Doris Swartz Pt. 1 – How I Traded Fear For Peace

 

HOW I TRADED FEAR FOR PEACE

I was born into a hard working farm family in the early 1930’s.  My parents took my sister and me to church until a new baby was born into the family.  I was six years old when she came.  After that, we rarely went to church.

My parents were religious, moral, decent people.  But that is a far cry from being Christian.  When my Mom was deeply concerned about some circumstance in her life, she would gather us girls about her on the bed, and she would read the Bible to us.  That was about the only time the Bible was taught in our home by my parents.

I appreciate one thing my Dad did though:  he would turn on the radio on Sunday, (maybe not every Sunday) and we heard Bible preaching.  My parents let us go to Daily Vacation Bible School, but that wasn’t every year. I don’t remember much of what I was taught there, if I was taught the Gospel message, it didn’t penetrate my understanding.

Even though there was not much Bible teaching in our home, my parents did their best to teach us to be diligent workers, to be honest, truthful, and also to fear God.  Somehow, I knew about Jesus and that there was a God. I knew that He died on the cross for us.  I also knew that there was a heaven and a hell.  I knew that some people were not ready to meet God, and that I was one of them.  I also knew that Jesus would come someday, and that it could happen at any time.

My parents did not have much Bible understanding – they probably were not taught it, though my Dad’s parents were somewhat religious.  I don’t know about my Mom’s parents.  I know now that being religious is not the same as having put one’s hope in Jesus for salvation, but back at that time, I thought a person had to be good and do good things in order to be saved. There were times I wondered, “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross when we had to be good in order to go to heaven”?

I was about eight when the Jews began to migrate back into their homeland.  My Mom said that soon the end of the world would come. When she told me this, I knew I was not ready for Jesus to come back.  I knew that I was a sinner, and that I would go to hell.  That caused great anguish of soul for me.  Many nights, before going to sleep, I would pray, “Jesus, please don’t come back tonight”.

About this time, when I was somewhere between 6 and 8 years old, I had a dream.  In my dream, I was swinging on a tire swing hung from a tree in the orchard that was north of our house.  I looked toward the east, and there was Jesus coming across the field towards me.  He was coming to take me to heaven.  I said to him that I hadn’t done anything; meaning that I had not done anything to make me ready for heaven.   In my dream, Jesus said to me, “You don’t have to”.

I didn’t know it at that time, but that is the truth.  I didn’t have to do any good thing to be ready for Jesus to take me to heaven, because Jesus did it for me.  He paid for all my sins when he gave His blood as He died on the cross, taking all of my punishment for all the sins I have and will yet commit.  I would only have to put my trust in Him.

I remember one night, about this same time, I came downstairs from my attic bedroom.  I wanted my Mom to help me get saved.  She knew what I wanted, but did not know how to help me.

Some years passed.  I got married at the age of 17, and I was still burdened about my lost condition.  Sometimes I would cry to my husband about it. One time he told me that he was going to hell.

He wasn’t saved either.  That fear of not being saved never left me.  Fear is an awful thing to live with.

On one occasion, my husband and I went to a family reunion.  There was a missionary there (a third cousin), who had gone to Africa.  He was the speaker at that gathering.  He preached a very convicting message about salvation.  But, I still didn’t know how to get saved.  I still thought I had to be good – which I knew I wasn’t.  I remember going to bed at night and not being able to sleep well.

Three little girls were born to our family, our first one lived only 24 hours. Still both my husband and I were in our lost condition.  I remember one day as I was running to the mailbox at the roadway, a chilling thought came to me, if I don’t get saved, all my descendants will go to hell.

God has a way of working things out for His glory and our good.

A country church, about 20 miles away, had some money designated for missions.  There was a man in that church who thought it would be good to start a church in Wichita, Kansas with that money.  The plan was that after the church was established, the membership would be missions minded, and eventually the amount of money used to build the new church would be given to missions.  That was a good plan.

So the piece of property was bought, and the work began.  First, the men had to prepare the ground for the building.  Then, my Dad was contacted to help because he had some heavy equipment.  He told them about his daughter that lived near there. One of the men responsible for starting the new church visited me and invited us to come to their new church.  I don’t remember my response, but I think I didn’t take the invitation very seriously.

Later, after the church was built, they called a young man to serve as pastor.  This new church was a Bible church, there was no denominational affiliation.  One evening the young pastor and his wife came to call on us and invited us to come to church.

We promised that we would come the next Sunday.  But, the next Sunday our two little girls had whooping cough.  We didn’t go to church.  It was about six weeks later that I saw the pastor’s wife in the grocery store.  I told her that we still planned to come to church.  What I didn’t know was that during these weeks, the people of that church were fervently praying for us, and for our salvation.

Finally, the day came that I actually went to that little church, taking my 3 year old daughter with me.  My husband stayed at home with the other little girl who was only about a year old.  I think it was the second Sunday that I went to the church that I was so convicted of my need that I cried. One of the hymns sung was, “T’is so Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.  I thought to my self, “Yes, it would be sweet to trust in Jesus”.  After church, as I was leaving, the pastor’s wife met me and wanted to talk to me.  She understood what my need was without my telling her.  I didn’t want to talk to her, I gave the excuse that I needed to get my little girl home.

After lunch that day, my husband decided to take a hog to the market. That was so unlike him to do such a thing on Sunday.  I had one fear that if I made this decision to become a Christian, my husband would be so displeased that he would leave me.

After the little girls had been put to bed for their afternoon nap, I made my choice. . . I knew I was a sinner, I had to be saved.  I knelt beside my bed and prayed.  I still didn’t know how to get saved, but I surrendered my heart to God for salvation.  I prayed the only thing I knew.  I asked the Lord to make me His vessel.  I got up from my knees, and picked up my Bible, one that my husband had given me as a gift on our first wedding anniversary.  I turned to the concordance in the back of the Bible and looked up the word, “salvation”.  I found that salvation is of the Lord.  I thought that maybe I was saved, but wasn’t certain.  I still don’t know for sure that I was saved at that time.

Very soon after that I learned that there is only one way to be saved from the punishment we deserve for having sinned. Salvation comes only when one puts all of his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sin when He shed His blood, and died on the cross.

I Corinthians 15:3, 4; “. . . how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”  

Whether I was saved at that time or not, God knows, but I do know this. The Lord took me at my word, that I wanted to be His vessel, and led me to understand the way of salvation in the days that followed.

The next Sunday our little family went to church.  I told the pastor’s wife what I had done, about my uncertainty about my salvation, and about what I had found in the Scriptures.  She said that she believed that I really was saved.  On that day the pastor and his wife invited our little family to come to their house for dinner on the following Friday.  I was delighted for us to accept that invitation, I had many questions that needed answers.

During that week many changes happened in my life.  The next day after that prayer of surrender, I felt that my world was like an oasis after having been in the desert.  My mouth got cleaned up.  No more minced oaths, no foul language of any kind.  My radio became “sanctified”, no more soap operas, just preaching and Christian music.

Through the preaching which I heard on the radio, many of my questions were answered.  But one question was heavy on my mind, and when we were at dinner at the pastor’s home I asked, “Now that I am saved, can I lose my salvation”?  I wanted to know if I had to work to keep my salvation by doing good deeds, or could I work for Jesus just to please Him. The answer was in the form of a parable.  I was told that when I was saved, the heavenly Father was now my Father.

God has chosen that analogy of His relationship with His children.  A man who is the father of a child, can disown the child, abandon him, or whatever, but he can never deny the fact that he is still that child’s father. That fact of fatherhood cannot be changed.  Since God is my Father now, He will always be my father.

The truth that God will always be the Father of those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation, is a good analogy.  However, I would rather depend on the Scriptures.  These especially:

Romans 6:23; “. . . the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eternal life is life that endures forever.  If I have eternal life, I can not lose it since it is eternal.  If I could lose it, then obviously I never had it.

Here is another passage that showed me that our salvation is an eternal one:

I John 5:11,12;  “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 

If you have Jesus, you have eternal life.  If you don’t have eternal life it is because you do not have Jesus.

I have been a joyfully born-again Christian going on sixty years now.  It has been so wonderful to be free of that awful fear that plagued me all those early years.  The peace and joy that Jesus has given me has been priceless.

Dear reader, do you have this same joy and confidence?  It can be yours, too.

Respectively,

Doris Swartz
©2013 Mark Davis

Related Articles:

A Letter To A Young “Bride-To-Be”

Doris Swartz Pt. 2 – How God Led Me To Work With Children

Suggested Reading:

If You’re Dead – Now What?

How Many Ways Are There To Get To Heaven?

Doris Swartz Pt. 2 – How God Led Me To Work With Children

How God Led Me To Work With Children

Immediately following my salvation experience, my pastor’s wife asked me to take her to a Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) teachers training class.  We met every week during the school year.  This training has been invaluable to me in my Christian walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

This class was divided into two parts.  First, we were taught how to take the Bible, and develop a good Bible lesson and we were taught how to show someone how to be saved.  We memorized Bible verses so that we had Scripture in our minds to pass on to others so that they could be saved.  It is the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to change people’s lives.  We were taught to always give the salvation message in every lesson, as well as those truths that would help a saved child to grow in confidence in his/her salvation and how to live a life pleasing to God.  We were taught that in every class, most likely, there are both saved and unsaved children.  Each child has a need to be given those Bible truths that will help them at their point of need.  The saved child needs to know how to live pleasing to his Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The unsaved child needs to know what Jesus has done for him so the child can put his trust in Jesus for his salvation.

The other half of the session was a Good News Club.  Here, a Bible lesson was taught, and we adults were the “children” in the class.  The idea was that we would go out and teach that lesson in a Good News Club in our community.

After my husband had become a born-again believer, we had a club in our home.  One day, our second daughter, about 5, raised her hand at the invitation to receive Jesus, and her Daddy counseled her, and she put her trust in Jesus to save her at that time.  She is a grandmother now, and dates her salvation to that day.

Because of his work, my husband was not able to be a part of a Good News Club after that year.  That was sad, because it is hard to find a better team than  a husband and wife  as teachers in a Good News Club.  Though my husband could not help, I continued teaching a club, either in our home or a friend’s home for many years.  I continued to teach even after my children had grown up and left the nest.

Maybe you are wondering what a Good News Club is.  Children from the neighborhood are invited to come to the home for an hour, usually immediately after school.  During that hour, refreshments are given.  The children are taught songs, a Bible verse to memorize which they are encouraged to recite the next week, and they are taught a Bible lesson. There  are visuals for the songs, verses, and the lesson.  At the end of the lesson, an invitation is given for those who want to, to come and talk to us so that we could help them make the decision to receive Jesus as their Savior.  No pressure is to be put on the children; this is to be a choice they would make for themselves.   These classes meet once a week through most of the school year.

In recent years, we have been allowed to hold a Good News in the school. Bible clubs are allowed with he same rules and restrictions as secular clubs have. I have been a part of a Good News Club in a local grade school for the past 5 or 6 years.  Last year we averaged about 30 students, and so far this year we have had about 20.

For more information about a “Good News Club”

It has been such a privilege to be doing the work that I believe God has called me to do.  My joy and delight is to teach children.  It would be a great joy to teach persons of any age,  but I believe God has called me to teach children.  When I am in front of a class of precious boys and girls I am truly happy.

Has my life always reflected Jesus?  Sorry to say, “No”.  I have failed Him miserably so many times.   But my Lord Jesus Christ has never failed me.  He has been there in my times of need.  He has answered so many of my prayers, even though I have not deserved such goodness from Him.  I am so thankful for such verses as; John 6:37, “…him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”  and Hebrews 13:5, “. . . I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”.   I am so thankful that someone came to me with the gospel message.

 What is the GOSPEL message ??

It could be that someone who reads this is in similar circumstances as I was for the first 23 years of my life . . . in confusion and fearing God’s eternal judgment.  Such a person does not have to continue in that fear.  I would have been spared a lot of misery if I had learned these truths as a child.   The Gospel is simply the “GOOD NEWS”  that God has provided the Way for us to know that we can be forgiven of our sins and to know that we will, one day, be in God’s heaven.

The following is a  presentation of  that wonderful gospel message: To do this,  I will use the  letters A through D to help with that presentation.

A.     Admit . . . that you have sinned against a holy God.

God tells us that we have all sinned:

Romans 3:23 — “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” 

You need to know that sin has consequences, and that is death - forever separated from God. 

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death. . .”

That death is an eternal death, that the one who dies without Jesus will be in a terrible place called hell . . . forever. The Bible says that it is a place where “the fire is not quenched”.  That fact is so awful that we find it hard to comprehend.

B.     Believe . . . that Jesus took your place — your punishment — for sin when He died on the cross.

II Corinthians 5:21 — “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

We could read this verse this way:

For He (God the Father) hath made Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) to be sin for us (you and me, the sinners), who knew no sin (Jesus is perfectly good, no sin in Him) that we might be made the righteous of God (perfectly good in God’s sight) in Him (in the Lord Jesus Christ)”.

We need to understand that Jesus died, but didn’t stay dead.  He was buried and rose again.   

I Corinthians 15:3,4 — “. . . how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: and that      He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures”.  

We must understand that we cannot do anything to save ourselves, Jesus did it all for us.

Ephesians 2:8,9 — “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  

Because Jesus took our place – took all of our punishment for sin – we can be forgiven for all our sin.

Ephesians 1:7 — “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”.

C.     Choose, Confess (or Call) . . . upon Jesus, trusting Him, and asking Him to save you.

Romans 10:13 – “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

When we believe, then we can ask.  Prayer does not save us.  Prayer is the means of communication between God and us.  Believing in what the Lord Jesus did for us, does.

Romans 10:9,10 — “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.  

Another promise verse is this:

Acts 16:31 – “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house”.

Do you believe God when He says that you have sinned and that you are a sinner?  Do you believe that Jesus is the Lord?  Do you believe that Jesus took your punishment and completely paid your sin debt when He gave His blood and died on the cross? Do you believe that he died, was buried, and three days later rose again and is alive?  Do you believe God’s promise that when you believe, you are saved simply because you believe?  If your answer to all these questions is “Yes”, tell it to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to save you so that you will never be punished in hell for your sin, and that one day you will be in God’s heaven.    

D.     Depend . . . on God’s Word to know that you are saved.  The question is, do you know for sure that you are  saved?  If you say, “Yes”, the next question is, “How do you know that?” You can know for sure when you depend on what God has promised.

Both Romans 10:9, 10, 13 and Acts 16:31 are promise and condition verses.  That is, they give you God’s promise, and what you must do to receive that promise.

In Romans 10: 9,10,13  What is God’s promise?  That you would be saved.

What is the condition you must meet so that you are saved?  You must believe.

Did you do your part?  If you say, “Yes, I did my part.  I believed.”

Then the next question is, “Did God do his part”? Obviously, there is no doubt that God will do what He has promised.  When we fulfill the condition part of the promise, then God will do the promise part.  We simply trust God’s Word, that He will do everything He has promised.

If you did your part, then God kept His promise, and you are saved; all your sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven.

Colossians 2:13 — “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses”.

Forgiveness of sins is the most wonderful gift anyone could ever receive. It is also the most costly gift ever given.  Jesus has commanded us to “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  There is no higher calling for us who have trusted Jesus for our salvation,  than this, to show sinners how they can receive that precious gift of eternal life.

How about you, dear reader, have your sins been forgiven?  It is written in II Peter 3:9, the Lord is “. . . longsuffering, not willing that any should perish.”  

The Lord loves you and is not willing for you to spend eternity in hell. Today is the day of salvation.  Even though God loves you, there will come a day when it is too late.

Hebrews 9:22, — “. . . it is appointed for man once to die, but after this the judgment. . .”

If there is any doubt about your salvation, please, make that choice today while there is yet time.

 ©2013 Mark Davis

Other Submissions by Doris Swartz:

A Letter To A Young “Bride-To-Be”
Doris Swartz Pt. 1 – How I Traded Fear For Peace

Recommended Reading:

Your Spiritual Wages

Still Excited? or Dead?

The Spiritually Dormant Life

You’re Spiritual Wages

“There is no wage relationship with God. Spiritually speaking, you and I haven’t earned anything but death.”

—Chuck Swindoll

Romans 3:10 — “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.”

Romans 3:23 — “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 — “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 5:8 — “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

©2013 Mark Davis

Continued Reading:

You’re Dead! Now What?

How Many Ways Are There To Get To Heaven?

God’s Chisel

The New Year has come and gone:  How ya doin’ on those resolutions?

Many people make resolutions to lose weight, to stop an addiction, to be more friendly, to be more loving to their mate… What was yours?  Did it have anything to do with God?  Church?  The Bible?

Where it is nice to have this time of the year to make a decision to do better things for yourself – and that is all good — but, what are you going to decide to do for God in the rest of the year.  Well, it isn’t too late to make that decision right now.

In Romans 12: 1, Paul writes,  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.   2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Most of us can look at ourselves - not others – and see that we have conformed to the ways of this world a bit too much (OK, more than just a bit – a bunch) and if we were to present ourselves to God the way we are now… He would LOVE us for it!

The problem is that when we do that, we come away from it all different people.  Sin cannot exist in God’s presence, therefore, the sin in our lives has to be purged out of our lives.  Only then can God take over in our lives and change us and make us that good, acceptable and reasonable servant that is able to know and do the will of God.

The following is a skit that is put on by none other than, “The Skit Guys“. They specialize in making little skits that are presentable in churches and youth groups and other Christ-centered activities.  This particular skit was the first that I ever saw of theirs and it really stirred my heart.  Do yourself a favor and watch it (full screen if you can).  Act as if it is a continuation of this post and just go right into it.

What is it that God is trying to chip away at your life about?  What is it that you need to change or get rid of in your life?  Don’t wait until next year to make this resolution.  Do it NOW.  We are not guaranteed a tomorrow and eternity is a very long time to put up with a wrong decision that you might make right now.  Give it to God and let Him have control of your life.  Get involved in your local church.   Talk to your friends about what God has done in your life and encourage them to let Him do the same for them.

If you have never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you need to do it right now, read this post to show you how.  It will help you figure out – straight out of the Bible – what you need to do to give Jesus your life.

If you have already accepted Christ as your Savior and you might say that you don’t know how to share with someone else how they can be saved, I encourage you to read that article also and make notes as to the scriptures that are used in it and when and how they are used.  They are exactly what is needed to lead another to the Lord.  If at all possible, you should even memorize the scriptures that are given so that you can tell them without even having to have your Bible with you (you know that you don’t carry it everywhere – unless it is on your phone) and even if you did have it with you, would you know where to go in it to show them what Jesus can do for them.  Mark them in your Bible.  Do what you have to do to be able to spread the good news of God’s free gift for mankind.

Make a comment below and let me know what you thought of the video (I might do more of them if I get a good enough response) and even let me know what kind of decision you’ve made today and what you are going to do to keep it.  I’ll pray for you that way and so can other readers.  No one will laugh at you but rather, we will rejoice with you and the angels.

– Mark

©2013 Mark Davis

Continued Reading:

How many ways are there to get to heaven?

Christians – the Temple of the Holy Spirit

The Wordless Book Presentation

Make your own “How to be saved presentation booklet”

How to witness by handing out Bible Tracts

To receive information regarding the Skit Guys and their ministry or to see more skit titles, go to www.skitguys.com.  They sell DVDs, Scripts, Training Videos and a bunch more things not to mention a lot more skits on many other topics.  They are great resources for any Church or Youth Ministry.

Larry Bronsing – My Journey

PREAMBLE:

I wrote my testimony printed below for the First Baptist Church of Frederic Michigan News Letter back in 1973.  The Pastor there, Brother Robert Taylor, is my personal hero. My convictions were set in concrete under his ministry through preaching, teaching and by his example. After forty years he still has a vital part in my Christian growth and, knowing that, the KJV Bible is God’s final authority for EVERYTHING, those convictions have seen me through to my 72 years of life.

Why do I tell you this?  Because it is vital that Christians recognize Godly friends that God sends their way.  I wish I could get every new-born believer into a solid KJV believing, teaching and preaching church whose pastor is tender-hearted with the wisdom of God, as Pastor Taylor’s church was.

Right after I was saved, I was so on fire and could immediately quote a great many Bible verses, but as a new-born 33-year-old baby, I needed lots of “spiritual milk” which Pastor Taylor provided so well.

A thought . . . Why does someone study to be a surgeon, and he gets respect for that, but God’s man, who has put in as much or more in studying theology, is disrespected by every “on-fire”, “get-out-of-my-way”, “I know what’s happening”, new-born Christian?  Because they, like me, get blinded by their flesh.

The following letter proves how spiritually immature I was.  I suppose Pastor Taylor never corrected anything I wrote because he had TOTAL FAITH in the Holy Spirit to do His job.

Pastor Taylor taught me how to pray publicly; how to win souls; its importance and how a pastor should conduct himself. He gave me opportunities to preach when I was actually kind of like Don Knots while thinking myself to be a Spurgeon (I told you I was spiritually stupid).

One day in heaven I will see Pastor Taylor again, and I look forward to telling him how much I love him.  BUT, I ROB HIM because I never became the soul winner, teacher and preacher that I should have.

Have you ever thought about that?  “What if I would have been the man God wanted me to be; then Pastor Taylor would have received extra rewards because of my faithfulness to the Saviour.”

I grew into an immature, spiritual cry-baby, feeling sorry for myself and, after I spent years struggling to get back spiritually where I was in Frederic, God moved me into Bethany Baptist Church in Clawson, Michigan.

Pastor Howe was not even close to being a “Pastor” when he took the pastor-ship because no one else would.  That was when I started attending. I have a great respect for Church authority and never looked at Pastor Howe as anything but God’s chosen vessel as the pastor of His Church, Bethany Baptist Church, in Clawson, Michigan.  Pastor Howe, most likely, was glad I was there, but I got more than he did.  He is the perfect example of how God can use a man whose heart is soft and has strong convictions.  He was/became another “Pastor Taylor”.  Anyone could talk with Pastor Howe and he would never get uppity if they disagreed with him. He was another one who trusted God’s Holy Ghost for the results.

Thank you, God, for giving Your grace and mercy to Pastor Taylor, Howie and me.

TESTIMONY:

The following is very poor writing and the theology is shaky if you don’t read between the lines and take it in context.  I have a blog where anyone can read in detail what I have always believed about salvation and baptism: donoterr.wordpress.com.  If you struggle through this letter, I hope you will at least see the truth of God working in an ugly me and the redeeming power of Jesus, but, again, keep in mind I was not long saved when I wrote it.

This is what I wrote 33 years ago:

Dear reader:

I would like to tell you a little of my past life.  I am doing this because I know there is someone reading this who can identify with what I am going to write.  God is going to speak to you through this poorly written, but love sent letter.

It is not that I was so bad, although I did almost everything: having hitchhiked across the states, been in a few jails, and have taken a few pills.  I could tell joke upon joke with a very vivid imagination for colorful language, and after many years of training I could drink with the best.

Many times I would have a lonesomeness deep inside.  I wouldn’t compare it with anything.  I would just say –  “there has to be something more”.  I don’t want to be on my death-bed, an old man, look back and say- “It was for nothing”, so I would try another experience.  Sometime the experience I tried was God.

I read a lot and one thing I knew Jesus wanted was bold unashamed men: men to stand and fight for Him.  I was also aware that Jesus said, ”be hot or be cold but do not be lukewarm or I will spew you out of my mouth,” ( Revelation 3:15,16) so I would get hot.  I would stop drinking and swearing, and this and that.  Then for a short time I would witness and praise God.  I really would feel great.  Then my old self would gradually sneak back a little at a time and there I would be right back to my sinfully selfish self.

As it says in the Bible, “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death,” (Romans 7:24)   you see, I had really never let Jesus into my life.

What I was doing was working to please God or trying to win His favor.  Oh I wanted Jesus; I knew what I had read, how Jesus changes lives and gives life.  I wanted this, but I wanted Jesus on my terms.  I wanted to buy Jesus instead of Him buying me, although at the time I really didn’t understand that I had never really let Jesus into my own heart.

Time and time again I would tell people about the power of Jesus: how that if they asked Jesus into their lives and repent of their sin, Jesus would cleanse them and be with them.  They would have a new life, a life filled with power and excitement, love, joy, and peace.  How could anyone refuse?  But no one really paid much attention; they had heard it from me many times before.   In a week or two I would be my old self — again.

Then there came a time in my life when I knew I was powerless to stop drinking and carrying on.  I was depressed; I had let Jesus down so many times.  I begged God for forgiveness – told Him I was a failure and deserved Hell.  Then I said, “Jesus, I will never stop drinking again, even if I feel the urge to stop.  I will continue to drink for I am powerless to stop, but I will never stop telling people about You.”

I was aware that Jesus wanted me and it took years for me to realize it, but it could have taken only ten seconds if I would have only gotten me out of the way and then I would have finally understood and believed God.

Soon after I made this decision, I was miraculously shown what I needed to do through the Scriptural teaching on baptism.  I had been baptized as an infant, but now I knew what I was doing, I could speak for myself.

I wish space would permit me to write some of the miracles of God that changed my life.  I knew that I must surrender my life completely to the Lord because the ordinance of baptism is a picture and a type of death, burial and resurrection.  It is a picture of the new birth which is necessary to become a child of God (John 3:3).  After baptism, I felt a power; I knew I would walk with Jesus for an eternity.

[I must add this:  Baptism doesn't save, faith in Christ alone saves. I have a post on my blog that explains what I believed then and now.  Also, certain words that I call "magic words" don’t save either -- It is a heart thing. Romans 10:10, lpb added 2013]

Well, am I still drinking?  No! Jesus took away that desire.  I would have to force myself and I am not going to do that.  Am I saying I have no temptations and everything is down hill?  No, I am still like everyone else living in a world controlled by Satan, but now I have Jesus and, though some sins cause me to stumble, I really never fall; you see, Jesus catches me on the way down and helps me back to my feet.”

©2013 Mark Davis

About Larry Bronsing

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Jesus Loves You

LIKE if you KNOW that you are

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~ Jesus Loves You

Additional Reading:

Proof That Jesus Loves You

How Can Adversity Be Good?

I know that we all have our own stories of how bad life has treated us, but, for now, we are going to expound on why I am a prime example of adversity.

I’ve lived a normal life up until age 35 and then I was diagnosed with a 7″ spinal cord tumor between C-3 and T-5.  After the tumor was removed, I was left paralyzed from mid-chest down.  Where, since, I have regained some ability to move and even walk, I have little ability to feel in those areas – except for pain.  Severe peripheral neuropathy in my right leg and left arm and both hips.  Minor peripheral neuropathy is in my left leg and right arm.

Also, in the site of the tumor resection, there had developed some bad arthritis (is there a good kind), a bone spur and a pocket of spinal fluid building up that was starting to choke off the nerves as well as one vertebrae that never healed from the original surgery, so the bone never healed back together and was then considered fractured.  That all being said, I ended up having to have the vertebrae in that area fused together 10 years later.  All 5 of them (four joints).

To top it all off, 5 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Carcinoid Cancer.  This is a very slow growing cancer and that is why I haven’t died yet.  It was found only after it had spread to my liver and now my liver is infested with it.  There are a multitude of “primary” tumors in my “gut” and, since it has spread, it is considered to be inoperable unless something life-threatening comes of it.  It is under “treatment”; meaning, there is no cure, there is no treatment to get rid of the tumors or even shrink the tumors, the only thing they can do is give me a drug every 4 weeks that helps control the symptoms.  I would be dead now if it weren’t for that drug.  The symptoms alone were enough to kill me eventually.

Both of these things that I document here, are very rare and almost unheard of finding them.  I mean, the spinal cord tumor was found when I was 35 – it is normally found in 12 year olds, according to my pediatric neuro-surgeon that removed it (I was his oldest patient).  The cancer is so rare that they only find it in maybe 1:300,000 people.  It is one of the most rare types of cancer in the oncology world and one of the most misdiagnosed diseases in the world… in fact, most cases aren’t even found until the patient is already dead.  I am fortunate and divinely cared for in both of these situations.

But, why do you think that these things happen to us?  Is it to punish me/us for some sin that we have committed?  Not likely. Then Why?

Side note: At the time that both of these situations happening to me, I was NOT walking closely to God… I was a Christian, I was just seriously backslidden in my Christian life.

There is a serious chance that God was trying to get my attention and make me realize that He really was in control, so if I continue to walk in the path that I was in, I would only be having more bad things happen to me.

Since we have gotten to this point, I have since given my heart and life back to God and given Him control of my life and now my life has purpose. No, I was NOT miraculously healed and the cancer taken away from me and my nerve problems solved.  God has used my infirmity to put me in the paths of people that I otherwise wouldn’t have ever come across that I might be able to witness to them and encourage them; and in return, He has shown me the plans that He has for me and has placed a wonderful wife and 2 kids in my life to help me along and, hopefully, I can help them along as well.

Ever since I was a kid, I had heard of Joni Eareckson-Tada.  She was in an unfortunate deep-water diving accident in shallow water resulting in a broken neck and becoming a quadriplegic ever since.  Since then, she has become quite an amazing person (I didn’t know her before the accident) having become an artist – yes, artist; she paints with her mouth – and an author and inspirational speaker in the evangelical Christian world.

I came across a video clip that is only a little over 5 minutes long that you might enjoy watching:

I hope you enjoyed hearing what Joni had to say.

Suffering is only one side of the coin in God’s eyes.  He really wants to see how you deal with it and which way you turn.  Because, you have a choice of what you are going to do with it.  You can take the devil’s route and get depressed and think “woe is me” and get down and even contemplate suicide, or you can turn your eyes upon God, get in His word and see what He has to say about it and be encouraged by it and in turn try to encourage others to turn to Christ as well.  It’s your choice.

References for Bible verses on comfort during hardships and to see what God has to say about it are available upon request.   I really want to find out how many of you are out there that are interested in this sort of thing and those of you who actually read this and care.  Comment at the bottom and let me know what you think.

©2013 Mark Davis

If you feel that you have a story that might encourage someone or that just points out the awesomeness of our God, please email it to me at mdnoidlife@gmail.com.  I am compiling some of these stories to be put into a new section of my blog for Testimonies.  I will even give you all the credits and will even link to your web site if you have one.

What Business Are You In?

Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer.”
— Charles Spurgeon

Why Do YOU Pray?

To start with, I want to thank God for His blessings on me, my family, my Church and on my blog.  He has been doing things that I couldn’t even imagine.  To some it might be just what happens every day, but to me, I see God’s hands in it all.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people talking about the subject of prayer and how God will do anything you want Him to do if you just ask Him to.  I see a problem with this way of thought…  Where, God is here for us to call upon, He isn’t our “slave” or genie that will do anything that we ask Him to do just because we want Him to do it.

If I were to call on God to, “Please, give me a million dollars”; do you really think He is likely to do it?  No!  Why not?  Because it is not something that is going to further His plan for our life, it is not something that He has planned (willed) to happen to further His plan for our world  (immediate or distant future).

Oh, we might say, “Well, I plan to give most of it to my church so that they can build a new wing or to go to our missions program.”  Where both of these things might be good, they probably aren’t what God wants to happen.

He might want your church to get a new wing, but He wants to be able to meet the need in a more personal way so that it is more obvious that He is the one doing it. He might want your church to meet the needs of your missionaries but not in that manner.

Why? It is more likely that, by you giving your church $500,000, it would draw more attention to you than to Him (even if you try to give it anonymously). That is not His will. His will is to draw the attention to Himself and not to us.

We, as Christians, have to understand that we are living in the days right before Christ’s return for His Church, or, as some would call it, the “Rapture” or the “Taking Away of the Church”. We can see this by studying the Bible and lining up the prophecies of the Bible and realizing that we are very close to Christ’s return.

Due to that fact, we are admonished to be on the lookout for His return and, as such, it is even more important for us to carry out the Great Commission and make more disciples and try to further His kingdom (not ours).

While God does promise to meet our needs, He only promises to meet our NEEDS – not our wants!  We have to remember that God is in the business of furthering HIS gospel and He wants us as well as everyone else to see Him – NOT US!  Why do I keep saying this?  Because too many people think that because we want something, God will give it to us because it is a “desire of our heart” and God promises to give us the desires of our hearts.

Psalm 37: 4 — Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

This is a verse that many people also draw out of proportion.  They say, “Well, I love the Lord and he didn’t give me a new car”, or, “I go to church every time the doors are opened and I give in the offering plate when it is passed and when I had this business opportunity and needed some money to get it going, He didn’t give me the desire of my heart there!”

The main thing to consider here is the Delighting part of the whole statement.  When was the last time that you DELIGHTED in the Lord? When was the last time that you just couldn’t wait to get to church or even open your Bible at home to see what God has in store for you in it?  When was the last time that you were so excited about what God has been doing in your life that you just couldn’t wait to tell someone?  Or, when was the last time that you were so thankful for your salvation that you wanted to tell your friend or the teller at the bank or the cashier at the grocery store so that they could also be able to share your joy and be able to go to Heaven when they die?

The point here is that the Delighting is thinking of ourselves last.  We are supposed to Love one another — the second greatest commandment! When was the last time that you expressed love or for that matter, care for someone outside your family or even outside of your church family?   This is what the Bible is talking about.  But it doesn’t mean just doing it once or one day a week.  It means doing it on a continual basis.  So much so that after doing it for a while, we notice that it becomes second nature to do it.  That is when God automatically comes first in our lives.  That is when God wants to use us. That is when He is finally able to use us.

When we are totally subjected to His will, and we are doing the things that He has commanded us to do, that is when God will finally say, “Well done My good and faithful servant” and then and only then will our new desires be the same as the desires of God’s.

At that point, ask yourself if the things that you were going to ask Him for before would be the same as they are when you are in the center of the will of God.  I would venture to say that they would be very different.

That new car that you managed to do without, but rather got a used car that cost half as much, might enable you to use the money that you would have spent, to increase your missions giving at the church.   Which would God bless more?  If you know the nature of God, you already know the answer to this.

So, why is it that YOU pray?  Is it just to ask God for things that you think you need where you could really do with less or totally without?  Or do you pray to THANK God for the things that He has already given you?  If you don’t thank Him for what you already have and the things that you continually receive, He might be less likely to recognize that you need something else in the future.

I heard a saying once, “If you woke up tomorrow morning with everything that you gave God thanks for today, how much would you have?”

Remember your priorities when you pray.  Make sure that YOUR desires are GOD’S desires.  Make sure that you are praying for needs that can and will glorify God if He grants them to you and not just personal wants that you could do without.  Make sure that you are continually giving God thanks for everything that He has given you and especially those things that He gives you as a result of a prayer that has just been answered.

Remember too:  God has 3 answers to prayers that He might give to you:

1.     Yes

2.     No

3.     I have something better planned for you/Wait.

© 2013 Mark Davis

Continued Reading:

Additional Reading:

Lesson 13 – Baptist Distinctives – Lesson

Lesson 13

BAPTIST DISTINCTIVES

In this lesson we will present Biblical truths that distinguish Bible-believing people from other groups.  Over the years these have been called Baptist distinctives because they are historically what Bible-centered Baptists have believed.  They deal with specific issues of doctrine and church polity. All of them are scriptural principles.  I have no quarrel with someone who wants to call these Bible distinctives rather than Baptist distinctives.  As the author of this book, I am not necessarily jealous for the name Baptist: but I will fight for the principles to which Baptists have historically held. These Biblical principles are the truths we present in this chapter as Baptist Distinctives.

Although many other groups hold some of these doctrines, only those of Baptist persuasion hold all of them.  As a Baptist, I do not claim that Baptists are the only ones to hold any truth; but I do believe that a church that holds to the historic Baptist position is the local church closest to the pattern of the New Testament churches.  This is not a doctrinal statement. Instead, it is a statement of principles taken from the Bible and revealing the difference between historic Baptist principles and those held by other denominations or groups.

THE BIBLE — OUR ONLY RULE FOR
FAITH AND PRACTICE

2 Timothy 3:16 — “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

1.     Other groups find their authority for their faith (what they believe) and their practice (what they do) in different ways.

Roman Catholics have church dogmas and encyclicals.

Mormons have the Book of Mormon.

Other denominations use some type of denominational handbook.

All we need is the Bible.  It is the Word of God, and we need no other book or method.

2.     The Bible is our authority for faith.

“Faith” deals with what we believe.  We take the Bible as the only authority in the matter of our teaching.  The Bible is true.  Though we may not always understand what it says, we do know with the Bible, our church is wrong but the Bible is right.

3.     The Bible was written for churches today.

In Matthew 16:18 we find the founding of the church.  In Matthew 18:17 we find the discipline for the church.  The Book of Acts gives us the establishing of local churches.  Nearly all the rest of the New Testament was written in the framework of a local church.  Since the Bible was written for the churches and about the church, and since the Bible is God’s inspired Word, our churches need no other authority for their faith and practice.

Therefore, we must accept the Bible as our only authority for what we believe and for the manner in which we organize and operate our churches.  We must not accept –

The traditions of men,

The new writings of men,

The thinking of great leaders,

The vain philosophies of men,

But rather, the sure Word of God.

We do not reject traditions or writings or the thinking of men completely.  These can have their place, but they are not the authorities for our faith and practice.

Colossians 2:8, 9 — “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

The Bible teaches clearly that the church and state should be separate entities.  The church should not control the state, and the state should not control the church.  Baptists have historically held this position.

1.     Moses and Aaron

God called Moses to lead the nation of Israel.

God called Aaron to be the high priest.

Their positions were distinct and separate.  It was the position of Moses to bring God’s message to men.  Aaron, as high priest, was to lift men up to God.

2.     David and Nathan

Nathan, a prophet, came to King David in 2 Samuel 12:7 to announce to him that David was the man who had sinned.  God used Nathan to point out sin to David.  Nathan did not run the state, but he did accept his responsibility to warn the king about sin.

3.     Saul

Saul intruded into the priest’s office.  In 1 Samuel 13:8-10 we read of King Saul’s endeavoring to do the work of the priests.  In 1 Samuel 13:13 the prophet Samuel rebuked Saul, saying, “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: . . .”

Saul was king.  As such, he disobeyed God when he endeavored to do the work that was limited to the priesthood.  He violated God’s principle of the separation of church and state.

4.      Jesus

Jesus paid tribute (taxes) to Caesar.

Matthew 17:24-27 — “And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?  He saith, Yes.  And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?  Peter saith unto him.  Of Strangers, Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.  Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”

Jesus is The King of kings, but He paid tribute to Caesar.  This instructs us that there needs to be a separation of church and state.

5.     Paul and Peter

Paul and Peter taught that Christians should be subject unto the higher powers.

In Romans 13 Paul taught these truths:

a.     The powers that be are ordained of God (v. 1).

b.     Rulers are to be a terror to evil works (v. 3).

c.     The ruler is actually a minister of God.  He is to bear the sword, executing wrath upon them that do evil (v. 4).

d.     Believers are to be subject to the governing powers for conscience sake (v. 5).

e.     Believers should pay taxes as assessed by the government (v. 6).

f.     Believers are to render tribute, custom, fear, and honor to whom it is due (v. 7).

In 1 Peter 2:13-17 Peter taught these truths:

a.     Believers should submit themselves to the ordinances of man (vv. 13, 14).

b.     Believers should honor the king or the one in authority over them (v. 17).

There are those today who would teach that the state is to govern the church, to control the church, and to use taxes to support the church.  Of course, if the state were to do this, then the state would control the churches and have full direction of them.  That means the pastors would be paid by the state.  This produces a clergy that are not interested in the church and are not answerable to the church or God.  They are answerable to the state.

Wherever a state church has been adopted, that church has gone into corruption and apostasy.  The state church was started by Constantine when he mixed the state and church together.  This is the Pergamos Church of Revelation 2; and of it the Lord says in Revelation 2:16, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

There are others who teach that the church is the highest authority and that it is to govern the state.  This is also unscriptural.

There are three institutions founded by God.

1.     The Home — founded in Genesis 2

2.     Human Government — founded in Genesis 9

3.     The Local Church — founded in Matthew 16 and established at Pentecost

Each one of these institutions is independent of the other.  They should work together to function for the glory of God.

Historically, Baptists have held the separation of church and state as a Biblical distinctive.  Though this conviction has sometimes meant martyrdom, godly men have stood for this Biblical position.

Of course, the church is to have an impact in society.  Therefore, it should teach and aid and strengthen the home.  And it should do the same in connection with the state.  The church should make an impact on the state, helping rulers to rule according to Biblical and moral standards.

Believers should be members of a local church.  At the same time they are citizens of the state.  As citizens, we should exercise our spiritual influence so that we might have a decent and moral climate for our children.

The three institutions — the home, the church, and human government — are given to us by God.  They are all divine institutions and as such are responsible to God.

The HOME God gave the responsibility of the education of the children (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).  He also gave the home the responsibility of providing all the material, emotional, and spiritual needs of the family.

The the CHURCH God gave the great commission to evangelize, baptize, and teach.

To the STATE God gave the ministry of dispensing justice.  The government official is a minister of God (Romans 13:6, 7) as much as the preacher, but with a totally different responsibility.

God never intended for the home, the church, and the state to be in conflict.  The home and the church should produce law-abiding citizens, and the state should protect the home and the church.

The home is to be supported by the hard work of its members.  The church is to be financed by the tithes and offerings of its members.  The state is to be supported by taxes.  Jesus Christ was speaking of taxes when He said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s  and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).  This does not mean there should be a wall erected where the church and state are never to have anything to do with each other.  Don’t forget that it was Jesus Christ who told the tax collectors how to handle their office.  And the Lord also instructed the soldiers how to carry out their duties.

It would be impossible for a Christian to leave his Christianity at home when he goes out in the world each day.  As he deals with government, he must realize that he has the principles of the Word of God to uphold.

As Christians, we are to pray for our government officials (1 Timothy 2:1, 2), to submit to the laws of the government (1 Peter 2:13, 14), to pay taxes to the government (Romans 13:6, 7), and even to hold a government position if we choose to do so.  When the rights of the Christian are infriged upon, he is to appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:1-12) but not to resort to violence. However when the government interferes with a Christian’s obedience to God, the government must be disobeyed.  Scriptural examples of such disobedience are Moses’ parents (Exodus 1:22 — 2:10; Daniel (Daniel 1:5-8); the three Hebrew young men (Daniel 3:1-3-); and the apostles (Acts 5:26-29).

A REGENERATE CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

The Bible teaches that before a person can be a member of a local church, he needs to know that he is saved.

Acts 2:41 — “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

Acts 2:41 states that a number were added to the church fellowship.  The requirement for membership in the church was that they “gladly received his word” and “were baptized.”  Verse forty-seven states that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  To come into the church, they needed to be saved.

In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul addressed them as follows:

“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

He speaks later in verse four, saying that the grace of God was given them by Jesus Christ.  These Corinthians were saved before they joined the church.  Please note also the salutations in Ephesians 1:1-4; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1-4.  In all of these salutations you will see clearly that the members of the churches were saved.

Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It is this new birth that is required for a person to become a member of the church.  Many denominations do not hold to this Biblical distinctive.  If they baptize infants into church membership, they will have an unregenerate church membership.  Some baptize the infants and then put them through a “confirmation” class when they become teenagers. However, they have been members of the church since they were infants, and very seldom is the necessity of the new birth emphasized in confirmation.

BAPTISM OF BELIEVERS ONLY BY IMMERSION

We have had a detailed discussion of baptism in Chapter two.  There we learned that the scriptural mode of baptism is immersion.

The Bible teaches that the membership in the church must be scripturally baptized.

Please note again Acts 2:41 — “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

The Great Commission from Jesus Christ requires that we baptize the converts.  Matthew 28:19 — “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

This distinctive, like the previous one, completely does away with the practice of infant baptism.  An infant cannot believe.  And those who “baptize” infants use the unscriptural mode of sprinkling or pouring.

THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE BELIEVER AND
SOUL LIBERTY

The “priesthood of the believer” means that each believer is his own priest under the High Priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  A believer does not need another human priest to serve as a mediator.

Peter taught that believers are priests.

1 Peter 2:5 — “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:9 — “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hat called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Revelation 1:5, 6 — “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

In 1 Timothy 2:5 Paul wrote that we have only one Mediator — “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Any human priest between us and our High Priest, Jesus Christ, is unscriptural.  Believers do not need another priest.  They do not need Mary to intercede for them.  Jesus Christ, our High Priest, is at the right hand of God, ever living to make intercession for us (Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 7:25).

What does it mean that each believer is a priest?

1.     Every believer has direct access into God’s presence.

Hebrews 4:16 — “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace; that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

2.     Every believer has the personal right and privilege to read and understand the Word of God himself.

John 5:39 — “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

The Bereans reveal the attitude we all should have as individuals toward the Word of God.

Acts 17:11 — “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

3.     Every believer can have immediate forgiveness and cleansing of sin upon his confession and without any other mediator.

1 John 1:9 — “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We do not need to go to a special priestly person to have sin forgiven, and we do not need a “sacred” place to be able to pray. Neither do we need any human intermediary to understand the Bible.  The Holy Spirit can and will instruct every Bible believer who is hungry enough to study the Word of God

1 John 2:27 — “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”

Soul liberty involves the scriptural teaching that every believer is individually responsible to God.  We each need to accept Christ personally.  The Bible message is that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Also, we each need to grow individually.  The Bible teaches that each individual is important to God.  The distinctive of soul liberty means that a believer is not under the authority of some individual in a man-made religious system.

AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH

Each church is a self-governing body.  When Paul wrote to the various churches, he dealt with different problems in each church.  There was no governing body outside the local church that had authority over the church.

Basically, there are four kinds of church government.

1.     The Papal — practiced by the Roman Catholic Church

This puts authority in the Pope and is totally unscriptural.

2.     The Episcopal

This puts authority in a group of priests and it, too, is unscriptural.

3.     The Representative

This involves a presbytery in the Presbyterian Church or the synod in the Lutheran Church.  It simply means that a group of men have authority over the local church.

4.     The Congregational

This is the only scriptural form of the four.  This allows God full control in the local church with the congregation seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Every New Testament church faced its own problems.  They dealt with those problems to see the blessing of God upon the church.  They did not look to an outside ecclesiastical organization.

Autonomy of the local church means:

1.     The self-government of each local church

Each church is to seek the will of God under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

2.     The independence of each local church

By this we mean that the local church is independent of other churches.  Of course, the local church is entirely dependent upon the Lord.  And it is responsible only to the Lord and not to any other church or organization.

This does not mean that a local church cannot fellowship with other local churches.  Indeed, fellowship between churches is very important.  Churches may fellowship together to accomplish various ministries such as missions, camps, retreats, etc.  Yet while so fellowshiping together, each local church must remain an entity unto itself.

This means that the local church should govern itself and its own affairs under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Scriptural churches have no hierarchy of a clergy class over them.  They have no general assembly or convention that rules over the local church.  Each local church is independent and sovereign.

The local body of believers is to be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating.  (Note 1 Corinthians 5 and Acts 13.)  The local church should be autonomous and sovereign in all its actions — whether in the election of its officers (Acts 6), the discipline of its members (1 Corinthians 5-6), or in its relationship and association with other churches (Acts 15).  There is no higher authority than a congregation of believers meeting to transact business under the leadership of a pastor.

3.     Congregational government

By this we mean that from a human standpoint, the membership of the church is actually the final authority.  Some refer to this type of direction as a “democracy.”  By that they mean: one person, one vote.  Democracy refers to government by the people.  I prefer to call it a “congregational” form of government so that we understand that it is the born-again membership of the people who should be the final authority.

Actually, it would be better to refer to the local church as a theocracy.  This would put the Lord in control.  A spiritual church will certainly follow this pattern.  The New Testament teaches that Christ is the Chief Shepherd and that He has pastors as undershepherds in the local churches.  The undershepherds (the pastors) are answerable to the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:4).  The titles “elder” (1 Peter 5:1), “bishop” (1Timothy 3:1), and “pastor” (Ephesians 4:11) all refer to the same office.  This is taught clearly in 1 Peter 5:1, 2 –

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed [the Greek word "poimaino," translated "pastors" in Ephesians 4:11] the flock of God which is among you, taking the ovdersight [the Greek word "episkopew," translated "bishop" in 1 Timothy 3:1] thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.”

From this passage we see that the elder also did the work of shepherding (the pastoral responsibility) and overseeing (the bishop responsibility). Under the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, the pastor has the responsibility of leading the feeding of the flock (Acts 20:28).  The assembly of believers has a vote in the work of the church, but they also need to learn to follow the leadership of a godly pastor.

The scriptural manner of church government is a congregational form of government, following the leading of a pastor who seeks to follow the Lord.  Therefore, it is extremely important that the pastor, the staff, the deacons, and the membership of a local church seek to walk in fellowship with the Lord.

Another important truth concerning the autonomy of the local church is that the church is composed of members and not of organizations.  Thus, a couples’ club or a women’s missionary fellowship or a men’s brotherhood may exist for fellowship or service, but they are not to be called a church.

THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER

1.     The Bible promises eternal life to those who believe.

John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:36 — “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

John 10:27, 28 — “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

In John 10:29 the Lord Jesus Christ promised that no man could pluck the Lord’s saved ones out of the Father’s hand.

The word translated in the verses above as “everlasting life” or “eternal life” is used forty-three times in the New Testament to qualify life or to fix the duration of the believer’s life.  It is the same word used in Romans 16:26 to describe the character of God’s existence.  Also, we find it in 2 Timothy 2:10 describing the duration of the glory of Christ.  Again it is used in 2 Peter 1:11, telling of the duration of Christ’s kingdom.

Thus — just as long as God is, as long as the glory of Christ and His kingdom endure, so long is the believer safe.

2.     Salvation implies that the believer is safe.

Involved in the word “saved” is the idea of being kept safe.

Note 1 Peter 1:5 — “Who [we believers] are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

3.     Believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13, 14 — “After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

This “sealing” by the Holy Spirit signifies ownership and completion. The Spirit of God takes up His abode in the believer as God’s possession, never to depart.  At the same time there is complete deliverance from the power of sin.  Philippians 1:6 states: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

4.     To deny security is to misunderstand the doctrine of grace.

We are saved by grace and only by grace.

Ephesians 2:8, 9 — “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

When we say that we cannot be kept secure by God, we are saying that our sin can cause us to lose our salvation.  This means that we believe works enter into salvation.  The moment we add works to salvation, we eliminate salvation by grace alone.

THE LORD’S SUPPER

The Bible reveals that the church has two teaching pictures for the believers.  These are the two ordinances: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. An ordinance of the church is determined by the following criteria:

1.     It is commanded in the Gospels.

2.     It is practiced in the Book of Acts.

3.     It is taught in the Epistles.

Only  Baptism and the Lord’s Supper meet all three requirements.

The first teaching picture — Baptism — pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  We have already given the scriptural teaching on that in Chapter 2 — Baptism; and in this chapter, under the fourth distinctive.  Therefore, we will not discuss it any further.

Bible believers believe that the elements of the Lord’s Supper are only symbolical of Christ’s broken body and His shed blood.  God refers to these as “memorials.”  We are to do both until this church age ends.

The Lord’s Supper is a teaching picture, an object lesson, to keep before us the price of our redemption.

The bread pictures:

1.     Christ’s broken body

Matthew 26:26 – “And as they were eating.  Jesus took bread, and blessed it and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”

I Corinthians 11:24 – “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”

2.     His bearing of our sins in His own body

1 Peter 2:24 — “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.”

The cup pictures:

1.     Christ’s shed blood

1 Corinthians 11:25 — “After the same manner also he took the cup when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Matthew 26:28 — “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

2.     Salvation only through His blood

Hebrews 9:22 — “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

The Bible teaches there are only certain ones who have a right to partake. First Corinthians 11:27 speaks of those who partake “unworthily” and become guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  The Scriptures reveal the order in Acts 2:41, 42.

1.     They were saved.

“Then they that gladly received his word . . .”

2.     They were baptized.

“. . . were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

3.     They fellowshiped at the Lord’s Table.

“And they continued steadfastly . . . in breaking of bread.”

Therefore, to partake of the Lord’s Table, one needs to be saved, to be baptized scripturally, and to be walking in fellowship with the Lord.

THE PURPOSE OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

1.     To remember His death — 1 Corinthians 11:24-26

2.     To be a time of self-examination

1 Corinthians 11:28 — “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”

3.      To remind us He is coming again

1 Corinthians 11:26 — “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.”

SUMMARY OF BAPTIST DISTINCTIVES

I have listed eight truths as Biblical distinctives that form a New Testament church.  Some groups or denominations believe some of these distinctives, but only Bible believers believe all of them.  For example, Methodists could believe in the Bible (though most modern-day Methodism does not believe the Bible), could believe in separation of church and state, but would not believe in the baptism of believers only, the security of the believer, or the autonomy of the local church. (Methodists have district superintendents over the churches.) Presbyterians would not necessarily baptize by immersion, and they have a presbytery over the churches.  Pentecostals do not believe in the security of the believers and many of them have a church hierarchy.  Lutherans have not practiced separation of church and state.  Etc., etc.

Only Bible believers have held to all of the eight distinctives.  They are important for us to hold as we stand true to the Scriptures.

©2013 Mark Davis

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