Sunday, October 10, 2010

Part 2 – The Christian Faith: How the saving (believing) process of the Christian Faith takes place (10/10/10)

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters….” Isaiah 55:1


In some Christian circles it is the accepted norm to encourage fellow Christians to give their personal testimonies of the circumstances leading up to their “conversion” ["getting, 'saved.'"] Also, gratifying to some of these groups is the acceptance of various testimonies which relate not only the year of one becoming a Christian, but also the very month and day -- even, down to the particular hour and moment of the “conversion experience.” The very “experience” is celebrated so much so, that some Christians have developed a Christian litmus test for other Christians. Their contention follows: “If you truly are a Christian, then you should know the exact time attending your conversion experience.”

Scripture has no litmus test [time frame] for a Christian’s conversion experience:

Certainly there are many historical recorded experiences of individual Christians who have come into the Christian Faith. There is no doubt about that, as some Christians have written through personal diary or journal practice, the transformation that took them from an unbelieving state into the believing state, of being what the Christian Scriptures designate, as being, “saved.”

Note: Last week’s message dealt with the meaning of the Christian terms: Being “saved,” and, “believing” -- PART 1 – "The Christian Faith" – What is the Christian Faith? (10/3/10)

Scripture, itself, records the immediate transformations of certain individuals who went from an unconverted [unbelieving] to a converted [believing] state. Perhaps, the most famous and familiar, is that of the Apostle Paul. [Acts 9:1-22 ; Acts 26:1-19] Other well known examples are the Ethiopian eunuch and the Philippian jailer. Acts 8:26-39 ; Acts 16:16-34

The Christian conversion experience is not restricted to a certain time frame:

Although there are many examples of Christians knowing the time period of their personal conversion to the Christian Faith from their unconverted [unsaved / unbelieving] state; and, although there are Scriptural recorded examples – the Scripture itself testifies to the reality that coming into the Christian Faith [being converted / saved] can be an experience that can happen without the new Christian becoming aware of it. Such truth is wonderfully explained by the Lord Christ, Himself in His conversation to a religious leader, Nicodemus, who, (for fear of the religious establishment), came to Christ, under the cover of darkness. [John 3:1-21] Following [for purposes of this message] is what Christ stated to Nicodemus:

“…..The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

The Christian conversion experience is not restricted to only, adults:


Christian Baptism is often referred to, as “A means of grace.” It may be likened to a "Branch [arm] of the Gospel."

The baptismal act is also categorized as a “Sacrament.” Basically, a Christian means of grace and sacrament are, the same (by definition). It is an act,commanded by the Triune God, which not only offers and conveys, but seals to the recipient, the forgiveness of sins, [spiritual] life and eternal salvation (heaven). Acts 2:38 ; Galatians 3:25, 27 ; 1 Peter 3:21 ; Titus 3:5 ; John 3:5

All adult believers [in Christ] are commanded to be baptized. [Matthew 28:18-20 ; Mark 16:15-16 ; Acts 8:26-40] For children and infants, Christian baptism is the Scriptural mode. Matthew 28:18-20 ; Acts 16:1-34

Those Christian persuasions who wish to deny infants and small children Christian baptism, consequently ignore and / or, misinterpret the aforementioned Scriptures. They also make themselves the dubious recipient of Scripture’s condemnation, in that they deny what the Triune God would offer to their children. Mark 10:13-16 ; Luke 18:15 ; Matthew 18:6

For those who have “problems” with infant baptism:

One must be very careful not to interpret the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures by human reason. Human reason must subject itself to the Triune God’s written revelation as expressed in the Scriptures. Human reason must also take a back seat to various revelation mysteries which are revealed in Scripture. Ephesians 1:3-14

When Christ commanded His disciples to baptize “all nations,” it is a far stretch of both imagination and reason to exclude infants and small children from Christ’s all encompassing command. Matthew 28:18-20


Also, the Christian Religion (since its 1st Century inception), is rife with the common practice of infant baptism. And, we must not forget some Scriptures which, if taken at serious value, -- those Scriptures, include infants and children in the most necessary command, of Baptism.

By both inclusion and inference, infants and children are to be included in Christ’s Great Commission plan to baptize and make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28:18-20

See, also: Acts 2:1-47 -- and, especially, note: Acts 2:37-41 ; Acts 16:1-34 – Also note, specifically, Acts 16:15 and, also, Acts 16:30-33


Finally:

Please also note Christ's own words. [Matthew 18:6 ; Mark 9:42] What person can be more believing and trusting than a baby?

Also, adults who would deprive infants of the grace and blessing of Christian baptism, often forget that Faith for all, is entirely a gift of the Holy Spirit and entirely initiated by the Mercy of God.

Note: For further understanding, please access: "Infant Faith -- A List of Scriptures" [PDF] -- hope-aurora.org



Being “Saved” / “Believing” is totally and completely an act that issues forth from the Triune God, Himself:

The conversion process and act, whereby a person who is not a Christian, becomes, a Christian -- is of Divine origin. The Scriptures make this very clear. [Ephesians 2:1-10 ; John 1:13 ; Galatians 1:15-16] Other Scriptures reveal the same. 1 Kings 18:36-37 ; 1 Corinthians 12:3 ; Galatians 1:6 ; 1 Peter 1:3-25 -- Note: 1 Peter 1:3 ; 1 Peter 1:18-19 and 1 Peter 1:23

Note: “The often overlooked aspect about the ‘New Birth’”

Also -- Further note: The Third Article of the Apostle's Creed -- A Concise Explanation

No one or no well meaning Christian should attempt to second guess another Christian’s conversion experience:

I clearly remember a well intentioned Christian family member questioning my elderly mother’s Christian Faith. He asked her: “How do you know that you are saved?” To that Mom responded: “Because I believe God’s promises.”

What simplicity of response! And, what better response? Mom’s Christian faith was not based upon her own feeling or upon her own experience, but rested totally upon the merits of her Creator God! [Philippians 2:13] Her faith was based upon the Triune God’s written [Holy Scripture] revelation. There was no doubt in her heart, mind and life, but full assurance that, what God had revealed, was believed and accepted by her!

The "element" of "Faith" to believe God's Word (The Holy Scriptures) is a God given gift. [Ephesians 2:8] Faith is, as the Bible declares, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." [Hebrews 11:1] Again, I emphasize, that faith is a Divine gift. [Romans 12:3] My mother was confident to declare her [God given] faith in God's trustworthy revelation promises as was, the Apostle Paul (writing under inspiration of the Holy Spirit), was also confident to declare his faith:

"......I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”....... Galatians 2:20-21

It is so easy for we humans to “second guess” another person – and, in the arena of faith, to second guess their spiritual and eternal status. But we must remember, what the Scripture says – that “salvation” belongs to the Lord. Psalm 3:7-8 ; Isaiah 43:11 ; Isaiah 45:21-22 .

Amen.


Please note: Part 3 - What are the tell-tale signs that a person has been “Saved” [is a Christian believer]?


This Week’s Related Scriptures -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures:

Psalm 25:1-22 – Especially verse Psalm 25: 4-5 and Psalm 25:8-9. The “Lord” is not called “Lord” for nothing. He is the initiating force and factor in the life of a child of God.

New Testament Christian Scriptures:

John 3:1-21 – Christ must illuminate the needy and sinful human soul. In the Greek language, the phrase in verse 3 is: being born “from above.”This correlates with John 1:12-13. Even though a sinner is commanded to repent and believe, that process initiates from the good and gracious action of a loving Triune God. [Philippians 2:13]

1 Peter 1:21-23 –The Lord’s initiating action at work in the believing soul
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Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- an in-depth view of Isaiah 53:1-12 and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.


The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3



Please Note: Topical Messages, by subject

Pastor (Emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:


The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages and related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

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