One group finally decides to leave, and the other group is told they are wrong in their belief of salvation by faith alone, by grace alone in Christ. This is similar to what happened in the early church and John. In his first epistle, John is addressing the Christians who were left behind. They are possibly dealing with feelings of rejection and doubt. They need pastoral encouragement and John delivers it with four points in 1 John 2:12-14.
In this section, John reminds them most importantly that their sins are forgiven. By trusting in Christ and His atonement for sins, they need nothing more for salvation. Second, because they have trusted in Christ, they know the uncreated one from the beginning, Who has created the heavens and the earth. Since Jesus is the creator, He is sovereign over His creation. Third, because Jesus defeated death, they have victory over satan. He no longer has hold of them. Finally, their strength is to be found in Christ and in His Word abiding in them. These four truths are to encourage them through the trials they face. And they encourage us also today.
As I speak to those who are believers and non-believers, I find that many believers are feeling a sense of defeat, and non-believers are touting victory over God, declaring Him to be dead. Some believers, with whom I converse, see events unfolding in the world with its seemingly overwhelming might, talk with a sense of doubt, defeat, and frustration.
Marriage is being redefined, attacks on the Christian faith are mounting, businesses are not being allowed to operate on Christian principles. My question in response is this: What do you expect from the world? The essence of human existence is self-centeredness, as humanity does not even acknowledge, thank, or honor God (Romans 1:21). James goes further to state that, when joining with the world, we join with their hostility towards God (James 4:4). The world with its systems and values expresses hostility towards God.
Other believers are facing many challenges in their personal lives whether of health, finances, wayward children, marriage issues, or challenges to their faith. When one’s life situation is crumbling, it is hard to even get out of bed. But again, we live in a fallen world; and Jesus said that in this world we would have many trials. But, He also said to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
What are we to do? In the autumn of 1941, when WWII seemed the darkest for Britain and it looked like the Nazis would be victorious in the war, Winston Churchill gave a speech to lift Britain from her ashes and to push through to victory. In it he said,
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Here is what are we to do: never, never, never give in! Never deny the faith, never call sin acceptable, never accept the system and rationale of the world. Our victory will come down from heaven to lift and vindicate us for our faith in Him. Understand that our Creator has saved us and given us victory over the world. Let us live in our victory and remain strong in Jesus and His never changing Word. Remember that the world, with all its lusts, is passing away; but the one who does God’s will remains forever (1 John 2:17).
Finally, proclaim the gospel as we continue in the work Jesus commanded us to do by going and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).
A witch, a lion, a wardrobe closet, or leaders of a nationwide network of secret churches throughout China? I walked through the back of a closet built into a wall in a remote rural Chinese farmhouse wondering which it would end up being—it certainly was not Narnia. An invitation came to join other professors and teach 100 underground leaders from all four geographic corners of that big place in 2003.
The problems with Sovereign Grace and the child abuse scandal are not new. Today, the grandson of Billy Graham, Tullian Tchividjian, called out the leaders of the movement along with the para church group, the Gospel Coalition, with which some of the leaders are affiliated.
Southern Baptists cherish the autonomy of the local church in our conservative and cooperative family of congregations.
We are of the “Free Church Tradition” valuing the voluntary principle of cooperation while having no organic ties to a state or national government; nor governed by any higher religious ruling body. The local church is at the top of the denominational pyramid in SBC life. Messengers, money, and mission volunteers spring forth from thousands of local churches in the SBC, thereby spreading God’s resources to the ends of the earth.
Inconceivable to most Southern Baptists, many congregations around the world feel the heavy hand of the state-run church or higher ecclesiastical powers pushing or pulling them to acquiesce to external pressures.
To be autonomous means that each church is self-governing and self-directing as the people of God seek the help of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. In essence, no other ecclesiastical power, government entity, bishop or back room boss has the authority to enter a local SBC congregation making demands and issuing commands.
The sentence above is the Twitter profile that garnered the moderator’s attention when he thanked Debra Hodges for her numerous “favorites” and “retweets” of SBCToday. Curious about her conversion to Christ, the moderator DM’d and asked Debra to write her testimony for our blog readers. Immediately below is the prefatory email that bore her attached testimony, which is the bottom-most part of this post.
I received a tweet from you a while back asking if I was saved at 9 years-old and if I wanted to submit my testimony. So I prayed over it, and the attachment is part of my testimony. There is no way to write all that God has done in our lives, but I can testify that He has been who He said He was and He always did what He said He would do. He is faithful and true. I have never regretted giving my life to him. I have learned through the words of others that God is too good to be unkind, too wise to make a mistake, and that when I cannot trace His Hand, I can trust His heart.
Thank you for your consideration to publish my testimony. I have never written it out before like this…
Sincerely Yours Because of Him,
Debra Hodges, Pastor’s wife and Women’s Ministry Leader
Rice Memorial Baptist Church
When my grandfather passed away, our family moved from the country to the mill village in our city. This address change was not the only change that summer. I met new neighbors and went to a new school, but the greatest change was going to a new church. My dad decided to go to a Baptist church in the mill village so we all began to attend. The church was so close that I began walking to every service and attending every ministry available to an 8 year-old girl.