Update from Pastor Grant

Thank you so much to Zac for preaching for me and doing the blog while I was out last week. We had an awesome time in Israel! There is nothing like walking where Jesus walked!

Here is a picture of Tammy and me on the southern steps leading to the temple mount, the same steps Jesus walked on as He went to the temple and another of the group on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the city of Jerusalem:


I hope more of you will be able to go with us in the future! You will never read your Bible the same again! We hope to have the next trip scheduled soon, so if you’d like information on the next trip, email Stephanie at sfortune@libertylive.com.

On another note, what a great service we had this past Sunday with Tim Lee. He is an American hero with an amazing testimony. His story never gets old! What a way to celebrate Memorial Day and remember those men and women who have given so much serving our country. America would not be what it is today without their sacrifice. Today especially, we remember those who have given their lives for our freedom.

It was a blessing to have Tim back with us at Liberty. If you missed it, you will definitely want to watch the service online sometime this week. You can go to libertylive.online and watch the full service on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. or Saturday at 9:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m.

This coming Sunday we will wrap up the series The Letter to the Ephesians. I’ve missed preaching while I was away in Israel and am looking forward to preaching from Ephesians 6 this Sunday. Be there and invite your friends! It is a joy to be your Pastor!

Saving Faith

Guest Blogger: Zac Ethridge

What is saving faith? Does someone have to persevere to the end to have eternal life? If so, how do we persevere to the end?

Hebrews 3:14 says, “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Confidence in what, we might ask? Well, certainly not ourselves! The confidence is in Christ and his work! Hebrews 10:19 says that “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.” But the word “if” is so important. We have only become true believers “if we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” True salvation has a confidence in Christ that produces persevering repentance.

Saving faith will always reveal itself through perseverance.

But what about eternal security? You may be thinking, I thought Baptists believe in “once saved, always saved?” Well, I don’t believe you can lose your salvation. There seems to be an unbreakable chain of events in Romans 8:30—“…those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Or as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Or as Jesus said in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

So I do believe in “once saved, always saved.” But, as Pastor Chip Dean once told me, we do NOT believe in “once prayed, always saved.” Jesus said on two occasions, “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22, 24:13). Just because someone walked the aisle or repeated a prayer doesn’t mean they have saving faith. The truest measure of faith is obedience. Faith is the root and obedience is the fruit. If you have real saving faith it will reveal itself through persevering obedience. That doesn’t mean our obedience is perfect (it’s definitely not), but it does mean that the trajectory of our lives is toward Christ and repentance.

So if perseverance is required, how do we persevere? Start by not assuming your own perseverance. Paul wrote, “Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Be diligent! Casual Christianity won’t inherit the Kingdom. The devil loves it when people sleep walk through life assuming they are saved. He loves it when unbelievers have a false assurance and wake up in eternity to find out they are lost. These verses are meant to make sure we don’t do that! Below are three essentials to perseverance.

Faith

Those who crossed through the Red Sea didn’t enter the promise land because of unbelief (3:19). This text warns us not to have an unbelieving heart (Hebrews 3:12). Unbelief seems to be less about what our minds think and more about what our hearts love. True saving faith is more than just an intellectual agreement with a series of facts about Jesus. Saving faith is an embracing of those gospel truths. It’s a treasuring of Christ. If you are wondering whether or not you have saving faith, the question to ask is: do you really love Jesus? I don’t mean do you love salvation or heaven or blessing? I mean do you really love Him.

Obedience

Unbelief was the condition of their hearts, but rebellion was the condition of their lives (Hebrews 3:15-18). Emphasizing obedience may not sound like a gospel of grace to you, but it is part of the gospel the New Testament teaches. Jesus’ gospel was repent and believe (Mark 1:15). Peter’s gospel in Acts was repent (Acts 2:38, 3:19). Paul said we “should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20).

So often we want salvation without actually surrendering to God. But that’s not the gospel God has offered to us. Heaven is a holy place, ruled by a holy God, and populated by a holy people. Here’s what I’m getting at: Anyone who isn’t serious about dealing with his sin in the present isn’t serious about entering heaven in the future.

Daily Exhortation

Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today.” We need each other! We have to start taking collective responsibility for each other’s perseverance. You need to give other people the green light to speak into your life. The goal is to make it to “the end” (Hebrews 3:14) but the command is to exhort “every day.” The point is this—The only way to persevere to the end is to live for Christ one day at a time.

So, here are some questions to ask in closing: What are you doing to cultivate a heart of faith? What steps are you taking to repent of sin and obey God? And finally, who’s exhorting you and who are you exhorting?

Relationships

More important than position or possessions, are the relationships we have in life. God is in the business of healing our relationships. The number one relationship in life is your relationship with God. Your relationship with God is going to influence and determine all others. As we continue through Ephesians, we’ll see that Paul offers insight into three particular types of relationships. In each of these, we learn a very important and common necessity, “submission.” Submission is not a popular word; however, Christians are not called to be politically correct, but to be spirit-filled and to submit to one another. “…submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21).

Husband and Wife
If the husband is submitted to the Lord, and the wife is submitted to the Lord, they will have no problem submitting to one another. Ephesians 5:22-33 elaborates on the marriage relationship. Of this passage, only four verses are to wives and 9 verses are to husbands. Husbands have the greater responsibility! They are called to be the head of the wife. Paul’s teaching has nothing to do with superiority/inferiority. Anything with two heads is a freak and anything without a head is dead! More than authority, Paul is talking about responsibility. Husbands, lead your family. Lead by loving your wife, providing for her, putting her before yourself, kids, and work. Be a spiritual leader. Don’t be passive or absent.

Verse 33 says, “…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” The home is built on love and respect. He submits by showing her love. She submits by showing him respect. Every man wonders if he has what it takes; every wife can convince her man that he does. Ladies, affirm your man. Be proud of his accomplishments, or at least his attempt to try. Submitting to your husband does not mean dominance. He is not Lord, but you submit because of the Lord, as a way of serving the Lord. A woman needs unconditional love. A man needs unconditional respect. You get what you want by giving what the other one needs.

Parent and Child
In chapter 6, Paul talks about the relationship between a parent and child. Children are told to obey and honor their parents. Obedience has to do with actions and is temporary. Honor is an attitude and is lasting. Parents are told to bring their children up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (v. 4). Some parents are too authoritarian and do not exercise love. Others are too permissive and do not exercise discipline. Tammy and I are not perfect! A couple tips we give are the ABC’s. First, have Aauthority over their attitude and actions. Obedience is not optional. Start early. B– set boundaries for their behavior. The best example is livestock in a fence. In fenced land, they have everything they need and room to grow. Set limits, but give freedom within. C– enforce consequences with consistency.

Employer and Employee
In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul shifts to talk about the employer/employee relationship. Twice in this passage he mentions the heart. He is in no way condoning what we in the Western world think of when we say “slavery.” Paul is referring to indentured servanthood, a voluntary contract that didn’t last for a lifetime and that was not based on race. These instructions Paul gives apply to employees and employers. This is what it looks like to be a Christian at work. God is your real boss. You don’t work for “them,” you work for “Him”. Never just do the minimum required. Get rid of a get by attitude. Always do your best.

How are you doing in your relationships at home? How are you doing in your family relationships? How are you doing in your work relationships? If you are struggling in these relationships it may be because the number one relationship in your life is not right. Submit to God today. Ask Jesus to take control of your life, home, family, and work.

Lifestyle

It’s good to be back! I appreciate Dalton preaching for me and doing the blog post while I was away last week. This week, we will continue our study in Ephesians 5, looking at three ways we can honor the Lord through our lifestyle.

Walk Up
Three times in chapter 5 Paul uses the word “walk.” He starts off saying, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us …” (v. 1-2). There is nothing like seeing a child take their first steps. Remember when you saw your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew learning to walk? In the same way, God wants to see His children learning to walk spiritually. Walk refers to lifestyle. What we think, what we say, what we do, should all be characterized by love. God is love. God’s love for us is sacrificial. His love is giving and it’s also forgiving. Jesus said to love one another, but He also said to love our enemies. Loving your enemies can only come from loving God. This is an upward walk. The road to the next level is always uphill. Anyone can go down. It is hard to walk up, but that is where we grow stronger and healthier!

Wake Up
Ephesians 5:14 says, “Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’” Don’t walk in darkness. Don’t just go with the flow. When you walk in darkness, you go based on feelings. You also run into a wall! Don’t follow your heart and trust your feelings. Follow Jesus and what the Bible says.

Verses 3-13 give insight on how to wake up. We are to rid ourselves of fornication. Fornication means immorality. It’s where we get the word pornography. We are going to talk more about relationships, marriage, and family next week, but the Bible says sex is a sacred union between a husband and wife who have made a covenant to God. We are to put away uncleanness, greed, foolish talking, coarse jesting, and idolatry. Jesus is the Light of the World. Life is all about His majesty and His glory. Unbelievers live in darkness and darkness lives in them. It is a new day! Wake up! Stop sleepwalking.

Wise Up
Verses 15 and 17 warn us to be wise and not unwise. The surrounding verses tell us how. Verse 16 says, “redeeming the time.” A wise person makes the most of their time. Are you a good steward of your time? Do you plan your time/day? Life is short. Once it is gone you cannot get it back. Don’t waste time, or spend time, but invest your time. Verse 17 says, “understand what the will of the Lord is.” Every day we make choices between doing God’s will or our will. Understand the will of God for your life. Verse 18 warns us not to be drunk. It is all a matter of control. A drunk is under the control of a substance. Christians should be under the control of the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled daily (continuous action) with the Holy Spirit. We leak! Verse 19 says we are to speak to one another, “making melody in your heart to the Lord….” How do you talk to one another? Who do you spend time with?

This passage closes in verse 20: “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Chesterton said, “The saddest moment in the life of an atheist is when he realizes he has something for which to be thankful but no one to thank.” It is the will of God that you give thanks. Do you know the Lord? Do you thank Him daily?

Time here on earth is coming to an end. Eternity is when time will be no more. Don’t waste time or kill time, make sure you prepare now for where you will spend eternity forever! The devil’s tactic is delay. Don’t delay in getting right with God!

Get Healthy

Guest Blogger: Dalton Stoltz

Pastor Grant recently challenged all of us to take steps towards getting healthy physically before summer. I’m working on getting healthy and I have lost over 50 pounds in 60 days. On this journey, I’ve learned that nothing in life worth having is easy, and getting healthy isn’t easy. People can’t get healthy halfheartedly, they must be all in and the same applies spiritually. You can’t follow Christ halfheartedly.

The first step towards getting healthy spiritually is thinking healthy. Colossians 3:1-2: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

When we begin to think healthy it means we “seek the things that are above.” The Greek phrase here is saying habitually set your attention on things above. This means that our practical, everyday affairs and circumstances get their direction from Jesus, who is in heaven. How do you do that? Spiritual disciplines are a major catalyst that God uses. He uses spiritual disciplines to change you from the inside out. By beginning to practice spiritual disciplines like Bible reading, prayer, and worship, we begin to train our mind to think from above.

Our next step is acting healthy. The first key to acting healthy is mortification, that is putting our sin, our flesh, to death. Colossians 3:5-10: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. Likewise, the child of God must put off these attributes from the old sinful life. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

I want to remind us, Paul is talking here to people who were Christians as he lists out these two sets of sins. Paul is saying that the child of God must put to death every impulse that desires these sins. Sin is a choice for the child of God and you can choose not to sin. This meant for the Colossians that they had to give up their social sins that were socially acceptable to people all around them. Paul Tripp has said, “The sin struggle is universal and inescapable, the grace of God is boundless and sufficient, we have to admit the one to receive the other.” Jesus wants us to receive and embrace the grace of God.

Jesus also wants us living healthy. Colossians 3:11-14: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Living healthy means that there are certain things we need to put on. What does it mean to “put on”? It means that our conduct should match our faith. This is as simple as putting on your clothes. These attributes that Paul shared need to be wrapped up in love. When we do this collectively, we start to become a healthy community. We want to be a church that is producing a Christ-centered healthy community where the peace of Christ rules in our hearts, where we are encouraging each other and building each other up. We want to be a church that loves God, loves one another, and that loves our neighbors. These are just a few steps in becoming healthy spiritually.