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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Timothy's Shibboleth

Introduction

I taught a Sunday School lesson on Pastor Timothy two weeks ago, and one thing went unresolved in my research and I resolved to pray about it in hopes that God would reveal the answer. I will spare you the details of what event occurred every few hours to remind me to pray, but pray I did, and searched various resources. No-one seemed to have an answer and hardly anyone else seemed to even care that this was an issue. My scholarly hero, Dr. Johnny Mac, realized it was an issue, but wrote it off somewhat hastily.

Old Testament Background

First of all, a Shibboleth is a test to determine the genuineness of someone's standing, either in a national or spiritual sense. It has its roots in the Gileadite/Ephraimite war of Judges 12, at which time spies were routed out and slaughtered for their inability to pronounce shibboleth, instead pronouncing it as sibolet. This pronunciation difference showed their cultural background. In modern day Christianity, this may be similar to asking someone if Christ is the only way to the Father, if he is God manifest in the flesh, if keeping the Sabbath or calling God by a certain name has any bearing on entry into Heaven, and asking if the Faultless Son of Man had any fault in him. These questions answered incorrectly unfailingly show the unregenerate condition of someone's heart and their exclusion from the kingdom of Heaven; Shibboleths are useful in working out your salvation with fear and trembling.

New Testament Background

Now, let me give you a little background before I tell you of Timothy's test, which he failed miserably, by the way. Fortunately God is patient and kind and redeemed Timothy anyways.

Paul's first missionary journey put him in the region of Lystra in AD 47, this was Paul's first harsh persecution and he was driven out of town, followed, and nearly killed by Jews from Antioch and Iconium. They had done their best, and thinking him dead, left him. Of this event, he later wrote to Lystra, "Let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." (Galatians 6:17)

Having introduced the Gospel to Lystra, Paul returned to Antioch in Syria debriefing his missionary stories for "no short time", then in AD 49, he was called to a tribunal in Jerusalem. This council was to combat a works-based teaching that, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (Acts 15:5) Peter delivered the death blow to this works-based Judaizer heresy with the statement, "we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as [the Gentiles] will." (Acts 15:11) Letters were sent out to the churches mentioning nothing about the works-righteousness requirement of circumcision, only exhorting every believer to abstain from sexual impurity, pagan practices, and idol worship. (Acts 15:28-29)

Paul returned to Antioch, just in time to receive word that the churches in Galatia, which were Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and others, had abandoned the Gospel that he had preached to them. They had been led astray by those that say that circumcision was a necessity for salvation. Paul immediately wrote a long letter to these churches defending salvation by grace through faith in Christ's giving himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age. This occurred at the end of AD 49. He called those who would require circumcision or any works, anathema, which means accursed. These churches were near and dear to Paul's heart, since he had spent much time with the peoples and they were his first mass converts, so he decided to visit them in order to set them straight and check on their progress. (Acts 15:36)

Meet Timothy

Arriving in early AD 50, we meet young Timothy, half-Greek and half-Jew, raised in the Christian faith by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois, and spoken well of by the churches in the area. Being spoken well of by an apostate church is not a good thing, beloved, for many love the heresies preached from Lakewood's pulpit, or the events in Lakeland, and yet these men are preaching a false gospel and are, by Paul's clear statements, anathema. This young man called himself a disciple, which in the Bible is synonymous with Christian, and as we learn from the disciple Judas Iscariot, it is more than possible to think you are a Christian and not be one, for Christ fed thousands of disciples on more than one occasion, and yet only 120 could be found to fill the Upper Room on Pentecost.

Timothy's Shibboleth

Paul wanted this young man to accompany him, so he gave him a test. He took him, and circumcised him.

While researching for an exposition through First and Second Thessalonians, I realized something interesting, Timothy is not mentioned from Lystra to Berea, a time span of nearly a year. Timothy was not in Thessalonica in the autumn of AD 50 with Paul and Silvanus, this I am absolutely sure of.

Where was he? Paul had given him a test to determine the veracity of his conversion to Christianity and his understanding of the Gospel. Paul had given him a simple test straight out of his Epistle to the region, and Timothy had shown that he had not read that letter, nor did he understand what was written in it. Paul said, "Say Shibboleth" by telling Timothy to be circumcised, and Timothy answered, "Sibolet" by being circumcised.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. - Galatians 5:2-6

Timothy, well spoken of by an apostate church, was caught not reading his Bible. Now here is where I have to make an assumption from what is written in the Bible and what I believe happened. The Bible is silent on this occasion, but God has, as he often does, given us just enough clues to paint the whole story.


Timothy's Redemption


Paul and Silas were kicked out of Thessalonica in the spring of AD 51 and were not allowed back in, for Thessalonica's pastor, Jason, had promised on a sum of money that they would not return. Indeed, Paul nor Silvanus would see the port city of Thessalonica for another six years. Timothy, having been left in Lystra to memorize, but more importantly understand, the letter against the Judaizers, joined them in Berea. How the logistics worked out is unclear, but somehow Timothy found Paul and Silas and reunited with them. Paul was soon forcibly extradited from Berea and visited, by armed escort, the beautiful city of Athens. While preaching in Athens, he sent for Timothy and Silvanus to join him, which they did. While in Athens, the hasty departure from Thessalonica became too much for Paul to bear (1 Thessalonians 3), and he sent the only one of the three of them who was allowed to set foot in Thessalonica, that being the young man Timothy, to check on their spiritual status, which Timothy was pleased to report was thriving.


Paul had determined that the young Timothy was redeemed and capable of being a minister of the Gospel. Oh how Timothy must have beamed at the task that Paul appointed to him, to serve as the interim pastor of a church in a precarious area, wont to fall into paganism and sexual immorality. Truly, if Timothy had memorized and understood the Epistle to the Galatians, then he was more than equipped to minister effectively in the name of the Lord Jesus in any setting.


Timothy's Ministry


Timothy went on to pastor the church in Ephesus, with ministerial visits to Corinth and Philippi. He pastored his church faithfully for twenty to thirty years, doing wonderful things with the church. Timothy lost his life under the Domitian persecution sometime in the '80s, and unfortunately Ephesus never recovered and was spiritually dead by AD 95, never to revive. (Revelation 2:1-7)


The Lesson to Be Learned


Now then, if you can't tell, I love history, and that is the history. Timothy was a false-convert, a works-righteous Gentile deceived by those who call themselves Jews, but are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9) Fortunately, Paul was a great discerner, which was strengthened through his constant practice and the power of the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 5:14) He saw this young man, and something piqued his interest as to the genuineness of the boy's salvation. How it was that Paul questioned Timothy's salvation on the merits of circumcision is unclear, but apparently the boy jumped at the opportunity to be justified by the Law, and thus showed his unconverted state, for if righteousness is by the Law, then truly, Christ was sacrificed in vain.


Timothy was the offspring of two very godly ladies (2 Timothy 1:5), but the Apostle Paul takes responsibility for Timothy's salvation experience (which of course was ultimately Christ's doing with the help of his coworker Paul (1 Thessalonians 3:2)), by calling him, "my true child in the faith." (1 Timothy 1:2)


Timothy's hiatus in Lystra was probably spent with him working out his salvation with fear and trembling, pouring over the Epistle that Paul had written to the region, reading the letter sent from Jerusalem (Acts 15:23-29), in prayer, counting the cost of following the Risen Saviour, and in acceptance of the grace available only through the cross of Christ, and not available in any way through works of the flesh. Thank God for this young man who was at some point spiritually slain by the Law, spiritually crucified with Christ, and was raised to life in his resurrection (Galatians 2:19-20); young Timothy was saved, and became a valuable minister of the Most High God.


Application


So, without further adieu, God gives us yet another example of those who call themselves Christians, but are really children of the devil. The Gospels are full of these accounts: Wheat and Tares, Sheep and Goats, Good Fish and Bad Fish, Wise Virgins and Foolish Virgins, etc.

Beloved, you're not a Christian because you were raised by Christians; Timothy was raised by two incredible Christians. Just because someone says you're a Christian doesn't make you a Christian; many would vouch for Timothy in his home town, and yet Paul discovered his works-righteousness, his anathema beliefs.


You're not justified by the Law, for if you seek to be justified by the Law, you have fallen away from grace, and you are obligated to keep the whole Law. We know from Paul's letter to Rome that none seeks after God. That is the very First, and the summation, of the 10 Commandments. If you think you will be accepted into Heaven because you are a good person, or because you got dunked, sprinkled, or effused in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost, or because you attend church unfailingly, know that you have submitted to a yoke of slavery.


You are freed by grace, redeemed from the curse of the Law by the Perfect, Sinless, Son of God becoming a curse for you—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree", and this grace received only by faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6) Christ's righteousness granted to you and your sins paid for in the sacrifice of God manifest in the flesh on Calvary's cross is the only way to the Father, not through works, but entirely through grace.


And how do we know these things? Through the Bible. Timothy didn't know his and it led to a painful and unnecessary removal of a sensitive part of his body; fortunately for him it didn't result in the loss of his soul as well! Beloved, you have to know this book, it is what people bled and died for, it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its content. As I am fond of saying: this book will keep you from sin, but sin will keep you from this book. Take a lesson from something written to Timothy years after his conversion,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Timothy went on to be a great pastor, once he was redeemed from his works-righteousness. Paul trusted this Lycaonian boy to check on the Thessalonicans, to correct the Corinthians, and to shepherd the Ephesians. Repent, and believe the Gospel, that when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons, for you are saved by grace, through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast...and by "any man", Paul means me, you, and Timothy.


If you'd like to know more, Paul devoted two letters to this burgeoning pastor, they can be found under First and Second Timothy in your Bible.

Monday, December 15, 2008

God is SOOOOO not fair!

Consider the hypothetical lives of two men.

The first lived a reprobate life, living only for himself, making it a practice to lie, steal, womanize, drinking often until he passed out, culminating in one final event of killing his girlfriend after a heated argument. Upon his death bed he is approached by a hospital chaplain who tells him of the salvation available in the good graces of Jesus Christ, to which the man repents and believes the Gospel ten minutes before he dies. God forgives him and welcomes him into Heaven.

The second grew up in a Christian home, attending a good church, loving his mother and father, and especially his little sister, with only your standard adolescent crimes strewn through, some white-lies here and there, a candy-bar stolen from the local store, and the occasional irreverent use of the name of God. During Christmas of his twelfth year, while reading the Gospel of Luke, he realizes that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and he repents and believes the Gospel, and then goes on to live seventy more years, serving God as a pastor, feeding the hungry, loving the unloved, raising a morally-upright family, praying daily, and dying peacefully in his sleep having commended his soul unto the Lord. God welcomes him into Heaven.

Indeed, God is not fair. Who deserved Heaven? Who deserved Hell? Surely, if there are such places, our standard measurement of morality would say that the pastor deserves Heaven and the murderer deserves Hell, because the pastor was a good man and the murderer a bad man. God would be unfair to the pastor by letting the murderer into the same Heaven.

God is not fair. Consider this startling statistic: People are stepping out of this world and falling into Hell at the rate of about two a second. That is over one-hundred a minute, six thousand an hour, one-hundred-fifty thousand a day, and by the time this century is out, over ten billion people will have died and faced Judgment. Of these people stepping out of this world, falling into Hell, God is catching about every hundredth person and resurrecting them to Life-everlasting. The other ninety-nine never had a chance.

God is not fair. You’re right, he’s not, but not because of those 99 who perish, but because of that one who is saved. Men have no right to salvation, we have no freedom from death, we have made ourselves enemies of God in our minds through wicked works, we have transgressed God and recompense is due. In the wise words of Marshall Foster, you don’t break the law, the law breaks you. In the same way that jumping off of a building results in a few free-falling seconds of gravity transgression with no ill-consequences, this immutable law will ultimately break you into a thousand tiny pieces.

God is the just judge who by no means will clear the guilty. God describes men in this way:

The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
so that it does not hear the voice of charmers or of the cunning enchanter. – Psalm 58:3-5

We look at the murderer and think that we’re better than him, and indeed, in an earthly sense we are. But the entrance exam for Heaven is not comparing ourselves to other people, Heaven’s gates are only open to the righteous, and the only way to get in is to be perfect, to have rightly reacted to every event in your life, loving righteousness and hating wickedness, abstaining from evil and lifting up the downtrodden, compared ultimately to Jesus Christ. We have sinned against Heaven, and God will judge the world in righteousness, he has promised to punish the murderer, the rapist, and the con-artist, and in that we rejoice, but we do well not to speak too soon, for he has promised that all liars will have their place in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, and that no thief will inherit the kingdom of God, that no blasphemer will go unpunished, and that no covetous person has a part in the kingdom of Christ. One murder makes you a murderer, one rape a rapist, one lie a liar, and one covetous moment an idolater.

Beloved, we’re in trouble, we stand to be judged by the King of Righteousness, who is angry with sinners every day and is described as a consuming fire. If God were fair, all men would be instantly cast into Hell forever, which is the fair judgment because of the heinous nature of sin and the damage that it has caused, is causing, and will cause. Above all, we have wrongly misrepresented an infinitely big God through our actions done in his image, and therefore our punishment will fit the crime.
The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. Mankind will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth." – Psalm 58:10-11
But God is not fair. The soul that sins shall die, and after this, the Judgment. But God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked, and he demonstrated his love for us, that while we were in open rebellion to him, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be the payment for our sins. The Perfect, Sinless, Son of God faced the infinite wrath stored up for us, and in his substitutionary death, we can become his Righteousness, and face God not as his enemy, but as his sons and daughters.

God is not fair, a fair God would crush all sinners where they stand. But he is patient, and he is kind, and his goodness is meant to lead us to repentance in faith in his Son, who defeated death and rose from the grave three days after he was dead and buried. A fair God would see all sinners punished for eternity in Hell, but a loving God would send his only Begotten Son to ransom a people who had utterly sold themselves into hopelessness, so that the Son would face the wrath and the sinners would go free.

In the eyes of God, the intent is as damnable as the offense. Jesus Christ said that whosoever looks upon someone to lust after them has committed adultery with them already in their heart. The physical action is a sin, but the damnable intent begins in the heart. The life of sin or the moment of sin have transgressed the law, the law which will find fruition in the eternal torment of the sinner. Whether you’ve lived the life of a reprobate or a man of God, without the mercy afforded in Jesus Christ through the cross, God would be perfectly fair in condemning you for eternity because of your sins.

God is not fair, he is better than fair; thank him for that, that he has extended his mercy and kindness towards us, giving us peace through the death of his Son and life through his Resurrection. Repent towards God and trust in Jesus Christ, and he will save you, and then while you see 99 perish, you will know that God is our only source of goodness and our gracious Lord, who saved us in spite of our actions, for his glory.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beseech the angel of Smyrna

Note: I wrote this last year, it is being updated and reposted with our new Pres-Elect in view.
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The United States was founded under the care of the angel of the church of Philadelphia, faithful to the word, birthed on the preaching of George Whitefield, supported by God; even though the founders had no power, God opened the door, and no man was able to shut it, not the King of England, not the Native American chiefs, not even Satan could close the door which was opened.

America was made a pillar of God, a city on a hill, on her was written the name of God, and many were saved.

But the church in America forgot her first love, and the ravages of sin entered the doors. The angel of the church of Thyatira took possession of the American church, within her doors, sin festered and no-one opposed it. The sorceries of prosperity, tolerance, and of evolution were introduced and embraced, and the church fell sick and any who entered were afflicted; her children were stricken dead.

The angel of Thyatira conceded America to the Laodicean angel, in the churches, Christ could not be found. Behold, He stood at the door and knocked, but no saint was there to open the door.

Today we are on the verge of another change, the angel of Sardis stands at the door and knocks, God is about to open the door. The churches that walk in white in America can be counted on one hand, what remains is about to die.

Pray God that instead, He gives us to the angel at Smyrna.
Pray God that Christianity is outlawed by the humanists.
Pray God that with Barack Obama the persecution begins.
Pray God that hate-speech laws are passed and enforced.
Pray God that Christians preaching against homosexuality are thrown into prison.
Pray God that Christians who refuse to deny their Saviour are murdered in the streets.
Pray God that hatred for the Christian church spreads.
Pray God that the world hate us as it first hated Him.

Pray God that the blood of martyrs be the seed of the church.
Pray God that He bring us through the fire.

Pray God for the angel of the church at Smyrna.

Lest we become the church at Sardis, dead with the reputation of being alive.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hate Well

It is a tremendous failing of the last century to focus only on the love of God, for without knowing what he hates it is impossible to truly know him. If I tell you that I love Mexican Food, puppy dogs, motorcycles, and God, then you get a basic understanding of who I am, but the details are largely lost. If you find out I hate socialism, capitalism, infanticide, and blasphemy, you learn a lot more about me.

You learn far more about a person (and God) by what they hate than what they love. To only know what someone loves is to know very little about them. One place this has been exacerbated is in the translation of love in the Bible, four different Greek words translate love (biblical: Agape, Phileo, Storge; extrabiblical: Eros), and another can mean love (Thelema) but is never translated that way, and they are considerably separated from one another. A parent loves their child in a radically different way than I love Mexican food. By associating eros with love in our culture, the love between a husband and wife, Jesus Christ has become the great cosmic girlfriend of the United States. The King James translators recognized that they were translating a lot of words as love and that all of those words didn’t mean the same thing, so much so that they began, in many places, to translate agape love as charity instead of love. Charity is an infinitely better translation for agape than love, and we’ll look at why a little later.

This “God is Love” (God is not love, God is charity) culture has lead to an idolatrous pagan worship of a tender loving jesus christ who shares none more in common with the Faithful and True God than a name. If God loves you just the way you are, then beloved, you have no reason to change. But if God hates you just the way you are, then there is a call to action on the part of the sinner to be reconciled to God.

But does God hate you just the way you are? God hates the lawbreaker (Psalm 5:5), he is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:11), he hates not only the one who sheds blood (Proverbs 6:16-19), but also the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5) Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 12:22); God hates you just the way you are.

But that’s the Old Testament God, the New Testament God is this lovey-dovey God who has nothing in common with that vengeful God of the Old Testament…Beloved, read your New Testament. Jesus Christ is exalted on his throne forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of his kingdom, he has loved righteousness, and he has hated wickedness. (Hebrews 1:8-9) Lest you kiss the Son, you will perish in the way. (Psalm 2:12, Luke 13:1-5) One of the most glorious pictures of Christ’s perfect wrath is found in Isaiah 63,
Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?

"It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."

Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?

"I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth." (Compare Revelation 14:14-20)
On the Day of Wrath, as the song says, he will trample out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored. On that day the murderer and the rapist will be punished, but so will the reviler and the swindler, the liar and the thief, the gossip and the self-righteous, the coward and the unbeliever. Beloved, Jesus hates you just the way you are, and lest you repent, such will be your fate.

But what about that song? Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. The Bible tells no such thing, it is a dastardly translation of agape and one that has murdered souls. Agape is a sacrificial lovingkindness offered freely without prior instigation or promise of recompense, in other words, Charity. The song would be much better sung,

Jesus has a long-suffering sacrificial lovingkindness towards me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

And Jesus does have charity towards everyone, but do not presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, for this kindness is meant to lead you to repentance, otherwise the wrath you are storing up to be revealed on the Day of Wrath will be poured out upon you.

If you want to know how much God hates sin and sinners, you need look no farther than Calvary’s cross, at which time the Lord of Glory, though God in every way, humbled himself to obedience to die on a cross, forsaken and crushed by his Just and Holy Father who was pleased beyond all measure to pour out his wrath upon his only begotten Son, who was made the embodiment of our sins and God held nothing back. John Flavel, of Puritan fame, expressed it this way in his presumption of speaking on eternity's eve,
Father: My son, here is a company of poor miserable souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them: What shall be done for these souls?

Son: O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee; Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shalt thou require it. I will rather choose to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it: upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

Father: But, my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements; if I spare them, I will not spare thee.

Son: Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it: and though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures, yet I am content to undertake it.
Calvary’s cross is the epitome of God’s hatred against sinners, all of the torments of Hell everlasting were demonstrated during six agonizing hours on the bruised and bloody Messiah. Recount his agony at the separation from his Father in Psalm 69,
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.
and Psalm 22,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
The face of God was turned from his Son, unable to look upon sin, Christ was abandoned by the God from whom all good things flow, so that in this perfect sacrifice, once for all, the Just for the unjust, the Christian will never know this hellish separation. While we were alienated from God and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Christ has reconciled us in his body of flesh through his death. (Colossians 1:21-22) In this reconciliation, the Christian is adopted into the family of God into the love of the Father, but what kind of love? Storge love, an unconditional love demonstrated from parents to children. The Christian is also privy to Phileo love with the Son, a love demonstrated between siblings. As many as Christ philo's he also rebukes and chastens (Revelation 3:19), refining the Christian away from sin towards purity and holiness. (1 John 3:3, Hebrews 12:14) The Father also thelema's (loves/desires) the Christian's sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

So, in our emulation of Christ, are we to love sin and sinners and keep hatred from our hearts? Heaven forbid! Emulate the Living Christ in a hatred of sin, hating even, as Jude exhorts, the garment stained by their sin. (Jude 23) True love is this: Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9) David said it best,
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!

Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
– Psalm 139:19-22
Leave all action up to God, do not hate in action, instead Paul exhorts thusly,
Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:19-21
Genuine love is a hatred of evil, it is a godly and holy love which hates the sinner for his sins against Heaven, and in this we must emulate Jesus Christ that we be patient and kind towards our enemies in hopes that they believe and are saved, not on their own merits, but on his. Even when the wicked boast and all of their thoughts are towards, “There is no God” (Psalm 10:4), we have a promise from God,
They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
– 2 Peter 3:4-9
When God's lovingkindness towards a person runs out, then Christ will with an overflowing flood make a complete end of his adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into the darkness. (Nahum 1) God hates sinners, so ought we, but similarly we should extend reconciliation, as he does, because but for the grace of God, there go we.

Repent, and believe the Gospel, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What is the Gospel?

Jesus said that out of the mouth, the heart professes. It is not much of a leap at all to say that if you cannot articulate the Gospel, then your heart is in bad shape, and you have this promise that "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." If your heart is anything but pure, you will not see God.

The Apostle Paul noticed the problem in the Southern Region of Galatia, to include Lystra, Iconium, and Pisydian Antioch, that they had lost the Gospel. His Epistle to correct the problem is the only one which does not include a thanksgiving for the church.

Beloved, if you lose the Gospel, you lose everything, you become anathema; condemned, lost, and doomed. So what is the Gospel?

Is it that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life? No.
Is it that God wants to have a relationship with you? No.
Is it that God created you with free-will to choose him? Heaven forbid!

Beloved, each of these has resulted in multitudes diving head-first into Hell expecting their idolatrous god to catch them...just because their made up god's name was jesus christ, that does not mean that he was mighty to save, just that he shared a name with Lord of Glory. There is only one Righteous God and Saviour, who besides him there is no Saviour.

If Paul was going to call the churches in Galatia condemned, then what ought he do? He should give a crystal clear Gospel presentation in order to correct those deceived and deceiving in Galatia.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. -Galatians 1:3-5 ESV

Let's break it down into its parts:

What?
Grace to you from God... Grace is unmerited favor, that when we did not love God, he loved us. We had transgressed the Law of God, and justice called for our recompense, which when considered that the sin was against an infinite God, the punishment must also be infinite. Had we received mercy, we would have been given a reprieve from Hell but denied access to Heaven and God. Grace has made us more than conquerors, being made inheritors with Christ of every good thing, including a place at the table of the Lord.

Peace from God... We are by nature enemies of righteousness, storing up wrath for ourselves to be revealed from Heaven on the day of wrath, using God's name as a curse word to express our animosity towards him. Jesus Christ said that when we lie, we are proving that we are of our father the devil, for he is a liar, and the father of lies, and our will is bound to his to do what he desires.

Being an enemy of God is not a good place to be; fear not him who can only kill the body, but do fear him who after killing the body, is able to kill the soul in Hell, yes, fear him. He has sharpened his sword against the unrepentant, he has bent his bow with flaming arrows at his enemies. He has promised to make a complete end of his adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into the darkness. (Nahum 1)

Paul put it beautifully to Colosse, that we were alienated and hostile in mind towards God, doing evil deeds, but he has now reconciled us. In Romans 5, if we have been justified, then we are declared to have peace with God through Jesus Christ.

Who?
God our Father... Once justified, with grace and peace, we are adopted into the family of God. God is the just judge who will by no means clear the guilty. He is a jealous God, a consuming fire, his glory will not be shared, he hates sin and sinners (Psalm 11:5, Proverbs 6:16-19), and yet he is a good stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Jesus Christ... The Lord of Glory, uncreated, perfect, sinless, holy, pure, God manifest in the flesh, a coequal Person of the Triune Godhead, the judge of righteousness; he holds the keys of death and Hell. He was dead, but he is alive; he was despised, but at the final trumpet, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. He too hates sin and sinners. (Hebrews 1:8-9)

How?
Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us... We were undone, a people of unclean lips, woe to us, we were without hope! We had sinned against Heaven and our souls were the cost. But Jesus Christ, under no obligation to save sinners or even associate with them, stepped out of Heaven, humbling himself to be born in a cave and laid in a feeding trough, then he lived a perfect sinless life, tempted in every way possible but never succumbing, and then humbled himself to death on a cross. The wrath of God was pointed at us in the form of flaming arrows when Jesus Christ took those arrows willingly, and the Father held nothing back and it pleased him to crush his only begotten Son who was made sin for us, because God hates sin and will not allow it into his presence.

In his death we have found peace, in his resurrection we have found life. When we are buried with him in death, the death of our old self, and raised to walk with him in newness of life, his life, then we are delivered. We are reborn, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

from this present evil age... The system in which God is patient towards all mankind, not that he is slack in his promises, but if he did kill all sinners, then many whom he has predestined for salvation would not arrive at repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) Do not presume on the riches of God's kindness and forbearance and patience, since God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.

Why?
according to the will of our God and Father... God, being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent is not slave to the wills of men or the constraints of time. He created man to fall in order that his glory be displayed all the more brightly. His mercy, patience, love, kindness, wrath, vengence, hatred, goodness, ingenuity and a myriad of other attributes are demonstrated in the suffering death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God's perfection was planned before eternity to be demonstrated in one culminating event on Calvary's cross.

God willed the events, he placed Simon of Cyrene in the right place to be the Hamite called to carry the cross of a Semite by Japhethites. Had Christ died inside of the city then hundreds of years of scape-goat prophecy would have been ruined. Had Christ died in any way other than on a cross with all of his bones intact, amongst thieves, and laid in the tomb of a rich man...then we would just throw the book of Isaiah away.

If there were any other way to be saved, then Christ died in vain. And saved from what? We are saved from Hell and sin and despair, but beloved, these are piddly in comparison to the true danger to our eternity, which is the wrath of a holy and offended God, but there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

to whom be the glory forever and ever... Your sins are forgiven for the namesake of Christ. Our sins were blotted out for the sake of God. The purpose of Calvary was to show that the God of Wrath and the God of Love are one, and that these entirely contradictory titles are reconciled in the death of the Son. Grace and truth have met; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Christ did not die primarily to save sinners, he died primarily to redeem the name of God which was blasphemed amongst the nations by the actions of men who are created in the image of God and were and are presenting a blasphemous picture of him.

Jesus Christ demonstrated that God is perfect in every good thing, his hatred is perfect, his wrath is perfect, his love is perfect, his actions are perfect, and his plan is perfect. He is God, and we are not.

Amen.

This is the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel. Christ came to give life and more abundantly, indicating that before we had the life of Christ, we had death and an overabundance of it.

Know it, live it, preach it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Put Away Falsehood; Share the Truth

I heard a quote by C.S. Lewis the other week which has rewritten my entire motivation. Lewis said, "Whatever is not eternally useful is eternally useless." It stands on scripture,

Ephesians 2:10, "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Galatians 1:10, "Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Colossians 3:1, "If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."

Beloved, Christianity is not congruous with the American Dream, we do not have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of stuff. It is not us who lives, but Christ who lives in us, we are not our own, we are bought with a price, we are to be content in times of plenty and times of need. But what we must do is preach the word, we must proclaim on the housetops what we read in our Bible, we must put away falsehood and share the truth with our neighbor.

There is no lack of scripture reference for the necessity of evangelism, Jude exhorted us to have mercy on those that are perishing, snatching them in pity from the flames, hating not only them, but also their garments which they have defiled. But why should we seek the salvation of those whose actions we hate? Because we are a people that had not known mercy but now have obtained mercy, having been dragged kicking and screaming into the light by the great and glorious King of Righteousness who died the most terrific death imaginable for a people who did not love him.

Saints, if the Christian were not to share their faith, they would be raptured at the moment of conversion. A select few witnesses, similar to the job that Dr. John MacArthur and myself want from Revelation 11, would stand there proclaiming John 3:16 until the person in front of us went zipping into Heaven, then we'd move onto the next. I imagine it would be quite fun. But it doesn't work this way, Paul said, and I desperately agree, that it is much better to go to Christ, but since our ministry is vital to souls here on earth, we stay.

God is the Creator of the universe, Christ is the Recreator of souls; Desidarius Erasmus said, "By a Carpenter mankind was made, and only by that Carpenter can mankind be remade." Beloved, a carpenter uses tools; you, as a blood bought saint, are that tool. Certainly God does not "need" us, he is the sovereign creator of the universe whom founded the principles of unconditional election and irresistible grace, but magnify your Lord by being a pliable and useful tool mighty in his hand. Do not fret, Christ will save his elect no matter how poorly you perform, but be certain that the more practice you have, the more effective you will be. I was saved by a preacher screaming on a street corner that the reason the world is going to Hell is because women are allowed to speak in church. Can you outpreach this man? He has at least one convert to his name, don't let him get more crowns than you.

Will you stand beside George Whitefield and brag on the huge house and big TV you owned during your stay on earth? Will you tell Jon Huss about the time you got insulted for the "christian" bumper-sticker on your car?

How about Jesus Christ? What will your excuse be for esteeming your life higher than his? You didn't know how to share your faith? Beloved, if you love Christ, you will obey his commands, and one of his commands is as unambiguous as it gets, "Study yourself approved so that you may show yourself a workman not ashamed."

Will you tell Simon Peter that you were afraid of being persecuted? The same Peter who bears the scars of an inverted crucifixion? Maybe your excuse is that you don't know if your motives are right; beloved, I don't know if my motives are right either, but you know what? Paul said it doesn't matter, preach the word. Perhaps your motives are to have a stack of crowns in Heaven, maybe your motive is that the Lamb that was slain receives the reward for his suffering. Paul, nor I, really care; as long as the word is preached, we rejoice. See Philippians 1:15-18.

Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel, woe to you if you do not preach the Gospel. How precious is the blood of the Lamb to you if you have not gone through the city and applied it to anyone? Read Ezekiel 8 and 9 and hope that you have that blood applied to yourself.

The steps to sharing your faith are simple.
1. Read Your Bible
2. Pray About It
3. Preach What You Read

These are enough, you can't convert anyone, Christ does that, but how blessed it is to be the instrument used by the Saviour God to redeem a soul, an event which is more monumental than the whole creation of the universe.

If you want more training, I beseech you to watch the following video:


In all things, preach, pray, and read your Bible. If you want to start small, begin by dropping Gospel tracts around, and then hand them out, my dear friends at customtractsource.com and onemilliontracts.com have been so helpful that I feel compelled to list them first, but many other tract sources exist, such as livingwaters.com and evangelismteam.com, but this is only a taste of available tracts. If you want to know if this works, watch this video:


The above video, while told in a story-like manner, has been checked for credibility and is 100% true.

Beloved, whether you've stepped over the line of hypercalvinism like me, or are a Wesleyan like Charles and John Wesley, it doesn't matter, preach the word, pray, and read your Bible, and God will use you to win trophies of grace to himself. He died for you, are you going to live for him? Will you set your mind on things that are above, or place your affections on things that are on earth?

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Faithbuster

Can God create a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it?
(This post was inspired by a dear friend and brother in the faith)

Have you ever considered this question? It presents a very real problem for faiths that hold to an omnipotent God; if God can create a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it, then he isn't powerful enough to lift it. If he can lift anything, then it seems he cannot create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it.

A conundrum is what we have. Perhaps this question has provided a nice cushion of comfort for you so that you feel as though there is no God or if there is a God, that he isn’t powerful enough to even tell you who he is, let alone judge you. Or maybe you’ve brushed this question under the carpet in order to keep believing in God, claiming that it is a nonsensical question.

There are things that are impossible for God, such as compromising his perfection, but creating a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it is not one of them. Dear reader, God wouldn’t be much of a God if a question as silly as this could disprove him, so not only did he provide us with the answer, he anticipated this foolishness.

On a fateful day in the First Century, a man condemned for claiming to be God manifest in the flesh was walking through Jerusalem carrying a Roman cross on his back. While the Roman cross is heavy, a grown man should be able to carry it; however, this man was being driven by the Roman soldiers who had whipped him masterfully so that onlookers could barely tell he was a man. In order to administer this torture with the flagrum, a soldier had to go through intense training, as it was very easy to kill the person being punished and that was not their intent; it was their goal to inflict the maximum amount of pain. Even still, many men died from this punishment, either because their body was breached and their organs fell out of the wounds, or because major arteries were cut and they bled to death.

But this man who claimed to be God had not died and was carrying his cross through Jerusalem, but because of his wounds, he was having a difficult time. The Roman soldiers forced a man named Simon to help carry the cross. The going was slow, and the soldiers were under strict orders to crucify the condemned man before sunset and they were running out of time, so in order to speed up the event, Simon carried the cross by himself the rest of the way.

They arrived at their location just outside of the gates on a hill called Calvary, and the man that claimed to be God was nailed to the cross. A sign displayed on top of the cross declared his crime in three languages, that he had claimed to be the “King of the Jews.” The Roman soldiers realized that there was something different about this man, so did a thief on a cross beside him. What was different about him was that he had never transgressed the Law of God; he was an innocent man paying a criminals' fine. He had previously said that what he did not steal, he had come to repay, and as the Prophet Isaiah stated, he was numbered among the transgressors. He was perfect, but our sin was attributed to him; on Calvary hill three thieves should have been crucified, you and I hung in the middle, because everything that is stolen, no matter the value, is a transgression against a Holy and Just God, no matter if it was a million dollars or a pen, whether it was time from your employer or air from God, no thief will inherit the kingdom of God. Here hung this man bruised and wounded; a thief who had never stolen, a liar who had never lied, an adulterer and murderer who had never so much as looked with lust or hated without cause, and a blasphemer who had never taken God's name in vain. Upon his body were adorned our lies, our larceny, our fornication, our gossip, our blasphemy, pornography, idolatry, covetousness, pedophilia, rape, pride, arrogance, and unbelief. Every deed you've hidden in darkness, every idle word, and every evil thought were nailed to the cross in his heretofore unblemished frame.

Just before sunset, the soldiers would break the legs of those on the cross and the weight of their body would put full strain on their arms, and they would be unable to exhale and would suffocate. The man in the middle died before his legs were smashed, because 700 years before he died, it was written that none of his bones would be broken. With his last breath, he declared to the world that “It is finished.” The sky went dark, the ground split, and in Jerusalem the veil that kept men from the Holy of Holies, the ceremonial dwelling place of God on earth, was torn down the middle and all men were given opportunity to stand in the presence of God.

On that cross that was too heavy for him to carry, the man who claimed to be God died, having called out to his Father in Heaven, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” He was forsaken because our sins made him repulsive to his Father, just as our sins make us repulsive to the Father, unfit for Heaven, and condemned for eternity to Hell. In order to be sure that he was dead, the Roman soldiers thrust a spear into his side, and discovered that his heart had burst. He had not died of suffocation like most people who died on a cross; instead, he had died of a ruptured heart, forsaken by his Father and friends.

Three days later, the man who claimed to be God proved that he was God by defeating death and walking out of his tomb alive forevermore. This man’s name is Jesus Christ; he is the eternal and coequal Second Person of the Holy Trinity. God in every way, he commands everyone everywhere to repent; then while he was made sin for us, we can be made the righteousness of God in him, our fine paid on that cross on Calvary.

So if it was a silly question, whether God could create a rock so heavy that he himself could not lift it, that was keeping you from forsaking your sin and following the Eternal Son of God, now you know the answer. Two-thousand years ago, Jesus Christ created a tree which was carved into a cross that was so heavy that he could not carry it; logic follows that he has created plenty of rocks that are so heavy that he could not lift them. Every thing has been created through him, and yet, though he had the fullness of God dwelling within him, he esteemed it not, and made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Every question in Christianity has so easy of an answer, and if you are trusting in silliness to save you on Judgment Day, know that only the blood that was poured out for the remission of your sins can save you. Trust in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross, he is mighty to save.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Simony Says...

In Acts chapter 8, a magician by the name of Simon believes in Jesus Christ, which is good; even the demons believe and they tremble! This man is not saved, his baptism has not saved him, his belief has not saved him. Peter is very clear that the intents of Simon’s heart are keeping him from salvation.

Simon does the worldly thing; he offers God something in hopes that God will give him this wonderful feeling of joy through salvation. He has tried to bribe the Owner of the Universe, and is met harshly, “Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God that the intents of your heart may be forgiven you.” Peter went on to tell him that his bitterness was the reason for his bondage in iniquity.

What can we, as a church who recognizes that God has no interest in silver and gold or hundred dollar bills, learn from this? Is it that God cannot be bribed?

Beloved, why then do we offer the Righteous Judge of the universe our prayers in return for his glorious Gospel? Why do we offer our desperately wicked and broken down hearts for his abode? Why do we offer to sell our soul, which is not ours for bargaining since it is firmly in the captivity of the devil, to the Lord of lords in full expectation that he will welcome us into his service?

These methods of works based christianity are none more than fanciful simony. We are as guilty as the sorcerer of Samaria by putting a price tag on the gift of eternal life. Our wicked offer will receive the same admonition it did for the magician, “May your offer perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with prayer! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.”

Paris Reidhead said it best, “Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, obeyed, and served; and I’m not trying to make a deal with you.”

My dear reader, perhaps you feel as though you’ve made a deal with God for your soul; that you offered your bribe and he applied the price for your redemption. Perhaps you are saved, perhaps you are not; either way, your offer had nothing to do with it. God our Saviour saves for his own purposes and to his own glory, it is for his sake and through the redemption of his name you may be reconciled. At a time pleasurable to him he chooses to save, and when he does, the flood of his saving grace is inescapable.

Perhaps you have decided to believe in the Son of God in hopes that he will improve your magic act and/or other facets of your life, and the meagerness of your iniquity you have laid upon his altar seems to be a valid and fair price in your eyes. You are guilty of simony and you have neither part nor lot in the matter of the Holy Spirit and eternal life.

Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God that he may see fit to save a sinner like you, that none of those things which Peter nor I have spoken shall befall you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Against Hyper Arminianism

In Heaven, there will be Calvinists, Augustinians, Wesleyans, a few Arminians, and maybe even one or even two Pelagians. I will not say that your view of grace is an essential in getting you into Heaven.

But, my brothers and sisters in Christ, your view of grace is an essential in how you approach getting OTHERS into Heaven. The Arminian beliefs of decisional regeneration and lordship salvation are outright heresy. They have installed works into salvation, provided an avenue for boasting, and will indeed result in multitudes knocking on the door to the Bema Seat and instead of being welcomed in, will be directed to the Great White Throne for judgment.

Salvation is by grace through faith. This faith is granted by God, it comes by hearing. God draws, Christ paid the price, the Holy Spirit justifies and sanctifies. There is no room for the sinner to do anything other than be saved. The Spirit will convict him of his sin, his pride will be killed through the Word, and the Spirit will grant him life. God given repentance will follow.

The most vilified person in history is the High Calvinist, the hatred against him is only slightly less than the hatred against Christ and considerably more than the hatred directed at the Accuser. Oh how the world, the American church, and the free-willers hate this godly man. Why? Because his trust is based too greatly in his God.

But, here I am to defend him who trusts too heavily in God. Saints, the most damning view of grace which forsakes the God given command to seek and save that which is lost is the HyperArminian; the overly tolerant deceiver who thinks that anyone can seek God on their own. He is the dumb dog who sees the danger but remains silent; the blind watchman who cares not for souls and will not remove his blindfold. Beloved, there is none that seeks after God; we like sheep have all turned aside after our own lusts. The HyperArminian sits on his porch boasting in his decision, content that his faith was his own doing and that his neighbor will eventually realize his need for a Saviour and find God if he keeps asking those girls down at the strip-club.

Tolerance is a cancer. There has never been a greater heresy to infect Christianity. Catholicism, Atheism, Evolution have nothing on the numbers of souls that tolerance has murdered. Your neighbor is a heathen, he will not seek God, how will he hear without a preacher?

Before you curse the High Calvinists who defend God, look at the plank in your own eye and remember what the Psalmist said, It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Beloved, if faith comes by hearing, who have you told?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Testimony Evangelism Quick Reference Guide

Two decades after his conversion, Paul is arrested for inciting a riot and uses the opportunity to give his testimony in front of his Jewish countrymen, and King Agrippa in Jerusalem. Paul called his captivity in Rome an “appointment” (Phil 1:17) and Jesus said that you will be dragged in front of men, for the purpose of preaching at them. (Matt 10:18) There is a time and a place for "Testimony Evangelism" and Acts 26 provides a good template for doing so. Acts 22 tells a similar story, but with a bad outcome. Certain portions of Acts 22 are added below:

Introduce Yourself v2-8 - Find common ground with your audience, tell the truth, if you were well on your way to being the highest Rabbi ever to live, don't downplay your position to say you'll never find true happiness without Jesus Christ. Saul had no such God-shaped hole in his heart.

Share Your Sins v9-12 - Give a good definition of your sins, always remembering that through the law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20) and why you need salvation, list the big ones first, then the smaller ones. Make sure to point them skyward! (Psalm 51:4)

Conviction v13-15 - Tell how you were introduced to the knowledge of your sins, if a light brighter than the noon-day sun shone on you (v13), or if the Word spoke to you (v14), or if your conscience convicted you (v14), or all three; the Holy Spirit loves to use this tool. (John 16:8-11)

Good News! 22v12-15 - Who and how you heard the Good News. In Paul’s case it was Ananias; who opened your eyes to the truth?

Grace 22v16 - Explain when you gained the knowledge that your sins were washed away. The truncated version in 26v16 shows the resurrection of Paul to walk in newness of life.

Fruit v17-20 - How has God used you since conversion?

Persecution v21-23 - You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, if the world hates you, know that it hated Him first.

Defense v24-26 - Stand firm in your testimony. (John 18:37)

Call to Repentance v27-29 - Use your testimony to reach out to others that they may be made free of their spiritual bondage.

Notice specifically that Paul did not mention Hell in either of his testimonies. Paul believed fully in an eternal Hell (2 Thess 1:6-10), so the fact that he didn't mention it should be our lesson that Hell is not always necessary. Show your audience their offense against God and the reconciliation available only through Jesus Christ, then let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ecstatic Utterances are Heresy

One has to wonder how exactly it happened that tongues have been defined as speech, often incomprehensible, typically uttered during moments of religious ecstasy. (Merriam-Webster) These are the opposite of what the Bible calls tongues, this definition fits under the definition of an unknown tongue (singular) and is exactly the opposite of biblical tongues.

This pagan practice is outright condemned by the Bible. If your church is speaking in these utterances, otherwise referred to as Glossolalia, there is something wrong. The Apostle Paul caught one of his churches doing this, and he sharply rebuked them for it. Notice in First Corinthians 14, there is a real difference between Paul’s lauding of tongues (languages) and his disgust with an unintelligible tongue (language).

The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. (v.4)

Paul is clearly saying that a person who speaks an incomprehensible language isn’t doing it for the good of the body, but for the look-at-me! factor. Are you out to please men or God? If you are trying to please men, you are not a servant of Christ.

Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophecy. (v.5)

Speaking other languages is good for the propagation of the Gospel, especially interpreters who do much to build up the church by translating Greek and Hebrew into various languages. But listen to what Paul says about speaking in a made up language,

If with your tongue you speak words that are unintelligible…you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none are without meaning. (v.9,10)

I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten-thousand words in a tongue. (v.19)


If you absolutely feel the necessity to speak in an unknown language, first find someone to translate, someone else who speaks your made-up language to test your message. If you can’t find someone else who speaks your language, Paul says sit down and shut up. (v.28) Your God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. I do not forbid the speaking of tongues, but I certainly forbid the speaking of gibberish, of an unknown tongue, of unintelligible, unordered, indecent language.

God esteems his word higher than we can possibly understand (John 1:1, 17:17, Hebrews 4:12, 11:3, 2 Peter 3:5), Koine Greek is one of the most precise languages ever created, and to say that this God, who uses such exacting language, would opt for gibberish is antithetical to the nature of the Bible. Daniel Webster felt called to compile his dictionary based on the idea that if God chooses to reveal himself to us through language, we should make every effort to rightly understand it. Since no useful ecstatic utterance has been recorded in history, this false doctrine of speaking in an unknown tongue shows its heinous origins.

A basic and foolproof test for biblical tongues is that if I can tell you're doing it, then you're not. Our brothers at Pentecost spoke in tongues, no doubt about that; notice though that they were perfectly understood and no one was needed to translate for them,

The multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. (Acts 2:6)

If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? Beloved, we are in a battle for souls, if you’re running around going lalalalalabladaddaboopy, you are not building up, but tearing down, and confusing your troops.

Don’t do it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beautiful are the Fingers that Type the Good News

God asked Job, “Canst thou send forth lightnings, so that they go and say to you, Here We Are?"

It only took three thousand years, but we can momentarily take our hand from our mouth and say, “Yes, God, we can.” Don’t forget to firmly clamp your hand back over your mouth after saying as much.

Jesus Christ said that when he returns, some would be out working in the fields, and others would be home sleeping, but he said that everyone would see the Second Coming. Isaiah makes it clear that the world is round, Jesus knew this, after all, he created it. How then do we expect everyone to witness the return real time? If he manifests himself over Jerusalem, then California will be in the eclipse, if he begins his reign over England, then Australia will wonder what’s going on. How will everyone see this happening real time?

Television and the Internet, that’s how. You are currently reading this on a tool for the prophecy completion of the Second Coming.

I have a ministry to Muslims. If I stood in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem or on the Moon Rock in Mecca and preached my message, I would be sans head pretty quickly. But using the relative safety of the internet, I have been able to preach at hundreds of Muslims with a very offensive message, and in this respect the internet has been a wonderful tool. Click Here

All things are good if used lawfully. This is true even for the Bible. The Bible can be used maliciously and for bad just as easily as the internet, consider the ministries of Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and Jim Jones. Each is deadly in its own rite, some only to spiritual death, others to the death of both body and soul, truly these men are murderers of souls.

Paul tells Timothy, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.”

Paul laid out six of the 10 Commandments explicitly, the other four are in there, although not quite so explicitly. I won’t judge you, but I do ask you to judge yourself. Have you ever told a lie? Does that make you a liar? Do you believe the Bible when it says that all liars will have their place in the Lake of Fire? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? This is called blasphemy, and God will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. Have you ever killed anyone? Did you know that Jesus said that if you just hate someone, you will be judged as a murderer at heart?

The internet is lawful, if used for good. It is good for expanding your knowledge, for keeping in touch with long lost friends, for a lot of good things. But it can also be used very unlawfully. Children are propositioned for and exposed to all sorts of evilness every day, and you’ve heard it said of old, thou shalt not commit adultery, but Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount, “Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in their heart.” Have you ever done that? If so, you will be judged as an adulterer at heart. I won’t even ask if you’ve taken it farther, to rape or fornication at heart.

I can’t judge you, I don’t have that authority, but you have an appointment once to die, and then THE judgment, by Jesus Christ as your judge. How will you look? God knows the thoughts and intents of your heart, deeds done in darkness will be brought to the light, and you will give an account for every idle word.

We have all gone aside, turned to our own lusts, and all of us have transgressed an infinitely holy God, and thus will face the infinite punishment of Hell. But it is not God’s will that you should perish, but that you should turn from your sin and turn towards him. He has made a way for you to be forgiven; 2000 years before the Internet and invitro fertilization were invented, Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, God manifested himself in the flesh to be subjected to this world which we have broken, he was tempted just as we are tempted, but he didn’t succumb, and he gave himself up to be hung on the cross in your stead, charged and scourged on the claim of being God. What he did not steal, he came to repay, and he paid your fine in his own life’s blood. But because he is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living, on the third day he defeated death and rose from the grave to live forevermore.

Once you have repented (turned from iniquity to God) and placed your trust in Jesus Christ to save you, you will be forgiven, born into the family of God, where you will inherit eternal life, and though your body will pass away, your spirit will never perish.

Today is the day of salvation, the Bible says faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ. Today you have heard him call, don’t put this off, be reconciled to God, and then thank God that we can send forth lightnings, so that they go and say to you, “Repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Proof of Evolution (aka The Dying Religion of Evolution)

Proponents of the religion of evolution have inadvertently proved evolution with their transition to Scaredy Cats (felicae scaredicae). Although there is no discernable external difference between a true scientist and these pseudoscientific scaredy cats, the inward differences are enormous.

A scientist looks at evidence and forms a hypothesis, then produces a study to test the hypothesis. If a hypothesis cannot be proven, it is determined to be false.

A scaredy cat forms a conclusion, then desperately searches for corroborating evidence and becomes violent when scientists explain that what they are doing makes them religious fanatics instead of scientists.

It is unclear at this point if this is the ancestor of the common house cat, that the scaredy cat is the long-lost missing link between homo evolutionus and our feline friends. Further study is necessary to determine if evolutionists have genetic traits which may someday, in a million years or so, produce improved night vision, and whether or not evolutionists have a higher propensity for rodents or birds. Another area to be studied is whether or not evolutionists enjoy being scratched behind the ears.

It is clear, at this point, that the scaredy cat is ill-equipped to survive in its scientific environment. Studies show that this new species would be more suited to worship their gods, Father Time and Random Chance, in the intellectual vacuums of liberal colleges.

The natural enemies of felicae scaredicae are the domesticated canine, the scientifically minded human being, and the Righteous Judge of the Universe.

Whether you choose to believe evolution or not, you have to agree that it is separated from science by a vast margin. You could not start from a blank slate and build a worldview with the "evidence" for evolution. You have to start with the presupposition, 'Evolution occurs' and then you can pretend evidence fits the model.

When you go to the doctor, would you rather he said, "Welcome to my office, you have appendicitis, now let me examine you and find supporting facts for my guess." Or would you rather he examine you then make his diagnosis?

Just as a building proves a builder and a painting proves a painter, creation proves a Creator. Natural laws prove order, the conscience proves absolutes in morality. Conversion proves that a huge number of people have underwent a major lifechange in connection with the name of Jesus Christ.

In the lab, nothing has never produced something. Therefore, from evidence, there had to be a first cause, the big bang is simply a bad guess at a point in time when everything was small, the existence of everything goes unanswered.

In the lab, nonliving things have never created life. Therefore, from evidence, life could not begin without external input.

In the lab, gas is consumed when it burns. In the sun, gas is consumed when it burns. 20 Million years ago, the sun would have reached earths present position.

In the lab, salinity content increases as salt is introduced. Increasing salinity of the oceans, as measured from 1850 to today point to a relatively pure ocean in ~2500 BC.

In the lab, fossils require near perfect conditions to form. These conditions include instant submersion of bones into water.

In the lab, order requires external input. Failure to add external input results in disorder.

In the lab, no animal has ever transitioned between archetypes (except for felicae scaredicae).

In the lab, all dating methods break down after a maximum of 3,000 years.

In the lab, dating methods become inconclusive if specimens get wet.

In the lab, nothing has ever defeated death for an extended period of time.

In the lab, fossils of 80% of known living species have been found in the Cambrian layer, yet 0-0.0000001% of transitional fossils have been found.

In the lab, a disassembled Mercedes Benz remains a pile of parts for 1 day, 1 week, 1 year, 1 century, 1 millenium without external input despite all of the pieces being there.

In the lab, children, ranging in ages from 2-10 from a myriad of backgrounds, universally agree that a toy car, a cat, a painting, and the sun all have a creator.

It defies evidence that evolution could occur, so I gently implore these scaredy cats to stop saying, "The evidence points to evolution."

Whether this is the truth or not, it is a scientific analysis, it is both repeatable and measurable. Look at your keyboard, it proves a keyboard maker, your mouse proves a mouse maker, look at your eye, it is the most complex camera ever made, containing 137 million light sensitive cells which focus faster than you can think, with a protective covering and built in windshield wipers, not only so, but it contains a built in monocular method for depth perception in one-eye models; it proves an eye maker.

If the religion of evolution is true, why did nature decide to see light waves and yet I can't see 97.5kHz on the FM dial? How come I can't hear red? Why can't I feel B-sharp? Evolution missed out on a huge and useful energy spectrum.

On the other hand, God asks, "Can you send electricity so that when it arrives it says, "Here I am."" (Job 38:35) Our bodies are designed to receive various information just like a radio or a tv or an oscilloscope, it is the only viable answer to our strangely inadequate sensory perception.

Evolution claims you can build a worldview on a heap of hydrologically sorted and preserved bones and say that nothing became everything. So far the only evidence evolution has produced is the scaredy cat.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

God will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain

Have you ever noticed that people who claim to have no animosity towards the Living God use His name in a flippant manner.

Blasphemy has been long overlooked as an excellent proof for the truth of Christianity.

The world around, you can find people who find weird and imaginative ways to curse God. My friend Taketo is Japanese and speaks very little English. He was speaking to a friend in fluent Japanese and I was simply listening with interest, when I heard a derivative of, "Christ" in the middle of his conversation. Taketo, a Buddhist, chose to blaspheme the God of the Universe instead of the god of his culture.

If you ask a secular person for an example of Blasphemy, you'll usually hear "Goddammit", and this is certainly one of the worst. But it is not the only. "Jesus Christ" used without reverence is another example, but so are the ones most people don't think of. "Geez" is blasphemy, without any effort whatsoever you can see that its etymology derives from "Jeezus". Other examples are simply the acronym OMG or the phrase, "Oh my Word" (John 1:1), and especially "Oh my Gosh". If Gosh is not a derivative of God, then I ask you what Heck is a derivative of?

"Man" can be blasphemous of "Son of Man" and similarly "Man Alive" is blaspheming the same name of God. "Word up" was popular a few years ago, and you should now see the blasphemous reason it caught on. Similarly, “Good Lord”, “Oh my Goodness”, and “Goodness Gracious” are all blasphemous.

Perhaps the worst one is "Son of a B..." and other “Son of a” phrases. These are certainly not accidents in language, but cursing Christ through His mother and Father. You are also implying a less than ideal name for Jesus Christ through lineage.

I'm certain I haven't given you even a taste of the curse words that have been invented to curse the Living God, but you see the point.

But why does it matter? The Bible says that God's name is the only name blessed forever. When you curse it, you are declaring your hatred for God by trying to drag His name into the mud. Notice that no-one ever yells out, "Siddhartha Buddha" when they hit their thumb with a hammer, or says, "Allah dammit." The reason is because these names are already cursed. But not the names’ of God, of these Jesus Christ is the name above every name.

Be assured that you don’t need to speak in order to blaspheme God’s name. You are created in the image of Him and of His name. In this you reflect Him and the world can see Him in you. In a perfect world, this would be a wonderful honor, but unfortunately it is also an opportunity for blasphemy.

When you tell a lie, then you tell the world that God is a liar. When you steal, the world doesn't just see you, but an image of God, and determines that He must be a thief. When you speak idle words, you tell the world that God's Word is not eternally important and omniscient. Out of the mouth the heart professes, when you speak curse words you tell the world that God's heart is not infinitely pure. When you look at someone that is not your spouse with lust, you commit adultery in your heart, and you tell the world that the covenant God has made with His bride, the church, is not binding and is not trustworthy.

Another form of blasphemy is when you raise other religions to the level of God, by doing this, you insult His sovereignty, justice, and mercy. Holy Cow is derived from Hinduism and the debacle of the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai. When you say that the God of Christianity is the same god as Islam, you insinuate that the Living God is unjust, bribable, inhuman, and unloving. When you fixate on one attribute of God, you present an imperfect view of Him. God is Love, but He is also the Righteous Judge, who is Angry with the wicked everyday, a Consuming Fire, a Strong Refuge, an Everlasting Rock, Holy, Mighty, Merciful, Gracious, and the God of Salvation who by no means will clear the guilty.

God will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

Even in the hundreds, if not thousands, of times you have blasphemed God's name, He still loved you and gave Himself for you. Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to this earth, born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, offered Himself up to be crucified on the charge of claiming to be God, died in your place, and on the third day defeated death and rose from the grave. If you'll repent of all your wicked ways, especially your habit of substituting His precious name in place of your filth words, and place your trust in Him, He will save you based on His atoning payment on the cross and forgive you in spite of your hatred of Him. Once you have done this, He will replace your heart with a heart that thirsts for righteousness and loves Him.

Finally, if you hear this message and decide that this offer is not reasonable, that you’d rather hang onto your blasphemy and sundry sins than submit to God, whose name is Righteous, then you commit the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and this sin will not be forgiven. Today is the day of salvation, call out to God in repentance and faith, and all of your sins will be forgiven of you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Millennial Reign

While eschatology is important, it is nothing to consume you. It could be argued that by getting you to climb this mountain of prophecy, the devil has effectively removed you from the ranks of able-bodied preachers, in order to do his will.

Jesus spoke of feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, befriending the stranger, and visiting the imprisoned. All of these have an esoteric and exoteric meaning, but none has anything to do with end-times theology.

Stephen was stoned knowing nothing of eschatology, James knew only what Christ had told him, the thief on the cross knew only the Gospel, and the Ethiopian Eunich ran off to Africa without a copy of the Books of Revelation, Matthew, or Thessalonians. Each of these men is safely held in the hand of God without the faintest idea of Christ's return.

Revelation contains valuable ministerial information, Dr. John MacArthur calls 2 Thessalonians a Pastoral Epistle instead of an Eschatological Epistle, and all scripture is valuable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. The value of eschatology is not in a proper understanding of the Gospel or a litmus test for salvation, but a promise and expectation that this present evil age will not last forever. Dr. William Varner states masterfully that prophecy is not given to form a calendar, but to form a character; a character of prayerfulness, watchfulness, honesty, and holiness.

Instead of arguing on which way the Millennial Reign will pan out, it is best to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, then go forth and preach the Gospel to all creation.

Christ is not preparing to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you figured out a difficult riddle at the expense of the hungry, thirsty, naked, lonely, and imprisoned."

The servant will be lauded for being good and faithful in delivering the Bread of Life, Living Water, Righteousness, Friendship, and Liberty to the lost and snatching them, in mercy, out of the fire.

Please consider this: eschatology is a fascinating subject, but its bearing on salvation is non-existent, and letting it consume you gives a temporary victory to satan in consuming the efforts of a valuable minister of Christ.

The Seven Deadly Sins?

In Response to On-Faith's question, "Which of the Seven Deadly Sins is most prevalent and harmful in our society today?"
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This question is one based on misunderstanding, pride, and making a mountain into a mole-hill. In Christianity there is, as Cal Thomas put so masterfully, no gradiation of sin. In the works-based cult of Catholicism is there an idea that you can go to Hell any quicker by breaking certain laws. This cult is only Christian in the liberalist of definitions, a definition which has nothing to do with being a follower of Christ.

This ridiculousness of the idea of seven deadly sins is made manifest when you actually read the Bible for what it says.

All liars will have their place in the Lake of Fire. It doesn't imply that prideful liars are condemned and humble liars are not.

The idolater has no inheritence the kingdom of Christ and of God. There is no room to squeeze, "The gluttonous idolater is doomed while the sumptuous idolater is not." There is plenty of room to say that someone who lusts after money is an idolater and anyone who makes up a God which suites them is equally so as someone worshipping a golden Buddha.

Rest assured, each of the Catholic sins are deadly in Christianity, but trying to make them moreso than any other is making an idol which is not entirely Holy in every way.

You've heard it said of old, thou shalt not commit adultery, but Jesus said, whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

You will be judged as harshly if you've lived a life of larceny, or if you've stolen only one thing no matter the value, but you will also be judged on the thoughts and intents of your heart. If you've thought of stealing something, your deceitful mind will damn you.

Considering anger, everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

The sin of blasphemy is as deadly as the sin of murder. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and caused the fall of the Universe, how much more deadly is embracing the culture of fornication, pornography, and mammon-worship?

Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned; but many have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

We have caused the death of not only ourselves, but the rest of God's creation, we deserved to be punished. If a judge did not sentence a murderer, we would call him a bad judge; because God is good, He must punish the murderers, the rapists, the fornicators, the adulterers, the thieves, and the liars.

But because God is love, and He loved us, not that we loved Him, He became the man Jesus Christ and went to the cross in your stead. Our sin and death caused the death of the God of the Universe through His offering, so that we might be absolved in His substitutionary death. Then on the Third Day, He showed His absolute authority over the law of sin and death, and rose from the grave to live forevermore.

For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

He demands everyone everywhere to repent, because he has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, not by breaking one of the Catholic Churches Seven Deadly Sins, but by breaking any of God's moral laws.

Pride will keep you from this grace and forgiveness, rest assured that pride comes before destruction and the haughty heart before the fall. Humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up, not because you haven't broken the Seven Deadly Sins, but because you have broken them magnificently and Jesus Christ paid your fine so that you are absolved.