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Tag Archives: salvation

Contend for the Faith in 2022

The term contend suggests that you are about to enter a struggle with difficulty and or danger to overcome. This ordeal is like a battle for supremacy, similar to a hotly contested athletic competition. Jude doesn’t use hope for the best or try as if quoting a Little League motto. Rather, Jude is calling on all first century Christians to become active participants in defending the faith for Jesus Christ.

Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all [a]handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered [b]verbally to the holy people of God], Jude 1:3.

As human beings, priorities tend to shift depending upon the time of year. When a series of unexpected events throw a wrench into your schedule, you usually have to make sacrifices. You may even have to cancel several commitments that you wanted to keep. In the midst of trials and tribulations, you may lose your way for a while. Yet, as Jude states above, don’t forget about your spiritual future and salvation.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

As an adult over the age of fifty, I don’t have the energy I once possessed as a hyperactive teenager. Nonetheless, there is still something worth fighting for: the future of my children, potential grandchildren and a decaying spiritual heritage in America. This is where Christians must ascertain their spiritual gift, fine tune them and fan these gifts into flame, 2 Timothy 1:6-7. In your own weakness, may Christ be strong so that you may become an active participant in contending for the Christian faith in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

Growing in the Grace of God

I was introduced to the concept of God’s grace as a new Christian by an acronym. God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense provides a visual image that has stuck with me over the years. The apostle Paul also summarizes God’s grace in one verse of the Bible, Romans 5:8. “While we were sinning, God demonstrated His love for all human beings by sending Jesus to die for our sins.” To acknowledge this is one thing, but to grow in the grace of God shows an appreciation and reverence to the Lord.

But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and [h]recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him [be] glory (honor, majesty, and splendor) both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (so be it)! – 2 Peter 3:18

Whenever you receive a gift that was deserved, you may feel bad or want to repay this individual with something in exchange. Yet, according to one of Jesus’ disciples, there is nothing that you can do to reimburse God. This unmerited favor is a free gift described by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:23. Some people accept this as their own, others put it on a shelf to collect dust while the bitter reject God’s offer. Growing in God’s grace is a way of thanking God for this everlasting gift, Luke 19:10.

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved ([c]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself,] Ephesians 2:8-9.

The apostle Paul makes a plea to anyone who thinks that they can earn their salvation. The above passage seeks to confront this flawed mindset. Salvation is a free gift not based upon works. Part of accepting this as your own involves receiving God’s grace through faith. At the end of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus provides advice of how you can grow in God’s grace, Matthew 6:14-15. Forgiveness in conditional based upon how you forgive others. Therefore, growing in God’s grace means loving and forgiving those who trespass against you. As you pour out grace to others, God will flood your life with grace.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 15: When You Die

As I begin the third week of this new feature, these next 7 days may be the greatest selection of inspirational songs to date. Today’s song comes from the Bryan Adams of Christian music, a group called the Kry. Before I talk about the lyrics of When You Die, I am issuing a disclaimer for the You Tube video as it’s extremely graphic in nature. I’m assuming the purpose is to prepare Christians for death.

Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. 14 Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air], James 4:13-15.

You might need a tissue or two before you click the play button. Anyway, on the What About Now album, When You Die is immediately followed by What About Now, serving as a montage to consider your eternal destiny, 1 John 5:13. This is why I selected a version where both songs are played. While I haven’t thought much about my own funeral, this would definitely be a song to play on a video screen.

by Jay Mankus

Holding Out the Word of Life

The Psalmist is one of the first authors of the Bible to refer to this book as words for life. In the passage below, this portion of the Old Testament serves as a flashlight in the dark, pointing out the right direction to go. When you receive amazing advice, it’s like food for hungry souls. Meanwhile, each time you open the Bible, spiritual percepts provide tangible understanding to unveil truths that were previously hidden from you.

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:103-105.

In the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul compares the Old Testament to a book of life. Inside of these pages, you will find a spiritual presence, Hebrews 4:12. This author suggests that these words jump off the pages, living and active to inspire souls to change for the better. Meanwhile, Paul uses the second coming of Jesus as motivation to hold up the Word of Life to whoever he comes in contact with daily.

Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose, Philippians 2:16.

In a letter to a teenager pastor, Paul explains how to correctly handle this spiritual book, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Bible serves as a spiritual guide to life as it convicts, corrects and disciplines those who stray off course. Although the original text of the Bible does not contain chapters or individual verses, John 3:16-17 points to salvation, not judgement. When you do hold out the Word of Life, make sure you do this with gentleness and respect.

by Jay Mankus

The Canceling of Our Shortcomings

One of the core messages of the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, is the spiritual reality of God’s grace. Acronyms of grace often describe this as God’s riches at Christ’s expense. God’s activity toward human beings rains down forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation from heaven. This unmerited favor from God serves as a spiritual do over to those who enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11.

[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, Ephesians 1:6-7.

In the beginning of his letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul unravels God’s grace. Grace is lavished upon the children of God in the form of love. Instead of condemning transgressions, the blood Jesus shed as the perfect lamb of God has redeemed guilty sinners. Romans 5:8 clearly describes the spiritual significance of Jesus’ act of love; “But God shows and clearly proves His love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence), Ephesians 1:8.

King David prophesized about this spiritual reality in Psalm 103:12. As far as the east is from the west refers to God’s infinite love. In other words, God’s love is equivalent to infinity. When you add everything together, the canceling of our shortcomings is made complete. Luke 2:10 describes Jesus’ birth as good tidings of great joy. Perhaps Luke was exhibiting forward thinking, knowing that the promised Messiah of the Old Testament would soon cancel our shortcomings.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Liberation

Liberation is the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression. This release results in deliverance, relief and salvation. According to the Bible, no human being can liberate themselves spiritually. Despite whatever good intentions that you may have, everyone possesses a fatal flaw. Whether this takes the form of an addiction, bad habit, or a weakness, human nature will feed these cravings, desires, and longings throughout the course of your life.

As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! – Romans 3:10-12

This painful reality creates a felt need within human hearts for a Savior. Unfortunately, many attempt to fill this void with alternatives and substitutes. Whether you follow the path of a prodigal in Luke 15 or chase after the meaning in life, there is a book that holds all the answers, John 3:16-17. Nonetheless, if you force people instead of letting individuals search on their own, faith can’t be assigned and is something that must be personally embraced, Romans 6:23.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

While studying the origins of past Great Awakenings in seminary, spiritual liberation begins with a spirit of confession. However, this requires someone to become vulnerable, pouring out their heart and soul to a congregation or gathered audience. This isn’t an act or something that can be faked. Rather, when secret sins are laid bare for all to hear and see, others feel compelled to reveal their own dirty laundry. Therefore, if you want to experience spiritual liberation, get your life right with God by confessing your wrongful acts in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Receiving the Holy Spirit

William McDowell – Spirit Break Out (Lyrics) – YouTube

Every generation contains individuals who attempt to reinvent that which has already occurred. Whether as some sort of superiority complex or stubbornness, these confident people refuse to back down regardless of what others believe, proclaim or think. Participating in a debate to expose a specific flawed mindset seems to be a productive use of time. However, when the crowd you are trying to convince doesn’t budge, even persuasive words can’t turn a hardened heart.

O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] – Galatians 3:1-2

In the middle of the first Century, a group of new Christians formed a sect to appease Jews who didn’t want to let go of following the Torah. According to the apostle Paul, a group known as the Judaizers infiltrated the Church at Galatia. Unwilling to let go of Jewish traditions, these religious leaders began to convince members of the church to add circumcision to salvation. Ingrained within many followers from birth, this new teaching spread quickly throughout the Galatian Church. Subsequently, Jewish Christians began to look down upon and separate from Gentile converts to Christianity. Thus, Paul rebukes leaders in the passage above.

Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing (to no purpose)—if it really is to no purpose and in vain? Then does He Who supplies you with His marvelous [Holy] Spirit and works powerfully and miraculously among you do so on [the grounds of your doing] what the Law demands, or because of your believing in and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the message that you heard? – Galatians 3:4-5

In recent years, new debates often related to theology have caused divisions within the 21st century church. One common dispute involves receiving the Holy Spirit. Some denominations claim that this is only accomplished immediately following a believer’s baptisms. Other doctrines refer to a Day of Pentecost moment where individuals experience a similar outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When these two ideologies clash, I’ve witnessed nasty confrontations on both sides. Yet, according to the Bible, Romans 8:1-8 and Romans 10:9-11 highlight how people of faith can receive the Holy Spirit today. May this occur without any hesitation so that lives are transformed by God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

So That Hope Survives

Ambition, aspiration, cravings, dreams, longings and yearnings are all associated with hope. When theses desires begin to slip away, individuals have to fight with determination so that hope survives. Whenever your confidence is shaken by defeat, failure or a loss, hope is like a dim light surrounded by darkness, ready to be snuffed out by unforeseen events.

But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

In a letter to a community with a troubled pass, Paul reminds this church that Christians are children of the light. Thus, as the Devil continues to bring and drag up skeletons from your past, don’t let doubt creep into your mind. The longer negative thoughts continue to linger, the closer the enemy comes to achieving his goal, John 10:10.

For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

The apostle Paul flips the script in the passage above. Instead of always being on defense, Paul takes up the Sword of the Spirit to go on offense, reminding believers of the ultimate prize. God’s end game is salvation, the opportunity to be reunited with Jesus in heaven. Hope is like an exit sign in the distance, the only way to God, John 14:6. When darkness blocks your path from this doorway, hope is what keep souls alive, surviving to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

Building From Scratch

If you have ever been forced to finish someone else’s project, what appears to be easy on the surface often contains several underlying issues. If this happens to be a physical building, there is always a risk that specific steps were missed or skipped along the way to save time. Meanwhile, the materials that you would have chosen can’t be added unless you want to start over from scratch. Another element is brought up by Jesus is Luke 14:28, before starting any project, you have to consider the costs, time and money. Don’t start something that you know you won’t be able to complete.

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation, Romans 15:20.

In the letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul reveals an interesting ministry strategy. Instead of building upon what others have taught, Paul felt compelled to go to areas and regions where the gospel had never been heard. After dealing with the Judaizers, a religious sect that added elements of Judaism to salvation, Paul realized that it was easier to start a church from scratch. Trying to undo bad habits, confusion and spiritual damage done by the Judaizers within the Galatian church reinforced Paul’s belief.

Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand,” Romans 15:21.

As most small businesses in America lay dormant, unable to open until social distancing policies have been eased, perhaps some will have to start over from scratch. If rent can’t be paid or expenses need to be cut, perhaps some will become more like Amazon, using the internet for sales. While this may not be possible, the creative have plenty of time now to develop, plan and strategize for the future. Although there will be many obstacles, visible and invisible, I pray for all the small business owners that God will give you a vision to implement once the Coronavirus pandemic subsides.

by Jay Mankus

Unwrapping the Theology of Christmas

The word theology simply means the science of God. Understanding theology isn’t always easy, but to grasp the true meaning of Christmas you have to make one presupposition. Since Old Testament prophets write about the coming of a Messiah, human beings need to acknowledge their need for a Savior. The presupposition individuals must make is that you can’t save yourself. Without this realization, Christmas is just another holiday as a Savior is not sought out.

As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! – Romans 3:10-12

In the passage above, the apostle Paul drives this point home to members of the church at Rome. Referencing an Old Testament prophet, Paul explains that no one is perfect. No matter how highly you may regard yourself, every day, week, month and year people stray from God’s law. Regardless of what disciplines, focus and safeguards are put into place, sooner or later you will break, cut corners or deviate from commands in the Bible.

For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 6:23.

The best way I know to unwrap the theology of Christmas is through an illustration I learned from Evangelism Explosion. The passage above is part of a diagram using the Grand Canyon. Human beings are on one side of the canyon and God is on the other side. However, Jesus is offered as a free gift, dying on a cross to save mankind from sin. Those who accept the gift of eternal life through a personal relationship with God have access to cross this canyon by faith. This invisible bridge is in the shape of a cross. The moment Jesus was born, salvation and eternal life was made possible, 1 John 5:13. May these words sink in as Christmas Day approaches.

by Jay Mankus

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