How Shall They Know

Hello, Everyone!  My name is John Johansson, and welcome again to another broadcast of the Resounding Shophar Blast!  It’s been a while since our last broadcast due to some pretty significant things taking place on the Johansson front, and in time we may share some of those with you in future broadcasts.  In the meantime, we are back and looking forward to sharing more Resounding Shophar Blasts with you as we see the day of our Lord’s return speedily approaching as never before.


To begin with, the Apostle Paul asks a rhetorical question that is the theme for today’s broadcast, and that question is found in Romans 10:14 which says;


14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?


As Christians, believers and followers of Christ, we know and have a message that the world is looking for, and it is our responsibility to share that with others.  What is our message?  It’s the message of salvation through Jesus, and Him alone.  It’s a message that through Jesus one can be set free of the bondage and penalties of sin.  It’s a message that gives hope to the hopeless of a glorious, pain, sickness and death free eternity in heaven.  It’s a message of the Blessed Hope found in Jesus alone where He returns to receive His people to Himself, an event that takes place before God’s judgement is released upon the whole world in a seven-year period identified in Scripture as the Tribulation Period.  The problem is that it seems most churches in America are not sharing this message with others.


A lot of churches are embracing various false and deceptive teachings, and in the process, they are not presenting the message of salvation accurately or completely to those that are within their sphere of influence.  Some churches are not embracing false and deceptive teachings, but still they are not presenting the message of salvation and what it is, what it means, and why it’s so important for each of us to embrace.  We recently left a church we had been members of for nearly five years, and at that time someone made the comment to me that as long as it wasn’t over a salvation issue then that was okay, but something inside me rose up and I had to tell them it was over a salvation issue.  There were different reasons for our departure, but the main one was that in the nearly five years we were attending it was extremely rare, if at all, that the message of salvation was actually preached or taught from the pulpit or at any “outreach” events, and that is a salvation issue.  Let me explain.


If I know someone is very sick, perhaps with something like cancer, and I know what the cause of it is and have the cure for it, what could be a great life-giving event turns into a life and death situation if I withhold that from them.  In like manner, if I know the spiritual condition of a person, the root cause and that salvation is the cure, if I don’t let them know and give them the cure which is Jesus, then that is a salvation issue.  It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable I am of the situation, it doesn’t matter if I learned from honest and accurate teachers about it, if I don’t share the cause and the cure with them then that is a salvation issue.  In other words, even if a church is doctrinally sound, if they do not preach and teach on the subject of salvation, then that is a salvation issue as those under their influence have no idea what it is and why they need it, and as a subsequent result could still be eternally lost in hell unless they are told the truth about salvation.  How can people know about the salvation made available to them through Jesus if no one tells them about it?


On the same note, a lot of churches lead people to Jesus, but it stops there.  I liken it to me taking someone I know to be sick to the doctor.  If I take them to be introduced to the doctor, but I never tell them why they need to see the doctor or how the doctor can help them, after the introduction we can turn around and leave and all the person knows is that they just met a nice doctor.  We can take people to Jesus, figuratively speaking, but if we never tell them why they need to meet Jesus and what He can do for them, then all they’ve done is met an important person in world history.  Again, how can people know about the salvation made available to them through Jesus if no one tells them about it?


Something else we need to be sharing with others is about Jesus’ soon return for His bride.  This is another message that seems to be overlooked or ignored in many churches here in America.  There are many reasons for this; pastors and other Christians don’t know much about it, some are intimidated by the subject, some are afraid that others will respond with fear or contempt, possibly taking their money with them, and others just don’t believe in it.  In either case, it isn’t getting preached or taught in most churches.  I remember a time when I was a kid in which this subject seemed to be talked about nearly all the time, both behind the pulpits and outside the four walls of a church, but now it seems like it’s almost taboo to even discuss it.  People that once strongly believed in the pre-tribulation rapture, now it seems many of them no longer believe even in the rapture itself.  Sadly, this is another fulfillment of Bible end-time prophecy pointing to the ever-imminent return of Jesus for His followers.  Getting back to the issue, it’s scary to me that more and more churches are not preaching or teaching on Biblical end-time prophesies and the return of Jesus for His followers in the event we know as the Rapture.  When I think about this, I can’t help but remember some of the things Jesus said on the subject, things that should be a red flag for us to pay attention to.


When it comes to His return for us, on multiple occasions Jesus tells us to watch and pray, and He said it with emphasis.  Each time He said it, it was not a suggestion or a recommendation, but it was a strongly stressed command.  What does it mean to watch and pray?  To watch for His return, it means that we need to expect Him to return at any moment, and with that to be watching the signs of His coming.  Granted, there are no specific signs pointing to His return at the Rapture, but there are many signs pointing to the Tribulation Period, and when we begin to see those signs being fulfilled pointing to the Tribulation Period, that should tell us that the Rapture is that much sooner.  There are some who say we don’t need to be watching for Jesus to return at any moment, or even to be watching the signs of His return, but that is simply in contradiction to what Jesus tells us to do.  I don’t know about you, but I believe Jesus means what He says, He says what He means, and since He knows more than we do I think it best to take Him at His words and be obedient to them.  To not be watching as He has commanded us is disobedience wrapped up in pride that says we know better than Jesus what we need or don’t need to do.  In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus tells us not only to watch, but He also tells us to pray that we are counted worthy to escape that which is coming on the earth.  Counted worthy?  Yes, that is what Jesus said.  Some will argue that we are already worthy at the point of salvation, and that we will remain worthy from that time forward no matter what, but there are many passages in Scripture that would seem to contradict that way of thinking.


In Titus 2:11-13 and 1 John 3:2-3, we are told that as we look forward to Jesus’ return for us in the Rapture, the Blessed Hope, we are to purify ourselves from sin and all ungodliness.  For those who believe their admittance into Heaven was sealed at the point of salvation, and that there is nothing more they need to do until then, it is a dangerous place to be in because it becomes very easy to not take the presence of sin in their lives seriously.  According to the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John, the more we look forward to Jesus’ return for us, the more we should be motivated even more to repent of sin in our lives and turn from it.


So, how serious is it that we be watching for Jesus’ return for us?  Well, apparently Jesus takes it pretty seriously.  In Revelation 3:1-6, speaking to the church in Sardis, He pretty much tells them to repent and start watching for Him, and that if they don’t watch for Him to return, they will miss it when He does.  I don’t think you can get much clearer than that.  If we don’t watch for Him to return, then we will be caught off guard and miss it when it does happen.  Is there another passage that lends some weight to this?  Yes, there is.  In Revelation 16:15, Jesus makes it clear that those who are watching for His return, and who keep their garments clean of sin, they are blessed.  But He goes on to say that those who did not watch and keep their garments, people will see them naked (without their robes of righteousness) and see their shame as ones who knew the truth but didn’t take it seriously enough to apply it to their lives.  Wow!  I guess that means we should be watching for Jesus’ return for us, and to make sure we’re ready when He does.  Going back to the main theme for today, how will people know about Jesus’ soon return, the need to be watching for Him, and the need to keep our garments clean of sin, if no one is preaching and teaching them about it?


How shall they know ….


In Ezekiel 33:1-11, God makes it very clear that if we don’t warn others of what is coming, then their blood will be upon us.  However, if we do warn people of what is coming, and how to prepare and avoid it, then if they choose to disregard the warning then their blood will be upon themselves.  This should be a stark warning for all followers of Christ given that we have been given a message we are commanded to share with the lost, and if we neglect to do so their blood will be upon us.


Do you realize that Jesus’ return for His followers is very close and could happen at any moment?  Do you even care?  Jesus isn’t going to rescue you from the judgment that is coming to the world if you really aren’t concerned about it.  He’s looking for people who are eagerly waiting for Him to return for them, the Blessed Hope we read about in Titus 2:13.


Perhaps you are a Christian, but you haven’t been living as you know you ought to, allowing sin and idolatry to reign in your life.  If that is you, then I strongly encourage you to repent of such, to make things right with Jesus, asking Him for forgiveness and turning away from the sin.  Don’t play what I call Russian Roulette with your eternity because you want to hang onto that which is sin and dishonoring to God.  Do it today!  Don’t delay!


Maybe you have never given your life over to Jesus.  Maybe you have been living life as you wanted, and on your terms, but in listening to me today you realize there needs to be a change in your life.  You are seeing the signs I mentioned earlier only increasing, and you can tell things are not going to get any better but instead much worse, and you want to avoid as much of it as possible and realize the only real way of doing so is by surrendering your life to Jesus.  Well, you can make that change right now wherever you are.  It’s simple, as simple as “A, B, C”.  Let me tell you how.


For you to be considering making such a change in your life, this only shows that God is speaking to you.  He wants to have that saving relationship with you far more than you could ever want it yourself.  To enter that relationship with Him, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge that you are a sinner.  To acknowledge, or to admit, that you are a sinner is the “A” in the “A, B, C’s”.  This may be difficult for some to do, but it’s vitally important.  We are told in Romans 3:10 that no one is righteous or good, no, not one.  The reason for that is found in Romans 3:23 where we’re told that all, everyone, has sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  This means that nobody is good enough, no matter how good we may be, because we all have sin in our lives.  Continuing in Romans, we are told in Romans 6:23 that the wages of our sin is death, or in other words the penalty of the sin in our life is eternal death.  So, where does that leave us?  We are told in Ephesians 2:8-9 that the salvation God offers us is a gift of God, something we receive by grace and through faith.  No one deserves salvation, and no one certainly can earn it through works of any kind, but rather it is a gift from God.  To receive this gift from God, the first thing a person must do is “A”, acknowledge or admit that they are a sinner.


The second thing a person must do, and this is “B” in the “ABC’s”, is to “BELIEVE” in their heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead.  Romans 10:9-10 tells us that if we confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved.  It’s not just a mental believing as some would like it to be, but rather a believing that dictates the way one lives their life.  It’s a way of life that reflects and supports what they say they believe.  In James 2:19 were told that even the demons believe, and they tremble, but salvation is not available to them.  Just having a head knowledge is not enough.


The third thing a person must do, and this is “C” in the “ABC’s”, is to “CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.”  You need to call Jesus Lord, and to do so means one must surrender their life to Him.  There is coming a time when every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess to God that He is Lord.  Now is the time for salvation, and now is the time to voluntarily surrender your life to Him.  The eternal rewards for surrendering your life to Jesus is far greater than anything this world could ever hope to give you.


Is a relationship with Jesus like I’ve described important and worth it?  It is most definitely worth it, and then some.  I won’t say that life will be easier or with less problems, but it will be more fulfilling, and with that there is a Blessed Hope for all Christians to embrace and pursue.  More and more people are beginning to feel hopeless with life, especially when they see everything that is happening around them and around the world, but as Christians we have a hope that is solid and independent of anything this world could ever hope to offer us.  The signs we are seeing across the news headlines now days only energizes the hope we have of Jesus’ ever imminent return for us.  It is that same hope, that Blessed Hope, that encourages Christians to keep the faith and to continue living for Him and Him alone.  Are you one of those who place their trust and hope in Jesus?


If you do not have a saving relationship with Jesus, and you would like to, I encourage you to talk to God right now.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or eloquent, just a sharing of your heart to Him.  If that is you, and you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, then say this prayer from your heart and to Him.  Again, it’s not a formula, just a sharing of your heart to Him.


“O God, I am a sinner.  I’m sorry for my sin.  I want to turn from my sin.  I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son; I believe that He died on the cross for my sin, that He was buried, that You raised Him to life, and that He’s coming to take me back to His house in heaven very soon.  I have decided to place my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, trusting only in His shed blood as more than sufficient to save my soul and to take me to heaven.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving me.  Amen.”


Now that you have entered into this relationship with Jesus, I strongly encourage you to find a Bible and start reading it, and to find and get plugged into a solid Bible-believing church that teaches and preaches the full Gospel of Jesus, which includes Bible prophecy and the need to be living righteously and holy before the Lord in all your ways.


In closing, know that Jesus is coming soon, very soon, for His followers, and it is vitally important for each of us to be found both watching and ready for Him when He does.  Don’t get lulled into the deceptive thinking that His return is not near for one reason or another, especially when the fulfillment of the signs given in the Bible tell us that it’s at the door.  It’s our responsibility to be watching the signs for Him, and to be ready, free of any spots, blemishes, or wrinkles brought on through sin in our lives.


Remember these two things:

  • The King is Coming!
  • Be ready for Him when He does!


By John Johansson

Clogged Arteries

The last several weeks have been an adventure of sorts for me.  It all started for me the first week of November.  For about a week I had been feeling extra tired and weak, so I knew that I was fighting something in my body but what I didn’t know.  Then it was on the first Monday of November that I developed a discomfort high up in my chest, a feeling I associated with something like bronchitis.  The discomfort was constant and consistent in its intensity throughout the day, and then by evening time I began to feel very tired and weak.  Again, I was just thinking I was fighting congestion of some sort.  Well, very early Tuesday morning I woke up with the same discomfort as before, but now I couldn’t get comfortable in bed,I was drenched in sweat, and I felt like I was about to pass out.  It was at this point that I told my wife I needed to get to the hospital, but I couldn’t get to the car, and therefore I ended up having a ride by ambulance to the hospital located just two blocks from our house.

On the way to the hospital, the paramedics told me that my symptoms did not reflect an issue with my heart, but that they couldn’t say for sure one way or another.  At the hospital, many tests were ran trying to identify what I was experiencing and what was causing it.  All the tests they ran indicated my heart was not the issue, and they were getting ready to discharge me with a diagnosis of acid reflex or something like that, but before discharging me they wanted to run one more test a third time. The first two times they ran the test, the results were fine both times even though the second test results were a little elevated.  When they ran this specific test a third time, not only had the results elevated even more, but it had elevated into a“grey” area, and this result told them that something was definitely going on with my heart.  At this point it was decided that an exploratory heart catheter would be best to help identify exactly what was going on, with the hopes that they wouldn’t find anything.

You’re probably asking why I’m telling you all of this, but there are a couple good reasons for it that I will share as we continue.

When they went in through my wrist to check my heart, they discovered two things.  The first thing they discovered, and not necessarily in this order, was that one of my arteries was100% blocked, and a second artery they refer to as the “widow maker” was 60-70%blocked.  The second thing they discovered was that I was on the verge of a major heart attack if they hadn’t gone in when they had.  They opened the one artery that was 100% blocked and put in a stent, but they left the other one alone at the time hoping medicine could take care of it.  Needless to say, less than 24 hours after being discharged, I was back in the ER with chest pains which gave me a helicopter ride to another hospital in another city down the interstate.  It was then that they went in a second time to put a stent in the “widow maker” artery.

All this which took place within one weeks’ time, though it still wasn’t the end of the adventure.  As I looked back over the previous events and how everything transpired, seeing God’s fingerprints all over the situation, I realized something that had a spiritual parallel.  When I went into the hospital the first time, my symptoms were not typical of a heart issue, but those symptoms were the catalyst through which they discovered the more urgent issue with my heart.  Sometimes people go through situations and experiences that propel them to seek the assistance and counsel of pastors.  Perhaps it’s a marriage that seems to be falling apart, the death of a loved one, financial collapse, children making bad decisions, or bad medical reports and health.  They seek the help and counsel of a pastor regarding what they are going though, only to find out that a more urgent issue needs to be resolved first, either the person needs to surrender their lives to Jesus and/or deal with unconfessed sin.  Sometimes in our lives, it’s not the apparent issues that need to be dealt with, but rather those issues are what propels us to identify and deal with more important issues in our life and in our hearts.

A little more than a week after being discharged the second time, I found myself in ER again and after seeing something was going on with my heart,they transported me to another hospital in a neighboring city.  They did another exploratory heart cath to identify what was going on, but this time the results were good, and they were positive for the future with instructions on how to deal with the symptoms.  Between the second and third time I was admitted into the hospital I learned something that really surprised me.  Several years ago, I had been told that I had high cholesterol and was only told to change my diet and attend some classes.  Well, I did attend the classes,but not much changed regarding my diet. It wasn’t until the past few years that I really began to change my diet to benefit my health, primarily focusing on the high cholesterol.  So, it was exciting to find out that the tests they ran the first time I was in the hospital showed that my cholesterol numbers were normal, with the exception that the HDL was a tad low.  Apparently, all I had been doing the past couple years, all naturally and without prescription medicines, had paid off in getting my cholesterol down.  What was surprising to me, though, was when I found out that there is nothing outside of medical procedures that one can do to unclog arteries.  Did you catch that?  Even though I had made changes to reduce my cholesterol, there was nothing I could do on my own to unclog the arteries, and that it would require a medical procedure. My cholesterol had been reduced to normal numbers, but I still had clogged arteries that could become fatal to me at some point if not properly dealt with.  The danger and threat to my life had not been diminished because I made good changes to my life, and in fact it was only because the doctor did an exploratory heart cath at that moment in time that they could see I was on the verge of a major heart attack that could have taken my life. 

You see, I knew that my cholesterol was bad, and I thought that if I could make the necessary changes in my diet then I would be okay.  I then thought of people who realize for whatever reason that they need to make changes in their life, good changes that would benefit them.  I also thought of many who decide to make positive life changes by attending and getting involved in a church, or for that matter a charitable organization of some sort, but they are not dealing with core issues, issues that could still prove fatal for them spiritually.  Spiritually speaking,every single one of us is born with an issue that condemns us to an eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire, and that issue is sin.  It doesn’t matter how good and moral you are,or how many positive and charitable things you do or support, or even how involved you are at church, if the issue of sin has not been properly and adequately dealt with in your life then nothing is changed for you eternally speaking.

As I began to make changes to improve my health and get my cholesterol where it needed to be, I felt good knowing I was doing something good and positive.  For the most part, everybody feels good when they do that which is good and positive, especially for the benefit of others.  This isn’t something that only followers of Jesus experience, but rather mankind in general feel that even though their good works are not centered around Jesus.  This is something that God has hardwired within each of us, but when we are self-centered, selfish and prideful we become blinded to this truth.  This is why there are some people who openly reject Jesus but still are considered good and morally solid individuals.  It is for this reason that people who are not Christians like to get involved with charitable organizations and churches, because it makes them feel good when they are doing things that help and benefit others even if they don’t embrace the beliefs of that organization or church. However, just doing good and positive things does not deal with the eternally fatal issue locked up within each person, and it’s something they can’t take care of on their own.

Spiritually speaking, sin is the spiritual plaque within our spiritual arteries.  We are born with it, and the more we sin the more plaque gets built up within our arteries, yet there is nothing we can do of ourselves to remove it.  It’s not enough that we change the way we live, trying to be a good and moral person,because in doing so we convince ourselves that we are okay when in fact we still have spiritually clogged arteries that threaten to send us to Hell. It is only through salvation, the repentance of sin and the surrender of one’s life to Jesus, that not only is sin removed but also the plaque buildup within our spiritual arteries, and it is then that the hope of eternity in Heaven becomes a reality we can embrace.  And to keep those arteries clean, we need to be quick to repent of sin and seek to honor Him in all our ways.

Doing good and positive works is not enough to change our eternal destination.  On the outward we may look good to others, and inwardly we might even feel good knowing we are doing good things for the benefit of others, but if sin has not and is not being dealt with in our lives, and if our lives haven’t been surrendered to Jesus to be lived for Him, then we are just as dead in sin as we were in the beginning and destined to an eternity in Hell.  Don’t let your good works and deeds be in vain, knowing that they in themselves have no bearing on your eternal destination.  Give your life over to Jesus, all of it, asking for His forgiveness and seeking to honor and please Him in all your ways, and from which good works and deeds will naturally follow. 

Don’t try to change your life by making good decisions and being good and moral in the sight of others.  Change your life and get your blood cleansed and your arteries unclogged by surrendering your life to Jesus first and foremost, and then He will be the reason for the change with eternal rewards for you.

John Johansson

How Secure Are You?

I was recently asked by a friend I’ve known since my youth if I had written anything on this particular subject.  While I have eluded to it at times, I have never focused primarily on the subject, but seeing that the return of Jesus for His bride is right around the corner I felt it was important to write on it.  How secure are you in your relationship with Christ and eternity?  Are you secure in it, or are you embracing a false security that could have disastrous consequences if you are not prepared when that trumpet sounds?


As we see the turmoil within society and the world at large increase in intensity faster and faster, it’s becoming more and more evident that we are actually living in the last days prophesied in Scriptures.  As a part of these last days we know that Jesus will be returning for His Bride sometime in the very near future, and with that the question is asked, “How secure are you in your relationship with Christ?”  It has been debated over the years to what extent one can be assured of their salvation and entrance into heaven, with some arguing that once you’re saved you’re always saved, and some arguing that each time you sin your salvation is lost and needs to be restored.  Which one of these arguments are true, or is it an entirely different position somewhere between the two extremes?


The idea of “once saved, always saved”, also known as “eternal security”, has been around for years.  What is believed by those who embrace such a doctrine is that once someone is saved, their eternal destination in heaven has been sealed and cannot be revoked for any reason.  When asked about those who appeared to receive salvation yet later on in life seem to live a life apart from Christ, the common response is that the person wasn’t truly saved to begin with.  It’s as if a person forfeits any free will when they get saved, having no freedom to change their mind at a later time in regards to salvation.  Perhaps this is where the thought originated, that those who have experienced and received the love of Christ will automatically and without question give their lives to Him, and that they would never want to be without it?  I wrote about such a person that had both observed and received Jesus’ love and acceptance for over three years, yet at the end he chose to make decisions that destroyed his relationship with Jesus and his eternal home in heaven, 30 Shekels of Silver.  The teaching of “once saved, always saved” implies that at the point of salvation, salvation is complete and requires nothing more from the individual, except maybe to be loving and gracious towards others.  For some, they will go to the extreme and say all their sins, past, present, and future, were forgiven at the point of salvation, and that there is now no more need to confess and repent of future sins as they were already forgiven.  I realize Scripture is used to support the “once saved, always saved” doctrine, but is there Scripture that would contradict it?


I remember just a few years after high school sitting on the floor during one of our youth fellowship group meetings, or home group as some call them, at a youth leaders house.  That night a question was raised that I had heard many times before, but this time it was different.  The question asked, when does grace end?  This, of course, was under the premise that a person could lose their salvation.  So, when the question was asked, when does grace end, the Holy Spirit immediately pointed me to a scripture reference.  It wasn’t one of those times where you’re trying to think of a scripture to answer a question or to support a perspective, and I definitely did not remember what the scripture said, but the Holy Spirit immediately gave me direction.  Now, before I give you the reference, let me tell you something about myself.  I’m one of those people that if you told me that the sky is blue, then I would conclude that it isn’t red.  If you tell me that stepping on the accelerator pedal of a car will make a car go faster, then I would conclude that to take my foot off of it would make it go slower and perhaps stop.  So, when I read the verse I’m about to give you I immediately made a conclusion based on what it said.  In Romans 6:17, the Apostle Paul tells us “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered”.  After reading that I believe God gave me the answer to the question that was asked.  If salvation by grace is a result of obeying God from our heart, then it only makes sense that grace begins to cease when we no longer obey Him from our heart.  It’s not so much an issue of whether or not we sin, but what is the condition and attitude of our heart when we sin.  If our heart seeks to honor God and to be pleasing to Him in all our ways, then we are going to shun sin in our lives more and more, having an attitude of repentance and turning from sin that can be seen in our actions and behaviors.  On the flip side, if we are continually trying to justify or defend why what we are saying or doing is okay, then our heart attitude isn’t right and will jeopardize the operation of God’s grace in our life.  With the right heart attitude grace is in full operation, but it’s a dangerous place to be in if our heart attitude isn’t right and healthy in His sight.


I recently wrote another blog asking if Jesus is your Savior, or is He your Lord and Savior.  In it we took a look at Matthew 7:21-23, and how that the ones Jesus turned away were practicing lawlessness even though they called Him Lord and did the supernatural in His name.  They were doing their own thing, living as they felt was right and okay and not according to Scripture and what God had for them.  The attitude of their heart was not one of obedience to Him, and as a result Jesus told them to depart from Him.


In Matthew 25:1-13, we read of Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins.  In this parable, the virgins represent followers of Christ, Christians.  All ten of them were patiently waiting, with full expectation, for the bridegroom to come get them, but only five were found ready and prepared when he did arrive.  The five virgins that were not ready and prepared for him were left behind.  The setting of this parable is in the context of the ancient Jewish wedding, a picture that is often times used to illustrate the wedding between Christ and the Church.  To keep things brief, one of the aspects of the ancient Jewish wedding is that the groom and bride enter into a marriage covenant with each other, a process that isn’t completed until a future time.  After entering into this marriage, the groom leaves for an indefinite period of time to prepare a place for her.  Upon his return for his bride, the one whom he has entered into a marriage covenant with, if she was ready and prepared for him when he returned, he would take her back to his father’s house where the marriage process would be finalized and completed.  If on the other hand he were to find that her affections were elsewhere or that she had not prepared herself for him as she ought, the groom could leave without her and give her a letter of divorce.  This was what Joseph was going to do with Mary when he heard that she was with child, planning to “put her away privately”, Matthew 1:19.


In the parable of the unforgiving servant found in Matthew 18:21-34, Jesus gives us a picture of the place forgiveness should have in our life.  In it, a king is settling accounts with his servants who represent Christians.  A servant is brought to him that owes him an enormous debt that he could not pay, and when the king gives orders to have him sold along with his wife and children to pay the debt the servant begs for time.  Out of compassion the king not only gives him more time, but he actually forgives, or cancels out, the debt this servant owed him.  The servant then goes out and finds a fellow servant that only owes him pennies by comparison to what he had just been forgiven of, and despite the begging of this other servant for more time to pay, he has him thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the king hears of this he calls for the servant, rebukes him because he didn’t show the same kind of compassion and kindness towards the other servant that he had been given, and in anger recalls the debt that had initially been forgiven and sends him to the torturers until he paid it all.  In a nutshell, when the king forgave the servant, that represents salvation, but because the servant didn’t extend forgiveness to others after he had first received forgiveness from the king, his past debt was remembered and he was sent off to be tortured.  For those that say that this doesn’t apply to us, Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:35 that God will do the same to us if we don’t from our heart also forgive.  The servant received salvation, but because he would not forgive his salvation was forfeited.


Some will argue that these teachings of Jesus are not relevant to us because they were before He died and rose again, but in Matthew 28:19-20, just before He ascended up into heaven, Jesus instructs us to teach others to observe and do ALL that He commanded us.  He didn’t indicate only that which was after His resurrection, but all that He had commanded us to do.  In a book that was written about 90 A.D., almost 60 years after Christ’s ascension, Jesus talks to seven churches made up of Christians in Revelation 2-3.  In these chapters Jesus identifies what awaits those who overcome, and in Revelation 3:1-6 He talks to the church in Sardis.  In Revelation 3:5 He tells them that if they overcome “He will not blot their name out of the Book of Life”.  How can a person’s name be blotted out of anything without it first being put in it?  Since a person’s name is entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life at the point of salvation, this can only mean that because they didn’t overcome as Christ instructed them to do they “lost” their salvation.  Some people confuse the Book of the Living with the Book of Life, but they are two completely different books.  The Book of the Living, which is what Moses referred to in Exodus 32:32-33, has the names of all people who are physically living.  The Lamb’s Book of Life has all the names of those who have received salvation, whether they are currently dead or alive, which is only through Christ and the accepting of His sacrifice for our sins.  The writer of Hebrews indicates in Hebrews 10 that it’s possible for some to “draw back” from the salvation they once received, and how that the just will endure and live by faith.


While I don’t embrace the teaching of “once saved, always saved”, also known as “eternal security”, I do believe a person can be secure in their salvation.  When a person has a heart that seeks to honor and please God in all they do, to obey Him and His commands first and foremost, to actively shun sin in their life and be quick to repent when they do sin, which means to cease continuing in that sin, I believe a person can be secure in their salvation.  But, if a person is continually trying to defend or justify their behavior or the presence of sin in their life, or they take the position that they have the right to decide when they will or will not obey God and His Word, no matter what it is, then they are at risk of forfeiting the salvation they began in.  Some say for some to lose their salvation requires a complete turning of ones back to God, but I believe from what we’ve looked at in this and the previous blog it is possible for someone to “lose” their salvation and not enter into heaven without completely turning their back on Him.  Does a person lose their salvation every time they sin?  No, I believe that a person with the right attitude of the heart will experience God’s grace without measure during those times until they’ve had opportunity to recognize the sin and repent of it.  The Holy Spirit will convict us when we’ve sinned, and when we continue in sin, but if we continue to ignore His conviction or try to say it isn’t Him then we run the risk of falling short of the prize that the Apostle Paul tells us about, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Philippians 3:12-16.  The Apostle Paul tells us to push for the prize that awaits us, and Jesus tells us that there is a reward for those who endure and overcome till the end.


Do you want the prize, the crown awaiting those who persevere and overcome till the end?  Do you want what awaits those who watch and prepare for the return of Jesus for His Bride?  Don’t let your robes of righteousness become spotted and blemished with the world and sin.  It’s up to you.



John Johansson (Pastor John)

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Jesus, Our Savior

Jesus, our Savior, that is what many of us are looking for.  We want to receive God’s love for us, and His forgiveness of our sins, and for many that is where it ends.  Jesus can be our Savior, freeing us from the bondage and penalty of our sins, but to give Him the position of Lord in our life is another story.  It’s almost as if all we’re wanting is “fire insurance”, enough of what God has to offer us through Jesus to keep us out of hell, but is that the kind of relationship Jesus is calling us to?  Or is He wanting something more from us?


A well-known author made a point along these lines.  He commented that many have come to the place that they believe who Jesus is and what He did for them, and that the basis of their prayer for salvation is based on their belief in Jesus, not a commitment to follow Him.  Many seem to think that all they need Jesus to be is their savior, not realizing that Jesus is requiring a relationship defined as a follower of Jesus.  In Luke 9:23-26 Jesus tells us what is required to be with Him; we need to deny ourselves, take up His cross daily, and follow Him.


In the New Testament, the word Savior is used more than 20 times in reference to Jesus.  The words Lord and Savior together more than 15 times, but the word Lord by itself is used more than 700 times of Jesus.  Jesus longs to be our Savior, but it appears that Scripture greatly emphasizes His role in our life needs to be that of Lord.  Are you okay with Jesus being Lord in your life, or are you content with Him just being your Savior?  It’s a tough question, but your answer could have potentially disastrous eternal consequences.


Some people think that just because they walked down an isle and said the “sinner’s prayer” they are a shoe-in for heaven.  When we look at Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus makes it clear who will and will not enter into heaven.  In verse 21 Jesus tells us not everyone who says to Him “Lord, Lord” will enter heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father.  And in verse 23 we learn that those Jesus tells to depart from Him are those who practice lawlessness.  Check out the irony in this.  Here we have people who are doing the supernatural, and in Jesus’ name, yet Jesus tells them to depart from Him because they practice lawlessness.  This tells us two things.  The first thing is that just because someone can do the supernatural in Jesus’ name does not mean they are in right relationship with Him.  This doesn’t mean that doing the supernatural is not of God, or that it’s not good or desired for us, but instead that this is not the barometer to gauge whether or not we are in right standing with Him.  The second thing we learn is that Jesus is looking for those who do the Father’s will, not those who do as they deem is right and okay based on their own perceptions and opinions.


Those who do the will of the Father, and those who practice lawlessness even though they can do the supernatural.  I think you can sum up the difference between the two with one statement; one group made Jesus their Lord, and the other group only saw Him as their savior.  We see people in church circles who are quick to claim the promises and blessings of being a child of God, even moving in the supernatural with signs and wonders, yet at the same time they can be rebelling against God and His will for them.  Perhaps God called them into full-time ministry and they decided to pursue a career more to their liking?  Maybe it was to keep their mouth shut but they just can’t stand not gossiping or making comments whenever they choose to do so?  Maybe God wanted them to move somewhere and they decided to stay put or move somewhere else?  Or, it could be something as mundane as God telling them to give up sodas, but because they see nothing wrong with them they continue to drink them.  Some may argue whether or not situations like what I just described could keep them out of heaven, but to argue that point is to miss the point.  Besides the fact that choosing to go opposite of what God is calling you to, regardless of what it is, sends the message that your opinion is more important than God’s, there is a heart issue here.  If a person is always trying to justify their decisions, or their behavior, as to why they are not being obedient to God or continue behaving in a way that is not honoring and pleasing to Him, the issue goes beyond the choice they made or the behavior they choose to continue in.  The issue is an attitude of the heart.  Is the attitude of your heart one that desires to obey and honor God in all areas of your life, or is it one that consistently tries to defend and justify themselves?  A Christian with the right attitude will be quick to repent of sin in their life, which means turning away from the sin.  A Christian with that attitude of the heart I believe experiences God’s grace without measure, covering sins in their life that they may not be aware or had opportunity to repent of, but a Christian with the wrong attitude of the heart could very possibly find themselves with the same group of people that Jesus turns away in Matthew 7:23.


A lot of people in the days we are living in see Jesus as only their savior.  They are quick to accept and receive all the promises and blessings God can give them, including love and forgiveness, but sadly many of them don’t allow Jesus to be Lord in their life.  Some have the mindset that our relationship with Christ is based solely on what He can and has done for us, giving very little to no thought that they have a responsibility in this relationship.  They seem to think that salvation is an end in and of itself, and that nothing more is required of them outside of merely accepting it, seeing Jesus as only Savior, but what we learn from the above texts is that this is not the case.  Jesus requires that we live with Him as Lord of our life, and that limiting Him to just our savior is not sufficient.


In my youth I was a part of a church youth choir that did some traveling.  It was not your typical church youth choir in that we had at one time 175 youth in it, and the guys outnumbered the girls causing the Music Pastor to make adjustments to some of the music to accommodate this unique dynamic.  One of the songs we sang is still a well-known song (not because of us), “I surrender all”, but one of the statements in the song that is not often heard was powerful and made an impact on me.  The statement was, “If Jesus is not Lord of everything, then He’s not Lord at all”.  Before you’re quick to say that Jesus is Lord in your life, stop and take a closer look at yourself and see if there are any areas that you’ve pretty much denied Jesus access to.  You may be faithful to church on a regular basis, passionate to talk about Him to others, involved in various ministries, listen only to Christian music with Jesus bumper stickers on your car, but are there areas that by disregarding God’s will or instructions for you, some of which are found in His Word, you have told God that He is not Lord in your life?


Is Jesus your Savior, or is He both your Lord and Savior???????


John Johansson (Pastor John)

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Recalibrating Our Thoughts

The way things are currently developing both within the country and around the world, I am compelled to address a series of topic over the next several weeks. A 40 day period Jews observe called Teshuva begins the evening of August 17, 2015, a period of time set aside for the purpose of repentance and preparation for Rosh Hashanah. Actually, the first 30 days is to prepare for Rosh Hashanah with the hope and prayer they will be resurrected up and not have to continue the following 10 days which they believe no one really wants to go through. Yes, those remaining 10 days are that bad. These 40 days are closely connected to the rapture, or the catching up, of the Church and the following 7 year tribulation period that will see the judgments of God poured out on the earth. So, over the next several weeks I hope to bring a series of blogs to helps us do just that, to re-evaluate our walk with Christ with the desire that we will make the necessary changes in our lives in preparation for when that trumpet sounds signaling our call home to be with Jesus.


Several weeks ago someone made some comments in Sunday school, an echo of what others have said to me over the years that concerns me. Some of the individuals that have made similar comments love God, and yet others their love for God could be questioned. Some have even voiced these comments more to justify their behavior than as a sincere belief they held, and I believe my dad could have possibly been one of those.


So, what are these comments that I’m referring to? Based on the idea that anything prior to Christ’s resurrection is of little or no relevance to us as we are now living in the dispensation of grace, this person in Sunday school commented that we are free from the law and rules, and that whenever one lives according to rules or commands they are really being legalistic. Is this truly the case, or is something missing with this way of thinking? If this way of thinking is wrong, is it really all that important? And if it is important, what is the danger in holding to such views?


Yes, we do live in a dispensation of grace. Yes, our salvation is not based or maintained by the keeping of rules and laws. And, yes, we are free from the bondage and the penalty of sin. So, where does that leave us? Does this mean that the keeping of any laws or rules is legalistic, or is our thinking off some in this area?


To begin with, some have mentioned the words of Jesus in John 8:36 as the basis for their reasoning that we are free from having to keep any laws or rules, but in context that is not what this passage is indicating. Jesus is talking about being free from sin, not laws and rules, yet some choose to use this as their reasoning for living free from having to keep laws and rules. Is this way of thinking consistent with all scripture, or for the most part after Christ’s resurrection for those who discount anything taught by Him before hand? No, it doesn’t.


As I mentioned before, some think that keeping or living according to any laws or rules is legalistic and should not be a part of a Christians walk with Christ. The fact that our salvation is by grace and not of works or in the keeping of the law confuses some into thinking rules and laws should not be a part of our lives, and this is a misconception held by many. Those who hold to such views fail to realize the presence of rules and commands throughout the New Testament in the lives of the early believers.


One of the first commands we see in the New Testament after Jesus’ resurrection, and just prior to His ascension, was a command in Matthew 28:19-20. In this passage Jesus is telling His followers to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to do all that He had commanded them. Did you catch that? Jesus is telling them, and us, to teach others to do ALL that He had commanded them?


In Acts 15:6-29 we read of the Jerusalem Council, headed by James the half-brother of Jesus and the disciples, how after much consulting among themselves and prayer presented a series of guidelines, or rules, by which gentile Christians were to live by. These were not rules they had to follow for salvation, but instead rules providing a set of guidelines by which they were to live by, guidelines that set them apart from non-believers, and the Holy Spirit approved of these.


We also have the Apostle Paul giving instructions on multiple occasions on how we are to live, a set of rules we are to follow. He tells children to always obey their parents, wives to be subject to their husbands, husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. He also tells all of us to obey those in authority over us, to obey the laws of the land, and to grow in maturity in our faith, among others we can see throughout the New Testament. These are all commands that we are to live by as we become more like Jesus, commands that also work to separate us from looking or behaving like those who are not believers. Not only that, Jesus told us that if we truly love Him we will obey all His commandments, and He went further by stating that if we don’t follow all His commandments then we truly don’t love Him as we think we do.


Again, I am not talking about how to obtain or maintain ones salvation as that is another subject, but instead to refute the idea that there is no place in the life of a Christian for rules or guidelines by which we are to live by. After all, if that is the case, then why stop at stop signs, file taxes on April 15th, pay for items at a store, or drive on the right side of the road? When one embraces a mindset of a life free of rules and laws, they are attempting to distance themselves from any accountability for their decisions and behaviors, and that is bad. When my dad, an otherwise strict and to some extent a legalistic person, held to such views, he was using it merely as a means for justifying his decision to keep God’s tithe for himself to control and give as he wanted. He was less concerned about honoring God with all he had or to reflect the Lordship of Christ in his life than he was in his intent on keeping control of his money for himself. Motivation is key, and to have a motivation that doesn’t seek to please or honor God is a motivation that seeks the satisfaction and the gratification of self.


It is becoming more and more evident that the return of Christ is right around the corner, and if that is the case as I and many others believe, then it is important for us to make sure we are ready for that day when it comes. I’m not saying that holding to such views as I’ve been addressing will keep someone out of heaven, though it might, but to not carefully and prayerfully consider these things could be very dangerous to your soul and your salvation. It’s time for us to check and see if our thinking needs to be recalibrated to match up with the Bible, and if it doesn’t then we need to take steps to get them readjusted to match God’s word. It’s not worth playing Russian roulette with. Wouldn’t you agree? Think about it.


John Johansson

Wedding Guest Gets The Boot.

For the longest time I have wondered about the meaning or significance of the parable of the wedding feast found in Matthew 22:1-14.  More specifically, what is Jesus trying to tell us with the wedding guest that was given the boot?  At face value we can merely see the significance of having the proper wedding garment on at the wedding, but there seems to be something more to this than just that.  Think about it, why would Jesus be telling us about the wedding guest who didn’t have the wedding garment when we’re the bride, and more importantly how did the wedding guest even make it to the wedding to begin with?  Well, I have some thoughts on this.  I realize that this may be controversial to say the least, but I ask that you will take it to prayer and ask God about this before making any quick judgments on it.

To begin with, let’s establish who the Bride of Christ is.  In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Paul tells us about the body of Christ and how it is made up of many different types of members, and then in verse 27 he plainly tells us that we are the body of Christ and members individually.  Furthermore, Paul also tells us in Ephesians 5:22-33 that the relationship between Christ and the church is like that between a husband and a wife.  In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul also tells us that we are betrothed to one husband so he can present us as a pure virgin to Christ.  We, the children of God, saved by grace through faith in Jesus, are not only a part of the body of Christ, but we are also the Bride of Christ.

This is further established when we understand the marriage customs of ancient Jews during the time Jesus was here, and when we see how our relationship and future with Jesus parallels those very customs.  When we accept Christ as both savior and Lord of our life, we enter into a marriage contract with Jesus.  In our western culture, entering into marriage starts and is completed with the “I do’s” that both the bride and groom indicate during the marriage ceremony, leaving only the consummation later that day.  This is not the process in the marriage customs of ancient Jews.  When the bride and groom agree to enter marriage they enter into a marriage contract.  After they’ve entered into this marriage contract with each other, the groom then leaves to go prepare a place for him and his new bride without even consummating the marriage.  The bride does not know when her groom will return for her, but it is her responsibility as she waits to both prepare herself for him and to keep watching for his return.  If the groom returns to find that his bride had not prepared herself for him, or that she was not watching for him or if she had her attention or affections towards another, he could return to his father’s house without her even knowing he was there and will give her a letter of divorcement.  This would be final.  However, if he did return and found she had prepared herself for him, and that her affections and attention was still towards him and watching for his return, she would return to his father’s house with him where they would consummate the marriage and have a wedding party that would last on an average of seven days.  Can you see the parallels between these ancient marriage customs and our relationship and future with Jesus?  I hope you see them.

So, who are the wedding guests at the wedding party?  There are some who believe that we, the church, are the wedding guests Jesus refers to, but that doesn’t match up with scripture.  We’ve already established that the church is the bride of Christ, and so it wouldn’t make sense that we are the wedding guests.  Would it?  I don’t think so.  Based on the relationship we have with Christ, and the return we are waiting and watching for called the rapture, I think it is safe to say that the wedding guests are all who lived and died prior to Jesus that were Gods, as well as those who surrender and give their lives to Jesus after the rapture event takes place.  The church is the bride of Christ and did not exist prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the church will be caught up to be with Christ at the rapture.

In Matthew 25:1-13, we have Jesus telling us the parable of the ten virgins.  Some people would like to say that the virgins represented in this parable are the wedding guests, but that doesn’t make sense.  For one thing, the bridegroom doesn’t come to get the wedding guests, and if the virgins represented the wedding guests how come they were not allowed to enter the wedding party after the bridegroom took the wise virgins back?  Based on the marriage customs of the ancient Jews, during the wedding party that would take place over several days, some of the guests would come to the party after the marriage was consummated, so it wouldn’t make sense that in this parable the guests would not be allowed to enter in.  There may be some who think these are the guests because there are more than one virgin represented in this parable, but we have to remember that Paul tells us in one of the scriptures I referred to earlier that we are all a part of one body, but many members.  Just as we all make up the body of Christ, even so we all make up the Bride of Christ.

So, referring back to the scripture in Matthew 22 that talks about the wedding feast and the wedding guest that gets the boot, is there any reasonable explanation as to who this guest is and how they made it to the wedding feast without the wedding garment?  I believe there is an explanation, but it will be a tough one for many to swallow as it cuts against the grain of what we may have been taught in the past.  Do you want to hear of one explanation of this?  Are you ready to hear it even though it is controversial?

Okay, here we go.  When we accept Christ as our savior and Lord, we exchange our rags of filthiness for His robes of righteousness.  That’s a pretty good deal if I may say so.  We briefly touched on how many who have started a relationship with Christ will not make it into heaven.  In Matthew 7:13-14 we are told that there are two gates to go through, one that is broad and leads to destruction, and one that is narrow and leads to life.  Jesus tells us that many will go the way of the broad gate while just a few will go the way of the narrow gate.  Later in that same chapter, in verses 21-23, Jesus makes it clear that there will be many who refer to Him as Lord, citing all that they did and accomplished in His name that will not be allowed to enter heaven.  There are other scriptures that seem to indicate not only that there will be many who think that they are saved that will not enter into heaven, but also that there will be some who once walked with Jesus that will not be numbered among those in Heaven.  Among these other scriptures there seems to be one that just doesn’t get much attention for some reason.

In Revelation 16:15, in the midst of the different judgments the Apostle John tells us about, Jesus makes an interesting comment.  Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming as a thief.  Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”  In both Luke 21:34-36 and in Matthew 24:42-44, Jesus tells us to watch for His return.  Many think that it isn’t important to be watching for His return, but that is in contradiction to what Jesus tells us to do.  There must be a reason why Jesus made a point to tell His followers to be watching.  Jesus doesn’t stop with blessing those who are watching for His return, but He continues on by narrowing things down to those who not only watch for Him but also keep their garments.  This is an indication that even though someone may have entered a saving relationship with Jesus, at which time they received His robe of righteousness that it is possible to be without it.  Furthermore, apparently those who were not watching or did not keep their garments will be found naked and others will see their shame.  I believe it is safe to say that those who took on the name of Jesus but were not ready and prepared for His return lost their robes of righteousness when His bride was caught up to be with Him.  Can you imagine the shame those who were not ready will experience when others recognize them as those who called themselves Christians yet did not go up in the rapture?  I imagine it will be very overwhelming and humbling.

I know that growing up I found myself thinking if a Christian was not ready to go up in the rapture, that there was still a chance for them during the tribulation period though the price to be paid would be much higher.  I also knew that there would be some during the tribulation period that would find their eternal destination in Heaven only if they were martyred for Christ.  This has changed for me over the past several years.  While I still believe that there will be many who will receive salvation during the tribulation period by way of giving their lives for Christ, I am no longer convinced that unprepared Christians, or ‘foolish virgins’, will have another opportunity if they miss the rapture.  I think as the unprepared bride who was not watching for the grooms return missed out and was then given in finality a letter of divorce, even so the ‘foolish virgins’ and unprepared Christians will find out that they squandered any opportunity of eternity in heaven when they missed the rapture.  I think this is where the wedding guest gets the boot.

You see, this particular wedding guest did not have a wedding garment on, and when questioned they were speechless, possibly thinking that they did have the proper attire on.  I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the ‘foolish virgins’ or unprepared Christians who attempted to enter heaven as a wedding guest by dying a martyrs death during the tribulation, but because they already had the robe of righteousness at one time but lost it, they did not have the proper attire when they arrived at the wedding.

Now at this time I must clarify something.  Not everyone who claimed to be a Christian actually entered into a saving relationship with Christ at any time, and so it is impossible for anyone to say that anyone who called themselves a Christian that missed the rapture has no hope for salvation.  This can only be decided by God, Himself, and if anyone is left behind I strongly encourage them to still give themselves and their lives over to Christ.

Time is very, very short for the imminent return of Jesus for His bride.  The pieces of Biblical prophecy regarding the return of Jesus for His bride and the tribulation period are rapidly coming into place.  I’ve already highlighted some of these in a previous article, but to add to that list is the fact that Syria is speedily entering into a position that almost guarantees their destruction as described in Isaiah 17, an event that most scholars and prophecy ‘experts’ believe will take place either just before or just after the rapture of the church.  This could possibly be the very event that brings the anti-Christ on the stage.  People, this is not the time to be gambling with your eternity, but instead take all the steps you can with determination to make sure you are right with Jesus, ready and prepared for His return.  This involves getting sin out of your life, which will probably require some pretty tough decisions and actions on your part.  This is also the time to let go of any hurts, wounds or offenses you’ve picked up over the years, as well as any unforgiveness, resentments or bitterness.  Time is short!  Don’t delay!  Your eternity hinges on it.

If this article ministered to you, I ask that you will consider sharing it with others to help them prepare for Christ’s soon return.  While I appreciate the Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, I believe sharing it will reach many more people and have an opportunity to help others.  If you’re also on Twitter, I ask that you will be sure to ‘re-tweet’ this to others as well.  The more people that see this the better.

Making Your Decision Count

It is evident from world events that things are winding down and the return of Christ is very, very near.  I’m reminded about the parable Jesus shared in Matthew 25 regarding 10 virgins, five of which were wise and five were foolish.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be counted among the wise.  It is commonly believed that the virgins represent Christians, and if that is the case that causes problems with the theology of some who believe once your saved you’re always saved.  I personally believe the virgins in this parable represent Christians, and that just because someone sincerely says the ‘sinners prayer’ does not automatically guarantee their entrance into Heaven.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about ‘deathbed confessions’.  I’m talking about people who have asked Jesus to come into their heart and believe that is enough to get them into heaven no matter what happens in the future.

While it is true that nothing can seperate us from the love of God, there is nothing in scripture that indicates we lose our free will to choose or to change our minds.  There are plenty of scriptures that would indicate one can get shipwrecked in their faith, and that they can die spiritually which wouldn’t be possible unless they had first come alive spiritually.  When Jesus tells us that there will be some who will say, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not …. in your name” only to hear Him tell them to depart from Him for He never knew them, that is a sobering situation.

One scripture that comes to mind is Revelation 3:5, where Jesus tells us that the names of the overcomers will not be ‘blotted out of the Book of Life’.  Two things come to my mind regarding this scripture.  The first thing that comes to my mind is that Jesus is talking about overcomers.  I’m not going to get into who are the overcomers in this blog, but the question that comes to my mind is if our salvation is a free gift, and if sincerely saying the ‘sinners prayer’ will securely take us right into heaven with no more effort on our part, then what are we ‘overcoming’?  I’m thinking there is more to this Christian walk leading into Heaven than just sincerely saying the ‘sinners prayer’.

The second thing that comes to my mind about this passage refers to names being ‘blotted out’.  If once our name is put into the Book of Life, which indicates a true conversion, they remain in it, then what is this ‘blotting out’ Jesus is talking about?  A name can not be blotted out of something unless it is first there.  I can’t use ‘white-out’ to remove an entry on a document at work unless the entry was first made, and just the same a name can’t be blotted out of the Book of Life unless it was first put into it.  So, that tells me that even though I gave my life to Jesus I am responsible for how I live it.

I don’t want people to think that they are ‘okay’ and will automatically enter heaven.  Jesus was even adamant about His followers making sure they are ready for His return.  Be ready.  Seek the Lord if there is anything in your life you need to change to be ready for Him, and do what the will of the Father is for your life.  While there are some things that is the will of the Father for all followers of Christ, there are also many things that are specific to each believer.  I just don’t want you to be caught unaware and unready when Jesus comes.

Luke 21:36 says, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man”.

Article: Bobby Makes a Decision;

John Johansson

Russian Roulette With Eternity

I’ve been in church all my life, and according to my mom had given my life to the Lord when I was five years of age.  I can’t say that I remember that, but what I do remember is how in 1979 God began to deal with me regarding my eternal destination.  He began for what felt like six months to deal with me regarding my eternal destination and how I needed to make a commitment to follow and serve Him.  I can’t say that He was convicting me of sin in my life because up to that time I had lived a pretty sheltered life, but what He was dealing with me in was the fact that I hadn’t surrendered my life to Him and to His will for my life.  One of the ways He got my attention was through the realization of how close to death I was at times from near head-on collisions and being in a garage air-filled with explosive aerosols and a gas water heater.  God was good to me and those with me to protect us, but these were some of the ways that God used to get my attention.  During this time I experienced a growing fear of end time events and the tribulation period, which only heightened the impact of those experiences I just shared with you.  After what seemed to be six months, I knelt beside my bed with my dad and I surrendered and committed my life to Jesus on March 29, 1980.

From that time on I do not remember a time when I was fearful of missing the rapture and going through the tribulation period.  Granted, I have come to realize after searching the scriptures that saying a prayer and walking down an aisle does not guarantee admittance into Heaven, but it is what I do with my relationship with Him from that time on that determines if I will be prepared for when that shofar sounds the call to the marriage feast of the Lamb.  Maybe you don’t agree, and that is okay, but that is where I came up with the title of this blog, Russian Roulette With Eternity.

Russian roulette with eternity is where we choose to gamble with our eternal destination by living and believing as we choose.  Well, you can almost hear the arguments of people who decide not to believe Gods word in its entirety, who want to create another Jesus to their liking, or to reject God and His Son as the only savior of the world.  Many feel that whatever they choose to believe to be true is true, and if they want to believe something to be false or non-exclusive (meaning that there is more than one way to heaven) then that is what it is.  But, what if they are wrong?  What if what they believe to be true is actually false, what they believe is false is actually true, and that there is really only one way to Heaven through Jesus alone?  To echo others over the years, if we as Christians are wrong then what do we lose in embracing Christianity, and what do non-Christians gain?  Also, if we as Christians are correct, then what do we gain and non-Christians lose?  If the Christian faith and it’s source of written instruction, the Bible, is false, we obviously haven’t gained a thing, but we haven’t really lost anything either.  However, if the Christian faith and the Bible are in fact true, then Christians gain an eternity in Heaven that defies imagination in its splendor, and those who are not Christians literally lose everything to spend eternity in hell for rejecting Christ as both the Son of God and the only Savior of the world.

I am concerned for people who take their eternal destination so lightly.  It’s as if they are playing Russian roulette with their eternity, and that is very scary.  Some like to think, at least subconsciously, that if they find after they died that they were wrong and made a serious mistake they will have the opportunity to say ‘sorry’ and enter into Heaven.  What a lie from the enemy of our souls!  He will say and do anything to get us to minimize the seriousness of making right preparations for our eternal destination, even to the point of getting us to either not think about it or to have an altered view of eternity.  And, yes, he will even take and twist scripture to accomplish this if he can.  After all, was that not the method he used in the garden when he spoke with Eve, taking and twisting what God had said to make her doubt and question God?  What we fail to realize is that Satan knows the scripture, and he in fact probably knows it better than most, if not all, Christians, and that is one of his most powerful weapons.  Heard it said that the best lie is the one that is 99% true, and Satan is an expert in promoting them.

Time is so very short in regards to the start of the tribulation period, which means it’s even closer to Jesus’ return for His bride.  It is so imperative that we are in right standing with Him, waiting, watching and ready for the sounding of the shofar of His return for His bride.  The first thing Jesus told the disciples when they asked him regarding the signs of the end of the world and His return, was a warning to not be deceived.  Deception will be great leading up to His return and the tribulation period, and it is so vitally important that we don’t be deceived.  Deceived about what?  In a nutshell, deceived regarding Jesus, who He is, what He did, what He’s going to do, and that only through Him can one receive salvation prior to leaving this life.

Don’t be deceived!  Hold true to the pure Gospel and good news of Jesus, and that when it’s all said and done the determining factor that will forever determine our eternal destination is what we did with Jesus in this life and the nature of our relationship with Him.  We all have a relationship with Jesus, whether it is one that is a saving one through intimate friendship with Him, or one that is distant and independent of Him.

I trust that this will challenge you to re-evaluate your relationship with Jesus as time is running out, and that it will either be found in right standing with Him in relationship and according to His word, and if not that you will make the necessary changes to make it right.

John Johansson

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