2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 ESV
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
We live in a day and time, at least here in America, when the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was taught by Jesus and by his New Testament apostles, is under severe persecution. And a diluted and altered gospel message has largely replaced the true gospel in the hearts of the masses who profess faith in Jesus Christ. And this altered gospel is being taught by some people of renown who are highly respected, and so many are flocking to this.
Jesus taught that if anyone would come after him that he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. But this modern gospel does not teach death to sin or walks of obedience to the Lord. This modern gospel requires nothing at all on our part other than an intellectual assent to who Jesus was/is and to what he did for us on that cross (but that part is diluted) and an acceptance of his forgiveness of sins.
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, said this: “When we confess that we are sinners, ask God to apply the death of Jesus to our sin and forgive us, He will.” “When we respond and receive Jesus by faith into our hearts, He comes into us in the person of His Spirit, so that we are born again as children of God, forgiven of our sins, and receive eternal life.” “When we claim Jesus Christ by faith as our Savior and Lord, we pass from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, from death to life.” (1)
We don’t just confess that we are sinners. It is not enough to just admit that we are sinners. We must repent of our sin. We must make a spiritual U-turn away from living in sin to now walking in obedience to our Lord. And we don’t just ask God to apply the death of Jesus to our sin and to forgive us. We must be crucified with Christ in death and we must be raised with Christ to WALK in newness of life in him. The old us must be put to death with Christ so that we can now live in freedom from slavery (addiction) to sin.
And receiving Jesus Christ involves us accepting all of who he is and all of what he did for us and all of what he taught to us and that his New Testament apostles taught to us into our lives in personal application of those truths to our lives. It means we die with Christ to sin, not just once, but daily, and it means we walk in obedience to his commands day after day and that we no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin. Jesus is now our Lord and Master, and we are to do the works he prepared for us to do.
We are not born again of God’s Spirit on a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We are born again of God’s Spirit when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and we die with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness. And we receive eternal life in the end when we continue in Christ in faithful walks of obedience to him until the very end of time and when we no longer walk in deliberate and habitual sin against God and against our fellow humans. Lip service only will not end in eternal life.
Also, we are not saved by just claiming Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. And faith is not something we generate ourselves. The faith that it takes to believe in Jesus is authored by Jesus Christ, it is perfected by him, it comes from God, and it is gifted to us by God, thus that faith will die with Christ to sin daily and it will live to Christ and to his righteousness in the power of God from here to eternity. Faith is surrender, it is repentance, it is obedience, and it is submission to Christ as Lord (Master) of our lives.
[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
And the only way we pass from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God is if our spiritual eyes which were blinded to the truth are opened to the truth, and we are literally turned from darkness to the light, which is what repentance is. It is turning away from sin to walk in holiness and righteousness in the power of God. And we must be turned from the power of Satan to God, i.e. sin must no longer have dominion over our lives but we must now walk in obedience to our Lord (see Acts 26:16-18).
And then we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ. But holiness is not just a status or a state of being. We must walk in holiness. We must be holy in all of our conduct. And to be holy means that we are living lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Being holy means sin is no longer our master but Jesus Christ now rules in our lives.
[Rom 1:6-7; 1 Co 1:9; 1 Co 3:17; Eph 1:3-4; Eph 2:10,21; Eph 5:27; Col 1:22; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 4:7; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:21; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 1 Pet 2:5-9,24; 2 Pet 1:3; Tit 2:14]
So, what are we to do about all of this? We are to keep speaking the truth and we are to keep exposing the lies for what they are no matter who it is who is teaching the lies. Anne Graham Lotz is highly regarded in the Christian community and so not many people are going to openly challenge what she is teaching. But we must not be respecters of persons. We must treat all people the same. No matter who is teaching the lies we must continue to expose the lies and to proclaim the truth until Jesus returns.
[1 Pet 2:9; Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Eph 5:3-11]
He Lifted Our Burdens
An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7
People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.
Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.
Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.
We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.
Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.
He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.