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Friday, April 29, 2011

1914 False Prophecy from The Watchtower

By Justin Edwards

Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries has posted an excellent illustration, based on a 1984 Watchtower publication, that clearly shows the Watchtower Society to be a false prophet organization.  Make sure you read Dr. White's explanation, then consider printing this image to keep in your Bible for the Jehovah's Witness that knocks on your door.  A brother and I are meeting with a JW in a few weeks, Lord willing, and I will be sure to have this handy.  Make sure you click the image for full size.

As another false prophecy is about to NOT be fulfilled, please see the following article: May 21, 2011 and the Harold Camping Cult "Prophecy"

For additional resources on Jehovah’s Witnesses, see:  Cults and World Religions

A Fascinating Reminder of the 1914 False Prophecy

I used to spend a lot of time on the subject of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It was the second major group I tackled and studied. I still have a huge number of their old, old books, shelves of them, actually. I also have a whole set of what are called "bound volumes," yearly compilations of all of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Of course, much of this is now available digitally on the Watchtower Library CD Rom (which isn't easy to get hold of, but not impossible). Anyway, I just checked the dark corner of one of my shelves and pulled out the bound volume for the Watchtowers of 1984. On the cover of the May 15, 1984 publication (repeated on page 4) is a picture of a group of elderly people, all looking upward. The title give is "1914: The Generation That Will Not Pass Away." You will look in vain for such confident promises in today's Watchtower publications, as they have effectively buried the 1914 prophecy, but it was front and center for many decades. In fact, on page 5 of this same publication we read, "If Jesus used 'generation' in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80's or 90's, a few even having reached a hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them 'will by no means pass away until all things occur.'---Luke 21:32."

Well, I was sent this graphic a few days ago. It contains that same cover picture (I double checked it in my own printed edition), but identifies each and every person in the picture by name, and gives the date when they all passed away. A tremendous testimony to the status of the Watchtower Society as a false prophet---just like Harold Camping already is (1994), and will be proven yet again in about three weeks. False prophets come, false prophets go, but Christ continues to build His church, not by the popularity of His teachings, but by the changing of the heart.

(HT:  John Samson)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Great Outdoors, Fellowship, and Evangelism

This article was originally posted at The Speak:Truth Project

One of my most favorite things to do in life is to enjoy the great outdoors.  Last Saturday, a group of us headed to Grandfather Mountain in Western North Carolina to meet up with a couple of dear friends, Josh and Steve, who recently moved from Charlotte to pastor Higher Ground Church of God in Pineola, NC.   We also brought our families with us, so while we hiked the mountain, our wives and children spent the day hanging out.

The weather could not have been more perfect.  We got started around 10am and I was excited about all the people we would be seeing on the mountain.  The ice got broken for tract distribution as a gentleman took our picture near the Mile High Bridge, and I responded in kind with a Million Dollar tip!

Aaron and I both brought tracts with us for the hike, and between us both, I imagine we were blessed to hand out approximately 50 tracts.  We may have only spoken to one individual for a few minutes on one occasion, but dozens of people received the Gospel in their hands.  This gentleman in particular had mentioned he has been meaning to read his Bible and “get things right” for a while, so I can only imagine what it meant for him that we spoke the truth of God’s Word to him on the side of a mountain (literally on a ladder on the side of a mountain!).  Most people were elated and appreciative of what we handed them, and on a couple of occasions we met believers, which is always an encouraging experience.

The best part of our day was our time of fellowship together, especially during lunch.  Aaron had prepared a devotional about peaks and valleys and where our focus must remain through times of prosperity and trying times – on Christ.  We also sang a couple of songs and worshiped the Creator together.  It was really a sweet moment and epitomized what true fellowship is for the Body of Christ.  It seems most of our conversations throughout the hike were centered on God, and it was such a blessing to be in the company of like-minded believers who desired the same fellowship.
So dear friends, I encourage you to consider an outing where you might fellowship and worship our God in the great outdoors.  It is so refreshing to “get away” for a day and spend time in God’s creation with other believers.  It also affords you the opportunity to witness to the lost literally on “the ends of the earth”.

Even if you are not in a group, always keep Gospel tracts handy and have courage to hand them out wherever you go.  Had we left our tracts at home, it would have been a wasted opportunity to get the Gospel in the hands of folks we may have otherwise had no other contact.

Do you have any plans for this spring and summer?  Camping, hiking, fishing, mountains, beach, four-wheeling, horseback riding, lakes, rivers, etc.?  If not, try making some – and don’t forget your tracts!

You can check out the rest of our photos on facebook.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jesus Died for Me

By Justin Edwards

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. - 1 Corinthians 1:18

Jesus died for me.  A wretched sinner.  I lived as an enemy of the cross.  I loved the world.  I loved my sin.  Though I loved God with my lips, I hated Him with my lifestyle.  My mind was set on earthly things.  I pursued the riches of this world.  I was proud.  I wanted to control my life.  I wanted to do things my way.  I was a hypocrite.  Compared to others, I was a good person.  Compared to God, I was hopeless.  "Moral values" were my god.  As long as I didn't hurt others, it was ok for me to hurt myself through a reckless lifestyle.  I was a professing Christian.  I trampled on the blood of Christ.  I took pleasure in the sin that nailed Him to the cross.  I was religious.  I was lost.  But Jesus died for me.  For me!

What did I do to receive this greatest act of love where Jesus laid His life down for me?  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  What could I do?  There was nothing good in me.  There was nothing in me that God looked upon me favorably to say, "Ah yes, this one deserves My grace."  No, I did not deserve God's grace.  No one does.  The only thing any of us deserve is His justice and wrath - the due punishment for our crimes against an infinitely holy and righteous God.

There was no amount of effort that could make me deserving of heaven.  There was no amount of good works to outweigh by bad works.  There was no amount of cleaning myself up that would warrant me worthy of salvation.  After all, it was actually impossible for me to clean myself up, and trust me, I tried many times.  The reality was that I was a slave to my sin.  I was in bondage to the works of the flesh, and the reckless and proud lifestyle I lived was merely an outward manifestation of the condition of my heart. And because I was "saved and baptized" when I was 8 years old and was taught "once saved always saved", it really didn't matter what kind of lifestyle I lived because I was forgiven and eternally secure.  Little did I know grace was not a license to sin, nor does a prayer or "decision for Christ" equal salvation.  Even so, my pride caused me to believe God would overlook my sin, even though my lifestyle was an abomination to Him.

So why did God save me 2 years ago?  I can tell you it had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Him.  A secret only known to God, He chose me before the foundation of the world to lay His life down for me.  While I was dead in my sins and was an enemy of God, He chose to extend His mercy to me.  To bring glory to Himself, and for this reason alone, He chose to give me a new heart so that I could see exactly who I was, and more importantly, I could see Who He is.  I am nowhere in the equation, but solely for His glorious purposes, of which I know not, He chose to make me His son and a co-heir in the Kingdom of Christ.

That is grace, my friend.  There is no other way.

I deserved the punishment, but Christ took my punishment instead.  I deserved the wrath of God, but Christ bore this wrath for me.  Every single sin - whether thought, word, or deed - I deserved to recompense, but Christ paid my debt for me because I could not.  The perfect, spotless, Lamb of Almighty God took my hell, so that I could receive eternal life with Jesus in heaven.

That is love, my friend.  There is none greater.

It is for this reason I am able to love God.  If He had not loved me first, it would be impossible for me to love Him.  If He had not made me a new creation, it would be impossible for me to desire God.  If He had not given me a new heart, it would be impossible for me to serve and obey Him.  And if He had not shone His light through me, it would have been impossible for me to understand the Gospel.

But none of these things make any sense to those with hardened hearts.  As the Scripture at the top of this post indicates, the cross is utter foolishness to those who are perishing.  They think it folly that anyone can pay for their sin except for themselves.  They mock the blood of Christ and consider it disgusting to be covered by such a thing.  The god of this world, Satan, has blinded them so they cannot see the truth that is in the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4), and in their natural state as children of wrath,

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:14

But when God saves sinners by His grace alone, He gives us eyes to see and a mind to discern the things of God.  Because of this, we are able to respond to Christ with a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and God enables us to pursue Him with a passion to love Him with all of our mind, heart, soul, and strength.  This causes us to depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19), deny worldliness and ungodliness (Titus 2:12), to flee from idolatry and sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 10:14; 6:18), and to come out from under the influence of the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Believers understand just how costly it was for Christ to lay His life down for His sheep.  Jesus paid our fine so we would not receive our just and eternal punishment in hell, and for that we are eternally grateful.  It is now our reasonable service to offer our bodies to Him as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to Him (Romans 12:1).  Out of love for Him and love for His beautiful yet gut-wrenching sacrifice, we have no greater desire than to obey Him and flee from the things that crucified Him.  We are compelled to lay our lives down for Christ because we have been the benefactors of the riches of His grace and mercy. 

Christ is our Savior.  Christ is our Lord.  Christ is our King.  And me, a wretched sinner, He laid His life down.

Christ died for me.  Did He die for you?

Friday, April 22, 2011

By Grace Alone at God's Expense

By Justin Edwards

I am nearly finished with the short work of Sinclair Ferguson titled, By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me.  The inspiration for the book came from the beautiful hymn written in 1946 by an African pastor, Emmanuel T. Sibomana, titled "O How the Grace of God Amazes Me."  Christians can take the grace of God for granted, often forgetting exactly how costly the price of grace was for sinners.  When we realize just how costly it was for Christ to purchase His sheep for which He died, understanding that God created the heavens and the earth to display His glory and humans to bestow the immeasurable riches of His mercy and grace, we can rest and stand in awe of the wonder and beauty that is in Christ.

The following excerpts are from chapter 3, At God's Expense, and I thought they were fitting and timely for a Good Friday article.  The most amazing part of what today represents is that Christ could have saved Himself from the bloody cross. He could have called forth the armies of heaven to crush His enemies.  He could have escaped the torment of that cross, but He didn't, and He sustained the furious wrath and devastating punishment from God, His own Father.  He refrained from doing any of these things for one reason alone:  in order for Christ to save sinners, He could not save Himself. There is no greater love than this!

I highly recommend Sinclair Ferguson's book, which can be found at a reasonable price at the Ligonier Store.

At God's Expense

"O How the Grace of God Amazes Me" takes us, step by step, through various dimensions of God's saving grace. The third verse brings us to the theme of this chapter - salvation was costly to God. E.T Sibomama writes:

Jesus, God's Son,
Suffered on Calvary's tree -
Crucified with thieves was he -
Great was his grace to me,
His wayward one. 

Into Loneliness

...The whole story of Jesus' passion, His arrest, His trial, His suffering, and His public execution is one of appalling loneliness and isolation voluntarily experienced in order to restore us to fellowship with God.

After the meal in the upper room, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsamane. There He sought consolation from His Father and encouragement from His disciples.  He took Peter, James, and John (His "inner circle") and separated them from the others in the group.  Then He isloated Himself even from them, and was entirely on His own.

In the hours that followed, this movement into isolation continued and intensified.  He was further separated from His disciples, friends, and family members - although they came, bravely, to be with Him at His execution.  This was surely the hour the aged Simeon foresaw when he said to the young Mary, "a sword will pierce through your own soul" (Luke 2:35).

From His arrest until He was helped to carry His cross by Simon of Cyrene, Jesus had no close contact with human help - indeed, His one sighting of Simon Peter was when curses rang out from the disciple's lips (Matt. 26:74; Luke 22:61).  Did Jesus also feel a sword piercing His soul as He heard the words, "I do not know the Man!" Only at Golgotha did He have further contact with those who had known Him best and loved Him most.

But there was much more - and much worse.  Jesus felt Himself to be abandoned by God and cried out on the cross:  "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46)...

The Christ

...Jesus is the Christ:  He fulfills all three of these roles [prophet, priest, and king].  The ultimate role of the prophets, priests, and kings was not merely to minister to their contemporaries but to point them forward to Christ - who Himself would be the very Word of God, who would offer the ultimate sacrifice that would take away sin, namely Himself, and who would be the Monarch whose kingdom would never end.

Such a person had been promised in the Old Testament - a prophet greater than Moses (Deut. 18:15-19), a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4), a king who would reign forever as the Son of David (Ps. 2:6).  Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Christ...

...Contrary to what those who wanted to destroy Jesus thought they were doing, they were themselves caught up in the purposes of God to bring salvation to sinners through His Son (Acts 2:23).

Before their blinded eyes, Jesus was fulfilling His messianic ministry.

Prophet, Priest, and King

Notice how all of this emerges.  The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating Him.  They blindfolded Him and demanded:  "Prophesy!  Who is the one who struck you?" (Luke 22:64).  They played with Jesus:  "Prophet! Prophet!  If you are a prophet, prophesy!"

Then, as Jesus' passion progressed, Herod and his soldiers also ridiculed and mocked Him.  They dressed Him in elegant, regal robe, then sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:6-12).  It was as if they were saying, "If you are a king, you should be dressed like a king."

Then, as people sneered at Him and mocked Him during His crucifixion, one of the criminals crucified beside Jesus said, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us" (Luke 23:29).

That was the specific task of the high priest.  That was his unique and supreme ministry on Yom Kippur, the annual Day of Atonement.  He made sacrifices for the forgiveness of his own sins and then took sacrificial blood into the Holy of Holies - the holiest place of all, so sacred that it was entered only once a year, and then by only one man.  On that sacred day, he would sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed animal on the symbolic throne of God on earth and pray for the forgiveness of the people.  He entered the presence of God that day to "save others," endangering his own life as he did so (Ex. 28:35).

So when the dying thief turned to Jesus and said, "If you are the Christ, then be the Great High Priest - save Yourself and others," he did not realize that saving others was precisely what Jesus was doing.  To do that, He had to lose His own life.

They mocked Him as though He were not a true prophet.  But soon Jesus would turn to the dying thief who said, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).  He would speak to him with the majesty and authority of the final and true Prophet:  "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

That dying thief saw something that nobody else had eyes to see.  He saw that Jesus was the King, and that His kingdom would extend beyond the death of both of them.

He was indeed the Christ.

In the last hours of Jesus' life, the whole land became dark.  The Gospel writers simply note the fact without comment or explanation.  The event may have reminded them of more than one significant event in the past.  One of them surely would have been the Day of Atonement, when the high priest moved from the outer courts of the temple into the darkness of the hidden, inner room of the Holy of Holies in order to sacrifice and pray for the people.  In that hidden room, the sun never shone.  The great sacrifice was offered to God far from prying eyes.

On the day of Jesus' crucifixion, the whole land was turned into the Holy of Holies where Jesus the High Priest made not the annual but the final sacrifice for sins.  The symbolism was fulfilled in the reality.  Thus, the symbol itself was no longer needed.  The great curtain in the temple was suddenly torn in two - from the top to the bottom (Luke 22:45).  The way to God was now open.  God Himself deconsecrated the temple in this dramatic way.

Jesus really was the High Priest.  All earlier high priests were mere pictures, actors in a lengthy drama communicating a message to those who watched, pointing forward to the One who was to come and revealing Him to those who had eyes to see.  Jesus Himself was the reality.  Unlike the earlier sacrificial dramas, this time the High Priest went into the immediate presence of God.  On the altar of Calvary, He shed His own blood.  Because His was the real sacrifice, God confirmed that it was acceptable to Him by desecrating the temple from heaven.  It was as if He were saying "This is not needed any longer."  He destroyed the old order. It had served its purpose.

At the Cross

...Crucifixion was a horrible death.  It was a slow death.  Men eventually died by asphyxiation.  As they weakened, they could no longer raise their bodies sufficiently to make breathing possible.  Yet we read of Jesus crying out with a loud voice (Luke 23:46).  Was this only a great final effort on His part?

In addition, Jesus appears to have died long before He was expected to (John 19:31:33).  Is Luke drawing our attention to the fact that Jesus chose the moment of His death - that, in a special sense, He died deliberately, sovereignly, and actively?  It seems He chose the moment with regal authority, calling out with a loud voice, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:35).  Then He bowed His kingly head and breathed His last.

In Luke's account of the crucifixion, it is fascinating to notice the frequency with which the word save is used. "He saved others; let Him save Himself" (Luke 23:35).  "Save Yourself (Luke 23:36).  "Save Yourself and us" (Luke 23:39).

...At the cross, the word that was most frequently on peoples' lips, even in abusive statements, was the key to everything that was happening.  The One who was being despised as Prophet, as Priest, and as King actually was God's Prophet, Priest, and King - the Christ, the Savior.  He was actually doing what they were cynically calling out for Him to do.  They, however, spoke in ignorance; they did not understand that if He was to save others, He could not save Himself.

Here, then, is the mystery of the cross, its whole secret...

Blasphemy and Treason

...The two charges leveled against Jesus were blasphemy (that He had made Himself equal with God) and treason (that He had rejected lawfully constituted authority).

Why were those two charges so significant?  It was because these are the charges each of us faces before the judgment seat of God.

In that court, I am guilty of blasphemy, because I have made myself rather than God the center of the universe.

I am also guilty of treason, since I have sought to overturn His lawfully and graciously constituted authority over my life.

Blasphemy and treason were also the crimes of Adam.  These are the age-old crimes of which every one of us - old and young, rich and poor, wise and simple, famous and infamous - stands accused.  We are on the same charge sheet.  We are all guilty.

But Jesus has come!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned he stood,
Sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah!  What a Savior!

How well this is expressed in Christopher Idle's words:

He stood before the court,
On trial instead of us;
He met its power to hurt,
Condemned to face the cross.
Our King, accused of treachery;
Our God, abused for blasphemy!

Jesus came and suffered all this to take our place, to bear our judgment, to deal with our sin, and to save us.

All this we see in the intricate weaving of Luke's tapestry portraying Jesus' passion.  The central motif is now clear:  Jesus Christ died for sinners, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

The meaning of the cross is this:  "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

He took my place.  I take His grace.  He becomes my Savior.

Is that true for you?

Not for my righteousness,
For I have none,
But for his mercy's sake,
Jesus, God's Son,
Suffered on Calvary's tree -
Crucified with thieves was he - 

Are you able to sing?

Great was his grace to me,
His wayward one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why the Resurrection of Christ Matters

By Justin Edwards

And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” - Mark 16:4-7

The very cornerstone of our Christian faith rests upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we approach the memorial day of our risen Lord, let us meditate on His resurrection and the price that He paid to redeem a people for Himself, which He set out to do before the foundations of the world (1 Peter 1:20).

The resurrection matters because:

Our Lord is the Resurrection (John 11:25).

Without Christ, no man shall see God (John 14:6).

If there be no resurrection, then we are the most pitiful of humans (1 Corinthians 15:19).

My brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord has indeed risen from the dead!  His Spirit did not remain in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption or decay (Acts 2:31).  But He was given power over death and has destroyed the work of the devil! (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).  In Him we have life, yet those apart from Him shall only see death. But,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. - 1 Peter 1:3-5

If you are walking in the Spirit of the Lord this Resurrection Season, you have much for which to be grateful.  Although you cannot repay what Christ did for you, the least you can do is offer your body as a living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1).  Pray that God draws you into His grace more each day, that you will find out what is pleasing to Him so that you may cast off the works of the flesh and practically walk in newness of life.  Pray that He gives you a fire, hunger, and thirst for His righteousness through the Word of God, helping you prioritize your day to spend time with Him in prayer and study.  And pray that God gives you a passion for the lost, that they might know of the Resurrection through your obedience to

Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. - Mark 16:15

Let us make much of the resurrection of Christ, for through the blood our sins are washed away, and through His life we are given Life Everlasting!

Between now and this Sunday, I encourage you to take your time reading through 1 Corinthians 15:1-58.  It is one of the most beautiful portions of Scripture where we find that if we only have hope in Christ for this life, then we believe in vain; but since Christ has been raised from the dead, like the Apostle Paul, we may

be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. - Philippians 3:9-11

For your convenience, you can spend time with Him now in the chapter posted below.  May you be found in the riches of God's grace and mercy, dwelling in the glorious Hope of the Resurrection and the Life, holding fast to your First Love, that you would share in His inheritance as a co-heir of Christ on the throne of the Eternal Kingdom of God. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come!

(If you are unsure whether you will be resurrected with Christ, please see: Eternal Life)

The Resurrection of Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Mystery and Victory

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"God Has Forgiven You" Church Sign

By Justin Edwards

"God Has Forgiven You" were the words of a church sign I passed by in March on the way to our weekly evangelism outreach at UNC-Charlotte.  As I drove passed the sign, I could hardly believe what I read, so I made a U-turn to make sure I read it correctly.  As you can see in the picture, my eyes did not deceive me.

I had never heard of Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte or its parent organization, The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. With a church sign that read, "God has forgiven you", and seeing the term "universal", my initial thoughts were that it was some kind of Christian Universalist organization. I did not, however, expect to learn what I did through research, but more on that later.

Obviously, what struck me the most was that a church had the audacity to suggest that God has forgiven every person who would read this church sign, which would logically extend to all of humanity.  How do they know this is true?  Certainly, they do not, as Scripture is clear that God has only forgiven those who are by grace covered by the blood of Jesus Christ through faith (Ephesians 2:1-10).  While the leaders of this church are no doubt sincere in their desire to comfort people, they are deceived and they are deceiving (2 Timothy 3:13), and sadly for them, they are mere slaves to their father the devil (John 8:44).

It is true that God has a common love for mankind (John 3:16), just as He shows common mercy (Psalm 145:9) and common grace to the world (Titus 2:11).  In fact, it is common love, mercy, and grace that people live by every day, lest they be judged immediately and receive the just penalty for their sin (Romans 2:5).  Moreover, this common grace and mercy restrains men and women from being as evil as they could possibly be. Otherwise, we would all be much worse than Hitler.  It is also by this common grace that people are able to act in righteous ways, thus performing good deeds and being kind and charitable to their neighbor (Romans 2:14).  We as humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), so we are like Him mentally, socially, and morally, although sin has corrupted our created likeness of Him (Romans 5:12).

But this common love, grace, and mercy does not equal forgiveness for all people. It is only a specific love (1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8; John 10:11; 1 John 3:16), a specific grace (John 6:37, 39, 44, 65; 17:2), and a specific mercy (John 1:12-13; Romans 9:15-18; Ephesians 2:4-5) that leads individuals to repent from their sin and turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:36).  So while God's love is unconditional toward mankind, forgiveness from God is conditional upon faith and repentance (Acts 3:19; 17:30; 20:21; Mark 1:15).

Upon my research into Metropolitan Community Church, I immediately discovered this church is more than seemingly a Christian Universalist organization, but it is primarily a church for homosexuals and their allies. From the Charlotte church's page What Is MCC?, they state:

Refusing to accept that God did not love lesbian and gay people, Reverend Troy
Perry founded Metropolitan Community Church on October 6, 1968 when 12
brave lesbian and gay Christians met for worship in Rev. Perry's living room in Los Angeles, California. Today, there are thousands of worshippers in hundreds of Metropolitan Community Churches found all over the world.

MCC Charlotte, founded in 1980, continues to share the Good News of God's
transformational love and acceptance with everyone, including those of every
ability, race, creed, gender, age, national origin, lifestyle, sexual orientation or

As one might expect, the rest of the Charlotte church's website is absent of anything resembling the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no mention of the holiness of God, nor mention of His righteousness, His justice, or His wrath.  In respect to these aforementioned attributes of God, there is no mention of His grace, mercy, love, or kindness toward sinners.  And as there is no mention of sin anywhere on the website, there is no mention of the wages of sin - eternal hell.  Instead of proclaiming Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) and the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte preaches a social justice jesus who embraces all people into the family of God, especially unrepentant homosexuals.  This false gospel preached by MCC is, unfortunately, only "loving" people to eternal hell, and these false teachers will experience severe judgment should they not repent from their destructive heresies (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 2; Jude 1).

The truth is, God has commanded all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) from their lifestyle of sin.  Just as He has commanded the repentance of drunkards, fornicators and adulterers, so to He commands the repentance of homosexuals:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous  will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality [or women], 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

If you are reading this article as a practicing homosexual and perhaps one who is a member of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, this message has not been written to espouse hate or bigotry or intolerance.  I want you to know the Truth that is found in Christ Jesus, the biblical Jesus who is not preached in churches such as this Metropolitan organization.  Because God is holy, He hates sin, and He demands perfection from any who would enter the kingdom of heaven.  This righteousness that He demands of all men cannot be found within us, but only through the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. By grace through faith, God can pronounce the sinner not guilty and forgive their sins through the righteousness of Christ.

If you believe that God forgives people by just overlooking their sin, then you are deceiving yourself.  I do not have to tell you that homosexuality is a destructive lifestyle. It is as destructive as any sinful lifestyle, and this sin has you enslaved to the god of this world (John 8:34; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:1-3).  But in Jesus Christ, the biblical Jesus, there is Life!  In Him there is true freedom (John 8:36; 2 Corinthians 3:17), and if you cry out to God to deliver you from this lifestyle, confessing your sin before Him out of a contrite heart (2 Corinthians 7:10; Psalm 51:17), seeking to be covered by His precious blood, He will save you from your sin, from spiritual death, and the torment of His just and holy wrath (Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Colossians 2:13).

It is no coincidence that you discovered this article.  If God is drawing you into His grace and out from the clutches of sin, then don't wait another minute. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

The following video excerpt shows that salvation is just as possible for homosexuals as any other sinner who recognizes himself as such (Mark 2:17).  David has been set free from his sin and has become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and God can do the same for you if you just cry out to Him. You can see the video in its entirety here:  Jesus Christ Saved Me from 27 Years of Homosexuality.

So has God forgiven you?  I pray that He has or will, but it will only be by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.  It will only be because you have been born again (John 3:3-5).  You can learn more about this here:  Eternal Life

For additional resources for homosexuality rooted in the love and grace of Christ, please see:

Rodgers Christian Counseling

Exodus Global Alliance

Stephen Bennett Ministries

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Donald Trump: "I am Christian"

By Justin Edwards

Donald Trump appeared on CBN News this morning apparently courting the evangelical right in a bid for a 2012 presidential nomination. I first discovered this interview yesterday as CBN published a portion of that interview where Trump professed to be a Christian. As there was no mention of Jesus during the clip, which of course was disappointing especially since the interview took place on a Christian network, I was inclined to give somewhat a benefit of doubt in hopes the full interview would be posted and reveal any mention of Jesus Christ. To my disappointment, my expectations fell flat. 

Below is the full interview with CBN correspondent David Brody.  As you will see, Donald Trump will appeal to the conservatives of America, but if this testimony is representative of what is in Mr. Trump's heart - a form of religiosity - then let us be in prayer for this presidential candidate that he might come to know the risen Lord Jesus Christ through faith and repentance.

To understand more why this interview was disappointing yet typical of a professing American Christian testimony, please see the post yesterday at The Speak:Truth Project titled, A Rich Man's Testimony.  When you come across a testimony from a professing Christian on the streets in witnessing encounters, it's essential to know how to share the Gospel with someone who professes to be a Christian yet doesn't seem to know what faith in Christ is.  This article will help you learn what to do.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist

By Justin Edwards

If you want to get the future right, you've got to get Israel right and you've got to get God's sovereign electing purpose right. - John MacArthur

I am currently going through a series from John MacArthur titled, Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, and wanted to go ahead and share it with you (HT: Defending. Contending). I am halfway through Part 4 and am finding the material to be richly informative of the amillennial view that the Church has replaced Israel to receive her promises from God as Israel has forfeited her rights to those promises through apostasy. Parts 1 and 2 provide great introductions to the series, and Parts 3 and 4 have been rich in Scripture giving key evidence that God's promises to Israel are eternal and not dependent upon her faithfulness to God.

MacArthur poses 5 questions to be answered in this series:

1.  Is the Old Testament amillennial? 

2.  Were the Jews of Jesus' day amillennial? 

3.  Was Jesus amillennial? 

4.  Were the Apostles who wrote the New Testament and those associates of the Apostles amillennial? 

5.  Were the early church fathers amillennial?

Leading up to these questions, MacArthur gives the following brief explanation and quotes Horatius Bonar, a 19th Century Scottish-reformed theologian, in his work titled, Prophetic Landscapes. Keep in mind Bonar penned this is 1847:

So to say it simply, to hold the view of amillennialists, called replacement theology, that the church replaces Israel in the promises of God, Israel as God's Elect is no longer God's Elect, cancelled out, to come up with this idea that there therefore is no real earthly Kingdom to fulfill those promises and that they are fulfilled in the spiritual life of the church both now and in heaven, you have to deny the nature of divine sovereign election. You have to basically say that when God called Israel His Elect, and when God gave them unconditional, unilateral, irrevokable promises, He didn't keep them, or He doesn't keep them, so that election doesn't mean permanent election, it might be temporary as in the case of Israel.

I don't know anybody who believes in the doctrine of election who thinks its temporary with the elect angels, or temporary with the elect Son or temporary with the elect church, so this has to be a category invented to accommodate replacement theology. The second thing that has to happen is, you cannot interpret Scripture in the normal meaning, the normal sense in which it is written both in the Old Testament and the New Testament because clearly in both testaments promises are made to Israel. Therefore Israel doesn't mean Israel, a thousand years doesn't mean a thousand years, reigning in Jerusalem doesn't mean reigning in Jerusalem, it means something else...something not apparent in any normal interpretation of the language. So you can see there are some extremes here in trying to make this work theologically when you have to reinvent the doctrine of election which is so sacred to us and when you have to change the normal meaning of the language.

Now, I want to having said that, say this, that throughout history there have been some in Reformed circles of great note who didn't buy this. I am particularly, as you probably known, drawn more to Scottish Reformed theology than I am to Dutch Reformed theology. And one of my favorite Scots in the area of theology is Horatius Bonar. He's a nineteenth century preacher, Scottish preacher and theological writer. In 1847 he wrote prophetic landmarks and he took a position very different from his Reformed friends, very different. He was always a strong advocate of the doctrines of sovereign grace. He was always a strong advocate of the doctrine of election. He affirmed as well that election was forever and therefore affirmed the primacy of the destiny of the Jews in the scheme of eschatology. So he was going against the grain of his day and his compatriots. This is what Bonar wrote in 1847: "The prophecies concerning Israel are the key to all the rest. True principles of interpretation in regard to them will aid us in disentangling and illustrating all prophecy. False principles as to them...that is Israel...will most thoroughly perplex and overcloud the whole Word of God," end quote. And that's right back to what I said and when I said it I hadn't yet found Bonar's comment. He says you can't get eschatology right if you don't get Israel right.

He further wrote of his conviction as to biblical clarity on this matter. And his language is so magnificent that it needs to be thoughtfully repeated. So let me read to you what Bonar wrote in 1847. "I am one of those who believe in Israel's restoration and conversion, who receive it as a future certainty, that all Israel shall be gathered and that all Israel shall be saved. As I believe in Israel's present degradation, so do I believe in Israel's coming glory and preeminence. I believe that God's purpose regarding our world can only be understood by understanding God's purpose as to Israel." Now remember, this is a time long before they had ever been gathered back into their land.

He went on to say, "I believe that all human calculations as to the earth's future, whether political or scientific, or philosophical, or religious, must be failures if not taking for their data or basis God's great purpose regarding the latter day standing of Israel. I believe that it is not possible to enter God's mind regarding the destiny of man without taking as our key or our guide His mind regarding that ancient nation, that nation whose history so far from being ended or nearly ended is only about to begin." He went on to say this, "He only to whom the future belongs can reveal it. He only can announce the principles on which that future is to be developed. And if He set Israel as the great nation of the future and Jerusalem as the great metropolis of earth, who are we that without philosophy of science we should set aside the divine arrangements and substitute for them a theory of man? Human guesses concerning the future are the most uncertain of all uncertainties and human hopes built upon these guesses are sure to turn out the most disappointing if not the most disastrous of all failures. I believe that the sons of Abraham are to re-inherit Palestine and that the forfeited fertility will yet return to that land, that the wilderness and the solitary places shall be glad for them, and the desert will rejoice and blossom as the rose. I believe that meanwhile Israel shall not only be wanderers, but that everywhere only a remnant, a small remnant shall be saved. And that it is for the gathering in of this remnant that our missionaries go forth. I believe that these times of ours are the times of the Gentiles and that Jerusalem and Israel shall be trodden down of the Gentiles till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. I believe that the completion of what the Apostle calls the fullness of the Gentiles will be the signal for the judgments which are to usher in the crisis of earth's history and the salvation of Israel and the long-expected Kingdom."

Why did he believe that? Because that's exactly what the Bible says.

Indeed. You can download each message below or go to the original link here: Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist

Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 1

Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 2

Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 3

Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 4

Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 5

Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist, Part 6

Saturday, April 9, 2011

John 3:16 - "Whosoever" and "the World"

By Justin Edwards

Tradition tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever will believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. However, this is what the Scripture says:

KJV:  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

ESV:  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

If you are open to reconsider tradition and learn what this most popular Bible verse actually means, then please take a moment to watch the following videos from Jim McClarty and James White. You might be surprised that what you thought to be true is not, and this Scripture actually fits well in reformation theology. In short, John 3:16 speaks of those who believe or "all the believing ones" will not perish, not that anyone can believe.

You may also find this brief article from John Samson also beneficial:  Understanding John 3:16

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 7

By Justin Edwards

On March 19th the Bible Prophecy Blog posted an article by Dr. Andy Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church refuting the biblical doctrine of "lordship salvation" titled, What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?  I'm very thankful this was posted and praise God for the opportunity to carefully examine critical and essential doctrines of the Christian faith that are under attack by modern evangelicalism. As a result of Dr. Woods' article and by God's grace, I was able to sharpen my understanding of God's work in salvation and hopefully provide you understanding of what this doctrine does and does not teach. The series was broken up into the following 6 previous parts:

Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Saving Faith

Part 3 - Repentance

Part 4 - Carnal Christianity

Part 5 - Sanctification

Part 6 - Biblical Assurance of Salvation

And now,

Part 7 - Conclusion

Be diligent in searching the Scriptures
In my own experience in discussing these issues with various people and reviewing the work of those on both sides of the debate, I conclude that much of the controversy is derived from a gross misunderstanding of what lordship salvation teaches, which gives birth to misconceptions and misrepresentations when dismissing or condemning this doctrine.  At root, as I understand it, whether or not one adheres to lordship salvation is the view through which one sees the work of salvation.  On the one hand, those who view salvation as a work of God alone for the glory of God alone (monergism) accept "lordship salvation" as nothing more or less than the pure Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  While through the lens of synergism, on the other hand, believers view salvation as a work of God with the cooperation of man to achieve salvation, which lends to the misunderstanding that any type of commitment to Christ or repentance from sin are additional works instead of gifts from God.

Even within this theological divide, there are those who profess such biblical truths that faith and repentance are gifts from God, yet this reality does not permeate their subsequent understanding of soteriology (doctrine of salvation).  For example, one might claim that faith is a gift from God, but they would deny that God chooses to give faith to those He elected from eternity past, but rather each individual must exercise their faith out of their human ability to do so in order to be saved.  These two ideas are diametrically opposed to one another, yet one might resign to say they don't understand how it works out exactly, they just know God's sovereignty and man's free will somehow work together.  Sadly, this is theological laziness.

It is one thing to not understand a biblical doctrine and continue seeking God to reveal His divine mysteries to us, it is quite another to incessantly remain ignorant on a doctrine because one is bent on remaining stuck in traditions of men and therefore has no desire to search the Scriptures for themselves.  It is then out of this seemingly willful ignorance that one tosses around falsehoods and fallacies about the teaching of lordship salvation proponents. This is why it is imperative that we study to show ourselves approved in order that we might bring glory to God (2 Timothy 2:15) and refrain from falsely accusing the brethren.

With that said, many who supposedly reject what is known as "lordship salvation" simply do not understand what it actually means.  They rely on others to tell them what it means rather than study the issue and the biblical doctrines themselves.  This is damaging to the proclamation of the Gospel because the message going forth is one that is not complete, such as a gospel defunct of biblical repentance (turning away from a sinful lifestyle to God in faith).

Dr. Woods is one such person from what I have researched through his church's website.  As far as I can tell, Dr. Woods is a sincere man who may love the Lord, but he is significantly confused in his theology.  Reading through Sugar Land's statement of faith, they have elements of the sovereignty of God and work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify those God justifies. If sanctification is an absolute and direct consequence of justification, then Dr. Woods' positions from his article on saving faith, repentance, carnal Christianity, and assurance conflict with his statement of faith.  This type of confusion is rampant in the visible church, which has left many sheep disillusioned and giving perhaps many more nominal christians false assurances of salvation. Especially around the doctrines concerning salvation, the following Scripture from James 3:1 is ever so important:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

This applies to preachers and teachers of the Gospel, and preachers and teachers of false gospels.  I do not know the heart of Dr. Woods nor would I assume anything about him, but I would call him to repent from the repentant-less gospel he is preaching, to humbly submit himself to the Lord that he might gain the knowledge of the truth in matters of soteriology, and contend for the faith that was once delivered to him.  At the end of the day, the message we preach will be out of the abundance of our hearts, so it is critical we examine what we believe lines up with the Word of God, most especially in matters of salvation, lest we deceive ourselves and deceive those who listen to us.  The consequences for not doing so could be damning if we fall outside of orthodoxy into heresy (Galatians 1:8-9).

To close this series out, I'd like to briefly outline what lordship salvation is and what it is not.

What Lordship Salvation Is NOT

1. Lordship salvation does not teach that one must change their behavior before coming to Christ.

2. Lordship salvation does not teach that one must consciously assess every area of one's life and consciously forsake every single sin and idol before coming to Christ.

3. Lordship salvation does not teach that there is no such thing as a Christian living carnally.

4. Lordship salvation was not developed as a response to fight carnal Christianity.

5. Lordship salvation does not teach salvation through justification by faith plus works.

6. Lordship salvation does not steal the joy of salvation or take away assurance of salvation from born again believers.

7. Lordship salvation does not teach that one must be perfectly obedient or is sinless after one is saved.

8. Lordship salvation does not confuse sanctification with justification.

What Lordship Salvation IS

1. Lordship salvation teaches salvation is monergistic (a work of God alone) whereby God is the absolute author and the absolute finisher of our faith for which He may get the glory alone.

2. Lordship salvation teaches that saving faith is more than an mental assent to knowledge about Christ, but rather a trust in the Person of Christ and His work on the cross to not only save us from the wrath to come but also to save us from the bondage of our sin.

3. Lordship salvation teaches that repentance is more than just a change of mind about sin and Christ, but it involves a change of mind, a change of heart, and a change of attitude toward sin. The result of genuine repentance rooted in godly sorrow will be a change of behavior. In essence, the faith that saves is a repentant faith where one turns from a sinful lifestyle toward God in faith.

4. Lordship salvation teaches that this repentant faith is a gift from God whereby the Holy Spirit changes the heart of the sinner, thus enabling the person to respond positively to grace through repentance and faith. God actually plants new desires in the heart of the new believer where they will increasingly hate sin and love God.

5. Lordship salvation teaches that love for God will be evidenced by a life of obedience and a lifestyle of repentance.

6. Lordship salvation teaches that because salvation is of the Lord, the regenerated believer will submit to the authority of the Lord and Master of all creation to live a patterned life of habitual obedience.

7. Lordship salvation teaches that the believer will be gradually conformed to the image of Christ in cooperation with the Holy Spirit through sanctification. This sanctification begins at the moment of justification.

8. Lordship salvation teaches there is no distinction between a disciple and a believer. All believers are disciples.

9. Lordship salvation teaches that while a Christian may act in carnal ways, carnality will not be the patterned lifestyle of the believer and such carnality is only temporary. All Christians are disciplined by God and convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent from their sinful behavior.

10. Lordship salvation teaches biblical assurance of salvation by examination of one's life through the objective Word of God, not based on past emotional experiences or prayers.

11. Lordship salvation teaches that believers will continue in the faith as it is God who keeps us. This means the believer will continue to surrender to the Lordship of Christ in increasing measure.

12. Lordship salvation is the historical and biblical doctrine of orthodox Christianity.

Much confusion can be cleared up if one honestly assesses what is being taught by lordship salvation proponents and considers the clear teaching of Scripture on these matters. Some folks are fundamentally ignorant of the truth of this doctrine, while others work as the pawns of Satan to destroy souls by blurring the lines of truth and illusion.  A significant reason for why there are so many false converts in American churches today is because of the diluted and polluted message taught from pulpits and the decisional evangelism so rampant today.  This has led to a distinctly unbiblical category of "carnal Christians" and will contribute to many professing Christians burning in hell for all eternity under the wrath of a God they did not know.

If you are still struggling with this doctrine or even still deny its truth, please ask yourself:

Have I, myself, surrendered to the Lordship of Christ? 

If you have not or do not know the answer to this question, then please, by all means, post a comment below or message me privately. This is no matter to take lightly as it is of utmost important for you to know that Christ is your Lord as much as He is your Savior.  After all, Jesus Himself said in John 10:27,

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Do you hear His voice? Does He know you? Do you follow Him? All sheep do, so please be sure you have this assurance by biblical examination of your heart.

If you have questions about any information contained within these articles, please post your comments in the appropriate parts of this series.

May God alone be glorified by these efforts to contend for the faith, and may the Body of Christ be stirred proclaim the unadulterated Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 6

By Justin Edwards

Chosen vessels of mercy, notwithstanding their backslidings, are brought back; but ah! remember that nine out of ten of those who backslide never were God’s people. - Charles Spurgeon

In this series addressing the erroneous arguments in Dr. Andy Woods' article against lordship salvation titled, What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?, I have attempted to biblically counter each of Dr. Woods' points with regards to saving faith, repentance, carnal Christianity, and sanctification. In each of these articles, it has been shown that Dr. Woods has a flawed view in these respective areas and significant misunderstanding as to what lordship salvation actually is. The reason for this, of course, is primarily because Dr. Woods adheres to a low view of God's glory in our salvation, which causes him to attribute any type of repentance or committing one's life to Christ as works-based effort to achieve salvation. With a biblical view of salvation, one understands that eternal life begins and is completed with God, and it is His work, not ours, that causes us to be born again and subsequently progress into holy living, without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14).

The common theme throughout the articles in this series (as is the common them throughout Scripture) has been the view of the glorious sovereignty of God in our salvation. God's sovereignty is so critical in understanding the doctrine of salvation (soteriology) that if one fails to grasp its fundamental truths, then the rest of their understanding of salvation will crumble or not make any sense. The doctrine of biblical assurance of salvation is no exception to this and will be the final argument addressed in Dr. Woods' article.

Part 6 - Biblical Assurance of Salvation

Dr. Woods opens his fifth and final argument with the following:

Fifth, Lordship Salvation destroys the believer's assurance of salvation. 

On the contrary, NON-lordship salvation gives false converts false assurance of salvation whereas lordship salvation exhorts one to examine himself in the mirror of God's Word:

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. - 2 Corinthians 13:5

Whereas NON-lordship salvation condemns any such self-examination because it assures potential false converts that as long as they were once sincere when they "asked Jesus into their heart" they are saved, Scripture tells us in Jeremiah 17:9,

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

The truth of the matter is, biblical assurance of salvation cannot be destroyed when one entrusts himself to the promises of God by engaging these promises in the objective truth of God's Holy Word. Too often, men and women depend on their feelings and subjective experiences to give them assurance of salvation, and what's worse, they have easy-believist pastors of the false modern evangelical gospel potentially leading them down the path of destruction instead of encouraging them to examine themselves in the Scripture.

Dr. Woods continues,

Lordship advocates never precisely define what kind of commitment to Christ is necessary in order to become a Christian. 

I find this to be an interesting false premise as I never have a hard time telling people what kind of commitment is necessary to become a Christian. Jesus was pretty clear in this regard when He said, 

whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. - Luke 14:33

Salvation costs us everything, Dr. Woods. Whatever has been revealed to us is what we must forsake. If there is anything for which the cost has been counted and we are not willing to lay it at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we do not want a Savior any more than we want a Lord. Let's use a practicing homosexual as an example.

Joe is a practicing homosexual and has just been exposed to Dr. Woods' gospel message, which according to his article, might be something like this:

Jesus loves you and wants to forgive you of your sins. All you have to do is ask Him to forgive you and trust Him to be your Savior. If you ask Jesus to come into your heart, He will!

So Joe prays a prayer to ask Jesus into his heart, then Dr. Woods might say something like this,

If you just said that prayer and are sincere in believing in Christ as your Savior, then you're saved and I welcome you to the family of God!

Now Joe, being that he knows nothing of repentance, the holiness of God, the judgment of God, and the power of God in our salvation to change the hearts of men, continues to practice homosexuality. When Joe said the "sinner's prayer", he was not broken over his sin and certainly did not repent of it, yet believes himself to be saved because he believes in Jesus to have forgiven him of his sins. Years later, Joe, still an unrepentant homosexual, runs into Dr. Woods and expresses doubts that he is saved. Dr. Woods might tell Joe he remembers him coming to the alter a few years back and as long as Joe was sincere in believing in Christ, he is saved. If given the chance, Dr. Woods might also tell Joe that he needs to submit to the second part of God's plan for his life and commit his life to Jesus as a disciple. In the end, Joe continued as an unrepentant homosexual and never turned from his sin, but because he "changed his mind about God and Jesus", Joe will die a homosexual saint.

Blasphemous! Can you see the obvious error in this false gospel? I used the sin of homosexuality because it is often seen by the evangelical church as a "worst-type sin". But the same verses that condemn homosexuality, are the same verses that condemn drunkenness, adultery, fornication, idolatry, thieves, liars, revilers and more (1 Corinthians 6:8-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5-6).  It is for this reason that one cannot remain in their sin and abide in Christ (1 John 3:6).  When God justifies us, He also washes us and cleanses us from these sinful lifestyles (1 Corinthians 6:11) so that this will be true:

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. - 1 John 3:9

To be clear, this verse is not saying Christians do not sin. The Apostle John is referring to living in a habitual pattern of practical righteousness rather than living in a habitual pattern of sin. The Christian walk, therefore, is a lifestyle of repentance where one is continuously repenting (out of godly remorse) as they are progressively sanctified (2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10) and directionally conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; 12:2).  This is why John says the following in 1 John 3:10,

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

And as if it could not be any more clear:

Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. - 1 John 3:7-8a
Even though these Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the Christian does not and cannot habitually practice a lifestyle of sin, there are many in the easy-believist camp who might say all Christians habitually sin because we are sinful creatures.  They twist the Scripture to fit their agenda or misunderstanding of salvation and sanctification, or perhaps to justify the grip that sin has on their own lives, yet we see in the Word of God that sin no longer has dominion over the believer (Romans 6:14) and Christ came to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8). What's more, those who have been set free by the Truth have been freed from the bondage of sin (John 8:34-36; Romans 6:17-18) to where it no longer controls us (Romans 8:1-2; Galatians 5:16-26). Therefore, an assurance of our salvation is whether or not we are controlled by sin to obey it or controlled by the Spirit of God to obey Him (Romans 6:22).

Dr. Woods asks,

How much surrender is required? 

That's also an easy question to answer, Dr. woods. Total and absolute surrender is required. When Christ purchased us with His precious blood, we became His exclusively (1 Corinthians 6:20). This means our money, our time, our possessions, our family, our bodies and our very life are now His. He owns us. We may not realize at the time of our salvation just how much He owns us, but He owns us nonetheless. The evidence that one is born again, therefore, is the willingness to continue to surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Luke 9:23).  This total and absolute surrender is simply devotion and unwavering allegiance to Christ the King. It's as simple as giving up control of one's life and submitting to the will of God in as much as one knows what that means at the time of salvation. As God conforms us to Himself, we will increasingly understand what it means to surrender to His will, and as He destroys our idols one by one, we will all the more surrender to His Lordship.

Dr. Woods also asks,

How long is this surrender to last?

Another easy question to answer. Surrender is to last forever, Dr. Woods. The evidence of this can be found in Scriptures that tell us we must abide, finish the race, persevere, and live in the Spirit such as 1 John 2:24, Colossians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, Hebrews 12:1-2 and Romans 8:12-14. These, of course, are only possible by the hand of God who will allow nothing in all of creation to snatch His children out of His hand (Romans 8:38-39; John 10:27-29). Every Christian, then, abides, finishes the race, perseveres, and walks in the Spirit as a pattern of life.

Dr. Woods, again, has another easy question to be answered:

How much fruit must this surrender produce?

Jesus tells us this fruit will be a hundredfold, sixty, or thirty (Matthew 13:23). How much is this? I don't know exactly, but the point is there is fruit indeed. By this we know there is no such thing as a continuously fruitless Christian. 

Dr. Woods asserts,

Because these questions are never precisely answered, the believer spends the rest of his Christian life wondering if he truly made enough of a commitment to become a Christian. 

It seems I have answered these questions, Dr. Woods. In any case, the Christian does not spend the rest of his life wondering if he has committed enough to become a Christian. The false convert, on the other hand, may never have biblical assurance of his salvation if he does not examine himself in the Scriptures to know whether he has the Spirit to testify with his spirit that he is a child of God (Romans 8:15-17). Yet, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and diligently seek God (Hebrews 11:6) through the Word of God do not have to worry about whether or not they are saved. This is because their hunger and thirst for the things of God through the application of the Living Word will manifest the fruit that gives evidence of one's salvation.

On "backsliding, Dr. Woods points out,

Because of the believer's potential for “backsliding,” the Christian can never really know until his dying day if he is a committed Christian. 

It is important to define terms here. If by "backsliding" Dr. Woods means one can remain "backslidden", then no, there is no such thing as a backslidden Christian. Such a person needs to be born again. But if by "backsliding" Dr. Woods means one can fall into sin and be restored unto fellowship with God by the discipline of the Father through the Holy Spirit, then yes, Christians can "backslide". Lordship salvation does not teach otherwise.

Assuming that Dr. Woods' definition is of the first definition, he sets up another false premise to suggest lordship salvation causes one to never know "until his dying day if he is a committed Christian." (On a side note - "committed Christian" is redundant as all Christians are committed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ). This is ludicrous as the born again believer, eg one who has surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, most certainly may have biblical assurance of salvation during the extent of their Christian walk. It is when the born again believer falls into sin that their assurance might be shaken, which is why we are called to make our calling and election sure to see that we are progressing in our sanctification (2 Peter 1:5-11; Philippians 2:12-13). Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the continued exposure to the Word and believers to hold us accountable, we will be brought to repentance and restoration of our assurance. This is all part of the loving discipline of the Father to assist His children to becoming more like Christ. If one never undergoes such discipline, God Himself says they are not His child:

But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. - Hebrews 12:7-11

Lastly, Dr. Woods concludes his argument stating,

Thus, Lordship Salvation steals the joy that accompanies the knowledge that one's eternal destiny is sealed. Far from such a guessing game, Christ gives all believers instantaneous assurance of salvation at the point of justification (John 5:24; 6:47).

The true Gospel, Dr. Woods, yes, the true Gospel according to so-called "lordship salvation", actually gives rest to the souls of men. By obtaining assurance of salvation through objective examination in the Bible, the souls of men and women can rest in the grace of God as they begin to see their reflection in the mirror of God's Word. This, of course, is quite different than giving mere lip service for the assurance of salvation. Do you suppose God gives instantaneous assurance of salvation to the rocky soil and the thorny soil hearers?  Of course He doesn't as they are not saved (Matthew 13:20-22).

The evidence of our salvation does not come from prayers or emotional experiences; rather, the evidence of our salvation comes through God's preservation of our souls as we continue in the faith and can see the progression of the work of grace in our lives (Titus 2:11-14; 2 Peter 1:5-9). And why is this case? Because salvation is of the Lord and it is He who is perfecting His work in us through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.  If one can see no evidence of grace-bearing fruit in their life, then they have every reason to believe they may not be saved.

Whether one is truly born again or has surrendered to the Lordship of Christ can perhaps most easily be seen in asking this question:  have I entered into the yoke of Christ to be taught in the way of righteousness? (Matthew 11:29-30)

This is true rest for our souls. And what is the condition of our finding rest for our souls? To bow in humility and put on the yoke of Christ. To be lowly in heart and meek, which is to say to be submissive to the authority of one's master. Christ, our Master, has called us to a life of obedience, so when one confesses the Savior as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), he is confessing to God that he is willing to obey Him and trust that He will direct our paths.

Submitting to the Lordship of Christ means nothing more and nothing less. Out of love for the Sovereign King and Pierced Savior, we commit our lives to Jesus because this is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). The evidence that we love Christ is whether we obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6). If one is not willing to obey Christ, then how could they possibly have assurance, much less be saved? Even more so, how can one claim to love authority when they do not obey them or have the desire to learn from them? That is as ridiculous as it is absurd.

Dr. Woods and those of his persuasion are the very cause of the false conversions and continuously carnal Christians who hold faulty fire insurance policies. They base the assurance of one's salvation solely on mere profession and attempt to make the narrow gate as wide as possible. The Word of God is clear, however, that those who are born again and love Christ have departed from wickedness (2 Timothy 2:19) and yield to the command to "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22). The blood-bought believer is committed to righteousness, holiness, and newness of life (Ephesians 4:24; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Romans 6:4).  The believer desires to please the Lord in everything (Ephesians 5:10) and constantly seeks to understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:17).

The believer is zealous for good works (Titus 2:14) and has a heart to see lost souls saved (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). The believer loves the brethren (1 John 3:14) and does not forsake fellowship with believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). The believer increasingly manifests the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:8-10) and puts off the old man and the works of darkness (Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:1-17).

These are just some of the evidences or marks of one who is now a slave to righteousness - a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. These things will become realities in the life of the believer in increasing measure as God perfects His righteousness in the life of the Christian until the day of Redemption (Ephesians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 8:29-30). It is because God has planted His seed in us that we can no longer live according to the flesh and remain lovers of our sin to live in it (1 John 3:9), but rather we will increasingly love the things that God loves (righteousness) and hate the things that God hates (evil). As Paul tells us in Colossians 3:1-4,

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

The only alternative to the person described above is found in Philippians 3:19-20,

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

Believers set their mind on heavenly things as a pattern of life, while nonbelievers set their minds on earthly things as a pattern of life. There is no middle ground, regardless of what Dr. Woods and others might teach.

That brings us to the end of Dr. Woods' arguments against lordship salvation. We have covered saving faith, repentance, carnal Christianity, sanctification, and biblical assurance of salvation. In an effort to tie up loose ends, I will hopefully conclude with Part 7 by the end of the week.

In the mean time, I highly recommend going through the following series from Paul Washer titled, Biblical Assurance of Salvation. It is a 5-part series that will help you understand further the contrast between the born again believer and a mere professor of the faith.

If any man be not sure that he is in Christ, he ought not to be easy one moment until he is so. Dear friend, without the fullest confidence as to your saved condition, you have no right to be at ease, and I pray you may never be so. This is a matter too important to be left undecided. - Charles Spurgeon

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