What Is Salvation? ~ Part 1

Far too many Christians rest comfortably on the fact that they are saved without giving serious thought as to what that means. From what are we saved? To what are we saved? To what extent does our salvation affect our daily lives? What does it mean to be born again? Why is Jesus so important in salvation? What are the various aspects of salvation and when do we experience the different aspects of salvation? Is salvation intended to make us better people? When we are saved, can we do whatever we want? Is salvation at “get out of jail free” card?

In this session we discuss these questions and many more. After all, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, February 5, 2023. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions entitled Living the Agape Life – a Bible study curriculum developed by Bob Young with input from the members of the Agape Life Class. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

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Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

What Happens When We Die – Part 2

When God created humans, He created them with a body and a soul and a spirit and placed them in the Garden – Paradise – where the tree of life is – where they were to rule over the newly created earth. When they sinned they were banished from the Garden. (Genesis 1:26-30; 2:8-9 & 15; 3:23-24)

When Jesus returns He will raise us up with a resurrected body, soul, and spirit, and place us in the Garden – Paradise – where the tree of life is- where we will rule with Jesus over the New Heaven and the New Earth. Once we were banished from the Garden because of our sin and now we will dwell there for all eternity because of the sacrificial death of Jesus who paid the price for our sin and rose again as firstfruits of the resurrection. (Matthew 19:28; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:1-3; Revelation 20-22)

Concerning the question, “What Happen When We Die?” he final answer is that when we die we leave our physical bodies behind and spiritually go to be with Jesus. When Jesus returns we will have our bodies restored as glorified and perfected bodies in which we will enjoy eternity in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Therefore, as Paul said, we should “encourage one another with these words.” We should encourage fellow believers and we should encourage non-believers to look forward to that day when we lay aside these mortal bodies and meet Christ face to face. What a grand day that will be. Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, January 29, 2023. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions entitled Living the Agape Life – a Bible study curriculum developed by Bob Young with input from the members of the Agape Life Class. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Living in Laodicea – Living in the USA

Laodicea was large city in Asia (now western Turkey) and one of the seven churches which received at letter from Jesus via John’s book entitled Revelation. These letters were written to encourage the churches in the face of persecution and exhort them in the areas where they needed to be strengthened. The letter to Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) was the last of the seven letters. Unfortunately, Jesus had nothing good to say about the Laodiceans and, as we examine the things he said about them, we see that He could say the same things to the churches right here in the USA.

He called the church at Laodicea neither hot nor cold – lukewarm. He went on to say that they made him sick – vomit sick. They thought that they were rich, but they were really poor; they thought they knew it all, but they knew nothing. To them everything in their world seemed fine and dandy but Jesus called them wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. They were so placidly lukewarm that they didn’t even know how bad off they were.

And so it is with the church in America today. We live such a life of luxury that we have lulled ourselves into thinking that enjoying the good things this world has to offer is the way to contentment; that R&R (rest and relaxation) is the chief end of man. The ultimate outcome of such thinking is complacency and the strong desire that nobody rock the boat. Many days the thing that occupies our deepest thought is not what we will eat, but where we will go to eat. It’s not how the starving will find food and it most certainly is not on where our neighbor stands in their relationship the Bread of Life – Jesus.

It’s time for us as Christians – members of Christ’s church – to decide: Are we going to keep on living as a mealy-mouth, wishy-washy, namby-pamby, lily-livered, yellow-bellied, watered-down Christians or are we going to live boldly for the victorious Christ – sharing His love, His hope, His salvation?

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, December 11, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

The Redeemer Reveals His Glory

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and then end in all of creation, in our church, and in our personal lives. The entire book of Revelation points to this truth – that Jesus is, was, and always shall be supreme – our all in all.

When John had his vision he was on the Island of Patmos. Patmos was an island penitentiary just off the coast of Asia or what we now call western Turkey. He was put there by the Roman Emperor Domitian because of his belief in the risen Christ. In the midst of his vision he is instructed by Christ Himself to write down all of the things he had seen and would see. This writing was to be sent to seven churches – also in Asia – for their edification.

The churches in Asia faced serious persecution especially at the hands of the Roman government. While Revelation is eschatological and apocalyptic, it first offered instruction, encouragement, and hope for those churches in Asia, but also for all Christians and all churches facing persecution. Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, truly is the first word in all of creation and, in the end, He will have the last word as well.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, December 4, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

One Solitary Life

As we enter into the Advent Season – joyfully celebrating the coming of our Messiah – we should never forget what Jesus has done for us in His coming. Even from infancy He was destined to die for our sins. Even from infancy He was destined to change the way mere mortals could gain access to God. Even from infancy He was destined to change the world.

He was born in an obscure village

The son of a simple peasant woman.

He grew up in another small town

And worked with his father in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.

And then for three years he was what we might call a traveling preacher.

He never owned a home – never married and never had a family.

He never wrote a book. He never held political office.

He never went to college and never set foot inside a big city.

He walked wherever He went

And He never traveled more than 200 miles from the place he was born.

He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.

While still a young man the tide of public opinion turned against Him.

Most of His friends deserted Him; one denied even knowing Him

And One betrayed Him and turned Him over to His enemies.

He went through the mockery of a trial

And was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While He was dying His executioners gambled for His only possession – His robe.

When He was dead he was taken from the cross

And laid in a borrowed grave.

Almost twenty centuries have since come and gone

And today this man is the centerpiece of the human race.

I think I am well with in the mark when I say

That all the armies that ever marched –

All the navies that ever sailed –

All the parliaments that have ever sat and

All the kings that have ever reigned –

All put together have not affected the life of man here upon this earth

As powerfully as has that one solitary life.

And I can definitely add that no one has affected my life as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

I developed this version of the essay “One Solitary Life” by Dr James Allan Francis by using his words and other phrases that I have heard and used in stating the significance of Jesus Christ. It is a powerful statement that is true in its content and will strike true in the heart of anyone who considers it with an open mind and searching soul.

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Defending the Faith

Defending the Faith

In our culture there are innumerable philosophies vying for our attention as well as our devotion. How do we know what’s best; what’s right; what’s wrong; what’s true? Even in our churches, in which we should find the very truth of God, there are competing doctrines and biblical interpretations which seem to muddy the waters. And then there are those who use the platform of biblical instruction to promote themselves as they advance their ideas and philosophies for personal satisfaction and gain. This is why Jude pens his letter – to counteract those who would seek to coop the early church for their own purposes.

Jude begins with a brief salutation and then states his purpose – to encourage the believers to contend for the faith. Contending for the faith is something we need to do as individual Christians and as the church. The spiritual warfare is real. It is a real struggle – an agonizing struggle – and one that we can’t naively ignore. In our culture there are innumerable philosophies vying for our attention as well as our devotion and we tend to avoid the conflict of competing ideals. Conflict is stressful whether it is internal or external. To avoid the stress and pain of conflict we simply go along to get along. Indeed, tolerance has become the ultimate test of morality as opposed to the absolute truth of God’s word. If you choose to not follow the path of agreeably going with the societal flow, you will be branded as the most evil among us.

Therefore, we must contend for the faith – defend the faith – and do so with the love and compassion of Christ. The first step in contending for the faith is knowing the faith. Study the scriptures to “present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The next step in contending for the faith is openly and honestly discussing the truth, but we must remember that our fight is not with people, but with demonic forces of evil who are dead set (pun intended) on opposing God and the One Who is the way, the truth, and the light. The struggle is not against those who espouse such errant thoughts, but against the evil forces that perpetuate them. Furthermore, as we defend the faith, we must not become defensive. While we argue for the faith, we must not become argumentative. In our contending for the faith, we must not become contentious. We must stand firm on the truth of God ‘s word – firm in our salvation – firm in the saving grace of Jesus.

We love because He first loved us. We speak truth because He spoke (and speaks) truth to us. And we speak the truth in love because His love and truth is the only thing that will save this dying world.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 27, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Obeying from Love

(Note: This video was taken from a backup recording so the audio and video quality are not up to standard. Please forgive these inferior qualities. However, the message is one we need to remember and let it compel us to respond by loving God and loving others in His name.)

In John 8:31 Jesus says, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.”

Then in John 14:15 He says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

John expands on this connection between love and obedience in his letter, 1 John. He reminds us of what Christ has done for us. He reminds us that we owe Him our whole lives. And it is out of gratitude and our love for him that we choose to follow Him in every way. We don’t do what He tells us to do because we think it will improve our standing with Him; we don’t do it to pay it forward so to speak; we don’t do it to work our way into heaven. We do it because we love Him. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 20, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Living and Loving in Grace

The shortest of Paul’s letters was addressed to Philemon. In it he urged Philemon to welcome a man named Onesimus. In fact, Paul sent the letter with Onesimus who delivered it to Philemon in Colossae. The problem is that Onesimus was once a slave belonging to Philemon and to make matters worse Onesimus was a runaway slave who apparently stole property from Philemon before making his escape.

Onesimus (whose name means “useful”) joined with Paul while Paul was in prison in Rome. He proved to be quite “useful” to Paul and, in the process of spending time with Paul, gave his heart to Jesus. Paul had also led Philemon to Jesus and he wanted his brothers in Christ – Onesimus and Philemon – to transition from a slave-slave owner relationship to a relationship as brothers in Christ.

It was a significant request that Paul made of Philemon, considering how things had worked out in the past. Philemon would have been within his rights to beat his former slave, make him work even more to pay off his debt, or worse, take his life.

The thing is that God has the right as God to treat us according to our sins. We are deserving of death in the presence of a holy, righteous God. We have sinned and the payment for sin is death. And yet, God has paid our debt and forgiven our sins all through the work of Jesus. When we consider how we have been forgiven by God, we have no choice but to forgive those who have wronged us.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 13, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Trusting God in the Storms of Life

Friday night we were anticipating some serious weather as a cold front approached. We heard reports of high winds, hail, lightning and tornadoes associated with this front. We took precautions to try to mitigate damage from high winds and other effects of the storm. We turned on the television to watch the weather reports and waited for the front to blow through while we reviewed our response actions should a tornado warning be sounded. The front blew through mildly in our area even though there were dozens of tornadoes that did plenty of damage across 4 states. We had rain and lightning and strong winds though nothing was severe.

We all face storms in different ways. Even my wife and I have different ways of responding to the approach of a storm system. However, one thing is universal – we all face storms whether they be weather related or the storms of life. Paul dealt with storms in his missionary journeys. In fact, 4 times he was shipwrecked at the hands of those storms. Three of those shipwrecks are mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:25 and one is recorded by Luke in Acts 27 & 28.

Paul was being transported to Rome because he had appealed to Caesar during his trials in Judea. The ship they sailed on the Mediterranean Sea ran into a violent storm and set them adrift for over 2 weeks. The storm terrified those onboard – even the sailors for whom this was their way of life. However, Paul remained steadfast and was the calming influence for the entire ship. God’s faithfulness was demonstrated in Paul’s life and in his response to the storm. Because of God’s providential care and Paul’s God-given peace, all 276 people onboard the ship made it safely to land. Because God is always faithful we can trust Him always – especially when we seem to be adrift in our lives or when all seems lost.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 6, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com