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Last minute conversions

When Jesus was being crucified his enemies added insults to the injuries he was suffering by challenging him to prove the claims he had made about himself by coming down from the cross.  Even the two criminals who were being crucified with him joined in.

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,save yourself, and come down from the cross!”

So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”

Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

Mark 15:29-32

A short time later one of the criminals experienced a change of heart.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:39-43

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Two kings who repented

Judah had many kings, some good and some evil.  The worst of them was Manasseh.

Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.
2 Chronicles 33:9

As a result of his sins God allowed the Assyrians to capture him and take him to Babylon.  While he was imprisoned there he repented and was restored to his kingdom.

When he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
2 Chronicles 33:12-13

He was the worst king of Judah and he was also the only one who repented of his sins. Read the rest of this entry

Which baptism will you receive?

John the Baptist called on people to repent and then baptized those whose lives showed that they had done so.  Some wondered if he was the Christ.  He responded to this by saying that the Christ would not baptize the way he did.

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Luke 3:16-17

Jesus Christ was the one he was speaking of.  He baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire and he separates all of humanity into wheat and chaff. Read the rest of this entry

Stay where God puts you

No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.
Luke 8:16

The kind of lamp Jesus spoke of provided light by burning oil.  A lamp placed under a jar would be extinguished for lack of oxygen.  A lamp placed under a bed could set the bed on fire.

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The sinner’s prayer

One technique used by evangelists is to ask those who respond to their message to pray what is called the “Sinner’s Prayer”.  The wording of this prayer varies; here is one version.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.
Amen.

This practice isn’t found in the Bible.  There are several accounts of people believing the gospel and being saved but there is no record of any convert being asked to say this or any other prayer.

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9/11

On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four airliners. Two of the planes were deliberately flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center, causing them to collapse. One was crashed into the Pentagon. The passengers on the fourth plane managed to overpower the hijackers and prevent them from carrying out their intended mission but the plane crashed, killing everyone on board. The total death toll from these events was almost 3,000.

People asked a lot of questions as a result of the attack. Many wanted to know who was responsible and what needed to be done to protect against future attacks. But the question in the minds of a lot of people was “Why did God allow these people to die?”

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Westboro and Equality House

You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Deuteronomy 5:32

God doesn’t simply say we must obey but warns about turning to the right or to the left.  That is because there are two opposite ways in which we can disobey each command.

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Bar-Jesus

When Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in Cyprus they encountered opposition from a false prophet name Bar-Jesus.

When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
Acts 13:6-8 Read the rest of this entry

Steps to national repentance

Leviticus 4 contains instructions for those who have sinned and want to be forgiven. There are four sections for four different classes of people. For anyone who wants to see his nation turn back to God this order is significant.

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A controversial comma

One of the criminals who was being crucified with Jesus repented of his sin and asked Jesus to remember him.  Jesus made this promise to him:

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:43

He was telling him that the two of them would be together in Paradise that same day. Or was he? Read the rest of this entry

Church discipline

In 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 Paul gave instructions about how to deal with a member of the church who was living a sinful lifestyle and showed no inclination to repent of it.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Read the rest of this entry

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