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Assurance

Do you ever question the validity of your faith? Maybe you didn’t pray the right words. Maybe when you believed it didn’t “take”. How can you be sure?

Don Carson answers this question brilliantly. Watch and be blessed!

Martin Luther

As i read today’s Bible reading, I instantly thought of Martin Luther’s powerful hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and will bring him to nothing at the appearance of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8 CSB)

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also:
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever.

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther

Application

As you consider the Second Coming of Jesus and His judgment on the lost, are you comforted or worried? If you are a Believer, you have nothing to be worried about! Your judgment has already been dealt with decisively in the death of Jesus on a cross almost two thousand years ago! There is no sin you could commit that could undo the provision God has already given you in Jesus! There no sin that is more powerful than the love, the grace, and the mercy of God!

But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by what we said or what we wrote. (2 Thessalonians 2:13–15

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Campfire

One may wonder why we don’t see today what the First Century Church saw in terms of revolutionary transformation of people. Going back to Acts 2, three thousand people responded to the Gospel message and were baptized.

In one day!

Paul warned several churches, most notably the Galatians, to beware believing a Gospel contrary to the one that he preached to them. He said that even if an angel from heaven appeared and preached a different Gospel, he should be accursed for doing it. (Galatians 1:8-9) The Gospel is crucial! The Gospel is critical. And the Gospel’s purity is worth guarding.

When Paul preached, he wasn’t giving a motivational speech, encouraging people to live better lives or to merely give passing approval to some truth claims. In today’s Bible reading, Paul applauds the Thessalonians for going “all-in” with the “all-in” Gospel message!

So why aren’t we seeing the same results as centuries before? Either the Gospel has changed or the Gospel being proclaimed isn’t the true Gospel. Well, we know the Gospel itself hasn’t changed. So the only other option is that — by and large — perhaps the Gospel that’s being proclaimed isn’t the true Gospel.

Application

Assuming you have received the Gospel message at some point in your life, how affected by the Gospel are you? Is your faith a roaring fire, burning brighter as you hear the Gospel and preach the Gospel to yourself? Or is your faith smoldering, just glowing embers?

When a campfire dies down, the embers glow, but they don’t produce any flames. If you need for it to burn more, you have to add fuel to the fire and add oxygen to the glowing coals. Sometimes getting oxygen deep into the glowing coals means you have to get down on the ground, with your face right next to the fire and slowly blow at the very base of the fire.

To rekindle your fire, to increase your own response to the Gospel you may need to get on your face before God and let Him blow over you with the power of the Holy Spirit. Maybe then you’ll respond to the Gospel the way you did once before.

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Grapes

Jesus gives us our purpose in today’s Bible reading: bear fruit. He is the true Vine. And Believers are branches attached to the True Vine. The responsibilities of the branches are to stay connected with the Vine and let the life of the Vine flow through them. Union and Communion.

As long as a Believer stays in Union and Communion with the Vine, the life of the Vine produces fruit. Notice that the Vine produces the fruit through the branches. The branches bear fruit produced by the Vine.

Branches that are not attached to the Vine are gathered up and burned (John 15:6) because they take up space in the vineyard. But branches that are attached to the Vine, but aren’t bearing fruit are lifted up[1] (John 15:2) and given special attention so they can bear fruit. By raising up those branches, they are taken off the ground where the fruit was stepped on or stolen by a rodent or some other hungry animal.

Application?

How’s your fruit bearing? Do you bear the fruit produced by Jesus in your life?

Have you felt discouraged, just waiting for Jesus to come along and remove you from the vineyard? Rest assured that if you are still in union and communion with the Vine, you can never be cast aside. Instead, the Master Gardener will deal with you so that you can bear fruit.

Check your connection. Draw your life from the True Vine. And bear the fruit.

[1] Most modern English translations miss this key point, leading to some amount of confusion about the destiny of non-fruit-bearing branches that are still attached to the Vine. The Greek word means to raise up or to lift up, not to take away or to remove.

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