Gospel Adventist Ministries

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." ~ 1 Cor 2:2

Month: November 2014

The Simple Truth

keep-calm-and-keep-it-simple-62The simple truth of God’s word has a power all of its own to convince its listeners that it is divine revelation. The essentials of Christianity are easy to understand, and we must present them in a language that is crystal clear for those who are listening.

The simple truths, once understood, are the keys to understanding the more difficult teachings of scripture. But we must always stick to the basic teachings as the core element of our gospel presentation.

SALVATION is by GRACE through FAITH in CHRIST alone as taught in the HOLY SCRIPTURES of divine revelation.

~Stephen Beagles

What is your Divine calling?

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If you are a Christian then you have a spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit is giving you to minister to His church. This gift has been given to you to help spread the message of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ around the world.

You don’t have to wait to become a leader in your church to use your talents. Do what God has given you the desire to accomplish, and watch how God works through you to bless the world.

Many Christians make the mistake of thinking they have to minister in the exact same way as everyone else. But we all have different talents and gifts that God is calling us to use for His glory. A carpenter cannot build a house with just a hammer. He also needs a saw, a screw driver, a level, a measuring tape, and other types of tools to accomplish specific tasks.

How is God using you to build His kingdom?

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly” (Romans 12:6). Use your gifts to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus. God has not only called you into service for Him, but He has equipped you with the gifts that you need to accomplish His will. Use your spiritual gifts!

~Stephen Beagles

Beware: Legalism and Relativism

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There are two major obstacles to genuine spirit-filled walk with Jesus Christ. The two theological terms that describe these obstacles are legalism and relativism. These are big words that describe the two ends of a spectrum. Legalism is putting conditions on salvation other than simple faith in Jesus. A legalist will tell you that salvation depends on obedience to the laws of God.

The opposite error of relativism is making the truth of the Bible a matter of personal opinion or interpretation. A Christian relativist will argue that God will save everyone regardless of their personal belief system as long as they live a life of love and tolerance towards their fellow man. Both legalism and relativism are dangerous deceptions that need to be avoided.

While both have an element of truth, in that God does expect us to be obedient to His laws and Christians should allow for debate on non-essential topics, both extremes pervert the gospel of Jesus that demands we trust in Christ alone for salvation.

Those who put conditions on salvation other than simple faith need to hear the following warning by the Apostle Paul: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4, NIV).

On the other hand, those who attempt to remove the condition to trust in the REAL Jesus, as opposed to a false Christ, need to listen to Jesus: “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out” (Luke 13:28).

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).

“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” (Mark 13:22-23).

The only condition for salvation is simple trust in the merits of Jesus Christ. The condition is that we trust in the REAL Jesus. Those who pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ by adding to or taking away from the truth of salvation will be excluded from the Kingdom of God.

If you are a Christian then it is likely that you have struggled with both legalism and relativism during your walk with Jesus. Continue the good fight of faith and do not allow the devil to rob you of the assurance of salvation. But if you have never given your heart to Christ then please understand the importance of making a decision to trust in the REAL Jesus for salvation. He is the Son of God who died for your sins on the cross. Give your heart and life to Him.

~Stephen Beagles

The Law and Gospel

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“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16, NIV

As I was growing up, I grew accustomed to Christians who focused primarily on the law of God and seemed to ignore the gospel. Now it is popular in many circles to focus only on the gospel and ignore the law. I think both views are fundamentally flawed in many ways, because the Holy Bible teaches both the law and the gospel.

It is dangerous to focus only on one aspect of the Bible while ignoring the rest of the scriptures. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul was instructing Timothy about the need to put the whole Bible in context and to understand it as the entire will of God. God’s word is consistent and does not contradict itself in any way. Every part of the inspired word of God is profitable and has something to teach us about the plan of salvation.

The positive aspects of God’s word are for teaching and training, while the negative aspects are important for rebuking and correcting. In a sense, only those who understand the bad news about God’s hatred for sin are able to appreciate the good news about God’s love for the sinner. While the death of Christ releases us from the condemnation of the law, the Bible teaches us that we still uphold the law as a standard of holy living. We are called to live a life of obedience to the law of love.

The good news is that we are not saved by our obedience to the law, but by simple faith in Christ. This is the assurance of our salvation. But we are rewarded in heaven according to our works here on earth. There is a blessing attached to each of God’s commandments that is attained by obedience to His will. This is a mature view of Christianity. Both law AND gospel are essential to understanding the holy will of God.

~Stephen Beagles

Redemption is Drawing Near

kjhkjhlkjlhkj;kThe world is changing around us and the way our parents did things will no longer work in today’s economic and political landscape. The corporations that used to be the economic engine of the United States have abandoned their core principles leaving many people unemployed. Wages are down and costs are high. This is not an accident, but it is a sign that the prosperous nation of yesterday is being replaced by a power structure that is designed to control everyone economically and politically.

But this is not a surprise and is a sign that Jesus is soon to return. God will take care of his own people while the rest of the world will be shaken to its foundations. Rebellion against God will not stand, and soon Jesus will arrive and put an end to life as we know it on this planet.

Our Christian hope is not in man, or in money, but in our Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to His words: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

The Life Application Study Bible has the following words to encourage us during these times of trial and tribulation:

“The picture of the coming persecutions and natural disasters is gloomy, but ultimately it is a cause not for worry but for great joy. When believers see these events happening, they will know that the return of their Messiah is near, and they can look forward to his reign of justice and peace. Rather than being terrified by what is happening in our world, we should confidently await Christ’s return to bring justice and restoration to his people.”

Christians will have to work outside of their comfort zones in the near future, but we have the promise that our Lord will provide for our needs. We will be given the strength and courage to face hard times with the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit.

If you are not a Christian, then it is time to wake up. Time is running out, and the time of decision making will end in the near future. Don’t be caught on the wrong side of God’s kingdom. Give your heart to Jesus and enjoy the peace and security that He offers. Know that your eternal life is secure in the palms of His hands.

~Stephen Beagles

The Resurrection of the Righteous

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In my last post, I wrote about how the Bible teaches only God is immortal. But this has brought up the question about where people go when they die. Do people go straight to heaven or hell when they die, or do they wait until they are resurrected at the second coming?

The experts have been confused on this teaching for thousands of years. It seems that everyone has their own theory about what happens immediately after a person dies. But the only thing that matters is what the Bible says on the topic.

Let’s take a look at Scripture:

1 Thessalonians 4:16, NIV — “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

This scene is describing the second coming. Notice the sequence of events (1) God comes down from heaven with a loud command, (2) The voice of an archangel is heard along with a trumpet call, (3) The dead in Christ will be resurrected. This means that the dead in Christ are still awaiting a final resurrection at the second coming.

Those who still insist that people go straight to heaven when they die will claim that the righteous are taken to heaven directly without their physical bodies, and that they will be united with their bodies at the second coming of Jesus. But there is not enough evidence in scripture to support that view. The most logical explanation is that they cease to exist until they are resurrected. This is why death is equated to sleeping in the New Testament Scriptures.

(see 1 Thessalonians 4:13)

When a person dies they cease to have any awareness of time in much the same way as a person is not aware of the passage of time when they are sleeping. One thousand years might pass on earth, but when a person is resurrected the passage of time would seem like the blinking of an eye. This interpretation also corresponds to the old testament view of death: “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing;” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, NIV).

Now there is scriptural evidence that certain people have gone to heaven already like Enoch and Elijah who never experienced physical death. The Bible also says that Moses was resurrected shortly after his death. There may be a select few that are in heaven now, both body and soul, but the scripture is clear that most of the dead in Christ are asleep in the graves awaiting the second coming.

~Stephen Beagles

Only God is Immortal

images“God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” ~1 Timothy 6:15-16, NIV

One of the reasons that Christians believe that God tortures people in a place called Hell for eternity is that they believe in the immortality of the human soul. In this view, a person must choose between eternal bliss in heaven or eternal torment in a fiery pit of hell, because it is impossible to destroy a human soul. But this concept is a pagan Greek philosophy that crept into Christianity primarily due to the influence of Plato and Socrates.

This idea of the immortality of the soul was not taught by Jesus or any of the Apostles and is a direct contradiction of the word of God that clearly says ONLY GOD IS IMMORTAL (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

Since only God is immortal then He holds the power of life and death over all of His creation. If God says through His prophet Ezekiel “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” then it means that God will destroy the human soul that lives in rebellion against Him (Ezekial 18:20, KJV).

Of course this is a “hot topic” within Christianity, as the doctrine of an eternal hell has been the popular view for over 1500 years. But this is largely due to tradition and a misunderstanding of the difference between eternal punishing and eternal punishment. It is a tradition that is not biblical.

The point of this message is not to go into a full study on eternal torment, but to simply point out that the underlying premise of the immortality of the human soul is not taught anywhere in the word of God. God creates life and God can destroy life.

Only God is Immortal.

~Stephen Beagles

God is our Primary Instructor

a65f4e6ejw1dyfd1r4nqrj“Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,” ~ Psalm 94:12, ESV

Over the past 40 years of my life, I have had some wonderful Bible teachers. I have sat at the feet of countless pastors and evangelists who poured their knowledge into me and taught me the scriptures. I even had the benefit of living at Christian boarding schools where they taught me to be a leader in the church.

While I appreciate everything I learned from my human teachers–the best and worst of them–I admit that I would not be a Christian if it wasn’t for God Himself.

There was a point in my life where I was tired of trying to make sense of all of the different theological perspectives that were competing for my attention. In desperation, I got on my knees one day in my bedroom when I was about 15 years old and prayed that God would teach me His word.

God  began answering my prayer that day as Bible verses started coming to mind one after another. They came so fast that I struggled to write them all down. Those Bible verses revealed that Christianity was not primarily about rules, but about having a loving relationship with God and our fellow man. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Verse after verse flooded my mind until I was convinced that God loved me and my only proper response was to love and trust Him with my eternal destiny.

Here are a few of the verses of Scripture that God brought to my attention that day: Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:34-40, John 13:34-35, John 15:17. Romans 13:8. Romans 13:10, Galatians 5:14, Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13:13, James 2:8, 1 John 3:14, 1 John 4:19, 1 John 4:21, 1 John 4:7-8, 2 John 1:5

I am positive that the Holy Spirit was hovering over me that fateful day, bringing all of the little bits and pieces of teaching I had learned over the years into a cohesive whole. All of the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place on their own. God was teaching me.

The lesson that started that day has never stopped. Everyday I learn something new, and I gain a deeper love and appreciation for what God has taught me out of His holy word. But I don’t get the credit for being educated in the things of God. The credit belongs to God who is my teacher. He has instructed me about His law.

In Psalms 94:12 we learn that God teaches those who are willing to listen to His voice. He has a special blessing in store for those who seek His will in all things. He is more than happy to grant us knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. In that verse we see the word “Law” which means instruction. This includes the whole of Scripture and not only the laws of Moses or Ten Commandments.

It is wonderful to have human instructors who can help us on our path towards spiritual maturity, but they can only take us to a certain point. The only one who can make sense of God’s word is God himself. The same Spirit who inspired the prophets is the same spirit who helps us to interpret His message to us.

Lord God, please give us a deeper understanding of your Holy will.

~Stephen Beagles

The Golden Chain of Salvation

justified-and-sanctified11There are many in the Christian churches who do not have a clear grasp of salvation in Jesus Christ. No one has taught them that salvation involves a past, present, and future reality. The Bible teaches that we have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. This is what I call the golden chain of salvation: Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.

We can simplify these theological terms by saying that we are forgiven, cleansed, and perfected. Each phase of salvation is rooted in us accepting the free gift of righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ.

First, justification is a legal declaration of righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. In essence, this is our ticket to heaven. The cleansing and perfection by the power of the holy spirit depend on us being forgiven for our sins. No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again, and no one can be born again without the assurance of salvation.

Furthermore, sanctification is the internal righteousness of cleansing from the power of sin that is granted to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit. But the problem is that our human natures constantly get in the way of a perfect obedience to the laws of God. Even at our best performance, we are still light years away from the perfection that the law demands. However, the Holy Spirit continues to work in us to clean us up and gives us the power to overcome deliberate and habitual sins in our daily walk with Him.

Finally, glorification is the final state of sinless perfection that will be granted to Christians at the second coming of Jesus. God cannot allow sin in Heaven. He grants us the final perfection of our bodies, minds, and spirits. We will be reborn with a sinless human nature the way Adam and Eve were perfect in the Garden of Eden.

We have been saved because we have been completely forgiven for all sin the moment we put our trust in Jesus Christ. This part of salvation is full and complete. It is a free gift for all who put their faith in Jesus. This allows us to have peace with God and enjoy the assurance of salvation. It is essential to understand that all who are saved must have faith that they can never be lost while trusting in the merits of Jesus Christ.

We are being saved because the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. He works to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. While we are not saved by obedience to the law, our motivation for obedience is love and gratitude for having been forgiven for sin. The law that once condemned us is now our guide to receive the full blessing and maturity of loving obedience.

We will be saved because we are still confined to sinful bodies and struggle daily with our sinful natures. One day God will grant us all the sinless natures that will allow us to stand before God in our own sinless perfection. Until then, we must be covered by the righteousness of Jesus.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” ~ Romans 8:29-32, ESV

~Stephen Beagles

My Philosophy of Ministry

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As a body without blood is a lifeless corpse, a message without the blood of Christ at the center is doomed to fail. While intellect may be aroused with the logic of the scriptures, and emotions stirred by the holy love of God for sinful humanity, it is the preaching of the cross of Christ that will draw a lost soul to the savior. Those who are weighed down with the suffering and sin of this world will find rest for their hearts in the fact that Christ died for the ungodly. He offers the assurance of salvation to all who place their trust in Him.

~Stephen Beagles

The Fact of Salvation

fact-or-myth-newThere are many popular theories floating around in the 21st century scientific community, and even a few more in modern theological seminaries. But I am here to tell you that Christians do not believe in a “Theory of Salvation”. There is nothing theoretical about Christ’s teaching on the gospel. If the Bible is the inspired word of God then what Christ said about eternal life is a fact.

Basic Christianity is simple and straight forward. I don’t know of anyway to confuse the following statement by Jesus Christ: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, KJV). Jesus made it clear that what He taught was non-negotiable, and not a single person would make it into heaven except through Him.

Jesus is not one of many ways to salvation. He is the only way to enter into the presence of God. He is the only way to get forgiveness of sins. His truth is the only truth that matters for our salvation.

It is true that we are not saved by knowledge; we are saved by knowing Christ. Yet, we must know the real Jesus. The most frightening warning that Jesus gave was about false Christs and false prophets who would deceive many. The false Christians thought they knew the truth about Jesus–and called Him Lord–but Jesus said that He never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23). The signs and wonders were a false evidence of their Christianity. They trusted in what they did instead of relying on what Christ had done for them; they were self-centered instead of Christ centered.

Don’t be fooled by those who claim that the teachings of Christ are simply a matter of personal interpretation. It matters what we believe concerning Jesus and the plan of salvation. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 5:24).

Genuine faith is not hoping or wishing something to be true, but it is trusting that God’s word is the truth. If you still have doubts about your salvation then it is time to accept the free gift of salvation paid for by the blood of Christ. His resurrection from the dead is all the proof you need to trust in the way, the truth, and the life.

~Stephen Beagles

The Sabbath Day

remembersabbathHere is a scripture for my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe the Sabbath was created only for the Jewish people. In these verses, Jesus said the Sabbath was created for ALL people:

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28

Jesus clearly states that the Sabbath day was created for man (not only for the Jews) and that He is Lord of the Sabbath. Of course, all Christians keep the spiritual Sabbath by default as the gospel teaches us to rest from our works and to glory in the work of God on our behalf. Jesus offers salvation as a gift as we rest in His work on the cross. But there is still a command to reserve this day for physical rest and worship, and there is a blessing that comes only when this is observed.

No one is going to be saved or lost based on their observance to this commandment, but this will be one way to see through the end time deceptions that will be ushered in by the anti-Christ.

The REAL Jesus is Lord of the SABBATH!

~Stephen Beagles

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