Salvation Work

Noah-Builds-the-Ark-Genesis-6“Make for yourself an ark….” –Genesis 6:14a, ESV

Let’s revisit the first few words of this passage.

See that Noah was to “make.” In other words, he was “to work, labor, fashion” a means of salvation. Not that his work saved him, for it was “by faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family,” (Heb 11:7a). Yet faith without works “is dead” (Jam 2:17). We hardly trust God’s warning of future judgment or His promise of deliverance if we do not act on His commands “to build” (Eph 4:12).

And let us note Noah was told to first build “for [him]self.” We cannot save another. We can only make all diligence to “work out [our own] salvation with fear and trembling,” (Phi 2:12), and “make every effort to add to [our] faith,” the attributes of the Spirit such as excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection, and unselfish love, in order to be productive in our work (2Pe 1:5-8). We plead that our faith covers our whole household (ex: Act 16:31), but each is judged independently (Eze 33:20). So let us make our election sure (2Pe 1:10), and be found faithful, even if only we ourselves are saved (Eze 14:14; Luke 14:26).

“So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.” –Philippians 2:12-13, NET 

Billy Neal
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Lawless

lawless

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. –Matthew 24:12

Men, false prophets will rise up, “and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Many generations through the ages past could point to lawlessness and wondered if the end were imminent. Today, we share in that familiar curiosity. There seems to be a plurality of systems and standards. There’s no end to which indiscretions can be overlooked with the right political connections while someone who steals out of hunger is punished harshly. What was treasonous two generations ago is today’s political platform. “Legalease” makes it impossible to trust documents or agreements.

These things are symptoms of lawlessness abounding. Devoid of a genuine standard, humanity is left groping for their version of truth, and leads others to formulate their justice. The shifting sands of today’s justice have led to “social justice” which only serves to highlight further perceived injustice. In frustration, we are shutting our doors to the world around us, focusing our residual love into smaller and smaller circles, and growing cold to our neighbors.

Most of us can identify. Jesus told us to expect it and we still wonder why we’re seeing it happen on Main Street, or on our block, and in our own hearts. Love is growing cold. The divide between those with Holy Spirit, equipped for all good works, and those whom, by choice or not choosing at all, have followed after the ruler of this age, the enemy, expands. Jude says to continue in love, “snatching some as from the fire”.

If we agree on what we’re seeing, and it lines up with what Jesus prophesied in chronological timeline, then we do well to recognize these times, to use these sights as evidence to take confidence in the total work of scripture, and consider deeper therefore what the Word says to do in these times.

Move forward men, resistant to the spirit of the ruler of this age. Do not concede to the fall of lawlessness and love. Take hold of His promises. Recognize the season and prepare.

Vance Durrance

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Offense

offense

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. — Matthew 24:10, NKJV

Men, believers will be hated for Christ’s namesake, then many will be offended, they will betray one another, and will hate one another. No one knows the day nor the hour, but we are certainly getting a sample of what the tribulation will involve.

If one word were employed to describe our current generation it’d be “offended”. This world has not been perfect since the fall, but suddenly, there is a ground swell of crying out against offense. Some offenses may be legitimate; other offenses are largely because the weak minded were told to be offended. Then there are others who are offended by the legitimate offense created by manufactured offense. People groups who have cooperated together in generations before now are encamped in their homes broiling in hate over their neighbor, searching out via social media memes to further justify their disdain.

Hate is everywhere. We’re offended by differing opinions. We’re offended by Truth, and anyone who takes a position from Truth causes an offense. When truth is spoken, sound bites are generated out of context to make it offending, or a character assault ensues to discredit the source of that truth so it doesn’t take root.

Brothers and sisters, we have to recognize what this is. These things are not of God. These things, if currently not part of the tribulation process, could be a result of the separating of sheep from goats. These things could be a foreshadowing meant to wake up a slumbering church to the very real issue of mankind’s wicked heart. The church will not gain ground by not offending. Jesus, the living cornerstone which our Spiritual house is built upon, is the rock of offense. We will offend, even with love in our hearts. Truth offends. The healing conviction of our hearts by Holy Spirit offends our flesh. It’s unavoidable.

Move forward men, offending the world with truth. Better to offend men, than to offend a Holy and just God. Be at peace, in as much as it depends upon us. But live Truth in Christ.

Vance Durrance

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Call to Battle

blowing-shofar
“Happy is the one who endures testing because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters.” –James 1:12-16, NET

This Sunday in children’s church, we looked at the tragic downfall of king David (2Sa 11-12), where a moment of lust leads him down a path of adultery, conspiracy, betrayal, murder. But if we look closely at the details, there is a vivid picture of warning for us all.

In that passage, the writer emphasizes that it was the duty of kings to lead their military in battle, the very reason Israel had demanded to have a king “like all the other nations” (2Sa 8:19-20).
But David “stayed behind” (v.1), merely content to send another (Joab). He was not engaged in the war that was being conducted by the people of God. Rather, he was wandering on the palace roof in the evening (v.2). Then after seeing a woman bathing, allowed his sight to linger until the sight enticed him to take and taste what was not his.

How often are we content not to engage in the war with the enemy (Eph 6:12), but content to send another? The context very much suggests that it was through the neglect of his duties that David fell so easily into temptation. Not to say holiday and leisure are forbidden for the Christ-follower, but if it is not the time appointed for us to enjoy such things, we have departed from the mission, left the side of our Commander, and are vulnerable as prey for the enemy. Idleness will certainly expose our weak points (Ecc 10:18). When we lose focus on our hope (Christ), our pace slows into aimless wander (Heb 6:11-12). When we forsake the business given to us, we find ourselves standing on the roof of our success and pleasure, looking out into the world instead of “seeking things above where Christ is,” (Col 3:1). Darkness will undoubtedly close around us (evening) (Isa 59:1-9), the light of God’s word (Psa 119:105) fading from our sight, leaving us foolishly blind (John 11:10). We then begin meddling in the work and affairs of others (2Th 3:11), quickly becoming a tool of Satan (see Mat 16:23). And once desires have given birth to sin, death inevitably follows (see 2Sa 12:18).

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” –Matthew 26:41, ESV

This is why Jesus urges His disciple to remain alert, to “watch” (keep their eyes on King Jesus who leads us into battle and vanquishes the enemy, Rev 19:14-15), and be persistent in “prayer” (engaged in the spiritual battle, Eph 6:18), in order not to fall as David did. This is the time of testing and battle, a fight for victory and the “crown of life”, not some leisure and aimless strolls through life. Be engaged in the battle that wages all around us, and do not allow the enemy to gain a foothold on your heart (Eph 4:27).

“Temptation is not a sin; it is a call to battle,” (Erwin W. Lutzer). 

Billy Neal
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