Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 6 June 2017
Page 10

Preferred before All

Jefferson Sole

Jefferson SoleIn Daniel 2:1, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled his spirit, but none of his men could recall and interpret his dream (2:2-12). However, with the help of God, Daniel was able. The dream consisted of a “great image” made of various materials (2:28, 31-45). According to the dream, the Babylonian Empire, represented by the head of gold, would be destroyed by the Medo-Persian Empire, represented by the breast and arms of silver. In Daniel 5:30-31, the dream came to fruition when Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Median took the kingdom.

In most instances, a ruler of a conquered kingdom would not be preserved to serve in any capacity in the occupying kingdom. Yet, Daniel, now second ruler of Babylon (5:29), was made one of three presidents who reported directly to Darius to ensure that the kingdom was operating efficiently (6:1-2). Daniel’s reputation must have preceded him. From his youth he was dedicated to God first, and he allowed his dedication to lead him in every aspect of his life (1:8-9). He challenged the king when necessary (1:8-9), told the truth even when it hurt (4:19; Proverbs 27:6) and maintained a reputation of dependability (5:10-11).

Unfortunately, many people soil their reputations and have difficulty influencing others for good thereafter (Ecclesiastes 12:1; 10:1; 1 Corinthians 9:27). Apparently, after a period of time, Darius noticed that Daniel’s reputation was warranted. His true character was consistent with his reputation, and the king promoted Daniel to “chief” president (6:3). Have you ever revered someone only to determine that their character was far different than their reputation (Luke 6:26)? Daniel was a man whose character matched perfectly with his reputation.

The promotion of Daniel provoked other servants in the kingdom to jealousy and envy. Envy is a powerful force and can cause one to go to great lengths to destroy the well-being of another (Proverbs 27:4; Matthew 27:18). The other servants sought any pretext (“occasion”) in Daniel’s life to bring accusation against him. However, they had a problem. There was no error or fault to be found (6:4). They determined, then, that the only pretext for punishment was going to have to derive out of Daniel’s faithfulness to God’s Law. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Christians were able to maintain such good conduct that the only accusation against them was their unwavering devotion to God? Their influence would be extraordinary (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 3:16-17).

Like most plans originating out of envy, the plan to harm Daniel began with a lie. The other servants approached the king and told him that “all the presidents” and servants had met and determined that a decree should be made that prayers could only be offered to the king for a thirty day period. If the decree was broken, the violator would be thrown into a den of lions (6:7). Daniel, the most important president, was conveniently left out of the meeting. Darius, blinded by his own ego, signed the law according to the Medes and the Persians, which prevented it from being changed (6:8 -9). The trap had been set; would Daniel be caught?

Daniel was not “caught,” but rather he knowingly violated the decree. After the decree had been signed, “he went into his house; and his windows being open… he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (6:10). What courage! Many excuses could have relieved his conscience from urging him to serve his God. Instead, with deep-seated trust, he did according to his custom and humbly prayed to Almighty God three times daily. What is your custom? Is it one of service to God (Luke 4:16)?

Daniel’s dependability was not only noticed by the king, but it was also noticed by his enemies. They found him just where they expected, on bended knee in prayer to his God (6:11). Where would the world expect to find you?

Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, but the God he continually served delivered him unscathed (6:16, 26-27; Hebrews 11:33). Daniel’s reputation, character, courage and dependability serve to challenge God’s people today to maintain faithful lives before Him.

I’m Saved!

Ernest S. Underwood

Ernest S. UnderwoodSpeaking from a spiritual perspective, all accountable women and men (mankind) are in one of two conditions. They are either lost or saved. If one is lost spiritually and dies in this condition, the Scriptures teach that eternal torment is her or his destination. On the other hand, if one has followed (obeyed from his heart) the teaching of these same Scriptures, Heaven is promised as his or her eternal dwelling place. In the remainder of this article I will list six (6) different statements that convey the beliefs of a large segment of our society who claim that they are saved.

First, “I am saved because I feel like I am.” Many sincere people subscribe to this philosophy. However, does their feeling that they are saved square with what the Scriptures teach? As an example of the falsity of this belief, let us take a look at our society outside of the religious realm. There are those in our society who “feel” that they are of a different sex than they actually are. A man may dress up in expensive clothes of a woman, put on makeup as does a woman, spray on a good smelling perfume that is manufactured for women and may even demand that he be allowed to use the public restrooms set aside for females. However, none of these, not even the government, makes this man a woman. So it is with salvation and the sinner. Feeling that one is saved does not make it an actuality.

Second, “I was saved when I said the Sinner’s Prayer.” If this were true, then such a one is saved by a saying a slogan of a mere man and not by obedience to the Word of God. I have read that Mr. Billy Graham was the first one to make such a statement about how to be saved. It should be noted that Mr. Graham has never, never, never taught his listeners the biblical fact of what the Bible teaches about forgiveness of sin. Regardless who began it, it was then a false doctrine of men, and it continues to be such today. The Scriptures know absolutely nothing of this doctrine of Satan. For one to claim salvation through such a system is an insult to Him who shed His blood for our redemption.

Third, “I was saved at the moment that I believed. My pastor taught that one is saved by faith alone, without anything else being needed, and I believed him.” We would readily agree that this doctrine is one of the most popular false doctrines being taught today. It makes for an easy religion, and because of its deceitfulness, it has led perhaps multi-millions away from God and into the service Satan. If one believes this doctrine, and the ones already noted, he does so without any passages of Scripture to uphold it. Yes, I am familiar with the passages that teach that we are saved by faith. However, one cannot find such a passage that teaches that one is saved by faith only. This is a doctrine of man, and Jesus stated that men worshiping by such doctrines are offering vain worship.

Fourth, “I was saved as an infant when my parents took me to a priest and he sprinkled water on me.” It is a sad truth that many sincere parents have done this, believing that this is what God has said. Such actions were introduced by leaders in a group that later became known as The Holy Roman Catholic Church. One well known Gospel preacher of yester-year said in a lectureship that I was attending, “This group is misnamed. It is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor Catholic, nor the Church.” One pretty much has to stretch his imagination to find any doctrine taught by this church that is taught in the Bible. Its doctrine of infant baptism is, like all the others we have mentioned so far, false. On cannot be saved by its teachings.

Fifth, “I have accepted Christ, and that is all that one has to do.” This statement is similar to the #2 above. However, those making this one usually follow with such sayings as, “I am a good person. I don’t drink or smoke. I don’t defraud my fellow man. I live a good moral life,” and other like comments. Actually, one is to be commended if he or she is correct in this statement. However, though one who is a child of God must possess these traits, they do not save a person if that is all that has been done. If you recall, the one we call the rich young ruler made the same claim about himself. Yet, Jesus told him that he still lacked something. It must be remembered that it is not enough just to refrain from doing something, one must also do something to have his sins forgiven. (Read 1 Samuel 15 for reference on this.)

Sixth, “I was saved when I obeyed from the heart the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” On the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, the apostle Peter preached the first Gospel sermon in the name of and by the authority of the risen Christ. On that day, those who “gladly received his word” obeyed what he commanded, were totally forgiven of their sins and were added to the kingdom—the church that Christ had purchased with His blood. From that day to this very day, no accountable person has been forgiven of his or her sins until and when he or she has obeyed the Gospel.

What is the Gospel? Are those first five things mentioned above part of the Gospel of Christ? If they are, then someone should be able to give the passages that so state any or all of those things. Let us go to the inspired Word of God and learn what it says about sin and how to have forgiveness of it—in short, how to be saved.

  1. One must hear the Gospel. “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
  2. One must believe—have faith in—the Gospel and in Him who is the Author of the same. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
  3. One must repent of sins. “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). “Repent… for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent…” (Acts 17:30).
  4. One must confess Jesus Christ as Lord. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
  5. One must be baptized. “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and let everyone be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Good friends and brethren, each one of us will stand before Him who will judge us on that Day of Judgment as described in Matthew 25 and Revelation 20. It will be on that day when the dead will be judged out of the books according to their deeds. Which one of these six things (works) will you need to have done in this life for Him to say to you, “Well done?” Do you really believe that He will say “Well done” on that day and at that time if you have not “done well” on the earth by obeying Him, then living faithfully to Him? Remember that it was He who said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Remember also, you can find an answer, but only from the Word of God, that can and will lead you to that eternal home promised by our Lord Jesus Christ.

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