilson, 28th President

The strength of our country is the strength of its religious convictions. The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country. – Calvin Coolidge, 30th President

We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity. – Franklin Roosevelt, 32nd President

The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul . . . If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State! – Harry Truman, 33rd President

Inside the Bible’s pages lie all the answers to all of the problems man has ever known . . . It is my firm belief that the enduring values presented in its pages have a great meaning for each of us and for our nation. The Bible can touch our hearts, order our minds, and refresh our souls. – Ronald Reagan, 40th President