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Friday, December 31, 2010

Is 2011 the Year?

By Justin Edwards

Well 2010 is just about behind us! It has been an incredible year on many fronts, both personally and for the Church. Just as midnight will take us into the new year, the midnight hour of God's prophetic time clock is about to strike. While the world continues to carry on as if it always has, events continue to line up in preparation for the Last Things of Scripture to come to pass. Israel has been further isolated and is facing the greatest threats to her survival since 1948; the world is on the brink of major war on multiple fronts; the threat of terrorism looms in most Western countries; the economy is in dire straights; Russia and China are on the rise; religions continue to consciously merge and unify for the sake of peace, hunger, and poverty; nations are losing their sovereignty as global governance becomes more of a reality; and the visible church continues to sink into apostasy. This all sounds like doom and gloom doesn't it? Unless of course, you are called, redeemed, and sealed by the One True God of the universe!

As born again believers, we have so much to look forward to in 2011. This could very well be the year the dominoes of biblical prophecy take their final bow. So what does that mean for you? The Apostle Paul tells us exactly how we should be living in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11,

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming, brothers and sisters, whether it is in 2011 or the soon coming years. We cannot escape the obvious signs around us, the very ones Jesus Himself told us to look for and for which to lift our heads because our Redemption is drawing near. We are on the final stretch, so let us strive for the finish line with everything we have and finish the race well, and may we all share in these words from Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

If you have yet to submit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, have doubts about your salvation, or are living a lifestyle that is contrary to the Word of God (if you don't know the answer to that, this should be telling for you), then please, by all means, make today and the days to come earth-shattering for your life. We are called to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 2:10). We do this by examining our lives in light of Scripture, using it as a mirror to see whether we see our reflection in it. In other words, is the lifestyle we are living one that is conforming to the Lord Jesus Christ and His written Word, or is our lifestyle conformed to the world and the things of the world?

There are numerous resources here on airō to challenge and help you examine yourself in the Word of God, so please take some time in the coming days and weeks to do this. Your very soul may be hanging in the balance, as if you're swinging on a string of silk over the flames of hell ready to be singed and cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. It would be so tragic if you died, fully expecting to enter heaven with your fire insurance policy, only to find out you believed in vain all of these years because you refused to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is calling you now, no matter where you've been or what you've done. Through repentance and faith, you can become a child of God today. For "the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:17).

Whether you are in Christ now or have yet to fall at His feet in surrender, I pray 2011 is the year you fall more in love with the One who sacrificed everything for you, or you fall in love with Him for the very first time.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. - Revelation 22:17


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Edwards and Spurgeon on Divine Sovereingty and Election

By Justin Edwards

Jonathan Edwards

"From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and His justice in thus eternally dealing with men, according to His sovereign pleasure. My mind rested in it; and it put an end to all those quibbles and objections. And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, with respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, from that day to this. God's absolute sovereignty…is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes. But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God's sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has appeared exceedingly pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. But my first conviction was not so."

"When men are fallen, and become sinful, God by His sovereignty has a right to determine about their redemption as He pleases. He has a right to determine whether He will redeem any or not. He might, if he had pleased, have left all to perish, or might have redeemed all. Or, he may redeem some, and leave others; and if He doth so, He may take whom He pleases, and leave whom He pleases. To suppose that all have forfeited his favor, and deserved to perish, and to suppose that he may not leave any one individual of them to perish, implies a contradiction; because it supposes that such a one has a claim to God's favor, and is not justly liable to perish; which is contrary to the supposition. It is meet (right) that God should order all these things according to His own pleasure. By reason of His greatness and glory, by which He is infinitely above all, He is worthy to be Sovereign, and that His pleasure should in all things take place. He is worthy that He should make Himself His end, and that He should make nothing but His own wisdom His rule in pursuing that end, without asking leave or counsel of any, and without giving account of any of His matters. It is fit that He who is absolutely perfect, and infinitely wise, and the Fountain of all wisdom, should determine every thing [that He effects] by His own will, even things of the greatest importance. It is meet that He should be thus Sovereign, because He is the first being, the eternal being, whence all other beings are. He is the Creator of all things; and all are absolutely and universally dependent on Him; and therefore it is meet that He should act as the Sovereign possessor of heaven and earth." (Edwards, The Justice of God in the damnation of sinners)

Charles H. Spurgeon

"There is no attribute of God more comforting to his children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty hath ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend than the dominion of their Master over all creation - the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands - the throne of God, and His right to sit upon that throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by world-lings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne."

"We give our hand to every man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ, be he what he may or who he may. The doctrine of election, like the great act of election itself, is intended to divide, not between Israel and Israel, but between Israel and the Egyptians, not between saint and saint, but between saints and the children of the world. A man may be evidently of God's chosen family, and yet though elected, may not believe in the doctrine of election. I hold that there are many savingly called, who do not believe in effectual calling, and that there are a great many who persevere to the end, who do not believe the doctrine of final perseverance. We do hope the hearts of many are a great deal better than their heads. We do not set their fallacies down to any willful opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus but simply to an error in their judgments, which we pray God to correct. We hope that if they think us mistaken too, they will reciprocate the same Christian courtesy; and when we meet around the cross, we hope that we shall ever feel that we are one in Christ Jesus."

For two short but excellent articles on God's sovereignty and election in our salvation, please see the following two articles by John Samson:

God is at the Center

What is meant by Divine Election?

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Slave" By John MacArthur - Book Recommendation

By Justin Edwards

Last night Tony Miano of Living Waters posted an excellent review of John MacAthur's new book titled, Slave - The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. As I'm waiting for my free copy in the mail at the first of the year, Tony's review has stirred me with great anticipation. I trust the Lord will be glorified with MacArthur's efforts to edify the Body of Christ and illuminate each believer's rightful place as a slave to Christ.

Recommended Reading: "Slave" By John MacArthur

By Tony Miano

I have been a student of John MacArthur for almost twenty years. I've sat in the pew at his church and attended conferences to listen to him teach. I attended his seminary for a time. I've listened to him on the radio, and I've read many of his books. The first of MacArthur's books that I read was the first edition of "The Gospel According to Jesus." Again, that was almost twenty years ago. The Lord used this book to introduce me to the Doctrines of Grace--precious, biblical doctrines that have impacted every aspect of my life and my walk with Christ--from Bible study, to prayer, to handling life's trials, to evangelism. Next to the Bible, "The Gospel According to Jesus" has probably impacted my life more than any other book I have ever read.

John MacArthur's latest literary offering, "Slave," will, in all likelihood, send the same kind of theological shock-wave throughout modern evangelicalism that "The Gospel According To Jesus" did more than twenty years ago.

"The Gospel According To Jesus" upset the then evangelical status quo of inviting people to "accept Jesus" and encouraging them to "just come as you are" without submitting to Christ as Lord by asserting that unless you submit to the lordship of Christ, He is not and cannot be your Savior. While many within the Body of Christ found "The Gospel According To Jesus" to be both edifying and liberating, others went on the attack--assaulting what came to be known as "Lordship Salvation."  The attack against the lordship of Jesus Christ continues today through the dead and dying "seeker" and "emergent" church movements.

Whereas "The Gospel According To Jesus" focused on Christ's rightful place in the life of the believer, "Slave" focuses on the Christian's rightful place in relation to his or her King. And while "The Gospel According To The Apostles" was written as a sequel to "The Gospel According To Jesus," "Slave" also fits nicely as a sequel to the modern-day classic.

The etymological focus of the book centers on one Greek word--doulos, which is translated in most English versions of the Bible as the word "servant."  However, as MacArthur precisely shows, through sound historical-grammatical hermeneutics, doulos is properly translated as "slave," not "servant."

The book begins with a brief history lesson, which explains why translations as old as the King James Version and Geneva Bible improperly render the word doulos as "servant."  Although MacArthur does use the word "conspiracy" in relation to this discussion, he wastes no time delving into conspiratorial speculation.  Nor does he attack the integrity of Bible translators, past or present.  And, needless to say, there is nothing in the book that would leave any reasonable person--Christian or non-Christian--questioning the validity of the good Bible translations from today and antiquity, or questioning the infallibility or inerrancy of the Word of God.  Pastor MacArthur simply lays out the facts, focusing on both ancient and modern social mores and linguistic changes (i.e. Greek to Latin to English) over time that may have influenced translators regarding the word doulos.

What follows in the book is literally page after page of solid biblical study, which shows just how prevalent the Master/Slave paradigm is throughout the Scriptures--Old Testament, New Testament, the teachings of Jesus, and the teachings of the apostles. As he does so, Pastor MacArthur beautifully and biblically shows how important the Doctrines of Grace are to a proper understanding of the Master/Slave paradigm; and how a misunderstanding of these biblical doctrines can cause believers to misunderstand this all-important paradigm.

"Slave" also addresses the question some may have regarding the verses of Scripture that indicate the follower of Jesus Christ is His "friend, "co-heir," and "adopted child of God."  Pastor MacArthur closes Chapter Eleven with these words (pp. 175-76):

In Christ, we are no longer children of wrath and disobedience but are instead children of righteousness, submitting ourselves to our heavenly Father, whose holy character we are called and empowered to imitate.  Through Christ we have been set free.  We are no longer slaves to sin, to the fear of death, or to the condemnation of the law.  But we have been made slaves of God, for Christ, to righteousness.  Such is true freedom.  Thus, we are simultaneously sons and slaves.  The two realities are not mutually exclusive--even if the metaphors are different.  Forever we will be part of His family.  Forever we will be in His glorious servitude (Rev. 22:3).

As is the case with all of John MacArthur's books, the Gospel of Jesus Christ takes center stage in "Slave."  While the primary audience for this book is the Christian community, this is a book I would put into the hands of unbelievers as well.  While the provocative title and subject matter may draw the unbeliever's attention, the presence of the Law and the Gospel throughout the book can and will, I believe, be used by the Lord to draw the unbeliever to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

How often have I heard the angry argument that "the Bible teaches and condones slavery" from unbelievers who are merely trying to justify their unbelief, using their misunderstanding of Scripture to support their errant claims about the validity of the Bible and the Christian faith. "Slave" thoroughly answers this objection by showing the historical differences between First Century slavery and the slavery of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century America that is so rightly loathed by reasonable and caring people--Christians and non-Christians alike.  The only question is whether or not unbelievers who put their intellectual eggs into such flimsy baskets woven with objections like the "slavery argument" will have the intellectual integrity and courage to give the book an honest reading.  One can hope.

How often do you read the footnotes in a book?  Well, if you tend to overlook footnotes, you will not want to do that when reading "Slave."  The research compiled in this book, both biblical and extra-biblical, is outstanding.  And the footnotes provide not only supplementary data, but a treasure chest of information that enhances the reading experience.

While more than 200 pages in length, I read "Slave" in less than thirty hours (which included Christmas Day and all of the associated activities).  While scholarly to say the least, it proved to be a very readable volume for the layperson.  But beyond the book's readability, "Slave" is one of those books you will not want to put down. It was a joy to read.

I was both educated and edified as a result of reading this book.  I highly recommend "Slave" to any Christian who wants to grow in his or her faith and who wants to further establish a right understanding of the Christian's relationship to his or her Master.

I believe "Slave" could very well take its place alongside "The Gospel According To Jesus" as one of the most important works John MacArthur has ever written.  Assuming the Lord tarries, I believe its impact upon the Body of Christ will be felt for many years to come.

(HT: Doulos Iesou Christou)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Kwanzaa Deception

By Justin Edwards

BLACKS IN AMERICA have suffered an endless series of insults and degradations, the latest of which goes by the name of Kwanzaa. - The late Tony Snow

Kwanzaa is a made-up holiday invented by the racist Marxist Maulana Karenga in 1966 as an alternative celebration for blacks beginning the day after Christmas and ending on January 1. Karenga once said,

People think its African but its not, I came up with Kwanzaa because black people wouldn’t celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of bloods were partying.

Karenga also publicly espoused that Jesus was psychotic and Christianity was a white religion that blacks should shun (source).

The most disturbing part about Kwanzaa is that many who celebrate this holiday invented by a God-hater are professing black Christians. I have no doubt that some do so out of ignorance to what Karenga actually taught, however, it is important to speak the truth on this matter nevertheless. The bottom line is - Kwanzaa and Christianity are in no way compatible, just as Black Liberation Theology is in no way compatible with Christianity.

In an effort to honor expose this pagan holiday to shed light on its origins and challenge those who celebrate this unbiblical tradition, I will be posting a Kwanzaa article each day this week (December 26-January 1). I initially wanted to compile these articles in a single post, but felt there was too much that might be missed in doing so. Most of these articles are authored by black Christians who understand the fraudulence of Kwanzaa and Karenga's efforts to draw blacks away from Christianity. So with that, if you are sympathetic towards this fake holiday or participate in it yourself, I pray you will be open to what I present to you and exhort you to seek the Lord on this issue and ask Him to give you wisdom and discernment as to what this holiday actually represents.

No race, ethnicity, or nationality should be put on such a pedestal. Whether black, white, yellow, or brown, we all have one thing in common - our sin - and our focus must remain on the person and work of Jesus Christ, who alone is worthy of our worship and who alone is worthy to be exalted. If you are a black Christian who celebrates Kwanzaa, I leave you with these words from Karenga, which reduce Truth to mere myth:

In Christian and Jewish mythology, humans are born in sin, cursed with mythical ancestors who have sinned, and brought the wrath of an angry God on every generation head (source).

The first post of this series will serve to provide the socio-political background of Kwanzaa, which should give us a decent foundation before we delve into the spiritual and unbiblical aspect:

The TRUTH about Kwanzaa

By Tony Snow

BLACKS IN AMERICA have suffered an endless series of insults and degradations, the latest of which goes by the name of Kwanzaa.

Ron Karenga (aka Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga) invented the seven-day feast (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) in 1966, branding it a black alternative to Christmas. The idea was to celebrate the end of what he considered the Christmas-season exploitation of African Americans.

According to the official Kwanzaa Web site -- as opposed, say, to the Hallmark Cards Kwanzaa site -- the celebration was designed to foster "conditions that would enhance the revolutionary social change for the masses of Black Americans" and provide a "reassessment, reclaiming, recommitment, remembrance, retrieval, resumption, resurrection and rejuvenation of those principles (Way of Life) utilized by Black Americans' ancestors."

Karenga postulated seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith, each of which gets its day during Kwanzaa week. He and his votaries also crafted a flag of black nationalism and a pledge: "We pledge allegiance to the red, black, and green, our flag, the symbol of our eternal struggle, and to the land we must obtain; one nation of black people, with one G-d of us all, totally united in the struggle, for black love, black freedom, and black self-determination."

Now, the point: There is no part of Kwanzaa that is not fraudulent. Begin with the name. The celebration comes from the Swahili term "matunda yakwanza," or "first fruit," and the festival's trappings have Swahili names -- such as "ujima" for "collective work and responsibility" or "muhindi," which are ears of corn celebrants set aside for each child in a family.

Unfortunately, Swahili has little relevance for American blacks. Most slaves were ripped from the shores of West Africa. Swahili is an East African tongue.

To put that in perspective, the cultural gap between Senegal and Kenya is as dramatic as the chasm that separates, say, London and Tehran. Imagine singing "G-d Save the Queen" in Farsi, and you grasp the enormity of the gaffe.

Worse, Kwanzaa ceremonies have no discernible African roots. No culture on earth celebrates a harvesting ritual in December, for instance, and the implicit pledges about human dignity don't necessarily jibe with such still-common practices as female circumcision and polygamy. The inventors of Kwanzaa weren't promoting a return to roots; they were shilling for Marxism. They even appropriated the term "ujima," which Julius Nyrere cited when he uprooted tens of thousands of Tanzanians and shipped them forcibly to collective farms, where they proved more adept at cultivating misery than banishing hunger.

Even the rituals using corn don't fit. Corn isn't indigenous to Africa. Mexican Indians developed it, and the crop was carried worldwide by white colonialists.

The fact is, there is no Ur-African culture. The continent remains stubbornly tribal. Hutus and Tutsis still slaughter one another for sport.

Go to Kenya, where I taught briefly as a young man, and you'll see endless hostility between Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya and Masai. Even South African politics these days have more to do with tribal animosities than ideological differences.

Moreover, chaos too often prevails over order. Warlords hold sway in Somalia, Eritrea, Liberia and Zaire. Genocidal maniacs have wiped out millions in Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia. The once-shining hopes for Kenya have vanished.

Detroit native Keith Richburg writes in his extraordinary book, "Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa," that "this strange place defies even the staunchest of optimists; it drains you of hope ..."

Richburg, who served for three years as the African bureau chief for The Washington Post, offers a challenge for the likes of Karenga: "Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African brothers and I'll throw it back in your face, and then I'll rub your nose in the images of rotting flesh."

His book concludes: "I have been here, and I have seen -- and frankly, I want no part of it. .... By an accident of birth, I am a black man born in America, and everything I am today -- my culture and my attitudes, my sensibilities, loves and desires -- derives from that one simple and irrefutable fact."

Nobody ever ennobled a people with a lie or restored stolen dignity through fraud. Kwanzaa is the ultimate chump holiday -- Jim Crow with a false and festive wardrobe. It praises practices -- "cooperative economics, and collective work and responsibility" -- that have succeeded nowhere on earth and would mire American blacks in endless backwardness.

Our treatment of Kwanzaa provides a revealing sign of how far we have yet to travel on the road to reconciliation. The white establishment has thrown in with it, not just to cash in on the business, but to patronize black activists and shut them up.

This year, President Clinton signed his fourth Kwanzaa proclamation. He crooned: "The symbols and ceremony of Kwanzaa, evoking the rich history and heritage of African Americans, remind us that our nation draws much of its strength from our diversity."

But our strength, as Richburg points out, comes from real principles: tolerance, brotherhood, hard work, personal responsibility, equality before the law. If Americans really cared about racial healing, they would focus on those ideas -- and not on a made-up rite that mistakes segregationism for spirituality and fiction for history.

UPDATE:  Although I set out to post a 7-part series on Kwanzaa, I have decided to provide you the links for your own reading. Against my better judgment I planned on using airō resources to expand on this topic, but quite frankly Kwanzaa does not deserve more attention than a single post. Please forgive me for the confusion.

I invite you to read the following links to learn more about this fraudulent and deceptive holiday:

Kwanzaa Is for Pagans

The Kwanzaa Deception

Don't Let Anyone Fool You, Kwanzaa IS Religious!

The Truth About Kwanzaa - New ebook!

Kwanzaa Creator a Secular Kook, Convict

Kwanzaa - Racist Holiday from Hell

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Don't Believe in Vain This Christmas

By Justin Edwards

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 6:6

Over 2,000 years ago God entered the world to dwell among us (John 1:14) in order to accomplish many things, among them being to testify to the truth (John 18:37), to give life (John 10:10; 28), to be a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), to lay His life down for His sheep (John 10:11), to call sinners (Mark 2:17), to save that which was lost (Matthew 18:11), to preach His gospel (Luke 4:43), to atone for sin (Hebrews 2:17), to do the will of God (John 6:38), to proclaim freedom for believers (Luke 4:18), to bring judgment (John 9:39), and to redeem a holy and unblemished people for Himself, as Titus 2:14 says:

[Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 

But how many people truly understand the purpose for which Christ came? Millions around the world will be celebrating the holiday called Christmas for one reason or another. Many of these are faithful Christians remembering the birth of their Savior; many of these are professing Christians remembering their annual duty to sing carols, give to the poor, and attend the semi-annual church service (let's not forget Easter Sunday attendance to check off the list); yet many others use this holiday to weigh themselves down with the things of this world (Matthew 6:19), whether or not they give lip service to Jesus at all. Still, there are many Christians who have given up on Christmas altogether because of its pagan roots or are overwhelmed with the glorified materialism it represents today. Even so, no matter which category you may find yourself in, Jesus Christ did come 2,000 years ago, and He is coming again.

The saddest part of Christmas is that the majority of those participating spend more time preparing for this single day than they do preparing for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and eternity. Just as there are over 300 fulfilled prophecies that predicted the first coming of Christ, there are many, many prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled that include prophecies leading up to the return of Christ and prophecies pertaining to His 2nd coming and the establishment of His earthly and eternal kingdoms. This time, however, He is not coming as a baby or a humble servant, lowly and meek calling upon men to follow Him. No, He is coming to destroy those who have rejected Him as Lord. No longer is He a "newborn king", but He is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords, and this Mighty King is coming with a sword to slay His enemies in the fury of His wrath,

in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

Have you obeyed the Gospel? For a moment on this day, take some time to reflect on these things. Forget about the hoopla of Christmas and the holiday cheer. Forget about your service to the poor and your church attendance. Think about your soul and where it might spend the rest of eternity. This Jesus who came to save that which was lost and to call sinners, did so only for those who see themselves as lost and as sinners. My friend, my desire is not to put a damper on your Christmas holiday, but to challenge you to examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith, to see if you are truly saved by the grace of God, to see if you truly have eternal life, and to be sure you have been truly saved from eternal hell (2 Corinthians 13:5).

If there is any inkling whatsoever of you trusting in yourself to be good enough to go to heaven, or you think that merely professing faith in Christ without bearing any fruit of grace is a valid "ticket to heaven", then please let me warn you: the man that God has saved is a man that God has changed (2 Corinthians 5:17). Simply believing in Christ without the power of His resurrection being a reality in your life will not be enough for you on the day of judgment. It is only by the righteousness of Jesus Christ that you may enter heaven, and the first step in being clothed in His righteousness is being poor in Spirit. Just last night I read a work by Albert Martin on the Practical Implications of Calvinism, where he proclaimed:

Poverty of spirit results from just getting a sight of what you really are, and seeing that you are nothing and have nothing and can do nothing that can commend yourself to the grace and saving favour of God; it results from the conviction that he could make you an eternal monument of his righteous wrath, and let you perish in the eternal burning. Have you been brought to some experimental acquaintance with that? If not, I doubt whether you can claim that Christ is your Saviour, for he said that he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. The poor in spirit have been made consciously aware of their depravity and sin.

Once recognizing yourself as a depraved sinner, by the grace of God, being broken over your great offenses against a holy God, your heart will be ripe to turn from your sin and follow the Lord Jesus Christ in humble submission. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:9-10, 13

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation...13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

This is reality, and one you must embrace in order to receive the blessing of eternal life. When you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, He will plant in you new desires to hunger and thirst for righteousness, which will lead to you being conformed to the image of Christ. On the reality of God's electing purpose being realized in the life of the professing Christian (Romans 8:29), Martin declares,

He chose me in Christ that, being purchased in time and called in time, I might begin to be holy in time, and have that work perfected in eternity. The only assurance I have that I was purchased to be holy, and will be perfected in holiness, is that I am pursuing holiness here and now. Essentially holiness is conformity to the revealed will of God in thought, word and deed, through the power of the Holy Spirit and through union with Jesus Christ. Holiness, godliness, this is the evidence that his electing purpose has come to life and fruition and it finds its expression in obedience. That is why John can say in 1 John 2:5, ‘Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected’. It finds its designed end in the one who keeps the Word of God. Is there clear evidence that I am experiencing communion with Jesus Christ through his Word? For he has called me into fellowship with himself, and if I have been effectually called then I am no stranger to experimental acquaintance with the Lord.

Are you pursuing holiness now? From the day you once professed faith in Christ, is there evidence that you are being conformed to the likeness of the Son of God?  If not, do you want to pursue holiness now and do you want to be conformed to Christ?

How many more Christmases are you promised? How many more days are you promised? While it is nice to remember the birth of Jesus, wouldn't it be tragic if you are doing so in vain? I challenge you to truly examine your heart and make this Christmas the most important day of your life. This world and its lusts are passing away (1 John 2:16-17), but the Kingdom of God and those blessed to be heirs of it, those who are born again, will reign forever and ever. While you sing "joy to the world" this weekend, make sure you have experienced true Joy, Hope, and Peace through true faith in Jesus Christ, which will be manifested by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, Jesus came to this earth with a divine purpose 2,000 years ago through the miracle of the virgin birth, but make sure you do not believe in vain through a mere head knowledge of this fact, and experience the greatest miracle of all - that of being born again.

To my dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, may God's grace increasingly abound in you as we wait for Him to come once again, and may that Day come soon!

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. - Isaiah 6:7

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Are You Born Again?

By J.C. Ryle

This is one of the most important questions in religion. Jesus Christ says, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God"-John 3:3.

Are you born again? It is not enough to reply, "I belong to the church; and I suppose I am." Thousands of nominal Christians have none of the marks and signs of being born again which the Scripture has given us.

Would you like to know the marks and signs of being born again? Give me your attention, and I will show them to you out of the first epistle of John.

First of all, John says, "Whoever is born of God does not commit sin;" and again, "Whoever is born of God sins not."-I John 3:9; 5:18. A man born again, or regenerate, does not commit sin as a habit. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination, as an unregenerate man does. There was probably a time when he did not think whether his actions were sinful or not, and never felt grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. Now he hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, counts it his greatest plague, groans under the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be delivered from it altogether. In one word, sin no longer pleases him, nor is even a matter of indifference; it has become the abominable thing which he hates. He cannot prevent its dwelling within him. If he said he had no sin, there would be no truth in him (I John 1:8). But he can say that he cordially abhors it, and the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts arising within him, and short-comings, omissions, and defects appearing, both in his words and actions. He knew, as James says that "In many things we offend all" (James 3:2). But he can say truly, and as in the sight of God, that things are a daily grief and sorrow to him, and that his whole nature does not consent unto them.

I place this mark before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Secondly, John says, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God"-I John 5:1.

A man born again, or regenerate, then, believes that Jesus Christ is the only Savior by whom his soul can be pardoned; that He is the divine person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and that beside Him there is no Savior at all. In himself he sees nothing but unworthiness, but in Christ he sees ground for the fullest confidence, and trusting in Him he believes that his sins are all forgiven. He believes that for the sake of Christ's finished work and death upon the cross, he is reckoned righteous in God's sight, and may look forward to death and judgment without alarm. He may have his fears and doubts. He may sometimes tell you he feels as if he had not faith at all. But ask him whether he will rest his hopes of eternal life on his own goodness, his own amendments, his prayers, his minister, or his church, and see what he will reply. Ask him whether he will give up Christ, and place his confidence in any other way of religion. Depend upon it, he would say that though he does feel weak and bad, he would not give up Christ for all the world. Depend upon it, he would say he found preciousness in Christ, a suitableness to his own soul in Christ, that he found nowhere else, and that he must cling to him.

I place this mark before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Thirdly, John says, "Every one that does righteousness is born of Him"-I John 2:29.

The man born again, or regenerate, then is, a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God's will, to do the things that please God, to avoid the things that God hates. His aim and desire is to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself. His wish is to be continually looking to Christ as his example as well as his Savior, and to show himself Christ's friend by doing whatever Christ commands. No doubt he is not perfect. None will tell you that sooner than himself. He groans under the burden of indwelling corruption cleaving to him. He finds an evil principle within him constantly warring against Grace, and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence. In spite of all shortcomings, the average bent and bias of his way is holy-his doings are holy, his tastes holy, and his habits holy. In spite of all this swerving and turning aside, like a ship beating up against a contrary wind, the general course of his life is in one direction-toward God and for God. And though he may sometimes fell so low that he questions whether he is a Christian at all, he will generally be able to say with old John Newton, "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be in another world, but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the Grace of God I am what I am."

I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fourthly, John says, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren"-I John 3:14.

A man born again, or regenerate, then, has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who are of one mind with himself. Like his Lord and Savior, he loves the worst of sinners, and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company. He is never so happy as when he is among the saints and the excellent of the earth. Others may value learning, or cleverness, or agreeableness, or riches or rank, in the society they choose. The regenerate man values Grace. Those who have most Grace, and are most like Christ, are those he most loves. He feels that they are members of the same family with himself. He feels that they are his fellow-soldiers, warring against the same enemy. He feels that they are his fellow-travelers, journeying along the same road. He understands them, and they understand him. He and they may be very different in many ways-in rank, in station, in wealth. What matter? They are Jesus Christ's people. They are his Father's sons and daughters. Then he cannot help loving them.

I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fifthly, John says, "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world"-I John 5:4.

A man born again, or regenerate, does not make the world's opinion his rule of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the stream of the world's way, notions and customs. "What man will say?" is no longer a turning-point with him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which most around him call happiness. He cannot enjoy their enjoyments: they weary him: they appear to him vain, unprofitable, and unworthy of an immortal being. He overcomes the fear of the world. He is content to do many things which all around him think unnecessary, to say the least. They blame him: it does not move him. They ridicule him: he does not give way. He loves the praise of God more than the praise of men. He fears offending Him more than giving offense to man. He has counted the cost. It is a small thing with him no whether he is blamed or praised. He is no longer the servant of fashion and custom. To please the world is quite a secondary consideration with him. His first aim is to please God.

I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Sixthly, John says, "He that is begotten of God keeps himself"-I John 5:18.

A man born again, or regenerate, is very careful of his own soul. He endeavors not only to keep clear of sin, but also to keep clear of everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He feels that evil communications corrupt the heart, and that evil is for more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the employment of his time: his chief desire about it is to spend it profitably. He is careful about the friendships he forms: it is not enough for him that people are kind and amiable and good-natured; all this is very well; but will they do good to his soul? He is careful over his own daily habits and behavior: he tries to recollect that his own heart is deceitful, the world full of wickedness, and the devil always laboring to do him harm; and, therefore, he would sincerely be always on his guard. He desires to live like a solider in an enemy's country, to wear his armor continually, and to be prepared for temptation. He finds by experience that his soul is ever among enemies, and he studies to be watchful, humble, and prayerful man.

I place this mark also before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Such are the six great marks of being born again. Let every one who has gone so far with me, read them over with attention, and lay them to heart.

I know there is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks in different people. In some they are faint, dim, feeble, and hardly to be discerned. In others they are bold, sharp, clear, plain, and unmistakable, so that any one may read them. Some of these marks are more visible in some, and others are more visible in others. It seldom happens that all are equally manifest in one and the same soul. All this I am quite ready to allow.

But still after every allowance, here we find boldly painted six marks of being born of God. Here is an inspired Apostle writing one of the last general epistles to the Church of Christ, telling us that a man born of God, Does not commit sin, Believes that Jesus is the Christ, Does righteousness, Loves the brethren, Overcomes the world, and Keeps himself. I ask the reader to observe all this.

Now what shall we say to these things? What they can say who hold that regeneration is only an admission to outward church privileges, I am sure I do not know. For myself I say boldly, I can only come to one conclusion. That conclusion is, that only those people are born again who have these six marks about them; and that all men and women who have not these marks, are not born again. And I firmly believe that this is the conclusion to which the Apostle wished us to come.

Reader, have you these marks? Are you born again?

(HT: O Christian Articles)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Terrorism Threat on Food - Public Information Release

By Justin Edwards

CBS News reported on Monday that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is plotting to poison salad bars and food buffets at multiple hotels and restaurants over a single weekend. While there is no specific or imminent threat, Homeland Security officials have determined the threats to be credible. You can see the CBS News video at this link: New Terror Threat Targets U.S. Food.

The Department of Homeland Security is pushing out a public document to raise awareness and to report suspicious activity. I received the document this morning and have uploaded here: If You See Something, Say Something. Please distribute to your business contacts, family, and friends, especially to those in the food industry. Even if you do not work in the food industry, some of the guidelines in the document should be acknowledged for when you visit restaurants and hotels, such as

  • Person(s) taking notes, drawings, photos, or videos of your business
  • Person(s) conducting surveillance of self-service areas (i.e., salad bars, condiment areas, and open bulk containers)
  • Person(s) attempting to gain access to restricted or unauthorized areas
  • Unattended vehicles illegally parked near your business
  • Unattended items (e.g., backpacks, boxes) within or near your business

There is much chatter of terrorist activity among intelligence agencies, which is clearly overflowing into news sources these last couple of weeks. As there is a heightened state of alert over the holiday season due to critical threats of terrorism, please remember to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Should you see any sort of suspicious activity, do not hesitate to report to authorities.

For those who may have missed it on Monday, I provided some resources to help your family plan for major emergencies: Disaster Preparedness for Your Family.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jesus Is Savior and Lord

From John MacArthur's Strength for Today

“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name . . . that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”, Philippians 2:9, 11

The Jesus who is Savior cannot be separated from the Jesus who is Lord.
Scripture never speaks of any human being’s making Jesus Lord. It is God who made Him Lord (Acts 2:36). Yet we often read statements such as this: “It is imperative to trust Christ as personal Savior and be born again. But that is only the first decision. Trusting Christ as Savior and then making Him Lord are two separate and distinct decisions. The two decisions may be close or distant in time. Salvation must always precede lordship. But it is possible to be saved without ever making Christ Lord of your life.” In effect that is saying Christ isn’t Lord unless we give Him permission—a completely unbiblical assertion. To be saved you must confess Jesus as Lord.

Jesus is called Lord throughout the New Testament. To omit the lordship of Christ from invitations to salvation would result in the elimination of numerous passages of Scripture. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2—“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21)—would need to be modified. Paul and Silas’ method of presenting the gospel—“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31)—would need to be corrected.

The centrality of the lordship of Christ is clear in the New Testament gospel. The Jesus who is Savior cannot be separated from the Jesus who is Lord. God cannot be separated from His authority, dominion, rulership, and right to command. When we acknowledge that Jesus is God, we mean He is all that God is.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Worship the Lord Jesus Christ, using Psalm 8, a Messianic psalm, as the basis of your prayer.

For Further Study:

Jesus is called Lord over 700 times in the New Testament. Use a Bible concordance as a handy way to check some of these many references to Christ as Lord.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Disaster Preparedness for Your Family

By Justin Edwards

Most of you do not know my professional field of work is in bioterrorism response. While my world is  likely quite different than yours in terms of thinking about natural or man-made disasters, I find it troubling that most people I talk to in casual conversations have no sort of disaster plan for themselves or their families. Although Americans have been through several catastrophic events over the last decade, the public is largely complacent when it comes to disaster preparedness. We have mostly lost touch with the reality of another 9/11 (or worse) because we live by the lie that "ignorance is bliss" and have our proverbial heads in the sand. The truth is, we are overdue for a major catastrophe here in America as the world continues to contract with the birth pangs of the end times, and when the inevitable comes, most Americans will find themselves in panic having no idea what to do or how to survive the worst-case scenario.

In a follow-up to last week's post, Merry Terror?, I'd like to provide you with some resources to encourage you to think about and prepare your family for an impending disaster. These resources will help you plan for a man-made disaster (intentional or incidental) or natural catastrophe (2010, by the way, was the deadliest year of disaster in more than a generation as earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people). While I am not promoting or endorsing hording, preparing your family for the short term following any type of disaster is merely taking steps to be responsible for the health and safety of your family. Depending on the government to help you is not an option, so it must start with the wisdom and resources God provides you to get through these events.

To use the old cliche, it's not a matter of if these things will happen, but when they will happen. There are dark days ahead with a frail economy, rumors of war and terrorism, and an increase in natural disasters. As Christians eagerly awaiting our Savior's return, we are to expect these things and not be afraid, but we can take steps now to be prepared for when disaster strikes.

Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer or point you in the right direction.

1. CDC - Personal Preparedness for Bio/Chem/Rad/Nuc Terrorism

The possibility of public health emergencies arising in the United States concerns many people in the wake of recent hurricanes, tsunamis, acts of terrorism, and the threat of pandemic influenza. Though some people feel it is impossible to be prepared for unexpected events, the truth is that taking preparedness actions helps people deal with disasters of all sorts much more effectively when they do occur.

To help, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Red Cross have teamed up to answer common questions and provide step by step guidance you can take now to protect you and your loved ones.

2. FEMA Basic Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Are You Ready? provides a step-by-step approach to disaster preparedness by walking the reader through how to get informed about local emergency plans, how to identify hazards that affect their local area, and how to develop and maintain an emergency communications plan and disaster supplies kit. Other topics covered include evacuation, emergency public shelters, animals in disaster, and information specific to people with disabilities.

3. Ready.Gov (How to Prepare a Kit)

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.

4. Emergency Supplies (Vendor)

“Helping People Prepare…for over 20 years. Offering Food Storage, Emergency Kits, Water Filtration, First Aid, MRE (Meals Ready to Eat), Survival Kits, Camping Gear, disaster preparedness and more! We are committed to serving you with over 900 products!"

5. Family Disaster Plan (Checklist and Guideline)

This booklet is a plan template and is intended to give you a format and possible suggestions about information you might want to include in a family disaster plan. It is not all inclusive and should be modified by the user as needed. Each individual or family should adapt this plan to their specific needs or requirements.

6. American Red Cross 

Do you know what to do? Do you have a plan? Fire, police and emergency medical services may be delayed in responding. You need to learn what to do, have a plan, and be prepared to take care of yourself, your family and your community. 

7. Nuclear Preparedness (Power Plants)

We always expect our nuclear stations to operate safely, but in the unlikely event of a nuclear station emergency, we want you to be prepared. We’ve prepared emergency planning information in conjunction with the states and counties around our nuclear facilities. These plans are designed to protect you. If you hear sirens, we want you to know what they mean and what you need to do. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Global Peace, Stability, and Unity Through Interfaith Cooperation

By Justin Edwards

As the world scrambles to avoid world war, stifle economic collapse, and strengthen global governance,  it is fascinating to see the call for religious unity to be their best hope to achieving these efforts. The Jordan Times is reporting today that King Abdullah of Jordan is seeking to bring security among the nations through interfaith dialogue. In a time where the world is on the brink of total chaos by threats of war, terrorism, pandemics, crashing economies, and religious intolerance, this push to bridge religions and cultures by Abdullah could not have been more timely. In fact, it's just on time, prophetically speaking.

The Bible tells us that before the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the world will be in turmoil and doing everything in its power to bring peace and unity to the nations through global governance, a global economy, and global religious unity. Of course, these efforts are ultimately to transfer global power to the Antichrist government as he prepares to build an army looking to destroy Christianity and overthrow God Himself. In the end, however, Jesus Christ will return at the brink of Armageddon to destroy evil and set up His earthly kingdom. Until that day, we are fortunate to be living in a time to see these prophetic chess pieces move into place, such as the efforts being made by King Abdullah. The Jordan Times reports:

In his address at the European People’s Party (EPP) summit, delivered in the presence of 20 presidents and prime ministers, EU institution chiefs and opposition leaders, along with HRH Prince Ghazi, His Majesty outlined Jordan’s efforts in interfaith dialogue, stressing the need for joint efforts to spread the values of peace and tolerance (source).

Abdullah stressed, 

We have systematically worked on easing intra- and inter-religious tensions, which pose a serious threat to our collective security (source).

According to the Jordan Times, King Abdullah invoked a message "to spread harmony and love among the world's 1.5 billion Muslims", and referred to a 2007 initiative called "A Common Word".  Abdullah stated:

Through this open letter by 138 Muslim scholars to the leaders of the Christian churches, we sought to promote Muslim-Christian harmony.

Upon further investigation of "A Common Word", I discovered this initiative is embraced by Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury. According to the "Official Website of A Common Word's" Abridgment and Summary page:

The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity.

On this Christian Responses page of the same website, you will find a smorgasbord of ecumenical leaders and churches endorsing this interfaith cooperation, including the Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Tony Blair, the president from the Princeton Theological Seminary, and the stated chairman from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the latter of whom stated:

In issuing "A Common Word Between Us and You," Muslim religious leaders and scholars from around the world have invited Christians to come together in pursuit of peace and justice, rooted in the principles of love of the One God, and love of our neighbors found in both our faiths.

I welcome this invitation and the careful articulation of the Qur'anic and biblical ideas underlying it. A Common Word offers much that is worth our study and consideration (source).

Other church organizations endorsing the movement include the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Baptist World Alliance, Disciples of Christ, Columbia Theological Seminary, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and dozens more. The stench of liberal ecumenism is overwhelming.

In his address on Thursday, King Abdullah put his foot forward by declaring,

This year, Jordan took the message of religious peace and love to the whole world. We did so by initiating "World Interfaith Harmony Week", which will be held the first week of February each year...[this will be] a voluntary occasion for people to express their own religious teachings about tolerance, respect for others and peace, [hoping it will] help more people come together (source).

The Jordan Times informs that Abdullah's following words were that of the "A Common Word" open letter, which calls for tolerance of "difference, mutual respect and fairness":

Let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works (source).

King Abdullah also stressed how critical it was for the Middle East to achieve peace through a two-state solution between the Palestinians and Israel, as  “nothing less can bring the regional, and indeed the global stability, we need in today’s dangerous era”(source). He continued,

For Palestinians, it is a secure future, in an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state on their own national soil...For Israelis, it is the real security that acceptance and normal relations bring, not just with immediate neighbours, but with 57 Arab and Muslim countries, one-third of the UN...For the Middle East, it is the security of a region at peace, able to devote resources to development and progress, and for the global community, it is the security of a global alliance for moderation and justice...If negotiations do not succeed, the two-state solution, the only solution that can work, might not be possible...If that hope is killed, we can anticipate much more vicious warfare. Europe, the US and other countries have already been dragged into regional conflicts. New catastrophic scenarios would only drag the world in deeper (source).

The Jordan Times article goes on to explain Abdullah's calls for economic cooperation in the European-Mediterranean region, and that "an opportunity-rich future is one of the most effective answers to extremist agitation" (source). Stressing the importance of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Jordan Times reported,

The King said that the alternative to seeking progress towards this solution is further tensions and conflicts that would hinder efforts to achieve security and stability in and outside the region and pose threats to the US, European and international strategic interests (source).

There is just so much of prophetic significance pact into this single article. The Jordanian King is making every effort to bring about religious harmony and Middle East peace for the sake of global security and economic stability. The writing is on the wall for these things to be realized, even though any sort of peace and stability will be very short-lived according to Scripture. A day is soon coming where the people of the earth see the four horseman of the apocalypse be called forth by as the Lamb of God opens the seals of the scroll in Revelation 6. These judgments against the earth will soon follow the confirmation of a peace accord between Israel and the Antichrist on behalf of the world. The globe will be further deceived as the harlot of idolatry brings together all religions to worship the Antichrist and his image, for they will have trusted in him for the world's salvation as he brings about temporary peace and prosperity. But those who do not pledge their loyalty to this Antichrist will be subject to his wrath (Revelation 13:15).

Praise God the story does not end there. For those who place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent from their sins, there is great hope to be expected as the King comes to set up His eternal reign. If you have doubts about your salvation or are living a lifestyle contrary to the call to holiness, or perhaps you know you have yet to surrender your life to Christ, you can do that today. This article clearly reveals that Scripture is coming alive before us, and any moment, literally any moment, the final dominoes will fall.

The world is soon coming under the judgment of Almighty God. For those covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, we need not worry about the future. However, those who continue down the path of destruction have every reason to worry, both in this life and the next. If you would like to learn more about these things or how you can be sure of where you will spend eternity, please leave a comment or contact me privately. That is the very purpose of this blog. Don't play with your eternity any longer, and receive assurance of salvation today.

The footsteps of the Messiah are rapidly approaching, don't wait any longer.

95 Theses to the Modern Evangelical Church

By Justin Edwards

Just as Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Church Door in 1517 to dispute the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, Sermonindex founder Greg Gordon has posted 95 Theses to the Modern Evangelical Church to the proverbial door of the internet to dispute the corruption in the [post]modern evangelical church.

In a day where the church continues down the road of apostasy with many returning to the religious bondage of Rome; where false teachers are leading God's sheep astray; where people have heaped up teachers for themselves to tickle their itching ears; where God's Word is abused and twisted to fit liberal agendas; where God's love is overemphasized at the expense of His other attributes such as His holiness, righteousness, and justness; where relativism is more popular and accepted than God's absolute truth; where the visible church has conformed to the ways of the world to appease unregenerate people; where sin is tolerated and holiness is mocked; where the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is mutilated and watered down in order to fill CEO-led mega churches; where repentance is lost and easy-believism is hailed; where sanctification and discipleship is an option for the "believer"; where potential false converts are forbidden by "mature" Christians to examine themselves; and where the grace of our Lord is turned into lasciviousness, these 95 Theses to the Modern Evangelical Church could not have been more timely.

As Greg Gordon so gracefully said in opening his theses,

May God in His mercy come and revive North American Christianity for His glory alone. “May the Lamb of God receive the reward of His sufferings in our lives today!”

Indeed, and may these be received in the same humility as they were written, and may there be a remnant in the visible church who boldly rises up as the unashamed and true Body of Christ to flee from these houses of idolatry and zealously return to her first love through repentance. Soli deo Gloria!

1. The “church” at large has forgotten that the chief end of man is to glorify God. (Rom 16:27; 1Cor 6:20; Mt 6:9; 1Cor 10:31)

2. Christians ignore most of the methods, practices and principles found in the book of Acts. (Acts 2:42,44; Acts 2:46; Acts 2:38)

3. Many treat “church” like any other social club or sports event that they might attend. (Acts 2:46; Heb 10:25; Acts 1:14)

4. We’ve made Christianity about the individual rather than the community of believers. (Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12; 2Tim 4:16)

5. In most “churches” the priesthood of all believers isn’t acknowledged and the role of pastor is abused. (1Pt 2:9; 1Cor 12:12; Eph 4:11-13)

6. The “church” as a whole has lost the concept of their being grafted into the promises given to Israel. (Rom 11:15, 17-18, 20, 25)

7. There needs to be a recovery of teaching the whole counsel of God, especially in expository form. (Acts 20:27; 1Tim 4:6, 2Tim 2:15)

8. We take it too lightly that we have the blessing and honor of having God’s Scriptures in our possession. (Ps 119:16; Acts 13:44; Neh 8:9)

9. There has never been more access to the Word of God, yet so little reading of it. (1Tim 4:13; Neh 8:1-3; Ps 119:59)

10. Some read the Scriptures to attain knowledge, but do not practice what they read. (Ja 1:22; Mt 7:21; 3Jn 4)

11. Worship has become an idol in many “churches.” The music often resembles that of the world. (Amos 5:23; Phil 4:8; 1Jn 5:21)

12. The world is shaping the views of the “church” more than the “church” shaping the world. (Rom 12:2; Mt 5:13; 1Cor 1:22-23)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Introducing My Family

By Justin Edwards

This fall we had our family portraits made after the recent arrival of our son, Jonah. As many of you may have no idea what I look like, I thought this might be a nice way to share me and my family with you. I did my best with cropping these proofs to make them fit the blog. God has truly blessed me with my wife, Jennifer, and children, Novella and Jonah. I hope you enjoy!

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. - Matthew 19:6

A Heart for Israel

By Justin Edwards

Today's Scripture passage for facebook is Hebrews 8:8-12, where the writer to the Hebrews recites the prophecy from Jeremiah 31:31-34 revealing the new covenant God has with His people, Israel.

For he finds fault with them when he says:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

My brethren, we live in the day where these things are coming to pass. For 2 millennium, God's focus has been on the Church, those who come under the blood of Jesus Christ whether Jew or Gentile. But this age is coming to a close, and more and more Jews are recognizing Jesus, Yeshua Ha'Mashiach, as their Messiah. There is coming a day when all of Israel will recognize the Messiah (Romans 11:26), which will happen during the Great Tribulation. In the meantime, we must shower the Jewish people with love and share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with them. This is not done at the expense of not loving other peoples such as the Palestinian Arabs, but we must also not turn our backs on the people of God for the sake of social justice. Israel as a nation may be secular, but we must remember the Gospel is first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

I invite you to watch or listen to this very special message where my pastor, Loran Livingston, teaches from Luke 1:39-56 and shares his heart for the Jewish people while condemning the false teaching of Replacement Theology. The Church must have a heart for the Jews as we are nearing the day when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25). I hope this message renews your love and compassion for God's people, and make sure you listen to the end for a special message and prayer from a Jewish brother in Christ, who happens to be the nephew of Richard Wurmbrand.

A Heart for Israel mp3

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Terror?

By Justin Edwards

The holiday season each year routinely raises alert levels among counter-terrorism agencies, but with the failed plot by the underwear bomber last Christmas day and numerous foiled plots in Europe and the United States in 2010, authorities have their work cut out for them over these next couple of weeks. What's more, Iraqi authorities are reporting that al Qaeda is planning suicide attacks in the United States and Europe during the Christmas holidays.

Drudge is running a major headline from the Associated Press that two insurgents have confessed these planned attacks to Iraqi senior officials. The Iraqi government has reported these claims as "critical threats" to Interpol and the U.S. Security Council this week. Allegedly among these plots were the suicide bombing in Sweden last weekend claimed the insurgents, who insist to be part of a cell taking its orders directly from al Qaeda's central leadership. Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told the Associated Press,

Several members of this terrorist group have direct links with the central leaders of the al Qaeda organization.  Those captured represent the main structure of the al Qaeda organization in Iraq (source).

Having recently attended a counter-terrorism conference in November, I am confident that al Qaeda operatives are entrenched on American soil. For years our borders have given criminals and terrorists easy access to the U.S., using coyotes (smugglers) to import weapons, money, drugs, and people, including terrorists and parts for WMDs. In his book, The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World, Paul Williams details how Hezbollah and HAMAS have positioned themselves with Mexico's narcoterrorist groups and high profile gangs, such as MS-13, to smuggle these goods and terrorists into the United States. In his August 2009 article, MS-13 Smuggles Muslim Terrorists into the United States, Williams writes:

Mideast Prophecy Update 2010 - 2011 (Part 2)

PART TWO – What Should We Watch For In 2011

By Bill Salus

Read part one now

Israel is prepared to strategically strike Iran’s nuclear sites. This past September I spoke with retired Israeli Defense Forces General Shimon Erem who confirmed Saudi Arabia opened up a thin strip of air for Israel to attack Iran. It’s interesting that no Jewish Synagogue can be constructed in Saudi Arabia, but Israeli war planes are now allowed to fly overhead as long as they are on route to attack Iran. (Picture of Bill Salus and I.D.F. General Shimon Erem)

The open Saudi airspace, pending $60 billion arms deal with America, and the Wikileaks statements that the Saudis told the U.S. to “Cut off the head of the (Iranian) snake,” add credence to suspicions the Saudis are desperately concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. This clock is ticking.

The apparent reasons Israel has refrained from attacking Iran thus far:
1. Sanctions needed time to work.
2. Diplomatic efforts toward Mideast peace were underway and remotely possible.
3. The Stuxnet virus and other related covert efforts inside Iran partially disrupted some aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.
4. It could provoke Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas to join Iran in a multi-front war imposing significant Israeli casualties.
5. It could initiate unpredictable retaliatory responses from Iran and its proxies, like international terror and / or restricted oil production that could adversely affect America and other parts of the international community.

Interestingly, end time’s expert Jimmy DeYoung informed a group of us attending the Pre-Trib rapture conference in December, 2010 that Prime Minister Netanyahu informed him there were two red lines Israel would not allow Iran to cross;

1. The receipt from Russia of the S-300 missile defense system,
2. The development or acquisition of a weapon of mass destruction.

The missile defense system, which Iran has contracted Russia to deliver, would hinder Israel’s ability to attack Iran through surface to air missiles and endanger Israeli Air Forces in an air assault. Netanyahu takes Ahmadinejad’s genocidal threats to wipe Israel off the map literally and seriously.

Additionally, DeYoung informed us a movement for a Palestinian state within the United Nations is already underway. This movement threatens to set retro borders for the Palestinian state based upon the territories as they were before June 6, 1967 when Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and other additional land. Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have already accepted such a Palestinian State against harsh rebuke from Israel. Similarly, Venezuela is expected to soon follow course.

Possible events to be watchful of in 2011 are:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mideast Prophecy Update 2010 -2011 (Part 1)

PART ONE - Looking Through the Rear View Mirror At 2010

By Bill Salus

As the door shuts on 2010, American led Middle East peace efforts have officially unraveled. The Obama administration has backed away for now from pressuring Israel into extending its moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In the absence of peace we are reminded Israel, which equipped its citizens earlier this year with gas masks, remains war ready as 2011 approaches.

Even though 2010 has as of yet escaped a Mideast military conflict and a global financial collapse, by no means did it insulate humanity from the potential for either. The fact that Mideast war was averted in 2010 means it’s overdue in 2011. As we stand on the unstable threshold of the New Year it is helpful to review some 2010 Mideast events. In so doing it might reasonably be concluded that 2011 could be the year the Middle East goes apocalyptic.

In November 2009 the Obama administration hailed Israel’s decision to temporarily halt all residential building in the West Bank. This good will gesture opened up a ten-month window for Mideast peace talks to resume. However, as the world entered into 2010 Mideast peace remained elusive. Throughout most of 2010 Mideast peace talks were at best “indirect.” It wasn’t until September 2, 2010 that the Obama Administration seriously attempted to jump start “direct” Mideast peace talks.

To the Obama administration’s chagrin, but to nobody’s surprise, three weeks later on September 26, Israel’s temporary moratorium freeze on settlements and direct peace talks concluded. At the time Obama seemed content to leave Mideast matters alone as he was preoccupied with the November 2, 2010 midterm elections. Some analyst attributed Obama’s decision to concerns many of his Democratic colleagues were running against pro-Israel Republicans and pressuring Israel further could complicate their already compromised campaigns.

In June, 2010 I wrote an article outlining a series of alarming Mideast events spanning April to June linked here called Mighty Muscles Flex in the Mideast. It would be helpful to read the chronology of events outlined in the article before going further.


By Justin Edwards

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. - 2 Timothy 2:3-4

When you think of soldiers, what are the first things that come to mind? Training, warfare, honor, courage, endurance, affliction, pain, sacrifice, battle wounds, and death. How about reward? The greatest honor a soldier could ever receive is dying for his or her country on the battlefield. This is also the greatest honor a born again Christian will receive for suffering, even unto death, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:4; Matthew 5:11-12). Most people reading this blog will likely not face this kind of persecution (martyrdom) unless, of course, we enter into that last stage of human history where there will be great persecution of the Body of Christ before His glorious return. So how shall we live daily as soldiers up until that day we may have to indeed physically forsake even our own life for the cause of Christ?

As born again Christians, the will of God for our lives is clear - our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). Yet so many professing Christians struggle with not only knowing the obvious will of God for their lives, but how to overcome the various sins in their life. While we do not cooperate with God in our salvation since it is completely His work, sanctification, on the other hand, is a cooperative relationship with the Holy Spirit. We find many commands in Scripture where we are ordered to "put to death our members", "crucify our flesh", "put off the old man", "purify ourselves", and flee from sin. Rest assured, those sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of Redemption will indeed be sanctified, and this will be accomplished one way or another - easily by our absolute submission to the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1-2), or difficultly by the loving discipline of the Father (Hebrews 12:7-8).

The bottom line is this: WE MUST MAKE WAR WITH OUR FLESH! We must understand that the moment we counted the cost and surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, whether we fully understood this  reality or not, we crucified our flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Further, as we have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and have been buried with Him through baptism unto death in order to have newness of life (Romans 6:2-4), we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). We are literally dead to our old self and are no longer held under the bondage of sin so that we are slaves to it (Romans 6:6). We are free from sin! As a result of this crucifixion of our old self, our old nature, our flesh, we are therefore given this charge:

Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. - Romans 6:12-14

Colossians 3:5-10 tells us to put to death the things belonging to our earthly nature, of which the wrath of God is coming against those who continue to live lifestyles of habitual sin. But because we used to walk in these ways in the life we once lived, Romans 8:13 tells us to put these misdeeds of the body to death! If the Spirit is in us, we are no longer controlled by the flesh, but by the Spirit (Romans 8:9), so we must understand and embrace the fact that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37).

These are present realities in the life of the born again believer, not some distant hope to one day achieve. The moment we were regenerated by the Holy Spirit and justified by faith in Christ Jesus, we were clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Philippians 3:9) and made new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). With this foundation, we are now prepared to cooperate with the Holy Spirit for our purification until the day we are ultimately glorified in heaven.

We must flee from sin (1 Corinthians 10:14; 6:18)! The moment we are faced with temptation, we must run in the other direction! We must avoid allowing ourselves to get into situations where we might be tempted. We must do everything in our power to avoid all kinds of evil. Many professing Christians make excuses and literally whine for not being able to overcome the lingering sin in their lives, but they make no effort to sever the head off the conniving snake of temptation. They moan and groan about continuously falling to temptation yet they continue to hang around the same crowds, watch the same movies, listen to the same music, buy the same food and drink, read the same magazines, go to the same places, and play the same games. Enough! You must cut sin's head off!

Practically speaking, you cut off friendships, family, entertainment, and venues. You must make up your mind that you are not going to run this same course of destruction. Whatever causes you to sin, cut it off! Jesus said in Matthew 18:8-9,

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

How precious are your eyes? Your hands and your feet? What Jesus is saying here is that whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ, will save it (Mark 8:35-36). This is what it means to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow after Christ daily (Luke 9:23). You are crucifying your flesh every single day so to present your body as a living sacrifice to God. You are cutting off your members if they cause you to sin. You are throwing away your computer; burning your books, CDs, and DVDs; you are changing your phone number to cut bad influences off; you are changing jobs, changing schools, or moving away; whatever it takes, you deny your own passions, desires, and will because you consider the will of God to be your first priority.

We must strive! We must subdue our flesh! We must live out our convictions! We must sacrifice! We must fight! We must! We must! And it will cost us!

Although he was referring to being disqualified from ministry, the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27,

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Every Christian must be resolved to bring his body into subjection. This is not always easy, and most likely it never is. It will also be painful and cause much sacrifice, just like the discipline a soldier of war causes him much pain and sacrifice. But the reward for doing such things is great, for we bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ as we purify ourselves (1 John 3:3) and

cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. - 2 Corinthians 7:1

My brothers and sisters reading this blog, our flesh wars against our soul (1 Peter 2:11), so we must wage war and kill it before it kills us. The great Puritan preacher John Owen once said,

...the choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin...Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you. Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being quickened with him, will not excuse you from this work (source).

This is our responsibility. As we are new men and women in Christ, if indeed we have been bought by His own blood, we must

put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4:22-24

Beloved, we must arm ourselves every day for battle through the consumption of the Word of God, lest we fall to the lusts of our flesh and the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-17). We must engage our most powerful resources, especially prayer, to prepare our minds and hearts to resist daily temptations. We must surround ourselves with godly men and women, the most mature Christians we can find, so we can be held accountable for our actions and be exhorted to live lives of holiness and practical righteousness through Christ. The man who claims to be a Christian and has no battle plan, utilizes none of the resources God has granted us to overcome temptation and be conformed to Christ, has no desire to fellowship with believers, and justifies and takes pleasure in the sinful lusts of the world, can be sure He has not yet been graced at all with the power of the Holy Spirit to be freed from the bondage of sin. This person is spiritually dead. Lukewarm. Condemned.

If you find yourself with no battle plan but feel the Spirit calling you to the cross, humble yourself before Almighty God, crying out for Him to save you from the grip sin has on you. This bondage has chained you to eternal hell, and unless you repent and plead for God to save you, the chain will not be broken. You will be pulled into eternal darkness as if a millstone is chained around your neck and cast into the deepest ocean. But if you are ready to surrender your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, forsaking everything you are and transferring ownership of your life to this worthy King, He will reach down from heaven, destroy the bondage of sin, pull you from the flames, and embrace you as a son and an heir of righteousness.

If we are indeed heirs of Grace, let us be soldiers of Grace. Let us put to death the lusts of our flesh and our members that lead us into temptation. Let us examine our relationships and cut these off if they are not conducive to a holy pursuit of God. Let us form godly relationships to build and strengthen our faith. Let us be resolved to suffer for the sake of Christ, knowing that our reward is in heaven for the persecuted. Let us be submitted to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, responding to His nudges to be separated from the things of the world. Let us be sanctified by the Truth, bathing ourselves with the Word of God daily. Let us pray without ceasing and utilize this essential heavenly weapon. In all of these things, let us be surrendered to the work of God in our lives so He may be glorified in each of us. This must be the battle plan for every born again believer, for

though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. - 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

This is all for the sake of love and for the purpose of godliness. This is to purify ourselves and to sanctify our households. This is to gain wisdom and to grow in grace. This is sacrifice and with it comes pain. This will bring affliction, trials, and tribulations and we will suffer for Christ's sake. This is self-denial and must be realized in each of us. This is for the love of God and the love of our neighbors, enemies, and brethren. This is for the sake of the Gospel and the building of the Kingdom. This is for the glory of God and for the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Christian soldiers are resolved to do, and we must never forget...


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