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.