Gospel Adventist Ministries

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

Tag: Stephen Beagles (Page 1 of 3)

REASONS TO BELIEVE IN SABBATH KEEPING

1. The Sabbath was instituted at Creation:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).

2. The Sabbath was given to Hebrews prior to Mount Sinai:

“How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:28-30).

3. The Sabbath is part of the 10 Commandments:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).

4. Jesus worshipped on the Sabbath Day:

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16).

5. Jesus declared Himself Lord of the Sabbath day:

“For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8).

6. Jesus taught the Sabbath was created for all people:

“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

7. Jesus warned about coming destruction of Jerusalem and taught that Christians in Israel should pray that the future destruction not come on the Sabbath:

“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:” (Matthew 24:20).

8. The disciples waited until after the Sabbath was over before finishing the burial process of Jesus Christ:

“And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them” (Luke 23:54 – 24:1).

9. The Apostle Paul continued to worship and teach on the Sabbath:

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2).

10. The Moral Law–including the Sabbath–is still binding on man:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

11. Sabbath Keeping will be part of worship in the New Earth:

“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, And from one sabbath to another, Shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD (Isaiah 66:23)

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12. The Sabbath is the gospel of Jesus that teaches us to rest in the completed work of Salvation:

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10, ESV).

Stephen Beagles

Doctrinal Unity within the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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Over the past few days I have been meditating on what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist. It is obvious to say that being a member of the church means one is willing to support the official teachings of the church as documented in the Statement of Beliefs.

However, while the church pushes for doctrinal unity, it is important to note that unity is not uniformity. The church still allows for diversity of thought and disagreement. One group wants to emphasize the holiness and justice of God, while another group wants to emphasize God’s love and forgiveness. The problem we face is that liberty can lead to license for some groups who disregard the official church doctrine at any cost.

The real danger within the church is when doctrinal truth is stretched to extremes and fervor becomes fanaticism. Too much of a good thing is extremely bad. This is why I have always supported a balanced approach that seeks to avoid extremes.

“Do not be overly righteous,
Nor be overly wise:
Why should you destroy yourself?
Do not be overly wicked,
Nor be foolish:
Why should you die before your time?”
Ecclesiastes 7:16-17,NKJV

Should the church focus on God’s justice or His mercy? It would be a mistake to make this an either/or problem. The truth is we need to emphasis both in a way that fully explains the character of God.

This balance is found at the cross where God satisfied the justice of the law by pouring out his punishment for sin on Jesus. God did this so He can have mercy on us sinful and fallible human beings. If God could have changed His law then there would be no need for the cross, but if God was not loving then He would have destroyed us all at the beginning.

We do not worship only a God of holiness, or only a God of love, but we worship a God of Holy Love. This should be our balance and our emphasis when it comes to expressing the character of God.

Paul understood this balance when he declared, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23, NKJV).

When it comes to doctrinal unity, I think the quote by C.S. Lewis explains the correct approach to various doctrinal theories:

“The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work” (Mere Christianity, Book 2).

When it comes to diversity of thought within the Adventist church there are many theories about inspiration, prophecy, and the atonement. While we might not all agree on the details, we should all agree that we are talking about divine mysteries that are rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We should be able to focus on the main and the plain teachings of scripture, and while we may not be able to explain them fully, we can know that they are divine truth.

At the same time, we cannot allow spiritual liberty to decay into spiritual anarchy. If a member of the SDA church cannot agree (at least in principle) with the official teachings of the denomination, then they should not be calling themselves Seventh-day Adventist.

If the church is serious about doctrinal Unity then we need to focus our teaching around the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is our focus and it is His spirit that brings us into oneness with Him.

Stephen Beagles

Gospel Adventism and The Eternal Law of God

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As a Gospel Adventist, I believe that the Ten Commandments are the eternal law of God. This is the law by which all human beings are judged. This is the law that condemns us all. The law has never changed, and God still requires obedience to ALL His commandments. What has changed is that we have all been forgiven for our sins under the law, and we now live under the banner of Christ our Righteousness.

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17, ESV).

Ellen White changed her focus in 1888 after realizing that the Adventist church had simply taken the grace of God for granted. She then spent the rest of her life trying to fix this mistake, and it cost her many friends in the process.

Yesterday morning I arose with an agony upon my soul, and I could only say, “Lord, thou knowest all about it. My heart is burdened, and thou knowest that I cannot bear this load. I must have more help than I yet have had. Thou knowest that when I see men taking positions contrary to thy word, I am crushed under the load, and I can do nothing without thy help.” It seemed that as I prayed a wave of light fell about me, and a voice said, “I will be with thee to strengthen thee.” Since then I have been resting in Jesus. I can hide in him. I am not going to carry this load any longer. I shall lay it down at the feet of my Redeemer. Brethren, shall we not all of us leave our loads there? and when we leave this meeting, may it be with the truth burning in our souls like fire shut up in our bones. You will meet with those who will say, “You are too much excited over this matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.” As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth. Our eyes must be anointed with eye-salve. We must draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to us, if we come in his own appointed way. O that you may go forth as the disciples did after the day of Pentecost, and then your testimony will have a living ring, and souls will be converted to God.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has struggled over the years to harmonize the law and gospel teachings, and as a result many different groups have sprung up who have misused and abused church doctrine to the point where they have done more harm than good. I thank God that I was exposed to many different teachings in my early years which caused me to examine things for myself.

I am certain of what the Bible teaches about the law and grace, and I am more than willing to stake my eternal destiny on what I have learned. I have been instructed by the Lord Jesus most of all, and I am humbled that He would be my personal guide. I am not perfect (by any stretch of the imagination) and I still have a long way to go. My eternal destiny is dependent on simply believing and trusting in the merits of Christ. I am blessed the more that Jesus changes my heart and mind, but I am painfully aware of my sin and imperfection. I take comfort in knowing that my life belongs to Christ and that He has no intention of letting me go–as long as I keep my trust in Him alone for salvation.

The law of God, the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20, tells us what God expects of all us. It also tells us that we are condemned because we all fall short of the holy standard. Jesus removes the condemnation of those who trust in the merits of his life and death. He then changes our hearts and minds, but we are never perfected before we see Christ coming in the clouds of heaven. Rewards are given to us in the New Jerusalem based on our willingness on earth to obey the commands of God, but our eternal destiny will always be based on the Blood of Christ that paid the ultimate purchase for our redemption. Our eternal motto will be “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”

Stephen Beagles

Reference
The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, Page 560

The Importance of Doctrine

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Is Doctrine Important to our Salvation?

God reveals truth to us through the scriptures. We ignore the essential teachings at our own risk. If bad theology is the result of an innocent error then God may overlook our ignorance. However, if we willfully reject the plain teaching of His word then we run the risk of grieving His spirit and may fall into spiritual darkness.

What are the essential doctrines necessary for genuine faith?

The main and the plain teachings regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ are essential to genuine faith. We must understand that God exists as the one and only true God who created the heavens and the earth, and that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who died for our sins and was resurrected for our eternal life. Once we understand Jesus is the only way to eternal life and salvation is offered as a free gift for all who trust in the merits of Christ then we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 1:13 (ESV):

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”

Jesus gave the clearest statement of the essentials of  faith in John 3:16-18:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

The essence of the truth is that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins and eternal life is granted to all who have simple faith in Him for salvation. Anything that distracts us from the clarity and simplicity of this truth is rooted in demonic deception and is designed to pull us away from genuine faith in the plain teachings of scripture.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, affirmed the necessity of believing the essential truths of the gospel of Jesus:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

One of the earliest Christian creeds gave us an indication of the essential truths passed down from the Apostles:

Πιστεύω εἰς θεòν πατέρα παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς.
Καὶ εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστòν, υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τòν μονογενῆ, τòν κύριον ἡμῶν,
τòν συλληφθέντα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου, γεννηθέντα ἐκ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου,
παθόντα ὑπὸ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, σταυρωθέντα, θανόντα, καὶ ταφέντα,
κατελθόντα εἰς τὰ κατώτατα, τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστάντα ἀπò τῶν νεκρῶν,
ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, καθεζόμενον ἐν δεξιᾷ θεοῦ πατρὸς παντοδυνάμου,
ἐκεῖθεν ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς.
Πιστεύω εἰς τò πνεῦμα τò ἅγιον, ἁγίαν καθολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν, ἁγίων κοινωνίαν,
ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, σαρκὸς ἀνάστασιν, ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
Αμήν.

The English Translation reads:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
Amen.

The Apostle’s Creed serves only as an outline of the essential truths of the Bible and a mature Christian will ultimately come to know the fine details of these basic doctrines the longer they study the word of God. It is also true that knowledge does not save us any more than our obedience to the law of God enables us to earn salvation, but these truths serve as a safeguard against demonic deception designed to pervert the truth and destroy our faith in the genuine Christ of the scriptures.

Why is it important to believe the essentials teachings of Scripture?

Jesus warned against falling into spiritual deception:

“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:5, ESV).

Paul predicted the state of the world in end times regarding deception:

” Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

The Apostle John counselled early believers:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

The Apostle Peter warned:

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).

Jude wrote:

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

These verses of scripture reveal the importance of knowing the essential truths of scripture as a means of safeguarding us against spiritual deception. While some claim that God knows each individual heart and it does not matter how we interpret the scriptures as long as we are sincere, we are warned against believing false interpretations of scripture:

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:15-18, KJV).

The main and the plain teachings of the Bible are the essential doctrines that ALL must know and understand to avoid falling prey to false Christs, false prophets, and doctrines of demons. The knowledge of the truth allows us to place our faith and trust in the genuine Christ of scriptures who died for our sins and offers eternal life to all who place their trust in Him.

Here is an acronym that may help you remember the essential teachings of scripture (STARS):

Scripture: The Bible is the Word of God
Trinity: God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Atonement: Jesus died for our Sins
Righteousness: A believer is declared righteous by faith in Christ alone.
Salvation: Jesus grants eternal life in paradise to all who place simple faith in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection.

Stephen Beagles

Truth: The Main and the Plain

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People tell me over and over again that my beliefs about the Bible are simply a matter of personal interpretation. But that statement assumes truth cannot be known as objective fact. No one agrees 100 percent of the time, yet there are some basic undeniable facts. For example, if a person jumps off an airplane at an altitude of 13,000 ft without a parachute then that person will succumb to the laws of gravity.

I understand why people are skeptical of anyone claiming to have objective truth. Everyone has their own opinion and few will ever admit to being wrong. Logic states if you put 100 master theologians in a room and they all disagree on a certain point of doctrine then only one of them can be right. The odds are all of them are wrong. Still, it is possible for one to have the truth. It pays to be skeptical in most cases, but there is danger in being overly skeptical when we assume it is not possible for anyone to know the truth about anything.

If truth does not exist then how do scientists establish scientific fact? How can a jury find anyone guilty of committing a crime?

When it comes to understanding the Bible, many people are convinced it takes years of seminary training to interpret scripture. It seems we give people with a doctoral degree in theology more credibility than the average lay person. However, the important truths of holy scripture are easy to comprehend.

The following verse about Jesus is crystal clear:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).

I know some philosophers will torture logic to make that verse say the exact opposite of what the author intended, but a majority of rational people with no ax to grind will be able to understand the plain meaning of the text–Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life.

Not every text of scripture is easy to understand, but a major principle of biblical interpretation is to interpret the difficult passages in the light of the easy ones. The clear teachings of scripture can never be contradicted. If we allow ourselves to disregard the main and plain teachings when interpreting difficult Bible texts then we are only encouraging a form of spiritual anarchy.

Join me in fulfilling our responsibility to spread the truth of God’s word.

Stephen Beagles

Is Religion Merely a Cultural Bias Based on Tradition?

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Popular athiests have recently published books about the pros of atheism and the cons of Christianity. One reason they promote for rejecting the existence of God is they believe all religion is merely a cultural bias based on tradition.

One of the atheist’s favorite expression is “Christians are only Christians because they live in a culture that favors Christianity. If the same people were born in a Hindu culture then they would be Hindus instead of Christian.” There are a couple of problems with that type of reasoning.

First, it is stating the obvious that people who are born in Christian homes are going to be raised with Christian values. Furthermore, being born into a Christian home does not say anything about the truth claims of the Bible.

Second, it does not follow that being born into a Christian home will ensure a person becomes a Christian. Many children born in Christian homes decided not to remain Christian. Studies have revealed 70-75 percent of Christian young people leave the church after high school. Those who stay in church have had many opportunities to question beliefs and choose to remain true to the faith despite the unpopularity of their stand for Christ.

Rejecting the God of the Bible over claims of cultural bias is not logical or rational. Only a small percentage of people are Christian because that is the way they were raised. A majority of people who become Christians are convinced that the Bible is the word of God and that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

Is knowledge Essential to Salvation?

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I almost do not want to write about this subject. Many times, I have come close to giving up on any attempt to communicate this message. I am not even sure that I completely understand all of the implications that arise because of my conclusions. However, it is an important message to understand in the 21st century of post-modern relativism and mass communications where conflicting opinions bombard us from every direction.

Recently, I engaged in many debates on social media regarding the fine complexities of biblical doctrine. It is interesting to see how many people arrive at different ideas about the Christian faith. It can also be confusing. But the first major fallacy that is easy to overcome is the “ALL or Nothing” paradigm where if a person does not agree with everything someone else teaches regarding the Bible then they are servants of the devil. Even the apostle Paul, who had his own disagreements with some in the church of Jerusalem, allowed many to follow their conscience over some theological issues of the day such as whether or not to observe Jewish festivals.

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 4:15, KJV).

Paul taught there was room for disagreement on some points of doctrine as long as personal opinions did not directly conflict with the message of Christ. On the other hand, Paul was adamant that all Christians believed some essential facts regarding the person and work of Jesus.

For example, Paul proclaimed to the Galatians:

“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).

This statement reveals that a prerequisite for salvation is to give up attempting to be justified by the law of God, which means not placing conditions on salvation other than simple faith in Jesus Christ. Those who bought into a false gospel had been alienated from Christ and had fallen outside the grace of God.

These scriptures force me to conclude there are two groups of Bible doctrine. The first group are the essential doctrines of Christianity requiring an understanding of basic facts regarding Jesus and the plan of salvation. The second group contains the secondary and supporting doctrines needed for a full understanding of the Christian life, but are not necessary for faith in Jesus.

A basic understanding of the essential doctrines of Christianity is necessary for genuine faith in the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ.

FALSE PROFESSION AND SPRITUAL DECEPTION

Some Christians believe that all who profess Christ are granted eternal life. What is required for salvation is a simple profession of faith in Jesus, but this is not the truth. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned about professing Christians who would be lost in the end-times:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23, KJV).

Jesus taught a mere profession of faith in Him is not enough to bring a person to salvation. More is required than simply addressing Jesus as Lord even if professed Christians are able to perform miraculous works in His name.

Jesus also warned about mass deception that would lead many astray:

“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5, KJV).

FALSE RELIGION AND FALSE GOSPEL

Jesus repeated this sentiment later on during His ministry when He taught about the goats who professed Christianity:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25: 32-46, NIV)

Jesus gave us a hint of the major reason for their disqualifications as Christians. They saw themselves as God’s people, but they isolated themselves from the “least of these” and closed themselves off from those they saw as being unfit for the kingdom. They thought they were doing the right things, by doing good works, but their motivation was to bring glory to themselves instead of reaching out to the sinful and the ungodly. They saw themselves as good people and above the sinfulness of the world, but instead they are accounted by Christ as the worst of the cursed.

Jesus also rebuked the religious leaders of Israel and gave us another clue to the reason behind mass spiritual blindness:

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29, NIV).

These warnings of Jesus teach us the importance of knowing the Holy Scriptures as it pertains to the power of God to avoid spiritual deception. The power of God is nothing other than the cross of Christ to save all who trust His saving grace.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV)

Jesus warned the people of Israel about spiritual deception and gave them enough information about what to avoid so that they would not fall prey to false Christs. However, His primary motivation for these warnings was to help them to understand truth about Himself:

“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am” (John 13:19, NIV).

Is the Universe Eternal?

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There are two ways of looking at the universe. One way is to claim that energy is eternal. If this is the case, then an intelligent designer is not a necessary cause for human existence.

Another way of looking at the natural world is that an intelligent creator is the source of all energy, and this higher power programmed the laws of nature.
The first law of thermodynamics seems to support the eternal nature of energy by stating that energy cannot be created or destroyed. However, the first law is not based on observation but is an assumption open to interpretation by experts who arrive at different conclusions when presented with the observable facts within the natural world (Geisler & Howe, 1992).

The second law of thermodynamics, on the other hand, supports the conclusion that the universe had a definite beginning. This law states that the amount of usable energy in the universe is decreasing over time. If the universe was eternal, and did not have a beginning, then the amount of usable energy would have been depleted long ago.

Is the universe eternal? No, the universe had a definite beginning according to scientific theory. If the universe had a beginning then it must have had a definite cause. Logically, it makes more sense to believe in an intelligent designer who created the natural world than to assume that the universe created itself by chance.

Stephen Beagles

The Mark of the Beast

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I had breakfast with George Vandeman, the famed Adventist evangelist from the It is Written television broadcast, and we talked about the Book of Revelation and the Mark of the Beast while we ate our morning pancakes at a Northern New England Camp Meeting many years ago.

We both agreed that the Mark of the Beast was symbolic and was given to people in the end-times, after the close of probation, who perverted the genuine gospel of Jesus with a gospel of works involving a forced conversion to Christianity and the worship of a false Christ. Furthermore, the Sabbath is a symbol of the free gift of salvation through resting in the completed works of Christ, and a reminder that we cannot work our way into the heavenly kingdom.

Forcing someone to worship God, or submitting to the worship of a false Christ, is a spiritual death sentence for those alive at the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Sabbath is a reminder of the gospel of Jesus.

This is the REAL meaning behind the Sabbath and the Mark of the Beast in the end times. It will be clear to all genuine Christians living in that time period that God does not force anyone to worship. Obedience that is not motivated by love for the free gift of salvation purchased by the blood of Christ is worthless, evil, and idolatrous.

Stephen Beagles

How to Pray to God

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PAUSE. Reflect on what it means to be in the presence of ultimate power, wisdom, and source of life.

PRAISE. Begin by thanking God for all of the blessings He has already bestowed. There is always something for which we can be grateful.

POUR. Tell God what is on your mind and don’t hold back. Give Him the good, bad, and ugly about what is on your heart. Pour out your heart to God who loves and cares about you.

PETITION. Tell God what you want and need for yourself, your family, and friends. He answers 100% of our prayers with a yes, no, or wait for the right time. Nothing is too hard for God.

PROCLAIM. Renew your willingness to be a channel of God’s love to the world. Proclaim your intentions to use your spiritual gifts to build up the kingdom of God. Proclaim your desire to do your part to promote the truth of God’s word. Commit yourself to follow God’s direction wherever it leads.

PREPARE. God has heard your prayer. Prepare to receive the answers that He alone can give you. Remember, we may not always get what we asked, but know that God has promised to give us what is best.

Stephen Beagles

“Let us be united in Christ”

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Arthur White, grandson of Ellen G. White, related the following story about his grandmother’s influence at general conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church during the later years of her life. The SDA church had grown to 750,000 members worldwide, and a small group of general conference leaders were reluctant to restructure the church to allow a more decentralized approach to church ministry, evangelism, and world mission.

At the opening meeting of the general conference session, Ellen White moved up to the pulpit and gave the following statement:

“Every soul in every conference, in every part of the Lord’s Vinyard, has the privilege of knowing the truth. But truth is not truth to those who do not practice it. Truth is only truth to you when you live it in daily life, showing the world what those people must be who are at last saved.”

In this statement, Mrs White counselled church leaders to do more than proclaim the truth; they must also be obedient to the truth. To be the light of Christ to a dark world, our actions must be consistent with our beliefs. If we believe God is love and Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, then our lives must reflect trust in Christ and His righteousness. How often has the church honored the gospel with its lips while its heart is still mired in legalism and a focus on human performance?

Our actions must reflect our love for God and our trust in the merits of Christ.

Ellen White added, ” According to the light that been given me–and just how it is to be accomplished I cannot say–greater strength must be brought into the managing force of the conference…There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary.”

By this she meant the SDA church needed to rely on God and His wisdom. There was a need to decentralize church authority and rely on the power of God to bring people into church ministry and evangelism. If the Adventist Church was led by Christ, the church would not fail. General conference leaders needed to place more trust in Christ instead of maintaining a strangle-hold on church policy.

At the General Conference Session, after three weeks of church re-organization, Mrs White made these concluding remarks:

“Who do you suppose has been among us since this conference began?…Who has walked up and down the aisles of this tabernacle? The God of heaven and His Angels. We have been trying to organize the work on right lines. The Lord has sent His angels to minister unto us who are heirs of salvation, telling us how to carry the work forward…Press together, press together. Let us be united in Christ.”

Those words revealed Ellen White’s genuine attitude towards the Adventist movement. God was to be in charge. The King of the Universe would be actively involved in managing the church policy. Mrs. White then gave the key to maintaining organizational unity within the church.

She proclaimed, “Let us be united in Christ.”

Effective ministers of the gospel allow Christ to lead. God and His angels are available for guidance, wisdom, and courage to make difficult choices. Our ultimate success does not depend on human programs, human psychology, or human leadership programs. Ministers of Christ must be united in Christ and must acknowledge the supremacy of Christ in the daily life.

The more we are obedient to the Holy Spirit, the more effective will be our witness for Him as we proclaim the gospel to the world.

Listen to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the following while under divine inspiration: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).

Please Join me and unite under the banner of Christ and His Righteousness. Let our daily proclamation be, “Not I, but Christ!”

~Stephen Beagles

The Reality of God

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God is real. He is as real as the air we breathe and the water we drink. The creator of the universe is as real as the heavens and earth that we observe in the natural world. The divine king of creation is as real as the printed page of divine revelation that reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1. KJV).

God is not a philosophical idea or an educated hypothesis. God is ultimate reality. Christians who doubt the reality of God cannot possess genuine faith. Theists do not merely have faith in the existence of God; we accept the existence of the supernatural world as fact. Our belief in God is not based on probabilities or wagers, but in real history–God has revealed Himself to us in time and space.

The focus of our faith is not in the existence of God, but in the trustworthiness of His divine love. We have faith that Jesus is coming again to take the righteous to live with Him for eternity. We place our life in His hands for grace and peace. We trust His wisdom to guide us and to help us endure the tribulations of our current existence.

Ellen White, in the book Gospel Workers, stressed the importance of focusing on the reality of the truth about God: “The subjects which we present to the world must be to us a living reality” (2015, p. 299).

She also exemplifies this point by telling the following story:

“On a certain occasion, when Betterton, the celebrated actor, was dining with Dr. Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop said to him, ‘Pray, Mr. Betterton, tell me why it is that you actors affect your audiences so powerfully by speaking of things imaginary.’ ‘My lord,’ replied Betterton, ‘with due submission to Your Grace, permit me to say that the reason is plain; it all lies in the power of enthusiasm. We on the stage speak of things imaginary as if they were real; and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.'”– Counsels to Teachers, p. 255. (1913)

There is no room for doubting the existence of God in the 21st Century. Modern Christians need to spend more time contemplating the reality of God in an age where a constant barrage of fictional drama and philosophical speculation has become the cultural norm.

One day we will see Jesus face to face as we sit next to Him on His throne in the heavenly kingdom. Until then we wait, we dwell on the reality of God, and we pray that God continues to makes His presence known in a world where everything seems to be a matter of opinion.

The reality of God is not theory–God is a fact. Let us honor Him by acknowledging the reality of His presence in our daily lives.

~Stephen Beagles

The Significance of the Judgment

 

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In my last article, The Investigative Judgment, I stated that it pays to have an open mind concerning the actual meaning of the 2300 days prophecy. I can see the value of the 2300 days prophecy when it comes to predicting the first advent of Jesus Christ, but the significance of the year 1844 leaves many unanswered questions in my mind. But the main point of the article was to focus on the meaning of the judgment in relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The point of all scripture is to make us wise unto salvation.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-14, KJV).

Many Adventists believe that the sanctuary message, along with the day of atonement (judgment) represent the core message of Adventism. This is correct only if the doctrine is interpreted in the light of the free gift of salvation that is guaranteed to those who trust in the merits of our crucified savior–Jesus Christ. I also said that gospel Adventism takes nothing away from the traditional doctrines of Adventism, rather the gospel gives them life and meaning apart from the fear based focus on perfectionism.

The sanctuary message represents the entire plan of salvation including the day of judgment. To be certain, All of Christendom agrees that Christians face a future day of judgment:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, KJV).

The judgment is a central pillar of Christianity, because it establishes the necessity of the gospel. Either we will appear before God clothed in our naked and filthy human righteousness or we will appear before God clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of Christ covers our imperfections and is the only way for human beings to be declared perfect before a Holy God.

The doctrine of judgment points us directly to the need to be justified by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Without the judgment, there is no need for the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Genuine Christians look to the judgment with confidence that they already have the final verdict–“Righteous by Faith in the Blood of Jesus”.

Jesus said clearly: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5: 24, KJV).

~Stephen Beagles

The Investigative Judgment

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Do Gospel Adventists believe in the investigative judgement? Do we believe that God judges both the righteous and wicked prior to the second coming of Jesus to decide their place in eternity?

The answer to this question is yes. The problem has never been about whether there is an investigative judgement (IJ), but the real issue has been related to the nature of the IJ. The traditional view leans heavily on character perfection as a prerequisite to passing through the judgment into eternity, while gospel adventists believe that christians already have the final verdict in their possession as a result of the gift of salvation.

Genuine Christians have nothing to worry about as they wear the perfect robes of Christ’s righteousness. However, false christians who lean on their own self-righteousness will be wiped off the books.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36, NIV).”The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” (Revelation 3:5, NIV).

My own questions regarding the 2300 days prophecy that ended in 1844, is two fold: a). Could Christ have returned prior to 1844? b). When did Christ enter the Most Holy Place?

My understanding is that Christ could have come anytime after his ascension if the gospel had gone to the entire world. The problem with the traditional view that states Christ waited in the Holy Place until 1844 and then moved into the Most Holy Place to begin the judgment phase of His work is ruled out by the Bible that clearly states: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12, NIV).

The question has never been about the existence of a judgment, but the argument has been over the validity of the 2300 days prophecy. However, I remain open minded on this topic. If the 2300 days prophecy is true then it does nothing to rob me of my faith in the gospel. I already have the final verdict: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles

The Vision of 21st Century Gospel Adventism

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The Seventh-day Adventist church founded by James White, Ellen White, and Joseph Bates, started out as a progressive movement that resisted the biblical dogmatism of its day. The scholars in the church were consistently revising its biblical theology as new information was received through Bible study and prayer. It was with much reluctance that the Adventist church began to solidify its teachings into what have now become its 28 fundamental beliefs. Adventists desperately wanted to move away from the traditionalism of the past and accept only those beliefs and practices that could be proved from Holy Scripture.

Ellen White was regarded as an authoritative source of truth, although she never originated any doctrinal beliefs. Mrs. White only accepted those truths that were explained to her from the Scriptures. Once she had taken a position based on Bible teachings, she would receive a message from God that confirmed the doctrinal position. On occasion she would reject a teaching that God had shown her was in contradiction with the established truths of the Bible.

In 1888, Ellen White realized the need to shift the church’s focus away from teaching the distinctive doctrines of the denomination to a more Christ-centered approach. Every doctrine was to be taught only in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, a few within the denomination were worried about losing the distinctive doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and many saw the new approach to evangelism as a compromise instead of a correction. Unfortunately, many of those resistant to the new focus on righteousness by faith were established leaders within the denomination.

Since those early days, Adventists were split into two major camps of theology. The law Adventists believed genuine faith equated to keeping the 10 commandments, and “righteous by faith” Adventists promoted a righteousness from God apart from law keeping. Since the major split in 1888, the two camps within Adventism have been worshipping together in the same churches, and debating the proper way to define the gospel, for over 120 years. It is often hard to identify the division within the churches, because they all use the same doctrinal language. The problem is that those in the two camps define many theological terms much differently resulting in doctrinal tension and confusion.

Every few decades there seems to be a pendulum shift within the leadership of the church between those who focus on the law and character perfection and those who place the gift of salvation at the center of evangelism. Occasionally, the tension builds and mini theological explosions occur that result in many walking away from the general conference and joining independent Adventist groups. One of the most recent examples of this happened in glacier view in the 1980s when Desmond Ford began identifying serious problems with the traditional view of the investigative judgment.

The 1980s began a serious time of doctrinal soul searching as the scholars and administrators battled for the heart and soul of the organization. It was out of this tension that gospel Adventism began to take shape within the organization. Gospel Adventism is the synthesis between the teachings of traditional Adventism (thesis) and the doctrines of liberal Adventism (anti-thesis). While the seed was planted in the early 1980s, the movement is beginning to blossom in the 21st century.

Gospel Adventism is not a choice between traditional Adventism and a new theology. Gospel Adventism is both traditional and gospel centered. In fact, gospel Adventists understand the best way to explain traditional Adventist theology is in light of the cross of Christ and the gospel of Jesus. We see Jesus in all of the doctrines of the Bible—especially in the sanctuary and investigative judgment doctrines of the Adventist church.

Not one distinctive doctrine of Adventism is lost when proclaimed in the full light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The major difference between traditional and gospel Adventism is the focus is always on Jesus and the free gift of salvation that He purchased on the cross. The vision of Gospel Adventism is to interpret all doctrines of the Bible in light of the free gift of eternal life for all who place their simple faith in the merits of their crucified savior—Jesus Christ.

~Stephen Beagles

How to Hear the Voice of God

 

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Many people wonder how God speaks to me. How can I claim to speak the words of God unless I am able to discern the voice of God?

It took me awhile to be able to explain how I am able to separate the word of God from my own inner voice. The simplest way to describe the process is that everything—every thought, feeling, emotion, impulse, and experience– must be filtered through a knowledge of the written word of God. The noise must be filtered out. The “still small voice” can only be heard when all the static created by the world, the flesh, and the devil, is filtered out. Even then, it is not audible to our human ears, but is understood as a quiet whisper inside the heart.

Read the following verses of scripture:

(a). “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12, NIV).

(b). “’This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33, NIV).

(c). “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand– I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people'” (Isaiah 51:13, NIV).

(d). “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, KJV).

If you filter the above paragraph through these scriptures then you are able to get the basics of what I am saying about how God speaks to His people. Anyone can hear the voice of God if they tune their hearts to understanding the word of God communicated to the ancient prophets. The “noise” of the world must be filtered out through the truth of the Holy Scripture. The gentle whisper, consistent with the revealed truths of the Bible, is the voice of God.

Of course, God can speak to us directly using more dramatic methods such as personal visitation, visions, dreams, angelic visits, or an audible voice from heaven. However, these are rare and, more often than not, can be a counterfeit message sent by a fallen angel.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, NIV).

And when God speaks to us then we are accountable for being obedient to His voice. It is our divine responsibility to follow through with what He is asking of us. The more obedient we are to His commands, the more clearly we are able to decipher His messages to us.

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands” (1 John 2:3, NIV).

In my own life, I have learned the scriptures by reading and studying the Holy Bible and by listening to ministers who have received a word from God to share with other people. God has allowed me to share in the ministry of the gospel by teaching others the divine plan of salvation. God grants me wisdom that I might share the knowledge of His divine plan with others by using my spiritual gifts to His name’s honor and glory. God has allowed me to use my writing as a way to minister to other people.

Recently, God spoke to my heart through the writings of a special prophetic messenger of her time, Ellen White who received numerous visions, dreams, and angelic visitations. This is what she says about the spiritual gift of writing:

“The pen is a power in the hands of men who feel the truth burning upon the altar of their hearts, and who have an intelligent zeal for God, balanced with sound judgment. The pen, dipped in the fountain of pure truth, can send beams of light to dark corners of the earth, which will reflect its rays back, adding new power, and giving increased light to be scattered everywhere.”

I know that when God speaks to me that His desire is to speak through me to the rest of the world. He is also willing to use your talents to His name’s honor and glory. Tune your hearts to His word, and tell others of the wisdom that He imparts to you as His ambassadors of truth.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” 2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles

What is in Your Heavenly Treasure Chest?

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I am not convinced the judgment actually began in 1844, but that is most certainly the year God spoke to draw the world’s attention to this message.
May I add, Christians are not judged by their own works in the judgment as a means to salvation. Christians are justified by the perfect works of Christ that cover their imperfections as they stand before a Holy God. The real question to be decided will be if they trusted Christ for salvation or if they relied on their own righteous obedience to get into heaven.

However, Jesus will reward Christians for the works done in the power of the Holy Spirit. These treasures will be enjoyed for eternity. This is what Jesus meant when he proclaimed: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

In essence, there are two parts to the judgment scene. The first will decide our eternal salvation. The second will decide our rewards in the heavenly kingdom. Some Christians will receive an abundance of heavenly treasure, while others will simply be grateful to have made it through the gates of the Kingdom. Jesus said: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Some people might question that God will reward people in heaven according to their works on earth. But the Holy Spirit clearly spoke through the apostle Paul who declared, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Our salvation is secured by Christ as we trust Him alone for our eternal life. The blessings received now and throughout eternity will be rewarded based on our willingness to be obedient to Christ in all things. These are the three angels messages that are becoming more clear and pronounced as the time clock ticks away the final seconds of earth’s dark history.

~Stephen Beagles

Video: Facing the Judgment with Confidence

Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord?

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The authors of the Life Application Study Bible stated our galaxy spins at 490,000 miles per hour. Even at that speed, it still takes 200 million years to make one full rotation. If that does not overwhelm your senses, add one billion other galaxies into the equation. Cosmologists estimated the number of stars in the universe is equal to the number of grains of sand on Earth.

Imagine the power and intellect involved with creating a single atom, and multiply that by the size and scope of the entire universe.

Biblical commentator Matthew Henry told us to contemplate the variety, beauty, exactness and accuracy, power, order, and mystery involved in the things of nature, and ask how the world could possibly create itself out of nothingness? His conclusion was that atheism is folly for the universe could not have come about by mere chance.

How can we deny the existence of a God who brought all things into existence? Meditating on the things of nature helps to lead us in the right direction concerning the spiritual nature of the universe. But the real proof of God’s existence is He revealed Himself directly to humanity through the prophets.

Not only did God speak through the prophets, but He also sent a divine emissary to live among human beings to teach us about the true nature and character of the creator.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV

The next time you are tempted to doubt the wisdom and power of God in your life, ask yourself is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27) If God can create the heavens, the earth, and everything within, then is there a problem that He cannot solve?

In my own life, I have witnessed God turning my burdens into blessings and my tribulations into triumph. If God allows adversity in my life, I can rest assured He has a plan for every problem that arises.

The question remains: Do I trust Him?

I have been tempted to believe God is unwilling or unable to fix my problems, but even in these darkest moments, I am reminded that the God who created all things, and who sent Jesus to die for my sins, will work all things in accordance with His will for my life. (Romans 8:28)

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

~Stephen Beagles

Is Knowledge Essential For Salvation?

 

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Christianity is not merely a matter of personal interpretation of bible doctrines. Christ commands that we know Him as opposed to false teachers.

Christ warned us about being deceived, and Paul proclaimed that people believing in a false gospel were cursed. At the same time, we need only to understand the bare essentials of bible teachings to avoid deception.

These teachings are the ones necessary to come to genuine faith in Christ: (a) Jesus is the Son of God foretold in the Old Testament, (b) Salvation is by faith alone in the Son of God, (c) Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected for our justification, (d) Christ is coming again to receive us into the heavenly kingdom.

A person does not need to be an automobile mechanic to know how to turn the key to an ignition and drive a car. In the same way, a person does not need to be a theologian to know how to read the Bible. However, if a person does not know the basics about how to drive a car then it would be unsafe for them to drive under any circumstances.

Being a Christian requires basic knowledge about God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ.

~Stephen Beagles

Was Jesus a False Prophet?

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Betrand Russell, a famous Atheist in his day, wrote in his book “Why I am Not a Christian” that Jesus misled the disciples, because He told them that His second coming would happen within their generation.

In response to the disciples asking about His second coming, after giving a few signs to look for Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matthew 24: 34, NIV). Obviously, we are living 2000 years after Christ made this prediction, so did Jesus make a false prediction as Russell claimed?

Many scholarly critics have used this verse to deny the divinity of Christ, and others have sought ways to reconcile what Jesus said by claiming all of Christ’s predictions foretold the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The latter group is half-right in that Jesus did predict that Jerusalem would be destroyed at the end of a literal period of time, but they are wrong to suggest Christ did not also give signs to the second-coming and the end of the world.

Jesus was referring to the final generation, when he foretold, “this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.” The generation that sees ALL of the signs of His second coming is the generation that will see the return of Jesus Christ. However, He also correctly predicted that HIS generation would witness the destruction of Jerusalem: “Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation” (Matthew 23:36).

Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world almost in the same breath. The disciples assumed that Christ would return immediately after the destruction of the temple, but Christ warned that He did not know exactly when He would return. However, the generation to witness all of the signs of the second coming would be alive to see Him return in glory.

Jesus correctly predicted the destruction of Jerusalem within His generation, and the church is still awaiting His return 2000 years later. If Christ was right about the fall of Jerusalem, which occured exactly as He predicted, then there is no reason to doubt His second coming.

~Stephen Beagles

Oct 31=Reformation Day

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The doctrine of justification by faith alone is what sparked the protestant reformation in 1517. On October 31, a Catholic priest named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of All Saints Church protesting the abuses of the Catholic Church regarding the sale of indulgences. The document was meant to start a local discussion but, due to the printing press, the paper was distributed all over Europe. The 95 Theses, along with Luther’s other published writings, began a global discussion concerning the biblical nature of Catholic doctrine. The protestant reformation spread throughout the world forcing a split between Catholics and those who agreed with Luther’s position on Justification by grace through faith in Christ alone.

Happy Reformation Day!

~ Stephen Beagles

The Spiritual Path to Peace

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Jesus, the divine Son of God, proclaimed to the crowds during the Sermon on the Mount, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink: nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Matthew 6:25, NASB).

He then goes on to explain that the Heavenly Father knows that we need these things, and if He takes care of the birds of the air and grass of the fields, then He will most certainly provide for human beings created in God’s image.

How many of us have enough faith to take Jesus at His word and refuse to worry about food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and the balance in our checking accounts? When will we realize that money and possessions only add to our worries, and only God can bring everlasting peace?

Jesus never promised us that life would be easy or that we would be guaranteed everything we want in life. However, He did promise that God would meet our daily needs. Jesus defined success in this lifetime as putting God first in all things and seeking God’s will for our life. In fact, Jesus gives us the secret cure for anxiety and worry:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

How many of us have the courage to put God before our jobs, our family, our friends, and our own selfish desires? Do we really trust that God will provide what we need in all circumstances?

This formula will only work if we refuse to allow negative thoughts to rule in our minds. James, the brother of Jesus, warned us of being “double-minded” about our faith in the promises of God (James 1:8).

Our emotions may not always cooperate, but faith is holding onto the facts of God’s word instead of our own human feelings. We must work to keep our feelings subject to the word of God.

Money cannot purchase peace of heart, but trusting in the God who created the universe will give us a supernatural peace that is beyond comprehension.

The popular Hymn, What a Friend we have in Jesus, goes:

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

The Bible tells us to replace our worry with faith, and our negativity with prayer. God loves us and Jesus is our friend. There is no problem in the Universe that God cannot solve, and He sent his beloved son to die for our sins. If He is willing to sacrifice Jesus so that we might have eternal life then do we really think that He wants us to doubt His willingness to provide for us?

Charles Spurgeon, wrote a chapter called “The Raven’s Cry” in which he counseled us to never stop praying and trusting God for our needs:

“Satan, too, is telling you, dear friends who are now in this state of mind that God will never hear you, that He will let you cry until you die, that you will pant out your life in sighs and tears, and that at the end you will be cast into the lake of fire. I long to give you some comfort and encouragement. I want to urge you to cry yet more vehemently, to come to the Cross and lay hold of it and vow that you will never leave its shadow until you find the blessing that your soul covets.”

Let us ponder the words of our savior until they sink into our daily consciousness: “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! (Matthew 6:30).

Jesus commands us not to worry and to trust the Heavenly father, who feeds the birds and clothes the grass of the field, to provide for our daily needs. As followers of Christ, we should not allow anxiety to rule our emotions, and we should cast our worries upon the one who loves us enough to sacrifice the life of His own son for our eternal life.

“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5: 6-7).

~Stephen Beagles

Justification by Faith

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Martin Luther, the icon of the protestant reformation, said it best when he proclaimed the doctrine of Justification by faith to be articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae “the article of faith that decides whether the church is standing or falling” (Packer). The doctrine of Justification by faith is not only one out of many church doctrines, it is the primary doctrine that breathes life into the rest. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that sparks spiritual reformation when given its proper place in the Christian life. Churches that ignore the doctrine of the perfect righteousness of Christ that covers our sinful imperfection ignore the primary message of the Bible at their own peril.

Reformation theologian J.I. Packer stated there are certain presuppositions that must be granted in order to come to a full understanding of Justification:

1. The divine authority of scripture
2. The divine wrath against human sin
3. The substitutionary death of Christ

If Protestants lose a clear understanding of these doctrines, they will lose justification by faith that can be equated with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In my own life, I have been disappointed with the willingness of fellow protestant believers to compromise the divine authority of scripture for more liberal views of the ancient texts. Some refuse to believe in a wrathful God that punishes sin and focus on an unbiblical view of God that makes the death of Christ nothing more than a historical event. Others go to the opposite extreme by proclaiming Christ died for the whole world and therefore the whole world will be saved regardless of devotion to Christ.

A more dangerous and evil brand of theology claims that doctrines are nothing more than human attempts to explain the mind of God, that doctrine is simply a matter of personal interpretation, and  salvation comes apart from knowing the essentials of the Christian faith.

All of these unbiblical points of view are not from the Holy Spirit and are diabolical attempts to undermine the core doctrine of the Bible—Justification.

The apostle Paul equates the gospel of Justification with the message of Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ died to atone for our sins and resurrected so that sinful human beings might stand justified before a holy God:

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles

Shine Your Light

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The only thing that any minister of the gospel can do is share what we believe is the truth with honesty and conviction. We cannot convince anyone to change their mind unless those people see the need for change. The role of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of their need. Our job is to seek truth and share what God reveals to us.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26, ESV

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” John 16:7-8, ESV

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:15, ESV

~Stephen Beagles

Law and Grace

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What does it mean to be not “Under Law” but “Under Grace”?

When the New Testament scriptures state we are not “Under Law” but “Under Grace” it means we are no longer subject to the penalty of the law and are not subject to its condemnation.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, NIV)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NIV)

Being released from the penalty of death for disobedience to divine law, we are under grace and have peace with God and the forgiveness of sins. This does not void the law itself, but it releases us from condemnation and frees us from bondage to evil.

~Stephen Beagles

No Need to Apologize

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“Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:26, NIV

I fear many Christians are afraid to speak their minds about God’s word. They worry that other people will turn against them, or that they might offend someone who is opposed to the message. While Christians should be careful not to deliberately drive people away from the beauty of the gospel message, they also need to be aware that Christ warns us about the dangers of living for truth.

My policy about speaking the truth is some people need a soft touch, while others need a good kick in the butt to catch their attention. While some people might get emotional, angry, vengeful, and belligerent, this is only because they are being convicted by the Holy Spirit. If they choose to harden their heart to the Spirit of God then we are to follow the counsel of Jesus: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14, NIV).

Speak the truth with honest conviction and then let God do the convincing.

In my opinion, it is not my business what another person does with their relationship to God. It is not my job to convince anyone that I am right and they are wrong. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit cannot convince them to listen to God’s word, then they will pay the consequences of their rebellion. At the same time, I am called to speak the truth to the world in a way that makes the biggest difference in the lives of the listeners. Some will respond to truth with gladness, while most will lash out and attempt to silence the one who dared to tell the truth.

It is time for Christians to stop trying to fit in with political correctness, and to stand out by boldly proclaiming the word of God. Why should we be ashamed of truth? Of course, the devil will stir up the unregenerate mobs to attack the messengers. This happened to the prophets of Israel. Don’t forget that they crucified Jesus. Don’t forget that all but one of the Apostles died at the hands of the wicked.

If you are worried about what people will think if you speak up about your Christian convictions, then remember that it is not our job to win a popularity contest. It is our job to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

” Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,” (Ephesians 6:19, NIV)

~Stephen Beagles

Full Assurance of Salvation

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Christians have the assurance they are part of the family of God. Genuine faith rests in the promises of God’s word. Our human nature wants to question our salvation or doubt our fitness to enter into the heavenly kingdom. God wants us to trust that He has forgiven us and that we are part of His family even while we still battle with our sins, the world around us, and the devil. Ellen White makes this perfectly clear in the following statement about the assurance of salvation:

“No language can describe it, it is beyond knowledge. We are one with Christ, our life is hid with Christ in God. We have the assurance that when He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. With strong confidence, we can call God our Father.”

Our attitude towards God should be of love and trust in His desire to adopt us into His family. If we lose salvation, it is because we refuse to trust in the blood that Christ shed on the cross for our sins. The only condition for eternal life is simple faith that God loves us and pardons our transgressions. We must have confidence and assurance that God’s word is truth and His promises never fail.

~Stephen Beagles

What is the “Good News” of Christianity?

 

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“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14, NLT

The BAD NEWS is that every human being is under a death penalty and we cannot save ourselves from this ultimate end. The gospel is the “good news” about Jesus who died in our place and was resurrected to grant us the free gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The only thing we can do is receive the gift and maintain our loving faith in Jesus.

The GOOD NEWS is salvation is a free gift for all who believe in Jesus as their savior and do not attempt to add to the gospel by placing conditions on salvation other than simple faith in Christ.

The inward transformation is a result of the gospel message being internalized and accepted by faith. Obedience done by the power of the Holy Spirit is a blessing of salvation, but does not add or take away from the promise of eternal life.

The final judgment for Christians will determine our rewards in the eternal kingdom and not our punishments. Our salvation is secured as long as we keep our trust in Christ despite the suffering and sacrifice that come with living in this evil world.

~Stephen Beagles

Fallen From Grace

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” ~Matthew 7: 21-22, KJV

Recently, a friend of mine asked me the question: “If all a person has to do is believe in Jesus to be saved then why did Jesus say ‘Not everyone who calls me Lord will enter the Kingdom?'” My answer to this is simple: The fact that Jesus claimed that He never knew them means that they were worshiping a false Christ.

An entire book can be written on this subject, but Jesus warns about “False Christs” and “False Prophets” who would bring deception to the world. This is also where the “Anti-Christ” will make people believe that He is Jesus shortly before the real second coming of Christ. The False Christ will be preaching a false gospel that is contradictory to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.

But what is the real problem with their theology? In these verses we can find the main reason why they had no real relationship with Jesus:

1) They believed they were being obedient to Christ: Prophesying, casting out devils, and wonderful works of performing miracles.
2) They believed that these “wonderful works” were the basis of their salvation.

The main problem is that they were false prophets, preaching a false gospel, and were empowered by the devil to create miracles. The false gospel (like any other system of false religion) is based on what man does for God to merit eternal life. It is a system of self-righteous pride that claims that those who serve God are somehow deserving of a place in the eternal kingdom.

One of the most common ways that people fall into this trap is by placing conditions on salvation other than simple faith in Christ. The early Christians struggled with this when false apostles claimed that Christians had to become circumcised in addition to having faith in Jesus. Many today believe that a person has to “speak in tongues” as proof that they are a real Christian. Many Christians believe that they have to abide by a particular set of standards agreed upon by their church to claim salvation.

Making anything other than simple faith in Jesus a requirement for salvation is a false gospel and those who believe in a false gospel have fallen from grace and are under a curse.

“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).

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse” (Galatians 1:8, NIV).

Do these verses scare you? Search your soul to determine what it is that you really believe about the plan of salvation. Do you believe that anything that you do is an evidence for your salvation? Do you think that you are saved because you go to church, pay tithe, feed the hungry, give bible studies, go on mission trips, etc? These are wonderful things, but they won’t guarantee you a place in the heavenly kingdom.

The only condition for salvation is to accept the free gift of eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ. Anything else is a false gospel and can keep you out of the grace of God. This is what Jesus meant when He warned that not everyone who called Him Lord would enter His Kingdom.

Please, give your heart to Jesus and accept the real Christ who shed his blood to offer you the gift of salvation–free of charge.

~Stephen Beagles

A Private Meeting with Global Implications

The Holy Scriptures tell a story in the book of John  about Nicodemus, who was a high-level leader of the Jewish people and a member of a conservative sect of Judaism called the Pharisees.

Nicodemus wanted a private meeting with Jesus to discuss the theological implications of the miracles He was performing, and to find out about Jesus’s intentions for public ministry. He was convinced Jesus was a great teacher with supernatural power, but he wanted to know if Jesus was the Messiah who would lead Israel to national greatness as God’s people.

Nicodemus was granted a private meeting with Jesus during the dark hours of the night which reveals  spiritual insight about our savior who is  available night or day to hear our prayers and grant us divine wisdom. As a religious leader, Nicodemus understood the sensitive nature of the political environment and did not want to cause problems by forcing Jesus to answer questions in public. However, he wanted to give Jesus an opportunity to clear up confusion about claims that He was the long awaited Messiah.

Jesus sat down with Nicodemus and allowed him to begin the conversation. Nicodemus began by admitting Jesus was a teacher sent by God, but I can almost hear Jesus cutting him off before he had a chance to ask the REAL question. Jesus interrupted and said, “There is no way for you to understand the Kingdom of God unless the Holy Spirit of God gives you a new way of looking at things. You need to be born again and submit yourself to being recreated.”

Nicodemus had studied the Torah his entire life, and believed he had a solid grasp on the meaning of the scriptures. Now Jesus was telling him he was missing the point. Not only was Jesus a good teacher who performed miracles by divine power, Jesus was that divine power. His primary mission from God was to deliver people from spiritual bondage and to grant them eternal life.

I can imagine the disappointed look on Nicodemus’s face. He was not ready to hear what Jesus was saying. The Messiah was supposed to be a political ruler who would deliver Israel from physical bondage to other nations and make Israel a world power. Jesus did not deny that He was the Messiah, but He had a completely different mission—freeing Israel from spiritual bondage.

Even though Nicodemus did not understand what Christ was saying, the savior used this meeting to reveal His true mission as the one and only God/Man prophesied in the writings of Moses. He was the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness that brought healing upon the Hebrews who looked upon it to avoid death. This prophetic symbol  was a foreshadowing of the cross of Calvary.

The message that confused Nicodemus is abundantly clear to us in the most popular verse in the Bible (John 3:16):

1. God loves the world
2. God sent His only Son
3. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life
4. Those who reject the son will perish under divine condemnation

Here Jesus revealed to Nicodemus, and the rest of creation, the good news of the Gospel. God loves us and sent His son into the world to deliver all people from eternal death. The only condition for salvation is simple faith in the Son that God has sent to release those who trust Him from bondage to suffering and sin.

If you have not given your life to Jesus then I invite you to believe the one who will grant you the assurance of eternal life.

Only Jesus has the authority to offer eternal life. He is the divine Son of God who paid the penalty for your sins on the cross.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to the truth of God and accept the gift of salvation that will transform your life through the sacrificial blood of Christ shed on the cross of Calvary.

~Stephen Beagles

First things First

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“ One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12, NIV).

One of the major hallmarks of Jesus’s earthly ministry was His personal prayer life. He understood His dependence on the Father for the power to live a perfect life. As a result, He spent a large part of His time in private prayer pleading to God that He would fulfill His mission to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. If we want to live as Jesus lived, and have the same power that He had to minister to others, then we must pray as He prayed. Jesus always found time to be with His father even if it meant sacrificing sleep.

Many ministers, especially those who are bi-vocational, neglect personal Bible study and prayer in order to minister to the needs of others. But these pastors will often burn out under the weight of their responsibilities. Their ministry lacks the power and effectiveness that it should have, because they have gotten “too busy” to spend personal time in Bible study and prayer.

The most successful ministers and evangelists in history have always been men and women of prayer. John Wesley gave prayer first priority in his ministry and stated unequivocally that “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” Oswald Chambers also acknowledged the power of prayer in ministry by proclaiming “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” When the Apostles found themselves getting bogged down with the details of ministering to the needs of other people they delegated authority to other people to free up time for prayer and evangelism: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 4:6, KJV). Prayer was their number one priority.

Dr. O.S. Hawkins gives the following advice in his book, “The Pastor’s Guide to Leading and Living”: “The pastor’s first priority is to be found in his own private life. This is the part of his life that is hidden from the church and even his family. It is spent alone with God in the secret place. Here he takes in daily from the Word and the Spirit in order to be able to give out in his duties to his family and his church. The wise and effective man of God gives priority to his own relationship with Christ and meets Him daily in the place of prayer, devotion, and Bible study.”

If Jesus is our example then we need to follow His direction and spend quality time away from distraction to be in personal communion with God. As a result, our ministry will be empowered to bless the needs of others in the power of the Holy Spirit.

~Stephen Beagles

The Central Question

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Here is a quote from Ellen White for all the legalists who believe they must add works to the list of requirements for salvation:

“He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility.” ~ Desire of Ages, P. 172

It might be tempting to turn her statement into a description of a non-christian person who thinks that if they are a good person then they will get into heaven. But in reality she is talking about a professed Christian who does not understand the relationship between faith and works in the plan of salvation.

Those who believe they must attain a state of perfect obedience as a condition of salvation are doomed before they even get started. First, they do not have the genuine faith that is required for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Second, they will never reach the point where they are sinless.

Simple faith is the only condition required for being “re-birthed” into the kingdom of God. Genuine faith accepts the assurance of salvation which allows the Holy Spirit to change the motivation from fear of condemnation to love for receiving the free gift of salvation.

Love for God is the cleansing agent that removes the power of sin in our lives and transforms us into the image of Christ. This love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit by faith (assurance of our salvation) through Jesus Christ. Genuine obedience is the fruit of a love relationship with God that is far removed from the guilt-ridden fear of attempting to earn heaven by our good deeds.

~Stephen Beagles

How Does Anyone Survive?

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How does anyone survive in this world full of sick and twisted human beings? Examples of man’s inhumanity to mankind are everywhere and include perverted torture, rape, slavery, and serial murder. Men and women possessed by evil demons are rampant and enjoy causing pain and suffering.

Then there are people who drink and drive, and people who blatantly ignore traffic laws while endangering the lives of other drivers on the road. Not only do we have to worry about people who might harm us, but then there are natural disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Disease seems to be spreading everywhere despite our best efforts to protect ourselves from bacteria and viruses that mutate into strains that are resistant to our normal methods of medical treatment.

How does anyone survive?

The Bible says that there is only one source of safety, and that is the God who created all things. God is our shield against the forces of darkness who seek us harm. Those who trust Him with their life do not  need to worry about safety while God is keeping them safe.

Unfortunately, God never promised that we would escape suffering in this lifetime. He doesn’t always stop bad things from happening, but He has promised to give us the strength to endure any trial that He allows us to endure. If God allows us to suffer, then we can trust that He will bless our sufferings with eternal rewards.

Each of us has a guardian angel that is responsible for our personal well being (Psalm 91:11). If we are in trouble then we are guaranteed that our angel is fully aware of our situation. There are two-thirds more holy angels then there are evil angels, and the holy angels are on our side. Rest assured, If God allows our suffering then He has a plan to turn our temporary tribulation into eternal triumph.

How does any of us survive on this evil planet? There is only one answer: God. He is the only one that allows us to live in safety. We can sleep at night knowing our guardian angel is on post and diligently watching over us as children of the royal kingdom.

~Stephen Beagles

No Other Name

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What is the central teaching of the Christian faith? The following verse is the thesis statement of the entire Bible and the single thread that runs through every doctrinal teaching of Holy Scripture:

Acts 4:12, NIV: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Jesus Christ is the only path to eternal life after death. Not Jesus and Krishna, not Jesus and Buddha, not Jesus and Mohammed, not Jesus andthe angel Moroni, not Jesus and the ascended masters and spirit guides, and not Jesus and you or I.

Salvation is in Christ alone. Period.

This is the verse that offends most non-believers and causes trouble for most Christians. This is the verse that others use to accuse us of intolerance and bigotry. This is the verse that caused the most trouble for the Apostolic church who refused to acknowledge the false Gods of pagan Rome.

But if a person rejects this basic teaching of Christ and the Apostles then they have no justification to call themselves followers of Jesus. Christ said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). If we are not worshiping Christ alone for salvation then we are not Christian.

This is THE essential teaching of Christianity that must never be compromised. God loved us enough to send Jesus on a rescue mission to save humanity from total destruction. Jesus offers a free gift of salvation to all who trust in Him. But we must trust in HIM and in HIM ALONE. This is the faith that moves the mountains of our guilt out of the way of eternal life.

~Stephen Beagles

To Seek and Save the Lost

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Why did Jesus leave the paradise of heaven to come to earth where He would be rejected and despised by human beings? Luke 19:10 gives us the answer to this mystery: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (NIV).

From this verse we can learn (a) Jesus became a real human being, (b) His mission was to seek and save, and (c) His focus is on saving the lost.

1. Jesus the Son of Man

Jesus was a real human being. He was also God in human form. Jesus never gave up His divinity when He was born to Mary, but He deliberately subordinated His divine nature to His human birth. The main difference is that Jesus was born with a pre-fallen sinless human nature. He was the second Adam and a perfect sacrifice for our sins. His perfection now covers the imperfection of those who trust Him for salvation. God declares us perfect in His sight because of the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ.

2. Came to Seek and to Save

Not only was Jesus the perfect God/Man, but He came to earth on a rescue mission to saved lost humanity. The death of Christ was not an accident, but it was planned out prior to His coming to earth. It was God’s sovereign will that Christ would suffer and die for lost humanity, and it was Satan who attempted everything in his power to keep Jesus from going to the cross. But Jesus resisted all temptation to avoid the suffering and death that awaited Him. If Lucifer could not persuade Jesus to give up on lost humanity, then he would do everything in his power to keep Jesus from being the perfect sacrifice. But everything Satan did to avoid the blood atonement of Christ was thwarted by divine intervention.

What a mystery it is to consider that God is not hiding Himself from us, but that we are hiding from Him. He loved us enough to die for us even though all of us have gone astray. We don’t find God, it is God who seeks to offer us the gift of eternal life with Him.

3. The Lost

One of the most important elements of this verse is that Jesus came to save those who are lost. In context, Zacchaeus was considered one of the most vile sinners as a wealthy tax-collector, and Jesus invited Himself to this lost sinner’s home. To the Jewish people of Jesus’s day, it was a scandal that Jesus would associate with Zacchaeus, who was well know for cheating people out of money. How dare Jesus associate with filthy and corrupt sinners?

Jesus did not argue that Zacchaeus was not a sinner, but His purpose was to offer this tax collector a chance at redemption. The Bible says that Zacchaeus was impressed with Jesus and instantly promised to make restitution by giving half of his money to the poor. He also pledged to pay back those He had cheated out of money. Zacchaeus had a change of heart towards God and towards other people.

Not only was this an example of Jesus seeking out lost sinners in an effort to reclaim them to the family of God, but it was also a rebuke to the self-righteous experts of the laws of Moses who refused to admit they were not God’s chosen people as children of Abraham. Here Jesus was pointing out that only those who admit their lost condition as sinful human beings and turn to Him for salvation are the true children of Abraham.

Followers of Jesus are also called to His mission: To seek and save the lost. How often do we get preoccupied with our own welfare that we forget about those who have not yet accepted Jesus as savior. We preach to ourselves, but are we reaching the lost souls for whom Christ died?

If you, dear reader, have not accepted Jesus as your savior then what is holding you back? By accepting Jesus you will only be called to give up those things that are causing you misery and death. Do you feel that you can never be good enough to win God’s favor? Don’t fear, for Jesus specializes in saving those who know their need of divine grace and forgiveness. Jesus wants to give you peace of heart by granting you the free gift of eternal life.

~Stephen Beagles

The Remnant of God

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“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17, KJV

I have no doubt that end-time saints will receive a special blessing from God for keeping His commandments. This blessing will keep them strong in the faith of Jesus and allow them to see through end-time doctrinal deceptions. But this does not mean that God’s people are saved by commandment keeping, or that only Seventh-day Sabbath keepers will be saved in the end times. Obedience to divine law is a prescription for receiving the strength that will be needed to maintain genuine faith in Jesus Christ during the final tribulation.

This text does not mean that only Adventists will be in heaven:

“…Adventists repudiate emphatically and unequivocally any thought that they alone are children of God and have a claim upon heaven. They believe that all who worship God in full sincerity, that is, in terms of all the revealed will of God that they understand, are presently potential members of that final “remnant” company mentioned in ch. 12:17. Adventists believe that it is their solemn task and joyous privilege to make God’s last testing truths so clear and so persuasive as to draw all of God’s children into that prophetically foretold company that is making ready for the day of God” (Nichol, 1980,p. 815).

In Revelation 12:17, the Holy Spirit has revealed the hatred that Satan will have towards the commandment keeping people of God. They will be the target of relentless pursuit by the devil and his angels. Because there is a blessing in obedience to the commandments of God, those who are willing to die instead of compromising the truth of God’s word will be given special insight and strength to gain victory over the forces of darkness during the final days of earth’s history.

But the conditions of salvation will always be about maintaining faith in Jesus Christ who shed His blood for our sins. God’s people are not given victory because of their obedience to the law, but because of their refusal to compromise the message of the blood atonement of Jesus Christ: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11

~Stephen Beagles

Reference

Nichol, F. D. (Ed.). (1980). The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Vol. 7, p. 815). Review and Herald Publishing Association.

The Divine Standard

 

lawandgospelI am not sure that I would understand the good news about Jesus if I didn’t understand the nature of what the law of God requires. It seems that God reveals His law to show us how far we have fallen into sin, and only then do we start asking the question:

How is it possible for anyone to be saved?

God’s law demands perfect 100% obedience. Our first problem to consider is that we have all sinned and are therefore under the penalty of death. There is no make up exam or extra credit. We are all doomed. Next, even if God found a way to forgive us of past sins we would still have present and future sins to contend with. Therefore God has to find a way to satisfy what His law requires, so that He can forgive ALL of our sins. That is the problem.

But Jesus lived a perfect life and died in our place. One drop of His blood is of eternal value, and He gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Eternal life is now offered as a gift for all who place their trust in the atoning blood of Christ. This is the solution.

It seems that the only true way to appreciate the good news of Jesus is to understand the bad news first. This is why God’s law  seems harsh and unforgiving. It is meant to teach us the importance of the extent that Jesus would have to go to free us from the penalty of sin.

Those who accept Christ and receive the Holy Spirit into their hearts are still bound to struggle with bad habits, sinful tendencies, evil desires, and imperfect obedience. Even the good things we do are tainted with sin. The Holy Spirit helps us to grow spiritually, but we are never morally perfect on this side of heaven. But because of the blood that was shed on the Cross we are accounted blameless before God as we trust in the merits of Jesus Christ.

But why would the Father allow His beloved Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins? He did this because He loves us and wants us to live with Him for eternity. But He cannot tolerate sin in heaven, and His will is for us to live in loving obedience to His commandments. When Jesus comes again, He will give us perfected bodies that are able to live up to the holy standards of the divine law. At that point we are glorified and taken to heaven to live in perfect obedience to God who has proven His love for us by dying for us on the cross.

This is the fullness of what it means to be a Christian. It means accepting the blood of Jesus as assurance of eternal life, it means being full of the Holy Spirit that pours the love of God into our hearts, and it means understanding that God does not save us to live in spiritual anarchy. His desire is that we live in perfect obedience to the divine standard of His holy law.

~Stephen Beagles

Though He Slay Me

c4fecb7f4a8cf317ba501f03e4afdf48“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” Job 13:15, KJV

This verse of Holy Scripture is one of the oldest texts in the history of the world. It comes from the book of Job which many believe to be older than the biblical book of Genesis. Not only is it one of the oldest verses of holy scripture, but it is one of the most profound statements when it comes to genuine faith in the one and only true God.

I want people to know that I praise God the most when things are the hardest. It is easy to trust God when things are comfortable, but genuine faith proclaims trust in the mist of hardship and despair.

What do I know about hardship? My parents were separated many times until they were divorced when I was 9 years old. I spent that Christmas in a shelter for abused women with my mother and sister who had been thrown out of the house by my father. Then I lost my father to a car accident when I was 15 years old.

I never had a chance to make any good friends due to going to a different school every year since the 5th grade until my junior year of high school.

My mother remarried when I was 12 years old, but then she and my step-father were thrown out of the church due to his backsliding. He then began drinking heavily and became emotionally abusive.

I attended college for a year, but then dropped out in my first year because of my own financial irresponsibility. But at least I was able to pay for a mission trip to India when I was 18 years old.

I joined the Marine Corps in 1993, but I was separated for health problems during the basic training. I then enlisted again in 1995, graduated basic training, and spent 8 years in the Marine Corps. During that time, I got married and my wife began to have emotional problems due to her past. She claimed she had been raped by some person, but she refused to participate in an investigation.

After the Marine Corps, I had been hired as a Deputy United States Marshal, but I dropped out of the program prior to going to the Federal Law Enforcement Academy over marital problems.

I had the last $500 I had in my bank account stolen from me after my wife and I were separated in Nevada. I had no job, and no way to pay for rent or food. Thankfully, I was able to get a job as a security officer at a community college to avoid living on the streets.

Then I moved to live closer to my parents in Vermont, with my wife–we were trying to make amends–but ended up getting divorced a few years later.

I have been fired from jobs after being placed in situations that I was not properly trained for and then blamed for things going wrong. This has affected my ability to get further employment.

My credit report literally fell apart after I was discharged from the Marine Corps as I was unable to make car payments or pay back loans. This has also affected my ability to get employment due to credit checks.

SO WHEN I TELL YOU THAT I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO SUFFER THEN I MEAN THAT I AM FULLY ACQUAINTED WITH TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS.

Where was God during this entire time? He was right beside me reminding me that I was still loved and part of His family. The devil might have been attacking me from the day I was born, but that was because I was destined to put a big hole in the kingdom of darkness. Jesus suffered His entire life, and He was God. Who am I to expect any different?

I am shamed to say that much of my suffering was a result of my own doings, and that I have to rely on the mercy of God for anything good that comes my way. But I am confident that God has a plan for my life, and that my ministry is born out of suffering and tribulation.

My faith in God does not depend on the good things in life, but on the ability of God to get me through the impossible. I am not naturally an optimist, but I have seen how God can work miracles.

My life is in His hands, and as long as I have breath in my body and blood in my veins, I will thank God for His love. I have the assurance of salvation in the eternal kingdom of love, and that is my hope.

Though life has been difficult, it hasn’t all been bad. I got through my childhood with a strong faith in God, I have traveled the world, I have many good memories of family and friends, and I have graduated with three college degrees
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One thing I have learned is that God is able to turn our largest burdens into the biggest blessings. Our heaviest trials become our most celebrated triumphs when we trust God. But we must learn to trust Him in the midst of our hardships. We must decide that even if God slays us then we will submit to His will.

Every ounce of suffering that we endure for Christ will be rewarded in the heavenly kingdom. The pain of this world is temporary, but the pleasures of the heaven are for eternity.

~Stephen Beagles

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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