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Tab-A-Letter (monthly newsletter)

July 2018


Words of Salvation, “Justification” Part 1, By Pastor Rob Benardo

Here in the tab letter, I’m going to start on a series of articles on “words of salvation.” My hope is this will also greatly help in the sermons soon to come from the book of Romans. The first word of salvation that we will look at is “justification.” First of all, it may be important to note who God justifies. Romans 4:5 insists that God justifies the ungodly. That really makes sense when we realize that that is the only material he has to use! If anyone were already godly they would not need God’s justification. And so, “strange as it may sound to many, the only qualification, and the only preparation, for justification (by faith) is for a person to acknowledge that he is ungodly. “It is quite easy for many to believe that they are ungodly, and even to acknowledge it; but for them to believe that God justifies them—that is too much.” {February 7, 1899 ATJ, ARSH 88.8}    It is very important also to understand that justification is spoken of in its two phases.


The first is the legal phase or the verdict of acquittal that is for all mankind or the whole human family (Romans 3,4,5,1 Cor. 5, 1 Tim 2:6, 4:9-11, Hebrews 2:9 and scores of others). The second phase is justification by faith – that is when men grasp and appreciate, believe and accept the great work of God done for them. The first phase is God‘s choice of you. It is as if He looks down at you through the lens of the righteousness of Christ. It includes both the cancellation of condemnation and the supplying of the robe of Christ’s righteousness (Zech 3) “In Him”.  The second phase has to do with your choice of him. It is when the sinfulness is taken away and the robe put on in your personal life.


It is really impossible to understand the gospel unless we understand the two realities (or two aeons as the great Swedish theologian Anders Nygren put it). One reality is that which you are in Christ. It is your position as God looks at you. It includes forgiveness, restoration and the perfect righteousness of God (lived out in the faith of Jesus). “In Christ” it could be said that you have been saved, when in yourself you are far from being saved. Christ’s work from the foundation of the world and revealed in His birth, life, death and resurrection (the faith of Jesus) is solely and exclusively the grounds of our salvation. It’s no wonder that many Christians have no assurance of salvation because they refuse to accept this “birthright inheritance”.  You can be sure today of God’s acceptance of you. You can be sure that He loves you, has chosen you, adopted you and accepted you “in the Beloved”. This is something the Devil cannot steal from you and God will not retract. Unfortunately, the major protestant view (and many Adventists) is that this has to do with your choice of him. Never, never! If this were the case your assurance with God would be as shaky as your faulty promises to Him!… This forensic or legal work (the way God looks at you in Christ) is God’s choice of you.


This is much better news when you think about it. The popular Protestant view leads to a “once saved always saved” mentality, again built on our choice of Him. Many people, as they see these tremendously objective assurances in the Bible, think that it must mean that once you accept Christ you cannot be lost. Really though the good news is much better than that! It is not “once saved, always saved” (which is built on our choice of him in the personal reality) but “once loved, always loved” (which is built on His choice of the entire human family)! So, stop obsessing about how good you are (or aren’t) and start focusing on how good He is!


“A life in Christ is a life of restfulness. There may be no ecstasy of feeling, but there should be an abiding, peaceful trust. Your hope is not in yourself; it is in Christ. Your weakness is united to His strength, your ignorance to His wisdom, your frailty to His enduring might. So, you are not to look to yourself, not to let the mind dwell upon self, but look to Christ. Let the mind dwell upon His love, upon the beauty, the perfection, of His character. Christ in His self-denial, Christ in His humiliation, Christ in His purity and holiness, Christ in His matchless love --this is the subject for the soul's contemplation.” Steps to Christ pg. 71


IN SEASON…by Lorrie Rietman


It is berry season! Right before camp meeting we all went as a family to pick strawberries and got so wrapped up in it that we picked $40 worth! But they have been put to good use with old-fashioned strawberry short cake in our bellies, jam stowed away, and several big bags frozen in the freezer. I treasure memories as a child of going with my grandparents to pick pretty much every summer fruit- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries. This was always serious business and we would be there several hours to be sure we were all well stocked! The day would include a picnic lunch and then the drive home. We didn't just go anywhere to pick. My grandmother had her favorite farms and kinds of berries she would specifically seek. Because of her industriousness, we had fruit salads, fruit toppings and treats all winter long. The fruit is only ripe so long, so we have to pick it, or we lose out....


Just like summer fruit, some opportunities in life are only ripe and available at certain times. It is sobering to reflect upon, but the truth is that we do not know the number of our days or of those around us whom we value. In addition to the brevity of life, we do not know when life circumstances will change: jobs may end, accidents may occur, interests may change...life is fleeting, time is fragile, and I fear that so many of us are frittering away our lives being entertained by nonsense or consumed with ourselves. I don't want to wake up one day to find my children grown and regret the time not spent with them or that I have not nurtured in them a relationship with the Lord. I don't want to neglect my relationship with the Lord or with my husband because I am so distracted by frivolous things and consumed with myself. This season of life is short. Lord, "teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom..." Psalm 90:12.


Catch Me – IF YOU CAN...by Chris VanderWaal


You probably recognize this title from a 2002 movie about a con man, Frank Abagnale. Before his 19th birthday, he successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. After prison, he worked for the FBI to assist them in fraud prevention. He is currently an AARP Fraud Watch Network ambassador. Listed below are several of his tips to protect yourself from frauds and scams. (The last two tips are from the AARP Fraud Watch Network.)

 TIP 1 - Shred EVERYTHING with a micro-cut shredder, which turns your paper invoices, letters, etc., into confetti.

TIP 2 - Use a service that monitors all three credit bureaus to let you know immediately if someone is trying to use your credit.

TIP 3 - Avoid writing checks and using debit cards. “I use only credit cards,” said Abagnale, “because if somebody gets my card number and charges $1 million, my liability—by Federal law—is zero.”

TIP 4 - Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle—wallet, purse, cellphone, laptop.

TIP 5 - Secure your cellphone with a strong password. More than 25 percent of individuals fail to protect their mobile devices with a password. Don’t use obvious passwords, such as the names or birthdays of your children or pets, and don’t use obvious sequences, such as 1, 2, 3, 4.

TIP 6 - Giving out personal information over your phone, online, or in the mail is a NO! NO! unless you initiated that contact.

TIP 7 - Don’t share your Social Security number unless it’s for tax reasons, getting credit, or verifying employment. Also, don’t carry your Medicare card unless you are going to a health care appointment. The rest of the time, you should carry a copy of your card with all, but the last four digits blacked out. Those numbers will be enough information for a provider to start helping you in case of emergency

*Article found in March 2018 edition of the Michigan Conference Stewardship publication: The Stewpot.





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