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Tag Archives: eternal life

Is Being Devout Good Enough?

If you have been to a funeral recently, eulogies tend to focus on the good that an individual has done over the course of their life.  Despite flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, positive qualities are highlighted to give friends and family members hope that their loved one has entered the gates of heaven.  This makes me wonder is being devout good enough?

Now at Caesarea [Maritima] there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who, along with all his household, feared God. He made many charitable donations to the Jewish people, and prayed to God always, Acts 10:1-2.

In the passage above, Luke introduces a highly respected individual.  Despite his lack of Jewish upbringing, Cornelius earned a reputation of being God fearing.  This holy reverence inspired a cheerful heart to give and fueled a desire to pray to God daily.  Perhaps, this character makes Cornelius an ideal candidate to become the first Gentile to receive the good news about Jesus Christ.

This Jesus is the stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief Cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation],” Acts 4:11-12.

Earlier in the book of Acts, Luke makes it clear that being devout is not good enough.  There is only one door, one way that leads to eternal life, faith in Jesus Christ.  God found favor in Cornelius, using a series of events that led to a meeting with Peter.  During Peter’s message within a house in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening.  Immediately, following Peter’s mini-sermon, Cornelius and his family were baptized.  If you want the eternal security mentioned in 1 John 5:13, place your trust in Jesus to seal the deal, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

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Scaring Children to Death

In a recent episode of Big Little Lies, second grade students are warned about Global Warming.  This lecture was so terrifying for one student that she tried to escape, hiding in a closet.  After this little girl was discovered, she was taken to a doctor to shine light on her condition.  Apparently, this second grade girl was scared to death, suffering a panic attack from the doom and gloom message presented in class.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction, Proverbs 1:7.

According to King Solomon, fear is not always a bad thing.  While fear results in anxiety, distress and worry, being scared opens hearts and minds up to the afterlife.  According to Solomon, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  The problem with global warming is that those who often sound the alarm, aren’t practicing what they preach, being good stewards of God’s creation.  Thus, scaring children to death isn’t offering hope or focusing on life after earth.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death,” Revelation 21:6-8.

In the final chapter of the Bible, there is good and bad news.  To those who endure end times by staying true to God will be rewarded with eternal life.  However, John introduces the concept of the second death which should scare any adult or children.  Those who fear God will become open to eternity and spiritual teaching.  Desperation breeds a sense of urgency, searching for answers to the meaning of life.  Therefore, while scaring children to death may continue, I pray that future warnings will include the promise of eternal security, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

An Important Message from the Past

 

The first Great Awakening, a series of Christian revivals began in England during the 1730’s.  This spiritual movement quickly spread to Britain’s thirteen colonies lasting until the 1740’s.  During these two decades, Jonathan Edwards played an integral role as a preacher, theologian and writer in America.  One of Edwards’ lasting legacies is a quote from an old sermon, “you contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; Ephesians 2:8.

As individuals struggled with the notion that you can earn your salvation through good works, Jonathon Edwards uses the teaching of the apostle Paul to stop this train of thought.  Perhaps, members of the church of Ephesus shared a similar belief.  The passage above is part of a letter Paul wrote to expose this flawed mindset.  Salvation is a gift from God, only accessible by grace through faith in Christ.  This verse inspired Jonathan Edwards’ comment that mankind’s only contribution to salvation are transgressions from the past and present.

Not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us], Ephesians 2:9-10.

To fully understand the apostles’ teaching, you have to look to verse 10.  Human beings are merely a piece to the puzzle, a work in progress.  As the Holy Spirit works behind the scenes to sanctify newly converted Christians, this process takes a lifetime to complete.  Meanwhile, God the Father serves as a potter, molding and fashioning followers of Jesus like clay.  Trials and tribulations serve as a furnace to remove our imperfections.  Instead of trying to earn your salvation, Paul urges readers to become a willing participant, eager to fulfill the good works God has prepared for you  in advance to accomplish in life.  This is an important message from the past to remember.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Passport to Heaven

Credentials are defined as evidence of authority, status, and rights. Anyone who possesses the proper credentials in life are given access to or are entitled to special privileges that exist depending upon your position, rank or title. At some point in his life, Jesus was recognized as a magician, rabbi and teacher despite not having an earthly degree in any of these areas. This reputation enabled Jesus to converse, discuss and meet with a wide range of individuals. During the first century, a rich young ruler approached Jesus searching for a passport to heaven.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

A first century doctor recounts the dialogue between these two men in the passage above and below.  Based upon what was written, it appears that this ruler believed that heaven was something that could be earned.  Jesus nips this mindset in the butt, informing any who could hear that only God is good.  Jesus transitions into a different direction, taking a spiritual inventory of this young man’s past.  This discussion led to knowing and practicing the ten commandments.  Like a counselor listening to their patient, Jesus noticed one thing lacking within this ruler.  Financial success led this man to rely on money rather than fully trust the Lord to provide.  At the end of their conversation, this rich young ruler walks away disappointed, unable to meet the credentials necessary for a passport to heaven.

When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:22-23.

In a previous conversation with his own disciples, Jesus provides further insight into the credentials necessary to receive a passport to heaven.  Jesus gives those who seek to become a modern day disciple three ultimatums.  First, deny yourself by setting aside selfish ambitions.  Second, take up your cross through a willingness to endure whatever may come in the form of persecution.  Third, follow Jesus, by believing, conforming and emulating the life of Christ.  If you have to summarize these requirements to receive a passport to heaven, you must be willing to lose your life, surrendering it completely, to find eternal life.

by Jay Mankus

Assurance or Insurance?

The term assurance refers to a positive declaration intended to give confidence.  In a biblical context, an assurance is a promise from God.  Certain passages of the Bible serve as guarantees, a pledge and vow to fulfill the hope for eternal life.  During a private meeting with his disciples, Jesus reveals his plans for the future.  According to the verse below, Jesus left earth following his death to prepare a room in heaven for his followers.  This message of assurance enables modern Christian to live by faith, not by sight.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you, John 14:2.

Meanwhile, insurance is a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for set payments.  If you want to drive, you need auto insurance.  Under Obama Care, the uninsured were fined, thereby forcing individuals to obtain health insurance even if they didn’t need or want it.  Insurance companies have convinced many Americans to buy more policies than what they actually need.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

In preparation for death, attorneys recommend creating a will so that you decide who will receive your remaining assets.  Shrewd insurance agents will offer clients term life insurance, the cheapest yet most beneficial for dying spouses.  However, from a spiritual perspective, the passage above is the only thing you need to know about eternal life.  If you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ before you die, you can know for certain that you will spend eternity in heaven.  This is the only assurance that you need about the afterlife.

by Jay Mankus

What are You Still Lacking?

If you asked a recent high school graduate the same question after completing a four year degree in college, perspectives would likely change.  Human nature tends to make young people think they are infallible.  When you add knowledge, wisdom and a wealth of information to this equation, some will likely think they know it all, now smarter than their parents.  This is the state we find the rich young ruler in the passage below, only lacking one thing in life.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

Searching for eternal security, this man sought out Jesus, hoping to discover the secret to possessing eternal life.  Immediately, Jesus catches this ruler off guard by demonstrating humility, giving God the credit for his goodness.  From here Jesus turns his attention to God’s standards in the Torah, the first five books in the Old Testament.  Obtaining knowledge of the Bible is one thing, but applying these principles separate average believers from genuine people of faith.  Perhaps, this rich young ruler thought he could enter heaven by being a good person.

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not testify falsely, Honor your father and your mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these things from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:20-22.

There are two invisible forces which drag and nudge souls in different directions.  The Holy Spirit convicts hearts and minds, revealing imperfections and shortcomings.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature is more accommodating, making those who stray from God think more highly about themselves than they should.  While the Spirit led the apostle Paul to claim he was the greatest sinner of all in 1 Timothy 1:15, my flesh made me feel better the further I slipped away from God in college.  This spiritual dilemma exists today, compared to a spiritual war in Galatians 5:16-18.  Thus, if you really want to know what are you still lacking, draw close to God and He will make you whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

Why Do You Call Me Good?

Affirmations, compliments and encouragement used to be a common presence in daily conversations.  This positive vibe appears to be vanishing, replaced by sarcasm, witty comments and venting frustrations.  In some spheres of life, the word good is chosen as a means to gain favor.  A student seeking acceptance from a teacher will approach this special individual with kind speech to initiate a discussion.  In the passage below, this is exactly what occurs.

As He was leaving on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially good and morally perfect], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” – Mark 10:17

Perhaps Jesus perceived the motives of this rich young ruler changing the discourse by replying, “why do you call me good?”  While I don’t know how the rich acted in the first century, today wealthy people tend to get what they want.  Whether this means buying it, bribing or convincing others this decision will result in a financial gain in the future, money can be persuasive.  Whatever the reason, Jesus makes the point that being good won’t gain you access to heaven.

Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially] good [by nature] except God alone, Mark 10:18.

Jesus cautions this young man that human nature defaults to self.  The apostle Paul writes about this internal struggle in Galatians 5:16-18.  During a letter to the church of Rome, Paul shares about his own personal battle, Romans 7:13-15.  Despite Paul’s attempt to be good, he failed miserably, unable to control his sinful nature.  This experience likely inspired Paul to once confess, “I am the greatest sinner of all,” 1 Timothy 1:15.

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love (high regard, compassion) for him, and He said to him, “You lack one thing: go and sell all your property and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk].” 22 But the man was saddened at Jesus’ words, and he left grieving, because he owned much property and had many possessions [which he treasured more than his relationship with God], Mark 10:21-22.

After a brief comment about the last 6 commandments, Jesus addresses the main question of this rich young ruler, how do you inherit eternal life?  Jesus gives a three step action plan.  First, go sell your land and property.  Second, give the proceeds to the poor.  After this is complete, follow me by walking the same path as a servant.  While this reality can be distressing for any rich person, verse 22 provides the key to eternal life.  You must treasure your relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10, more than anything on earth.  Or as Matthew 6:33-34 once wrote, “seek first God and his righteousness.”  This is what makes someone good, but since no one is perfect God offers grace through faith in Christ as only way to heaven.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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