— Romans 8:28
Anonymous asked: What are some passages of scripture to help someone with a doubtful heart? I’m really struggling with fact of am I saved or is God even real. I don’t even know where to look in the Bible please help.
Thanks so much for your question! I really hope and pray that I can help you discover who you are and help you find answers to the challenges you are facing.
First of all, let me say this: Struggling with the belief of salvation is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a very good checkpoint where we can reflect on ourselves and our character and see where we need Christ’s help to renew the broken parts of our lives.
Having said that, let me define salvation for you. Salvation is believing that Jesus Christ, being God, came and died for your sin, resurrecting after his death so that you could walk in newness of life with Him. All you must do to receive his salvation is believe that He is God and He died for you. If you truly believe that, you will follow Him.
Now, what can happen sometimes is that we start to find other things in life that we deem as valuable, and then we soon forget about God. Jesus Christ becomes a concept or fact, rather than a vibrant, living relationship.
Now, I will show you some Scripture:
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:3-11 (NLT)
In this particular passage, Peter is addressing people who truly believe in Jesus (v.1). So this applies to anyone who truly thinks they are Christian. Here is what I want you to focus on: Peter mentions seven things one should add to their faith for growth and maturity (v. 5-7). Doing or not doing these things does not make you saved or condemned, but if you truly believe in Jesus, these 7 things will stop you from becoming fruitless and forgetting that you are saved. So read this over and over and think about how you can improve in all of those areas, and then pray to God to give you strength. If you lack moral excellence, ask God to give you strength to rid yourself of sin and find ways to fight those battles. If you lack knowledge, commit to reading your Bible, join a Bible study, or get someone to hold you accountable or perhaps find a study partner. If you lack Godliness, commit yourself to prayer and fasting and spend time with God so that you can be refreshed and refocused on who He is.
Now that we have talked about that, I want to show you what it looks like to be saved:
“I am thetrue vine, and my Father isthe vinedresser.2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruithe takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit.3 Alreadyyou are cleanbecause of the word that I have spoken to you.4 Abidein me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine;you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is thatbears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 If anyone does not abide in mehe is thrown away like a branch and withers;and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.7 Ifyou abide in me, and my words abide in you,ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8 By this my Father is glorified, that youbear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.9 As the Father has loved me,so have I loved you. Abide in my love.10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just asI have keptmy Father’s commandments and abide in his love.11 These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and thatyour joy may be full.” – John 15:1-11
So I want to make something very clear now. If you are saved, you will not be perfect. We all need to be pruned. We have times in our walk when we get distracted by things of this world, and then we begin to wither and die. Every Christian has been there.
Having made that clear, I want you to ask yourself “Do I really love Jesus? Do I want to obey what He commands because I love Him?” You see, Jesus told His disciples in this passage that they would obey His commands if they love Him. If they do not love Him, they won’t obey His commands. This doesn’t mean you will be perfect. Jesus knew they were not perfect, after all, Peter denied Him three times and everyone abandoned Him at the time of His arrest (Mark 14).
Now, in verse 8 Jesus told them to prove they are His disciples by bearing much fruit. This does not mean that they needed to prove to God that they are His disciples (v. 5 says they can’t). What it does mean is that we can see for ourselves if we are truly His disciples. If you want to know if you are a Christian or not, study this passage and ask yourself these questions afterwards:
1. Do I love Jesus?
2. What is my deepest desire?
3. Is my deepest desire to follow and serve Jesus, or serve myself and my desires?
4. Have I been trying to fix myself for Jesus or have I been asking Jesus to help me grow closer to Him?
After you answer those questions, I am sure that you will be certain on whether or not you are saved. After all, who can love Jesus and not be saved? If you love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will follow Him.
Bear in mind this one thing: Jesus did not say what He did in John 15 in order to criticize, terrify, or discourage His disciples. He said in verse 11: “These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and thatyour joy may be full.” Jesus does not want you to be struggling and heart shattered. He wants you to be full of joy. That is why He told His disciples to abide in Him and love Him and bear fruit in order to show that they are truly children of God. Once you know who you are in Christ, you will have joy. But once you forget and do not apply the 7 pillars that Peter talked about, you will become “shortsighted and blind, forgetting that you have been cleansed from your past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)
I hope all of this has helped! I want to suggest to you a few resources. I want you to get 2 books: Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll. Crazy Love is about what truly loving and believing in Christ is all about, and Who Do You Think You Are is a study on Ephesians about your identity and who Christ has made you to be. Please get both of those books! Figuring out where you stand with Christ is worth the 20-30 dollars that you would spend on something else.
Mark Driscoll did a sermon series based on his book that you can find here. You can watch one or two a week until you get through the whole thing. I think it would be very beneficial for you!
Also, I just finished watching a sermon by Francis Chan on being “Lukewarm.” I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that term, but it basically means that you haven’t truly made a decision to follow Christ and you’re just sitting on the fence about it. The sermon was very challenging and I think it would be very beneficial for you to work through it. You can find the video here.
I hope that my words will help you work through all of this. Please take advantage of the resources I have offered. Invest your time into discovering where you stand with God! Nothing else is more important. Cancel social events with friends. Quit your job if you need to! This is far more important than anything in this world. Simply try your very hardest to work and wrestle through this fatal question: “Am I really saved?”
If you have any more questions or anything you want to explain or comment on, please let me know! I am always here to help or simply listen. You are in my prayers.
God bless and much love,
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” - Hebrews 4:12
I read this passage today and it got me thinking about how frustrated I am with the way Christians (myself included) treat the Bible sometimes. We treat the Word of God as some sort of automatic habit or spiritual hobby.
Why do we do that? The Bible is not a textbook. It is God’s message to humanity about Jesus Christ. It is God revealingHimself to us, and with a stone-cold stare, we flip those pages.
When was the last time you read the word of God and its message shot so deep into your heart that you just became still, praying to God and thanking Him for who He is?
Before you open the Bible, open your heart to God and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you further and deeper into your relationship with Christ.
This is not crusty, stale, wooden knowledge. This is the word of God. Let us treat it as nothing less.
Anonymous asked: I’ve been very torn on some topics I’ve been reading in the Bible. Jesus states to be peaceful and versus like Matthew 5:38-42, but in different books of the Bible people talk about being warriors of the faith and wearing the armor of God. My question is how do we be kind and peaceful, but warriors at the same time? I have a friend who is a navy seal, so this has been weighing on my mind of is this right to go into war or not?
Thank you for the question! I am glad you are wrestling with your convictions and the Bible!
Here’s what I think: When it comes to Matthew 5:38-42, I think Jesus is not talking about defending yourself, I think He is talking about refusing to seek vengeance. If I am attacked on the street, I will defend myself. If my family or friends are attacked, I will defend myself. Here is the key: Do everything in love. Seek peace. If fighting is not necessary, then do not fight. If it is necessary to defend yourself, then by all means, defend yourself.
“For everything, there is a season. There is a time to kill, and a time to heal.” – Ecclesiastes 3.
Your friend is a navy seal. I think that is a heart issue. If he wants to go to war because he is bloodthirsty, he is in sin. If he wants to go to war to prove something to someone in the past, he is being selfish. If he wants to go to war because he wants to die, he is not seeking hope and joy from Christ. If he wants to go to war to see his country protected, then he is being selfless. Do you understand where I am going with this? So talk to your friend and find out his heart. This is not a black and white topic.
Also, when the Bible talks about wearing the armor of God, it talks about it in a spiritual sense, not in a physical war sense. It draws on what we know about earthly war, and applies it to spiritual battle. You can read about that in Ephesians 6. As for being warriors of the faith, I’m not sure where the Bible says that, but I highly doubt it would ever mean to be physically violent for Jesus. That does not match up with the life and truth that Jesus wants us to live by.
At the same time, when Scripture tells us to seek peace, it does not tell us to lay down and die. Instead, it tells us to seek peace by pursuing love. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can ever do is fight evil and oppression. Standing up for what is right and standing up for what is true, more often than not, causes opposition instead of peace.
Speaking about the truth, Jesus said this:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10
This does not mean that God wants us to cause strife. It simply means that standing up for the truth and following Jesus is not going to help you live a peaceful life. You will find peace in Jesus, but obeying and following Jesus is going to cause hardship. It’s going to stir people against you, and you’re going to have to deal with that and find peace in Him.
So here’s what I think. I think that violence is sometimes justified. I think that there are times where we need to use physical force to protect ourselves or the ones that we love. So the question is not “Is war justified?” But the question is “In this specific situation, how can I stand up for what is right in love?”
I hope that helps you a little bit! Let me know if you have any more questions or concerns!
I will be praying for your convictions and for your friend as well!
Idolatry is taking anything, even if it is good, and elevating it to a place of recognition where you say “If this god disappears from my life, I will be crippled for life.” Whether this god is a job, financial situation, person, idea, state of mind, place, emotion, event, or anything else, it will rob you of true satisfaction and joy which only comes from true worship of the one and only God: Jesus Christ, Lord of lords and King of kings.
Take some time to reflect on what or who you are worshipping: Is it creation or Creator? Is it a lie or is it truth? Is it temporary or is it eternal?
What do you hold as top priority and love in your life?
There is only one god who will not fail you in this life and the next. Take these next moments to realize that this god is Jesus, and He will never leave, forsake, or fail you.
A lot of people have really bad theology. Simply because of how they grow up or who they think is Biblical. And this is terrible, because they don’t look at their Bible with a critical mind and ask themselves how they can know who God really is.
Yes, I am partially talking about doctrine. No, I am not talking about trivial things like speaking in tongues or the rapture. I am talking about the identity of Christ.
He is more than a Nazarene peasant.
He is not your get-out-of-Hell free card.
He is more than a brutalized innocent victim.
He is not your teddy bear that you cuddle when you’re guilty or lonely.
He is God. Let’s treat Him that way.
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
— Proverbs 13:12
Many skeptics believe that the Bible has drastically changed over the centuries. In reality, the Bible has been translated into a number of different languages. However, the ancient manuscripts must have been reliably copied over the centuries - with very few alterations.
How do we know that the Bible has been kept in tact for 2,000 years of copying?
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, our earliest Hebrew copy of the Old Testament was the Masoretic text, dating around 800 A.D. The Dead Sea Scrolls date to the time of Jesus and were copied by the Qumran community, a Jewish sect living around the Dead Sea. We also have the Septuagint which is a Greek translation of the Old Testament dating in the second century B.C. When we compare these texts which have an 800-1000 year gap between them, we are amazed that 95% of the texts are identical with only minor variations and a few discrepancies.
We have tens of thousands of manuscripts of the New Testament which date from the second century all the way to the late fifteenth century. These manuscripts have been found in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. Because we have found these manuscripts in different parts of the world between such a large period of time, it causes collusion to be most unlikely.
The oldest manuscript, the John Rylands manuscript, has been dated to 125 A.D. and was found in Egypt. This is some distance from where the New Testament was composed, which was in Asia Minor. In 1935, we discovered many early Christian papyri which have been dated to 150 A.D. and include all four Gospels. The Papyrus Bodmer II was discovered in 1956 and has been dated to 200 A.D. This manuscript contains 14 chapters and portions of the last seven chapters of the Gospel of John. The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, which was discovered in 1931, has been dated to 200-250 A.D., and contains the Gospels, Acts, all of Paul’s epistles, and Revelation.
So with this in mind, it is easily proven that nothing in the Bible has been changed or has gotten lost along the way. What makes the Bible so accurate? Let me show you.
The reason why the Bible is so accurate is because of the number of manuscripts, which are extensive when compared to other ancient historical writings.
Caesar’s “Gallic Wars” was 10 Greek manuscripts with the earliest 950 years after the original. That’s almost a thousand years after it was authored.
The “Annals”of Tacitus has 2 manuscripts, with the earliest 950 years after the original. Again, almost a thousand years after the original was authored.
Livy had 20 manuscripts, the earliest 350 years after the original, and Plato had 7.
To demonstrate more accurately:
Caesar, written 100-44 B.C., earliest copy 900 A.D., 10 manuscripts over a time span of 1,000 years
Plato, written 427-347 B.C., earliest copy 900 A.D., 7 manuscripts over a timespan of 1,200 years
Thucydides, written 460- 400 B.C., earliest copy 900 A.D., 8 manuscripts over a timespan of 1,300 years
Tacitus, written 100 A.D., earliest copy 1100 A.D., 20 manuscripts over a timespan of 1,000 years
Sustonius, written 75-100 A.D., 950 A.D., 8 manuscripts over a timespan of 800 years
Homer, written 900 B.C., earliest copy 400 B.C., over a time span 500 years: 643 manuscripts.
New Testament, 40-100 A.D., earliest copy 125 A.D., over a timespan of 25-50 years: 24,000 manuscripts
It is easy to see how the New Testament stayed so intact. The scribes who wrote the manuscripts were very diligent in their work.
Thousands of early Christian writings and lexionaries (first and second century) cite verses from the New Testament. In fact, so many verses were cited that it is possible to nearly put together the entire New Testament just from early Christian writings!
For example, the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is dated to 95 A.D., and cites verses from the Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews, and 1 Peter. Another example are the letters of Ignatious (115 A.D.) were written to several churches in Asia Minor, and quotes verses from Matthew, John, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.
These letters indicate that the entire New Testament was written in the first century A.D. In addition, there is internal evidence for a first century date for the writing of the New Testament. The book of Acts ends abruptly with Paul in prison, awaiting trail (Acts 28:30-31). It is likely that Luke wrote Acts during this time, before Paul finally appeared before Nero. This would be about 62-63 A.D., meaning that Acts and Luke were written within thirty years of the ministry and death of Jesus.
Another internal evidence is that there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Although Mattthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus’ prophecy that the temple and city would be destroyed within that generation (Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5-9, 20-24, 32), no New Testament book refers to this event as having happened. If they had been written after 70 A.D., the letters would have mentioned the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. Nelson Glueck, former president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and renowned Jewish archaeologist, stated, “In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written between the forties and eighties of the first century A.D.”
With all of the massive manuscript evidence you would think there would be massive discrepancies - just the opposite is true. New Testament manuscripts agree in 99.5% of the text (compared to only 95% for the Iliad). Most of the discrepancies are in spelling and word order. A few words have been changed or added. There are two passages that are disputed but no discrepancy is of any doctrinal significance (i.e., none would alter basic Christian doctrine). Most Bibles include the options as footnotes when there are discrepancies. How could there be such accuracy over a period of 1,400 years of copying? Two reasons: firstly, the scribes that did the copying had meticulous methods for checking their copies for errors. Secondly, the Holy Spirit made sure we would have an accurate copy of God’s Word so we would not be deceived. Critics that claim the Bible has been tampered with are completely proven false by the extensive, historical manuscript evidence.
“According to Norman Geisler, “[variances] are spread throughout more than 5,300 manuscripts, so that a variant spelling of one letter of one word in one verse in 2,000 manuscripts is counted as 2,000 [variances].”
These variances are created primarily by differences in spelling and grammar, but do not affect doctrines from the Bible. Bruce Metzger, an expert on Greek biblical manuscripts, estimated that the New Testament as we have it today is 99.5% accurate based upon the Bibliographical Test, one of three tests that literary critics use to determine the authenticity of historical documents. This particular test takes into account the number of manuscripts, their quality, and how close they are to the originals.
To really appreciate the amount of manuscripts, their reliability, and closeness to the original texts, I recommend for you to simply compare them with other historical documents and you will see that they are unmatched by any other.” - Mark Driscoll
The Christian Gospel is that Jesus Christ, who is God, came to this world (John 3:16) that has been sinful since The Fall (Rom. 3:23) to show us that He is indeed God,and that He is perfect in all ways. He then He died on the cross (Phil. 2:6-9) to take the penalty of our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus then resurrected from his death (1 Cor. 15:4) by the power of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, anyone who believes that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected will have their sins eternally forgiven, because they accepted the pardon that was offered by God (John 3:16;18). By believing in Jesus, the Holy Spirit changes our hearts (2 Cor. 5:17), and we live a life in obedience to what Jesus commanded us to do (Mark 8:34). If we reject this Gospel, we will be held responsible for our sin (John 3:18), and be condemned to eternal punishment (2 Thess. 1:9). However, God is loving, and desires no one to perish, but everyone to repent (Rom. 5:8;1 Tim. 2:4).
This isn’t about you. This isn’t about your health, riches, reputation, success, real estate, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or anything else you can find in this world. He died so that your spirit may find everlasting life.
You have to be willing to give up everything for Christ.
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. - Mark 8:34-35
Jesus didn’t die for your self-satisfaction, He died so that you might find satisfaction in Him.