Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Conversion

Conversion – is it real

Yes it is real. It is contained in two Bible words – ‘repent and believe’.
The experience of conversion will vary from person to person. For some it is dramatic. For others it is a matter of truth believed. Yet others it is a change of life habits. Others are converted from fear to peace.

The common thread is the change of mind toward God, acknowledging that He is right and we have been wrong. Since we all are born with the inclination to wander away, going our own way, we need to turn around. All actions independent of God are offensive to God and hence the need to ‘convert,’ to facing God instead of going away from God.
The wonderful Gospel is this – in turning toward God, we find that He is not against us, but that He already loves us. He has paid the price to remove the offence of our sins, by the death of His Son – Jesus Christ. Now He offers peace and pardon along with promises of eternal life.

Thus a person is ‘converted’ from being a self orientated, lost sinner, to a believer in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus used many illustrations of this ‘conversion’ experience.
For example:
John 1.12 ‘Receiving Him’ ( the Son of God from heaven)
John 3.3   ‘ born again of the Spirit’
John 4       ‘ drinking of the water of life’
John 5.24   ‘ Hearing his word.....’
John 6   ‘eating and drinking’
Matthew 11.29   ‘Come to Me’
Mark 1          ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’
Acts 16.1    Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’

Does this create confusion? – No. This shows how God by His Spirit connects with different people in different ways. A person who has never heard the Gospel may receive a dream. Another who is highly educated may well be converted by truth. Yet another who feels the guilt of sin may be converted by comprehending the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross. Another lost sheep may be converted by heeding the call of the Good Shepherd to ‘follow Me’.

How kind of God to reach into our lives and with tender understanding, turn us to Himself. How serious the consequences for anyone to reject God’s invitation, yes God’s command to repent.

Let me interrupt with this – these experiences of conversion are real, but they are not to be the basis of assurance of salvation. As described in another blog, the confidence of our acceptance by God is found in the promises of God. We connect with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

John the apostle writes (1 John) of the evidences of new life in the believer – eg walking in the light, turning away from sin, loving other believers, keeping His commands. But at the end of his letter, the assurance of eternal life is not in the evidence, rather it is in the promise:
“he that has the Son (faith in the Son of God), has life” 1 John 5:12

May I mention a common problem. – we egocentric creatures are so obsessed with ‘what I have done’ that we try to find assurance in ‘our faith’ or lack of faith. Questions arise ‘ did I have enough faith?’ ‘did I truly repent?’  ‘I was not able to keep up the life’.  True conversion is looking away from self, looking to Jesus Christ the Lord. He is risen from the dead and is alive and able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by Him.
The believer is not self occupied, but Christ occupied. We can rest in Him as our all in all, for time and eternity.

Paul put it so well in Christ’s all for him to preach the Good news:


“to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” Acts 26.18

John McKee

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Eternity - can we be sure?



Can we be sure?

It was Queen Victoria who asked the chaplain .. “Can we be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?”

This question came close to home when my relative facing death began to doubt if all was well for eternity .

At a Bible study I presented the question ...”Can we be sure?” We all need to face up to this question, and rather than quoting what others say or do, find the answer for ourselves. For some, their confidence rests in the actions of priests or pastors. Some trust in reciting prayers. Others hope in having had a special experience. Yet others hope the judge of all the earth will assess with approval what they have done.

Well can we be sure?
The answer in brief is:
Yes - we can trust the promises of God. God has spoken and His word can be trusted. So He can be trusted.

For example:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that everyone who believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life.”    John 3:16
“ If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you  will be saved.” Romans 10.9
..... and so many more great and precious promises that enable us to be sure. 

This question becomes more significant when people are getting older and facing the reality of death. It is a challenge when I am asked to conduct a funeral – can I honestly give hope and assurance beyond the grave ?  This question goes well beyond theory when one lays to rest a close relative ( as I have). Where are they today ? Heaven or Hell?

It is natural to assess people by what they have said and done, but looking at things from God’s point of view, the results of a fallen human nature, the wanderings of self will, all leaves us disappointed and uncertain. Rather, from God’s point of view, we are guilty of sin and need someone to save us.

Many people who feel the need for forgiveness, turn to religious experiences . Some hope that baptism will secure a place in heaven. Some have had a crisis moment when a decision was made to follow Jesus.  I know two people who had the experience of ‘a presence’ . Some evangelists push people’s emotions in an endeavour to attain in people a ‘Damascus experience’. Then there are the many formulas – four spiritual laws, signing decision cards, believing Christ has died for your sins personally, repeating personalised Bible verses.................etc.

Well some of this has value, but past experience seldom gives solid assurance when passing from time into eternity. In this generation of longevity,  much of the experience of life cannot be clearly remembered, so we need more than experience.

This is why in my blogs, I regularly refer to the Bible as our compass giving direction, and our authority, giving foundation for hope. If the Bible fails, we are left floundering. Please read my other articles that verify the reliability of the Bible. God has spoken. He is trustworthy and His promises are to be taken seriously. Most of the promises have three parts. – God at work, second our response, third God’s promised outcome.

To make eternal life possible for us sinners, God sent His Son into the world to become our Saviour. By His sacrificial death on the cross, the Lord Jesus paid the debt so that we could be forgiven and then accepted into the Fathers house. Proof of this is the fact that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and is now in heaven, able to save all who come to God by Him. –that is God at work!

Faith responds – Yes Lord I need your forgiveness. I confess you as  Lord and trust you as the living Saviour.

The promise from the Lord remains true:
“Everyone who believes in Me has eternal life”  John 6.47


A young woman facing impending death was asked ‘did she have assurance?’
This was her answer:
“My sins deserve eternal death, but Jesus died for me.”
If anyone is having doubts, feel free to email me.

johnmckee@intenode.on.net

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Compass due north

Interlinked words

‘Believing’ the facts, begins with acceptance of  the claims of  Jesus that He is the Lord from heaven and He is now risen from the dead.

‘Faith’ in the person, is acknowledging His trustworthiness and ability to save.

‘Trust’, is the yielding of the heart and soul, so as to depend on Him for everything  for all eternity.

‘Follow’ is the commitment to Him, His word, His leading, His future.

Note in Bible usage, all of these are frequently implied in the use of just one of them.

For example:

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” Acts 16.31

JRM

(PS these are not dictionary definitions. I trust that they rather are the reality in your heart)