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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Hoshea

Hoshea was the last king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  He was on a long list of this kingdom’s leaders who angered God.  However, by the time he came along, God’s patience with the Northern kingdom had been exhausted.  Hoshea and the children of Israel would soon be punished for their sinful ways.
    The Bible says that Hoshea was king of Israel for nine years.  However, his reign as king was an evil one in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 17:1-2).  
    At the time of his reign as king, Israel had been reduced to servants to the Assyrians.  This means that the nation of Israel was under the control of the Assyrians and had to pay tribute to keep the peace.  To pay tribute means to pay a tax to the dominant government.  However, Hoshea began to betray the Assyrians.  Shalmaneser was the king of the Assyrians while So was the king of the Egyptians.  Hoshea secretly started conspiring with So in an effort to rebel against Shalmaneser.  The first rebellion was to stop paying tribute to Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:3-4).  As a reaction to Hoshea’s betrayal, Shalmaneser had Hoshea arrested.  He then had his army lay siege against Israel’s capital, which was Samaria, for three years.  This means that the Assyrians camped out outside of the walls of Samaria for three years.  This was usually to make the enemy starve or run out of water within the surrounded city until they gave up.  The Assyrians were very patient and determined to conquer the children of Israel as you can see!  Waiting for three years means they would not give up!  Their persistence paid off.  The Bible says that the Assyrians captured Israel.  They took the children of Israel captive and shipped them off into Assyria (2 Kings 17:4-6).  One can imagine the sadness and weeping of the children of Israel as they were rounded up and made to leave their homeland!
    Why did God punish Israel?  The Bible says that God allowed the Assyrians to conquer them because they were sinful (2 Kings 17:7-24).  They had been guilty of idol worship for centuries.  Part of their idol worship was to engage in black magic and cause their children to become offerings by fire.  They would not repent from their idolatrous ways.  In other words, God sent many prophets to them over the years; telling them to change, but they would not.  So, after a long period of patience with them, God punished them by using the Assyrians as His tool to do so.
    What does this lesson mean to us today?  First, we must stay away from idolatry and black magic.  Do not be impressed with so called “psychics,” mediums, and witches today.  God hates for anyone to engage in these practices, because they originate with the devil.  These types of things are sinful (Galatians 5:13-26).
Second, we learn about a judgment day the children of Israel had to experience.  As mentioned in this lesson, God’s patience ran out regarding the sinful ways of the children of Israel.  This caused God to allow the Assyrians to conquer them and expel them from their homeland.  Remember, the children of Israel had many centuries to change their ways so that God would not punish them.  However, they refused to be a godly people.  As a result, God judged them by using the Assyrians as His punishment tool.  Today, we must be concerned about the judgment day to come for all mankind.  Just like God did for centuries with the children of Israel, He has been calling us to change as human beings as well.  God tells us that there is a judgment day for all mankind in Revelation 20:11-15, which reads as follows (New International Version):

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

As you can see, those who are not saved Christians will be thrown in the lake of fire.  This is a worse punishment than the children of Israel received, because it will be forever!  So, be saved today by making Jesus your Lord and Savior.  Please see the section of this message entitled “God’s Plan of Salvation” for more information on how to become a saved child of God.
In conclusion, we know that sinful ways will be punished by God if one does not change before it is too late.  We saw an example of that via the story of Hoshea.  His people were destroyed and carried off into Assyrian captivity, because they would not obey the Word of God to turn their lives around over many centuries of God reaching out to them in an effort to get them to change.  The same holds true today.  There is a judgment day for all mankind coming.  However, some will be saved and some will not.  Those who will be saved are those who believe in and obey the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16; James 2:20).  So, give your life to Jesus so heaven will be your home instead of the eternal misery that awaits those who choose to stay in sinful lifestyles to their own destruction.  May God bless and keep you.

    
 
God’s Plan of Salvation

    There is so much confusion in the world today regarding what some people preach as God’s plan of salvation.  Some will have one say a prayer similar to the following, “Dear Jesus.  I realize that I am a sinner.  I accept you as my personal Lord and Savior.  Please forgive me now and save me.”  This is commonly called “A Sinner’s Prayer.”  There is only one portion of this type of prayer that is right.  One must accept Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior, but a prayer for salvation is not in the Bible.  One cannot pray and receive salvation. 
Others preach that one can just believe and he/she is automatically a child of God.  Unfortunately, this method is not mentioned in the Bible as God's way of salvation either.
Even others preach that if an infant is baptized, he/she is saved at that moment.  Well, friend, again, this is a method made up by man and not in the Bible.
Literally studying the Bible, itself, is the only way to get a true and righteous answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?"  This is where it is wise to allow the Word of God to explain itself as much as possible.  Please come with an open mind to this study as it is not meant nor worded to offend.  It is only designed to spread the truth of what God literally says one must do to be saved.  
First, we must study the first element of God's plan of salvation, which is to hear His Word as taught in the Bible, itself.  1 Corinthians 1:21 reads, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”  To those disinterested in the things of God, preaching salvation through Jesus Christ is foolishness to them.  It is nonsense.  On the other hand, for those truly seeking God, it is God’s wisdom displayed unto him/her.  Salvation comes through hearing the Word of God.  It does not come through feelings, flashes of great light, an audible Word from Jesus, Himself, a literal appearance from Him, or any other methods people claim to have experienced today.  Instead, God has said salvation comes from preaching.  In fact, Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (New King James Version).  This means one must hear the Word of God to be saved.  Again, this is done through preaching!  
Second, in order to be saved, Jesus says, “15…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 New King James Version). This verse is showing us one must believe the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. What is that Gospel (i.e. the good news)? Acts 2:22-39 explains it to us and reads:
22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- 23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.' 29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." 36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call (New King James Version).
To say this in a brief manner, in order to be saved, one must believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary, rose again to life on the third day, and has been chosen by God the Father to be mankind’s Lord and Christ (i.e. Savior).

How is He the Savior of all mankind who will believe and obey Him? The answer is all mankind, including you and me, have sinned. This means we have all done something worthy of spiritual, eternal death. We are worthy of eternal punishment through our evil deeds (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jesus volunteered to give His life as a substitute offering so we could be freed from the sentence of eternal, spiritual death (1 John 2:2; Romans 5:9-10). In other words, Jesus’ death was a peacemaking offering, also known as an atonement, with God the Father (Romans 5:11).
If one can believe the death of Jesus was the substitute for the eternal, spiritual death we deserved, then God is able to save him/her. If not, he/she cannot be saved, because there is no other way one can be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 4:12; Titus 1:4). There is no salvation to those who do not become Christians before they die (John 14:6). Believing that Jesus is Lord and Christ is also a conviction that Jesus is the literal Son of God (John 3:16). He was human, but Divine as well.
Third, in order to be saved, one must also repent of his/her sins.  Jesus made it quite clear in His preaching that one must repent in order to be pleasing to God the Father.  One example of this command from Jesus is in Mark 1:15, which reads as follows, according to the New King James Version, “…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” 
What is repentance?  Orville J. Nave has a great definition of what this word means and is quoted as follows, “A complete reversal of one’s attitude and values, i.e. a turning toward God” (Unger & White, 1996).  This is just another way of saying when one desires to become a Christian, he/she has to make a commitment to live a morally upright life according to the Will of God in the New Testament. 
Remember, when Jesus died, He brought in the New Testament (which is the New Covenant) and closed the Old Testament (i.e. the Old Covenant).  We are to obey the New Testament for salvation, but use the Old Testament for our learning of principles that have been carried over into the New Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 12:24, Romans 15:4).  Please also keep in mind, the Father God speaks to us in these last days through His Son-Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3).  His Words, which are the Words of the Father God, are captured in the New Testament of the Bible (Matthew 7:21-23). 
What does repentance lead to according to the Bible?  Acts 2:38 shows us and reads as follows, according to the New International Version, “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Remember, repentance is a change of lifestyle from the bad to the good.  Notice, repentance must come before God will forgive us of our sins.  Thus, if one will not commit to leaving a sinful lifestyle behind, then God cannot forgive the person.  Without forgiveness, there is no salvation.  
Fourth, one must confess Jesus Christ to be one’s Lord in order to be saved.  This is shown to us in Romans 10:9-10, according to the New International Version, “9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Italics Added). 
The Bible gives an example of this confession in Acts 8:37.  Acts 8:36-38 reads as follows, according to the New American Standard 1995 Version:
36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ``Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'' 37 And Philip said, ``If you believe with all your heart, you may.'' And he answered and said, ``I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'' 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 
Friend, as you can see, the saving confession, which acknowledges the fact one has accepted Jesus as his/her Lord, is “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Fifth, in order to be saved, one MUST be baptized in water.  Jesus, again said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 New King James Version). 
Notice, Jesus used the word “and” between the words “believes” and “is baptized.”  This means the two concepts are connected and inseparable.  In order to be saved, one must BOTH believe and be baptized according to the teachings of God!  Man may separate the two in his own false teachings, but it is only the Word of God that saves! Water baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation with no exceptions.  If the Bible teaches it, then it is true.  If man teaches otherwise, then he is a liar!  
Sixth and finally, the last thing one must do to be saved is to stay faithful to Jesus Christ until he or she dies. This author did not imagine this concept, it is literally written in the Scriptures. Jesus said the following to all Christians, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 New American Standard 1995 Version).
This word “faithful” is accurately defined by the renowned Greek scholar, Joseph Thayer. He defines the original Greek Word “pistos” (Strong’s number 4103) as the following, “Trusty; faithful; of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties” (Thayer, 2003).
Thus, to remain faithful to Jesus until death means all Christians are bound to live a life according to what Jesus commanded. That is, we have to continue believing in Him as our Lord and Savior until our earthly deaths (Hebrews 10:39; Matthew 10:32-33).   In addition, we have to live a life morally in accordance to the things He taught us (Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 1:1-3; Luke 6:41-49; James 2:20).
In summary, God’s plan of salvation, according to the Bible, is as follows:
1.     One must hear the Word of God being the offering of salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17).
2.    (2) He or she must then believe this Gospel story of salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:24).
3.     He or she then must repent, which means to live a morally, clean Christian life by abandoning sinful ways (Acts 2:38; Mark 1:14-15).
4.    He or she must also confess Jesus Christ as his or her Lord, which means the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:37).
5.    He or she must be submerged in the watery of grave of baptism for the forgiveness of one’s sins (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
6.    All Christians must remain faithful to Jesus Christ by continued belief in and obedience to Lord until death (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 1:1-3; James 2:20; Hebrews 10:39).
What Are You Going To Do Now?
Are you one who has read the Bible and has understood that you may have, unfortunately, been deceived into thinking you were saved, but were not due to being taught false doctrine? Please do not be ashamed. Satan has many false teachers and preachers in this world (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)!  Remember, one of the tools Satan uses to keep us enslaved to sin and headed to eternal punishment is our own pride (1 John 2:16)!  Please do not let pride stop you from becoming a true Christian.  If you are one who thought you were a Christian, but realized you were not taught the truth leading to salvation, then this author begs of you to find a local church of Christ congregation and tell the minister there your dilemma.  Then, allow yourself to be taught the truth (Acts 8:26-39). From there, give yourself to Christ in truth so there will be no doubt of your salvation when the judgment day comes!  Make sure you have yourself baptized at the local congregation to wash away your sins (Acts 22:16)!  Remember, false teachings send us to eternal punishment and not heaven (Matthew 15:13-14; Galatians 1:8-9).  Only the truth will set us free from sin and eternal death (John 8:32).  May God bless you and keep you! This author loves you, but God loves you more (1 John 4:8-11; John 15:13)!

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