Tag Archives: conversion to Jesus Christ

MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS PRAYING TOGETHER

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

I’m proud to be an American, and to live in a country in which religious freedom is one of our cherished rights. (Within reason, of course. We don’t grant the freedom to murder others, even if doing so is part of one’s religion.) Freedom-loving American Muslims should have religious freedom, too, and do have it. Such Muslims are not murderous fanatics. They are peace-loving persons. But Christians need to understand that they do not worship the same God as Muslims. Muslims already know this to be a fact. Christians are Trinitarians. Muslims are not. Christians believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. Muslims do not. Christians pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Muslims do not. So, this is a big problem for Christians in attendance when a Muslim prays at a public event, such as the Republican National Convention, being held this week in Cleveland, Ohio. To endorse such prayers is contrary to Biblical teaching. The Muslim’s god, “Allah,” is a false god, an idol. The Bible, which is the Word of God, says the following in the last sentence of the last chapter of the apostle John’s first letter: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (The quote is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.) One way to guard ourselves from idols/false gods, is to not endorse prayers made to them.

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Fourth Of July Christians

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

You might have known some Fourth of July Christians, or perhaps know some now. Here are some of their characteristics: 1) They go off with a big bang, and aren’t heard from again. 2) They sparkle for awhile, and then disappear. 3) They produce a lot of smoke, but that’s it. 4) Someone lights their fuse, but they turn out to be duds. What we need are more Christians like the man named “Mnason,” referred to in Acts 21:16. The New King James Version and The Modern English Version say he was “an early disciple.” This means he had been a Christian for a long time, in contrast to Fourth of July Christians.  This takes commitment to the Lord, and his grace to stay committed.

A Crisis Point In A New Christian’s Life

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

Even though I was raised by Christian parents and went to Sunday school and church in my youth, I did not become a true Christian until I was sixteen years old. Previous to my becoming a believer in Jesus Christ, my Christianity was in my head and not in my heart. And it showed itself in my lifestyle. In other words, I did not act or think like a Christian. But that changed in the spring of 1970, when I admitted to myself and to God that I needed forgiveness and salvation. At that point, I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, and began a new life as a Christian.

But one of the things I faced as a new Christian was the potential to go back to the way I had lived for some years before becoming a Christian. Starting when I was 13 years old, I had been drawn into a life of drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking marijuana and hash, using LSD and other drugs. All my close friends did the same things. And here is when my crisis point as a new Christian was reached: I went to hang out with my longtime friends at someone’s house. There were several of us, and we sat in a large circle on the living room floor. Someone in the group did as usual: they light a join of marijuana, inhaled some of it, and passed it to the next person, who inhaled some of it, and passed it to the next person. (We called inhaling it “taking a toke,” and “taking a hit.”) I was maybe six persons away from the joint being passed to me. I had to make a quick decision to either fall back into an old habit, or continue to go forward with my new life as a Christian. With the Lord’s help, I got up and excused myself from the situation, and left the house. With the Lord’s help, I never returned to that lifestyle. But it required that I do two things: 1) make new friends who would support my new life as a Christian, and, 2) be very careful about my relationship with my old friends. We now were on different paths, and the Lord requires that Christians stay on his straight and narrow path. The Lord did not want me to completely cut myself off from my old friends. But if I wanted to live for him, and if I wanted to be a good example to them, I could not put myself in situations that could easily result in going back to my old life. Therefore, one of the most helpful things to me as a new Christian was frequent attendance at and involvement in a local church that preached and taught the Bible as the Word of God, and that challenged Christians to separate themselves from influences that would interfere with living a dedicated Christian life. Of course, Christians have a lifelong need for this kind of positive influence from a local church which has these characteristics.

What follows are some quotes from God’s infallible Word, the Bible that apply to the subject  being considered. (The quotes are from the Modern English Version, and were taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com. Here is a link to the Modern English Version online: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Modern-English-Version-MEV-Bible/#vinfo.) Now to the quotes from the Bible:  First, consider what the Lord Jesus Christ himself said about Christian discipleship: “ Enter at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who are going through it,  because small is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14.)  Second, consider what the apostle Paul said to the Corinthian Christians concerning the importance of being careful about the kind of persons with whom we are friends: “ Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ ”  ( 1 Corinthians 15:33.)  Third, consider what the apostle Paul said in his second letter to those same Christians about being careful about our associations.  2 Corinthians 6: 14 – 18 says:

“14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion has light with darkness? 15 What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

‘I will live in them
    and walk in them.
I will be their God,
    and they shall be My people.’

17 Therefore,

‘Come out from among them
    and be separate,
        says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
    and I will receive you.’

18 ‘I will be a Father to you,
    and you shall be My sons and daughters,
        says the Lord Almighty.’

Modern English Version (MEV)The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

Dad Found My Marijuana!

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

In a previous post I told about the day my mother found my cigarettes. I was maybe 13 years old at the time, and we lived in Minneapolis, MN, on Pillsbury Avenue South. Some time after Mom found my cigarettes, we moved to a different location in Minneapolis, on  Lyndale Avenue South. We lived in the upper half of a duplex at that location. Both renters had more room in the basement, which was divided in half by a wall. At first, my bedroom was upstairs. But then my parents gave me permission to move into the basement. This meant that the other renters lived between me and my parents. One of my bad habits at that stage in my life was smoking marijuana. And I found a convenient place to hide it: in the pocket of a flannel shirt. The shirt had two pockets that had a button-down flap on each pocket. My closet was small, and crammed full of clothes on hangers. So, it seemed a safe place to keep that shirt with the marijuana in one of its pockets. I did not just put the marijuana in the pocket and button it. It was kept in one of those clear plastic containers that hold nose plugs used when swimming. My hiding place worked well, for a time. Dad was suspicious that I was using marijuana. So, one day when I was not home he went looking through my room for marijuana. When I got back home, I went into my room as usual, only to find something very unusual: there lay Dad on my bed reading the newspaper and wearing that shirt with marijuana in one of its pockets! He said nothing to me about what was in the  pocket, so I did not know if he had taken out the plastic container to have a look at it. Not knowing what else to do in that situation, I went over to the bed, took out the container of marijuana from the shirt pocket and left the room. Here is, perhaps, the most remarkable aspect of this whole event: Dad never said one word  me about it. He put on that shirt in 1968 or 1969, died in 1976, and never had said anything to me about it. It is now 2015, and I still do not know for sure if he knew what was in that shirt pocket. But my guess is, he did know. I think that was his unique way of telling me he knew that I was using marijuana.

One thing to be learned from this remarkable experience is that, sooner or later, the facts become known. We might be able to fool others for long periods of time, but we can’t  permanently hide the truth about ourselves.  Eventually it will catch up with us. If not in this life, it will do so in the next life. We might be able to hide our real selves from other human beings, but not from the all-knowing God who will one day hold us accountable for our lives. God’s infallible Word, the Bible, teaches that those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior cannot lose their salvation. They will never perish. They will make it to heaven. (See John 10:27 – 29.) But Christians will be held responsible for how they have lived since they became Christians. We shall stand before the judgment seat  of Christ, and give an account to him.  (See, for example, 2 Corinthians 5:8 – 10.) And God’s infallible Word, the Bible, also teaches that those who live and die as non-Christians will be judged for their sins. They have not been forgiven because they have not believed in Jesus Christ, and must, therefore, pay the penalty for their sins. This penalty is confinement in hell, which is a place of conscious, eternal punishment. (See, for example, Revelation, chapter 20.)

In Acts 17, the apostle Paul plainly speaks of the future time when the world will be judged, and it says Jesus Christ will be the judge. Here is what Acts 17, verses 16 – 31 say. Pay close attention to verses 30 and 31: “16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (These verses are quoted from the King James Version because in the USA it is in the public domain. They are taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com. To read these verses in modern English, go to that website and click on the New King James Version. )

Now, since God knows all about us, and since he will hold us accountable for how we live, here is what should be done: Wayward Christians should immediately make things right with God by confessing and forsaking their sins. (See, for example, Proverbs 28:13 and 1 John 1:9.) Non-Christians should immediately believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. (See, for example, Acts 16:30 and 31.) We have no guarantee that we will live another day, or even another hour, so do it at once! The opportunity to do what we need to do could end vey soon!

Mom Found My Cigarettes!

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

Cigarette graphics
We moved from the farm north of Appleton, MN to Minneapolis, MN in the summer of 1964. Not long afterward, I started smoking cigarettes. My parents did not smoke, and did not approve of it. So, I had to hide my cigarettes. When I was maybe 13 years old, I told Mom that one of my winter coat’s pockets had a hole in the bottom, and I asked her if she would mend it. Well, that had become a convenient place to hide my cigarettes. I would drop the pack of smokes through the hole, and it would fall down to the hem at the bottom. But I had forgotten that Mom was going to mend the pocket. One winter morning, I put on that coat and went outside to walk to school. As usual, I put my hand in the pocket to get the pack of cigarettes, and my hand came to a sudden stop. Without telling me, Mom had mended the pocket! And she had left the pack of smokes in the mended pocket, not down at the hem. I took out the pack, and in it I saw a piece of white paper rolled up like a cigarette. It was longer than a cigarette, so it stuck out maybe an inch. I took the paper out. She had written a note to me. It was a simple message: “You can’t fool me!” She had suspected I had become a smoker, and now she had found indisputable evidence of it. There was now way I could talk my way out of this one! Unfortunately, this event did not make me quit smoking. I had to find more clever ways to hide the evidence from Mom, and I did. I quit smoking when I was 16 years old, and have not had a cigarette since then. Thank the Lord!
Sometimes it seems that mothers are omniscient, which means they seem to be all-knowing. This fact helps kids keep on the right track. They know it is almost certain that sooner or later, Mom will discover their wrongdoing.
But only God is omniscient. His infallible Word, the Bible, teaches that he alone knows every fact about every person, place, and thing in the universe. The Bible teaches that he knows everything about the past, the present, and even the future. This can be a comforting thought, because it means he knows it all about us. Nothing about us escapes his notice. And this all-knowing God also cares about us as individuals.
Not only can this be a comforting thought. It can also be an unnerving thought. Since God knows everything about us, it means he knows every bad thing about us. He knows our bad thoughts, our bad words, and our bad actions. But in spite of everything bad about us, the Bible says this amazing truth: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This statement is found in John’s Gospel, chapter 3, verse16. God loves us in spite of ourselves. He offers us full and free forgiveness and salvation. These blessings become ours the moment we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have not yet done so, believe on him at once.
What follows is the Bible’s 139th Psalm. Read it carefully. And as you do so, note how it emphasizes God’s omniscience. The Psalm is taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com.

PSALM 139 (From the King James Version of the Bible)

O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

Does The Bible Contain Mistakes And Contradictions?

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

DOES THE BIBLE CONTAIN MISTAKES AND CONTRADICTIONS? A common answer to this question is, “Yes, of course it does!” But many times this opinion about the Bible is not based on firsthand knowledge of the Bible, but on secondhand knowledge of it.

As an example, many years ago an acquaintance told me the Bible contains mistakes and contradictions. But I learned FROM HIM that his opinion of the Bible was based secondhand knowledge of it. How did I learn this? We worked together, and it became obvious that he could barely read and write. Now, when someone can barley read simple things they certainly would have great difficulty reading the Bible which, in some ways, is a complex book.


Many well-educated persons have this opinion about the Bible for the same reason. Not having read it themselves, their objection to it is based on what others have said about it. This certainly is not a worthy reason to object to something as significant and influential as the Bible.


Therefore, the next time you hear someone say the Bible contains mistakes and contradictions, ask them if they have read it carefully and completely. And ask them to give specific examples of the Bible’s so-called mistakes and objections. Most persons will have to admit they know very little about the Bible. And what at first seem like mistakes and contradictions often have solutions that come from more study.


One more point about my acquaintance referred to above: I think the real reason he objected to the Bible was the fact he knew enough about it to know it condemned his sexual immorality, drunkenness, and foul language, things he did not want to give up.


And that could well be the reason many persons find fault with the Bible. Although they might not be sexually immoral, drunks, or use foul language, they don’t want anyone (including the Lord Jesus Christ), or anything (including God’s Word, the Bible) interfering with their lifestyle. They have chosen the path on which they want to walk, and have no interest in making a change.


And that is exactly what the Bible itself teaches. In the 53rd chapter of his book, the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, said “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.” For another example of this fact about the human race, one should read the first chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. Many other examples from the Bible could be given, but these two are good introductions to the subject.

IMPORTANT TRUTHS ABOUT SALVATION

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

image preview of art: jesus Christ is my savior

      My subject is this: important truths about salvation. Let’s consider these truths. First, we need to understand what “salvation” means. No doubt you have heard of someone being saved from a burning house, from a mudslide, from an avalanche, from a kidnapping, from a deadly disease, or from something else. Those things are physical salvations. But we are considering spiritual salvation. To be saved in the spiritual sense means to have one’s sins forgiven, to be at peace with God, to become a child of God.  Second, everyone needs salvation. We all are in danger of hell, until we experience the things just mentioned, by which we are kept from going to hell. Hell is the consequence of our sinfulness, and the Bible says “There is none righteous, no not one,” (Romans 3:10). The Bible says “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). The Bible says “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). This is not just physical death. It is eternal separation from God in hell. Since everyone needs salvation, consider this point: Third, it is simple to get salvation. That is, it is simple to get saved. Those who are not familiar with what the Bible teaches often think getting saved is a difficult thing, similar to climbing to the top of a very high mountain. Climbing to such a mountain top  requires much effort, and the climber has no guarantee of making it. But in contrast,  the Bible teaches that getting saved is a very simple thing. The Bible tells us about a man who got saved simply by saying a prayer in which he said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:9 – 14) His prayer was short, it was simple, but it was sincere, and it was successful, for he got what he needed. In Acts 16:30 and 31, we read about a jail keeper who asked two missionaries this question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He was given a short, simple, and straightforward answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” The reason it is simple to get saved is because Jesus Christ did the hard part for us by dying on the cross in payment for our sins. So, if you have not yet done so, do the only thing that must be done to get salvation: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Fourth, it is easy to stay saved. A professional golfer like Tiger Woods gets to the top of the golfing world by a lot of hard work. But once there, he must work just as hard to stay at the top. And there is no guarantee he will stay at the top. But that is not how it is with staying saved. Just as it is easy to get salvation, it is easy to keep it. In fact, we don’t have to do anything to keep saved. God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ keep us saved. In the first verse of his letter in the New testament, Jude says Christians are “preserved in Jesus Christ.” In the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel, we read the wonderful words of the Lord Jesus Christ about those whom he has saved. He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” Yes, it is simple to stay saved because it is not we who keep ourselves saved. The Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father do it for us. If we have been saved, we should show our appreciation for it by living for the Lord. Although it is easy to get saved, and easy to stay saved, we need to consider another point. Fifth, it is difficult to live like we should after we have been saved. Let’s be honest with ourselves: the words of Romans 7:19 describe all true Christians. That verse says, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” And 1 John 1:8 applies to Christians. It says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The fact is, we who are Christians don’t always live the way we should. We cannot excuse our sins in thought, word, and deed. But we can admit it is not easy to live like we should. We have been called to be different from the world in how we think and live. We have been called to be Christlike, to pray without ceasing, to forgive our enemies, to give thanks in everything, to be anxious about nothing, and to live up to other Biblical expectations of us. We must struggle against three enemies of which the Bible speaks: the world, the flesh, and the devil. And we sometimes fail to resist the influence of these enemies. Although it is hard to live like we should after we have become saved, consider this point: Sixth, the Lord can help us to live like we should. Exodus 5;18 tells us that Pharaoh was a hard taskmaster who expected the Hebrews to make their quota of bricks without providing the ingredients to do so. But God does not expect Christians to live right without providing the ingredients to do so. He has given us his Word, the Bible, which helps us. In Psalm 119:11 the Psalm writer said to God, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” God the Father has given us the Holy Spirit, who helps us live right. In Galatians 5:16, the apostle Paul wrote, “I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” We have help readily available from the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily stuggles against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Here is what we read in Hebrews 4:14 – 16: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We are to come boldly to the throne of grace by prayer. When we do so, we can obtain mercy and find grace to help in any time of need, including when we are having to resist temptations to sin. It is difficult for Christians to live as they should. But let us be thankful the Lord has given us the ingredients that can enable us to do so. And when we fail, let us put 1 John 1:9 into action. It says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    (In this post, I have quoted from the King James Version and the New King James Version.)