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Is belief necessary for salvation?

Is belief necessary for salvation?

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity
 
When professing Christians are asked about their salvation, their mind often goes to a time when they walked an aisle at church, raised a hand, made a decision, said the sinner’s prayer, were baptized or joined a church. While such activities are often relied upon as proof of salvation, the truth of the matter is that such activities are no guarantee of salvation. For instance, it is possible that a person could walk an aisle at church, raise a hand, make a decision, say the sinner’s prayer, be baptized, join a church and still be just as unsaved as a person who had done none of these things. Can people claim to be Christians, yet still be on their way to hell? The answer is, “Yes.” So, if these things do not provide the surety of salvation, then what does? This leads to some critical questions, such as “How can a person be saved?”, “How do you know if you are actually saved?”, and “How do I check on the salvation of others?”
 
The Apostle Paul writes that the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes…”1 In other words, belief in the gospel is essential for a person to be saved. This means that belief in the gospel is not a secondary or tertiary matter when it comes to determining one’s salvation, it is primary.
 
The word believe is basic, yet descriptive of what one’s response should be upon hearing the gospel. It points to the fact that the gospel must be accepted as presented in Scripture, and to reject that information is to remain a non-believer. The English word believe is most commonly translated from the Greek word pisteuó, which means, “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.”2 Keeping such a definition in mind helps us to understand what it means to “believe the gospel.” Take these scriptures for example:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
… whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:15-16)
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)
… these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4)
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul . . . (Acts 4:32)
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12)
… a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. (Acts 14:1-2)
For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ (Romans 4:3)
Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Corinthians 15:11)
For we who have believed enter that rest . . . (Hebrews 4:3)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
 
As you can see, the God’s word puts great emphasis on belief. However, before calling people to “believe,” we must first give them the foundation–or the Who and What–in which they are to believe. People cannot just believe in anything they wish and be saved by it. The belief must be placed in the right object, or better yet, the right person. Regarding the empty call to “believe” that some Christians were issuing, Charles Spurgeon wrote:
I have sometimes thought when I have heard addresses from some revival brethren who had kept on saying time after time, ‘Believe, believe, believe,’ that I should like to have known for myself what it was we were to believe in order to our salvation. There is, I fear a great deal of vagueness and crudeness about this matter.3
 
It is far easier to command people just to believe, but we must never forget that there is a message that must be connected to that belief for true salvation to occur. A call to believe without giving a person what they need to believe is futile. Belief, no matter how strong it is, in anything besides the person and work of Jesus Christ amounts to a faith that is entirely ineffective in bringing about salvation.
 
God has given us the message which is required of us to believe, and that message is centered on Jesus Christ. The Apostle John is abundantly clear that the gospel is all about Jesus, and it is only belief in Him that saves. For example, in John 3, he writes that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”4 He then writes about the condemnation of those who do not believe, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”5 At the close of his gospel, John summarizes his entire message by stating the purpose of his writing, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”6

1. Romans 1:16: All Bible references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version Containing the Old and New Testaments: ESV. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007)
2. Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Baker Book House, 1977), entry for pisteuó.
3. Murray, The Invitation System, 33
4. John 3:16
5. John 3:18
6. John 20:31

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Abortion. Do little lives matter?

Abortion. Do little lives matter?

Did you know that over 350,000 babies have been killed in the last six months right here in the United States?
 
Did you know that thousands of those deaths occurred at four buildings here in DFW?
 
Who will speak up for the unborn babies who cannot speak for themselves?
 
With the thousands of churches and the hundreds of thousands of Christians a metropolitan area like Dallas-Fort Worth, many people assume that an enormous number of Christian volunteers are making efforts to reach these ladies and save the children. However, that is far from reality. Until lately, on most days, there were no Christians present at the DFW abortion clinics to try to dissuade the mothers from ending the life within them. Recently, there has been an increase of individuals from a few small churches who are trying to do something about this.
 
Our church, The Church At Pecan Creek, in Denton, Texas, is one of them. We have several volunteers who have gone to the abortion centers for a long time, but lately, even more, are being moved to help. For instance, Kyle and Morgan (both members of our church) went to the Fort Worth abortion clinic a couple of months ago just to observe the scene. However, they found themselves shocked and in tears from what they witnessed. Both of them were heartbroken and overcome with a passionate desire to do something.
 
Not long after the eyewitness account, Kyle came the elders of our church and asked if one of us would like to organize an outreach at these facilities. However, upon hearing his passion and desire to create a plan of action, we felt that he was the man for the job. Kyle is learning more weekly and is working with others to create a schedule so that there will be Christians present at the abortion centers every day of the week. If you have any questions about this subject, you can email us at findoutmore@thechurchatpecancreek.com.
 
Since then, our church has partnered with End Abortion Now, an established ministry that seeks to end abortion, share the gospel, meet the needs of mothers, train volunteers, and even provide adoption opportunities. You, or your church, can find out more about End Abortion Now here.
 

Can you make a difference?

Yes. Here is a perfect example of how God used one of our church members to reach a mother and to save a life. Jude, a 20-year-old young lady with a passion and love of others, had the opportunity to speak to a lady walking into the abortion clinic to terminate the life of her unborn child. The conversation went well, the lady changed her mind, left the clinic, and even sent Jude this text a month later:
“Hi Jude, I don’t know if you remember me, but we had met at the abortion clinic I was about to abort my baby and I saw you and your friends of your church there and after talking to you and one of your friends I had decided not to and we had found out this past Monday that we were going to be having a girl and now I believe I’m 17 weeks and me and my husband are so thrilled because we have three boys and we only had one girl and he had been praying for a girl and I can’t be more thankful for you and your friends for saving my baby because I constantly think if I would’ve had the abortion we wouldn’t be this thrilled to be expecting our baby girl in October and he’s very excited so I just want to thank you and let you know that not a day goes by that I constantly don’t think about you and what you did for me. Thank you so much God bless you.”
 
What would have happened if there was no Christian voice present that day to speak with this lady? A life was saved and a mother’s perspective was changed, thanks to one young lady being willing to give up her Saturday morning of rest to go to death’s door and do what she could do to save a life. One person can make a difference!
 

What can you do to help?

Pray for those who are ministering at the abortion centers. It takes a particular person to deal with the stress, anxiety, heaviness, and pressures of this ministry. Many times, they receive enormous amounts of hatred from some of those there to have an abortion. Such ministry is tough on the mind and the soul. Pray for boldness, compassion, clarity of thought, clear proclamation of the truth, and opportunities to share the gospel.
 
Pray that lives would be changed. The people arriving to abort their babies need help. Some of them are victims of sex trafficking; some are in despair; some arrive proudly. However, one thing is obvious; they are all blinded by sin. What they need the most is a new heart with new desires to live for God. Such a change can only come through the gospel. Pray that our volunteers would have the opportunity to share the truth about abortion, save babies, love on the ladies, and to share the gospel.
 
Volunteer. You are under no pressure from our church to volunteer, but if you are interested, you may choose to go to one of the abortion centers with other volunteers to observe, pray, or even speak with one of the mothers. Also, if you do not want to volunteer regularly, there is much to be gained by going even once to take in the reality of the number of daily abortions, the lives being affected, and the pressures of ministering there.
 
Educate. Learn more about abortion, and learn about what you can do to educate yourself and others about the truth of the matter. We will be offering occasional education on abortion ministry at our church. Feel free just to come, learn, and increase in awareness. Here are two fantastic documentaries to get you caught up quickly, both of them are free to watch on YouTube:
 

Questions often arise from those viewing the ministry at abortion centers, such as:

Why do some volunteers speak so loudly at the abortion centers? Volunteers are not allowed on the property of the abortion centers and have to remain far away. If one foot is placed on the private property, the police are called. Most of the time, speaking at a regular volume will simply not traverse the distance needed to be heard by those walking in to have an abortion. The abortion centers also provide escorts for the ladies that meet them at the cars to help ensure that the ladies do not change their minds. You may also notice that our volunteers have a sense of extreme urgency when they are at the abortion centers. This is because the women are walking from their cars into a building to end the life of their unborn children. The journey from the car to the building takes only 20-30 seconds.
 
Put yourself in the shoes of the ones trying to minister to these ladies. Think about the content, volume, and emotion that you might feel as you try to stop an abortion from 50 feet away, and you only have 20 seconds to do so. Hopefully, by understanding the situation better, you know that the purpose is not to just yell for yelling’s sake, but to speak loud enough to be heard.
 
Why do some volunteers use their phones to record activity at the abortion centers?
  1. Videos provide a witness to any criminal activity aimed at them. As you might have seen, a gun was drawn on one of our friends a couple of months ago at the Fort Worth abortion center. Police can use the footage if needed.
  2. Most law enforcement officers do an excellent job of keeping the peace and performing their job in a just manner. However, on rare occasions, an officer will make an unjust command for the Christians to stop speaking and even write a citation for doing so (as was the case last month in Dallas). Fortunately, that entire episode was recorded and will hopefully be used in court.
  3. Many of those arriving to have an abortion are hoping to end the life within them in secrecy. However, when they arrive and see witnesses in the parking lot, some even with cameras, it is hoped that the exposure might cause them to pause and reconsider their decision.
  4. Videos also allow multitudes of Christians who never have gone to the abortion mills to be exposed to the realities of abortion. Think about it; except for a few volunteers with their phone cameras at these facilities, there is no media attention given to the 3300 innocent babies who are murdered each day in the U.S. The hope is that more people will be made more aware of the atrocities being committed, and take steps to help, volunteer, educate, and pray that abortion is abolished.
 
Where do the abortions take place in DFW? These four abortion centers are not used for women’s health; they are used strictly for abortion. Every day, hundreds of pregnant women arrive at the centers. Moments later, the women exit the building leaving their children to be discarded as medical waste. These are the four Abortion Centers in DFW:
Be praying that these doctors will repent and return to their oaths to protect life, not take it. We also pray that these places of abortion would be permanently shut down, as has been the case with over 2,000 other abortion centers.
 
This is just one more way in which we can seek to spread the light of Jesus to a dark and dying world. Pray for all involved in this ministry, and for those who they are trying to reach. Pray that many more ladies will stop, listen, and change their minds before aborting their babies. Pray that the gospel of Jesus would be proclaimed. Pray that people would repent of sin and believe in the life-saving and life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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10 Ways to Keep COVID from Causing Conflict in Church

10 Ways to Keep COVID from Causing Conflict in Church

By Trey Talley
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity

The world, our country, states, governors, politicians, medical experts, news outlets, and social media are all divided over how to righty respond to COVID-19. Some people believe that the COVID-19 response from the world has been a massive overreach, while others might think that it was not nearly strict enough. Some think we should get back to life as usual ASAP, while others would prefer to keep stringent measures of isolation in place for the foreseeable future.

One thing seems to be for sure, everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter. Now it is one thing to watch the politicians and medical experts aggressively fighting each other about how we should all be responding to COVID-19, but what will you do to avoid the fighting from flowing into your church? Will tempers flare? Will friendships be lost. Will your church divide? 

COVID-19 appears to be on the decline, and the world on its way to recovery; however, the damage done to the unity of your church could last much longer. How could this be? I mean, after all, as Christians, we are all part of the body of Christ. We have the same salvation, same Savior, the same indwelling of the Holy Spirit, etc. As Christians, we are even commanded by God to be patient, peaceful, and understanding people, who strive to live at peace with one another. However, sometimes, even Christians are caught off guard by controversies and how to handle them correctly.

While much more could be said, hopefully, these practical steps will help you to keep peace within your church.

1. Close your mouth.

Just because you disagree with a comment, does not mean that it is necessary to voice your disagreement, especially if you know that there is a high likelihood of an argument erupting.

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)

2. Love others even if it hurts.

Loving others sometimes means that it can even be a bit painful. Paul talks about a love that “bears” and “endures.” Bearing with and enduring someone implies that it is a difficult task. However, you continue to do so because you love them. 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

3. Be a peacekeeper.

Before every conflict, one has the option of choosing war or peace. As believers, we should strive for peace and comfort each other during these unusual times. 

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)

4. Honor one another, even if you disagree.

Is what you are about to say going to honor your brother or sister in Christ?

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

5. Be a good listener.

Good listeners are difficult to find in an argument. Usually, each person only wants to express his or her opinion. However, just listening to someone is often one of the best ways to avoid tempers from flaring. 

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)

6. You don’t have to talk about COVID.

Just because others are talking about the latest findings, quarantines, vaccines, etc. it does not mean that you are required to jump into the conversation. In fact, it may be best to avoid it altogether or to change the subject. See my blog, Speak CHRIST, not COVID.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19)

7. Strive to keep harmony.

Children of God should not be fighting like those who are of the world. We should go over and beyond in trying to keep our relationships with other Christians harmonious, and in doing so, we individually and corporately become better worshippers of God. 

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)

8. Be quick to forgive.

Yes, someone is going to offend you at church. What should you do? Get mad? Gossip? Stop talking to them? No, you are to forgive them. Remember, Christ forgave you, and as a Christian, you should be reflecting the forgiveness that you have received to those who offend you as well. 

“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

9. Be kind.

Just because you disagree with someone does not mean that you have to get angry about it. Even if someone’s logic is skewed or even incorrect about COVID, it is no excuse to be mean.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

10. Don’t let your anger grow.

There is almost a 100% chance that someone in your church is going to make you mad about what he or she said about COVID issues, but don’t let your anger continue to build. 

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

As your local congregation begins to come back together, do all that you can do to keep the unity of peace that is found in Jesus Christ. Remember, who you are and how God has called you to live. Love God and love His children.


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Speak CHRIST, not COVID

Speak CHRIST, not COVID

 
News agencies are saturated with COVID-19 updates, warnings, and information. This is true, not only news agencies but people in general. Everyone is talking about the chaos, catastrophes, and conspiracy theories surrounding COVID.
 
Sadly, I have noticed that this complete COVID focus is also taking over the mind, attention, and words of Christians as well. So many Christians have joined the COVID conversation and have become just like the world around them: speaking or posting about all things COVID. Christian after Christian has become nothing more than a common, every day, wannabe COVID expert who is more than willing to regurgitate the latest COVID updates.
 
I don’t want to sound too harsh, and I will admit that I have been guilty of being overly distracted by COVID as well. Understandably, we are living in an unusual time, I mean, it has not been common for any of us to deal with a pandemic. It is natural and easy for even the Christian mind to be unhealthily consumed with COVID information. However, as Christians, we must realize that we have news that is far more important that we are to be focused upon and sharing with others: the gospel. We must not forget about the greatest news ever given to humankind for the most significant and most universal problem that all humankind faces. As Paul writes,
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”1
 
This passage is an excellent reminder of the “news” that we have been entrusted with and the need to share it. Jesus Christ the Son of God is the world’s only Savior. As God and man, He alone is the only One that could live and die to pay the infinite price of sin that no person could every pay. Everyone who calls on Jesus for salvation will be saved. Saved from the judgment of God, saved from their sins, saved from the wrath of God, and saved from an eternity in Hell. This is good news! And this is the good news that we should be speaking about regularly, and yes even during, if not more so, during a pandemic.
 
People have been given a stark reminder that they are mortal. People are sick. People are dying. The count of people infected or who have died from the virus is ever before us. Many people who live as though they will never die, are now daily reminded of their mortality. As a Christian, this is your time to shine bright by the way you think and the way that you speak. Look for ways to turn conversations from COVID to CHRIST.
 
Though the entire world seems to be focused on COVID, let us not become unhealthily consumed mentally, or verbally with the virus. We must remind ourselves that Christ is the ultimate cure that every single human being needs. People need hope. People need good news. People need you to tell them about CHRIST!
 
1. Romans 10:13-15

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The Church At Pecan Creek
1811 Shady Oaks Blvd.
Suite 105
Denton, Texas 76205
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