Monday, November 24, 2014

Catechism #47

Q. How do people receive the Holy Spirit?
A. Believers receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. 

When Jesus prepared His disciples for His departure, He let them know they would not be alone; “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).” The Holy Spirit did not indwell believers until after Jesus went back up to heaven.

The Holy Spirit first came to live inside believers during a Jewish holiday called Pentecost, which was the anniversary of God giving Moses the law. At that moment, described in Acts 2, believers everywhere were simultaneously filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

From that time on, as soon as a person trusts in Christ for their salvation, they also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him (Jesus) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” While some will debate when the Holy Spirit comes, the verse above indicates that we are sealed by the Spirit as soon as we believe.

Romans 8:9 teaches that all saved people possess the Holy Spirit, so there cannot be a time where a person is saved without the Holy Spirit. He cannot come later in a believer’s life, as some teach. Finally, the Holy Spirit is called the guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:14), the one who seals us (v.13); if He is the one securing our salvation, He must be present from the moment of salvation.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catechism #46

Q. Do all religions lead to heaven?
A. No; Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and life, and no one gets to the Father except through Him. 

Some well-meaning people like to say that all religions eventually lead to heaven. “You have your religion, and I have mine; we’ll all make it in the end.”

This sounds nice to people who are tired of religious bickering, but there is no way that can be a true statement. If two people are looking at a map, and one concludes a left turn is needed, and the other thinks they must turn right, they cannot both be correct at the same time. One has to be right, and the other has to be wrong.

If two gods both claim to be the exclusive way to heaven, how can they both be right?

Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and life, and no one gets to the Father any other way (John 14:6). That is either true or false.

Christians believe Jesus is the only way to the Father, but Jews reject the Messianic claims of Jesus as they wait for the “real” messiah. They can’t both be right.

Furthermore, not even all religions even believe in heaven. Some believe in reincarnation, others, nirvana. If a religion’s end goal is to achieve oneness, peace, or enlightment, they would be offended at the thought of heaven. Atheism, Satanism, and Lucifarianism (to name a few) are religions that do not believe in heaven.

So how can all religions lead to heaven? They can’t. Most of them don’t even want to. Don’t confuse people by telling them all people and all faiths make it to heaven. The Bibles clearly teaches that salvation comes through no other means than Jesus (Acts 4:12).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Catechism #45

Q. Which is the greatest commandment?
A. The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. 

Jesus was once asked what the greatest of the commandments was. Although that question was intended to trap Jesus, He still gave a magnificent answer. He could have easily said the greatest command was not to lie, steal, or murder, but if He responded with any single command, His enemies would accuse Him of not caring about the other commands.

Jesus’ answer silenced the crowd. He responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).”

The first part of the answer is very straightforward—love God with all that you are and all that you have.

The second part is also simple: love your neighbor. Neighbors are defined in Scripture as being any person we happen to meet throughout the day, so the command is to love everyone the way we love ourselves.

Notice how Jesus actually listed all of the commandments in that answer (on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets). If we love right we will live right. If we love God with all our hearts, we will have no other gods before Him, we will not take His name in vain, etc. If we really love our neighbor as ourselves, we will not murder them, steal from them, deceive them, etc.

Unfortunately, most Christians can’t name the Ten Commandments, but everyone can remember two. If instead of trying to memorize a list we just focused on living biblical love, we would find ourselves obeying the list we didn’t even memorize.

If you realize that you are lacking in love towards anyone, remember the premium that Jesus placed on love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Catechism #44

Q. What is the fruit of the Spirit?
A. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). 

The fruit of the Spirit is contrasted with the works of the flesh. In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul says,

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The unsaved person naturally produces any or all of these works of the flesh. Instead of living like the lost, we should live a life characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But those characteristics do not come naturally.

At the moment of salvation believers receive the Holy Spirit of God into their lives, and it is that Spirit who helps to cultivate His fruit. In John 15 Jesus said believers will produce fruit, but “without me you can do nothing (v5).” On the other hand, we “can do all things through Christ” who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).

Through the power of the Holy Spirit we will begin to shun the natural works of the flesh and live a life that resembles the teachings of Christ. This is a lifelong process, so we should never foolishly think that we have arrived. We need to determine every day to choose the fruit of the Spirit.

We also need to realize that Galatians 5:22 says fruit of the Spirit, not fruits of the Spirit. This is not like the variety of Spiritual gifts, where one person has one gift and another has a different gift. God’s desire is that all believers have the whole list of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. We do not pick our fruit.

I have joy, you have patience.

No, we all need to work on the whole list. Read over the list of the fruit again, and ask God to reveal any fruit that may be lacking in your life.