Our Assurance of Heaven

Jesus is the only way.

Jesus alone paid the price for our sins and redeemed us from the death that we deserve. Because He loves us, Jesus paid for our sins with his blood, he is our Redeemer, and therefore he is our only way to heaven.  Nobody else, no other so-called god, gave their lives and shed their blood for our redemption.

   “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

   “I am the door, If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).

Because of Christ, we will one day be with God and the other saints in heaven. A place that Jesus said is more wonderful than it is possible for us to imagine.

   “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

  Don’t rely on your good works, your church, or your religion to get you to heaven. Jesus is not only the way to heaven, but He is the ONLY way.

   You can believe in parachutes, but unless you actually put it on, it will not save you. The same is true with Jesus. Knowing that He can save you is okay, but unless you put your faith and trust in Him, you will not be saved.

Thankfully Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. He redeemed us with his blood. Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer. 

“In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). 

   “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

Jesus loves you! The Bible says, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  A complete life, full of purpose and joy. 

Because of His love for us, Jesus died in our place so we could have a relationship with God and be with Him forever.

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God’s guarantee to us.

When you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you will be sealed by the Holy Spirit. You can be sure you will spend eternity with the Lord.

   As believers in Christ, we are sealed until He returns.   

“The Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

   “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

    “God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come…..For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:5,7).

“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

   We have God’s word that He has sealed us until the day of redemption. This means that God has put His personal seal upon us through the Holy Spirit. We have His protection until the day Christ returns. The devil cannot touch us, for we belong to God. He can tempt us and he can make our lives miserable at times, but he cannot take our salvation from us. We can have that assurance that we will share eternity with Jesus. 

God guarantees us that when we become a believer and seek to live for Him, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and through the Holy Spirit we will be sealed as a child of God until we are taken to heaven.

We know that the Bible is true and is of God. Whatever is written therein, we can depend on. It is the divine word of God, and you have God’s written guarantee that you will go to heaven.

Be warned, this is one area of your life that Satan will attack you over and over again. He will try to destroy your belief in a home in heaven. He will sow seeds of doubt in you. Doubts of being worthy, doubts in God’s word, doubts that God is real. Satan will use anything that will cause you to have doubts about your salvation and an eternal home. 

Not sure you are a Christian? 

You can be sure. All you have to do is believe you are a sinner, that Christ died for your sins, and ask His forgiveness. Then turn from your sins—that’s called repentance. Jesus Christ knows you and loves you. What matters to Him is the attitude of your heart, your honesty. You can pray the following prayer or something similar to accept Christ as your Savior:

“Dear God,

I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness.

I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died

for my sin and that you raised Him to life.

I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord,

from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will.

I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer and meant it, then you are a child of God. It really is that simple. 

See you in Heaven!

The Nine O’clock Wind

By Pastor Neil Kenyon, Salem, IN.

One of the things I cherish is the memory of the frequent fishing trips with my dad while I was growing up.  Knowingly or unknowingly, my dad would teach me things that, as I grow in Christ, connect with the spiritual teachings of my Heavenly Father.

One such teaching involved using an anchor to hold the boat steady over the fishing hole. Dad called it, “The Nine O’clock Wind.” As we prepared for the fishing trip dad would say, “We need to be ready for the Nine O’clock Wind,”  as he loaded the heavy concrete block, tied to a strong rope, we used for an anchor.

The Nine O’clock Wind was in reference to the wind that would oftentimes come up during our fishing trips. Inevitability, it seemed, just when we had found a good fishing spot, the wind would whistle in and drift us away – as often as not, the wind seemed to be strongest at 9:00 AM! And so, we always prepared for the nine O’clock Wind!

I have found, as a child of God, that I need to be prepared for the Nine O’clock Wind! It seems that at the moment things are just right in my spiritual fishing trip, the Nine O’clock Wind whistles in. The gales are often very strong and include gusts of:  too busy, too tired, Laziness, let someone else, why me, I can’t, I’d rather not, you’re not ready, I don’t understand, etc.  In addition, there are the boisterous bursts of doubt, discouragement, anger, pride, and selfishness that push against me, trying to drive me away from my relationship with Christ.

And so, I have in my boat, an Anchor which holds me steady against the Nine O’clock Wind. That Anchor is “The Word!”

As you prepare for your fishing trip, don’t forget to prepare for the Nine O’clock Wind

We need to stay near the anchor that stabilizes our lives, ready to grip it tightly when the winds blow. We can’t sink when we’re holding to the anchor, and we can’t be lost when gripping it. When we anchor ourselves in Christ and His word, our faith cannot be shaken.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” (Hebrews 6:19) NKJV

Salvation — Free or Priceless?

The value of most things is determined by the price paid for them. If someone paid a million dollars for let us say, a rare painting, and gave it as a gift to you for free, would its value be less because it was free to you? No, it would still be worth a million dollars because that was the value placed on it when the person paid a million dollars for it.

   Sin was a debt that we could not pay. Christ paid a debt He didn’t owe. God paid for our sin with the life of his Son, Jesus. Then he offered salvation, eternal life to us for free, all we have to do is accept it. Should we treat God’s offer for eternal life lightly, just because it’s free to us? God paid the ultimate price, the value was set with the blood of Christ on the cross. The Son of God, the one who created all things, (Colossians 1:16), paid with his life, that you and I may have eternal life. It is a priceless gift that we can never repay.

If you don’t know the Lord. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, He is waiting with your free gift of salvation. All you have to do is ask Him!

Thank You, Jesus!

God’s Word – The Life Blood of the Christian

By Pastor Neil Kenyon, Salem, IN.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

When I first entered the ministry, as a pastor, I had a talk with my dad who had been a preacher for many years of his life. I was wondering how I should answer the call to preach. He said, “As long as you stick to the Word of God you can’t go wrong.”

“Stick to the Word of God.” That struck a chord with me and has been a guide to me since that conversation with him in 1990.

I was saddened, therefore, when I recently read that it was suggested that the Sunday Sermon be relegated to a short devotional or addendum to the music or some sort of drama presentation. Or, that it be done away in favor of some form of entertainment!  God’s word should never be excluded (or watered down) from worship! It must be essential, and central, to the worship. Genuine, reading, and commentary of God’s Word is what confronts the listeners with nothing less than the living and active Word! Such confrontation shapes and guides individuals as The Holy Spirit opens eyes and applies the Word of God to human hearts.

Thus, like the Apostle, Paul wrote to Timothy, and as my father warned me,

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2,3,4)

God’s Presence and Our Daily Struggle with Sin

By Tim Exelby

Why does there seem to be a contradiction between our “faith” and our “actions?”

To give an example of what we’re talking about is our struggle with pornography, anger, resentment, etc. We know the draw to such things and it’s usually after we’ve given in to such temptations and are left to ourselves afterward that we start with the thing that we just gave into. The conviction is a good thing and it is definitely a sign that God is still moving and working on our behalf for forgiveness and healing. But the danger comes when we start to doubt our faith. We think to ourselves, “if I really believed in God then why did I do what I just did?” “If I knew that God was really at all places at all times then how could I have done what I just did?”

These are good questions that should be asked but we need to be careful as to where we go to find the answers to such questions. As Christians, we all know that we should be taking these questions to the Holy Spirit and seeking answers in God’s Word.

My own experience with this very contradiction of faith and sin:  

As a police officer, I was required to carry a microphone on me at all times while on duty. There was also a camera mounted inside my patrol car which turned on every time my lights were activated. I also had the option of turning the camera/microphone on or off from my vest.

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The Thief on the Cross, entered Heaven with Jesus

How does the thief on the cross, fit into your theology?

As Christians, we all have our idea of how we should worship God, what we need to do to secure a place for ourselves in heaven, and what we need to do to be saved. Some of us worship very simply, while others worship very ritualistically. 

But what about the thief on the cross?  He wasn’t baptized. He never took communion. He was never confirmed. There was no speaking in tongues, no special prayers, no volunteering, and no special church clothes. He didn’t say the sinners’ prayer. He couldn’t kneel to pray. Jesus didn’t take his pain or heal his body. He was just a naked dying man on a cross that couldn’t even fold his hands to pray, yet he entered heaven along with Jesus, simply by believing. The only thing he had to offer was his belief in Jesus, that He was who He said He was, as the Scriptures show us:

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

There is nothing that we have to do before coming to Christ! There is absolutely nothing we can do to pre-qualify ourselves for Christianity. The one and only thing required of us is to believe. Many times we try to make Christianity more complicated for ourselves and others than we should. It is really very simple. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for our sins, that He rose again and is alive today; then seek His forgiveness. That is all that is required. Do that and you will be a child of God and you will secure your place in heaven. 

All God wants is for us to love Him as He loves us.

Are you Passionate or Lukewarm?

By Pastor Neil Kenyon, Salem, IN.

It seems that many are passionate about many things, except for Christ! One can have a passion for movies or actors – but not for Christ. It is okay to have a passion for certain styles of clothing,  but not for Christ.  A visible passion for certain foods or restaurants or hobbies or sports teams or individuals is okay – but not so for Christ, who often is obscured, even hidden, in one’s life.  It is okay to support a cause such as gun rights and the second amendment, or animal rights, that’s fine….. but when it comes to Christ,  passion, for many, seems to have become lukewarm!

In His revelation to John, as recorded in Revelation 3,  Jesus described the church at Laodicea as being lukewarm. They had lost their passion. Their drive and dedication for Him had become stale and dry! They were serving the Lord half-hearted without gusto or dedication. It is clear that they were going through the motions but they had lost their desire – their passion!   Jesus compared their relationship with Him to the temperature of something to be consumed:  A drink, or food,  that is to be served hot is not good if it is not hot, and that which is to be served cold is not good if it is not served cold – therefore, it is spewed out of one’s mouth! It follows, then, that a Christian who has lost his passion for Christ – a lukewarm person, who is only going through the motions of being a Christian, has lost his usefulness to the cause of Christ!

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Rev. 3:14-16)

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire…… (Rev. 3:18)

Christ counseled the church at Laodicea to, “Buy me gold tried in the fire.” (Gold  tried in the fire is a reference to a process in the refining of gold that removes the impurities.)

Behold, He knocketh!  If, for some reason, your relationship with Christ has become stale, or dry – even lukewarm,  may you have ears to hear that the first and the last – the alpha and omega – the one standing at the door, counsels you to invite Christ to enter in and remove the impurities and refine your passion for Him!

Usefulness to God

By Pastor Derl Keefer, Three Rivers, MI.

Here is a thought I had about being useful to God.

Usefulness to God is an important element in the life of a Christian. Usefulness binds us together as brothers and sisters of faith, improves our own character, and makes an impact on society.

Need a Bible verse to chew on? Here is one from Paul writing to Timothy: “Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guest for their blessing” (II Timothy 2:20-21 MSG).

Hold onto your seats as we jet through some ways to be used by God!

1. Love Your enemies. Generosity will surprise them

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It Only Takes a Little bit of Faith

We will never behold the glory of Christ by sight in the next world if we have not in some measure beheld it by faith here in this world.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews lists many examples of men that had great faith and the things they accomplished.

Yet, it is not the quantity of faith that saves us. A little faith is just as real faith as the person with the greatest faith. A drop of water is just as real water as the whole ocean. A spark of fire is as real fire as a whole forest fire. A sickly man is just as real of a human being as a healthy man. So it is not the measure of your faith that saves you, but the blood of Christ. We all start out with little faith, but as we grow and see the hand of God in our lives and the lives of others, our faith increases astronomically. So if your faith is small, yet you seek Christ, He will not let you perish. The weakest hands may take the gift as well as the strongest. Christ is that gift, and a little faith is all it takes to begin a journey that will lead to a life of triumphant joy in our Lord.

Life is hard — Jesus is Easy

Everyone that has lived for any length of time on this earth, has endured hardship, troubles, and disappointment. Life is not always easy. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, Christian or non-christian, famous or unknown, sooner or later you will face difficult times in your life. 

The difference is, as a Christian, you can lean on Jesus during those hard times, To lean on someone, takes so little effort. Jesus wants us to lean on Him when we are weak. He can lighten the load. We may be weak, but He is strong. Let His strength work through us.

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

As a believer, you know that God is ultimately in control and wants only the best for us. He can work any situation into our ultimate good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

When we diligently contemplate the omnipotence of God, the glory of Christ, and the sacrifice that He made for us, plus all the things He has prepared for us in heaven that we will enjoy for all eternity, it puts our troubles and distresses here on earth in greater perspective when compared to our eternal home. Not to make light of our troubles here on earth, for they can be very overwhelming, but they all grow on the overvaluation of temporal things. All things in this life are transitory and perishing, affecting only the outward man or body, perhaps even to the killing of it. The best things here below have nothing that is truly substantial or abiding in them. For what are all the things of this life, the good, and evil of them, in comparison to our home in glory. With the help of Christ, we can overcome any pain, sickness, sorrow, fear, danger, and even death. Knowing that these are all outward, transitory, and passing away, fixing our minds on those things which are eternal and filled with incomprehensible glory.

To the believer, this world is the only hell they will ever know. To the unbeliever, this world is the only heaven they will ever know.