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Monday, January 31, 2011

A Simple Test for Distinguishing Heresy from Sound Doctrine

Charles Spurgeon

It is a remarkable fact that all the heresies which have arisen in the Christian Church have had a decided tendency to dishonor God and to flatter man. They have always had for their covert, if not for their open aim, the exaltation of human nature, and the casting down of the sovereignty of divine grace.

Robbing God of the glory which is due unto his name, these false prophets would shed a counterfeit lustre upon the head of the rebellious and depraved creature. On the other hand, the doctrines of the gospel, commonly known as the doctrines of grace, are distinguished for this peculiarity above every other, namely, that they sink the creature very low, and present the Lord Jehovah before us as sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.

So true is this, that the most uneducated Christian may, even if he is incapable of refuting an erroneous discourse, always be able to discover its untruthfulness, if it glorifies man at the expense of God. The merest babe in grace may carry this test with him: in the midst of the diversities of opinion with which he is surrounded, he may always judge, and judge infallibly too, of the truth or falsehood of a doctrine by testing it thus—

"Does it glorify God?" If it be so it is true.

"Does it exalt man?" Then it must be false.

On the other hand, does it lay man very low, and speak of him in terms which tend to make him feel his degradation? Then doubtless it is full of truth. And does it put the crown upon the head of God, and not upon the head of man's free-will, or free-agency, or good works? Then assuredly it is a doctrine according to godliness for it is the very truth of the Lord our God.

(HT: Pyromaniacs)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homosexual Sin Is Not Exclusive

By Justin Edwards

Some professing Christians are bigots, others are hypocrites, some are liberal, while others simply tell the truth about homosexuality. The following article addresses the truth about homosexuality in that it is no different than any other sin such as lying and stealing, or drunkenness and fornication. The unrepentant sinner, whether they are homosexual or shacking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, need God's grace through the blood of Jesus Christ. The most loving thing we can do is tell these folks the truth, which is they must repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. Here's the link:

Homosexual Sin Is Not Exclusive

Free ESV MacArthur Study Bible - Last Day to Enter!

By Justin Edwards

Today is the last day to enter the January gift giveaway, which will be closing at 11:59pm tonight. If you would like a chance to win The MacAruther Study Bible (ESV) or a $15 gift certificate to Custom Tract Resource, just click on the link below to enter. All you need to do is subscribe to the RSS feed and post a comment at the bottom of the blog post. I will announce the winners hopefully by Monday!

Click here to post a comment to enter.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Daniel Plan News - Dr. Oz and Deepak Chopra Promote Meditation

By Justin Edwards

As thoroughly discussed in Rick Warren's Daniel Plan, New Age, Mysticism, Dr. Oz and More, Rick Warren is leading his Saddleback Church down the path of contemplative spirituality and mysticism. Recently, Dr. Oz invited Deepak Chopra on the Dr. Oz Show to suggest meditation as a means to lose weight. One can only wonder how long it will be when the Saddleback audience will be led to practice meditation just as Dr. Oz's audience was led in a short meditation as seen in the video.

Read about it here and watch (with caution) Deepak Chopra lead the audience in eastern-style meditation:  Rick Warren's Daniel Plan Embraces New Age Spirituality

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Husbands - Love Your Wives

By Justin Edwards

In looking at our wedding photo from 2006 as we gazed into each others' eyes on the beach of Pawley's Island, SC, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's exhortation for husbands to love their wives like Christ loves His Church. It seems many professing Christian men have made mental note that wives are to submit to their husbands, but they do not heed the words of Paul after the initial exhortation. Paul begins with:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. - Ephesians 5:22-24

It is true that wives are to submit to their husbands because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. She is to be subject to the authority of her husband and respect his decisions as long as they do not place herself or her family in physical or emotional harm. But, and that is a very big but, the man is expected to be the spiritual leader of his home, which is to say he is to lead his family in the Word of God with gentleness and be the Christ-like example God has called him to be.

But there is more. The love we are to have for our wives, husbands, is a love that is sacrificial. The Lord Jesus Christ laid His very life down for His Bride, and that is what is expected of us - to lay our lives down for our bride. The welfare of our wives must be our priority, and we must value them more than our very life. We must consider her desires and feelings of greater worth than our own, and we should count it joy to place her well-being before our own needs.

Paul gives us these words in Ephesians 5:25-29:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 

This is a great responsibility for husbands or future husbands. My desire, though a major work in progress, is to see to it that my wife is spiritually fed that God would sanctify her in His truth. However, having learned a lesson a couple of months ago, I must take care not to be overbearing but to do so with gentleness and respect. Though we may have the best intentions, we must be careful not to be legalistic and trust that God will sanctify our bride in His perfect timing. If there is an area of disagreement, sometimes it is best to back off, even if you might be correct on the issue (or think you are), and let God take care of it. In such a situation, pray that God would give you patience and ask Him to remove any pride in you and show you if it is you who may be at fault in the matter or handled the situation the wrong way. This was the case for me, and thanks to the frank advice of a dear brother, I did back off, God showed me my pride, and I asked my wife's forgiveness. We were then able to hash the situation out, and came to an agreement and a plan of action should a similar situation arise in the future.

So husbands, maybe you find yourself in a situation such as this right now. I challenge you to ask God to examine your heart and show you anything that is displeasing to Him, especially pride, and ask Him for the grace to repent should it be required so you may go before your wife in humility and reconcile your differences. At the end of the day, the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God. Be resolved to do whatever is necessary to glorify Him in your marriage. Be the spiritual leader of your wife, but also be her humble servant. Love her like Christ loves His Church, and give your life to her each day.

I still have much to learn in this regard, but one thing I've gathered over these last two years is that the more I love God, the more I will love my wife. So make sure you yourself are remaining spiritually healthy through prayer and study, and let the application and the fruit of your diligence carry over and bless your marriage.  
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. - Ephesians 5:33

Todd Bentley and Morningstar Apostasy

By Justin Edwards

Before I share the story about Todd Bentley, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about some exciting news - this week I began publishing for as the Charlotte Apologetics Examiner. Because this is a secular online publication, this will be a unique audience to reach with the Gospel as I post articles defending the faith and the Christian worldview, much like I do here, but with a local bent. You can subscribe to my articles on by email or RSS feed. I'm really looking forward to what God has in store for this new audience and I appreciate your support!

Now, to the matter at hand. Todd Bentley may be most well-known for the Florida Lakeland "Revival" of 2008, but he continues to operate as a wolf in sheep's clothing under false prophet Rick Joyner. Earlier this week, a video was uploaded by Michael Krysty showing the abominations Bentley and his ilk performed in front of their ear-tickled sheople at Morningstar. It is heartbreaking to think of how many people are being deceived by these "annointed" false teachers (yes, they're annointed alright, perhaps by Satan himself).

To see what the latest is from Todd Bentley and his Fresh Fire Ministries, please follow the link:

Todd Bentley and Morningstar Deception

Please also see: Charismania - When False Spirits Enter the Church

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Cost of Becoming a Disciple

By Dane Gardow

Because of horrible evangelism, religious lies, and itching ears, a majority of people have been led to believe that becoming a Christian is as easy as praying a simple prayer and requires very little cost or no cost at all. However, the Lord Jesus Christ has declared very clearly in the Bible that it will indeed cost you—it will cost you everything…

You will have to turn away from all your sins

Being a Christian will cost you your sins; you cannot be a Christian if you’re unwilling to forsake them. This is called repentance, and Jesus declared that unless you repent, you will perish in Hell. We are called by God to repent of our sins and turn to Him because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world. You don’t have to clean up your life before you come to Christ; no, my dear friend, come to Him now as you are. You just have to make up your mind about giving up your sins. You must stop, turn around from following after sinful lusts, and begin following after Christ, calling upon Him to help and He will remove sin from your life as you follow His lead and obey His word. James 2:19-20; Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; 26:20; Luke 13:3;Psalm 7:12; Revelation 2:16

You will have to forsake your desires & affections

Being a Christian will cost you all desires and affections which oppose the will and word of God. You will have to continually be on guard to rid your life of all the things that God hates and declares to be wicked. If you are unwilling to give up these unrighteous desires, you cannot be a Christian. God commands His people to hate evil and love good; to abstain from every form or appearance of evil; to flee from immorality, lust, idolatry, and greed. We are commanded to pursue righteousness, justice, and godliness. And this means all the things we fill our lives with will be determined by God’s word—the movies or television we watch, music we listen to, clothes we wear, and everything else on which we may set our affections. Psalm 97:10; Amos 5:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:10-11; 2 Timothy 2:22; Philippians 1:10;4:8; Psalm 119:97, 128

You will have to surrender over your dreams & aspirations

Being a Christian will cost you all dreams and aspirations you may have that do not align with the will of God for your life. If you’re unwilling to completely shift the focus of your life away from yourself and your previous aspirations and toward Christ and doing His will, you cannot be a Christian. We are commanded to do absolutely everything—down to something as small as taking a drink of water—with the focus of bringing God glory. We are even called to take every thought captive and make them obedient to the will of Christ. That means if you’re worrying about becoming rich, well-off, famous, or whatever, you’re going to have to cast this behind you. Jesus declared that our primary and preeminent focus is to be on His kingdom above all else. We serve the Lord, not vice versa; and He calls His people to carry out His will, not theirs; we pray for His kingdom come, His will be done, not ours. He is Lord over our life, and His disciples must live their lives accordingly. 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Matthew 6:10, 33

You will have to give up all your finances & possessions

Being a Christian will cost you all your finances and possessions. If you’re not willing to transfer all ownership of your money and possessions over to Jesus Christ, you cannot be His disciple. He owns everything in your life—including your life—and as a Christian you must acknowledge and submit to this. All that you have, you no longer use it for yourself but for Him—for His sake, His glory, His kingdom. And the things which cannot be used for these things must go. The money you have, which itself comes from God, you no longer use to buy foolish things for yourself but for the things which He approves and is glorified in. Christ commands us not to store up treasures on earth, but to store up treasure in Heaven. Your treasure will reveal your heart. If you’re all about money or heaping up this world’s goods, then your heart is with this world which will pass away. What will it profit you if you gain the whole world but lose your soul? If you seek to keep this world’s goods, you will lose both them and your soul. You cannot serve both God and wealth. Luke 9:23-25; 14:33; Matthew 6:19-21, 24

You will have to leave behind your family & friends

If you love your parents, siblings, spouse, children, family, friends, or even your own life more than Christ, you cannot be His disciple. Your love for Christ must be so extreme and preeminent that it makes your love for everyone else, in comparison, look like hatred. Jesus declared that He had not come to bring peace and tolerance amongst one another on the earth…He came, rather, to bring a sword of division, to set a person against the members of his own household for the sake of obedience and loyalty to Him. If your family criticizes you in regard to following Christ, or pressures you to go on a route that opposes the will of God, you will have oppose them for Christ’s sake. If you have friends who love to sin and could care less about Christ, you’re going to have to leave them behind…but if you are true to the Lord and serious about following Him, they’ll end up hating you eventually anyway. However, Jesus promises that whoever has left houses or parents or siblings or friends or spouses or children for His name’s sake will receive many times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 10:34-37; 19:27-29; Luke 14:26; 18:28-30; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 15:33

You will have to renounce your reputation & status

If you are unwilling to count as loss for Christ’s sake your reputation and status, and what people think of you, you cannot be a Christian. You must count all these things as rubbish in view of the surpassing value of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. You must cast off any false notion that you are someone important, someone of worth, one with wisdom and strength, and realize you indeed are one who is broken, lowly, foolish, and weak. The message of the cross is foolishness to the world, and in coming to Christ, believing His word, and obeying His commands, you will also be esteemed utterly foolish by them. But you must embrace the reproach of Christ that will come your way. If you hold faithfully to Christ, you will be ridiculed, despised, mocked, and slandered. Philippians 3:7-8; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21, 26-28; 3:18; 4:9-13; Luke 6:22-23

You will have to abandon your comforts & easy living

If you are unwilling to take on the demanding lifestyle of a disciple of Christ, you cannot be a Christian. Jesus declared that the vast majority of mankind will end up in Hell, and that there are many who desire to enter into eternal life but will not be able to. He exhorted His disciples to strive to enter into the kingdom of God, because only those who violently press into it will enter. The Christian life is not one of luxury or complacency, but one of self-denial and discipline, vigilance, always being on the alert, always taking heed and being careful, always striving, pursuing Christ, fighting the good fight of faith, and laying hold on eternal life. The Bible says we must enter the kingdom of God through many trials and tribulations, and all who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution. You will be hated, excluded, insulted, scorned, slandered, and abused on account of Christ—you may even be killed—but be of good cheer, for these things you are blessed, and your reward will be great in Heaven. Luke 6:22-23; 13:23-24; Matthew 7:13-14; 11:12; John 15:19; 1 John 3:13;Acts 13:40; 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Timothy 6:12; Mark 13:33; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 10:12

(Source: TruthSource)
(HT: Refocusing Our Eyes)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear "Carnal Christian" with Video

By Justin Edwards

I previously delayed the posting of Sunday's message but have now updated the article. Please click here for complete article or view below:

Dear "Carnal Christian"

By Justin Edwards

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! - 2 Corinthians 13:5

Note - if you are not willing to test yourself as Scripture commands of all professing Christians, then this article is not for you. Neither is this message for anyone who has need of nothing. There is no hope for either one of you as long as pride enslaves you. This article is, however, for every professing Christian who has a desire to make sure their faith is genuine. Most especially, if you profess Christ but your lifestyle indicates otherwise (Phil. 3:18-19), then this is for you. And please, know that I love you - it's the reason I'm telling you the truth.

Click Image
Carnal "Christianity" is a cancer in the visible church. Millions have bought into the lie of the devil that as long as you once said a prayer, as long as you once professed Christ as Lord, as long as you go to church, or pay your tithes, or serve the poor, or any number of things to keep you in right standing with God, then you are saved and heaven-bound. If you attach your assurance of salvation to any of these things, then you are an idolater and have yet to be saved by the grace of God. A sinner's prayer does not save you, nor does a decision to "ask Jesus into your heart" save you, nor does fulfilling a list of religious duties save you - it is only by the unmerited favor of God, the grace that comes to those who repent and fully trust on the Person and work of Jesus Christ alone, that you may be saved. Eternal life is in a Person, not a decision or good works.

Yesterday morning, my pastor, Loran Livingston, preached one of the most powerful, Spirit-filled messages I have ever heard from him. Coming off the previous week's message where grace was emphasized, he balanced the doctrine of grace alone with the doctrine of Christ's lordship by defining, with Scripture, the marks of a genuine born again believer. In other words, the grace that saves us is the grace that changes us, without fail. Pastor Livingston began with the following passage from Romans 5:20-6:2,

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What a wonderful truth, knowing that the grace of God triumphs over the sin of His children. This means there is no sin or sinful lifestyle too great to be covered by the blood of Christ. However! Anticipating the argument from those who would suggest grace is a license to sin, Paul continues:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

"By no means!" That is the strongest language possible used by Paul to underscore that grace does not give the believer license to sin. On the contrary, Paul makes it clear the believer will not live in sin because they have, in fact, died to sin (Romans 6:3-4).

In this postmodern church age where sin is tolerated, church doors act as floodgates for the world's cesspool of sin and abominations. Fine-arts centers, mega-church businesses, and high-tech entertainment venues are replacing biblical churches preaching the pure Gospel and worshiping God in spirit and in truth. The church, collectively, is no longer conforming to Christ and is being conformed to the god of this world. The church is no longer for God's sheep, but for those with itchy ears who have turned away from the truth to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Gospel has been tossed to the wayside, easy-believism reigns, the liberal social gospel is hailed, holiness is branded legalism, and absolute truth has been exchanged for moral relativism. So what is the consequence for watering down the Gospel and embracing worldliness into the church? Answer - a countless number of false converts with counterfeit fire insurance policies.

The church is bursting at the seams with professing Christians believing they have a license to sin. They do not obey the Gospel, they bear no fruit in the sight of God, they walk according to the flesh, and they love the world and the things of the world. Is that you, professing Christian? If you suspect your lifestyle is not one chasing after the holiness of God, then please, listen up - born again people do not act like sinners! If you believe you can flirt with the world, enjoy its benefits, and still go to heaven, you are wrong. Dead wrong, and you are playing games with your eternity.

Let me be clear - those who practice the works of the flesh as a lifestyle are not saved and they will not inherit the Kingdom of God! (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5) You are storing up wrath for yourself due to your unrepentant heart (Romans 2:5), and because you continue to disobey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, a day is coming when He will slay you with the sword from His mouth and sentence you with everlasting destruction! (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

The truth is, God's grace does not only cover His children from the multitude of sin in which they once lived, but it teaches them to desire and conform to holiness. Titus 2:11-14,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

My dear friend, holiness is not an option for the believer. God tells us without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14); therefore, the grace He saves us with will teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and it will teach us to live self-controlled, righteous, and godly lives now.

Another test of Scripture we must look to is found in 1 John 2:3-6:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Do you see that? We may know! If our lifestyles are not ones that habitually obey the commandments of God out of love for God, then at best we can have no assurance of salvation, and at worst, we have no salvation. Every one born of God will indeed practice righteousness (1 John 2:29) and they will love the commandments of God (1 John 5:3), which means they will abide or continue in them. 1 John 3:6-10 could not be more clear:

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's  seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

This does not mean the Christian will live a perfect and sinless life, but it does mean the Christian will strive for perfection and pursue the holiness of God because the seed of God has been planted in him (1 John 3:9). Practically speaking, this means the Christian is no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to obedience (Romans 6:17-18). It means sin no longer has dominion over the Christian (Romans 6:14) because the Christian has crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). It means the desires and satisfactions of this world you used to have no longer appeal to you (Ephesians 5:8), in fact you grow sick and tired of the things you used to love. It means you grow to hate what God hates (sin), and you grow to love what God loves (purity, holiness). Sin becomes obnoxious and detestable to you. It stinks and you want nothing to do with it. You flee from it. You cut it off, including the people and the things that cause you to stumble.You no longer follow the ways of the world as you now follow the Lord Jesus Christ. One or the other, certainly not both. That is impossible (James 4:4).

There is no such thing as a continuously carnal Christian. There is no such thing as "backsliding". These are lies from the pit of hell bent on giving people false assurances of their salvation. You are either saved or you are not, and those who are saved habitually practice the things of God. Jesus said His sheep hear His voice, and they follow Him . They do not follow the voices of strangers, they obey the call of their Master (John 10:1-30). If you find yourself in a place where the joy of the world has consumed you and you realize your relationship with Jesus Christ is empty, today is the day of salvation!

The days are numbered for you, whether by death or by Christ's return. You must be born again. You must repent, or you will perish. Simply believing the facts about Jesus does not save you, you must follow Him as one of His sheep. You must put on the yoke of Christ and surrender to His rule and reign over your life. You must hunger and thirst for righteousness, and you must love His Word, obey His Word, and love His people - the Church.

I pray these words spurn you to examine your heart against the mirror of God's Word. There will, no doubt, be millions of professing Christians in hell one day because they refused to examine themselves. Please don't be one of them. I love you and I am so passionate about this because I was once a false convert myself. I don't want you to end up in hell with the false assurance you thought you would end up in heaven. If you do not desire holiness today, then you will be separated from the holiness of God for eternity. Listen to His voice. Repent and trust in Christ today.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.- John 10:11,27

I invite you now to watch this critical message from Pastor Livingston:

Monday, January 24, 2011

A New Heaven and New Earth

By Justin Edwards

Oh Christian, make your calling and election sure so you may be guaranteed the inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Revelation 21:1-27

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Revelation 22:1-21

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

6 Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.

7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. 11 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
A Warning

18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Testimony of Biblical Evangelism

By Justin Edwards

A truly wonderful testimony of biblical evangelism:

(HT: Tony Miano)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Corruption of the Reformation

If we would be true to the Lord and to the Reformation heritage we embrace, we must take a strong stand against any ecumenical movement that is willing to compromise the biblical gospel for unity with Roman Catholicism. Rome claims that the sola fide teaching of the Reformation rejected all works of holiness and the need for moral transformation, and that its concept of forensic justification was a legal fiction which was antithetical to scripture. These accusations are false.

While it is true that the Reformers emphasized sola fide in their teaching on salvation it is also clear from their writings that in doing so, they did not exclude the necessity for regeneration, sanctification, adoption, repentance, and conversion. The Reformers did not reject the proper place of works in the overall scheme of salvation. They simply declared that justification was not based on the merit of sacraments or human works but exclusively on a relationship with Christ. Given the historical context in which the Reformers lived and taught and the errors of Rome with which they had to contend, it was necessary to focus on the biblical truth of justification. But as we have stated repeatedly, justification is just one aspect of the overall message of salvation proclaimed by them. Their teaching is an affirmation of and is in conformity with the teaching of scripture on salvation.

It is also important that we stand against the corruption of the Reformation gospel by the antinomian element within evangelicalism which corrupts the biblical meaning of saving faith by denying the necessity for commitment to Christ as Lord for salvation. This directly contradicts the teaching of Christ and scripture. As evangelicals, it is possible to rightly hold orthodox views on justification (in opposition to legalism), only to fall into the heresy of antinomianism. We can espouse scripturally accurate teachings on justification and be guilty of distorting the biblical teaching on saving faith. In so doing, while we claim the theological heritage of the Reformation, in practice we may embrace teachings which deny it.

We must maintain the distinction between justification and sanctification. Justification is based upon an imputed righteousness which completely delivers from the guilt and condemnation of sin. It is the only basis for our salvation. At the same time we must emphasize the necessity for repentance and submission to Christ as Lord in the application of that salvation. What profit is there if we rightly interpret the meaning of justification and pervert the meaning of saving faith? We must preach the whole counsel of God. Without a gospel call that includes repentance from sin and Christ’s call to discipleship, we will be guilty of proclaiming a false or incomplete gospel. The Christ who saves and justifies cannot be appropriated apart from a faith that commits to him.

The Church and our culture are in great need of revival. If we long to see it happen we must stand against the legalism of Rome and the easy-believism of much of evangelicalism and return to the proclamation of the biblical and Reformation gospel. The Reformers preached the gospel. They were bold and uncompromising and witnessed the power of God in great revival. Wherever the true gospel is preached and given its place of primacy and priority, wonderful transformations occur in the lives of individuals. We need a new Reformation today — a return to the biblical gospel message and a commitment to its proclamation in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s words are as true today as when he first penned them: The Gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes.

(Online source, bold his)
William Webster

(HT: Apprising Ministries)

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Why Evangelize If Election Is True?"

By Justin Edwards

This is a common question for those who reject the doctrines of grace, otherwise known at Calvinism with the accompanying acronym TULIP, and also for those who simply do not understand the doctrines and are earnestly seeking to reconcile evangelism and sovereign election. Unfortunately, there are many hypercalvinists who have distorted the biblical teaching of election and thus many an Arminian have run with the over-generalization and untruth that all Calvinists believe sharing the Gospel with the lost is pointless and unnecessary. Of course, this could not be further from the truth as Scripture is clear of our mandate to go out to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), and I have never met a bible-believing Calvinist to teach otherwise. 

The simple answer to this question is that we evangelize because God tells us to evangelize. The highest calling on the life of a person is to 1) repent and believe the Gospel and 2) to preach the Gospel. Disobeying the first calling will result in everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9), while disobeying the second calling is direct and willful disobedience to the Person who purchased you. What's more, disobeying the second calling could possibly be an indication that you continue to disobey the first calling of which the ramifications are evident. Charles Spurgeon once said,

Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.

Spurgeon could not have been more truthfully blunt in my opinion.

In Paul's letter to Philemon, he writes:

I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. - Philemon 1:4-7

Philemon's testimony should be that of every born again believer. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, it will be impossible for us not to share our faith with others.  Paul writes a similar commendation to the Thessalonians:

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. - 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4

In this passage, the fruit of our election by God becomes clear: saving faith works, saving faith loves, and saving faith manifests the enduring hope of our Lord Jesus Christ. What is the greatest labor of love produced by the Christian? To proclaim the Gospel to the lost so they might be saved. Through word and deed, loving our neighbors and enemies alike, the believer cannot help but to tell the world of the Saving Grace that saved themselves from eternal hellfire.

Because God has decreed the salvation of His sheep before the foundations of the world, we may go to the ends of the earth having confidence there are sheep who have yet to come to Christ. As such, it is our responsibility as chosen vessels to fulfill the purposes of God by proclaiming the Gospel so the sheep will hear and be saved. If salvation was not decreed for the sheep, we could have absolutely no confidence that anyone would respond in saving faith because no man has the ability to do so apart from the grace of God. In fact, if salvation were left to the free will of man, there must be the possibility there will never be another soul saved between today and the coming of Christ.

Salvation is a gift from God whereby He has ordained His found sheep to tell His lost sheep how they can be found. If you struggle in the area of evangelism, don't worry, you're not alone. But there are many wonderful resources out there to help you overcome your fears and equip you to effectively and biblically share your faith with the world. Please see the resources on the page Evangelism - Equip Yourself and also find the list of vodpod videos on the right of the page under The Great Commission. Lastly, check out the links on the left side of the page under The Great Commission and consider following each of these solid evangelical ministries.

As Christ has yet to come for His Bride, let us be vigilant in our obedience to seek and save the lost through the proclamation of the Word of God!

To further elaborate why Calvinism is the only biblical foundation for why we preach the Gospel, please see the following links:

Calvinism is the Only Basis for Evangelizing the Lost

Could Calvinism be a stumbling block to the spread of the Gospel of Christ?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Dead Will Hear and Live

By Justin Edwards

I am so thankful and humbled that God would continue to reveal His sovereign grace to me. Since surrendering my life to the Lord Jesus Christ in March 2009, He has slowly unraveled the mysteries of His divine providence to me in ways that I could handle, in small bits at a time. As I began reading through the New Testament, realizing God is indeed sovereign over man and if it were not for His sovereign grace no one could be saved, I marveled at the vast distinction between the traditions of men and the clear teaching of the Word of God. As fallen creatures, there is nothing good in us that gives us even the ability to respond to His outward calling for all men everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel. It is impossible.

Spiritually dead. Blind. Deaf. Unrighteous. Depraved. Wicked. Rebellious. Lawbreakers. Hell-bound. That describes every baby born into this world. We are corrupt creatures with corrupt desires, corrupt emotions, and corrupt wills. If one accepts this truth about man's condition, rather than supposing man is not naturally sinful and has the ability to choose God apart from His divine work (which is heresy mind you), then one must accept that apart from God's sovereign and effectual calling on a person, no one could possibly be saved. Why? Because we are dead, blind, deaf, unrighteous, depraved, wicked, rebellious lawbreakers hell-bound on the fast track.

Speaking of being dead, two days ago Al Mohler tweeted the following Scripture from John 5:25:

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

I may or may not have recognized the meaning of this verse before, but Tuesday I was astounded by its richness in speaking of the effectual calling of God. I read it several times over, went to the chapter to engage the context, and rejoiced in yet another treasure being revealed to me. There are three "simple" things going on here so let's take a look at them.

The Dead.

Who are the dead Jesus is speaking of here? Going back to John 5:24, we see Christ is speaking of our spiritual condition:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Those who believe the words of Christ and God the Father who sent Him will receive eternal life, passing from death into life. Understanding this, every born again believer was once dead in their sin,

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, - Ephesians 2:1

and unable to discern spiritual things:

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.- 2 Corinthians 2:14

These statements are absolute. The natural man cannot receive the things of God and he cannot know them. Christ, therefore, is speaking of spiritually dead people who have absolutely no capacity to understand and accept through saving faith the truth of the Gospel. It is impossible for a dead man to live. Unless!

The Voice of the Son of God.

Unless the dead hear the voice of the Son of God! The Father has given Christ all authority, as we see in John 17:1-2,

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

Jesus has the power to give eternal life to everyone given to Him by the Father, "for as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself" (John 5:26).

The Dead Will Hear and Live.

Every person who hears the voice of the Son of God will live! Every person. Jesus said the dead will hear, and those who hear will live. What are the implications of this, then? Is it that Christ calls all dead men, and all dead men will hear and be made alive? Or is it that Christ only calls those given to Him by the Father (John 17:2), and those He calls forth will indeed live? I must go with the latter. Furthermore, none who hear the voice of the Son of God are able to resist His voice. Although John 5:25 can support itself in this regard, we can also look to John 6:37, 44 (emphasis added):

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

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

The emphases here are critical. Tying in to John 5:24-25, we find that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him; and all who are drawn by the Father will indeed come, which is to say every dead man or woman drawn by the Father will hear the voice of Christ and will live and will pass from death to life. Isn't that marvelous!?

Borrowing from a quote I used from John Samson in the post Can Man Choose God?, the story of Lazarus is a primary example illustrating John 5:25:

Lazarus, being a lifeless corpse in the tomb, did not cooperate with Christ with regard to his own resurrection. Jesus simply cried out “Lazarus come forth!” and this call was powerful and sufficient in and of itself to bring dead Lazarus back to life. Christ did not interview the dead man Lazarus and ask if he would like to be resurrected, and once he got the “all clear” went ahead with his plan, now having obtained Lazarus’ permission and assent. Nor did Lazarus, once brought back to life, immediately take Jesus to court in attempt to sue him for violating his free will – his libertarian rights as a dead man to stay dead! No, for the rest of his earthly life, Lazarus was deeply grateful for the unspeakable mercy he had received from the Master.

This is a beautiful picture of what God does in our regeneration from spiritual death. Man, once receiving this grace of regeneration, then infallibly responds in faith to the effectual call of God.

Lazarus was dead, just as we are spiritually dead. While we may seek the god of religion and spirituality, we have no capacity to seek the God of the Bible without He drawing us to Himself. Just as it is impossible for a dead man to resurrect himself to life, so it is it impossible for a spiritually dead man to resurrect himself to spiritual life.

For purposes unknown to us, God has chosen to redeem a people for Himself for His glory alone to the praise of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 1:3-14). Our flesh hates this doctrine, but that does not make it any less true. If you are one who struggles or even detests the absolute sovereignty of God in our salvation, please go before God and plead with Him to reveal these magnificent truths to you. I cannot tell you how blessed I am knowing that God called me forth from death to life, not according to anything I had done (including any such "foreseen faith" I might would have), but according to His divine providence out of the counsel of His own will. Knowing this, I can rest in His grace all the more, being confident of the work He started in me will indeed be finished by Him.

Soli deo Gloria!

For further reading, please see:

Circumcision of the Heart and the Irresistible Call

God's Light Must Shine in Us. First.

According to the Foreknowledge of God

Chosen from the Beginning

Edwards and Spurgeon on Divine Sovereignty and Election

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Must Be Holy

J.C. Ryle (emphases added)

We must he holy on earth before we die, if we desire to go to heaven after death. If we hope to dwell with God for ever in the life to come, we must endeavour to be like Him in the life that now is. We must not only admire holiness, and wish for holiness: we must be holy.

Holiness cannot justify and save us: holiness cannot cover our iniquities, make satisfaction for transgressions, pay our debts to God. Our best works are no better than filthy rags, when tried by the light of God's law. The righteousness which Jesus Christ brought in must be our only confidence,—the blood of atonement our only hope. All this is perfectly true, and yet we must be holy.

We must be holy, because God in the Bible plainly commands it. "As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter i. 15, 16).

We must be holy, because this is one great end for which Christ came into the world. "He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. v. 15).

We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we have a saving faith in Christ. "Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James ii. 17, 26).

We must be holy, because this is the only proof that we love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. What can be more plain than our Lord's own words? "If ye love Me, keep my commandments." "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me." (John xiv. 15, 21).

We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we are God's children. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." "Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God" (Rom. viii. 14; I John iii. 10).

Lastly, we must be holy, because without holiness on earth we should never be prepared and meet for heaven. It is written of the heavenly glory, "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie" (Rev. xxi. 27). St. Paul says expressly, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. xii. 14).

Ah, reader, the last text I have just quoted is very solemn. It ought to make you think. It was written by the hand of inspired man: it is not my private fancy. Its words are the words of the Bible: not of my own invention. God has said it, and God will stand to it: "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

What tremendous words these are! What thoughts come across my mind as I write them down! I look at the world, and see the greater part of it lying in wickedness; I look at professing Christians, and see the vast majority having nothing of Christianity but the name; I turn to the Bible, and I hear the Spirit saying, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

Surely it is a text that ought to make you consider your ways, and search your hearts. Surely it should raise within you solemn thoughts, and send you to prayer.

You may try to put me off by saying you feel much, and think much about these things,—far more than many suppose. I answer, This is not the point. The poor lost souls in hell do as much as this. The great question is, not what you think and what you feel, but what you DO. Are you holy?

You may say, It was never meant that all Christians should be holy, and that holiness such as I have described is only for great saints, and people of uncommon gifts. I answer, I cannot see this in Scripture. I read that "every man who hath hope in Christ purifieth himself" (1 John iii. 3). "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

You may say, It is impossible to be so holy and to do our duty in this life at the same time: the thing cannot be done. I answer, You are mistaken: it can be done. With God on your side, nothing is impossible. It has been done by many: Moses, and Obadiah, and Daniel, and the servants of Nero's household, are all examples that go to prove it.

You may say, If you were so holy, you would be unlike other people. I answer, I know it well: it is just what I want you to be. Christ's true servants always were unlike the world around them,—a separate nation, a peculiar people; and you must be so too, if you would be saved.

You may say, At this rate very few will be saved. I answer, I know it: Jesus said so eighteen hundred years ago. Few will be saved, because few will take the trouble to seek salvation. Men will not deny themselves the pleasures of sin and their own way for a season; for this they turn their backs on an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. "Ye will not come to Me," says Jesus, "that ye might have life" (John v. 40).

You may say, These are hard sayings: the way is very narrow. I answer, I know it: Jesus said so eighteen hundred years ago. He always said that men must take up the cross daily, that they must be ready to cut off hand or foot, if they would be His disciples. It is in religion as it is in other things, "There are no gains without pains." That which costs nothing is worth nothing.

Reader, whatever you may think fit to say, you must be holy if you would see the Lord. Where is your Christianity if you are not? Show it to me without holiness, if you can. You must not merely have a Christian name and Christian knowledge, you must have a Christian character also: you must be a saint on earth, if ever you mean to be a saint in heaven. God has said it, and He will not go back,—"Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." "The Pope's calendar," says Jenken, "only makes saints of the dead, but Scripture requires sanctity in the living." "Let not men deceive themselves," says Owen, "sanctification is a qualification indispensably necessary—unto those who will be under the conduct of the Lord Jesus unto salvation: He leads none to heaven but whom He sanctifies on the earth. This living Head will not admit of dead members."

Surely you will not wonder that Scripture says, "Ye must be born again" (John iii. 7). Surely it is clear as noon-day that many of you need a complete change, —new hearts, new natures,—if ever you are to be saved. Old things must pass away, you must become new creatures. Without holiness, no man, be he who he may,—no man shall see the Lord.

Reader, consider well what I have said. Do you feel any desire to be holy? Does your conscience whisper, "I am not holy yet, but I should like to become so"? Listen to the advice I am going to give you. The Lord grant you may take it and act upon it!

Would you be holy? Would you become a new creature? Then begin with Christ. You will do just nothing till you feel your sin and weakness, and flee to Him: He is the beginning of all holiness. He is not wisdom and righteousness only to His people, but sanctification also. Men sometimes try to make themselves holy first of all, and sad work they make of it: they toil, and labour, and turn over many new leaves, and make many changes, and yet, like the woman with the issue of blood before she came to Christ, they feel nothing bettered, but rather worse. They run in vain, and labour in vain: and little wonder, for they are beginning at the wrong end. They are building up a wall of sand: their work runs down as fast as they throw it up. They are baling water out of a leaky vessel; the leak gains on them; not they on the leak. Other foundation of holiness can no man lay than that which Paul laid, even Christ Jesus. Without Christ we can do nothing. It is a strong but true saying of Traill's, "Wisdom out of Christ is damning folly; righteousness out of Christ is guilt and condemnation; sanctification out of Christ is filth and sin; redemption out of Christ is bondage and slavery."

Would you be holy: Would you be partakers of the Divine nature? Then go to Christ. Wait for nothing: wait for nobody: linger not. Think not to make you yourself ready: go, and say to Him, in the words of that beautiful hymn,—

"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, flee to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace."

There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ. Holiness is His special gift to His believing people; holiness is the work He carries on in their hearts, by the Spirit whom He puts within them. He is appointed a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance as well as remission of sins: to as many as receive Him He gives power to become sons of God. Holiness comes not of blood,—parents cannot give it to their children; nor yet of the will of the flesh,—man cannot produce it in himself; nor yet of the will of man, —ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him: it is the fruit of being a living branch of the true vine. Go then to Christ, and say, "Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom Thou didst promise, and save me from its power. Make me holy. Teach me to do Thy will."

Would you continue holy, when you have once been made so? Then abide in Christ. He says Himself, "Abide in Me, and I in you. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit" (John xv. 4, 5).

He is the Physician to whom You must daily go, if you would keep well; He is the Manna which you must daily eat, and the Rock of which you must daily drink. His arm is the arm on which you must daily lean, as you come up out of the wilderness of this world. You must not only be rooted, you must also be built up in Him.

Reader, may you and I know these things by experience, and not by hearsay only! May we all feel the importance of holiness, far more than we have ever done yet! May our years he holy years with our souls, and then I know they will be happy ones! But this I say once more, "We must be holy."
This article originally appeared here at Bible Bulletin Board.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who Am I According to God? Who Are You?

By Justin Edwards

I am not good (Romans 3:12).

I was a sinner in rebellion against Almighty God (Romans 3:23; 1 John 3:4).

I loved my sin and I loved darkness (John 3:19 ; Psalm 36:1-4)

I was a mere hearer of the Word (James 1:22).

My righteous acts were filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

I was a thief, an adulterer, a murderer, an idolater, a blasphemer, a fornicator, a drunkard, and a liar (Matthew 5:21-22; 27-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). 

I was a friend of the world and an enemy of God, in fact, I hated Him (James 4:4).

I was a slave to my sin and hostile to the Law of God (John 8:34; Romans 8:7)

The works of the flesh were manifest in me  (Galatians 5:19-21)

I loved the world and the things of the world, and the love of the Father was not in me (1 John 2:15).

The world loved me (John 15:19).

I was a child of wrath and lived to gratify the lusts of my flesh (Ephesians 2:3).

I followed the ways of the world and submitted to the god of this world (Ephesians 2:2).

I did not understand the things of God, nor could I (1 Corinthians 2:14).

I was a dead man walking (Ephesians 2:1).

I did not seek God (Romans 3:11).

I willfully lived in sin and was of the devil (1 John 3:8).

I hated the brethren (1 John 5:1-2). 

I walked in darkness (1 John 1:6).

I lived according to my sinful nature and had my mind on what that nature desired (Romans 8:5). 

I was born into sin (Psalm 51:5).

I lived as an enemy of the cross and my mind was set on earthly things (Philippians 3:18-19).

I was ashamed of the name of Jesus (Luke 9:26).

I stored treasures on the earth (Matthew 6:19-21).

I tried to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

I lived in worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10).

I claimed to know God but my actions denied Him (Titus 1:16).

I was on my way to hell, and deservedly so (Romans 6:23)

But God!

Snatched me out of the flames because of His grace and mercy! (Romans 9:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Ephesians 1:4-6)

I have been granted repentance (2 Timothy 2:25).

I have been adopted as a son according to the sovereignty of God and the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:4-11).

I have been washed, sanctified, and justified by faith alone (1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:10; Romans 3:24; Romans 5:1).

I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Philippians 3:9).

I have been made alive in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4). 

I am forgiven and redeemed (Ephesians 1:6).

I am born again of the Spirit of God (John 1:13; John 3:5-6; 1 Peter 1:23).

I am the prodigal son (Luke 15:24).

By God's grace, I am surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Luke 9:23; Luke 14:33; Luke 18:22).

I have God's seed planted in me and no longer live a habitual lifestyle of sin (1 John 3:9).

I have the yoke of Christ upon me so I may learn from Him (Matthew 11:3).

I am a sheep of the Good Shepherd, and nothing in all of creation can snatch me out of His hand (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39).

I have been chosen to bear fruit that will last (John 15:16).

I abide in Christ and He abides in me (John 15:4; 1 John 2:24-25, 28).

I have overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5).

I am purifying myself in cooperation with the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 7:1). 

I love the commandments of God and they are not burdensome to me (1 John 5:3).

I desire to love the Lord my God will all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37-40).

I desire to love all of my enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-28).

I have a passion to reach the lost (Mark 16:15).

I love God and am able to love God because He first loved me (1 John 4:10).

I am hated by the world because the world hated Christ first (1 John 3:13; John 15:18).

I am sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14).

I am a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7).

My life is not my own because I have been bought at a great price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer my life but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20).

I have the Peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7; John 14:27).

I have the enduring Hope within me (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

I am covered by the blood of Christ and can boldly approach the throne of God (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 4:16).

I am dead to sin and can no longer live in it (Romans 6:2).

I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I have died to myself and am now free from sin (Romans 6:6-7).

I am a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1:1; Romans 6:22).

I am a slave to obedience (Romans 6:16-18).

Nothing good lives in my sinful nature, which is still in me, but does not have dominion over me (Romans 7:18; Romans 6:14)).

There is no condemnation in me for I am in Christ Jesus and have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1).

By the power of the Holy Spirit I now walk according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4-5; Galatians 5:16).

I have a Father in heaven by whom I call, "Abba", like a child who calls upon his daddy (Romans 8:15).

I share in the sufferings of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Peter 2:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:12).

I am most blessed through persecution and there is a great reward awaiting me in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 4:14-16).

I can count it all joy when I got through all kinds of trials (James 1:2-3).

I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

I offer my body as a living sacrifice to God because this is my reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

I am no longer conformed to the world but am being conformed to likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29).

I am being transformed by the renewing of mind (Romans 12:2).

I am storing my treasures in heaven, where I am an eternal citizen (Colossians 3:2; Philippians 3:20).

There is waiting for me a glorified body, which I will receive in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet call (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

I seek to not be yoked with unbelievers or anything of the world (2 Corinthians 6:14).

I hate sin and the things that God hates (Psalm 119:104).

I am blessed by the fruit of the Spirit within me (Galatians 5:22).

I have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).

I am a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

I am faithful (Ephesians 1:1)

I am called to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14).

I desire to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1).

I desire to conduct myself worthy of the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).

My strength is in Christ (Philippians 4:13).

Christ is my life (Colossians 3:4).

I am not ashamed of the name of Jesus or the proclamation of the Gospel (Matthew 10:32; Romans 1:16).

I long for the appearing of Christ, and there is a award awaiting me in heaven (2 Timothy 4:8).

God works in me to do His will and act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13).

By God's grace, I am a doer of the Word (James 1:22).

I live for the will of God (1 Peter 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

I love the brethren (1 John 4:7).

I am kept from the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 3:10).

I have eternal life (1 John 5:11-12).

And I will reign with the King of kings and the Lord of lords forever and ever (Revelation 5:10). Amen!

So, who am I? I am nothing...apart from Christ (John 15:5).

How about you? 

Who are you according to the Word of God?

Is there anything in the second list you cannot identify with? Do you find yourself trapped among the things in the first list? What other things might be included in these lists pertaining to the old and new natures?

Let's talk about it - please post your questions or comments below.

Monday, January 17, 2011

American Genocide

By Justin Edwards

(HT: Tony Miano)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rick Warren's Daniel Plan, New Age, Mystyicism, Dr. Oz, and More

By Justin Edwards

This is a must read special report from Lighthouse Trails Research regarding Rick Warren's new Daniel Plan for his Saddleback Church. It may be the most clear evidence to date of the direction Warren is leading his followers into contemplative spirituality and mysticism (CSM). If you are a supporter of Rick Warren or attend his church, I implore you to prayerfully consider what is being presented to you here. He is opening the door to a tsunami of deception for all who follow him and his models. Will you continue to blindly follow this man, or test him against the Word of God like the Bereans?

By Lighthouse Trails Research

(HT: to Joe Schimmel for providing photos and video at his Cup of Joe blog)

Rick WarrenJust ten days after Lighthouse Trails posted its last and most important article of 2010, Rick Warrenʼs “Apologetics” Weekend Should Apologize for Representing “Another Gospel,”we must issue this Special Report regarding a year-long event that will be kicking off at Rick Warrenʼs Saddleback Church on January 15th, 2011.

Near the end of 2010, Rick Warren announced that Saddleback Church would be entering “a Decade of Destiny.” He told his congregation that they would be focusing on several key areas, one of them being “health and wellness.” The “Daniel Challenge” or the “Daniel Plan” is Saddlebackʼs new health “initiative.” On Saddlebackʼs website, it states:

God’s Prescription For Your Health.
Be a part of this transformational debut to be a healthier you!

The kick-off event is next weekend, January 15. Weʼll hear from world-renowned doctors on a plan to get healthy and stay that way in the new decade.

Who are the “world-renowned doctors” that will be helping to kick off Saddlebackʼs Decade of Destiny? Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman. The video on the website states that this program has been “Exclusively Designed for Saddleback Church by Three of the Leading Health Specialists in America.”

Let us get right to the point: The three doctors who have put together a 52-week health program for Saddleback congregants are absolute advocates and proponents of not just eastern-style meditation but actual eastern meditation and much, much more as this article will reveal. Right off, let us say that if you are thinking perhaps that these doctors will only advise Saddleback on legitimate health advice (exercise, healthy eating, etc.) take a look at this video (taken place at Saddleback, see below) between Rick Warren and Dr. Daniel Amen. Amen intends to help Saddleback participants to have good “brain health,” which he firmly believes comes from meditation. In this video, he openly discusses meditation with Rick Warren.

What are the spiritual underpinnings of the meditation these three doctors are propagating? This report will lay it out for you.

Dr. Amen, founder of Amen Clinics, is the author of over 25 books. He teaches techniques that will improve  “brain health,” claiming that poor brain health is associated with a host of problems from overeating to depression. As Dr. Amen describes in the video you just saw, he includes meditation (and in fact this is his primary tool) as a way to have a healthy brain.

It is the nature of this meditation that sets Dr. Amen apart from any other individual that Lighthouse Trails has ever written about concerning Rick Warren. In a 6-CD set called Create a More Passionate Night, Dr. Amen has teamed up with advanced certified Tantra educator, T. J. Bartel. It is important that you visit Bartelʼs website to better understand the nature of what he stands for. By the way, when you hear Bartel say “Namaste,” this means the god in me bows down to the god in you. We have discussed tantric sex in a number of Lighthouse Trails articles in the past, such as one called “Whatʼs Sex Got to Do with It?” Please refer to this article if you are unfamiliar with this spiritual practice. In essence, Tantra or tantric sex is the use of Hinduistic-type mysticism during sexual intercourse. Please listen to what Ray Yungen has to say about Tantra and the serious implications of it:

Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.

Once completely off-limits to the masses of humanity, Tantra, like all other New Age methodologies, is now starting to gain increasing popularity… The potential to impact a very great number of people, especially men, was brought out in an article by a sex worker who incorporates “Tantric Bodywork” into her services… she has turned to Tantric Union to give her clients what she feels is not just sex but “union with the divine.” …Now the “multitudes of men” who come to her get much more than they bargained for. In the past, wives and girlfriends needed only to worry about sexually transmitted diseases from cheating husbands and boyfriends, but now their men may instead bring home spiritual entities! (For Many Shall Come in My Name, Yungen, pp. 115-116)

We are sorry to be so frank – but we must – we are dealing with Rick Warren, “Americaʼs Pastor” and one of the most, perhaps THE most, influential evangelical leaders today. And in just a few days, he will be starting a 52-week health program that has been designed by Dr. Amen, a tantric sex activist! Dr. Amen expresses his strong feelings about tantric in his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body:

In my book, “The Brain in Love,” I wrote about Tantric sexual practices, and was fascinated by the concept… I wanted to experience it for myself and thought it would be a wonderful way to enhance my relationship with my wife, Tana… T.J. Bartel… became our teacher… I felt as if I had to share his knowledge with everyone I knew.” (p. 283)

Everyone he knows? Will that include Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, and even overflow to thousands of Purpose Driven churches? That could potentially be millions of people. On the video interview with Rick Warren and Dr. Amen, Warren states that Dr. Amenʼs resources would be available for those attending the seminar this coming weekend. In almost all of the ”resources” by Dr. Amen, he advocates eastern meditation. In some of the books, he devotes many, many pages to meditation practices. On page 238 of Amenʼs Making a Good Brain Great, he states: “I recommend an active form of yoga meditation called Kriya Kirtan. It is based on the five primal sounds saa, taa, naa, maa, aa.” He tells readers to repeat these sounds for 12 minutes straight.

Many of you have heard of New Age leader Eckhart Tolle, whose 2008 book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Lifeʼs Purpose was highly popularized by Oprah. Tolle stated that the bookʼs purpose was to bring about a “shift in consciousness” (pp. 6-7). In his earlier book, The Power of Now, he speaks of this ”consciousness,” what he considers a christ-consciousness:

Christ is your God-essence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence. (p. 104)

For more on Eckhart Tolle and the great awakening that New Agers seek after for the planet, read Warren B. Smithʼs 4-part article, “The Great Heretical Idea: Oprah and Eckhart Do the New Age Shift.” Dr. Daniel Amen talks about Tolleʼs The Power of Now in his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, calling Tolleʼs book ”extraordinary.”

Dr. Amenʼs meditation technique of choice is Kriya Kirtan, as we stated above. This is a form of kundalini yoga (see his book, The Brain in Love, p. 146). Those who have studied with discernment the New Age know that kundalini (or serpent power) is the spiritual “energy” behind meditation. Ray Yungen explains the relationship between kundalini and the chakras:

The chakras act as conduits or conductors for what is called kundalini or serpent energy. They say this force lies coiled but dormant at the base of the spine like a snake. When awakened during meditation, it is supposed to travel up the spine activating each chakra as it surges upward. When the kundalini force hits the crown chakra, the person experiences enlightenment or Self-realization. This mystical current results in the person knowing himself to be God. That is why kundalini is sometimes referred to as the divine energy. According to New Age proponents, all meditative methods involve energy and power, and the greater the power, the greater the experience. (“FMSC,” pp. 76-77)

Dr. Mark Hyman, one of the three doctors who ”designed” the “Daniel Challenge” for Saddleback, is another strong advocate for mystical meditation. In his book, The Ultramind Solution, Hyman emphasizes meditation, saying that it doesnʼt matter what religion one has to benefit from it (p. 322). Dr. Hyman suggests that “Mindful meditation is a powerful well-researched tool, developed by Buddhists” (p. 384). On the front cover of The Ultramind Solution, sits an endorsement by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the third doctor who will be training Saddleback on health.

Anyone who watches daytime television, in particular Oprah, will know the name Dr. Oz, a highly renowned cardiovascular surgeon. It was Oprah who featured him on her show for five years, making him a household name, which eventually led to his own television show, one of the most popular shows on television.

Last February, Lighthouse Trails posted a piece titled Dr. Oz Tells Millions of Americans: ʻTry Reiki!ʼ” In January 2010, Dr. Oz brought a Reiki master onto his show to demonstrate Reiki and then ended the show saying, “try Reiki” as the #1 “Ozʼs Order.” It would make sense that Dr. Oz would tell his viewers to try Reiki – his wife is a Reiki practitioner. One press release related:

Reiki Masters across America and the world had cause for celebration on January 6 when Dr. Mehmet Oz revealed his Ultimate Alternative Medicine Secrets for 2010 during his nationally broadcast afternoon talk show. He ranked Reiki #1. Dr. Oz said, “Reiki is one of my favorites, weʼve been using it for years in the Oz family, and we swear by it.”

As Lighthouse Trails has documented for years, Reiki is a type of “energy healing” that is based on the New Age chakra system and puts those practicing it into contact with the realm of familiar spirits. If this sounds far fetched, listen to what one Reiki master wrote in the Everything Reiki Book:

During the Reiki attunement process, the avenue that is opened within the body to allow Reiki to flow through also opens up the psychic communication centers. This is why many Reiki practitioners report having verbalized channeled communications with the spirit world. (cited in “A Time of Departing,” p. 97)

Recently, we posted a YouTube video that describes the spiritual consequences of practicing Reiki. The person doing the video told the story of one woman who, after practicing Reiki, came into contact with 35 spirit guides and was unable to rid herself of them. They told her they would be with her forever. If you have not yet viewed this 10 minute video, it is imperative that you do. (Good Fight has embedded this video below for your convenience.) Reiki is a catalyst or channel, as stated earlier, into the spirit world. This is not a silly, nonsensical ritual with no meaning. This is serious stuff!

How serious (is Reiki)? Consider this: A book titled The Instruction, written by Ainslie MacLeod, is described by the publisher as the following:

Have you ever sensed that your life has a deeper, more meaningful purpose–but donʼt know what it is? If so, youʼre not alone. To help you and the millions like you, psychic Ainslie MacLeodʼs spirit guides have given him a systematic approach to uncovering who you really are–and the life your soul has planned for you. They call it “The Instruction.” Now, for the first time, this unique teaching is offered as a step-by-step program for realizing personal fulfillment. The Instruction will take you through ten “doorways” to unveil the life plan your soul created before you were even born.

In the foreword written by MacLeod, he says the “purpose of the book is to understand the coming shift in consciousness that is poised to sweep the planet. This transformation will affect everyone of us in some way.” This book, which is given by spirit guides and lays out the basic foundation for the New Age, impressed Dr. Oz so much that he wrote an endorsement for the front cover. He stated: “I recommend this book to those who seek greater spiritual well-being and a better understanding of their lifeʼs purpose.” Dr. Ozʼs endorsement is also on the front cover of MacLeodʼs 2010 book, The Transformation: Healing Your Past Lives to Realize Your Soulʼs Potential, where he exclaimed: “Ainslie MacLeod is at the frontier of exploration into the soul and its profound influence on our physical selves.”

Make no mistake about it – Reiki, meditation, tantric sex – these are very powerful mystical experiences that have the capability to delude and deceive those who are involved with it. While many of the health ideas these three doctors share in their books and DVDs are legitimate (exercise, vitamins, and good diet, etc.), these doctors firmly believe in meditation and want to make it widely accepted and embraced and have interwoven this belief into their programs. As Dr. Amen admitted himself, he wants to tell everyone he knows about meditation. Rick Warren and Saddleback are in danger, as could be the millions who Rick Warren influences.

We urge all discerning believers to contact their own pastors and any other pastors or leaders they know to warn them about what is taking place in the name of wellness and fitness in the church. We urge you also to contact ministries who have, in one way or another, either through consent or silence, supported the “new” spirituality that is trying to enter the church and tell them where it leads. The wellness and fitness aspect of this is just another face of this whole movement that is impacting our entire culture.
In this plea, consider what Roger Oakland stated at the end of Faith Undone:

There are still pastors and churches dedicated to proclaiming the truth. Find out where they are and support them. If you are in a location where this does not seem to be possible, seek out materials that are available from solid Bible-based Christian ministries and hold Bible studies in your homes.

When Jesus returns, He will not find a utopian world filled with peace but one in shambles, unrest, violence, and war for having forsaken the Word of God, the true Gospel, and the One true God. Rather than being a time when He will praise the world for discovering its christ-consciousness, He will come as a Judge and powerful King (p. 230).

Let us hold fast to the truth, and in considering the fact that compromising our spiritual health and wellness is never the right avenue to physical wellness, remember the words Paul spoke to the Romans. He did not tell them to entertain spirit guides, practice mantra meditation, yoga, or Reiki. This was his instruction to believers:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. –Romans 12: 1-2

As important as physical health may be, we must remember that our bodies are only temporal. Yes, we should take care of them, but in the process we should not do as Esau did and sell out our spiritual heritage for a bowl of pottage.

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