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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prophet of Doom

I'm not a prophet nor the son of a prophet in regards to new or futuristic revelation. But, as every Christian is to seek the gift of prophecy, of understanding and speaking God's word, I see a very scary trend in regards to how God deals with nations.

As far as nations are concerned, the United States of America is an elder, a relic, an exception to longevity. Most nations can't hope to achieve a century, some of the more impressive reigns have been two centuries, but to exceed the bicentennial mark is a rare accomplishment indeed.

The Prophet Isaiah was in the temple when an especially prosperous king, Uzziah, died, a man who was far from perfect, but as kings and presidents go, had been better to the people than most. Isaiah was a prophet who saw new and futuristic revelation, and at this moment he received a vision. He notes three things from that vision. First, that God still lives and is reigning globally. Second, that Isaiah himself had not escaped the gross sin of the people and was in desperate need of atonement. And third, that God was furious with the people for their sin (Isaiah 6:1-13).

A few years later, another Prophet, Hosea by name, had this terrifying fact revealed to him about those that replaced the dead king Uzziah of Isaiah's day (Hosea 1:1),
Set the trumpet to your lips!
___One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord,
because they have transgressed my covenant
___and rebelled against my law.
To me they cry,
___“My God, we—Israel—know you.”
Israel has spurned the good;
___the enemy shall pursue him.
They made kings, but not through me.
___They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
___for their own destruction.
For they sow the wind,

___and they shall reap the whirlwind. - Hosea 8:1-4,7
God's fury towards this nation where sin ran rampant and the people chose their own kings and princes was not light, he told Isaiah to publish the timeframe of his wrath on the nation Israel, "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste (Isaiah 6:11)." The prophet Jeremiah lived through this judgment and he would receive this prophecy, "behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten (Jeremiah 29:17)."

This was not the first democratic event in the Bible to be punished, at Babel the people said, "let us make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4)," and God punished them with confusion and dispersion. During the time of the Judges, Israel constantly refused to listen to its leaders, and the Bible records of this dark and murderous time, "There was no king in Israel in those days. Everyone did what was write in his own eyes (Judges 17:6)."

And later, to the city of Laodicea, which derives its name from Laos (people) and Dikea (judge), or the people-choose, or democracy, Christ writes, "I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17)."

Beloved, do you see America in all of these historical accounts? The founders set the law up as the king, knowing that men were desperately wicked and deceitful beyond all things (Genesis 6:5). The living, breathing, Constitution stood as supreme, it declared its will with unflinching steadfastness, it sought to keep governors, judges, and lawmakers honest and accountable. But the 17th Amendment snuck in a deadly cancer, allowing the people to vote directly for their Federal Senators, effectively destroying the check-and-balance placed in the Legislative Branch to ensure the House of Representatives and Senate were chosen differently and hence could not be easily manipulated by a corrupt and uninformed populace. Other treasonous acts were committed, coming to a head in 2011, when the Chief Executive declared, "When Congress won't act, I will," further denouncing the authority of the Constitution which requires the executive and legislative branches to keep one another in check, and fight one another's evil intentions.

More to the point, God is dead set against idolaters in power, this includes Secularists, Communists, Mohammadians, Humanists, Mormons, women who have rejected the natural order, and money worshippers. You decide which of these have been chosen by the populace of the nation. God did not choose them as valid leaders (Hosea 8:4), punishment yes (Isaiah 3:4,12) but not as qualified or approved leaders.

Beloved, in the age when the king Constitution died, I see that the Lord is still seated in his temple, and the whole earth is still full of his glory. But the prophet writes,

"You (God) have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God." - Psalm 9:5-8,17

Beloved, the terrifying thing concerning these prophecies is that they give no hope for the nations under judgment. But beloved, there is a hope for the individual. Psalm 9:9-10 says, "The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."

Concerning Laodicea, Christ promises, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:19-20)." God is in the business of snatching brands from the fire, allegorized as sinners from damnation.

Beloved, only one nation will survive eternity, the nation of kings and priests which Christ has redeemed from every nation, tribe, and tongue, a people for his own possession who will declare his excellencies, how he was and is and is to come, how he died but yet lives, and how he gave his life a ransom to make peace with his greatest enemies, and now makes them a holy nation, if they will place their faith in him, humble themselves, and turn from sin.

I promise you three things. First, God still lives and is reigning globally. Second, you yourself have not escaped the gross sin of the people and are in desperate need of atonement. And third, God is furious with the nation for their sin, for we have sown the wind, and shall reap the whirlwind. Seek the Saviour while he may be found.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Man Under Authority

I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. - Matthew 8:9
One of the most amazing conversations in scripture occurs between an Army Captain and Jesus of Nazareth, concerning authority. This Army Captain, also called a Centurion, recognized that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, had all authority in Heaven and Earth, and that Jesus did not need to accomplish his will by doing all work personally and in proximity, but that his authority was more than capable of ruling the Universe from any distance. Reading the whole story (Matthew 8:5-13), we see that Jesus laud’s the man’s faith for recognizing that Jesus was the Lord of Armies, the Captain of captains, the King of Earth, and that all of Creation was directly under his authority.

The Centurion knew that just by ordering his men to accomplish a task that it would be brought to completion simply by his authority, and based on this, he recognized that Jesus Christ could order his subordinates to do exactly as he said as well, in this case to, “be well.

This is an amazing point in scripture, and one which I am especially blessed to be able to understand, being a Non-Commissioned Officer myself. In the civilian world, we often ask others to do things, but in the military world, asking is not efficient and is detrimental to rank structure; orders are given and followed out. Disobedience is unacceptable and punished swiftly and accordingly. Paul Washer makes this point well concerning God’s authority:
He looks at stars and He says “all you stars move yourself to this place and start in this order and move in a circle and move exactly as I tell you, until I give you another word. Planets-pick yourself up and whirl, make this formation at my command, until I give you another word.” He looks at mountains and says “be lifted up” and they obey him. He tells valleys “be cast down” and they obey him. He looks at the sea and says “you will come this far and no farther”, and the sea obeys. Then, he looks at you and says “come” and you say “NO!
If such rebellion were found in the military, instant action would be taken, at best this person would no longer be in the military, at worst, court-martial. God’s punishment is swift and commensurate with the rebellion.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
__the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
__and terrify them in his fury.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
__be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
__and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son,
__lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
__for his wrath is quickly kindled. - Psalm 2:4-5,10-12
The wrath of God is slow in coming, he is patient and kind, he has much forbearance, but his justice is advancing for all rebels against his authority. He commands us to love one another, and yet to a man, each one of his has disobeyed this order by lying to each other, stealing from one another, speaking in anger towards one another, causing much strife, division, rebellion, and death in God’s Creation. He commands our absolute loyalty to his kingdom, yet we use his name in vain, and by so doing, we declare war on the King of Heaven (Psalm 73:9), and many even go so far as to deny the Despot (absolute authority and power) who created them (2 Peter 2:1).

This gross insubordination will not go unpunished; even while many scoff that Christ’s authority has failed or never existed, because his patience is interpreted as inaction. Do not be deceived, one day is to the Creator of Time as a thousand years are to us, and vice-versa, his authority fails not.

And this punishment will not be carried out by some lowly Staff-Sergeant, or a mere General Officer, or some piddly ArchAngel, the wrath of God will be delivered upon men by the King himself,
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. - Revelation 19:11-16
And
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. - Isaiah 63:3-4
The authority of the Lord of Armies is inescapable, he is prepared to make a total war upon his enemies. His enemies therefore should be without hope, for this God does not lose wars, but this King is also a God of Love, and full of grace. Dear reader, I cannot forgive your sins any more than I could pardon a traitor sentenced to die by courts-martial. I do not have that authority, for your sin is against the Kingdom of Heaven, a higher court than any man can ascend to, of purer eyes than any of us can look upon.

But, the King himself, though rich and with absolute peace and honor and dominion in Heaven, stepped down to subject himself to the taunts, ridicule, insubordination, and rebellion of this fallen and wicked world. Himself, the Son of God, became the Son of Man, submitting himself perfectly to the authority and will of his Father. The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

And he says something astonishing, “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6).” Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, went to a cross to face the condemnation befitting his enemies, where he faced the full wrath of his Father, found guilty in-spite of his perfect innocence, his guilt not his own, but that of rebels, paying a unimaginable price for the pardon of those same people who constantly despised and raged against his authority.

Because of his perfect obedience, his Father has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, raised him from the dead, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should 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.

His authority is absolute, it is complete, and every knee will bow by his authority. Dear reader, today bow the knee in submission to the Lord of Armies, recognizing his absolute authority, do it willingly, for one day your knee will bow to him, and if not willingly, then forcibly.

He has authority to end life and to give it, to punish sins and to forgive them; place your faith in him today and repent of your rebellion, and be assured that by his perfect authority: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. - Psalm 2:12

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Workman Approved

"See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship..." - Exodus 31:2-3

These are two of my favorite verses in all of scripture. I have been thinking about them and similar passages a lot recently as I've been seeing three terrifying verses taking place in America, practically the exact antithesis of Exodus 31:2-3,
For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts
__is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah
support and supply,
__all support of bread,
__and all support of water;
the mighty man and the soldier,
__the judge and the prophet,
__the diviner and the elder,
the captain of fifty
__and the man of rank,
the counselor and the skillful magician
__and the expert in charms. - Isaiah 3:1-3
Based on these two verses, we must arrive at the conclusion that the Bible teaches that God gives to each according to his good pleasure; to some he gives much and to others he takes away.

Bezalel was one of those who much was given, for the express purpose of building the finery in God's tabernacle. His list of talents is impressive. Notice that the opposite in Isaiah 3 is a lack of experts, people who have no virtues, no glory, and who instead oppress one another and work for food and gold that perishes, trinkets and ornaments, chains and bracelets and bonnets... Solomon put it this way,

"To the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting...this is also vanity and a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 2:26)."

We as Christians, those who find refuge in Christ, will all agree that we would rather be like Bezalel (literally, in the shade of God), than those who strive after wind. Just in case you don't, look at Paul's admonition to the lazy, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10)." The Christian life is one of workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), of great accomplishment, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12)."

The works that Jesus did were magnificent. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, and the mute sing, he turned many from sin to righteousness, he raised the dead, and in one sacrifice he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. In Mark 7:37 it says, "He did all things well." Yet in his brief three year ministry, his works were limited to a small swathe of geographical land, and a limited number of people. Greater things were yet to be done.

This brings me back to Exodus 31:2-3, and Bezalel's infilling of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:12, Jesus concludes that the purpose of his egress from the world was so that that Spirit would come to believers. First and foremost, like Bezalel, you are now filled with the Holy Spirit. This was a unique privilege under the Obsolete Covenant, but under the New Covenant, every son of God is filled and led by the Spirit.

Now, is that where our similarity with Bezalel ends? He was given ability, intelligence, and knowledge. The Apostle Paul expressly states that Christians are called from all rankings in life, not many are wise, not many noble, not many powerful, but beloved, just because we were not wise when we were called, does not mean we must or ought stay in such a state. In fact, James exhorts us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5)." and jump back with me to Ecclesiastes 2:26, "to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy..." Dear Christian, do you please God? Beloved, you do, but it is because of Christ who lives in you that you please your Heavenly Father (Galatians 2:20).

If we venture into the Sinaitic Desert, or into Israel, or Transjordan, you will not find the handwork of Bezalel. It has perished, time and vandals have worn this tabernacle out. It was then replaced by a temple, built similarly by men of God, but today on Mount Moriah it stands not, torn down by the greed of men and the constant changing shadows of the world.

But beloved, the building which you are building stands today and is everlasting, for Christ says, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)." Peter elaborates, "As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5)." Your part in this is as follows, "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)..." and "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (Romans 12:6)..." and "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)."

Therefore, beloved, like Bezalel, God has known you by name, he numbered your days as when there were yet none, he calls you his son, the adopted brother of his Son, and he has filled you with his Spirit. He gives gifts according to his grace, not measured on our ability, but on the matchless worth of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-8). If you lack wisdom, then ask, if you lack motivation, then look to Christ and walk in the steps he prepared for you, if you lack ability, grow in stature before men and God like your Saviour. Emulate Christ by "doing all things well."

For to this you have been called, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3)..." Therefore do not succumb to the laziness and oppression, but live as one called and appointed by God to build up a spiritual house which will never perish.

In the New Covenant, God says this of you, as he says of all Christians,

"See, I have called you by name, by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled you with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship...that you shall be building the church of God, a work that will never perish...According to all that I have commanded you, you shall do."

See also: Laboring in Vain

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Rapture as Evangelism

Introduction

I recently wrote out my thought process for being a post-tribulation rapture believer. My view is common, but not nearly so common as the newer idea that Christians will be saved from the greatest persecution by being invisibly removed from earth. This "pre-tribulation" view (nicknamed the "Left-Behind" view) is arguably the most common in America today, but I don't expect it will remain that way. This view won't vanish, but I expect it to become less and less prevalent. Just as Postmillenialism suffered a damaging blow during the War to End All Wars and a fatal blow during World War Two, I think we'll see this eschatology fade until it practically vanishes, only held by small fringe groups, because of the years of harping on its veracity without any events or biblical passages to back it up. Constant false prophecy of immanent returns, and failed dates have created scoffers who cannot continue to keep believing this historically new and strange eschatology.

What will replace it? Unfortunately I can guarantee that it will not be the truth, some other fanciful unbiblical theatrical theology will arise and lead many astray. I cannot possibly guess with any accuracy, but my guess for this replacement will be the heresy of Preterism, the idea that the Second Coming and Resurrection have already occurred, but I won't be surprised if some other more heinous and imaginative heresy arises.

Your view of the timing of the rapture is not an essential doctrine, you will not lose your soul for following the pre-trib tradition. Many great saints have held this view. But, I fear that as this view largely dies with the church's elderly generation, that the church will lose ALL rapture theology, that the church is prepared to be removed from the earth and those remaining will be judged in righteousness. The rapture will be thrown out with the pre-trib theory, and it ought not be. The rapture is a recurring theme in scripture, the root word in the Greek is harpazo, it means to be plucked, repealed, removed. The word rapture comes from the Latin translation of this Greek word, it occurs in several places in the New Testament, for example, Christ was nearly seized by overzealous postmillenials (John 6:15), the evangelist has the duty to snatch sinners from the fire (Jude 1:23), Phillip was caught away to some far off place (Acts 8:39), Jesus was caught up to God (Revelation 12:5, cf. Acts 1:9), Paul was caught up into paradise (body or soul, I know not) (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), sheep without a shepherd are caught and devoured by wolves (John 10:12), and Jesus promised that none can pluck his saints from his hand (John 10:29).

The rapture that this article will focus on is the removal of Christians from the earth to meet Jesus in the clouds; we need to retain and understand the biblical purpose of this event. But what does it matter? Can't we just be pan-millenialists or pan-tribulationists, that "however it pans out is just fine with me"? Unfortunately it matters a lot in how we view God, and how we evangelize. This article will hopefully spur you towards good works, and an even more fervent and eager desire to see Christ.

I spoke to a person once whose plan of evangelism was to hold onto an unbeliever during the rapture and attempt to convince him to believe in Jesus on the way up. While this is a novel idea, it misses completely what the Bible says of that final day, and why on that day the unbeliever is without hope.

The Timing of Christ's Return

Christ has not returned yet, but he is sure to come, for scripture says, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come (Revelation 4:8)!" The reason he has not returned is quite simple, he is not willing that even a single one of his saints should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). At the moment the sky disappears and Christ is seen in the Heavens, you can rejoice that the number of saints is complete, and be sure that no more men will be saved, and that Christ is prepared to conclude this present evil age.

Therefore, we are to be witnessing to unbelievers, as Peter says, "hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved (2 Peter 3:12)..."

If you are an unbeliever and are waiting to see the rapture happen before you will believe, Peter exhorts you to "count the patience of our Lord as salvation (2 Peter 3:15)" and Paul, "the patience of God is meant to lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4)." If you see the rapture as an unbeliever, then it is too late for you.

Christ as Judge

The Bible describes Jesus in two polarizing ways, as a just God, and a savior (Isaiah 45:21), that he punishes sinners AND forgives sinners; both are seen in the rapture. On that final day, he will come to "judge and make war (Revelation 19:11)." In the rapture, we see that Christ is righteous. Right now only believers see this (Proverbs 28:5), but on Judgment Day, everyone will see it, a myriad of verses say this.

Men will faint with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Luke 21:26-27)."

The word for faint means "die where they stand." The KJV says their "hearts will fail them." They will be scared to death.

In another place it says, "then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand (Revelation 6:15-17)?"

The last phrase is an allusion to several Old Testament passages, "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears (Malachi 3:2)?" and "The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: "Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings (Isaiah 33:14)?" And especially,
But you, who are to be feared!
__Who can stand before you
__when once your anger is roused?
From the heavens you uttered judgment;
__the earth feared and was still,
when God arose to establish judgment,
__to save all the humble of the earth. - Psalm 76:7-9
Dear reader, pause and consider the justice that will be displayed on the day that Christ returns. His patience will have run out, the sin of his enemies will have reached full measure, and grace and love will never again be felt by those who refused to kiss the Son.

"Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner (Malachi 3:5)..."

Christ as Saviour

But for the believer, a much different feeling will be kindled on that day. Continue the Malachi verse from above, "and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed (Malachi 3:6)."

For the believer, the one who abides in Christ, who is born-again, washed in his blood, made new in his Spirit, John exhorts us, "when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming (1 John 2:28)."

Peter explains that the Christian is "waiting for [a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells], therefore be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace (2 Peter 3:14)."

And Christ's personal promise, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:3)."

Henceforth there is laid up for all who have loved his appearing a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award on that day (2 Timothy 4:8). "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4)."

The Rapture as Evangelism

On the final day there will be only two responses. The unbeliever will flee in fear, utterly terrified, and hide from the returning King. The believer will step forward in eager anticipation of the consummation of history, in meeting Jesus face to face, and in full assurance that he is a faithful God who keeps his promises.

There is no secret salvation for the believer in a veiled rapture. There is no second chance for the unbeliever in the warning of a rapture. There is hope in one man, the man whom has been appointed as judge of the world, who will judge in perfect righteousness, who commands all people to repent, and is assured because he has been raised from the dead (Acts 17:31).

Just as it is appointed once for a man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Therefore, the rapture perfectly captures the character and nature of God, that he is a just God, and a savior, and besides him there is no other. Only in him there is righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him, but in the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and glorified (Isaiah 45:21,24-25).

This all points back to the cross, where God put Christ Jesus "as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness (Romans 3:25)..." and "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)." All evangelism should be centered on the law to bring a knowledge of sin, and then present grace, that salvation is available in the Christ who lived and died and lived again. The rapture captures this perfectly, that lawbreakers will face Christ as Lord and judge, and believers will face Christ as Lord and Saviour, his justice satisfied on Calvary's cross, and his grace poured out in abundance.

Conclusion

The day of the rapture will be too late to share your faith, for all who will trust Christ will have reached repentance, and all who are reprobate will face him as a Saviour scorned. Therefore, wait for this day and hasten it along by proclaiming his righteousness by calling for repentance, and proclaim his grace by imploring towards faith in his perfect name.

Until Christ returns, or calls you home, declare to the world that he is Lord of all, that to him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear allegiance. Declare to mankind that his wrath is kindled, and that in his presence no man can stand, and that the only hope is God the Son who faced this wrath on a cross, who now calls out,
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. - Isaiah 45:22
As for you dear reader, I pray that you are eagerly awaiting his return, that you will have confidence in his faithfulness and the sufficiency of his work on the cross, and you will not shrink back in fear at his coming.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Response to an Apostate Pastor

I received the following text last Saturday. After a week of prayer, and feeling several times that I would not respond to it, I finally decided that a response was merited and hopefully it will edify the church and call this pastor to biblical truth. This will also allow for me to type my response instead of texting it. This was sent as a text, so understandably it had many typographical errors, I have corrected these so that they do not detract from the message. I only changed spelling and punctuation, the original is available if you would like to read it.
Hello my name is ******. I am a pastor in *******, GA. I was greatly disturbed when at a Braves game there was a tract left on my car and after I read it, I realized there was no love only condemnation. Jesus did not command us to repent He commanded us to love and His goodness will lead them to repentance.  It grieved my heart to see a church representing our Savior Jesus using condemnation.  This is not an effective tool for evangelism. I pray you will have a revelation of His great love for you that His love will begin to flow from you.  I'm sorry if this is harsh, but I choose to live in obedience to the conviction and I had to send this.  Paul admonishes us many times not to turn away from or preach any other gospel than the one he first preached. The gospel of grace according to Ephesians 2:8-10
Response

First of all, thank you for taking the time to read this tract and for your response. This is why we give out tracts, to get people thinking and to start conversations. In that regard, this tract has done its first duty.

Second, I do not know which tract you received, I was not at the Brave's game, and know of no-one giving out tracts with my website on it at the Brave's game. Based on what you have written, I expect that it was a "Pop Quiz", but it may not have been. We excommunicated a woman at the beginning of the year, an antichrist and Jezebel of the highest degree, and she may still be printing tracts with our website on them, so depending on the tract, your concerns may be well founded if there was no love on the tract. But that does not affect the rest of this response.

You stated, that "Jesus did not command us to repent", and this is where I hope to rebuke and correct you. Over and over again Jesus commands both the world, and the church, to repent. His first command was "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15), his last command is "be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:19), and repentance is a quintessential part of his message throughout his ministry (Luke 13:1-5, Luke 5:32, etc). Likewise, he tells his followers that "repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations..." (Luke 24:47) Those who preach the gospel implore hearers to "repent towards God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

Your statement that our love will lead people to repentance has no biblical precedent. You've nearly quoted Romans 2:4, but that is in no wise a command to the church, but an admonition to the lost. But true love warns, it seeks to see people turned (repentance), to be saved, and this faith only comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of Christ. Your silence and aversion on the matter has most likely condemned many. Loving people without commanding repentance does as one wise preacher said, "makes the world a nicer place to go to Hell from."

A saviour who comes only to save and not preach condemnation is no Saviour at all, because there is nothing to be saved from. Jesus Christ preached salvation and condemnation regularly, see for example John 3:16-21. If this is not an effective tool for evangelism then you stand in direct opposition to the greatest Evangelist, who is Christ the Lord.

Your hatred of the justice of God as evidenced in your response does not bode well for your soul. You seem to have fallen for a tender loving jesus who does not exist. You are preaching a false jesus and this jesus shares none in common with the Living Christ than a name. Examine Romans 3:25 and 5:8, that the righteousness of God was demonstrated in Christ's death, and the love of God was demonstrated in him dying for sinners. Without condemnation, then Christ died for naught, but in Christ there is now no condemnation.

In all harshness, I pray that you have a revelation of the Living God, and that a love for his  whole character would be borne in you, and you would embrace the preaching of his full counsel, including the elementary doctrines of repentance from dead works and faith towards God.

Your gospel denies a need for grace, and therefore is anathema. See that the Lord is good, and then flee from the wrath to come. Preach the same.

And finally, if I am right in deducing that you are a female pastor from your name, I implore you to renounce your blasphemy and not step, but leap, from your pulpit role of usurping the Lord's authority.

In all love, I implore you and Christ commands you, "Repent, and believe the gospel."

The Post Tribulation Rapture

Understanding the timing and events of the rapture are as easy as following a few common phrases and time markers, the following verses are quoted from the English Standard Version of the Bible, but this study can be done in any translation leading to the same conclusion. This is not a doctrine which the Bible leaves any ambiguity on. If you will leave aside your traditions, you will quickly arrive at the rapture-theology which the God of the Bible intends for you to have.

This study begins with the best eschatological question ever asked:

Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" - Matthew 24:3

This study is not meant to look at the entire events of the end times, but only the timing and events of the rapture, so let's skip to verse 21.

Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. - Matthew 24:21-30

Let's look at a similar verse in Revelation 6, look at the similar wording and identical time markers.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” - Revelation 6:12-17

Look at the similarities, the coming of the Son of Man will be as lightning in the sky in Matthew 24, in Revelation 6 the sky vanishes. This event is directly preceded in both passages by the sun and moon and stars being greatly changed, and the earth quaking. The tribes of the earth will mourn, they will see Jesus, and they will not want to. I hope  and trust that you see that these describe the same event. Only Matthew adds one more event, look at verse 31, the rapture verse:

And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. - Matthew 24:31

This event is on the Day of Wrath, the day of Christ's return, the visible return of Jesus to the whole world. These angels come and remove Christ's elect, there is no indication in this passage of any sort of disappearing or secrecy. Now let's compare some other verses that give us the timing and events of this rapture and see if they agree.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

and

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. - 1 Corinthians 15:51

These passages clearly show the rapture happens at the last trumpet, at the return of Christ. The dead are raised first, the believers are caught up immediately afterwards, to meet Christ as he descends, and be with him forevermore.

And I tell you beloved, this means there is a very good chance you may live through this tribulation, or any number of smaller, though not small, tribulations. There is no room in these passages or any passage for a secret and/or pretribulation rapture. Many of the elect will face the ruler of the world and die terrible deaths for it, being called to have endurance and faith in the Sovereign God who ordained all things (Revelation 13:7-10). Fear not, for Christ endured more for your soul at the hands of his Father, and he promises to never leave you nor forsake you.

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! - Luke 12:4-5

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Three Things You Can't Learn in School - Adrian Rogers

Three Things You Can't Learn in School
by Adrian Rogers

[After a long break] students head back to school. I’m grateful for schools, but there are some things no teacher or professor can impart. When it comes to spiritual matters, on our own we can be stunningly ignorant.

But we are not left alone. We have Someone to teach us. Jesus said,
It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Of sin, because they believe not on Me;

Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more;

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

- John 16:7-11

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to convict (and convince) the world of three vital truths we'll never learn in school or anywhere else: sin, righteousness, and judgment.

The Truth Concerning Sin

You won’t hear this from your college professor, but in the words of that great theologian and cartoon character Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.

We don’t like to believe it, but man is a sinner. That’s Lesson #1 the Holy Spirit must teach us. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Man is a sinner for 3 basic reasons:

Because of what he is — Ephesians 2:3 says we are “by nature the children of wrath.” Notice it comes by our nature. We think we’re wicked and sinful because of what we do, but really we do what we do because of what we are by nature: sinners.

Because of what he does — If you’re still not convinced, let's talk about what we do. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) We’ve been like this since Adam’s fall. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) We are sinners, and our thoughts and actions reveal it every day.

Because of what he has not done — But the most damning, horrible sin is not what we do, but rather what we don’t do: the sin of not believing on Jesus Christ. Jesus said concerning Himself, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

Sin erects a barrier between us and a holy God. The Holy Spirit knows we must admit our sin. He does what we would never do for ourselves: convict us of our sin. But the Teacher is not done yet. There’s more.

The Truth Concerning Righteousness

The Holy Spirit also convicts us “of righteousness,” the righteousness of Christ, which completes our salvation.

Most people think “righteousness” comes by “being good.” But Paul said in Romans 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Our righteousness counts for no more than “filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). We can’t depend on our own righteousness for salvation.

That’s why Jesus left His Father, took our sin upon Himself, and died in agony on the cross. He rose victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave, and ascended to the Father to present His blood in the tabernacle in heaven. That's what He's talking about when He says, “I go to My Father.

Jesus bought our redemption with His own righteousness. We have none on our own. That’s Lesson #2 from the Holy Spirit.

The Truth Concerning Judgment

A third truth we’ll never learn in school is the condemnation of Satan. Some people — those who do not know God — appear to be waiting on the final outcome to see who’s going to win: God or Satan. But Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world.” (John 12:31) Did you notice the word “now”? John 16:11 says Satan is judged. Not will be. He already is. As much as he would like to hide it, Satan has already lost and is judged.

And like Satan, judgment awaits us if we die in our sin. Many have the idea that somehow God will be merciful even if they do not repent and receive His righteousness. This is a tragic assumption — and it is not true. The only way to escape judgment is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

So you see, these three truths are vital. They are necessary for salvation. The Holy Spirit wants to teach them to you. Will you let Him?


Canyon's Note

Dear reader, may the Spirit convict you of sin, righteousness, and judgment and show you Jesus Christ, the only hope for mankind. May many of my former students, especially those who in love with the world have run off into the mire, hear these words and return to the Overshepherd and Saviour.

And beloved, unlike my brother Adrian, I implore you to flee from the schools that seek to silence the Holy Spirit in your hearts, to rather find the truth in homeschool, co-op school, and private Christian school, for Martin Luther put it best,
I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt. —Martin Luther

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Your Last Sermon

Beloved Christian reader, imagine with me for a moment that you are told you have one week to live. During this week your church has given you free reign to preach whatever you want, and they have promised to publish whatever you write, and to give utmost attention to everything you say in these final moments.

What would you convey?

The most important preaching lesson I learned in seminary was to preach every sermon with the fervency and effort as if it were your last. The truth is, we are all dying, we all have a limited number of words left to share with the world. Very truly, the last thing you said may be the capstone of your life. This post could be my last.

Apostles Paul and Peter met their ends in Rome in the mid AD60s, Paul beheaded and Peter crucified as insurrectionists. These two men saw their ends coming, they wrote,
Peter: I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me (2 Peter 1:13-14).
and
Paul: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus...For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come (2 Timothy 4:1,6).
These two men saw their end coming, and their final letters (2 Timothy, 2 Peter, and Hebrews), their capstone projects, have pointed believers and unbelievers towards the Living Christ for two-thousand years. They have strengthened the church and called lost sheep home. There is no reason at all that these men should be ashamed.

But, if we look back at their earlier letters, we see similarly that these letters are as edifying and useful and enduring. Everything they wrote was pointed at exalting Christ and pointing sinners away from unholiness and towards salvation, and in strengthening the church in the knowledge and hope that God is sovereign and gracious.

So I'm writing this short note to encourage you to make sure everything you say and/or write and/or preach is worthy of your last, that you would not be ashamed of it, that it would not be worthy of being thrown away. Any such message must necessarily include the message of the mystery of the cross. Tell people of the God who is righteous and merciful, who prepared history for one event, to satisfy his justice on a cross, and who demonstrates his love through offering his own Son in place of wretched and otherwise irredeemable sinners. Call your hearers to faith in Jesus Christ, to turn from their sin to the Living God, and to hope in him, and him alone.

And, let me take one quick moment to say that this does not need to only be in the context of revivalistic evangelistic gospel preaching, this ought be in the context of expository preaching, of revealing Christ in the Revelation of God, like he did, starting at the beginning, and showing himself to his followers (Luke 24:27). Jesus ought to be the foundation and the message of anything you say and do, else your idle words perish on Judgment Day.

And in all of this, remember that you are not working for men, but are serving the Lord Christ, so do everything in his name, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

And beloved, you probably have more than a week left to live, but you definitely have a limited number of weeks left. Make your sermons count, make your correspondence count, and make your life count, working in the full power of the Spirit of Christ who lives in you. Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

See It and Be Glad

I should be a asleep right now, but as I prayed over these past few weeks and my evangelistic endeavors, I've been horrified to see a serious lack in the highest theological thought in scripture; the crucifixion of Jesus. The Apostle Paul said this was his sole endeavor, and that it is the message we preach that comes with power (1 Corinthians 2:2, 1:23, 1:18). As I thought about it, my mind instantly went to the crucifixion passage which impacts me the most; way back in the Old Testament. It is something I must put to paper before I can let this day come to a close.
When the humble see it, they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
 ~ Psalm 69:32
This is the conclusion to an utterly terrific psalm, one so incomprehensible in its pain and sacrifice that I expect it will take us an eternity to understand the God here described. This Psalm recounts an innocent man oppressed by evil men for no reason (v. 4), but worse, crushed by God for those evil men's sins (v. 9), paying a price higher than any sacrifice ever made, before and after (v. 31), and this is why it is so terrifying.

Beloved, stop for a moment, the man on the cross is God the Son (v. 21, John 19:28-29), despised by men, afflicted by God. Now look and be glad. Your King is shamed, crushed, humiliated, infinitely punished, wrongly accused, disbelieved, abandoned by God and friends, scorned by the very ones he came to save. See it and be glad.

See it and be glad? Wouldn't we expect that weeping would be a better response? On that day, "there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23:27-28)..."

For you see, Jesus did not go unwilling to the cross, he was not the victim of sin, but a willing and capable sacrifice. He came for this purpose, to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37), he has ordained history for this very moment (John 12:27). What should we say? Save him from the cross?

No, we rather look at that hideous cross and the Lord of Glory upon it, and we are glad. Glad for two reasons, that, one, we have a God who hates sin and the suffering, death, and destruction caused by sin, and, two, that we have a God who loves sinners to such an extent to save them from his hatred.

And so we see our Lord and God lifted up on a cross, declaring to the universe that God is righteous and a Saviour (Isaiah 45:21), and besides him, there is no other. Our sin is heinous and costly and none of us can pay for even a single one. A single lie will ensure we are punished forever in Hell for our rebellion against the God of Truth. If there were any other way to be saved, then Jesus Christ died in vain, and he would not be able to say that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no-one comes to the Father but by him.

Sin requires an infinite payment, and apart from an infinite Saviour, our souls were counted loss. So we look at the cross and are glad, glad that we have such a payment, such a ransom, as to save us from the power of sin and death, and transfer us into the kingdom of God.

And we look at the man, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2), and are glad that he is our God, the God of love and of truth, of mercy and of righteousness, who perfectly reconciled in his body of flesh sinful men and holy God, and has put away all malice towards those who humble themselves before him and trust in his holy name.

Beloved, I have endeavored to show you Jesus Christ and him crucified, that you may know the power of this message, made perfect in his resurrection. If there is any lack of gladness in you towards the events which he endured on Calvary, please search your heart, and know that your King endured these willingly, prepared from eternity past for such work, to make known his Father's justice and grace. Look at the cross with nothing but gladness, the means by which God revives the deadman's heart, and be glad that you have a God who loves righteousness and hates wickedness, who is anointed with gladness today, for the work he accomplished long ago.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Something More Sure

Introduction

With the physical stress of moving, the mental stress of moving, losing my Bible once or twice, the break in routine, and the passing of my Grandmother, I have read my Bible less in the last month than probably any other time in my Christian life. Directly related to that, I've written less in the last month than ever in my Christian life. Tonight I heard an especially encouraging sermon and it sparked my writing. I want to take just a minute to go over one of the best passages in scripture and hope it encourages you to read your Bible more and trust fully in the Risen Christ.

Before we begin, ask yourself what would be the best way to learn to walk in sanctification and to know the truth and to demonstrate truth and to know who Jesus is. No doubt, it would be to walk with Jesus during his three year earthly ministry in the 1st Century, right? Let's see.

Walk with Jesus?

Concerning himself and the other Apostles, Peter writes, "we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."

The Apostles walked with Jesus, they saw his miracles, they heard him speak with authority, he defended his flock with appropriate severity, he loved people with the love of God, they saw him in power and Peter even saw him in transfiguration. These Apostles were eyewitnesses, three-year long friends and co-ministers with the Lord of Glory.

Thomas was among them, he saw Jesus, he walked with him, but what did Jesus say to Thomas?

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Peter says likewise about walking with Jesus, "we have something more sure..." More sure than walking and talking and listening to Jesus? More sure. Then it must be hearing directly from Heaven that Peter would remind us of in his ultimate epistle.

Hear from Heaven?

Peter writes, "We were with him on the holy mountain...when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

That would be a great way to learn from God, right? To have him speak directly to you and let you interpret his words to suit your own situation? Peter rebukes you, "We have something more sure...knowing first of all that no prophecy of scripture comes from someone's own interpretation."

Is it hearing from God that makes us the best followers, the most sanctified? Without a doubt, the most dangerous of hirelings and false teachers are those who rely on things they've heard in the spirit, who reject the Bible and speak their own revelation; men like Mohammed and Joseph Smith come to mind, but there are no lack, no lack at all, operating today.

Something More Sure

How could something be more sure than learning from Jesus? How could something be more sure than hearing from the Father? Beloved, it's because those things can be counterfeited. Recently I was perusing the cult tome, The Urantia Book, which includes impossible details about Jesus' early life and later ministry.

The private interpretation of the author(s) teach things that are wild and ungodly, but how can we say Jesus did not say and do these things? We have something more sure.

Faith-Healers constantly claim that God spoke to them regarding a health issue, who are we to doubt that God actually spoke to them? We have something more sure.

We have something more sure. The prophetic word, not open to interpretation, not open to addendum, a lamp shining in a dark place, not produced by man, but by God the Spirit sweeping men along in his perfect current.

For this reason the Bible is our final rule of faith and practice. We know that God spoke new revelation in the 1st Century and then left us something so sure that he never would need to speak again, and will not speak again, until the glorious bright and morning star, Christ Jesus, returns and lights our path in our glorification.

Conclusion

Beloved, would you need to see Jesus to believe? Jesus says you are blessed if you believe without seeing. Would you need to hear from Heaven to stand on the truth of God's promises? Peter says you have something more sure. God has revealed himself perfectly to us in his Word, giving Jesus as the perfect example of life and godliness, the one who has called us to his own glory and excellence, who has opened the eternal kingdom to us in becoming our Lord and Saviour by giving himself for our sins and being raised for our justification.

Peter intends to remind you of these things even after his death, as did all of the other prophets; their tongues are silent today, but their words, inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit, speak today, so listen to them exhorting you to trust in Christ, and walk in his light, being continually washed in the water of his word.