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

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

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

Do You Really Believe That God Answers Prayer?

In Acts 12 we see Herod executing James, one of the Sons of Thunder. We also see Herod arrest Peter so that he can kill him and thus incur even more favor with the Jewish authorities. While Peter is waiting for His execution, an angel delivers him much to his confused delight. He goes to the house where people are praying for him. At first they don’t believe that it is actually him. They think he must be a ghost. After all, Peter was to be put to death. Even though they were praying for him, he could not be there in person.

There are times in life when life itself seems too awful for life to continue. Fear grips us. Despair sets in. We go beyond worry to the point where we go through the stages of grief. Things seem out of control and we mourn that loss of control in the light of the event which brings on our fear. We deny that things have gotten out of hand and we deny that there’s anything we can do about it. This leads to anger. After all, as a Christian, we should not fear – we should be able to handle this. We get angry with God and with ourselves. Then we move, not to trusting God, but to bargaining with Him. We want Him to remove the attack or show us a way around the issue and when that doesn’t happen – when things don’t go the way we think God should take them – we despair. We become depressed because even God won’t help us when we need Him most. We also despair when we come to the end of ourselves and realize that we are not enough – that “we ain’t got this.”

The final stage of grief is acceptance. When we come to the end of ourselves – when we accept the fact that “we don’t got this” – can follow the instruction of Psalm 56:3. “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You, God.” We can either trust in God or we can continue to go down the road of despair – the road that leads to impotence, immobility, and incapacity. What began as an event that caused us to worry and fear becomes our ruin. And all because we did not trust in God.

By trusting in God we not only find peace and victory in the midst of the trial, but we also find freedom and strength to keep on living in spite of whatever life might throw our way.

So we pray. We turn it over to the Lord. We have prayed. We have turned it over to the Lord. The next step should be to “stand firm, without fear, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will accomplish for you.” “God will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13a & 14) This was the truth Moses declared to the Israelites as they were being pursued by the Egyptians and it’s true for us as Christians as well. Jesus promised us that He would never abandon us or forsake us.

However, in spite of what we know to be true about the ability of God to deliver us and/or sustain us in every situation, we quite often pray and then go right back to dwelling on the situation that brought us to the point of prayer in the first place. Instead of looking to Jesus in the midst of the storm we focus on the storm allowing our fear to increase and our faith to dissipate.

So we pray. We turn it over to the Lord. We stand still and see God work as only He can and we experience relief or we experience strength to see us through the crisis. And we rejoice knowing that God has once again proven Himself faithful.

Or . . . we deny that God has worked and think that there must be a more rational explanation. For example, you pray for someone you love to be freed from alcohol addiction. There have been numerous times in the past when you thought that God had accomplished the deliverance only to shortly learn that the deliverance was only temporary. Therefore, even though this time seems different, you don’t see it as the work of the Lord but rather just another trip down the endless road of rescue, redemption, and relapse. So instead of standing still and enjoying the salvation of the Lord, we see this event as one of those times in life when life itself seems too awful for life to continue.

One final thought – If God is sovereign, why do we pray? We pray “in Jesus’ Name” because we are submitting to His authority. Then God, in His sovereignty, can and does act according to what He knows is the best course of action. When Moses “changed God’s mind” (Exodus 32:14) it wasn’t that God didn’t know what was going on at the bottom of the mountain and Moses explained to Him why He was wrong. He wanted Moses to be involved in the process – to turn on the faucet of His divine plan and grace. God knows what we need before we ask Him. (Matthew 6:8) Still, He wants us to pray. He wants to live in close relationship with us and He wants us to trust Him before, during, and after the trials that come our way.  He wants us to ask.  He wants us to come to Him in prayer.  Being able to reconcile our freewill choice in prayer and God’s sovereignty in the situation we bring before Him )even before we ask Him) is something we may never understand this side of heaven, but exercising our freewill choice in prayer is something we must do.

We must pray at all times and trust God to not only hear our prayers but also to respond to our prayers. We must wait patiently and expectantly to see how God works to bring about His good in the midst of our situation.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, when you are facing difficulties see it as an opportunity to rejoice! Your faith is being tested and, as the problems grow, it develops endurance within you. Rejoice! And then as your endurance grows stronger, you will move from victory to victory until there is nothing nothing lacking in your character. Rejoice! If you want to understand what all this means, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! Just make sure you ask with confident faith and without doubting that you will receive. The ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like a wave in the ocean – driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and down the next. When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. God won’t give you the understanding you seek when you’re in that vacillating state of heart and mind. (James 1:2-8 – Paraphrased)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, July 31, 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

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Throughout the month of June 5 planets can be seen in the pre-dawn sky. This sky chart shows where these planets will be on Monday, June 13 at about 5:45 am. Mercury may be a little tricky and may require binoculars but it’s there. The fine tuning of the universe is such that these planets as well as all of the constellations seen in this chart can be pin-pointed on any day and at any time. Only an omniscient and omnipotent God is capable of the level of fine tuning necessary to design, create, and maintain a universe which stretches even beyond what we can see or even imagine.

~Job 26:7~ He stretches the northern skies over empty space; he hangs the earth on nothing.

~Job 9:4-9~ He makes the stars: the Bear, Orion, the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky.

~Psalm 8:3-4~ When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars suspended in space, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?

~Colossians 1:16-17~ For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.

It’s also interesting to note that the gods for which these planets were named have long since been considered nothing more than the musings of mortals trying to make sense of their universe. In actuality, The God who hung these planets in space – the God Who created everything we see in the night sky – is the same God Who still moves in the hearts of those who will listen. The other gods have fallen silent, but the God of all creation speaks. The other gods have shown just how powerless they are while the power of the One True God is witnessed every day. The other gods have become the fodder of fairly tales and fantasy, while the Omnipotent and Omniscient God is attacked regularly – along with His followers – BECAUSE He alone is the One Who stands in the way of those who choose to pursue evil, selfishness, greed, and power. He’s not going to change. The universe in its constant, consistent march through the eons of time should be proof enough that He – the Creator – is worthy of total trust, worship, and praise. Hallelujah!

We’re Off on the Road to Damascus

In his reign of terror on Believers of the Way, Paul was very much like the “radicals” we see around thee world who are persecuting Christians. Think of the men in the black hoods executing Coptic Christians on the beach in Egypt. He was no different

But God called him to a higher purpose. Similarly, God has called us to new life and a new purpose. Therefore, . . .

  1. We must respond to God’s call and not wait for Him to “get our attention.” (as Paul did)
  2. We must follow God’s instructions even when they seem foolish. (as Paul did)
  3. We must boldly proclaim the gospel to ALL people no matter their backgrounds or viewpoints and no matter what you think about them nor what they think about you. (as Paul did)

And no matter the situation, we must always remember that the ultimate problem our world faces is a sin problem. Until Christians get serious about obeying the call of God on their lives we can expect no different world than the fallen, depraved, and violent world in which we now reside. Without the Spirit-led proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Zietgeist – the spirit of this age – will continue to lead our culture down of path of destruction, pain, and hopelessness in which we will become more angry, more violent, and more immoral than anything we have seen before. Only God can stand against this onslaught and Christians must be following the call to go into all the world with the message of Jesus Christ. Truly, our only hope at this point is Jesus.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, May 29, 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

Pray!

Politicians can talk freely of what they will do to rebuild America — grand plans and designs, budget reforms and tax reforms, imports and exports, peace at home and peace abroad, safety and security. “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a  certain town and will stay there a year.   We will do  business there and make a profit.’   How do you know what your life will be like  tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a  little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are  boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

Now is the time to trust God instead of the plans of those who do nothing but boast of what they will do.