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    • By David Ettinger in David Ettinger's Blog
      An Astute Question
      In my previous blog, “From Jesus to You: You Are Mine Forever,” I asserted that once believers are saved, they cannot be “snatched away” by Satan. To support this claim, I cited four Bible passages: John 5:24; John 10:28-29; John 14:2-3; and Matthew 28:20.
      My conclusion was definitively “once saved, always saved.” I believe Scripture clearly teaches that believers cannot lose their salvation.
      After reading my blog, an astute reader stated: “Good food for thought. Especially John 10:28-29. I’m not sure how that works with those who have turned away? It’s a hard one to understand for me.” Her sentiments are on target. I have known quite a few people who have tragically repudiated the Lord, some who profoundly influenced my early Christian walk. I struggled to understand their actions, wondering, Is it possible these folks were never saved to begin with?
      Salvation Verses
      Let’s look at a few “salvation verses” and determine a common denominator:
      Acts 16:31: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved ­– you and your household.” Romans 10:9: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  
      In the first two instances, there is an emphasis on the word “believe.” In the Greek, the word is pistis, and implies a deep conviction. In other words, belief in Christ – that He is God; the Messiah; and the Savior of souls – goes well beyond head knowledge or emotion. To pistis in the Lord Jesus Christ is to believe with every fiber of your being – even if you can’t quite grasp it all – that Jesus is precisely all He claims to be.
      The third “salvation verse,” Ephesians 2:8, tells us that the saving of souls is the Lord’s work. Yes, the believer must have faith, but even this faith is a work of God (a big topic for another day). Salvation, in other words, is God’s doing from top to bottom. If He has saved you, He will preserve you.
      But what about those who have renounced Christ?
      The Key Passage
      The key to understanding those who to us appeared to be saved but have seemingly “lost” their salvation is Hebrews 4:4-6:
      The Greek word for “taste” is geuo and refers to something which is consciously experienced, whether temporarily or permanently. A good example is Hebrews 2:9 where we are told that Jesus “tasted” death for all people. This “tasting” was obviously consciously experienced, but it was not permanent; Jesus rose from the dead.
      The Church has always had in its midst those who both emotionally and intellectually “tasted,” or “experienced,” Christ. They understood the basic tenets of the Gospel. They engaged in sweet fellowship with other church-goers. They read their Bibles and derived much benefit from doing so. They sang the great hymns with gusto and delight. They “shared in the Holy Spirit,” i.e., witnessed great things being done, things which defied human explanation.
      However, “experiencing” is not the same as “receiving.” As per Romans 10:9, they declared with their mouths that “Jesus is Lord,” but they did not believe in their hearts “God raised him from the dead.” And this was their fatal flaw. This is what the apostle Paul was referring to when he wrote, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:2). These people have “experienced” Jesus, but did not truly believe in Him, hence they never received Him.
      Because of this, Hebrews 6:6 tells us it is impossible for them “to be brought back to repentance.” This seems awfully harsh; why? The answer is that those who have “tasted” of Jesus’ goodness ultimately rejected Him with a full understanding of what they rejected and having experienced what a relationship with Christ could be like.
      Tragically, knowing and experiencing all this, they came to the opposite conclusion: essentially that Jesus is not God, not the Messiah, not the Savior of souls, and, in fact, deserving of His death on the cross. It is a total repudiation of Christ because they did so while being equipped in every way possible – intellectually, experientially, and emotionally. Once an individual has blackened his heart to all of this, he has surrendered all hopes of being saved.
      The Bottom Line
      Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). I believe Hebrews 6:4-6 explains the kind of people Jesus is referring to. They were never saved to begin with, hence their repudiation of Christ.
      For those in Christ, however, salvation is secure; it can never be lost. If you are truly Christ’s, you need never doubt God’s promises regarding your eternal destiny!
      Read more by David Ettinger: https://ettingerwriting.wordpress.com/
    • By flpalermo in flpalermo's Blog
      Revelation 22:12  
      “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”
      At the end of the Bible, Jesus Christ encourages us with the urgency of His desire to return. His actions are always in the best interests of everyone involved, and He tells us He is longsuffering and wants everyone to come to repentance and to be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). But He is not slack, slow or stalling. He is eager to come and finally bring peace to this troubled world and set up the Kingdom of God on this earth.
      God offers the gracious gift of eternal life to all who are called, chosen and faithful. Eternal life is a priceless gift, not a reward according to works. So what is the reward Christ will bring?
      Jesus Christ tells us He will give power over the nations to those who overcome and keep His works to the end (Revelation 2:26). They will become kings and priests and reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 5:10; 20:4).
      Salvation is clearly God’s gift, but the responsibilities in His soon-coming Kingdom vary according to God the Father’s decision (Matthew 20:23). He will decide how we can best serve to accomplish His plan based upon our use of His Spirit in this age.
      The parable of the minas (pounds in the King James Version) shows that these rewards are based on individual works and accomplishments. In this parable, each servant was given one mina (a sum of money worth about three or four months’ wages for the average worker (Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, margin and note on Luke 19:13). When the master returned, the servants reported what they had earned by trading.
      “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities’” (Luke 19:16-17). The servant who gained five minas was rewarded with five cities to serve.
      To serve in that governmental structure is your calling.
      Life, Hope and Truth

    • By David Ettinger in David Ettinger's Blog
      The New Norm
      While surfing the Web, I came across this headline: “Report: Anti-Semitism, Violence Against Jews Surge on College Campuses.” The first paragraph read: “Anti-Semitism surged on college campuses across the United States during the first part of 2016, according to a new study that found Jewish students supportive of Israel are being targeted ‘for harm.’”[1]
      Those causing the harm oppose Israel’s right to exist.
      There was once a time when Israel was respected and admired, recognized as a David among multiple Goliaths. After all, this tiny nation of 8 million – 6 million of which is Jewish ­– resides in the midst of Arab/Muslim neighbors (Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia) totaling 255 million in population who, for the most part, would love to wipe her off the face of the earth.
      Yet, Israel has survived all threats to her survival, and has done so swiftly, soundly, and courageously. Israel was once lauded for her military adeptness and that she stands as the lone democracy in the Middle East. But alas, there is the Palestinian issue, the history of which Israel-haters know nothing about. To the majority of today’s young people who show interest in the matter, Israel is the bully, occupying territory belonging to the Palestinians. Therefore, Israel is not a hero worthy of respect, but a menace deserving of vitriol, contempt, and destruction.
      Hating Israel and coveting her demise is the new norm, the problem being that no one has figured out how to do it. But stay tuned, I’ll tell you how it can be done.
      No Solutions
      This failure to find a “solution” to the Israel quagmire is fascinating. How can seven nations totaling 255 million in population not be able to drive puny Israel into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea? How can they have not come up with a way to put their collective armies, armaments, and acumen together and find a way to dispose of the Jewish scourge which resides in their midst like an open, bleeding wound?
      And what about our brilliant American college students which are attacking Israel supporters? Couldn’t they appoint panels of their most gifted minds to research the matter and come up with an answer to quandary?
      I hate to see people struggle when I have the answer. The Arab/Muslim nations as a whole (of course this does not include all Arabs and Muslims), as well as America’s finest young minds – and we can throw multitudes of European collegians into the mix ­– want Israel destroyed, but can’t figure out how to do it.­
      Here is the answer they seek!
      Good Old Jeremiah
      If Israel-loathers are willing to open up the dreaded book of the Jews and Christians – the Bible – they will see it for themselves. They will find it in the Book of Jeremiah. It is as if the prophet is saying: “So, you want to know how to destroy Israel? Read this!”
      There it is. It can’t be any simpler than that. If you want to destroy Israel, all you have to do is figure out how to erase the sun, moon, stars, and seas. Additionally, if you can come up with a way to measure the volume of the heavens and discover the mystery of the earth’s foundations, then you would ascertain the way to destroy Israel.
      See how easy it is? God has given Israel-haters the answer they are looking for!
      In All Seriousness
      Of course you have detected my seeming flippant attitude, but I assure you, when it comes to Israel, I am dead serious. God has made numerous promises to Israel concerning her ultimate forgiveness, redemption, and restoration as His Chosen People. Yes, terrible things will occur in Israel before then, but God’s promises are sure. If God does not fulfill His promises to Israel, then, as a believer in Jesus Christ, how can you be assured that God will fulfill His promises to you?
      The Jeremiah passage is another way of saying: Israel cannot be destroyed. She can never cease to exist. God will never reject her. Those who seek her destruction oppose God, and He – apart from their repentance – will not let them go unpunished. To mess with Israel is to mess with God.
      The prophet Zechariah wrote 2,500 years ago: “… this is what the Lord says … whoever touches you [Israel] touches the apple of his eye” (2:8). May God’s will for His Chosen People soon be fulfilled!
      [1] Adam Kredo, The Washington Free Beacon, “Report: Anti-Semitism, Violence Against Jews Surge on College Campuses.” July 26, 2016. http://freebeacon.com/issues/report-anti-semitism-violence-jews-surges-college-campuses/
      Read more by David Ettinger: https://ettingerwriting.wordpress.com/
    • By Ragamuffin_John in Ragamusings
      We love Him, because He first loved us ~ 1 John 4:19 (KJV)
      One God,
      pre-applause.* Joyful communion like thunderous acclaim, pre-existing Christ moved by the Spirit, with Abba-drenched affirmation already. Yet in this wholeness a wish before dawn, creation displayed by a word of the Son. Dust applied to a plan, brought forth a woman and man for fellowship, making a newness, them. Another newness awaits simple souls, who dare to believe  the Cause, God in His goodness effecting salvation, Spirit and water echoing back before time, showing repentant ones the mystery of Love by the sign, Blood from the veins of One God given for us. Applaud Him! __________ * Setting aside the angels who remained loyal to the Throne
    • By ksquaker in GOD SQUAD
      Forget military aggression. Russia just made it illegal to talk about Jesus outside of a church!
      Russia recently passed a set of anti-terrorism laws known as the Yarovaya package, which places broad limitations on missionary work, including preaching, teaching, and any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group. When it became a public law on July 20, it rolled back 19 years of religious freedom.
      While Christians have enjoyed great freedom since the Iron Curtain collapsed, these laws are Russia’s most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history. The new laws contain several heavy restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism. The changes include laws against sharing your faith in homes, online, in writing, or any public space except a recognized church building.
      As it now stands, Yarovaya requires missionaries to have permits, makes house churches illegal, and limits religious activity to the premises of registered church buildings. The rules are so tight that Christians in Russia cannot email their friends an invitation to church under the new surveillance and anti-terrorism laws. Anyone who disobeys could be fined up to $780 and organizations could be fined more than $15,000. Foreign visitors who violate the law can be detained and ultimately face deportation.
      Russia’s Baptist Council of Churches wrote an open letter calling Yarovaya, “the most draconian anti-religion bill to be proposed in Russia since Nikita Khrushchev promised to eliminate Christianity in the Soviet Union.”
      As fellow believers, we should all be appalled and upset with the Yarovaya laws. When religious freedom is swept away with the stroke of a pen, it affects the entire church. Now is the time for Christians across the globe to seek the Lord and pray that God will intercede for our brothers and sisters in Russia. Ask that God will unite Russian Christians and that this time of trial can be used to strengthen and grow the church.
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