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BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

I received Christ one night in 1988 and was immediately indwelt with the Holy Spirit without a doubt. It was unmistakable and supernatural. And I received gifts then that I didn't realize I'd received until later, but I didn't receive the gift of tongues among them. The first gift I realized I had been given was the gift of discerning of spirits.

Since then, there have been at least three times through the years when I've had people lay hands on me to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit while I prayed sincerely for it. They did this because they knew I didn't speak in tongues, and therefore assumed that I had not yet received the Baptism.


No tongues, no Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as if the two always go hand in hand.

I did earnestly want all the gifts He has for me, and I did want the gift of tongues. Yet nothing happened. So I had to wonder, Was I being refused this special baptism of the Holy Spirit for some reason, or had I already received it at the moment of my true salvation without receiving the particular gift of tongues?

I know of people who, at the moment they received Christ, spoke in tongues on the spot without even knowing there was such a thing! It even scared one of them at first, because she didn't know what was happening to her.


And neither of them was baptized in water yet or anything, and neither of them knew anything about the gifts of the Spirit, much less of the baptism of the Spirit. They merely received the gift of tongues the moment they sincerely surrendered to Jesus in their hearts and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.

Clearly, we are taught in the scriptures that at the moment of our true rebirth in the Spirit, the moment of our conversion, we receive the indwelling of the Spirit, the anointing.


"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 the truth, and is no lie..." (1 John 2:27, KJV, emphasis added)

And when He comes to dwell in us, He brings with Him certain gifts for us – but not necessarily all of them.

We can earnestly covet and pray for other gifts as well, and may indeed receive them.


This was clearly taught by Paul to those who all wanted the gift of tongues. He told them he wished they all spoke in tongues as he did, but he also told them it was the least of the gifts because it is self-edifying. He told them, rather, to earnestly covet the other greater gifts that edify the Body.

But I've received other gifts – gifts concerning the truth revealed in the scriptures, and an unction to prophesy the truth in the scriptures to edify and unite the Body with it. And with that, I do see certain non-truths taught as doctrine by certain denominations.

For example, contrary to popular belief, I'm convinced through diligent study that it was only the 12 apostles who received the special "promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4) at Pentecost, promised to them by Jesus before He ascended.


Yes, later in Acts 1 there were also 120 together with the apostles, but if you read Acts very carefully you will see this:

Beginning with Acts 2:1 - "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."

Note that "they" in that verse refers to the immediately preceding verse (Acts 1:26)  "...and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."


Thus, the "they" in the very next verse 2:1 refers to the 12 apostles alone.

2. Acts 2:7 "...Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue..."

3. Acts 2:14 "But Peter, standing up with the eleven..."

Besides, when was the last time you've seen cloven tongues of fire sit upon anyone? When did it ever happen again after the day of Pentecost when it happened to the 12 apostles alone?

So I see no evidence whatsoever that the Pentecost experience happened to anyone besides the 12. No evidence whatsoever if you read Acts very carefully with a devotion to the truth alone, rather than reading to support a preconceived or pre-learned doctrine.

That particular experience, that special baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, was promised by Jesus to the apostles alone in Acts 1 starting in verse 2: "...had given commandments unto the apostles..."

Also, later in Acts, those that had been previously baptized in John's baptism (who became believers and were baptized in water before Christ's ascension) had clearly not received the Holy Spirit yet because the Spirit had not yet been given during that time before Pentecost. They were believers, yes, but became believers before Jesus ascended and the Holy Spirit had been given. So they had not yet received the Spirit.

The evidence of tongues in the Gentiles after laying hands on them was important for the apostles to witness, because it was the only proof they could witness that salvation was indeed also available not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentile believers. And the evidence of tongues, the only outwardly visible gift, convinced them.

"And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 10:45). 

"Gift" in this verse refers to the specific gift of tongues; in this instance, the outwardly visible evidence to the apostles that these gentiles had indeed received the Holy Spirit - proof to them that salvation was also available to the gentiles.

So as I see it and as I've experienced it, and according to the many salvation testimonies I've heard, I do not see anywhere where there is a separate baptism of the Spirit apart from the indwelling, the anointing received at the moment of a true salvation experience.


And at that precious moment, one will receive certain gifts of the Spirit which may or may not include the gift of tongues.

There is no evidence in scriptures whatsoever that proves to me that the particular gift of tongues will always accompany the baptism of the Holy Spirit that every believer receives at the moment of their true conversion!

Otherwise, throughout the New Testament when Paul spoke to those who were coveting the gift of tongues (and told them that he wished they all spoke in tongues) he would have merely laid hands on all of them to receive the baptism of the Spirit and they would all have spoken in tongues then, right?

So before I studied the scriptures and knew better, I was left to wonder, Is there a special baptism of the Spirit that I have not yet received, because if not, then what's wrong with me?


I know I'm saved, and I earnestly and sincerely covet the baptism of the Spirit and the gift of tongues, and I've had hands laid on me to receive both, yet I still do not have the gift of tongues. Do I also not have that special baptism of the Spirit that is supposedly available to all believers?

So what then? Am I not good enough? Am I not truly saved after all? Have I fallen short somehow? 


Now where is my hope and confidence in my salvation? These doubts about my own salvation are the bad fruits of wrong doctrine!

Considering the truth I've studied in scriptures and all the evidence I know, plus the evidence of my own experience, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the moment of my salvation; and tongues was not one of the gifts I received then. I still earnestly covet it and believe that I will one day receive it when the Spirit wants me to have it as well, but in the meantime I'm grateful for the other gifts He has given me.

Beware of the doctrines of devils! Form doctrines through diligent study of the scriptures alone, rather than reading the scriptures to support pre-learned (and perhaps false) doctrines.


THE TRUE FATE OF NON-BELIEVERS

It is a commonly accepted belief among Christianity that after the white throne judgment, non-believers are going to be "tormented day and night forever and ever" throughout eternity in hell or the lake of fire.

A Question Exists

Remember how Martin Luther and others before him came against many of the commonly accepted religious beliefs of his world by reading and believing the Truth directly from God in His Word, the Bible?

This article is bound for controversy, but so be it.

I want to start here by declaring that I am not a member of any religion or denomination, and I subscribe to no religious belief system or set of doctrines other than the plain and explicit truth in the scriptures.

Further, I hold everything I've ever been taught in my life in question until I've had a chance to either confirm it in God's Word, or deny it with God's Word. My only true, infallible teacher is the Holy Spirit that indwells me, in perfect conjunction with the Holy Word of God.

Again, here's the scripture I've quoted in nearly all of my writings:

1Jn 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." (KJV)

I don't even hold stake in the so-called translations from the ancient Greek and Hebrew. Why? Because unless the ancient Greek and Hebrew were translated into English by a living ancient Greek or Hebrew person that also knows English, how can I trust that those translations are true?

I can only fully trust God's Word and the Holy Spirit of God both to reveal the truth to me as I diligently study His Word written in the language I understand. And I trust that if God knows I want the truth, and if He wants me to know the truth, He will reveal it to me consistent with His Word.

Otherwise, who among us living today could ever know the truth? Would He require all of us to be ancient Greek and Hebrew scholars? Or would He require us to learn the truth only from the scholars?

The Far Less Popular, But Entirely Possible Answer

Regardless of my diligent study in my attempts to confirm this belief, I find not one scripture anywhere in the Bible that would have me believe that non-believers will suffer throughout eternity. Not one!

In fact, I find overwhelming evidence that they indeed will NOT suffer throughout eternity, and I hereby challenge anyone to present to me any clear and explicit scriptures that prove otherwise.

I am convinced that those whose names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be destroyed forever, dead once and for all, burned up for good, and cease to exist altogether after the white throne judgment when they are cast into the Lake of Fire.

The Proof

I know some are already thinking, "What? You don't believe in hell??"

I never said that. I know there's a hell because it's clearly written in scriptures. But hell is not necessarily the lake of fire or vice-versa, and I find no evidence that non-believers will suffer in hell, or anywhere else for that matter, throughout eternity. Hell is another subject.

Now here in Revelation 20, it explicitly states that the devil, the beast and the false prophet will indeed be tormented forever and ever:

Rev 20:10 "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

No doubt about it! It's explicitly clear. But what about the non-believers, or those who have rejected the Gospel of Jesus and faith in Him?

Rev 20:11 "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Period. End of chapter. Did you notice at the end of the last verse above, the stark lack of the explicit words "...and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." as with the fate of the devil, the beast, and the false prophet in 20:10 above?

But do notice, in the explicit wording of verse 14 above, the reference to "the second death" as also referenced in the scriptures below:

Rev 2:11 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."

Rev 20:6 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

And again:

Rev 20:14 "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Period!

Bible Terms for the Two Eternal Fates

Throughout the scriptures, including the words of Jesus Himself in the Gospels, are these terms used to describe the differences in the fates of believers versus non-believers:

For believers, the terms are: "life", "eternal life", "everlasting life", "life eternal", "live for ever", "enter into life", "enter into the kingdom of heaven", being "raised up at the last day", "shall never die", Jesus being "the life", "redemption", "justification of life", "in the likeness of His resurrection", "as those that are alive from the dead", "death has no more dominion", "freed from the law of sin and death", "delivered from the bondage of corruption" (corruption being destruction), "the washing of regeneration (rebirth), "made heirs" of God, "begotten of God", "over whom the second death hath no dominion", etc.

For the non-believers, the terms are: "destruction", "die", "death", "perish", "eternal destruction", "eternal damnation", and the like. (My interpretation: Destroyed for eternity, never to return from it. The "second death" in Rev 20:14)

Now we often hear it preached that the word "death" as used in scriptures means "eternal separation from God". I'll buy that! This, in my opinion, is consistent when we consider that being destroyed permanently and ceasing to exist is certainly eternal separation from God.

Nothing that exists in the universe is apart from God's presence! Non-believers suffering through eternity would still exist somewhere well within God's presence, wouldn't they?

And consider the term "eternal life". The scriptures never seem to add qualifying words to that phrase such as "eternal life with God" versus "eternal life without God". Wouldn't suffering through eternity still mean an eternal life of sorts?

We do know, per Rev 20:10 above, that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet at least will most certainly be "tormented day and night for ever and ever." But does this necessarily mean that everyone else will also? Can we safely assume that? Absolutely not!

All I know is what I read, and I read no shred of clearly, explicitly worded evidence whatsoever that this is so.

The Opposing Arguments

In discussing this subject once with a couple, after they were unable to show me convincing evidence to the contrary, the woman finally exclaimed, "Then what motivation does anyone have to be saved, if they won't be spending their eternal life in Hell otherwise!?"

If avoiding "hell for eternity" is the only and best reason we can use for leading others to the Lord, then we're missing the best part.

If living eternally with our Father and our mighty Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the most high, the perfectly loving Creator and Master of our whole universe and everything in it, in a perfect existence where They are, as fellow heirs with Jesus to the entire Kingdom of God is not motivation enough, then what is?

Let's carefully examine the two best scripture excerpts anyone has ever come up with to defend their current belief about the eternal fate of non-believers. Here's the first:

Rev 14:9  "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10  The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11  And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."

This still fails to convince me, and this is why. As you read carefully, it is the smoke of their torment that ascends up forever and ever, just as the smoke from your last campfire keeps ascending.

And, most notably, this happens as they are tormented with fire and brimstone (not in a lake of it) when the wrath of God is poured out on the earth before the white throne judgment at the end of the great tribulation period, when they who have worshiped the beast and have taken the mark of his name will have no rest day or night as long as they are still alive on this earth during that period of time.

Now here's the other scripture reference others use. It's a story told by Jesus in Luke 16:23-26:

Lk 16:23  "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence."

Now let's assume for a moment that this story was not one of Jesus' parables, but His recounting of an actual event, and let's ask ourselves: Is this an event prior to the white throne judgment or after it?

We know there is a hell, at least until it is cast into the lake of fire at the second death as proven earlier. After Jesus died on the cross, He descended into hell with the keys to it before His resurrection:

Eph 4:8  "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)"

Ps 16:10  "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."

Ac 2:31  "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."

And what in the world was Jesus doing in hell after his death on the cross and before His resurrection?

Rev 1:18 "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."

Mt 27:52  "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53  And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

So to avoid making another very lengthy blog post, I'll leave the subject of hell to another discussion. That opens up a whole big subject concerning sleep vs. death, hell as a holding place for non-believers until judgment, and whether or not non-believers have already been condemned prior to the white throne judgment.

You see, in our earthly judicial system, an accused person will sit in jail (a holding place) until trial, and then if convicted will be put in prison and perhaps executed.

Likewise, I believe Hell is a holding place for the accused until judgment, and then if convicted at judgment will be cast into the lake of fire (the "second death" sentence).

For these reasons, I am pretty convinced that Hell and "the lake of fire and brimstone" are two very different things.

And I'm very convinced that non-believers will not be tormented day and night throughout eternity, but they will be destroyed (annihilated) in the lake of fire after the white throne judgment at the end of Christ's millennial reign.

I confess that I have to believe this not only because of the scriptural evidence, but because of one more thing:

How will I be able to be perfectly joyful throughout eternity with Jesus knowing that somewhere else in the universe the "unsaved" are being tormented forever, especially if it includes any of my loved ones from this life (like my dad, for example, who likely died without faith in Christ)?

And if it would grieve me so deeply, how much more would it grieve a perfectly loving God?

How could that be?

DOES GOD REALLY HAVE A PLAN FOR ME?

For many years now I've often heard fellow believers tell me, "God has a wonderful plan for you!" and each time I think I wish I knew what it is and when it's gonna start.

God's plan for me and my plan for myself haven't necessarily always been the same, even after my salvation. I certainly want them to be the same. I want to do exactly whatever He wants me to be doing with my life. Why wouldn't I? I want the occupation He has for me, the one He knows is best. I want to work always, but I want to work His plan for me, not my own.

I've so often prayed, "Lord, let me for once have a profession that I love, an occupation that I can stay excited about that would be fulfilling for me in serving You; one that has a worthwhile purpose besides just my own survival, and that forwards Your Kingdom on earth and destroys the works of Satan; a profession that will glorify You in Your perfect love and goodness and wisdom and righteousness in the eyes of the lost; one that will help the hurting see that they need a Savior and that You alone are the only One and the only Way and the only Truth, and that living life for You, your way, is the only way to find lasting joy and fulfillment in this life."

I pray, "Lord, lead me to the occupation that's perfect for me. Show me what You would have me to do with what's left of my squandered life. And please make it obvious to me. I don't want to make another permanent move until I've heard clearly from You. I don't want to wonder if it's Your leading or just my own imagination, just another pipe dream, just another thing to do, just another occupation. I know it's asking alot, but it's nothing beyond You. And if I can be sure that I've heard from YOU on it, I'll boldly go. I just don't want to settle any more for less than what You want of me, and I'm tired of standing at the crossroads of yet another major life decision."

I think He replied, "What if I don't? Will you be okay with that? What if my plan for you is to live out your life always standing at crossroads, always wondering what to do next? How long can you tread water? What if I just want to keep you in the school of life, learning and growing and loving?"

Then I say, "But Father, I know You want what's best for me in serving You." And He replies, "Bingo. But maybe what you think is best for you is not what I know is best for you. So who ya gonna follow? Don't you trust Me? What if My occupation for you, My plan for you, is to always wonder what My plan is for you? What if I'm trying to get you to learn how to have joy and peace even in that? What if I just want you to be My child and rest in that?"

Then I said, "But Lord, I'm so tired of living this way. I'm tired of learning lessons and standing at crossroads in my life."

He says, "You think you have it bad? Try meandering 40 years in the wilderness like My servant Moses. Try losing everything and scraping sores for awhile like My servant Job. Try running for your life awhile like My servant David. Try being thrown overboard a ship, being swallowed by a big fish and living in its belly for three days like My servant Jonas. Try living lives like My chosen Apostles did, and then suffering deaths like theirs. Try wondering day to day whether you'll have food or shelter, and having to trust Me daily for those things like so many of my faithful servants today. Try living a whole lifetime among people who despise you, and then being tortured and crucified by them like My own beloved Son. Quit whining, My child."

Then I say, "But I'm just a hair on the Body of Christ, not one of those great ones." Then He says, "So just accept that and be grateful for it. Is My grace sufficient or not? Do you trust Me or not? Crucify yourself, let your own wants and desires for your life on earth die as well, and just listen for my still, quiet voice in all things.

"Believe me, I'll call on you when I want you to do something specific for Me. Just let me direct your steps day by day, and let Me take care of the rest. If you're really trusting Me, I will open the right doors and close the wrong ones for you. I will direct you My own way. But you must trust that I will. If you can manage those things, then maybe you will learn how to live always in the real joy that you keep writing about."

Then I say, "But Lord, I don't think I have the strength left. I'm so tired of trying to figure it out and trying to find my niche. I've been doing it my whole adult life, and I'm 52 now!"

Then He says, "I'll be the judge of what you're strong enough for. The question is, when are you going to let Me be the God of your life and just rest in Me and listen to My still, quiet voice? I'm either faithful to complete the work I've begun in you, or I'm not. Who's the liar? Are you pushing and striving to complete the work yourself? Are you going to get yourself to heaven now? You're such a child. Just let go and have joy in being MY child, and leave your life to me. I thought you gave up having control of your own life when you cried out to me and I saved you."

Here's my occupation for you right now, Terry: Know Me, rest in Me, love Me, trust Me with everything, love your neighbor as yourself, seek first My Kingdom always, be grateful for whatever you have, pray always with thanksgiving, and live your life in the joy of the certain hope of one day seeing My face."

I said, "Yes, Lord!" Ah, but here I am, sometimes still second-guessing what His plan may be for me, sometimes still second-guessing where I am and where I should be and whether I'm doing what I should be doing with my life. Some days, I just can't seem to help it. Then when I realize that my strivings, confusions and disappointments are robbing me of joy, I'm reminded to go back to just trusting Him and resting in Him and letting Him lead me day by day, and my joy returns.

An Afterthought:

In all the many different jobs I've had in life, I've always known right up front what I was hired to do and what was expected of me. I can work with that. But serving God is apparently different. I'm beginning to realize I might not know what His "plan" was for me until after my life on earth is over. Maybe then I'll find out what it was and whether I was a good and faithful servant in accomplishing it or not.

God is perfect in all His ways. It occurs to me that if He were to tell me His specific plan for me right up front, I'd probably do as I've always done in all my jobs: Rather than waiting for my boss to tell me every single move to make moment by moment, I'd be taking the initiative to do whatever I assume he/she would want me to do.

If I knew God's plan for me, I might be doing whatever I think He wants me to do moment by moment, rather than waiting for His personal, specific direction. But the question is, is that how God wants me to serve Him, by doing what I assume I ought to be doing?

Looking back, I see that whenever I've done anything I assumed I was supposed to do for Him, without His personal, specific bidding, it seemed to fall dead. Whenever I used to force myself to share the Lord with someone because I thought I was supposed to do it, yes maybe I planted a seed, but it usually fell on deaf ears and inhibited further opportunities with that person. They would avoid me from then on, or at least would avoid any deep conversation with me. As a result, I soon gave up making myself do things.

Then one day I found myself witnessing so naturally that it just flowed out of me without effort. I realized later that I hadn't pre-determined to do it, but just "felt prompted" to do it. That has happened in many instances since then, and has always led to growing relationships whereby I could continue witnessing by example, by exhibiting the good fruit of having surrendered my live to Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

I purpose to be listening and available to do His bidding moment by moment and day by day as He prompts me, rather than being too busy doing my own thing to hear Him when He calls. Then whenever I feel prompted to do something AND I judge that it is something that will be good and pleasing to the Lord and not violate any ordinances He's given me in His Word, then I do it.

It seems to me that Jesus was closely attentive and acutely available at all times to doing and saying whatever the Father was telling Him to do or say, moment by moment and day by day. And I want to be like Him.

In this way, I can be free of needing to know what exactly is God's overall plan for my life, while still being able to have joy in the hope that He will one day say to me, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Now come and share in My joy."

Check out the following words of Jesus (KJV):

Mt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
5:19 ...Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Jn 5:20 For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth
Jn 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Jn 8:28 ...When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself...
Jn 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
Jn 12:50 ...whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
Jn 14:10 ...the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Jn 14:31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do...

IN THE MIRROR: YOUR SELF-IMAGE

Nearly everyone has a distorted self-image. We are typically our own worst judges not only of our physical appearance, but also of our character and personality. No matter how much we look at ourselves in the mirror and consider our impressions on others, we cannot see ourselves as others really see us. Mostly, I attribute this to a sort of spiritual blindness.

And our only accurate self-image should be how God our Father sees us.

When we look at ourselves in a mirror, though we may be able to see with our eyes we don't always perceive ourselves accurately. We don't perceive ourselves in the light of reality (reality being God's view).

You should have an anti-virus program always running in your brain, so that as soon as one of those types of viruses (wrong thoughts about yourself) "swims in", your anti-virus program surrounds it, isolates and destroys it, replacing it with what God says is the truth about you!

A person's negative self-image verdict is most always a lie. Our own self-image is generally the product of what we've been told by others since we were children; and we tend to emulate who we've been led to believe we are by others. For instance, if you were convinced by others as a child that you're no good, you will tend to live your whole life in that image of yourself.

The reality about you is God's Word about YOU personally. If you are a true born-again believer in Jesus, you must know and agree that you are a fearfully and wonderfully made child of the King whom He has personally and specifically hand-chosen for adoption for His own good pleasure!

And why did He choose you? Because he foreknew you. How? Because He knit you together Himself. You, like king David (at one point himself even being an adulterer and murderer), are "a man after His own heart".

(Ac 13:22) ...I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart...
(1Sa 13:14) ...the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart...
(1 Kings 9:4) And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart...
(1 Kings 11:4) And his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
(2 Chron 16:9) For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

Why Did He Choose You?

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor 1:9)

But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.(2 Thes 2:13-14)

...for many be called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:16)

We can be pretty sure He didn't choose you for your sinful past and for your mistakes and failings. So what then?

My own belief is that He has chosen YOU for the particular combination of experiences, strengths, weaknesses, and qualities that are so uniquely yours!

You are a totally unique, one-in-a-zillion to Him. You with your talents and qualities, even with your weaknesses, combined with all your life experiences that have given you the understanding and insights you have, makes you the one-in-a-zillion perfect choice for a position in His Kingdom that no one else could fill. If you didn't fill it, it might have to go vacant.

But it's all about your heart, your heart of love for our Lord, your heart to please Him.

I am pretty convinced that when Our Father and Our Lord Jesus "look upon" you, They only see your unique strengths and qualities that They love about you. They only see the unique reason They want you to be with Them throughout eternity. I really don't believe They see anything other than that, because They know the end from the beginning of you. They know that when you are glorified (which is scriptural), only your Christ-like qualities will remain for eternity. They regard you as who you will be once you're finished.

I personally believe this following scripture is not a statement generalized for a "people", but is speaking about each of us as individuals. Otherwise, it wouldn't say "whom", it would say "those":

...For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:29)

Isn't that awesome? And notice that it is written in past tense, as if it's already happened! For the Father and Jesus, who you will be in the end is clear to Them.

If you are truly a born-again believer in Jesus, you're as good as already glorified, a done deal in God's mind! Those He foreknew, already called, already conformed to the image of Christ, already justified, and already glorified according to Him. How amazing is that?

Here's my own take on "foreknew": God knew way ahead of time that I would grow to become a man after His own heart (loving Him). But that's because I'm convinced He can see the future without controlling it.

And here's my take on "predestinate": Knowing that I would one day make the free-will choice to surrender my life over to Him, He arranged circumstances to bring me to that point in my life when I would be ready to make that choice. He set me up for it and arranged the perfect circumstances for me at the perfect time!

God being able to see into my future, to see that I would one day make a freewill choice to accept His free gift of salvation and surrender my life to Him and love Him and devote my life to Him, is beyond the scope of our human understanding, but that doesn't mean it can't be true! And I am not a calvinist or armenianist or anything else - I am purely a Truth-ist, a God's Word - ist. I merely write what I read.

My Thoughts About Myself

So when I think negatively about myself, isn't that actually sinful? If a negative thought about myself swims in, and I regard it and uphold it, it's kind of like calling God a liar, isn't it? "Yeah, God's Word says I'm a specially adopted and beloved child of His, chosen specifically by Him, but I know better. The truth is, I'm ugly and worthless and no good."

Do I know better than God? Should I feel free to second-guess how He sees me? At the very least, whenever I think poorly about myself, I render myself less effective for God. I bring myself down. It's just not okay, and it's certainly not noble.

When I think poorly of myself, it makes me want to sink into it. It's like taking one of God's tools that He's trying to keep clean and well-oiled, and throwing it into the dirt.

But when I regard myself as God does, it makes me want to be a better man!

(1 Sam 16:7) For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

You know what I love about myself? I love what's in my heart that is of God, that is from Him. I love how much I love goodness and hate wickedness. And I am perfectly well aware that anything good about me and anything I know of God has been put in me by Him.

(Matthew 16:15-17) He saith unto them, "But whom say ye that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered and said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

Yes, any "spiritual blindness" we have about ourselves compared to how God sees us is of Satan, the enemy. We need to keep that anti-virus program running in our brains to snatch those enemy thoughts about ourselves when they swim in, take them immediately captive, and wash them away with some ready scriptures of the truth of how God sees us, and of God's incredible love for us.

Repent of whatever you've done wrong, then once you've asked forgiveness from Him for it, forget it as God has forgotten it - as far as the east is from the west! It's gone! Just like Jesus told the prostitute:

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:10-11)

Throw away your own earthly mirror you may have grown accustomed to using, and use God's. I don't want to doubt or second-guess God's Word about anyone or anything, whether it's what I've always believed or want to believe or not, including about myself. It's unbecoming of an adopted child of the almighty Master and Creator of the Universe. I must believe only what He says about me and His incredible love for me, knowing He's certainly no fool in choosing me.

Are you a man or woman after God's own heart? Do you love goodness and justice, and hate evil and wickedness? Are you one of His very own King Davids? Have you surrendered control of your earthly life entirely to Jesus, accepting Him as your Lord and Savior?

If so, then be free to live in the Joy of knowing how much He loves you and how special you are to Him, and stay closely tuned to Him for more!

CONDITIONAL SALVATION vs ETERNAL SECURITY

This study on Salvation article goes hand-in-hand with "SALVATION: THE FREE GIFT and lists below all the scriptures I've found concerning the truth about salvation and eternal life.

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself." - Augustine.

Remember, excerpts from God's Word are merely pointers referencing context, and that no single scripture verse is to be isolated and used apart from its context to form or support any man's foredrawn conclusion. Also remember that all pieces of a puzzle must be assembled to complete the picture! Therefore as you read the verses below, I encourage you to:

1. First ask God to give you the wisdom to discern His Truth.
2. Read also the context from which each one was taken.

I am convinced that every truly saved, born-again believer can be reconciled to every other one on all doctrines of the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if all are willing to embrace God's pure Truth about it. Of this I am absolutely certain: There are no conflicts or contentions in Truth!

There's only one absolute Truth about any doctrinal issue. And God does not deceive any of His children to divide the Body of Christ on any doctrinal issue; that's solely the work of Satan.

There are to be no contentions or divisions among the Body of Christ! Read the following verse from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. This is very clear and explicit!

Now I beseech you, bretheren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Cor 1:10)

So whenever there are "believers" standing on opposing sides of the same doctrinal coin (or issue), then at least one of them is blind; one, or more likely both of them is missing a key piece of the Truth that will reconcile them into full agreement with each other! Of this, I am certain.

Therefore, we are not to read scriptures through the colored glasses of pre-conceived "doctrines", or our own fears or prejudices; we are only to read them through the clear glasses of devotion to Truth, whether it makes us right or wrong in our own previous understanding of them. Right?

Isolated verses of God's Word must not be used and "interpreted" to support any man's foredrawn conclusion, including one's own; they are only to be used as they are: simply, clearly and explicitly presented in His Word, to form the one correct conclusion on their own. Teaching God's Word is one thing; teaching my own conclusion of it is another, because then I may be pushing some agenda of my own that is not of God.

Always be willing to throw away anything you've been believing in favor of the Truth! Lean not on your own understanding ... For the natural man perceives not the truth, because it is spiritually discerned. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Whether you're a "conditional salvationist" or an "eternal security-ist", I know that you stand always at the ready, fully prepared to counter anything anyone can come up with to counter your stance on the issue. Scholars on opposing sides of any issue are always fully prepared to counter anything the other may present. "You show me yours and I'll show you mine" is proposed by some, under the pretense of having teachable spirits. But that will get them nowhere if they remain too obsessed with defending their own understandings of the Truth to hear it.

I am certain that those who stand on either side of the conditional vs. eternal security issue (of which I am on neither side) can be reconciled to each other under the one pure and simple truth about it. But this can only happen if (and this is a big if) they are all willing to abandon their own understanding and self-assurance, drop their own assumptions, drop their own agenda, and remove any spiritual blinders.

I was once given the key truth that reconciles this issue, and could very well dispell all contentions among the Body of Christ on this issue! Here are the words that came out of his mouth: "Yes, God loves everybody. But only those who love Him are saved." Very profound!

And here is my version of it: The Lord is my Shepherd, yes; but only if I am one of His sheep!

Idol worship will make you blind to Truth and open to Satan. Are you devoted to God and His undivided Truth, or are you devoted to your own understanding or that of some other man whom you may be convinced is a "good teacher". In fact, the Bible says there is only one "good teacher" we can fully trust to be infallible:

These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 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. (1 John 2:26-27)

No mere mortal man is my teacher, though many may want to assume the position of teacher with me. Neither am I a teacher. All I can safely do is to present the evidence of scriptures alone. I purpose to search out and present ALL relative scriptures on any topic, as evidence of God's wisdom, without regard to the favorite ones of separatist preachers and churches.

Self-determined "teachers" of divisional doctrines, who stand on opposing sides of doctrinal issues, are predisposed by the enemy to teach and not be taught; often too puffed up and self-assured by their own knowledge, credentials, study time invested, and/or their categorically accepted conclusions of other men.

I had a pastor once who was admittedly a disciple of a highly acclaimed "teacher" and purpose driven preacher of Calvinist beliefs. I am convinced that Calvinism is a doctrine of devils. Once his ministry failed, I have a feeling that he took his blinders off once and for all and decided to search out the one reconciling Truth of God on all issues from now on. His very encouraging last words were, "I'm not sure I know anything, but Christ and Him crucified." Well, Amen Brother.

It's high time for the Bride of Christ to be completely unified under one Truth, God's Truth! Will Christ ever return for a Bride whose body parts are insistently separated one from another, polarized against each other on major doctrinal issues about Jesus and the work He did?

Now ask our Lord Jesus to remove any spiritual blinders from your eyes, and to reveal His one Truth to you as you read through the following scriptures.

The Scriptures on Salvation
The following are scripture verses pertaining to salvation from the New Testament of the Holy Bible (King James Version, my own words in parentheses, emphasis added):

Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Note: Which He afterwards did on the cross, right?) Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Note: What is the Only Way that any man's righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and pharisees? Faith in Jesus Christ, right? Otherwise, our own attempts at being sin-free are futile.)

Mat 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good (teacher)? there is good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Mat 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (see next scripture exerpt), even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Numbers 21:6-9 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

John 3:16-18 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

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 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 6:27-29 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:47-51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. (And what were His commandments again?)

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Romans 3:22-25 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forebearance of God;

3:27-28 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

5:8-10 But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

6:3-14 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

6:14-18 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

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

8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.

10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

1 Corinthians 1:7-9 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God: Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,...

11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith (note that it doesn't say "daily"; this is a common mis-quote of those who believe in conditional salvation); prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

3:6-7 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith.

3:26-27 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

5:13-14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Ephesians 1:4-5 According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

1:12-14 That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also 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.

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.

Philippians 1:6 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;

2:13 For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

3:9 And be found in Him, not having mine own righteouosness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith;

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight; if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard...

2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses(note: all trespasses, not just past ones and not just ones you remember to ask forgiveness for); Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

1Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Hebrews 3:12-14 Take heed, bretheren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God ... lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. (Note for the conditional salvationist: Where is your confidence?)

3:3, 10 For we which have believed do enter into rest ... For he that has entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.

10:22-23 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith ...Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)

10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.

10:29 Of how much sorer punishment , suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

10:38 Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
(Note: for a more complete concept of faith, read the entire Hebrews chapter 11)

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

2:17-18, 20, 24 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will show you my faith by my works ... But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead? ... Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (Note: Good works are evidence of faith, the result or good fruit of faith, not the justification.)

1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ...

1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.

1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

2:15-16 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.

3:2-3 ...but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is, and every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.

3:23 And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

4:13, 15 Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit...Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself;...

5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (Note: Notice he wrote "...that ye may know you have eternal life," not that ye may hope or wish for it. Herein lies the confidence, yes?)

5:18 We know that whoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

2 John 1:9 ...He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

Jude 1:24 Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,...

Conclusion
Now maybe I'm wrong, but I sure can't find any "conditional security" in any of these, as long as I don't get an "evil heart of unbelief" and "lose my confidence and blessed assurance" in Him to complete the work He has begun in me! I trust Jesus my savior for my salvation, not my own ability to keep myself sinless. It is He who will carry me through to the end. I now rest in peace, rest in Him, having already received eternal life. You can't lose eternal life once you have it, unless you abandon it; that's the whole thing about "eternal".

I have already passed from death unto life, according to the clear, explicit, and simple Truth of God's infallible Word about His free gift. I already have the end of my confidence in Him. I'm as good as there with Him, and believe me, knowing that gives me great joy, and only makes me want to please Him more!

And I have great joy in that hope. True hope is not a "I hope I get there" hope, but a "It's a sure thing" hope, a looking forward to what I already have, because He is faithful Who promised, and He has sealed me for redemption.

I love Him for doing the work for me and not making me have to worry about doing it on my own. That's why I have such a heart to please Him and sin no more! "...I'll show you my faith by my works." - Paul

My final note to all who stand on one opposing side or the other of the salvation issue: Be careful of your evil heart of unbelief in departing from the simple Truth of the Gospel of our living Lord, and in causing any division among the Body of Christ on doctrinal issues. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to denounce any blindness to the one, simple, reconciling Truth of God, and repent of serving Satan in his attempts to divide and conquer the Body of Christ.

IS CHRIST DIVIDED?

"Is Christ divided?" (1 Corinthians 1:13)

As we know, Jesus will be coming and probably very soon to unite with His bride, the Body of Christ. I believe He is in the process right now of preparing His bride, and I believe this message is one of the many things He is doing to accomplish this. Would he come back for a segmented bride, divided and still in pieces? I don't think so. I think He wants His bride united as one. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Some Christian denominations, a few even meeting the criteria of a cult, separate themselves from the rest as the only ones with the Truth. How do they do this exactly? I'll explain.

Note: Please keep in mind as you read further that, while I may condemn the existence of many Christian denominations and cults (because I believe God does), I do not judge any persons. God looks at the heart, and only He can judge a person's heart. Indeed there are any number of people who are true born-again believers and members of the Body of Christ involved in denominations and even in some of what I consider to be cults. Besides, God can save anyone in the midst of any circumstances.

What is "The Church"?
The Church, as defined in the Word of God - the Bible, is the body of those who are true believers in Jesus Christ that have been saved by God's Grace through faith in Him. The Church is the Body of Christ.

Confusingly, though, we also use the word "church" to refer to a building or to a denomination such as the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, etc.

Christian Organized Religions
Organized religions are organizations with a hierarchy of government founded on a common general faith or religion. Christian organized religions, or denominations, are organized divisions of presumed Christianity founded on a particular sub-set of doctrines or beliefs not commonly shared among all born-again Christians. The problem I have with Christian denominations is that I believe God's Word prohibits divisions among the Body of Christ:

"Now I beseech you, bretheren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Corinthians 1:10, KJV, emphasis added)

"Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor 1:12-13, KJV)

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (1 Cor 2:2, KJV)

Divisional Doctrines
Each organized Christian denomination, or "church", while supposedly accepting the authority of the Bible, is also established on a certain sub-set of doctrines or beliefs as the foundation of its denomination. Usually, this set of beliefs is called the "Doctrinal Statement" of the denomination. In more extreme cases, these beliefs are embodied in a whole other book or set of writings outside of the Bible altogether.

These sets of beliefs, by the very nature of their existence, contain one or more of what I consider "divisional doctrines" or unique beliefs that they use to distinguish their denomination from others. With these divisional doctrines they at least inadvertently differentiate themselves apart from the rest of the Body as if to be the only ones with the "real" or "full" truth. These divisional beliefs are presented as Biblical doctrine.

Divisional doctrines are generally either conclusions drawn through the private interpretation of Biblical scriptures, or they are beliefs derived from writings outside of the Bible altogether. In a Doctrinal Statement, these beliefs are usually accompanied by isolated Biblical scripture verses that seem to support it, but are usually absent of any Biblical scriptures that may explicitly contradict it. In any case, the authorities of that denomination are prepared to explain away any scriptural contradictions to a divisional belief.

"Christian" Cults
There are some presumed "Christian" denominations that actually satisfy the common traits of a cult! These are common traits of cults:

1. A source of authority outside of the Bible (person, book, or writing)
2. The denial of justification by grace alone.
3. The devaluation of Christ.
4. The group as the exclusive community of the saved.
5. Non-members and opponents are considered blinded by Satanic force.

These will generally have whole other books or writings which contain their divisional beliefs and which they accept as essential truth in addition to the Bible. Many of them also have some person who they uphold as a latter day "prophet", or otherwise infallible person whose writings or teachings they consider to be divine revelation that allegedly clarifies or even supersedes God's Word!

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1)

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." (1 Timothy 4:1, KJV, emphasis added)

"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20.29-30)

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." (11:13-14)

"...but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." (Galatians 1:7)

" ...and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." (1 John 2:18)

Each of these false religions and their additional books, writings or teachings cunningly present heresies as truth and incorporate beliefs that set themselves apart from other churches as the only ones who have "the real truth". (I would gladly name those congregations here along with their "prophets" and other sources of authority, but I don't wish to offend any persons who may be members of them.)

What is Truth?
After all, what is truth? Truth is not relative to anyone; in other words, whatever one believes to be true isn't necessarily the truth just because it's what they think. Consider this: If there are two "truths" that contradict each other, then at least one or maybe both of them must not be true.

How can two different writings that contain contradictions to each other both be true? Pick one, and throw the other in the garbage. Anything that is not truth is a lie, and any writing or belief that contains a lie, is in itself a lie. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." Satan is the father of lies, and any belief based on a lie is a "doctrine of devils".

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine..." (2 Timothy 3:16)

"...no prophesy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20)

"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..." (Ephesians 4:14)

God does not deceive, nor will He lead us to deception, contention or division. This is solely the work of Satan!

There is only one Truth about God and mankind, and that is the inspired Word of God - the Bible. There have been many intelligent atheists who have devoted their life's work to finding even one thing in the entire Bible that is not true, all of whom have failed to do so, and many who have in fact become believers in the process. There are multitudes of research and information that testifies to the authenticity and credibility of the Bible. Not one person in the world has ever been able to prove one thing wrong in the Bible!

Therefore, sane reasoning dictates that we must choose the Bible against any other book, writing or teaching that contains anything that is unsubstantiated in it or directly contrary to it! Keep the divinely inspired Word of God, the Bible, and throw all others that contradict it in the trash where they belong.

Satan's Purpose
"Where God builds a church the devil builds a chapel." - Martin Luther

It makes sense to me that Christianity has totally lost credibility among the unsaved these days. We can't even all agree among ourselves on the simplest of Biblical doctrines! Consider all the evangelists, preachers, teachers and other Biblical "scholars" who cannot even agree on the doctrine of the Gospel and salvation alone, or even on who Jesus was exactly. Where's the credibility in that?

Which of the myriad teachers, evangelists, and denominations is the right one to sign up with and devote himself or herself to? Whose interpretations of scripture are we to believe as the Truth? Which one has it right?

It is my opinion that the many different versions of the truth among the Body of Christ serve to further Satan's kingdom of darkness and deceit.

Very often the teachings of the pastors, priests, ministers and/or preachers of denominational churches are generally accepted by the people as inspired truth from God; many listeners tend to feel relieved from the responsibility of studying God's Word for themselves. They tend to believe they need only to accept the teachings of those in authority, rightly assuming that they are teaching the pre-approved doctrines of their whole denomination.

In the extreme cases of certain cult denominations, the people are even discouraged from studying the Bible for themselves!

Teachers are not infallible; therefore their teachings at times will perhaps contain their own false private interpretations and conclusions blended with truth, and the listener will swallow it whole.
Cults especially determine to indoctrinate, or brainwash, its members and attendees with its heretical beliefs and its fabricated regulations at as early an age as possible. Further, their members are even brainwashed to believe that anyone outside their church who opposes it is motivated by satanic force, or at least by spiritual blindness. If the brainwashing is successful, it can then be used to manipulate and control its people for its own purposes (ultimately, for Satan's purpose), and keep them blind to the Truth.

Satan's purpose in all these Christian denominations and cults is to destroy the credibility of true Christianity in the eyes of the unsaved, to divide and conquer the Body of Christ and prevent people from coming to a knowledge of the Truth and being saved. Satan seeks to draw away disciples to himself to distract and prevent people from knowing the Truth which would otherwise set them free from being in bondage to heretical beliefs and traditions of men and ultimately to himself.

Those who study the scriptures diligently and whose eyes are opened to the divisional heresies of their church usually have only one choice: they can either keep their mouths shut about it, or leave. For the average person in the congregation, the choice to leave is a fairly simple one: just leave.

But what about the pastor whose eyes are opened to the heresies of his church? He must either skirt the issue and deny the Truth, or convert his church to one that is independent and nondenominational, or leave that church and his whole livelihood. He is in bondage to the government of his denomination.

Avoid the Snares of Bondage
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings..." (2 Timothy 2:15-16, KJV, emphasis added)

Believers who read and study the Bible for themselves, who discover and know the real Truth of God's Word, can no longer be held in bondage by Satan and the denominational churches and cults who serve him.

"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 the truth, and is no lie..." (1 John 2:27, KJV, emphasis added)

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that going to church is necessary for salvation, or that it is even a matter of obedience in honoring God. In fact, this is what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well:

"...Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father ... But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:.." (John 4:21-23, KJV)

We are to worship the Father not just in church on Sunday (or even on Saturday), but with our lives.

I consider the model of the Apostles and members of the early church, and the teachings of the new testament concerning the assembling of believers, to be the perfect model that we as a Body should all return to today.

We are encouraged to assemble regularly for fellowship - to praise our Lord together in song, to share the Truth and our testimonies with our fellow believers, and to give from our abundance to distribute to the needs of others.

"But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying." (1 Cor 14:24-26, KJV, emphasis added)

A safe church to attend would be a true Christian church founded on the simple truth about Jesus and the Gospel, that is purely Bible-based. It would only have one "doctrinal statement" - the Word of God.

The only true Church is the whole Body of Christ.
Our doctrinal statement is the Word of God alone.
Our spiritual father is our Father in Heaven alone.
Our teacher, our authority, our covering, our shepherd, and our Savior is Jesus Christ alone.
Period.

WHO IS JESUS?

The beliefs of some "Christian" religions are that Jesus was God's first creation, or that He and Lucifer were brothers, or that He is merely a highly enlightened prophet of God, or that He alone is not the only mediator between God and man.

There are even some "Christians" who, citing the fact that the word "trinity" is found nowhere in the Bible and because the concept of three persons in one God is impossible for our human minds to comprehend, teach that there is really no such thing as the triune God, or Trinity.

But the truth is not whatever we might suspect to be true or whatever we may feel like believing.

There can only be one Truth about anything. If there were two "truths" that contradict each other, then either one or the other is false, or they're both false, but they both can't be true.

As the scriptures below will prove to you, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all jointly and severally God according to the Bible. This is a Truth that is impossible for the human mind to fully understand, but is nevertheless the clear and explicit Truth divinely inspired by God Himself.

Beware of your natural mind in trying to understand the spiritual things of God!

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him..." (1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV)

The following are scriptures that clearly and explicitly define Jesus as God and our only mediator:

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Ti 2:5)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made...And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us... (John 1:1-3,14)

I and my Father are one. (John 10:30)

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17) (King refers to Jesus in the immediately preceeding context)

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh... (1 Timothy 3:16)

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men... (1 Timothy 4:10) (Savior is another name for Jesus)

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever... (Hebrews 1:8)

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)

From these scriptures above, the undeniable truth is that Jesus is God (along with God the Father and God the Holy Ghost); and that Jesus is our only mediator, our only way to God the Father.

Any religion, denomination, writing or person that believes and teaches that Jesus is anything less than God, or that teach there's no such thing as the three Persons in one God, is false and must be abandoned.

False religions, false apostles, false prophets, false teachers and cults seek to deny Jesus of His Deity, His God nature. They are not serving God, they are serving Satan! They would have you believe that they've received or have a source of "divine revelation" of the truth which supersedes the scriptures, or that they have read between the lines and filled in the blanks of scripture to get the "inside scoop" on the truth.

They uphold other books, writings, and/or teachings as their doctrinal authority in addition to the Bible, that contain information which is unsubstantiated in or actually contradicts Bible scriptures. I ask them, then: Which will you believe? You have to pick one or the other, because they can't both be true. And any book or writing that contains a lie is a lie in itself. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."

Satan's method of deception is to shed doubt on the Word of God. This is how he deceived Eve. He is a counterfeiter. He takes the things of God's Kingdom and perverts them for use in his kingdom of darkness.

"For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." (2 Cor 2:17)

God's Word is our only infallible authority, our only infallible source of Truth on earth! Nothing else and no one else on earth is, or has ever been, infallible (except Jesus Himself). Why trust any other person, teaching or writing as your authority over the Bible? Keep God's Word and throw anything that contradicts it in the garbage where it belongs! There is only one book we need, and it is perfect and completely sufficient.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Ti 3:16)

Dear reader, if you are a member or attendee of any church denomination that upholds any source of information as their authority equal with the Bible and that may profess anything about Jesus Christ which is clearly contrary to, or unsubstantiated in, the Bible, I implore you to forsake that church and abandon it!

"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev 18:4)

You cannot serve two masters.

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other..." (Mt 6:24)

Never unquestioningly accept any doctrine as the truth without first searching it out for yourself in God's Word. There are many wonderful teachers, but we must always go to the scriptures and read God's Word for ourselves to verify that what they teach is true.

Be careful not to read scriptures to fit any pre-determined doctrines you've been taught!  Always be willing to wipe the slate clean of anything you've ever learned, in favor of the Truth.

"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 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." (1 John 2:26-27, emphasis added)

This is crucial in studying the scriptures: When you open the Bible to read it, pray to God and ask Him for wisdom and understanding. Tell our Lord you want the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, and ask Him to reveal it to you. Ask Him to give you the wisdom to rightly discern His Truth from the scriptures; and He who is faithful will do it.

"Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly." (Proverbs 2:3-7)

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-8)