Monday, July 6, 2020

America the Beautiful?

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.”

- Psalm 33:12

Saturday was the Fourth of July—Independence Day. And even though home firework displays exploded all across the Victor Valley, the truth is, many Americans have been wondering whether America is worth celebrating. Many of our neighbors don’t think that America is beautiful at all. Are they right?

The United States of America has long been called the land of opportunity. Over the past 244 years, millions of immigrants have flooded into our ports of entry to pursue the American dream. Every year around 900,000 immigrants become U.S. citizens, making the United States number one in the world for receiving immigrants. In fact, we have more than four times as many foreign-born citizens as any other country in the world. Why do so many people want to immigrate to America?

We’re told that our government and justice system are steeped in institutional racism. We’re told that our law enforcement is corrupt. If America is as bigoted as some people say it is, immigrants should be heading for the hills. Instead, America continues to be a magnet for people around the world seeking freedom from persecution because of their religion, ethnicity or social status. While most countries around the world have been stifling freedoms, America has been extending them: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to bear arms, freedom to vote, and, of course, the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And few countries can match the freedoms we have in this country to pursue economic opportunities.  

On Independence Day, I’d like you consider how blessed we are to live in this country. Our founding fathers recognized that our freedoms and opportunities in life weren’t given to us by man—they were given to us by God. As Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.”

Our country has been in such a desirable position because God gave us that desirable position. He gave us that position because for the better part of those 244 years, we have proclaimed God as our Lord. Our founding fathers wanted America to be a great nation—and they understood that if America was going to be great, America would have to be good. And in order for America to be good, its citizens would have to submit to the authority of God. They knew that if this nation was blessed, it would be blessed because God blessed it.

Proverbs 13:34 tells us, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Remember that the word “righteousness” is just a fancy way of saying “right-ness.” When a nation does what God says is right, that nation will be exalted. But when a nation does what God says is wrong, that nation will be disgraced. So, has our nation been doing what is “right” or what is “wrong” in God’s eyes? The answer is: BOTH.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act put an end to our nation’s racist Jim Crow laws. That was a God-honoring change that needed to happen, and I believe it exalted our nation. In 1989, we played a role in the fall of Communism in the USSR. And in recent decades, the U.S. has provided financial assistance and disaster relief to dozens of nations around the world including Haiti, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

However, during these same 60 years, a growing number of our nation’s leaders and citizens have chosen to push God away and do what is biblically and morally disgraceful. In 1962 prayer was taken out of public schools. The following year the Bible was taken out of classrooms. In 1973, abortion-on-demand became legal. In the 1970s, no-fault divorce laws were passed throughout the nation. In 1980, the Ten Commandments were removed from classrooms. And in 2015, gay marriage was legalized.

These are just a few examples of the disgraceful things we have been doing. Our nation has continued to sing “God Bless America,” but our actions have—to a large extent—said, “God, we don’t want You in America.” We as a nation have become arrogant, and much of what we have been doing has been a disgrace in God’s eyes. If America continues in its arrogance and rebellion and refuses to repent, then we should fully expect that in the days to come God will remove His hand of blessing from our nation.

And when it comes to transforming our nation—turning it from disgrace to righteousness--the Church is the key, because the Church proclaims Jesus Christ, the only one who can fix all the mess in our nation. Remember what God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people [that’s the Church] who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Our country is far from perfect. But I believe that America’s founders were guided by God to form a nation and a government that is more biblically-based and less prone to corruption than just about any other government in the history of the world. No, America is not perfect. It’s always had its fair share of ugliness. But it continues to be beautiful in many different ways. And that beauty can and will grow if you and I will lead our nation back to Christ.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our LIVE outdoor worship services Sundays at 8 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc, on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

3 Heroic Lessons to Teach Your Kids

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Deuteronomy 6:5

This year on Father’s Day, I was reminded of what a privilege it is to be called “dad” by my four girls. Research has consistently confirmed that fathers are essential in a child’s life. Without a father in the home, we know that teens and young adults have an increased likelihood of struggling with depression and anger and drugs and crime. So, dads, your role in the home is much more important than you may realize.

If you search the pages of God’s Word, you will discover many heroic lessons that parents should pass on to their kids. Let me share with you three of the most important ones. And as an added bonus, these lessons aren’t just for dads and their kids. These four lessons are for everyone who desires to please God and follow Jesus Christ.  

Lesson 1: Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5). More than anything else that we want for our kids, we should want them to be saved. And they will never be saved unless they trust in the Lord with all their hearts. The following verse adds, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

One of the most important things we can teach our kids is how to make good and godly decisions. When they’re grown, our kids will have to make thousands of decisions without us. So, I encourage you, from time to time, to let your kids know about a big decision you have to make and invite them to join you in praying for God’s guidance. Ask your kids to stand at the crossroads and seek God’s wisdom with you. And when He gives it to you, trust Him and obey His leading together.

2. Fear the Lord and shun evil (Proverbs 3:7). I’m afraid most Christian parents these days do a much poorer job of teaching this lesson than our grandparents did. For one reason or another, parents today are hesitant to teach their kids to “fear” God. Churches used to preach more often about fire and brimstone, and Christian parents used to be better at getting the point across to their kids that disobedience equals pain and punishment.

Many older adults can remember getting the belt or the wooden spoon. Those of us who did quickly learned to have a healthy fear of mom and dad’s punishment. That being the case, it was easier for us to connect the dots and see that we should have a healthy fear of God’s punishment when we choose to rebel and sin.

3. Love the Lord with everything you’ve got. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” And Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:38 that this is the first and most important command. That’s because if you obey this command, you will—at the same time—obey every other command. We must instill a heart for prayer in our kids. And while we’re at it, we must instill a heart for God’s Word in our kids. And we need to be instilling a heart for the church in our kids. Our kids should learn to love the Bride of Christ at a young age.

I’m deeply concerned about the younger generations of Americans. Too many of our youth are growing up without these lessons. Studies have shown that millennials—those who were born between 1981 & 1996—are the most unreached and unchurched generation in the history of our country. On their heels is Generation Z—those who were born roughly between 1996 and 2015—and early indications are that this group is faring even worse.

Parents, if we’re serious about protecting our kids from the pull of Satan and the pull of this sinful world, we have to teach them to love God with everything they’ve got. We have to prioritize prayer in our homes every day. We have to prioritize reading God’s word in our homes every day. We have to prioritize attending and serving at a church every week. And we have to be on our knees fighting for the souls of our kids and grandkids.

Many years ago, Dr. James Dobson’s dad said it well: “The greatest delusion is to suppose that our children will be devout Christians simply because their parents have been, or that any of them will enter into the Christian faith in any other way than through their parents’ deep travail of prayer and faith.”

Most churched kids stop attending church regularly during their college years—and for many, that decision is pre-meditated. While they’re attending church as teens, they fully intend to walk away from it once they move out. They plan to move OUT of mom and dad’s house and move ON from church.

That breaks my heart. And I hope it breaks your heart too. The spiritual lostness and apathy of our younger generations compel me to step up my efforts to be a better dad than I have been. I must be more dedicated and consistent in teaching my girls to Trust God, Fear God, and Love God. You and I must fight for the souls of our kids and grandkids. And then maybe…just maybe…their hearts will be set ablaze with an unquenchable love for God.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our LIVE outdoor worship services Sundays at 8 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc, on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Dismantle the Police?

The authorities that exist have been established by God.” – Romans 13:1


It’s been a wild ride these past few weeks in America. Two weeks ago, protesters in Washington D.C. painted “Defund the Police” on a street just a few blocks from the White House. In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed on Memorial Day, nine of the 13 city council members publicly supported an effort to defund and dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. And closer to home, there has been major protest activity at the GEO Detention Center in Adelanto, demanding the release of detainees. The building was tagged with graffiti. One employee was assaulted with a rock. And dozens of cars were vandalized.

Across the nation, many citizens and even some political leaders are calling for police departments to be defunded and dismantled. Honestly, when I first heard these calls for change, I thought that they sounded insane. Abolish the police—I thought to myself—have people lost their minds? But the Lord prompted me to live out James 1:19: to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. 

I did some research and learned that those who are crying out for change to police departments are not all asking for the same thing. DEFUND, which many protesters are calling for, does not necessarily mean a complete defunding of police departments—most are calling for police budgets to be drastically cut so that the money can be used for other programs like public housing, health and mental care. DISMANTLE is more extreme and involves scrapping police departments and rebuilding them from the ground up.

So, what does God think? Well, God’s Word doesn’t come right out and say, “Thou shalt not defund and dismantle the police.” But it does teach us some very important truths about government and law enforcement that you and I need to know in order to form an educated opinion,

1. Human government has been established by God. Paul makes this point in Romans 13:1 as he writes, “For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” There are many different forms of government in the world today, and without a doubt, some are better than others. But the truth still remains the truth: Earthly government was established by God in Genesis 9 after humanity had already demonstrated that, when left to our own devices, we would tailspin into complete lawlessness.

2. God has given government the authority to punish lawbreakers. In Romans 13:3-4, Paul refers “to the one in authority” as “God’s servant.” Our government leaders—including law enforcement—are God’s servants to do us good. Honestly, some of us have a hard time believing this. The pattern of the world is to constantly criticize and slander and disrespect our government leaders and law enforcement. But that’s not God’s way. The Bible tells us that government authorities are God’s servants to do us good. But they are also God’s servants to punish lawbreakers.

3. God expects us to respect and honor our leaders by paying taxes and humbly submitting to their authority.
Romans 13:6-7 says, “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants…. Give everyone what you owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” One of the reasons some of us have had bad experiences with law enforcement is because we have disrespected both the laws of the land and those who enforce them. We didn’t obey the speed limit, so we got pulled over. And when we got pulled over, we copped an attitude with the officer instead of showing him respect. Friends, respect goes a long way. If you get pulled over, show the officer respect. If he asks you to do something—whether it’s turning off your engine or stepping to the side of the road—submit to his authority. And this exposes one of the underlying problems in our nation today: Most people have a big problem with submission. One of the reasons people struggle to submit to law enforcement’s authority is because people struggle to submit to ANY authority, including God’s.

You may well ask: But what about the corruption in government? And what about racist cops who abuse their authority? Well, the Bible is very clear that you and I as his followers are to stand up and defend those who are poor, abused or discriminated against. I believe that Christians’ efforts to reform government and police departments in a peaceful, respectful way are admirable and necessary. But I also believe that calls to defund and dismantle police departments are shortsighted and foolish. We don’t dismantle schools when we discover a few bad teachers. We don’t dismantle Wal-Mart or Costco because of a few bad employees. So, we shouldn’t dismantle the police because there are a few bad cops. Instead, we work together in a peaceful way to root them out while respecting and honoring the vast majority of the 800,000 law enforcement officers across our nation who serve and protect us with dignity and honor.

And if we’re serious about drastically reducing lawlessness in our nation, there’s only one foolproof solution: Jesus Christ. The best way that we can root out sin in cops, in protesters, in politicians, in teachers, and in everyone else is to get people saved. The church truly is the tip of the spear when it comes to rooting out corruption and lawlessness in our nation, because we are all about introducing people to the only one who can fix all of the mess in this world. So, as our neighbors call for reform, we as Christ’s followers need to call for something much greater and lasting. We call for salvation. Jesus IS the answer. 

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our LIVE outdoor worship services Sundays at 8 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc, on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

Friday, June 19, 2020

What is God’s Answer to Hatred and Racism?

“God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him

and do what is right.” - Acts 10:34-35

America is hurting. We’ve just spent two and a half months on lockdown. Our favorite restaurants have been closed. Our kids’ schools have been closed. High school graduations were cancelled. Even the “Happiest Place on Earth” was shut down. Churches across America had to move their services online. And 36 million Americans lost their jobs.

Our nation is hurting—and less than three weeks ago, the pain only intensified. We were horrified by the image of a rogue police officer in Minneapolis choking the life out of George Floyd as three other officers stood by and let it happen. Then, we were further horrified by the images of Mom-and-Pop stores in cities across America being vandalized, looted and set on fire.

Many of us thought that race relations in America had come a long way. But these past three weeks have made us realize that we still have a long way to go. There is still far too much distrust, resentment and hatred between Americans of different skin colors. Our politicians can’t fix the problem. Our public schools can’t fix the problem. Even the social justice warriors can’t fix the problem. They can’t fix the problem, because the underlying root of the problem isn’t political, psychological or systemic. The root of hate and racism is spiritual. That being the case, the only lasting solution to hatred and racism is found in God’s Word.

The Bible makes it clear that God has compassion and love for EVERY person He has made. We read in Romans 2:11: “God does not show favoritism.” Peter proclaims in Acts 10:34-35: “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, “God our Savior wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” And in Proverbs 6:16-19 we find a quick reference list of seven things God hates. Those include: hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked schemes; and feet that are quick to rush into evil.

So, if there’s any doubt in your mind about God’s stance on what has happened in our nation over the past few weeks, allow His Word to remove all doubt. God is a loving and compassionate God, and He hates it when people shed innocent blood. George Floyd might have deserved to be arrested, but he did NOT deserve to be tortured and killed. God hates what was done to George Floyd. But because God hates it when people devise wicked schemes and rush into evil, God also hates what vandals, looters and arsonists have been doing to businesses and church buildings under the cover of protest. Those who are destroying things aren’t “protestors.” They’re criminals. They’re self-centered opportunists. And their actions are detestable to God.  

Because God is love, He hates…hate. Because God is love, He hates racism. Because God is love, He hates the violence in our nation today. And because of that, I believe that God wants to make three simple but profound pleas to us.

God’s 1st Plea: Let My Word change your thinking. “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth” (Acts 17:26). Every human being on earth is a descendent of one man and one woman: Adam and Eve. God didn’t create a black Adam and a white Adam. He didn’t create a Chinese Eve and a Mexican Eve. Every single ethnic group on earth—every nation, every person is a descendent of that one Adam and one Eve. We all have the same great-grandparents. So, when someone asks, “How many races are there?”, the Biblical answer is ONE. There is only one race: the human race. PERIOD!

God’s 2nd Plea: Let My Son change your heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). We want to believe we are basically good. But God sees the truth: Our hearts are harder than we’ve realized. And there is nothing here on earth that can soften them. A hater can’t be taught to stop hating and start loving. Just as you can’t teach someone with blocked arteries to stop having a heart attack, you can’t teach someone steeped in hate and racism to stop having a hard, sinful heart. The only cure is to receive a heart transplant—and God’s Son Jesus Christ is the only One who can perform the operation. So, God says to you and me today: Let my Son change your heart, because hatred and racism are sins of the heart. Racism is not a SKIN problem; it’s a SIN problem.

God’s 3rd Plea: Let My spirit change your actions. “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism” (James 2:1). God doesn’t treat rich people better than poor people, or men better than women, or whites better than blacks. Neither should we. So, take time to PRAY with your brothers and sisters who look different than you. Take time to LOVE and SERVE your brothers and sisters who look different than you. And take time to LISTEN to your brothers and sisters who look different from you. When a black brother or sister feels that black lives in our country are being cheapened and cries out, “Black lives matter!”–it doesn’t help to shout back, “All lives matter!” Your black sister or brother needs you to empathize with their hurt and pain. This is the time to listen—and mourn with those who mourn.

In Luke 10, Jesus tells the story of a Jewish man who was beaten within an inch of his life and left to die at the side of the road. A brother Jew—a priest—saw him and ignored him. Another one of his neighbors—a Levite—did the same. Finally a foreigner—a Samaritan—rode by, had a gut-wrenching compassion for him, and got down off his high horse to help him. Jesus turns to you and me and says, “Christians, it’s high time for you to get down off your high horse and do likewise.”

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our LIVE outdoor worship services Sundays at 8 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc, on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

Monday, June 8, 2020

I’m a Christian … But Do I HAVE to Go to Church?

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”

– Hebrews 10:25

Around 70% of Americans identify as “Christians”—but less than 30% attend church on a regular basis. If that statistic doesn’t surprise you, it’s probably because it hits close to home. You might be saying, “Sure, I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church very often.” If that’s true of you, you’re not alone. When asked, Christians give a lot of reasons for not going to church: Some believe the church to be expendable (take it or leave it). Many Christians simply say, “I don’t go, because there are hypocrites in the church.” And others say they have a hard time finding a good church close to home.

That being the case, there has been one silver lining to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. By placing their services online, churches have made worship more accessible than ever before. For Christians who say that they prefer to worship God at home, online services make that easier than ever. I admit, I’m a big fan of our online services at Impact Christian Church. Over the past two and a half months, we’ve been able to reach hundreds of people who would have never visited one of our live services. These services have helped lead to four baptisms. And our members have been able to receive a steady diet of God’s word each and every week.

So, as our church returns to offering live services tomorrow, some attenders may be wondering: “Do I have to go to church?  Wouldn’t it be okay with God if I just continued to stay home and caught an online service when I have the time? Do I really need to attend a live church service each week?” Well, if we check with the pure source of truth—God’s word—we can see five reasons why believers and followers of Christ need to get back to church A.S.A.P.  
           
Reason #1: The example of Jesus. Luke 4:16 tells us, “[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” Some people say, “I don’t need to go to church, because I’ve already heard all that stuff before. I’m not being fed.” Well, imagine being Jesus. Do you think that when he went to the synagogue each Saturday, the rabbis were telling him anything he didn’t already know? Of course not! Jesus is the all-knowing Son of God. If anyone ever should have gotten an excused absence from church, that person was Jesus. But Jesus’ “custom,” Jesus’ practice, Jesus’ priority was to attend a service in the synagogue each and every Sabbath Day. It was a priority for Jesus, so it should be a priority for Jesus’s followers as well.

Reason #2: The Bible says so. In Hebrews 10:25, it reads: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” Millions of Americans who call themselves Christians have either put the church on the back burner or given up on it entirely. And this is not a new thing. The early Christians experienced the same problem 2,000 years ago. Christians got complacent. Christians became lazy. Christians didn’t think they needed the church. And Christians didn’t think the church needed them. But God’s word tells Christians in all times and places to make “meeting together” with the church a priority. Why? Read on.

Reason #3: Christianity isn’t just about getting; it’s also about giving. Back up a few verses and take a look at  Hebrews 10:22-24: “Let US live out our faith. Let US hold onto hope. Let US encourage each other to love.” These verses aren’t focused on “me” or “you.” It’s all about “US.” Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe says it so well: “Fellowship with God must never become selfish. We must also fellowship with other Christians in the local assembly… The emphasis here is not on what a believer gets from the assembly, but rather on what he can contribute to the assembly. Faithfulness in church attendance encourages others and provokes them to love and good works.” Our faith isn’t about just “me and Jesus.” Our faith is about “us and Jesus.” So, let me ask you: What is missing in “CH_ _CH”? U R. 

Reason #4: You will benefit from community. It’s true that the church needs you. But you need the church community every bit as much as it needs you. Sure, other Christians in the church need your love, encouragement, service, teaching, kindness and compassion. But to be a healthy, growing Christian, you need every one of those things from us as well. You need love and encouragement in your Christian journey. You need the service and teaching that the church offers, and the kindness, compassion and loving accountability that are so hard to find in the world today.

Reason #5: For your marriage and kids. You may have heard the often-quoted statistic that Christians have the same divorce rate as nonChristians. But that statistic is misleading. You see, most studies don’t take into account whether or not surveyed Christians attend church. Interestingly, other studies show that husbands and wives who prioritize church attendance are up to 35% less likely to get divorced. So, church attendance is very healthy for our marriages, and it’s also very healthy for our kids. The church will partner with you to help shape your kids’ character and help lead them to a saving knowledge of Christ. It will help them discover their spiritual gifts and develop a heart to love and serve God and people.

So, especially at those times when God feels a little bit distant and your faith feels a little bit stale … make church attendance a priority. Experience the blessings that come with standing side by side with believers and followers of Christ. Get back to church.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our LIVE outdoor worship services Sundays at 8 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact, on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Heaven or Hell? The Choice is Yours!

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” – Matthew 7:13

What comes to mind when you hear “Nearer My God to Thee”? You probably think of the sinking of the Titanic. Many eyewitnesses who survived the sinking of the Titanic reported that “Nearer My God to Thee” was the last song that the band played as the Titanic sank. Although 705 passengers and crew members survived, on that fateful night over 1,500 men, women and children drowned or died of hypothermia. And as each of them drew their final breath, their final destinations were sealed.

The Bible teaches us that every person who has ever lived will spend eternity in one of two places: with God in heaven, or with the devil and his demons in hell. So, as the Titanic disappeared beneath the surface just over 108 years ago, each person who died either entered God’s presence in heaven or was cast aside to spend eternity in hell. We don’t know how many of them entered either place—but tragically, “Nearer My God” was not the final destination of every person who perished that night.

It’s a sobering thought. And it’s a question that plagues many people, Christians and nonChristians alike: What are heaven and hell really like?

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus tells us: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Although we don’t find the words “heaven” or “hell” in these verses, Jesus uses two common synonyms for them: “life” and “destruction.” And in these verses, Jesus points out two truths about heaven and two truths about hell. Let’s start with heaven.

Heaven Truth #1: Heaven is the eternal place of life. It’s a place where death and decay do not exist. Try to wrap your mind around that concept: In heaven our bodies never grow old or wear out. Imagine: 20/20 vision—forever. Perfect hearing—without the Miracle Ear. No lower back pain. No diabetes. No false teeth. No prescription meds. And that’s not even the best part. Since Heaven is the eternal place of life, in heaven there is no war, no depression or hopelessness, no grief or heartache or sadness. So, in heaven we will finally experience perfect peace … perfect hope ... and perfect joy.

Heaven Truth #2: The way into heaven is very narrow, and only a few find it. What does that mean? Sadly, it means that most people won’t make it to heaven. So, what is the narrow road that leads to heaven? What is the small gate that leads to eternal life? God tells us in the Bible that the narrow road, and the small gate, leading to heaven are both Jesus Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us plainly: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Many people these days believe that all roads lead to heaven. But that’s not true. The truth is, all roads lead to hell … except for one. And that one road is Jesus himself.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus also tells us two things about Hell:

Hell Truth #1: Hell is the eternal place of destruction. Both heaven and hell are eternal—they last forever. Try to wrap your mind around this truth: Hell is continuous, never-ending destruction. That means in hell our bodies burn, but never burn up. Our bodies feel searing pain, but there’s never the relief of death. The physical pain of hell will be horrendous. But it won’t compare to the emotional and spiritual pain. Since Hell is the eternal place of destruction, there is no peace. There is no hope. There is no joy. There is no reprieve, no time out, no light at the end of the tunnel. And one of the most heart-breaking descriptions of hell is given in 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Hell is the place where sinners will be “shut out from the presence of the Lord.”

Hell Truth #2: The way into hell is very wide, and most people take it. What a tragedy that most people alive today are on a path to hell. That’s not a very popular statement, but it’s true. Most people in our world today are cruising down the wide road to destruction. But I hope and pray that you’re not one of them.

According to Matthew 25:41, the eternal fire of hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” So think about it: Hell was not made for you. It was custom-made for the devil and his demons. You don’t belong there! You belong in heaven. So, please choose eternal life in heaven over eternal punishment in hell. And once again, the only way to choose heaven is to choose Jesus Christ. You have to choose to trust and serve Jesus Christ during this life.  

One final thought: After you die you will have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Regardless of whether you traveled the wide road to destruction or the narrow road to life, you WILL be judged for what you said and did during your lifetime. But here’s the thing: Non-believers will be judged by their EVIL words and deeds and be justly punished in eternity. But because believers’ sin has been covered by the grace of Christ, they’ll be judged by their GOOD words and actions. So, which would you prefer—to be judged according to your moral failures or to be judged according to your moral victories? Pretty easy decision, isn’t it? So, choose grace. Choose Christ.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our online worship service Sundays at
10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc or on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Can I Lose My Salvation?

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”
– 2 Corinthians 13:5

Last month I had the privilege of being at the bedside of a friend during his final moments here on earth. I remember a few years earlier, Carl asked to talk with me after one of our prayer meetings. So, we sat down in the front row and had a heart-to-heart talk. Carl had a burden on his heart. As a young man he had sewn his wild oats and had done some things that he deeply regretted. So, Carl wanted to know if God could possibly forgive him—or, if God had forgiven him, could he possibly lose his salvation?

Can you relate to Carl? Many, many Christians wrestle with the same concerns. You might say, “I’ve heard a hundred times about God’s love and grace and forgiveness. But at the same time, I know the Bible says that God will punish us for our sin. So, will God take away my salvation because of what I’ve done? Can I lose my salvation?”

This is actually a two-part question. That’s because, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, there are two parties in your salvation: God and you. So, it stands to reason that if you could “lose” your salvation it’s either because God takes it away from you, or you choose to walk away from it. Let’s look quickly at the first side of the coin: “Could God take away my salvation?”

I’ve got some good news for you. The Bible’s answer to that question is an emphatic: “No!” The Bible tells us that God never drives someone away who is saved: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37). And in John 10:27-29, Jesus tells his followers that no one can snatch one of God’s sheep from his Father’s hand. With these Biblical insights in mind, we can say with certainty that God will never take away someone’s salvation. God’s word guarantees it.

Isn’t that a relief? Your screw-ups will never cause you to “lose” your salvation. Like the Prodigal Son’s father, God will never give up on one of His children. But on the other hand, could you or I be saved and then walk away from God’s grace? In other words, “Could I choose to walk away from my salvation?”

That question is a lot tougher to answer. Here are some verses that might help. In 1 Corinthians 15:2, Paul writes: “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” As he talks about the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ, he includes that big two-letter word: “If.” The gospel ultimately will save us in eternity—“if” we hold firmly to God’s word. If we don’t, our shallow belief in Christ won’t save us. And Hebrews 3:12-14 warns us: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God…. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Notice that important word “if” being used once again.

So, you can’t “lose” your salvation in the sense of “Oops! Where’d it go?” But there are Scriptures that seem to say you can choose to walk away from your salvation. But if that’s the case, I believe it’s very rare. What is much more common is for someone to walk away from God who was never really saved in the first place. So, if you are asking the question today: Have I lost my salvation? Let me encourage you to ask a better question: Was I ever saved in the first place? Am I really a born-again Christian?

In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the Apostle Paul writes: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” God’s word tells us to examine ourselves—test ourselves—to see whether or not we are truly saved, born-again Christians. So, I encourage you to humbly and honestly take the spiritual exam. Here are six ways to test yourself:
 
#1: Belief Test:  Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God? (1 John 2:21-23)

#2: Repentance Test:  Was there a definite point in your life when you turned from your sins, got baptized and put Jesus Christ in charge of your life? (Acts 2:38-39)

#3: Obedience Test: Do you obey God’s commands on a daily basis? (1 John 2:3-6)

#4: Love Test: Do you love God and people? (1 John 4:7-8)

#5: Hunger Test: Do you hunger for God and the things of God (for example, reading His word, prayer, worship, fellowship with other believers, holiness, and serving God and others)? (Matt. 5:6)

#6: Holy Spirit Test: Is there evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life? (John 16:7-11) Do you feel convicted and unhappy when you sin? Do you have and use at least one spiritual gift? Is the fruit of the Spirit-- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—growing in your life?

If you failed any one of these six tests, you need to make some serious decisions about putting Jesus in complete charge of your life today. Once you are saved, God will never take your salvation away from you. But you and I have a responsibility to take our faith seriously and live it out. If we’re not doing that, chances are that we were never saved in the first place. You see, Jesus’ salvation is transformational. Because I am saved, I will never be the same again. And neither will you.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our online worship service Sundays at 10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc or on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.