Monday, July 30, 2012

The Keeping Power of God

I'd like to share some Scriptures that strengthen and encourage believers in our faith in Jesus Christ.

But first let me share some comments on this painting to the left, by Thomas Blackshear II, called Forgiven.  

"The picture Forgiven reveals the heart of God toward you. As you look at the painting you see not only Jesus wrapping His arms around a fallen man, you see Him wrapping His arms of mercy around you. Your eyes say, 'Jesus is holding a broken sinner.' Your heart says, 'Jesus is holding me.' When you look at the cross you will never need to question if He loves you. He came for you -- He died for you -- He lives for you. What a tremendous price has been paid -- more than all the riches in the entire world. This price was paid so that you could know the joy of being forgiven." -- Roy Lessin

"The scene of Forgiven is Mt. Calvary. A despairing man has a mallet in one hand and a large spike in the other . Both symbolize that each of us is responsible for Christ's death on the cross. Jesus Christ is holding up this broken man; at Christ's feet are broken chains, representing the sin that was to overcome at Calvary. There is a trace of blood on Christ's hands, and in the place where blood has fallen, lilies have grown." -- Thomas Blackshear II, artist.

Now for the Scriptures about God's keeping power:

  • It is never the will of God for a saved person to be lost. John 6:39
  • Jesus will establish you to the end, so you will be blameless 1 Co 1:8-9
  • You are preserved unto the heavenly kingdom. II Timothy 4:18
  • You are kept by the power of God. I Peter 1:5
  • You are kept because the Lord Jesus has prayed that you would be. John 17:11
  • Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Romans 8:35-39
  • Your salvation is dependent upon God's ability. II Timothy 1:12
  • God promises that you shall not come into judgment. John 5:24
  • No one shall snatch you from Jesus’ hand or the Father’s hand. John 10:28
  • You are in the hand of Christ. John 10:28
  • You are in the hand of God the Father. John 10:29,30
  • Saving mercy is the basis of our salvation. Titus 3:5
  • The Lord always lives to make intercession for you. Hebrews 7:25
  • God will finish what He has started in you. Philippians 1:6
  • God's covenant with you is everlasting. Hebrews 13:20, Jeremiah 32:40
  • The Lord Jesus is able to keep you from falling and present you faultless. Jude 24
  • The Lord Jesus is the author and the finisher of your faith. Hebrews 12:2

Christ's Atonement Covering is Everlasting
I really like what the Lord showed brother Roland Buck about the atonement covering of Christ, which he wrote about in chapter 8 of his book, Angels on Assignment.  He says that it's like this photo.

Brother Buck explained it like this:

"Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, which was the atonement for our sins, God can look down at us and upon all that happens in the normal course of this life, and our sins are hidden from him...."

He gave me a reference in Colossians 1:21-22 where he said God has wrapped up this message in a brief verse just as he showed me on the atonement diagram. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable IN HIS SIGHT:" Look back at the atonement diagram - from God's viewpoint. Then God lists the conditions for this to be so IN HIS SIGHT. Colossians 1:23: "IF you continue in the FAITH (in his covering) grounded and settled (confident), and be not moved away from the HOPE OF THE GOSPEL (this Good News) ..."

"We also need to remember that God is not only a God of love, but he is also a God of wrath. Sometimes people are looking for a license or excuse to sin because they have no real desire to turn from evil. However, they still want to have the safety of the covering and are trying to pull it over themselves. God wants people to know that while he has provided a place of safety, there is also an edge beyond which the covering does not reach...

"God explained to me that rebellion and idolatry are the two things which will take man out from under the covering. It is not that God removes the covering, it is not that God goes down and looks under it, but man removes himself. Look at the life of Israel and you will find that whenever God smote them and punished them, it was because of rebellion and idolatry.

When people put their faith in anything other than what Jesus has done, they voluntarily choose to be out from under his protective covering. When this is their decision, they are exposed to God's eyes, and he sees their sins, faults, and failures.

Our sins were all washed away by the blood of the lamb, and the only way God looks at us is through the cleansing blood of Jesus. Then he sees: Holiness instead of sin. Blamelessness instead of fault. Unreproveable (perfection) instead of failure.

We GET UNDER the covering by repenting of our sins. We STAY UNDER the covering by wanting to please God, and by obeying him even to the thoughts and intents of our heart. We GET OUT FROM UNDER the covering by rebellion or idolatry. 'AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!' (Joshua 24:19)."

Warning Signals of Rebellion and Idolatry
So the two things that will take you out from under the atonement arch are rebellion and idolatry.  So be very careful not to let that happen in your life.  Beware of the warning signals the Lord gives you if those begin to creep into your life.  Brother Buck says in chapter 9 what the warning signals are.  Here are some excerpts:

God loves us so much that he offers us everything in heaven and earth, even making us joint-heirs with Jesus. However, some individuals still choose to voluntarily walk out from under the atonement (the covering, or the blood of Jesus) through REBELLION and IDOLATRY.

To rebel is to refuse allegiance to or resist the authority of someone or some authority over you. God is our authority. To rebel against him is to turn our backs on that which he offers: the protection, the blessings, the love and the promises. Throughout the Bible, God plainly spells out the overwhelming blessings which come when we submit to his absolute control, and the curses which come when we resist or rebel against him.
Idolatry is excessive attachment or veneration (reverence) for some person or thing; admiration which borders on adoration. Idolatry is not just worshiping a god or image other than God, it is lusting after our own desires and pleasures, instead of doing what he wants us to do for him.

The message of rebellion and idolatry are divine warning signals for us to heed so that we may be protected from slipping away from God. Gabriel referred me to 1 Corinthians 10, and let me look at Moses and the children of Israel, who were God's chosen people, to see what took them out from under the cloud covering which is a illustration of the blood covering God places over us today. Verse 1 says, "Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea." 

WARNING! "So be careful. If you are thinking, 'Oh, I would never behave like that' - let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin.

WARNING! There are some definite warning signals in the Word where God highlights his plan, his acceptance and his covering for his people. He is not deleting the warnings and the call to his people to walk with him and to live for him. The warnings that he has given are just as sure as ever, but he wants them to be put in their proper perspective. He wants people who love him and desire to live for him to know how safe they are. But he wants people to know that the path they are on could lead to real trouble if they are not taking him seriously.

WARNING: Beware of a loss of a sense of the importance of spiritual things! There are many, many believers on the road of lethargy. Lethargy is a sense of lack of importance; a drowsy dullness to God; a lack of spiritual energy; sluggish in activity. Lethargy speaks forth from our inner being when we say, "It's easier to stay home. It's hard to generate excitement and zeal for the things of God. I have a few other things I want to do today, so I just won't go to church!"

WARNING! UNBELIEF! God wants us to have an alive awareness of what he is doing. He wants us to believe in the supernatural, because he is the God of the supernatural. If in your heart you are standing aloof, beware!

You might have had a real interest in church and working for God, but there has crept into your thinking a spirit of skepticism. You stand aloof with unbelief or doubt, both of which are enemies of God. If you say you believe in the supernatural and give one reason why you do and nine why you don't, your words are just hollow echoes. The warning says that you don't really believe in the supernatural, and without even realizing it, you find yourself questioning God's ways in your mind.

It is so easy to be lulled into becoming an observer who stands aloof saying, "I can't get too involved; I'm more or less neutral." There is no neutral ground - you are either pulling one way or another.

WARNING: "The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways;" (Proverbs 14:14). When you begin drifting back, long before you get totally away from God, you are interested only in those things that pertain to you, not the things of God. This is a warning sign.

WARNING! "What will we say then? Will we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" (Romans 6:1). The grace of God is a beautiful covering, but it is not a license to sin.

WARNING! "... Receive not the grace of God in vain" (2 Corinthians 6:1). God's grace is a gift and should not be received in vain.
All of these signals are good, and so are God's warning signs. They are just as effective to keep us from getting killed (spiritually) as the flashing lights at a railroad crossing are to keep us from getting killed physically! God loves us so much he has posted warning signs all along the lake of joy, just for our protection!

Putting it All Together
God is able to save us forever, complete the work He began in us, and keep us by His mighty power.  We should consider the kindness of God for us in these promises. But we must always consider the severity of God as well.  He will show kindness if we continue in His kindness, and severity if we fall away.

“Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.”  (Rom 11:22).  We've got to avoid rebellion and idolatry.

Those who fall away will be cut off.  That’s why we must keep the faith to the very end, living obediently, lest we receive this grace of God in vain.  We must never use these promises as an excuse to live disorderly and disobedient lives, for without holiness no one will see the Lord.  Rather abide in him, praying that He will keep you from falling, and trusting Him to do so.  And He will be faithful to do it!

Appended Additional Scriptures to encourage you:
  • The Lord will uphold you with His righteous right hand - Isaiah 41:10
  • The Lord will hold your hand and watch over you - Isaiah 42:6
  • Return to the Lord and He will abundantly pardon - Isaiah 55:7
  • He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life - John 3:36
  • He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment - John 5:24
  • Jesus keeps us in His Name, guarding us, so that not one of us perishes - John 17:11-12
  • Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him - Romans 5:9
  • For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace - Rom 6:14
  • There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus    Romans 8:1
  • Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us    Romans 8:33-34
  • No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  1 Co 10:13
  • But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Co 1:31-32
  • God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ - I Thessalonians 5:9-10
  • Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.1Th 5:23
  • I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day –2 Tim 1:12
  • The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.  (2Ti 4:18)
  • For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.  (Heb 2:18)
  • For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:15-16)
  • For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.  (Heb 10:14)
  • The Lord said, “Never will I leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.”    Hebrews 13:5
  • We are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time I Peter 1:5
Disclaimer: Although I have quoted excerpts from Roland Buck's book, I do not agree with everything in the book, since I do not find it all to be in agreement with God's Word.

Photo credit: The painting is called Forgiven, by Thomas Blackshear II

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I also recommend Drifting Away, The Apostasy Parables, and If --  A Picture Paints a Thousand Words.  You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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