Life ‘18

On September 15, from 9:00 a.m. – noon, we’ve planned a day you do not want to miss! It’s called Life ‘18 and this week on the blog I want to personally invite you to join us. Tammy and I will be sharing twice, the worship teams from all our campuses will be leading us in worship, and you’ll have the opportunity to attend a breakout session on a topic that interests you. Breakout topics include:

  • Marriage
  • Family Scheduling
  • Telling Others About Jesus
  • Your Role in Reaching the Nations
  • Maximizing Your Morning Routine
  • Racial Reconciliation
  • How to Read Your Bible
  • Prayer and Fasting
  • Dealing with Grief

Georgia doesn’t play football until Saturday evening, so you’ll have plenty of time to get home, grab your chips and dip, and watch the game.  We really believe this will be an uplifting and encouraging day for all who attend!

If you have not registered, click here to sign up now.

This Sunday, I’m excited to be back with you and to continue our study through the book of Galatians. A new schoolyear has started, and there’s no better time to make Sunday mornings a priority in your weekly routine. Make plans now to be in church Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then!

 

Liberty Missions

It was so good to be back with you on Sunday! Tammy and I had a great time away on vacation, but we missed you! It’s always so good to be back home! I’m thankful for Zachary and Daniel preaching for me while I was gone. I’ve heard many testimonies of how the Lord used each of their sermons. Tammy and I watched online and could not be more excited over all that the Lord is doing at Liberty.

 

On Sunday, we had a special day talking about Liberty missions. I did an interview with our Missions Pastor, Kenny McLemore, and had him explain all that “missions” means here at Liberty. Kenny has been on our staff for over 20 years and serves as a trustee for the International Mission Board, which is the largest missions organization in the world. He talked about our teams and partnerships locally and globally, as well as all the different ways our church family can be involved. If you missed it, you can watch the full interview here: LINK.

 

It was also a special Sunday because we did the Lord’s Supper. While we did it at our locations in Virginia, our missionaries around the world were taking the Lord’s Supper too. It was such a cool experience for our church family and such a great reminder that we are part of a work so much bigger than ourselves. We are all about taking the message of communion – the message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection around the globe so that people may be saved and so that lives, communities, and the world might be changed. Praise God that He is at work! Thank you for your faithfulness in praying, giving, and going!

 

This Sunday, we will start a new series in the book of Galatians. I’m excited to share with you what the Lord has been teaching me as I prepare. You don’t want to miss it. Invite a friend and make plans now to be in church this Sunday.

 

Your Pastor loves you!

 

Overcoming Envy

Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you’ve wondered, “Is it really worth it to follow God?” Have you even felt like quitting on God and just living like the world? In Psalm 73, that’s where the Psalmist was in life. Asaph is struggling with envy, because he is looking at the world’s prosperity. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Ps. 73:2-3).”

 

His heart is in the wrong place because he is focused on the wrong thing.

 

Eventually, this frustration and envy leads him to a terrible conclusion – “All in vain have I kept my heart clean (Ps. 73:13).” He wonders if it’s even worth it to follow God. Anger, envy, and resentment poison the soil of the heart. They choke out faith and trust and hope. But something happens that changes everything. He writes, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end (Ps. 73:16-17).” Everything changes when he encounters God!

 

When your focus is on the wrong thing and your heart is in the wrong place, the only solution is an encounter with God.

 

But what does it mean to go into the sanctuary of God in the 21st century? The Gospel of John teaches that Jesus is the true temple. The only way to encounter God is to come to Jesus. But how do you encounter Jesus in the 21st century? Here are 3 ways. First and foremost, you encounter Him through the gospel. The gospel is the good news that we can know God through Jesus because He died for our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life. If we skip the gospel, the rest is futile. But second, you can encounter Jesus through the church. The Bible teaches that God is building His church into a spiritual temple by the Holy Spirit. Third, we encounter Jesus through the Bible, because the Bible is ultimately about Him. And when that happens – when we encounter God in Jesus Christ – we gain an eternal perspective.

 

Encountering God gives you an eternal perspective.

 

The Psalmist says, “then I discerned their end…Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory (Ps. 73:17, 23-24).” He found that it’s always worth it to follow God. His eyes were opened to the words of Jesus, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” The Judge of all the earth will see to it that all accounts are settled, and all wrongs are made right, so living for Christ will always be worth it. Will it feel worth it all the time? No. Is it perplexing to see the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? Certainly! But this is not the end. God isn’t done! Your story isn’t over! We serve a God who sees everything, the faithfulness of his servants and the wickedness of the world, and He will never forget. So, don’t give up and don’t lose heart. God hasn’t forgotten you, and one day it’s all going to be worth it. In the meantime, here’s my challenge to you: Don’t sacrifice your future on the altar of your present desires. Don’t lose focus, envy the wicked, and turn away from God. You may want their present, you don’t want their eternity. So, don’t give up your inheritance for a bowl of soup. Remember that God is with you, walk with Him, be guided by His counsel, and set your eyes on eternity. And as you do that, like Asaph, God will change your heart.

 

Encountering God re-shapes your desires.

 

Asaph says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you (Ps. 73:25).”  What do you want more than anything else? What is the one thing you think you have to have to be happy? Now, that can be a hard question to answer. It’s difficult to search your heart and discover your greatest desire. It’s abstract and immaterial. But an easier question to answer is this – what are you focused on? What occupies your thoughts and daydreams? That is the thing you desire most. Is it Christ? If it’s not, there is hope. He concludes by saying, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:26).” The struggle for an eternal perspective and God-shaped desires is a daily struggle. You will never outgrow your need for God, but God is willing and able to be your strength. We need Him to open our eyes again and again to eternity. We need Him to shape and reshape our desires, so that we can overcome envy and find lasting joy and satisfaction in Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know Your Enemy

Guest Blogger: Chip Dean

We need to know our enemy. I believe that summer is a heightened season for temptation. We must guard our flesh, eyes, and pride with more time at the pool, vacation, and parties. We need to be on guard because sin is not just the “do nots” on the naughty list. Instead, sin is very personal to both Satan and Jesus. Because of this, we must Know Our Enemy, Know His Strategy, Know Our Savior, and Know Ourselves.

 

Know Your Enemy

2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “So that we would not be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel outwitted by the evil one? God says that we aren’t “ignorant of his designs.” This means our excuses like, “You got me again, Satan,” don’t cut it with the Creator. “The devil made me do it” doesn’t fly with the Most High! God has plainly given us both a knowledge of our enemy and our enemy’s strategy in His Word.

 

1 John 2:15 is where we see God revealing clearly and plainly Satan’s strategy for temptation and sin. “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.” God has revealed Satan’s secret strategy for temptation and sin that he’s used from the very beginning until now.

 

The Desires of the Flesh // Sins of Pleasures // I want to “feel” that.

The Desires of the Eyes // Sins of Treasures // I want to “have” that.

The Pride of Life // Sins of Pride // I want to “be” that.

 

Know His Strategy

Satan came to earth as a serpent (Genesis 3:1-5), and deceived Eve by twisting God’s Word. Satan doesn’t just tempt us to sin, but he often attempts to tempt us with sin by twisting God’s Word. He wants us to doubt. He wants to cause confusion. He wants us to lack confidence. We must know God’s Word deeply. Not because I’m a Pastor but because I’m a sinner, I have to wake up at 5am every morning in order to get in God’s Word so that God’s Word gets into me.

 

Then in Genesis 3:6, we see the very same, ancient strategy that Satan first used on Eve that he continues to use today. “Eve saw that the tree was good for food [Pleasures], and that it was a delight to the eyes [Treasures], and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise [Pride].” She bit the bait and then gave some to her husband who was with her. Adam stood and watched the whole thing when he should have stood up for God, spoken up to his wife, and rose up in leadership!

 

Know Your Savior

In Luke 4:1-13, Satan tries the exact same strategy for temptation that he used on Eve and that God gave us in 1 John 2:15. Eve was tempted in a garden of paradise while Jesus was tempted in a barren wilderness. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to complete a 40 day fast (Luke 4:1). Jesus was hungry and physically weak, but His fasting and praying made Him spiritually strong! Watch this pattern of temptation Satan tried on Jesus that he used on Eve.

 

Desires of the Flesh: Pleasures // Eve: “good for food” // Jesus: “bread” (Luke 4:3)

Desires of the Eyes: Treasures // Eve: “delight to the eyes” // Jesus: “kingdoms” (Luke 4:5-7)

Pride of Life: Pride // Eve: “desired to make one wise” // Jesus “throw Yourself down” (Luke 4:9-11)

 

The first two temptations Jesus went through are self-explanatory. The third needs explanation. Satan was tempting Jesus to throw Himself off the temple for a 300 foot drop where everyone would be watching so they could see angels rescue Him and prove He truly is the Son of God. Satan was tempting Jesus to prove who He is apart from the cross and resurrection.

 

Just like his temptation with Eve, notice how Satan uses Scripture to attempt to tempt Jesus. When Eve didn’t know God’s Word, Jesus quoted God’s Word, word for word. We do not only need to know our enemy’s strategy, but we also need to know our Savior’s strategy: the sword of the Spirit!

 

Know Yourself

Which temptation has Satan been throwing at you lately? Pleasures, Treasures, or Pride?

 

Which temptation of Satan have you been falling for most through your life?

 

If you had to order Satan’s temptations in rank of which ones are more tempting for you, how would you order them?

 

Through God’s Word, we fight temptation in two ways: resistance and obedience.

 

Resistance is saying no, and there’s no temptation we cannot say no to by the power of Jesus!

 

Obedience is saying yes. We do not need to only resist, but we need to obey.

  1. Pleasure: Obey God by finding greater pleasures and joys in Jesus alone.
  2. Treasure: Obey God by finding greater treasures through being generous like Jesus.
  3. Pride: Obey God by finding greater identity in Jesus by humbling yourself.

 

When we both resist and obey, we show that we know our enemy, we know his strategy, we know our Savior, and we know ourselves.

 

Moments Matter

Guest Blogger: Dalton Stoltz

 

I remember meeting Lindsay for the first time.  I was a freshman at Liberty University and she was a senior in high schoolI worked at the Visitor’s Center and I gave tours to families who were considering Liberty University.  Well it just so happened that Pastor Grant and “Miss” Tammy were on my tour.  At the end of that tour, “Miss” Tammy called Lindsay Beth and said, “I met this guy and I think he’s the type of guy you could marry one day.”Lindsay’s interest peaked, “Tell me about him.”  “Well, he’s Canadian, he plays hockey….” Lindsay promptly said, “It sounds like we have nothing in common,” and she hung up.

 

But a few days later Pastor Grant showed back up to the Visitor Center.  He asked me if I could come outside to his car and meet his kids, Lindsay Beth and TaylorI obliged.  I went out to the car and Lindsay rolled down the window, she said, “hello,” and she rolled it right back up again.

 

But, Moments Matterbecause 6 months later, Lindsay would be a student at Liberty University.  She would walk up to me in a crowd of people and she asked if I remembered her (I must have had a face she couldn’t forget).  I did remember her, and those moments changed our lives forever. 

 

In Luke 8:40-56, we find people whose lives were changed in a moment because of Jesus. Moments Matter.  For Jairus and the woman who had been ill for 12 years, their lives were changed forever when they had an encounter with Jesus.

 

It’s a powerful series of events.  I want to make this personal for us today.  In the moments that matter most in this life, you can trust HIS VOICE, HIS TIMING, AND HIS WAY.

 

First, in the moments that matter most in our lives we can trust His voice.  We all have a choice to make.

Will we trust His voice?

 

Jairus had to choose to listen to Jesus instead of the messenger who brought him the news that his daughter had died.   For Jairus he had to make a choice to not listen to his own relatives and neighbors when they laughed at Jesus about his own daughter being just asleep.  Jairus had to listen to the voice that said:Don’t be afraid, just have faith.  Who are you listening to? Do you trust His voice?  In the moments that matter most in this life, you can trust His voice.

 

Secondly, in the moments that matter most in your life you can trust His timing. I’m sure the woman didn’t like being ill for 12 years. I’m sure Jairus didn’t enjoy waiting for Jesus while He talked to the woman. We struggle with timing as a culture. We don’t like to wait as a culture and we don’t really have margin in our calendars.  The result is our relationships suffer: our marriages, our families, our relationship with God.  They all suffer.  Today, maybe the best thing you could do for yourself in taking a step towards trusting God’s timing more is to look at your calendar and to take something off.  Also make sure you have on it Bible reading and prayer time.  That will be a step towards helping you to trust Him, because in the moments that matter most in your life, you can trust His timing.

 

Finally, in the moments that matter most in your life, you can trust His ways.  The woman who was private had to let everyone know publicly that she had been healed.  Jairus, who was a public figure, had to keep the news private.

His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

 

Moments Matter.  In the moments that matter most you can trust His voice, His timing, His ways. Two reasons why:

 

First, God is immutable.  That’s a fancy way to say, GOD NEVER CHANGES.  Our circumstances will be in constant flux.  There will be good times and bad times, but God is constant… He never changes!

 

Second, I can tell you that you can trust Him most based on my own personal experiences. It’snot because everything has worked out well for me, but in moments where everything was crumbling, He has proved to be trustworthy.

 

Proverbs 10:25 says, When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.”

 

Trusting my life to the One True King has been the best investment of my life.

You Can Trust the Lord

Guest Blogger: Dalton Stoltz

Trusting the Lord has been the best investment of my life.

You can trust him in your darkest hour. You can trust Him when you’re filled with fear. You can trust Him when you’re full of anxiety.

The most frequent teaching in the New Testament by Jesus was not to be holy, or to love one another, it was to not worry. It was to not be afraid. It was to not be anxious.

This is mentioned 365 times in Scripture, one for each day of the year, because He wants us to Trust Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

Isaiah, was a prophet and an evangelist. Isaiah believed the only hope for mankind was centered in trusting God.

“YOU KEEP HIM” is a powerful statement as it expresses confidence in God. The Hebrew wording states that God is acting like a watchman at night. Isaiah was declaring that our God is not passive, distant or ignoring his children. Rather, God is proactively keeping those in perfect peace.

Do you want perfect peace? People who have a perfect peace have what is translated as “a frame of mind, a perspective.” That is, “undeviating commitment to a purpose,” or “undeviating commitment to a conviction or person.” So, the big idea here is that someone who has perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on God, is someone whose thought processes and perspectives are totally dependent, totally trusting, totally leaning on the King of the Universe. The person who does this feels safe, secure, even confident. They feel this way not because they are trusting in themselves but because they are trusting in the Lord.

I know many people who want to live in perfect peace, they just don’t want the God of Peace who supplies it. Did you catch that? Everyone wants to live in perfect peace, they just don’t want the God of Peace who supplies it. It is impossible, however, to have the Peace of God without the God of Peace.

You can have perfect peace if you trust in the Lord. Verse 4 more accurately translates “Trust in Jehovah.” Jehovah is a name for God meaning, “The Existing One.” Trust in the Lord God, because He is an Everlasting Rock! He is not shaky. He is stable. He is full of protection. He is a firm foundation.

Today and everyday, I want you to know that you can trust the Lord because:

1) He is on His Throne- Isaiah 6:1-3
2) He is in Control- Isaiah 40:12,26
3) He Won’t Forget You- Isaiah 49:15

No seduction this world has to offer will ever come close to Him. Only He is BIG enough to give you true peace. Trust in God is like a tender seed. It can be nurtured or neglected. When we nurture our trust in God, through prayer, through worship, through studying God’s word, He blesses our lives and lifts our spirits. When we neglect intimacy with the Lord, we do ourselves and our loved ones a profound disservice. What are you going to do today? Who are you going to trust today?

The Lord is greater than your greatest fear, worry or anxiety. Trusting Him will be the best investment of your life.

Changing Your Perspective

Guest Blogger: Daniel Ethridge

Growing up Pastor Grant’s son was quite the adventure. I remember when I was five years old I packed a suitcase, full of all my essential toys, and walked out the front door. After a few minutes of walking down the road I heard a car behind me. When I turned around I saw my dad, hanging out the window, with our family video camera. He was filming me run away. Once I got tired, he put me back in the car, drove me home, and the minute we walked inside he sat me in front of the TV and made me watch the video. It was impactful enough that I still remember it. He gave me something extremely effective that day: a new perspective to see who I truly was.

This past Sunday, in Luke chapter 5, we saw a story of multiple types of people who encountered Jesus. Which one of them would you have been?

The Bystanders
The report about Jesus was beginning to grow and Luke tells us in verse 15 that “great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.” The sad thing in this story is that only one man leaves healed. Why was it that out of all the people there, only one man would leave having been changed? The scripture explicitly says that the “power of the Lord was present with Jesus to heal.” Yet for some reason, they would leave the same. Every week we have people who sit in our congregation and leave the same. Many individuals want to get close enough to Jesus to experience the work of God, but not close enough to be changed by it. We want all the benefits without any commitment. How committed are you to the things of God? Are you a bystander? At Liberty we say, “It’s not just church, It’s life!” Does that adequately describe your life?

The Pharisees
The Pharisees are a part of the same crowd as the bystanders, but they are a very different group. Luke tells us in verse 17 and 21 that they were sitting and questioning the things of God. This is a great picture of religious people today. They come to be a part of the church activities but they aren’t active in the mission that Jesus was on. This crowd claimed to know the things of God but they couldn’t see Him when He stood in front of them. What was it that kept them from seeing and believing Jesus? When you look at the gospels, it can be summed up in two things: status and tradition. Have we become a people so set on our preferences that we are keeping others from getting to Jesus? My fear is that we’ve become a social club for the saved, rather than a home for the lost or a hospital for the sick. In Matthew 23:13-15 Jesus called out the Pharisees. “You shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” That is exactly what Luke 5:18-20 shows us they did.

The Friends
Not everyone in the story responded incorrectly. The friends completely reoriented their lives in order to get this man to Jesus. They believed that Jesus was what the crippled man needed and they were willing to do anything to remove the hindrances! Are you doing everything possible to see your coworkers, family, neighbors, and friends come to Jesus? Verse 20 says, “And when [Jesus] saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Does your faith in Jesus lead others to Him? James tells us that faith without works is dead.

The Healed Man
This character was the one who left completely changed. Can you imagine when they lowered him at Jesus’ feet? He had to know something incredible was about to happen, and then Jesus said, “your sins are forgiven you.” It couldn’t have been what the crowd expected. This man was unable to walk! Yet Jesus sees our greatest need. His legs were what brought him to Jesus but his soul was what was really in need of transformation from God. What is bringing you to Jesus? It might be a failing marriage, an economic struggle, a wayward child, a physical illness, or even a death in the family. All those things are just a symptom of a greater issue. Ask God to forgive your sins and begin to walk daily with Him. The story ends with the man’s legs being completely restored. I cannot promise that walking with Jesus is going to be easy, but I can promise that it will be worth it. If He is able to save you and give you an eternity with Him, you can rest assured, knowing that He can guide you through whatever you are facing.

If you had been in this story, who would you have been? I am praying that God would personally touch you today, so that you will know the power of God and live a life bringing others to Him.

Shield of Faith

Good morning Liberty! Since I didn’t get to say that yesterday, I wanted to get it out there today! I missed being with you, but am so grateful for Chip, Dalton, and Zac preaching for me while I am away. I have heard great reports of how the Lord used each of them.

The SBC Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting started last night. This year I am serving on the Committee on Order of Business so I had to be in Phoenix early for several meetings. I love attending these meetings, but am looking forward to being back with the Liberty family on Sunday!

We will start a new series on Sunday on the One Another passages in the Bible. It’s also Father’s Day! If you haven’t already, invite your dad to come with you and make plans to be at church. It’s going to be a great day. If you are not in the local area, make plans to attend Libertylive.Online on Sunday at 1:00, 2:15, or 6:00 p.m., Wednesday at 6:00 p.m., or Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Many of you asked for the passages of Scripture that I gave recently for winning over the enemy. When Satan hurls darts at you like, “You’re a loser…”, “You will never amount to anything…”, “After what you did, do you think you are saved and going to heaven?”, “God can never use you…”, “Your situation is never going to get better…”, “Your circumstances are never going to change…”, “You will never have a good marriage…”, “You will never be a good parent…”, “You will never have a happy home…”, “You’ll never get well…”, “You will never get out of debt…”, etc. ,You take the shield of faith saying:

– I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work will continue to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
– I am trusting the Lord with all my heart, leaning not to my own understanding, and in all my ways I’m acknowledging Him… (Prov. 3:5-6).
– And I know all things are working together for good because I love God and am called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
– Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Ps. 23:6).
– God said I am blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out (Deu. 28:6).
– No weapon formed against me shall prosper (Is. 54:17).
– Greater is he that is within me, than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
– I will fear not for they that be with us are more than they that be with them (2 Kings 6:16).
– I will fear not for my God is with me. He will uphold and strengthen me with His right hand (Is. 41:10).
– God’s plans for me are good and not of evil… (Jer. 29:11).
– I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).
– My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19).
– He will never leave me or forsake me (Deu. 31:6).
– I am drawing nigh unto God He is drawing nigh unto me (Ja. 4:8).
– I am resisting the devil, knowing He must flee from me (Ja. 4:7).

Stand firm! Spend time in God’s word and use it daily to set your mind on the Truth. God wants you to win!

Tammy and I love you and we are praying for you! See you Sunday!

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?

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