Responses by Timothy Sparks
July 13, 2009
I have read your research on denominations I was impressed with the truth you have discovered. I am helping some to come to an understanding of God’s ways and this has helped us a lot, thank you for that. Perhaps you can tell me your understanding of how you understand how to get into God’s kingdom, I may have missed something. would appreciate a return answer.”
July 13, 2009
Thank you for your email. While much background from the Scriptures is necessary for a sufficient understanding of the kingdom, four passages of special note to our discussion are Isaiah 2, Daniel 2, Joel 2, and Micah 4. Upon reading those passages, it becomes clear that Peter’s address (Acts 2) finds its background in the prophets’ message of the Messiah’s kingdom.
Peter says “this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16). He further quotes Joel, “It will come to pass that whoever calls on the Lord’s name will be saved” (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32). Those present on that day, who allowed Peter’s message to reach their hearts, said, “Men, brothers, what may we do?” (Acts 2:37). In context, based on Peter’s quotation of Joel that “whoever calls on the Lord’s name will be saved,” their full question is, “What must we do to call on the Lord’s name that we may be saved?” Peter responds telling those who have now believed in Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36) to change their hearts and be immersed in Jesus’ name, into the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). Similarly, Ananias tells Saul (his Hebrew name; his Greek name is Paul), “Why are you waiting, get up and be immersed and wash away your sins, having called on his (the Lord’s) name” (Acts 22:16). So, “calling on the Lord’s name” is not merely a prayer, nevertheless Saul surely prayed every prayer he knew to pray (Acts 9:9, 11), but when Ananias arrived he told Saul to “get up,” contextually meaning “get up from praying” and told him that he was to be immersed in order to wash away his sins and having done so would call on the Lord’s name. This my friend, is what God has instructed to be admitted into Heaven’s kingdom. Then, we must put our hand to the plow and never look back (Lk. 9:62).
The truth will set us free,
July 14, 2009
“Can you tell us how we might build a foundation so we can show ourselves approved before God?”
July 14, 2009
To answer your question about the firm foundation on which you should build, the answer could be said to be twofold:
(1) Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11)
(2) The truth (Jn. 17:17; 2 Tim. 2:15, the Scripture to which you alluded, and which is very interesting, especially in that the word rendered “be diligent” is better rendered “do your best”)
In actuality, since Jesus is the truth (Jn. 14:6), they are the same. Jesus is the Logos (Word, Message) and revealed to us God’s Message, the Holy Spirit preserving God’s revelation for us through the written word.
My recommendation is (if you will allow me to use some accommodative language): Become a “Berean” (Acts 17:11). While memorization seems to be a “lost art” for most Americans, some form of retention is absolutely necessary (Ps. 1:2; 119:11, 97).
Few people realize how precious the truth really is. God’s wisdom reveals to us, “Buy the truth and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Prov. 23:23). We should acquire the truth at all cost, and when we possess it, we must never sell it out. Our obligation is to lift as many eyelids as possible, in hopes that they are willing to open their eyes to the truth.
The process that I have undergone in searching for the truth has been challenging at best and extremely painful at worst. At a time when I thought I was engaged in “aggressive evangelism,” I had to come to grips with many things, including the truth. This I know, God is always our dearest friend and God’s truth can become our closest companion, if we are willing to allow our thinking to be transformed (Rom. 12:2) and if we are willing to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29).
A little background for the setting and language in which the New Testament was written provides us with the realization that, during the days of the Roman Empire, to the Greek mind of the first century, nothing was more precious than freedom. However, at the same time, it seems that many Jews of the first century had forgotten the times when they were enslaved and oppressed, nevertheless Jesus came to set them “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). When the truth frees the mind, the spirit rejoices (Acts 8:39).