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Friday, July 30, 2010

Motocross in Church - During the Sermon

From the Museum of Idolatry

Relevance is a demanding lover. If you choose to chase after her she will insist that the spectacle be bigger and better with each attempt to woo her or she'll kick you to the curb. Pastor Life Coach and circus Ring Leader Kerry Shook of Fellowship of the Woodlands (FOTW) which is located north of Houston, TX is trying desperately to keep Relevance's attention. But its getting harder and harder to keep her happy. With each passing Sunday the show that Shook has to put on to keep Relevance interested must be more flashy and more glitzy and more expensive. Not too long ago Shook brought in a professional motocross jumper for one of his "sermon" illustrations and paid big money to have an elaborate outdoor mountain backdrop set up on stage. It was a real crowd pleaser and Relevance was delighted with it for a few minutes. But, rumor has it that Relevance has been very upset and pouty because the next two shows at FOTW weren't as exciting. What will Kerry Shook do next? If he wants to keep Relevance happy he's going to need to go bigger than motocross Sunday.

Don't ya'll miss the days when God's Word and the message of the cross were the thing that people showed up to church for? Back then God's word and the Lord's Supper were enough and pastors were valued for their proper handling of God's word and the boldness with which they proclaimed repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name. Now-a-days, many people only show up at some churches to see what's going to happen during the show and they could care less about Jesus, God's word and the cross because they're not at church for any of those things. They're at church to be entertained.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chosen from the Beginning

By Justin Edwards

When one is regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto salvation, they are made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and as such are no longer citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven. This citizenship cannot be revoked.

In 1 Peter 1:1-2, Christians are called the elect, the chosen, according to the prearrangement (G4268) of God. We are, in fact, aliens sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, for obedience to God's Son and the work He prepared for us beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).

Romans 8:28-30 further explains God's sovereign role in our salvation:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
The idea that God would choose some but not all is perhaps the most controversial doctrine of Christianity. Yet Scripture is clear that God will have mercy and compassion on whom He pleases (Romans 9:14-24).

Volumes upon volumes of books can and have been written on the sovereignty of God in salvation and it remains controversial, so this short post will not come close to solving this centuries-old debate.

By taking a look at a few of the words in Romans 8:28-30 we get a clearer picture of how salvation is for the glory of God alone:

Called: Many have been called or invited, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Not everyone who hears the voice of God through the Gospel will respond to the calling. But those who are called according to His purpose, will indeed have ears to hear and be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

Foreknew: This is Strong's #4267. It means to have knowledge before or to foreknow. In context, it means to foreknow of those whom God elected to salvation or for whom He predestined. It is the same word used in 1 Peter 1:20 where Jesus was foreordained before the foundations of the world to fulfill the will of His Father. Another form of this word is found in 1 Peter 1:2 and has the context of prearrangement, or to arrange in advance. We see that this foreknowledge is not merely having knowledge of something beforehand (in this case, who will be saved). But even if that is the case, this foreknowledge was reinforced by predestination.

Predestined: This is Strong's #4309. It means to predetermine or decide and appoint beforehand. This allows for no room that God's foreknowledge is restricted to only having knowledge of those who will respond to the calling of salvation in the future. No, God has not only called us to salvation, He has also chosen an elect for salvation, and it is for His good pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11).

Conformed: God appointed His elect to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. God will fashion His children to the glorious image of His Son by the working of the Holy Spirit. We become conformed to Christ by transformation through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It is a supernatural act of God that our minds are renewed.

Justified: Those who God has predestined for salvation are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is a legal transaction whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed, or attributed to, those who have responded to the calling by faith. No one is righteous in all the earth because we have all broken God's Law. It is impossible for any lawbreaker, any sinner, to be considered justified before God on the day of judgment. Thus, Jesus' finished work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead has been considered payment in full by God. Because we have no means to make ourselves justified, Christ's payment is attributed to our deficient account, and through the blood of Christ we can be justified, or made righteous, before the throne of God.

Glory: Lastly, the glory of God is imparted to the born again believer through the Son. It is for the very glory of God that we are saved. Everything God does is for His glory, and it is why He has chosen a people for Himself. 2 Peter 1:3

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

By God's abundant mercy and grace He has called and chosen His elect so that His name will be glorified. The glory of God in salvation is of utmost importance to understand as relegating the work of salvation to man has resulted in a form of easy-believism that has given far too many a false sense of security in salvation. Man's responsibility in salvation is to respond to the calling, yet all who are called according to His purpose will indeed respond by faith. John 6:37:

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Furthermore, because we were dead in our transgressions (Ephesians 2:5), it is only by His grace that He grants us repentance to respond by faith and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 2 Timothy 3:25

...correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
True repentance is only found through godly sorrow by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Here is the result in 2 Corinthians 7:10

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Any other form of sorrow is of the world and leaves a state of hopelessness as the person, though they are striving to please God, miserably fails because they have trusted in themselves alone to please God. Without this godly remorse, the unrepentant sinner will continue down this path of condemnation. It is only when they have been broken by their sins against God that they will be led to salvation through repentance produced by godly sorrow. The trust in themselves for salvation is transferred to Jesus Christ alone.

To those who have been chosen by the mercy of God, His grace will yield in His children hope, peace, joy, patience, longsuffering, kindness, humility, gentleness, self-control, and a selfless love found only through the Lord Jesus Christ. The born again Christian is given a new nature by which he will overcome the world and the things of the world because of the work of the Holy Spirit within him. He is no longer controlled by the works of the flesh, but faithfully walks according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1). This same Spirit has sealed the born again believer as a deposit to guarantee our inheritance of eternal life (Ephesians 1:14). Because we are now God's possession, we who have been bought for the price of Jesus' precious blood, we are eternally secure in this salvation.

As such, salvation is a sovereign act of God that He will see through completion. Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). If a professed Christian stops believing, stops trusting, stops repenting, stops confessing and reverts back to a lifestyle of sin, darkness, and habitual carnality, it is evidence that they were never saved. Those who are in the Vine will abide (continue) in the Vine (John 14:16). Therefore, we are instructed to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith. This will give us assurance that Christ is within us, unless of course we fail the test (2 Corinthians 13:5). 2 Peter 1:10-11,

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And how do we make our calling and election sure? Peter makes this clear in the previous verses,

5...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
The consequence of not growing in the faith you possess will prohibit you from having genuine assurance of your salvation. Not growing in your faith will lead to doubt. Not examining yourself by the Word of God to see if you are growing in your faith could be evidence that there is no Hope within you except the false hope in which you profess. This should give rise to work out your salvation with fear and trembling before a Holy God. For if the fear of the Lord is not within you, God may not be working in you at all (Philippians 2:12-13). 

In conclusion, every born again believer has been chosen by God. Salvation is a sovereign act of the Lord performed for His glory alone through Jesus Christ. God draws the sinner to repentance, which leads to faith, which leads to justification, which leads to sanctification. Sanctification is not an option for the born again believer. Like salvation, sanctification is the glorious work of God through the Holy Spirit. Everyone who names the name of Christ must depart from sin (2 Timothy 2:19). And by His grace, the child of God will do just that as they are no longer a slave of disobedience, but a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:1-23). Because the born again believer has been washed, justified, and sanctified (positionally made pure), he has been perfected forever in the eyes of God (Hebrews 10:14). This means he cannot lose his salvation because salvation is not a work of man, but a work of God alone for His glory alone.

Why has God decided to have mercy and compassion on some but not all? I don't know. Who am I to question the Potter? But let us give thanks to Him who chose us from the beginning, let us make our calling and election sure, and let us obey the command of God to preach the Gospel to every creature. Who will He choose? I don't know that either, but whoever He chooses, He will not cast out.

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,  to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.- 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

Creation: Believe It or Not

Now when you talk about origins you’re going to have to go back to Genesis. This is a book of origins. And let me put it again on the line where I put it last Lord’s day. Either you believe Genesis or you don’t. It’s that simple. Either you believe what Genesis says about all of those origins or you don’t. And that would include either you believe the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 or you don’t. And if you don’t believe the Genesis account, then I just…I have to tell you, you have no hope of coming to the truth. You’re not going to discover it. Unconverted scientists aren’t going to discover it. You either believe Genesis or you don’t.

And what is really intolerable is to say you believe the Bible but not just the Genesis creation account. You believe Genesis, you believe about the origin of sin, you believe chapter 3 on maybe. Or maybe you’re not sure about that because you don’t really believe there was an actual Adam and an actual Eve. You’ve got a small problem because Jesus said, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive,” and there was a real Christ, so you can be sure there was a real Adam. But just in case you don’t believe in a real Adam, maybe you don’t sign on until chapter 6, maybe you just believe the Flood. Well, maybe you don’t believe that, maybe you believe when the Tower of Babel is described later on in chapter 11, or maybe you don’t believe that. Maybe you don’t check in until Abraham shows up in chapter 12. Pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? Who are you to be sitting in judgment on Scripture?

You know, I’m never going to get caught in the trap of trying to prove to you that Genesis is true by science. I’m just going to proclaim to you what Genesis says and let science bow its knee to that explanation. As you will see, it will do that. All you can know about how God created is what He said. That’s all you can know. And if you don’t believe what He said about creation, what kind of precedent have you established for the rest of the Bible?

And what about the end? Do you know how all of redemptive history ends? You know how the whole story of humanity ends? It ends according to 2 Peter when the Lord uncreates the universe, I like to use that word. The elements melt with fervent heat. There’s some kind of a…literally an implosion as the nuclear structure, the atomic structure of the universe literally is totally turned against its existence and takes it right back out of existence when He uncreates, when the elements melt as with a fervent heat in that kind of nuclear holocaust that ends human history.

And immediately after that it says in Revelation that He creates a…what? A new heaven and a new earth. Let me ask you this, do you believe He can do that? Or is that going to be another umpteen billion years of evolutionary process to get the new heaven and the new earth cranked up? Is it going to take billions of years to evolve the new heaven and the new earth, or do you really believe God might be able to do that just by fiat, just by making the statement and calling it into existence? If you believe that, then what’s your problem in Genesis?

If God can wipe the entire universe out in a split second, if He can dissolve the whole thing, if He can send it reeling in the time of the Tribulation and refurbish it during the time of the Kingdom and then totally uncreate it at the end of the thousand years, if He can do all of that then I don’t know why you have a problem with Him creating it all in six days. You see, the implications of rejecting the account of Genesis are profound.

And listen to me because what I’m going to say is very important. It is not necessary to reject the six-day creation. It is not necessary. We have yielded up territory to evolution without cause. Science knows nothing. Science proves nothing that contradicts a six-day creation…nothing. In fact, science as it keeps advancing makes its own claims to evolution ridiculous, more ridiculous all the time. (Online source)

 (HT: AM)

The Letter Kills but the Spirit Gives Life

By Mike Ratliff

For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Romans 2:25-29 ESV)

I often receive requests from dear brethren who are desperate for assurance, but as I attempt to “dig into” their spiritual background, so to speak, those with the most dire sense of of that desperation also seem to be mired in a works righteousness type of understanding of salvation. It’s not their fault and we cannot help them if we approach the solution from that angle. Whenever I get a request like this, and they are all different, I think of Luther. He was a monk who was desperate to be right with God, but no matter how hard he worked at being righteous, he was continually confessing his sins to his confessor. It was only as God opened his heart to the wonderful truth of justification by faith alone as he studied the book of Romans that Sola Fide became a reality in his heart and so the spark of the Protestant Reformation was ignited.

Before we go any further let’s be sure to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with God’s Law.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:7-12 ESV)

The problem with the Law is that it is a teacher, but not a Saviour. I have never made it a secret that one of my heros of the faith is William Tyndale. In all of his writings around and about the Word of God, he never failed to link the Law of God and the Gospel. It is the Law that shows the sinner their need of a Saviour. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that does this. This is why it is so tragic that the post-modern infected church in our time is so afraid to offend anyone so it leaves out the Law and just preaches grace. It is an incomplete Gospel my brethren that does not save.

Ministers of the Gospel are just that, they preach the Gospel of life. They do not stop at the Law, but that does not mean they do not preach it.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ESV)

Πεποίθησιν δὲ τοιαύτην ἔχομεν διὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. οὐχ ὅτι ἱκανοί ἐσμεν ἀφ᾿ ἑαυτῶν λογίσασθαί τι ὡς ἐξ ἑαυτῶν, ἀλλ᾿ ἡ ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἱκάνωσεν ἡμᾶς διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης, οὐ γράμματος, ἀλλὰ πνεύματος· τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ.

Persuasion but such we have through the Christ to the God. Not that from ourselves enough we are to reason some as from ourselves, but the sufficiency of us from the God, who also made competent us servants of new agreement, not of letter but of spirit; the for letter kills, the but spirit makes alive. (word-for-word translation of 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 from Koine Greek to English)

This passage is rich in meaning and we could spend great deal of time on the various parts of it, but I want to concentrate on the last part of v6, which says, “οὐ γράμματος, ἀλλὰ πνεύματος· τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ” or not of letter but of spirit; the for letter kills, the but spirit makes alive.

What is it that kills or ἀποκτέννει? In this passage, Paul says that γράμμα ἀποκτέννει or the letter kills. However, if we go back and look at Romans 7:7-12 (above) we see that Paul was saying that the Law (the letter) is not what is the cause of the killing, but it was sin becoming alive when the Law revealed it in him that brought death. Therefore, the letter does, in a sense kill, but it is doing what is supposed to do when it does that. That is why we then follow up the exposition of the fact of all of us being hopelessly depraved sinners who cannot save ourselves in desperate need of a Saviour with the Good News of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which ζῳοποιεῖ because of the work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of both the Law and the Gospel.

Are you in Christ? Are you alive in Christ? Has the letter of God’s Law brought you to the point of death that you saw your desperate need for a Saviour? Have you heard the Good News? Have you believed that our Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save sinners and all who believe this to be true and turn in repentance from their wicked self-focused life by faith to Him for Salvation, trusting in Him alone, will be saved? (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Soli Deo Gloria!

(HT: Possessing the Treasure)

Hello Kitty Crucifix?

From the Museum of Idolatry

Did Hello Kitty die on the cross for your sins?


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Well Done, Good and Faithful Slave

By Justin Edwards

"...Well done, good and faithful servant..." (Matthew 25:21)

Servant = doulos

Strong's G1401

1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
a) a slave
b) metaph., one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests
2) a servant, attendant

Please see the following excerpts from Chapter 1 of The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur.

[Jesus] was not the least bit encouraging toward people who wanted to follow Him around just for the food and the miracles. In fact, He did everything possible to discourage people like that (John 6). He called only broken people who were sick of their sin, who understood their hopeless condition, and who were therefore willing to forsake everything else to be His disciples (Luke 5:32; 14:33). He never muted His His description of what it would cost to follow Him. And (contrary to what some church leaders advocate today) He didn't reserve the hard words for people who were already believers. He said the same things whether He was speaking to unconverted crowds (Luke 14:25-35) or to individual would-be followers who claimed they were ready to follow Him anywhere (Luke (:57-58). Sometimes He sounded almost as if He were trying to turn away as many inquirers as possible - and indeed, He did turn away multitudes of merely curious and halfhearted admirers (John 6:66-67).

He demanded that people deny themselves completely. He required their implicit obedience. He instructed them to be ready to die for Him. He called for them to relinquish all their normal priorities - including family, friends, personal plans, ambitions, and everything else in the world. Their whole lives were explicitly and irrevocably placed under His authority. His lordship was total and nonnegotiable. Those were His terms, and would-be disciples who tried to dictate different terms were always turned away (Luke 9:59-62). (31-32)

...Obedience is a singular proof that someone is His friend [in reference to John 15:14-15]. Implicit obedience to His commandments is the necessary, expected, and natural fruit of genuine love for Him. It is also therefore the telltale mark of authentic saving faith. Again, necessary inference is that someone who does not do what Jesus says is not a friend of His at all. He was describing as clearly as possible a master-slave relationship. (32)

...The love is mutual, of course, but the status is not. He was still their Lord and they were still His [slaves]. In other words, as friends, they were not His "buddies" in the sense of being casual chums or peers with Him in the relationship. He remained their Lord and Master, and they belonged completely to Him...So disciples - while friends, totally devoted to their Master in love - are still slaves, marked by their obedience. (33)

...So understood correctly, the gospel is an invitation to slavery. When we call people to faith in Christ, we need to stress that fact in the same way Jesus did. On the one hand, the gospel is a proclamation of freedom to sin's captives and liberty to people who are broken by the bondage of sin's power over them. On the other hand, it is a summons to a whole different kind of slavery: "Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:18)...There is glorious freedom in being the slaves of Christ, because "if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). On the other hand, being a true follower of Christ means the end of human autonomy...If we want true liberty from sin and all its fruits, it is not autonomy that we need, but a different kind of bondage: complete surrender to the lordship of Christ. (34)

...The gospel according to Jesus calls sinners to give up their independence, deny themselves, submit to an alien will, and abandon all rights in order to be owned and controlled by the Lord. By confessing Jesus as Lord (Kurios), we automatically confess that we are His slaves (douloi). (35)

...There is also no legitimate way to adjust that message to make is sound appealing to people who admire Jesus but are not prepared to serve Him. Jesus Himself never catered to that perspective. He was not seeking admirers; He was calling followers - not casual followers, but slaves. That explains why He demanded His disciples' implicit obedience, and when He encountered people who were unwilling to obey unconditionally, He discouraged them from following Him at all.

Thus He declared His lordship without hesitation or apology, and He made it clear that true faith in Him begins with an unconditional surrender of the sinner's heart. And therefore the very spirit of saving faith is comparable to the demeanor of slave. It is glorious surrender, and it is the supreme joy of every true believer's heart to be Christ's slave. But remove that spirit of submission, and the most profound kind of "admiration" for Christ is not even true faith at all. Yielding completely to Christ's lordship is that vital an element of true saving faith, and therefore the proclamation of His lordship is an absolutely necessary component of the gospel. (36)

...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11)

Big Top Playchurch

From The Sacred Sandwich

Speaking the Truth

By Mike Ratliff

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 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, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:4-16 ESV)

Biblical discernment is not legalism. It is not being a know-it-all who just rains on everyone’s parade, taking all the fun away from those exploring new ways of “experiencing God” or “expanding their faith.” No, it isn’t that at all. First and foremost it is done from the context of maintaining unity within one body and one Spirit through speaking of truth in love so that all truly in Christ will grow up in every way into Him who is their head. Those who exercise this discernment from this motive may at times appear to be focusing on the shortcomings of certain “Christian leaders” to the chagrin of those who follow them. Well, the reason we do that can be quite exasperating on our part I assure you. Why? Those who are deceived by these deceivers DO NOT LISTEN.

I read a comment thread the other day before I went on my short sabbatical in which people were discussing Rick Warren’s invitation to speak at John Piper’s conference this fall. Within the first 10 or so comments the reasons why he should never have been considered were plainly laid out by several of the commenters. It was in plain black and white. However, the more comments I read, the more I kept encountering those who obviously either refused to read those very well documented reasons or they either had no idea what real apostasy is or did not care. One kept saying that no one could come up with real reasons why Rick Warren should be disinvited when I had just read dozens of them in the same comment stream. I was amazed as I witnessed solid, discerning Christians get attacked by these people for speaking the truth. Truth was seen as an evil affront by these people because all that mattered to them about Rick Warren’s orthodoxy was that Rick Warren said he was orthodox so that meant he was orthodox.

From the passage I placed at the top of this post, here is Ephesians 4:15 from the ESV and the GNT:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:15 ESV)

ἀληθεύοντες δὲ ἐν ἀγάπῃ αὐξήσωμεν εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα, ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή, ὁ Χριστός,

Here, the word translated in the ESV as “speaking the truth,” ἀληθεύοντες is a nominative plural masculine present participle. This verb tense yields the idea of “continually speaking the truth.” Paul is telling all believers, especially those who are gifted by God to serve in roll in the Church with the speaking gifts to to speak the truth. This is why it is so tragic when Christian leaders compromise and speak that which is anything but. Also, and this speaks to why so many compromise here, speaking truth at all times can actually make enemies of some. The only other instance of a form of this word in the N.T. Is in Galatians 4:16 where Paul asks, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” It is rhetorical. Yes, the answer is always yes to this. The truth is the only thing the Christian should speak, hence the big fuss about the Ergun Caner “crisis” at Liberty Seminary.

Yes, the truth is to be spoken. Why? Why is it imperative that we never include error or our own opinions in there with it? This is to keep error out of the Church and preserve others from error. However, we all know that this is not the norm and has not been for quite some time. The church’s vocabulary today is politically correct catch-phrases, sentimental expressions, and psychobabble. Instead of confronting false teachers with their error, we embrace them with such schmaltziness, as, “I’m going to ask him to speak and lay his cards on the table and find out what makes him tick.” Never mind that he is a heretic and the gospel he preaches is incomplete and false. “After all, our brother is entitled to his own ideas, and we should be open to it.” Uh, no, we are supposed to speak the truth.

A survey of the visible church in our day will reveal showy churches and glitzy ministries, but shunned is the preaching of truth. I find it amazing that when you hear some of these fellows talk and read some of what they write it becomes painfully obvious that they think they know more than God, more than the inspired Paul, more than many great leaders in church history. What will be the result? We are already seeing it. It’s called shipwrecks.

Soli Deo Gloria!

(HT: Possessing the Treasure)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Glenn Beck: Are You Really a Mormon?

By Justin Edwards

Todd Friel from Wretched Radio addresses the controversy over Glenn Beck's recent show where he confused many evangelicals as to whether he is a Mormon or orthodox Christian.

For more information, please see Mormonism vs Christianity and More on Mormonism - Glenn Beck.

If Glenn Beck is truly born again, then when will he come public with this and renounce the Mormon cult?

This is an excellent contrast: 

Evil Pragmatism vs the Christian's Right Focus

By Dan Philips

There's a world of difference between practicality, and pragmatism.

One of my least-favorite classes in seminary gave me an excellent mental image which I may have shared before. The prof asked us preachers to envision a really extraordinary individual in our audience. He said we should make him unmissable — huge, orange-skinned, green suit, hat with a flower in it.

He sits in the front row, squarely in front of us. He only knows three words in English. He repeats them over and over again.

The words?
"Tell me how."

I happen to think that, taken in the right measure, this was an excellent piece of counsel. It could be over-pressed, with the result that pastors would never preach on passages or Biblical themes they judge "not practical," such as the doctrine of God, election, atonement, and on and on. That would be a great betrayal, and a great failure as a pastor.

At the same time, it serves as a bracing caution against those of us who live too much in the ivory tower, too enamored with abstract theology or philosophy. It tells against ivory-tower thinking divorced from the dailiness of life. It wouldn't hurt one bit if we looked over the first draft of our sermon manuscript and envisioned someone asking, "So... what am I supposed to do with that?"

Certainly Jesus and the apostles could never be accused of such baffling, misty abstraction. If Paul gave three chapters of rich doctrine in Ephesians, he follows it up with four three chapters of wrapping the truth in shoe-leather. The Gospels and Epistles deal with money, marriage, parenting, childing, morality, relationships, church polity, and a host of other specific issues.

If I dare whisper the thought, I think this was a shortcoming of Spurgeon's — at least in all the sermons I know of. He preached glorious, timeless sermons on the person and work of Christ, the covenants, and the authority of Scripture. But I don't think I've yet come across a "Tell Me How" sermon opening Scripture on marriage, work, or the like. Those topics must feature in preaching the whole counsel of God.

Practicality, then, is (A) Biblical, and (B) light-years removed from....

"If it works, it's good" is not a Biblical notion. We can see the inherent, fatal flaw if we bring to light the generally-unstated definition of "works": "achieves our desired results." We identify goals and imbue them with a self-justifying quality. That is, if we achieve the desired result, whatever we did to get there is eo ipso good.

Self-justifying goals Christians have set include:
  • Increased "giving" (invariably financial) among churchgoers
  • Increased attendance
  • Increased professions of faith
  • Increased actual (i.e. conversion) baptisms
  • Happier people
  • People who report feeling closer to God
  • Greater book sales
  • Compliant children
  • Better reputation among the lost
I envision two sorts reading that list:
  1. Those who don't see a thing wrong with these as self-justifying goals.
  2. Those who have actually read their Bibles.
Speaking of which....
The Bible
I may exaggerate, but not by much. The Bible is absolutely crystal-clear on at least three things, if you'll forgive one last enumeration:
  1. The Christian's goal must be to please God (Deuteronomy 6:5f.; Matthew 6:1-6, 33; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 1:13-17, etc.).
  2. Doing what pleases God may be the direct cause of temporal disaster.
  3. Doing what pleases God will be the direct cause of eternal delight.
Be perfectly clear: doing what pleases God, in the right way and from the right heart, may result in —
Of course, that's just a sampling. But it is enough to condemn pragmatism once and for all.

So here's the bottom-line: Christian living is a lot like flying a jet in a deep fog at night. The instruments are your only friend.

Except in our case, the "instruments" are the Word, alone.

(HT: Pyromaniacs)

Jesus Will Cure Your Lame Sex Life?

From the Museum of Idolatry

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Chandler, AZ is hopping on the this band wagon a bit late. Thesetypes of sermon series were all the rage in the Purpose-Driven scene back in 2008. Talk about sermon leftovers. It should be named My Church's Lame Sermon Series. But, since they're really going through with this we thought we save a few of their artifacts and exhibit them here at the Museum of Idolatry.

The website put up by Cornerstone, actually promises that God will help you people their lame sex lives. Seriously, has Jesus now become the Dr. Ruth of religious leaders? If people's sex lives don't improve with the help of Jesus can folks at Cornerstone get there tithe money back? Here's the quote from the site:

"Is your sex life what you hoped it would be? Does something inside of you believe it could be better? And is better ultimately about a new technique or the latest lotion? Is it possible that what we don’t know about sex itself (about how men and women are wired), is actually what we really keep stumbling over? Is it possible that the one who created sex would actually have some insights into sex?

Surprisingly, God is pro sex and wants us to have an exciting and deeply fulfilling sex life. The problem is that most of us only experience a second rate imitation of what God intended it to be!

Would you be willing to keep an open mind and open heart while we have a conversation? All you have to lose is your lame sex life.

Screen shot 2010-07-27 at 8.38.44 AM

This is what happens when churches think that preaching the gospel, the good news of Christ's substitionary death on the cross for our sins is not enough, so they feel like they have to spice up the message by adding some more exciting worldly elements to the message. The message of the cross doesn't need sex added to it to make it more appealing. Furthermore, Jesus NEVER promised that if you believe in Him that the sex in your marriage will improve. In fact, believing in Jesus has caused many marriages to fail.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When Did We Get Protestant Purgatory?

By Dan Ecklund

What is a Christless eternity? Who thought up an eternity separated from God, or a Godless afterlife? It has become almost sinful in the eyes of American churches to use the word “Hell” unless the flames are stamped out and shaded areas are added. A person listening to our modern day preaching of hell, could easily decide that hell sounds like a place to go where there are few clouds and people are all grilling steak. Much of this is because they worry about offending someone, and the fear men. No matter of what churches or preachers say, the only thing that does matter is what the scriptures say.

How does scripture define what the biblical hell is?

There are three words translated "hell" in Scripture:

Gehenna (Greek): The place of punishment (Matthew 5:22,29; 10:28; and James 3:6)

Hades (Greek): The abode of the dead (Matthew 11:23; 16:18, Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27)

Sheol (Hebrew): The grave (Psalm 9:17; 16:10)

Hell is shown to be a place. Rather than a type of lifestyle, or just struggle as some people believe, the bible places it as a location. For those who teach that we go through “hell” in this life, they fail to see that this world is as close to heaven as most people will ever see.

The Bible refers to the fate of the unsaved with such words as the following:

"Shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2)

"Everlasting punishment" (Mathew 25:46)

"Weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 24:51)

"Fire unquenchable" (Luke 3:17)

"Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish" (Romans 2:8,9)

"Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

"Eternal fire...the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 7,13)

Revelation 14:10,11

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

The theme for hell is eternal, and a pit, rather than a room with a door. Scripture is the basis for the doctrine, and Jesus Himself spoke more of hell than He did of heaven. It was because of love that He warned of God’s wrath and judgment.

Mark 9:43-48

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.[c] And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.[d] And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Why would hell be so bad and eternal? Some modern day preachers argue that because God is love, hell must end, or not exist at all. Many cults argue that no one who is love would do something that sounds so evil. Such type of foolish arguments only come from men who do not understand the nature of a Perfect God, and His goodness that requires justice.

Think about your own cry for justice. When you hear a news story of an evil man, doing horrible crimes against a child, do you ever hear people say, “I hope he gets a Christless eternity!” or “I hope he never sees God.”? Obviously, a person who loves children wants someone who harms them to be caught, and justice of the law to come down on them without mercy for such wicked acts. Jesus also mentioned this when it came to harming children.

Luke 17:2

It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

The time and severity of punishment for crime, is always based on the one in who the crime is committed against. If you murder a bug, you will face no punishment. If you killed a homeless drunk on the street, you might get 10 years. If you killed a police officer, you are probably going to be executed. The same act was committed each time, but what changed was the one in who you committed the act against, and their position of authority. All sin is against God, the Highest of all. Because He is eternal, so is His love and justice.

Perfect justice is one of the traits of God men should fear. Because God has promised to bring EVERY evil deed to light, and set a day to judge everyone, men should be fearful. The day is certain, as God has placed all men on death row, since we all will die. The system is perfect, in that no man will escape, even if they avoid capture in this world.

Hebrews 9:27

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

Why is the biblical hell so awful?

Because God hates sin, He will bring wrath and justice against it. When the One in the Highest Authority is offended, the punishment is also the highest. As mentioned before, Jesus loved children, but yet in America, we can legally kill them, and many in our churches support such sinful acts. Men turn up the heat in hell on their own, as they try to stand against God’s fury.

Daniel 3:19

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

Anger turns up the heat, and God is angry at sin. Some say God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. It is a common saying that is in error. God hates the sin, and promises to send those found in sin to hell if they do not repent. Despite this, every generation of man has thought that he has put himself into a better state than those they believe who have died and gone to hell. They trust in their actions and religious practices to remove them from the justice of God. Many will be disappointed.

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

What about Mercy?

Mercy is another trait of God. Mercy is undeserved favor, which is why a person can not earn their way out of hell. If a person does many good works, or suffers for acts of sin, as a method of payment, then God would owe mercy to them. If God is good, can His justice be removed by mercy? God doesn’t cancel out His own traits, rather through Christ, made it possible for men to receive mercy. Because wrath and justice were brought on Christ instead of those who place their faith in Him, God can extend mercy to those who repent and trusted fully in Him.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Without the reality of biblical hell, men fail to see the full glory of God. Everyone will bring glory to God. Either they will repent and trust in Christ for His mercy and love shown in the cross, or they will spend eternity in hell as an everlasting example of the justice and goodness of God to destroy evil. If a preacher is so foolish as to remove the justice and wrath of God, he has tried to rob God of traits that bring Him glory, and diminish the work on the Cross. The repeating warnings of scripture of God’s justice and wrath are given, and serve to cause men who listen to cling to the Savior, and run from sin as though he was fleeing from a dragon. Do not heed the foolish of those who make little of the truths of hell, rather believe them and trust the only One that took your place.

Hebrews 10:31

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

True Salvation Through Jesus Christ

By Justin Edwards

The following message from John MacArthur was one of many tools God used to finally bring me to my knees in March 2009. As I shared in my testimony HERE, my professed Christian life prior to last year was one where I was not ready to give all control to God. I was not ready to surrender to Him completely, I was not ready to give Him the reigns, I was not ready to submit to His authority, I was not ready to obey His will, and I was not ready to deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ daily. At best, I was a Christian living in doubt because of the choices I was making; at worst, I was a false convert with a false security in salvation. Only God knows who I was in Christ for all of those years.

What about you?

If you are one who struggles in understanding what it means to surrender everything to Jesus Christ, or is sitting on the fence in doing so, I encourage you to read my 2 testimonies at the link above and watch the following video. Then visit the many resources on the blog and use them to drive you to examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith as the Apostle Paul exhorts in 2 Corinthians 13:5:

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

The book of 1 John 1-5 is the best place for you to start examining yourself with the Word of God and is the most important test you will ever take. Please don't put this off any longer. There is a reason you are reading this post - there are no coincidences with God. Yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and surrender your everything to the Lord Jesus Christ. Until then and at best, you will continue living in doubt having no biblical assurance of salvation; at worst, you are living a lie, perhaps unaware, and the consequence will be an eternity suffering the terrible Wrath of God.

Thanks to Holly Dye from ROE for providing the transcript.


Well, the old theologians used to say that in the human heart, there’s a God-shaped vacuum that only God can satisfy. The book of Proverbs says if you pursue riches, riches will never satisfy. The heart of man is never ever satisfied in those things. However, being satisfied with God, then you can enjoy all the things that God gives you, because you see them as coming from His good hand. If you’re just pursuing riches, pursuing riches…you know, the old Rockefeller story, “You have so much,” somebody said to him, “how much do you want?” And he said, “Just a little bit more.” If that’s what you live for then you’re never going to be satisfied, and ultimately, that is not going to satisfy your heart. God alone, Christ alone, satisfies the heart and then everything you have, even the smallest things, becomes a cause for joy and thanksgiving.

Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.” In other words, abandon all your own ambition, all your own will, all your own direction, your own choices, and totally and fully submit your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is to say it is the end of me and I commit my life to follow Christ, whatever the cost, even if it’s a cross, and to obey Him. And that was not what the rich young ruler was willing to do. He is a classic illustration of someone who will not deny himself. He wanted to hold on to his own will, he wanted to hold on to his own pride, he wanted to hold on to his own money, he wanted to hold onto his own ambition, his own sovereignty, if you will, in his own life.

The competing issues are these, very simple: The gospel says: give your life to Christ and He rules. And if you’re not willing to do that its because you want to keep the rule of your own life. The rich young man wanted his own life for himself. He wanted to control his own life. He had his choice sins. He had his choice religion and he wanted to hang onto control. It’s that simple. Coming to Christ means you give up the control of your life and you yield it to Christ. That’s what kept him from salvation. He was unwilling to do that.

People are happy for you to believe in God. They think its great that you believe in God. People applaud the idea of believing in God. As long as that God is not the God of the Bible. Because once you affirm the God of the Bible, then you get the God of the Bible. Then you get the Law of the God of the Bible. You get the Commandments of the God of the Bible. You get the morality of the God of the Bible. You get the holiness of the God of the Bible…the justice and righteousness of the God of the Bible and you get the punishment of the God of the Bible. So, you have to face your own sinfulness, you have to face the reality that you have violated the law of God. That you’re headed toward judgment and eternal hell and in order to be saved from that you have to turn from your sin and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Bottom line is men love their sin. People love their sin. The Bible says men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Now there are all kinds of gods that aren’t going to impinge on that, all kinds of religions, spiritual ideas, but not the God of the Bible. So, to say that you believe in the God of Scripture is then to say that you believe in the Law of the God of Scripture and the judgment of the God of Scripture as well as the salvation of the God of Scripture. It’s that narrowness that offends the sinner because the sinner wants to hold on to his sin.

The rejection of Christianity is not intellectual. It’s not some intellectual problem, “I just can’t get there intellectually.” There are endless reasons, logical reasons, to believe in the God of the Scripture and the Scripture that God has written. It’s moral. It’s moral. They love the darkness because their deeds are evil, not because they can’t process it intellectually, but because their deeds are evil and they cherish those.
We always say that people aren’t truly saved until they are truly aware that they are lost. See, that’s why you can’t just go in and say, “ Hey let me tell you about this wonderful message. Jesus loves you. God loves you just the way you are. He wants to bless you; bump you up a few notches on the scale of success. Help you hit home runs. Straighten out your slice in golf. Make you feel good about yourself. Give you “Your best world…your fulfillment…your purpose.” That’s not the gospel.

The gospel is: He wants to deliver you from your sins, which are going to condemn you to eternal hell. And until a person understands the reality of their lostness, and fully comes to grips with that, that they have sinned against God, violated God’s Law, that they cannot remedy that, that they are headed for hell, that they will never have any purpose in this life, any meaning in this life, and certainly in the life to come, apart from salvation through Jesus Christ. They don’t reach a level of desperation, which drives them to a true salvation.

(HT: Refocusing Our Eyes)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Heaven, Hell, and Emergent Heresy

By Eric Barger

When one does a careful evaluation of the teachings of Emergent leaders, such as Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren, it becomes apparent that they do not believe that Heaven, as described in the Bible, actually exists. Even clearer is their denunciation against the notion of a literal Hell. Their focus is only on the "here-and-now" existence of this life and experiencing the "journey" and "conversations" it presents.

Pagitt, for example, bristles at the notion that Heaven and Hell are actual places. According to Pagitt, God interacts with all people the same way. When asked what happens to the "good Muslim" when he dies, Pagitt told commentator Todd Friel,

"God's going to judge the life and repair and restore and heal the life of everybody in the same way."

Pagitt then stated that God will interact with Christians in the same way that He will with Muslims after they die. He is very clearly stating that every orthodox idea of Christianity has been mistaken and that in the end God reconciles ALL people, regardless of what they believe or even if they believe. This is the heart and soul of so-called "reconciling" universalism. (See: YouTube clip)

Emergent godfather, Brian McLaren, made his feelings on Hell and the Cross known to "Bleeding Purple Podcast" interviewer, Leif Hansen, in this well-traveled statement: 

"The Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God." (Source)

McLaren also told Beliefnet Online interviewer Sherry Huang, 

"For many Christians, their faith is primarily about what happens to people after they die. That distracts them from seeking justice and living in a compassionate way while we're still alive in this life. We need to go back and take another look at Jesus' teachings about hell. For so many people, the conventional teaching about hell makes God seem vicious. That's not something we should let stand."

Rob Bell muses his redefinition of Hell, saying, 

"When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter - they are all hell on earth."
(Velvet Elvis, p.148)

In an interview discussing their 2009 book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile, Bell and co-author Don Golden say that the Church in America is in exile today. Bell and Golden say that by participating in our culture (they call America an "empire") and by supporting our government/military system and by using oil, we are "oppressors" and create suffering for others. They conveniently ignore the fact that America, in particular the Christians in her, have done more to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ than any other nation in history - hands down! But in emergent/leftist thought, anything smelling like capitalism must be shunned (except for enjoying the many benefits life in the USA offers). This is nothing less than 1960's, counter-culture, hippie liberalism now being referred to as "Evangelical Christianity!"

One might wonder how a nice evangelical kid from Wheaton ended up as perhaps the most popular leader in the heretical Emergent Church. Bell and his wife, Kristen, say that their Christian world became constricting - in Kristen's words, "black and white...." And how did the Bells find their way out of the black-and-white world where they had been so successful and so dissatisfied? "Our lifeboat," Kristen says, "was A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren."

If you wish the same fate that has befallen the Bells, all one has to do is abandon the teachings of God's inerrant Word and adopt what McLaren, Pagitt (and now Rob Bell) are selling.

How much documentation will we have to produce and how many more reasons will be needed for postmoderns with any scrap of biblical understanding to come to their senses and realize that Emergent Christianity isn't really Christianity at all? Instead, it is cultic, deceptive and eternally damning.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The End Times According to the Bible

By MattFiveFour

It seems many people today want to know about the end times according to the bible. In these uncertain times, more and more people are seeking answers. Some have heard talk of bible prophecy fulfilled. Due to movies like those in the "Left Behind" series, some have heard of the rapture and the tribulation. Indeed, if you search Google stats, you will find literally thousands of searches for "rapture tribulation".

I am not a prophetic teacher. Prophecy is not my ministry. I am a teacher of God's Word as it applies to salvation and sanctification ... in other words "how to become a Christian and how to live as one." My strength is in interpreting scripture. But scripture speaks very much of prophecy and indeed prophecy is vitally important for a number of reasons, the chief of which is to understand the times in which we are living and thus use that as a tool to help those who have not yet understood God's plan of salvation and why it is so important. Thus I am always prepared to share the essence of prophecy as it relates to the choice God has placed before each human being.

To me, a perusal of the things that thousands are searching for on Google shows that regardless of what we see on the surface of society, deep down people are curious. And they are curious because they need some fundamental hope, some real security in their innermost beings-hope and security which they cannot find in an increasingly uncertain world.

The fact is that the pre-tribulation rapture offers just that security. The hope it gives is transcendent. Paul said, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19) But, of course, he shows that our hope transcends this life and, therefore, those who believe and accept God's word are truly blessed … in both lives- the here and the hereafter.

You see, the world's religions and the New Agers are correct: man's innermost being does not die. It indeed lives eternally. The question is - "Where will it live?" Or, more properly, where will WE live? God says there are two options … heaven and hell. And the choice is 100% ours.

But that choice exists only in this life, on this earth. And that exists only as long as this current "age", this current dispensation, continues. But, according to the Bible, this dispensation will end as every other previous dispensation has ended ... just as prophesied. And the time of the end of this current dispensation is, the Bible teaches, in the not too distant future. Over the millennia bible prophecies were unfailingly fulfilled, leading up to the time of Jesus Christ. But a few remain until-as was told to the prophet Daniel 2,600 years ago-"the time of the end."

Now, Daniel is a very interesting prophet. He prophesied the coming and death of Jesus Christ to the exact year. He also prophesied that the final seven years until Messiah would return and rule the earth would be a time of terrible suffering, tribulation and a final cataclysmic war. When combined with the prophecies of Isaiah, David and Jesus Himself, we can see that the times we are living in match exactly with the descriptions given in those prophecies.

It is true, of course, that there have been similar times over the past couple of thousand years and during those periods many have believed-like us-that they were living in the "end times". So what makes our belief any different from all of the preceding mistaken beliefs? The answer is very simple- Israel.

There were prophecies given hundreds of years before Christ that stated He would be killed and that the nation of Israel would be destroyed, its people scattered across the face of the earth, their lives continually in peril wherever they settled. Jesus Himself made similar prophecies. This has come to pass, in spades. And Jesus indicated that when we saw Israel once again become a nation (something the prophet Isaiah discussed rhetorically) then we should look for His second coming. Some interpret the prophecy to mean that the generation that saw the recreation of the nation of Israel would not pass away before that second coming. Either way you interpret that, the end is definitely close.

Never since Titus destroyed Jerusalem and slaughtered the majority of its residents in 72 AD has Israel been a nation. (In fact, the Jews hadn't ruled themselves for hundreds of years before Christ, even though they still existed as a nation. They were vassals of the Persians, then the Greeks, and then the Romans.) But on May 14, 1948 Israel was once again declared a nation. And, again in fulfillment of ancient biblical prophecies, the Jews began returning from all over the earth. Thus we now have a situation that has never existed before - a situation that explains why we believe the prophetic time of the end is near. No other generation since Christ saw this prophetic fulfillment, a fulfillment necessary before the end times could begin. But we have seen it. Unbelievably, and against all odds and the entire sweep of history, Israel is a nation

And, indeed, we are seeing even more prophecy fulfilled.

Among the ancient prophecies regarding Israel is that she would also become a thorn in the side of the world. And 2500 years ago the bible predicted would become a burdensome stone for the nations to lift. "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (Zechariah 12: 3) Does that not describe the situation today? What other nation the geographic size of Israel, and with her small population, has ever caused the entire world such trouble by its existence? And, in fulfillment of even more two and a half thousand-year-old prophecies, she is ringed by enemies who are out to destroy her. Indeed, is not the destruction of Israel as a nation the sworn goal, in writing, of most of her enemies, including the most powerful nations in the Middle East?

Therefore, I feel secure in stating that for the first time in history ALL of the conditions laid out in ancient prophecy are now fulfilled. Nothing else prevents the events of the end times from progressing to that final, cataclysmic seven year period that the Bible describes as the Great Tribulation.

The good news is that the Bible also promises that those who are God's through Christ, will not go through this period of Tribulation, which is also referred to as the outpouring of the wrath of God. There is an event called the Rapture. But that is a subject for another article.

In the meantime, if anybody is interested, there is a library of good articles on the Last Days, the End Time, the Tribulation, and the Rapture at Rapture Forums - The End Times Resource.

(HT: Rapture Forums)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Is Heaven in You?

An old Scotchman was asked whether he expected to get to heaven. “Why, man, I live
there,” was his quaint reply. Let us all live in those spiritual things which are the
essential features of heaven. Often go there, before you go to stay there. It was said
of an old Puritan, that heaven was in him before he was in heaven. That is necessary
for all of us; we must have heaven in us before we get into heaven. If we do not get to
heaven before we die, we shall never get there afterwards. - C.H. Spurgeon

(HT: Spurgeon's Maxims for Living)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Be Bold! Be Encouraged!

By Justin Edwards

It is so rewarding to see God work through our faith and obedience. We are on vacation this week and I have been praying each day God will give me the opportunity to share His glorious truth with someone. I have prayed that He prepare our conversation and prepare the heart of the person I might speak with so they will be receptive to the message I would share with them. And, oh, did He ever answer this prayer!

My wife and I were hanging by the pool when a lady named Cathy pulled up a chair poolside and happened to be reading The Shack. Well, if that wasn't a flashing red light from God I don't know what is! It took me about 30 minutes to muster up the courage to speak to her as I imagined a number of ways the conversation could go. I simply prayed that God would speak through me and embolden me to talk to her. Finally, I asked, "so how is it so far?" - inquiring about The Shack. She said it was a great book so far and asked if I had read it. I kindly told her I had not but have read of it, and that led us into a discussion about the book. She told me what she thought about the God in the book and how The Shack was helping her overcome preconceived notions and was changing how she thought about God in general. As you might imagine, this was the perfect door to walk through and share Jesus Christ with her.

And what a conversation we had! We must have talked for an hour! She shared with us that her father had passed away several years ago and was very involved in his church. She had no doubt that he was a born again Christian and was in heaven now. Having been brought up in church as a child, she had bad experiences with people being judgmental and hypocritical, so she has not pursued God since. But her father's testimony stood out to her, and I wanted her to know that she could see him again one day.

Cathy was very receptive in going through the Law to see if she was a good person, and she really seemed to grasp the consequence of sin and how Jesus paid our debt once and for all - she thought that purgatory might exist and was in the Bible. I explained to her how we need to repent of our sins and place our complete trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. We also talked about the endtimes a bit and she agreed that we are near the end of something.  We covered a lot of ground on faith and it was so comforting to know that the Holy Spirit was guiding our conversation.

While Cathy admitted to understanding everything we talked about, she conceded that she had a difficult time in trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. I happened to have a copy of Mark Cahill's book, One Heartbeat Away, and gave it to her along with my Urgent Message tract. She was so excited that I was giving her a free book and couldn't wait to start reading it. She said she just might start reading it right then, perhaps putting down The Shack. In any case, I'm confident the Lord will take the seeds planted today and water them in His perfect timing.

This was one of the most rewarding conversations I've ever had. Truth be told, witnessing to strangers face to face is new to me. Mark Cahill has been a great testimony and encouragement to me, especially in his other book, One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven. God has used him to break down the walls of fear I have in being bold in sharing my faith. And who isn't nervous about these sort of things? Knowing that I can do all things in Christ because He is my strength gives me great comfort, and since He is for me, who can be against me?

Cathy could have rejected any conversation or the message I shared with her and that would have been ok - because my reward is in heaven when people reject me for His name's sake. But thank God that His perfect will was fulfilled yesterday and I rejoice in the faith He gave me to share His Son Jesus Christ with a stranger.

I hope this short post has been an encouragement to someone to step out on faith and let God take it from there. As the Holy Spirit continues to work in me, I am beginning to understand what it means to walk out on the water. Keep your eyes and ears sensitive to situations that will enable you to share Jesus Christ with someone. Pray that God will appoint you to speak with someone and prepare their hearts before hand. Let the greatest desire of your heart be to share the Way, the Truth, and the Life with the lost, and I promise you your prayer will be answered. When we pray that God's will be done, you can bet it will be and He will be honored and glorified!

Please take a moment to pray for Cathy that God will continue to draw her to His Son. I got the feeling yesterday that He has been drawing her for a little while now. Pray that these seeds will be watered and that she will come to know the Peace that passes all understanding. May the Lover of her soul draw her to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Cathy, if you're reading this, thanks again for the conversation and I'm confident many will be praying for you to become a child of God. May His perfect will be done in your life, and we hope to hear from you soon.

Ephesians 1:3-14

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he[c] predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

11In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More on Mormonism - Glenn Beck

By Justin Edwards

As a result of Glenn Beck's show last Tuesday on Black Liberation Theology, I posted  Mormonism vs. Christianity that includes an excellent video from Living Waters delineating the clear differences between the cult of Mormonism and biblical Christianity. Beck's show last week left many evangelicals confused on where he is theologically - is he a born again believer that is merely ignorant of the heretical doctrines of Mormonism; or is he deceiving the masses by blurring the distinctive lines of Christianity and Mormonism as Mormons have been attempting to do in the last couple of decades?

Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries tackled these issues on his Dividing Line program Monday as he compared Glenn Beck's comments with official LDS sources. Dr. White contends Beck - a former Catholic who converted to Mormonism a few years ago - did not, for the most part, use classical LDS language and apart from having a discussion with Beck on these issues, it is difficult to ascertain where Beck stands theologically.

One thing is certain - Glenn Beck still professes to be Mormon. Until he renounces the Mormon cult, he will continue to sow confusion and his salvation will remain in doubt. Glenn Beck needs our prayers.

Listen to the 40-minute segment from Dr. White here:  Yesterday on the DL - Glenn Beck

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Influence of Babylon

By Justin Edwards

The When Christ Returns series continues as Pastor Loran Livingston explains the tentacles of Babylon gripping the earth that will culminate during the Great Tribulation.

Scripture Reference:  Matthew 6:19-21; Revelation 13:16-17; 18; I Timothy 6:6-10; Luke 12:13-15; Proverbs 1:13

Direct mp3 download: Influence of Babylon mp3

Monday, July 19, 2010

3rd Temple on the Horizon

By Dr. Jimmy DeYoung

In a recent nationwide poll taken by the Knesset - Israel's legislative body, 49% of the body politic of Israel said they want to see the holy temple rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where there once stood two previous Jewish temples. The last one, Herod's temple, was destroyed in 70AD by the Roman soldiers led by General Titus.

The Israeli public is about evenly split on whether they believe the temple will be rebuilt with a slight edge 42% - 39% to those who believe that the third temple will be rebuilt. Given the current political climate, the onset of construction of the temple is not likely to go over quietly in the Islamic world which currently has day to day control of the Temple Mount.

Jimmy's Prophetic Prospective on the News

The almost 50% of Israelis who want to see the holy Jewish temple rebuilt in Jerusalem are in perfect harmony with what the Bible reveals will happen in the last days.

In a recent national poll carried out in Israel, 49% of the Israelis said that they want to see the rebuilding of the third temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount has been the location of two previous temples, the one built by King Solomon some 3000 years ago and the one built by Zerubbabel 2500 years ago. The second temple, known as Herod's Temple, because it took Herod 46 years to refurbish Zerubbabel's temple, was referred to by the rabbis as the temple that if you had never seen it, you had never seen a beautiful building.

Since 70AD, when Herod's Temple was destroyed, there have been countless efforts to rebuild it on the Temple Mount. The ancient Jewish prophet Daniel said that there will be a third temple in Jerusalem during the seven year Tribulation period (Daniel 9:27). Jesus confirmed Daniel's prophecy in his Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15) when He said, when you see the abomination of desolation in the temple, flee Jerusalem. That abomination will be the Antichrist entering the temple and claiming to be God (II Thessalonians 2:4). Revelation 11:1 guarantees that there will be a temple in Jerusalem. John the Revelator was told to measure the location for the next Jewish temple.

50% of Israelis are right - there will be a temple in Jerusalem and maybe very soon now. Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.


The Judgment of Deception

By Mike Ratliff

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

Idolatry, as I have been teaching you for these last many years, always produces spiritual blindness. It also brings God’s judgment. As we see in Romans 1:26, God “gave over,” or παρέδωκεν the unrighteous to the their own lusts as an act of judgment. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post from 2 Timothy. This accumulating for themselves of teachers to suit their own passions by ose who will not endure sound teaching, but have itching ears is the very same thing. God has given them over to their false gods, to their idols. Their deception is willing. Think of all those people lining up to to become incarnational, missional servants in the big push of dominionism by these false prophets with their false gospel of works righteousness which preys upon the post modern’s inability to think critically about anything.

There are some who still want to go back to “church as we used to know it” as it was 50 years ago or so, but we can forget that. This downgrade has been going on for a lot longer than that. What is known as Evangelicalism has becoming more and more apostate until it is just a relic of what it once stood for. When I first started this ministry my goal was revival and recovery of the Gospel and I think both are still worthy goals, but God has allowed things to go a different way.

A friend sent me an email this morning to encourage me. In it she shared how she read Jeremiah 24 and God’s analogy of the two baskets of figs. One basket held good figs while the other held bad figs that could not be eaten. The good figs represented those Jews who went into exile in Babylon. They were told to settle there and live quiet godly lives while God’s judgment would fall on those who remained in Judah which represented the bad figs. In any case, she believed, and I agree with her, that those of us who have been rooted out of our churches by the apostasy and are now able to see the evil that is happening in the visible Church all around us are the good figs. We are to simply be good Christians and obey the Lord where He has us. His judgment has already begun in the spiritual blindness and apostasy against the bad figs, but the final judgment is coming.

Another friend sent me the link to the video below. I recommend you watch it to completion my brethren for Paul Washer does indeed explain very well here what I have been attempting to say to you through these last several posts about deception.

If you are still in a good biblical church that has not apostatized then praise God! However, if you are reading this and you know things are just not right there then you must take it to God, seek His face and obey Him and what He wants you to do. I can tell you that it is never His will for you to sit at the feet of false teachers my brethren. Those who tell you different have been deceived and are part of the problem.

(HT: Possessing the Treasure)

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