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

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

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

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

That Wascally Wabbit Paul

Ignoring the advice of friends and fellow Christians, Paul goes to Jerusalem after completing his 3rd missionary journey. Paul has been opening the doors of salvation to allow non-Jews – Gentiles – into the fellowship of believers. These interlopers were not circumcised and did not follow the Jewish law. They had no right to enjoy the blessings of the family of God.

After causing a riot at the Temple, he is taken by the Roman authorities to the Sanhedrin in order to determine why things were so tense. Things got off to a rough start when Paul was professing his good standing before God – a profession that led to him being slapped full on the mouth. He then proclaimed his belief in the resurrection which was a great source of contention in the Sanhedrin with the Pharisees believing in the resurrection and the Sadducees not believing. Things got so heated that the Roman commander had Paul taken out.

Paul was taken immediately taken to the Roman barracks for his safety. Back in the custody of the Roman authorities, Jesus appears to Paul to congratulate him on his faithfulness and to tell him that He is going to send Paul to Rome so he can share the Gospel there as well.

Forty zealous Jews committed themselves to not eating until they had killed Paul. Paul got word of the assassination plot and made sure the commander knew about. With this information in mind, the Roman commander put together an overwhelming military escort to get Paul out of town and on his way to Rome.

And what did we learn in today’s lesson. 3 things:

1. When we follow Jesus, opposition will come.

2. When opposition comes, Jesus will be there with us.

3. When the opposition comes we are safe in the arms of Jesus.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 09, 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

God Works

The book of Acts is actually The Acts of the Apostles. However, a more definitive name for the book might be The Acts of God through the Apostles. Throughout the book we see God building His church with the Apostles taking the lead in carrying out the work. But it was God Who added to their number daily those who were being saved – being saved by God. It was God Who empowered the Apostles to do perform signs and wonders as evidence of God’s power. And it was God who inspired the Apostles to speak boldly in His Name. And so we come to Acts 19 in which we see God work in numerous ways to bring glory to His name and expand His church.

The Holy Spirit – the very presence of God within us – is the driving force in anything and everything we do which honors God. In Acts 19:1-7 we see Paul bringing new Ephesian believers into the family of God. They had heard and followed the teachings of John the Baptist and Paul helped them understand that John’s focus was on Jesus. As they received the Good News – the Gospel – they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues thus verifying to Paul that they had done so. It was all the work of God. Paul’s trip to Ephesus; Paul’s encounter with these people; Paul’s telling them about Jesus; their response – it was all God’s work.

As we move into Acts 19:8-10 we see God working in Paul as he spoke boldly in the synagogue and then in a public hall. God’s work through Paul was so pervasive that in 2 years the entire region known as Asia (now Southwestern Turkey – an area about the size of Texas minus the Panhandle) had heard the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

God’s work continued in verses 11-17 where Paul was able to do things sometimes even by proxy. It makes sense when we know that the real power behind his acts was the omnipresent God. Paul cast out demons, but when some traveling exorcists tried to do the same the demons turned on them and it, in my opinion, led to some rather comical results.

When we get to Acts 19:18-20 we see God working in the lives of those who practiced all sorts of magic and sorcery. They were changed. They were changed dramatically. They turned their backs on their evil ways and even burned their books (worth about $13M by today’s standards) containing the incantations and teachings of their black magic arts. They sacrificed their heritage, their livelihood, their future, their combined knowledge, and their identity to follow Jesus.

The Acts of the Apostles is a book which describes how God worked through his Apostles then. But God is still at work. What will be in your book of Acts?

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 02, 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@texassongweaver

The Hope of the Resurrection and the 2nd Coming of Christ

Paul, in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica was hoping to encourage the believers with the hope of the resurrection and, more specifically, the 2nd coming of Christ and the resurrection of all believers who had already died. In 1 Corinthians 15:14-17 Paul explained that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our faith is useless. But the New Testament proves that Jesus did in fact rise again after His death and is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. Because Christ rose from the grave, we too will rise again. That is the hope of the Gospel.

There will come a time when those who put their faith and trust in Jesus will experience first hand the light of the resurrection. “And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them.” (Revelation 22:5 NLT) We will pass from the dimness of this dark world into his glorious light. From the time God created light in the midst of the dark, formless, and void earth He has been moving from darkness to light. And the ultimate expression of God’s desire to move us from the dim, dark, world in which we live to His place of eternal light is the resurrection.

Therefore, encourage each other with these words. Paul gives this exhortation to the Thessalonians in both the 4th and 5th chapters. We should likewise take to heart this call to the ministry of encouragement. We must spread the news that in Jesus we can know victory over death; we can know victory over the darkness of this world; and we can walk in the light even as He is in the light – no matter how dark the world may grow around us.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, September 25, 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

Galatians: The Rule (and Domination) of Law

The Rule of Law is the system under which we live in America. We press for law and order. If something doesn’t seem right we want to pass a law or at least a rule to fix the problem. We live daily with thousands of laws and rules and guidelines and procedures – some of which we can live with and some of which cause us great irritation.

When Paul addresses the Galatians he actually calls them foolish for following the law. But specifically he was saying that the law was given to show us our transgressions, but that it was incapable of saving anyone. Salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The Galatians and we, by extension, cannot be good enough to earn our way into heaven. To accept the grace of God as found in the atoning work of Christ and then decide we are going to try to be good enough for God to accept us is nothing more than a slap in the face of God. It’s not just foolish – it’s ungratefully rude.

Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. He did not say that if we keep His commandments we will love Him. We must do the things He wants us to do, but not because it’s some kind of fraternal initiation to get us into heaven, but because we truly love Jesus and want to honor Him in all we do.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, September 18, 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@texassongweaver