I participate in a Bible reading program with two other folks at my church in which we read one to two chapters a day, and exchange emails that reflect our comments on the reading. We will complete reading and commenting on the New Testament by the end of 2021.
I base the below three takeaways on my comments generated through this very beneficial reading program. Of course, additional takeaways exist.
Victory in Jesus!
First, God’s plan of salvation for me rests upon the foundation of Jesus Christ voluntarily taking my sins upon Himself and suffering and dying on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins whereby Jesus rescued me from the power of sin (Galatians 1:4a). Galatians 1:4a(NASB95) reads:
4a who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age,
R. Alan Coles (Galatians, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, (1984), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI 49503) writes at page 35:
Thus, what Christ’s death has done is to transfer the Christian from the sphere of Satan’s power to that of God. While still living in this world, therefore, he enjoys already that life of the age to come. This is the victory of the cross to Paul.
Now, note verse 4b (NASB95), which reads:
4b according to the will of our God and Father,
Coles further writes at page 36:
The concept of thelēma, the will of God, is one of the deepest in the whole New Testament. This rescues our Christian calling from subjective response, and roots it deep in the mind of God.
Wow! Each and every believer has an infinite debt to God. When I ponder this biblical truth of verse 4, my life ought to reflect a gratitude quotient that if “off the charts.” I should pray, “O God! Let me live with a more intense level of gratitude!”
Galatians 1:1 (HCSB) reads:
1 Paul, an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead —
Jesus’ physical bodily resurrection (Galatians 1:1) establishes that His death on the cross was sufficient payment for my sins. By repenting of my sins and trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ I know that I have eternal life in heaven. Again, I ought to pray, “O God! Let me live with a more intense level of gratitude!”
The Gospel in which You Trust Must be Saving!
Second, an incorrect gospel is not a saving gospel according to Galatians 1:6–9 (HCSB):
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! 9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
For example, to preach a gospel that requires water baptism to be saved is gross error because it adds works to the salvation equation. For example, Ephesians 2:8–9 (HCSB) reads:
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
In my opinion, such a gospel likely lacks salvific efficacy. You may want to refer to my earlier (September 14, 2020) article entitled Does an Absolute Requirement of Water Baptism Negate the Salvific Effect of an Otherwise Saving Gospel?. Link: Does an Absolute Requirement of Water Baptism Negate the Salvific Efficacy of an Otherwise Saving Gospel? | Steve Belsheim. Of course, it is what a person believes in their heart at conversion and not church doctrine that counts.
God Called You before You Were Born!
Third, before any of us was born, God set us apart for the ministry to which He has called us according to Galatians 1:15–16 (HCSB):
15 But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone.
This is along the lines of God calling Jeremiah per Jeremiah 1:5 (HCSB):
5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
The Life Application Commentary (Galatians, Life Application Bible Commentary, (1994), Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois) reads at page 28:
The context indicates that Paul was humbled by God’s grace in calling him to be an apostle rather than proud about any personal qualifications that made him noticeable to God. The fact that God would accomplish his work through any of us ought to inspire deep humility.
Spend some time and ponder that marvelous biblical truth! Should that not cause each believer to bow down before Almighty God in complete humility thanking Him for all who we are and will ever be. Our gratitude quotient for God should skyrocket in light of this truth.
If You are Not Sure You Are Saved
Wouldn’t it be great if you could hook yourself up to a “salvation meter” that would you for certain your eternal destiny? During my about 39 years of practicing patent law, I never ran across such a meter. And while no such “for certain” meter exists, I believe my new book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth is an effective vehicle for people to conduct a personal examination of their standing with God.
Against an explanation of the relevant biblical foundation using analytical skills I developed through my law practice, as well as through formal biblical training seminars, The Salvation Meter presents over thirty “tests of salvation” comprising detailed written interrogatories coupled with a unique Personal Salvation Assessment (PSA) to help a person self-diagnose their overall spiritual condition. Although the PSA is not a “for certain” diagnosis, it provides a person with a sense of where they are headed for eternity so they can take appropriate action.
By using The Salvation Meter, self-deceived unbelievers can come to appreciate their lost condition. They can then accept God’s gift of salvation and rejoice in the abundant life filled with new meaning and purpose now and for eternity.
By using The Salvation Meter, Christians who lack assurance of their salvation can gain full assurance. Then they can throw away their “spiritual wobble board” and live the victorious life of a confident believer reaping the wonderful blessings of knowing they are God’s children.
You can find out more about The Salvation Meter, as well as see the great cover design by my Pastor, Josh Mangrum of Fairview Community Church (Fairview, Tennessee), by going to any one of the bookseller websites listed at the end of this email.
Christian Publisher Xulon Press: Author Steve Belsheim – Christian Publisher Xulon Press
Amazon: The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth: Belsheim, Steve, Mangrum, Josh: 9781662828638: Amazon.com: Books
Barnes & Noble: The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth by Steve Belsheim | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)
Target: The Salvation Meter – By Steve Belsheim (paperback) : Target
Cokesbury: The Salvation Meter – Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tes | Cokesbury
The website for The Salvation Meter Book
Please note that I have launched a website The Salvation Meter – Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth by which I will continuously update the substantive content of The Salvation Meter with more extensive exegetical material, updated discussion, teaching aids, and the like.
If You Know You are Not a Christian
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change.
Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).
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