The Truth About Salvation

Do you know that you know if you died today where you would spend eternity?

Today more than ever our lives are inundated with distractions, and more specifically distractions that take us away from the question posed above. It seems as though everyone wants to know what we think, what we feel, what we would do, or how we would react. I’ve noticed that many news outlets will post a picture or quote of a politically charged nature and simply ask the question “What do you think?” It doesn’t take long until the gloves are off and people are in an all out argument (to put it mildly) about where they stand on the issue, or how they feel. Many times this is done in the name of “A Healthy Debate”.

What good does this do for us as a society? Many will say that we should debate the issues, but many times a debate is the last thing it turns into. So who’s at fault? I submit that everyone who is involved in these distractions is, and that includes me, because I have fallen into these traps many times.

When speaking to those around us, we SHOULD be concerned with the answer to the question that I first posed. WHY? Because Jesus tells us all throughout the New Testament to love. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 says that even if we are all knowing, without love we are NOTHING! Let’s just go ahead and take a look at 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The Bible tells us that the Greatest Gift is love and the Great Commission is to share the Gospel and to make disciples of all nations. So if we are to follow the Great Commission using the Greatest Gift, then we are to lovingly point people to Jesus Christ, PERIOD! I cannot find anywhere in the scripture where Jesus tells us to have a “Healthy Debate”. Stop debating, stop calling names, stop the finger pointing, stop saying what you think or how you feel, AND START LOVING. Can this be tough at times? You bet! Should we take to Facebook because we don’t like what someone said, and “let them have it”? No way!

Let me attempt to get back on point. When prayerfully considered, and done with a sincere heart, asking the question “Do you know that you know if you died today, where you would spend eternity” is the greatest way to enact the Great Commission using the Greatest Gift. In fact, let me ask you this question.

Do YOU know that you know if you died today, where you would spend eternity?

Lets breakdown the three answers that you will get from this question. Depending on whom you are asking, you may get a variety of colorful reactions. But many times you will only get one of three answers, “Yes, No, or I Don’t Know”.

Yes

Don’t get excited too quickly. If the answer is yes, then the follow up questions where and why should be asked. If the answer is “Yes, I’m going to Heaven because I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I have a personal relationship with Him” then things are looking good, but we’re not excited just yet.

No or I Don’t Know

I would submit that “No and I Don’t Know” would fall into the same category, and that category would be “No, I do not know where I am going”. At least here, you know where a person stands. They are acknowledging that they do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior because of the simple fact that they’re unsure of where they’ll spend eternity. You either KNOW or YOU DON’T. At this point, we are able to explain to this person, if they are willing to listen, what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ and to walk them through the plan of salvation.

Yes*

Yes*, is for those whose convictions or lack of convictions may not line up with their words. Notice I didn’t say, “Actions may not line up with their words”, but rather “Convictions”.

You can’t determine where someone stands eternally based solely on his or her actions. If that were the case, we’d all be headed to hell, because we ALL sin! And many times, this is where the debates begin. “My sin is no worse than your sin”, “You can’t judge me, because you sin too”, and the debates, or might I say distractions, go on and on.

Now I’m not going to get into the specifics of what’s sin and what’s not sin because the Bible is very clear on that answer. Simply put, it’s any thing that does not please God.

So we’ve determined that your answer may be Yes*, and we’ve determined that sin is sin, and we all do it. So the next question I would pose is:

Do you wake up each morning convicted of the sin in your life and with a desire to please God?

Jesus said in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10), “Blessed are those who mourn” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”.

If you are a child of God, If you know that you will spend eternity in Heaven, and, If you know that you have a genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ, THEN YOU WILL AGONIZE OVER YOUR SIN AND HAVE A DESIRE TO PLEASE GOD DAILY! If this is not the case, meaning you don’t mourn over your sin AND strive to please God daily, then you really need to take a hard look at your salvation because you are riding a very dangerous train. It’s one that says, “I’m headed to Heaven” but in reality is headed straight for Hell.

Let me give an example.

An area that many people struggle with in their life is lust. I think we can all agree that lust would be considered a sin, and often the root of many other sins (James 1:14-15). I think we can also all agree that most Christians and Non-Christians struggle with this sin at some point in their life. So does the fact that I, as a Christian, have struggled with lust mean that I am not a child of God. Of course not! But I also know that each time it happens I am convicted of it, I ask God to forgive me for it, and I do everything in my power not to let it happen again. This means taking myself out of situations where it can happen, not watching shows that cause it to happen, and asking God everyday to protect my eyes from the things that will cause me to stumble. I wake up every morning convicted of my sin and with the genuine desire to please God.

Now let’s say that I were to struggle in the area of lust and were not convicted each time that it occurred. In fact, I defended my right to look at the opposite sex however I like, citing that everyone sins and this one is no different. I mean, it’s not like I’m killing anyone, right?

This is exactly where much of the church is today. People sitting in the pews each Sunday and hanging their hat on a prayer they said years ago. Their life revolves around them, they’ve embraced a sinful lifestyle (all in the name of rights), and they have absolutely no conviction of the Holy Spirit or desire to please the Creator of the universe! THEY ARE LOST. There is a fundamental flaw in our society today that says you can “Hunger and thirst for righteousness” without “Mourning over our sin” or simply put, you can desire to be like Jesus without worrying about your sin. They are correct, we can do that, but we would be severely misguided and LOST!

If you are a child of God, you WILL NOT be comfortable in your sin!

I encourage you to think about our first question. If you are 100% confident that you will be spending eternity with Jesus Christ, then praise God. If you are not 100% positive that you will spend eternity in Heaven, then I encourage you to get on your knees right now and talk to God. He’s there, the door is open, all you have to do is acknowledge that it’s your sin that separates you from God and ask Him to become Lord of your life.

I hope you understand that my motive here is to tell you the truth out of love. Nothing else.

Mitchell

P.S.

If you have questions or would like to know more about how to have “Peace with God”, please visit http://www.runforgod.com/peacewithgod.

The Thing About a Shirt

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This past weekend I was in Richmond, VA for the Youth and Junior Elite draft legal triathlon. Some of our young athletes were competing, and it was an all around great trip. Something happened this weekend that happens quiet often to our entire Run for God family. A gentleman came out of his way to comment on our shirts, more specifically, the suits our triathlon kids wear. He said that his son had recently come to know the Lord and when he saw one of our athlete’s on the course wearing their Run for God gear, it inspired him. The other part of our Tri team was competing at another venue and while getting a race summary from that venue; I heard the same thing, stories of how people had commented on the Run for God tent and the shirts. While making the eight-hour drive home, I pulled up my Facebook and began reading how Ben Reed, an instructor in Westerville, OH, had volunteered his class to work the packet pick-up at a local race. 14,500 runners were present. Guess what, they were all wearing their Run for God shirts, and to hear the impact they had on those runners was awesome!

Yes, I am wearing a Run for God shirt 95% of the time, and I get many comments from many people. The vast majority of comments are great, inspiring, and are the type of comments that you know the Lord has reached down and touched someone’s day. Even if it’s just a small touch. Others are witty and even rude at times, like the guy that asked me “What’s God running for? President?” I’m convinced that in some way, even those people are touched.

So, can a t-shirt make a difference? I say yes, but I say that with a strong word of caution. People today seem to be more aware than ever of how others handle and portray themselves. A Run for God shirt, or any spiritual shirt for that matter, on the shoulders of someone who is out in the world living for Christ and reflecting Jesus can be a very powerful thing. It says a lot about who you are and whom you follow. It lets others know what you stand for without you ever having to open your mouth. But, and here is the word of caution, you must be walking with Christ and reflecting His light for that shirt to have ANY power. I have a friend that had a quote from Francis of Assisi printed on the back of his Run for God shirt. The quote is simply “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words”. That statement is so true! We can make all the statements we want about how we live for God, and even have a closet full of spiritual shirts, but if our actions do not backup what we are representing then we are only hurting the cause and our words have no validity.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NIV)

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. God made him who had no sin to be sinfor us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

“Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words” Francis of Assisi

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Spiritual Base

Slow RunningThis past week I began a forty-week training plan that will hopefully land me at the Chattanooga Ironman finish line in under twelve hours in just over nine months from now.  Training for an event like his is something that I have become very familiar with.  I have read about this kind of training, gotten formal education on this kind of training, been certified to coach this type training, and I have personally endured this kind of training.

The first thing you will learn about any kind of endurance training is that you must first establish a base.  Base is a period of time in your training that you will exercise at an intensity that will many times seem easy, monotonous, and just a waste of time.  So why do I say that it may seem to be a waste of time?  Because as athletes we have an inner desire to always do better, to push ourselves to the limit, and as runners, to just get faster.  Base work accomplishes none of this; at least that is what we athletes often think.

It has always been said that many runners never get faster because their hard days are not hard enough, and their slow days are not slow enough.  Many times, you will fall into one category or the other, but rarely into both.  Base work builds endurance and is the foundation for everything that your training is built on.  Sure you can go out and do speed work every day of the week, you can even do 100 meter sprint until your heart is pounding out of your chest, but without a base level of fitness you’ll find it very hard to complete a 5K or 10K, much less a half or full marathon.  I once read a study that talked about the fact that many NBA players will often run 4.5 to 6 miles in a game at high intensities with no problem, but ask those same players to run 6 miles straight and they’d find that to be a real challenge.  Why?  Because basketball players do not build a base level of fitness, nor do they need it.  They train those fast twitch muscles to do exactly what they are designed to do, go fast, and neglect those slow twitch endurance muscles.

Speed work is great!  It’s challenging, it pushes you outside your comfort zone, and it makes you a better runner.  But without a good base period even the best speed work plan will not be sustainable.  If you’re running an endurance race and all you’ve done is speed work in training, you WILL blow up, hit the wall, and crash and burn.

So let me get to the point that I set out to make.  Today I was running one of those dreaded Six Mile Low Intensity Zone 3 training runs.  For those of you who don’t understand what that is, just take your comfortable running pace and at about two minutes per mile to it.  It’s a slow run; it’s almost embarrassingly slow and I was having a battle in my mind as to whether or not I should speed up.  The runner in me wanted to pick up the pace to my “comfort zone” and not look like the turtle rolling down the side-walk, but the trainer in me was hammering home the point that base work is a must and without it this 140.6 mile race might end at 70.3 or sooner.

It was at this point that the Lord began speaking to me about my Spiritual Base.  Don’t you just love it when God takes a point that you are trying to make to yourself and uses it to make His point for where you may be spiritually?  He began to show me that just like I must have an athletic base when competing in endurance events; I must also have a spiritual base when competing in this earthly event called life.

Spiritual base is also very basic.  It’s spending time in prayer and in Gods word.  This is the base by which we should all build our spiritual lives.  If you’re like me, I love to read books or hear sermons on how to be more spiritually fit.  These are great resources and if Biblically grounded will definitely add to your spiritual toolbox and make you sharper.  But these resources are like speed work, they will make you more knowledgeable and for a lack of better words, more spiritually fit, but without a strong base, they are useless.  Hearing a great sermon or reading a great spiritual book and having a deep daily relationship with God is like sharpening the edge of an industrial size log splitter.  That log splitter has a base big enough to get the job done even with a dull edge, but having it razor-sharp only makes it easier.  Hearing that great sermon or reading that great book without a deep daily relationship with Christ is like sharpening the edge of a razor blade.  Yes, it’s very sharp, but when put to the test against an oak log, it will fail!

So I challenge you today to join me in building a spiritual base that will stand up to even the biggest hurdle.  Make prayer and spending time in Gods word the backbone of your spiritual life.  Yes, it’s OK to sharpen the edge, but only after the base can back it up.

God Bless Everyone!

Mitchell

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   John 1:1