Stay in the Word…but which one?

As a new believer, I am sure you have been told that getting into the Word is the most important part of your spiritual growth. My plan was to get you started with a bible study in the book of John, which is a great book for new believers to start with. But if you genuinely believe, as you should, that the Bible is the true and precise Word of God, written by God through men of faith; you must understand the difference between the translations first. 2Tim 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: “

I personally read and study the King James Bible, but I am not a KJV onlyist. I also use the NASB (New American Standard Bible), along with Strongs’ concordance. I also use a computer study guide called” E-Sword” (Search it in playstore, or to download for your phone or computer) This app helps me along with Strongs’ concordance with translation in the original Greek and Hebrew. When in doubt always rely on the original transcripts’ language for full understanding. I am not telling you that you need to become fluent in old languages, but always rely on text that is translated from the original languages. How can you be sure?

Short answer is use the KJV as your primary source. I can hear it now, “but it is so hard to understand” “It was written in a language that is no longer spoken today”. Neither is really true but let me explain my position as your growth will depend on having a proper translation and study habits.

First the major translation from the 2nd and 3rd centuries came from 2 major sources: Antioch(Byzantine) and Alexandria. The Antioch text by far has more original sources with over 5200 known. It also contains the original New Testament manuscripts from 30-90 A.D.. along with the Syrian and Old Latin Texts from as early as 100 A.D. Many of the early Bibles were a direct and more literal translation of all these texts. The leaders of Antioch also felt that translators should be persons of faith, not laymen or simply translators.

The Alexandrean text has only 45 known manuscripts. There are also several papyrus manuscripts. This translation was dependent on many philosophers of the time, believing that religion was very near philosophy and should be translated as so. The text is less a literal translation with a more philosophical approach of what the authors felt or meant in the translation.

The KJV came from the Antiochan text, which is a more literal translation versus most modern day translations, like the NSV and NIV, taken from the Alexandrean text. Even the New KJV from 1982 was a translation of a translation taking the KJV and updating in more modern language using the Alexandrean text.

 I like the more literal translation of the KJV in the Elizabethan/Shakespearean English. After studying it for many years I find it easier to read-almost like reading a Shakespearean Play. Of course, the most important is that you do read and study! I will go through some studies with you and help you gain some good study habits. This will be the next post starting with John 1 and without a doubt I will be studying from the KJV.

Who is Jesus?

While studying and looking through some online articles, I ran across an article by J. Warner Wallace, a retired detective, apologist, and author of “Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospel” I have read this book and find it extremely compelling in providing logical definitive proof for the existence of Jesus as the Christ.

His article explored how varying religions around the world both believed in His existence and His mission during His time on earth. Here is a synopsis from the article and below it will be a link so you can read the entire article.

From J Warner Wallace: Who is Jesus, According to Other Religions?

“All the world’s major religions feel compelled to account for Jesus in one way or another:

Jews believe Jesus was Mary’s son, was a teacher (Rabbi), had many disciples, was respected, performed miracles, claimed to be the Messiah and was crucified on the cross. They also acknowledge His followers reported Jesus was raised from the dead.

Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin, is to be revered and respected, was a prophet, a wise teacher who worked miracles, ascended to heaven, and will come again.

Ahmadiyya Muslims believe Jesus may have been born of a virgin, was a prophet and wise teacher, worked miracles, and was crucified on a cross.

Bahá’í believe Jesus came from God, was a wise teacher who had a divine and human nature, worked miracles, and was crucified and resurrected as an atonement for humanity.

Hindus believe Jesus was a holy man, a wise teacher, and is a ‘god’.

Buddhists believe Jesus was an enlightened man and a wise teacher.

New Age believers maintain Jesus was a wise moral teacher.

You can read the entirety of the article here: Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions? | Cold Case Christianity Excellent article, but I recommend the book also.

I think it interesting that other world religions feel it necessary to discuss the main character of “competing” World religion and hold Him in such high esteem. Makes me wonder, if He is so important to be discussed or thought about in such a way-why not follow the source Himself? Would this not make the most sense, as He must surely be the True God and Creator of the universe.

Guest Post: Sin & It’s Effects

Gaining salvation through His mercy and grace and growing in Faith means turning away from the sins of the flesh and this world. Following is a guest post from a dear friend and brother in Christ. Pastor Harry Connor earned his Masters of Theology from Andersonville Theological Seminary.

I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels Psalm 81:12 Sin results in separation from God. But here we are also reminded that it means being joined completely to our own desires and schemes. At first glance, this might not sound so bad. While we certainly don’t want to be separated from God, the thought of being married to our own desires and plans doesn’t seem to be much of a penalty. Isn’t that more like a dream come true? In reality this is judgment; this is punishment. Those who persist in sin and rebellion, God leaves to their own lust and allows them to walk in their own counsels. But notice that it does not say that the lust is fulfilled, or that the plans prosper. When God gives a person up to his own lusts, his lusts consume him without end, because there is no true or lasting or deep satisfaction apart from God. It is to forever hunger, without ever being filled. Similarly, the person who is left to his own counsel finds that he is like a blind person at the street corner, without a guide. He is free to walk any direction he pleases, but there is danger and destruction on every side. As C.S. Lewis explained, there are two kinds of people in the end , those who say to the Father, “Thy will be done,” or those to whom the Father says, “thy will be done.” The great punishment for sin is getting our own way. Rom 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Rom 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Pray without Ceasing?

So much has happened recently if you are beginning to read this:

  1. You have Accepted that you are a sinner according to Rom 3:23
  2. You thoroughly Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was sent to earth to die on the cross, paying the price for your sins. John 3:16-17
  3. You have Confessed with your mouth to Him and opened your heart to the Holy Spirit according to Rom 10:9-10
  4. You are either baptized, thinking about baptism, or scheduling your baptism to take that public, outward step of Faith confirming your love for Him. Acts 2:38

These steps have all been laid out and pretty easy, but now is the time when you start realizing a few things that maybe you weren’t expecting:

  1. The people you have previously surrounded yourself with may not be so open to your new found faith.
  2. Many of your old friends could become bitter, or even angry at the prospects that you will not be there partying or drinking with them.
  3. Your life will not all be sugar and roses just because you have found your salvation through Jesus Christ. Satan will begin his reign of circumstances upon you to get you to denounce this new found faith and he will use any weapon he sees fit-friends, family, boss etc

At this point it is essential that you do three things to stand firm in your faith.

  1. Surround yourself with your new bothers and sisters in Christ, so they can aid you with strength of conviction that you have not yet acquired
  2. Immerse yourself in God’s Word. I will discuss this more in the next post as it will be one of the most important things you can do in aiding your growth from babe to adult Christian
  3. Spend much time in prayer, in conversation with Jesus. This is not as hard as you think, as you will get to understand with the rest of this post.

1Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always; 17  pray without ceasing; 18  in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you

Simple and straightforward Rejoice always: Be glad in your salvation, Praise God for the blessing He gives you daily, rejoice even when things seem tough, for these times will hone your faith to become stronger (James 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience.)

Pray without ceasing. Yes we all have lives, jobs, families, hobbies, but this is not saying that we should be down on our knees 24/7. We can be in a constant state of conversation with Him that grants us so much Grace and Mercy. Driving down the road, waiting on a bus, buying groceries, shopping, even times at work can be filled with a few lines of prayer. Lord Thank you for today, Lord things have been tough could you intercede today and lighten the load, Lord that spat I had with the wife/husband this morning allow my heart to soften and ask forgiveness for the things I said, Lord the roads are snow and ice covered I ask for your hand of protection that I get to the destination.

All of these are 10 second prayers that could/should go through your head as you go about your earthly business. They can be longer and more specific but the point being that quick, short conversations with Him will still be heard and He will be happy with you keeping the conversation to Him open.

1Thess 5:18 is one of most importance and we will talk about this at length in another post, but Thankfulness-Gratitude can bring you so much closer in your walk with the Savior. Thankful to Him for His Grace and Mercy. Thankful to Him for the blessings He has given, thankful to Him for the love and family in your life, thankful to Him for food, shelter, a job whatever it is be grateful to Him for it.

Gratitude will be a topic of another post as it is mentioned 71 times in the New Testament and 102 times in the Old Testament, so it must be pretty important. Its not just gratitude for Him but gratitude in general toward others that can make a huge impact on your life.

Although I have talked about a constant state of prayer, I do believe you should set aside at least 2 times a day for personal quiet prayer time. Try to start out with just 5-15 minutes in the morning and the evening. It can be more and probably will be eventually but this short time at first will seem like an almost impossible feat.

I would recommend a little notebook be carried with you throughout the day. As you go abouit your day and say those 10 second prayers, make note of ones that you need to expand on further-like the spat with your spouse, asking guidance and direction, along possibly with the holding of the tongue.

You may also hear things throughout the day that should require more prayer-an illness of a co-worker or friend, a death of a friend or acquaintance, a financial issue that came up, a job situation; these prayers may require some time, so jotting them down in a prayer journal would help you remember to specifically pray for those topics.

As your new journey begins, many things will begin to change in your life. You will find yourself changing over a very short period, pursuing more time to spend with Him in Prayer and in His Word. The more time you spend in fervent prayer, you will find the more time that He opens up for you to prayer and study. As your relationship with Him grows, an honest joy will fill your soul and the hours that you spend will seem like seconds.

Guest Post: Baptism

As a new Christian, many begin to wonder, “What’s Next, after the A, B, C’s?” There are a few things we will cover over the next few days but the following is a post from a very dear friend and Brother in Christ concerning the very important topic of Baptism, a step in Faith. It is written by Pastor Harry Connor who has his Masters in Theology from Andersonville Theological Seminary.

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . Acts 2:38 Perhaps forgiveness is not one of your felt needs. You may have so completely immersed yourself in the relativism and self-justification of your culture that you have numbed yourself to the sting of your own guilty conscience. If so, then Peter’s command will fall on your willingly insensitive ears. However, if the guilt of your sin has invaded your carefully protected peace of mind and you see yourself as being in opposition to a holy and good God, then this admonition will be a welcome relief to your soul. If you, like Peter’s audience, have been stumbling over the question, “What can I do? What should I do?” then here is the answer: Repent, and be baptized in then name of Jesus Christ. Only in Christ is forgiveness of sins to be found; there is no way to clean your record up on your own, by yourself. But through Jesus Christ you can find remission of your sins. Repent, everyone of you. No one is guiltless before God and so there is a universal command to repentance and each one who does repent and confess their sins is called to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, publicly professing their faith in him. Forgiveness of sins without repentance through Christ is not an option. Repentance and faith without a public witness, through baptism, should not be a consideration. Those who long for their sins to be pardoned are commanded to repent of their sins and publicly acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior by submitting to baptism. Have you obeyed?

Breaking Down the A, B, C’s: Confess

My first post In the Beginning: the A, B, C’s was a quick overview of the steps to salvation and beyond. I want to take a few minutes to break each down in a little more detail.

Confess your sins to Him and ask for forgiveness, allowing Him into your heart through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will begin to guide and direct you as you grow from a “newborn” to adult in Christ. Studying the Word, praying and accepting discipleship from an “adult” believer will grow your relationship with Him.

Rom 10:10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 

Rom 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him: 
Rom 10:13  for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of all who call upon His name. He is our only intercessor to God the Father. God can not look upon sin, but through the prism of Jesus Christ our sin is turned away from God’s eyes and we can be looked upon by the Father as Holy and Righteous.

As our Father sees us righteous He will open up to hear and answer our prayers, whether prayers of forgiveness, prayers of help, prayers of healing, no matter, we can righteously stand before him with our requests. We will talk much more about prayer in future posts.

Accept that we are all sinners, Believe that Jesus Christ is the true Lord and Savior, leads us to our confession-not to any person or priest but to Jesus Christ Himself-Our only intercessor to God the Father.

If you have come this far and are ready to take the next step let me pray with you:

Dear Lord, Thank you for being the great and forgiving God that you are. Lord I know I am a sinner as you told us in Your Word, and I come to you now asking forgiveness of those sins. I know that You sent Your Son to take my sins upon the cross, washing me clean in His blood. I ask that You Lord take control of this life through the Holy Spirit, and make me anew. I have not always made the best decisions but in this one I am sure that it is the right decision and through the Holy Spirit, this life will be changed forever. Giving you Lord all the Praise and Glory You deserve forever. In Jesus Name I ask, Amen.

Congratulations to you if you just said that prayer with me. Please just take one second to let me know in the comments and I will immediately pray for you again. Be sure to follow and subscribe as I will be posting many new articles about how to grow closer in your relationship with Him.

Breaking Down the A, B, C’s: Believe

My first post: “In the beginning: The A, B, C’s”, was a quick overview of the steps to salvation and beyond. I want to take a few minutes to break each down in a little more detail.

Believe in Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior from the sins of this world. None other can replace or compare to Him.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. 
Joh 3:17  For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him. 
Joh 3:18  He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

2Cor 5:21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him. 

1Th 4:14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 

There is no question that one must believe that Jesus is Lord, and came to this earth as man to bare the burdens of all of man’s sin upon the crucifixion cross. Believing this as the true fact it is will move one to the second step to the only truth that matters. Salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept that we are all sinners, Believe that Jesus Christ is the true Lord and Savior, leads us to our confession-not to any person or priest but to Jesus Christ Himself-Our only intercessor to God the Father.

Breaking Down the A, B, C’s: Accept

Our first post: A, B, C’s of Salvation, was a quick overview of the steps to salvation, which I would like to expand on each step a little more in the next few posts. . Accept that you are a sinner and living solely in the world. Sin separates you from God and keeps you from attaining everlasting life with Him in Heaven

Rom 3:10 as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; 

Rom 3:23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 
Gal 5:20  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 
Gal 5:21  envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 

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

As it is written, one can see that we are all born into sin, therefore we are all sinners from the day of conception. Living in the world as a youngster, depending on moral training from those who brought one into the world: the earthly parents.

If these parents are not God-fearing(high respect and reverence for the Lordship of Jesus Christ) they are only able to teach the ways of the world. Unfortunately, even if they are very good people and teach the children to be very kind and loving children; their way is lost. For only through Christ can mans sins be forgiven unto salvation.

Only through Jesus Christ can one be granted Mercy for their sins. If one accepts that they are a sinner as we are told from the beginning we are, and looks to Christ, one can be saved.

Usually the first question is that “Are you telling me children that die as a baby or young child are automatically going to hell?” That is a resounding, “NO!” Only those that have attained the age of accountability. Ok, but what age is that?

I think John MacArthur said it best:

There is no “age of accountability” identified in Scripture as such. There is nothing in the Bible that says, “Here is the age and from here on you are responsible!” I think the reason for that is because children mature at different paces. That would be true from culture to culture, and from age to age in history.

So the Lord in His wisdom didn’t identify a specific moment. God knows when each soul is accountable. God knows when real rejection has taken place; when the love of sin exists in the heart. When enmity with God is conscious and willful. God alone knows when that occurs.

Basically, once that child can easily discern right from wrong, and is able to make a conscious decision to do that which is right or wrong has reached the age of accountability. If the child has been offered the Gospel with full explanation and understanding and rejects the offer of salvation, they could die into eternal hell. But only God knows the true heart and understanding of each child, so I will not offer conjecture of age or accountability until they reach what we consider adult age.

Accept that we are all sinners, Believe that Jesus Christ is the true Lord and Savior, leads us to our confession-not to any person or priest but to Jesus Christ Himself-Our only intercessor to God the Father.

In the beginning: The A, B, C’s

It is always best to start at the beginning, with the very basic of concepts. So with the first post start with the A, B, C’s:

  1. Accept that you are a sinner and living solely in the world. Sin separates you from God and keeps you from attaining everlasting life with Him in Heaven (Rom 3:10, Rom 3:23, Gal 5:19-21, Rom 6:23)
  2. Believe in Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior from the sins of this world(John 3:16-17, 2Cor 5:21)
  3. Confess your sins to Him and ask for forgiveness, allowing Him into your heart through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will begin to guide and direct you as you grow from a “newborn” to adult in Christ. Studying the Word, praying and accepting mentorship from an “adult” believer will grow your relationship with Him. .(Rom 10:10, Rom 10:13, Acts 17:30-31).
  4. Discipleship is key to growth into an adult believer. We are called to lead others to Christ and disciple them in them walk with Christ, ( 1Peter 3:15, Matt 10:32-33, 2Tim 2:1-4)
  5. Evangelize in your family, your neighborhood, your community and beyond (Mrk 16:15, Matt 28:19-20, 2Tim 2:15)

Simplistic….maybe, but take the time to look up the referenced verses, digest them, understand them. These few verse will allow you to make a huge leap in walk with Christ. If you have not yet accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, spend some time in the verses in “C”. I would love to answer any questions concerning these. Feel free to comment and ask questions.