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Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Do Not Believe Because...

By Justin Edwards

You do not believe because you are not part of my flock. - John 10:26

Last Friday's post Atheists Hate Jesus, but Some Don't Realize It has created quite the stir in the comment section.  Many Atheists have commented asking many questions about "the Christian God" (as they say), but the answers given have not satisfied them.  I do not blame them since the Bible clearly states it is impossible for them to understand:

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

My experience has been that quoting such a verse only serves to make them more angry.  Not only does it anger Atheists, but it angers professing christians who do not accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God.  Such would be the case from a fellow that goes by the name of Former Conservative (FC) who runs a blog titled Confessions of a Former Conservative.  Most, if not all, of the commenters came from his blog, which serves to attack Christian websites/blogs of whom he disagrees with ridicule and snarkiness.  FC holds much disdain and contempt for fundamental evangelical Christianity, and the fruit that he shows can be described in no other way than this:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. - 1 John 4:20-21

Examples of this hatred have come through many blog posts at the Former Conservative website.  He has ridiculed many of my own blog posts, in addition to posts by Tony Miano, Defending. Contending., Trisha Ramos, and Steve Sanchez.  FC abhors the Holy Bible and Jesus' command to "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).  Although I have never mentioned FC on airō before now, he has been the inspiration for a few blog posts including Jesus Died for Me and the recent 4-part series Jesus: Holy and Righteous God of Love and Wrath.

The reason for this post is to address in more detail a comment from one of the commenters (named "depizan") from Friday's article, who said:

"All of His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him, and all who come to Him He will never cast out."

Some of the people questioning your take on the Christian God are, er, His sheep. Are you really that certain that your take is correct and not theirs? How can you say they haven't come to him? I'm pretty sure only God would know that, yes?

I assumed "depizan" is referring to FC, and perhaps one or two others commenters on the post who share an equal disdain for fundamental evangelical Christianity as FC.  Ultimately this is a disdain for the God of the Bible.  Whether admitted Atheist, liberal christian, or anyone else who does not believe the God of Scripture, there is a reason for this given by Jesus Himself (who liberal christians claim to believe yet oftentimes reject or seek to deconstruct the rest of Scripture.  Some call themselves "red letter christians").

Jesus did not shy away from the doctrines of grace (commonly called "Calvinism" today), but rather He was bold in their proclamation.  Take, for instance, the verse posted at the top of this article where Jesus said,

You do not believe because you are not part of my flock.

Note that this does not say,

Because you do not believe you are not part of my flock.

It is important to understand that Jesus is saying the reason they do not believe is because they are not one of His sheep, for if they were one of His sheep, they would indeed believe.  The verse follows Jesus' parable of the sheepfold and the testimony of the Good Shepherd.  In John 10:26, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who rejected Him and accused Him of blasphemy by claiming to be God.

Going back to the beginning of the chapter, Jesus gives the parable:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:1-5).

The thieves and robbers Jesus is referring to are the blind Scribes and Pharisees who do not exalt Christ, but rather exalt their own self-righteousness and promote their man-centered agendas.  This would also apply to any modern/postmodern preacher whose motives are anything but of God.  To this end, J.C. Ryle comments,

The false shepherd of souls is he who enters the clerical office with little or no thought about Christ, from worldly and self-exalting motives, but from no desire to exalt Jesus, and the great salvation that is in Him.

These false shepherds will scatter the sheep.  When a sheep, a born again believer, hears the truth of God's Word, he is drawn by it in such a way that it soothes his soul.  When the Gospel is proclaimed, they are stirred and excited, never growing tired of hearing about the love of God to save men and women from their sin.  These do not follow the voice of a stranger, but rather they know and follow the voice of their shepherd.  

Jesus continues in John 10:11, 14-15:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Here Jesus makes the unpopular claim that He, as the Good Shepherd, laid down His life for His sheep.  He did not lay His life down for all, for all are not His own.  Christ laid His life down for those the Father gave Him from eternity past (John 6:37; Ephesians 1:4).  Christ laid His life down for His sheep, and He knows them each by name (verse 4).  When they hears His voice, they will follow Him without exception, and they will love Him and obey Him, being sanctified in the truth of God's Word (John 17:17).  Amazingly, just as the Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father, so too does the Son know each of His sheep the same.

Speaking of these truths found in the Gospel of John (in addition to pointing out that God's sheep have been commissioned to call His remaining sheep through the proclamation of the Gospel), my friend John Samson comments,

From John’s Gospel, we can make the following scriptural statements: All that the Father has chosen to be His from eternity, He has given to the Son (John 6:37); and all whom He has given to the Son, the Son knows (John 10:3); and calls (John 10:3-5); and all whom He calls, know Him (John 10:14) and recognize His voice (John 10:4-5) and they come to Him (John 6:37) and follow Him (John 10:4, 27); and the Son lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11); and He gives them eternal life (John 10:28) and keeps them in the Father’s word (John 17:6), so that not even one of them is lost (John 6:39), to glorify the Son forever (John 17:10). This is the indestructible foundation for an infallible salvation that rebounds in the end to the glory of both the Father and the Son.

None of Christ’s sheep finally reject His word. Though He allows some of His sheep to resist the word for a long time, never do they reject it finally. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” (John 6:37). What a promise! And what a privilege we have in sharing the Gospel with people, as we witness the Good Shepherd rounding up His sheep.

So what of those who are not part of Christ's flock?  Returning back to John 10:26, they do not believe because they are not of the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd.  Even more bluntly in John 8:39-47, Jesus said of those who do not believe:

...Now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God...If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here...Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires...because I tell the truth, you do not believe me...Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

What is the cause and effect?  People who reject the God of the Bible and do so until death do not understand the things of God because they cannot hear the voice of Christ.  They are spiritually deaf.  Because the truth is spoken, they do not believe.  It is because they are not of God, but of the father of lies, Satan.  They are in bondage to their sin and the devil has blinded them so they cannot see the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).  It is only those who are of God, who are of His sheepfold, who can hear the words of God and be changed into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When praying to His Father in John 17:1-26, Jesus interceded for His sheep:

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

According to Christ Himself, the world hates you when you love the truth, namely Jesus and His Holy Word to us, which includes the infallible writings of the Old and New Testament.  Believers were given by the Father to the Son, and it is these for whom He laid down His life.  Jesus does not intercede for anyone other than the sheep of His flock.  He guides us and guards us and will sanctify us in and by His Truth found in the inerrant Word of God, the Bible.  The world hates us because we are not of the world, but God has called us out of the world to no longer be like the world.  

This leads me into a biblical warning for "Former Conservative":

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. - John 15:18-19

FC, it is clear the world loves you as its own.  I say this for no other reason but to call you to examine yourself per 2 Corinthians 13:5 through the Word of God. I encourage you to begin in the book of 1 John. You have managed to build a following of people who reject, deny, and hate the God of the Bible, and they commend you for your attacks against born again believers.  Satan has further deceived you into thinking you are journeying a worthy cause.  Not only is this confirmed in your hatred for the Body of Christ as evidenced in your writings, but it is further established by the following from 1 John 4:5-6:

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

The world listens to you and loves you, FC.  That is a major red flag, one that you must heed.  Whether or not you will heed the warning I do not know - that will depend upon whether or not you are of God for God's children love the truth, love the brethren, and love the holy and righteous God of love and wrath.  Plead for mercy from God, FC.  Until you know you've been born again and have received eternal life, plead with Him day and night that He would make His truth known to you, that He would sanctify you by His Word.  Plead with Christ to give you eyes to see and ears to hear that you would love all of the attributes of God, to receive Him as your Lord and Savior, that you would receive God Himself to spend eternity with Him in glory.  

Back to the original question posed by "depizan", a conclusive question might be asked:  

is Former Conservative one of God's sheep?

At this point, FC may be one of God's sheep, but his fruit indicates he has yet to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. I pray God does indeed call FC by name that he would repent and follow the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible.

In closing, I post the following message to any of the sheep who frequent Former Conservative's website or any other person who is not yet born again.  Perhaps there is only one of you reading, but know this:  the Good Shepherd knows you by name and He is calling you to come into the fold.  Listen to His voice and follow Him.  He declares for you to repent and trust in Him alone for your salvation, and when you do, He promises you abundant life (John 10:10).  The world loves its own, and they hate the Lord Jesus Christ and His sheep, but the Good Shepherd is calling you out from among them.  He did not die for the world, but He did die for you.  God stepped down from His throne in heaven that you would be reconciled to Himself through the blood of Jesus Christ, that you would receive the riches of His mercy and grace and reign with Him forever! 

Listen to the voice of your Shepherd as He calls you forth from among the spiritually dead.  Forsake everything that has kept you from the Lord.  Leave the crowd behind, lay down your pride, and never look back.  If you desire to know who Jesus really is, if you feel the draw of the Holy Spirit, if you want to know exactly what Christ did and why He did it for His sheep, then please read about The Suffering Servant.  If you have any questions about anything, I offer you the same as I offered Jon in the comment section of this post

One of God's lost sheep is out there somewhere, perhaps amongst the readers of Confessions of a Former Conservative.  If that is you, come to Christ.  Come to the Lamb and be healed.  Come to the King and receive the reward of your inheritance.  Come to Lord of the Harvest, and live!

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

Oh little sheep, fix your eyes on the cross: 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rebellion or Reconciliation?

By Justin Edwards

Find out who you really are. Voddie Baucham gives us the questions and the answers to:

1. Who am I
2. Why am I here
3. What is wrong with the world
4. How can what is wrong, be made right.

Will you continue to rebel, or have you been or will you be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Atheists Hate Jesus, but Some Don't Realize It

By Justin Edwards

I received a comment from an Atheist on a post regarding friendship evangelism at airō yesterday, and wanted to share it here with you.  Cary seemed honest in his inquiry so I was happy to reply to him candidly.  His comment was a bit lengthy (read it in its entirety HERE), so I will just post the crux of his question:

Why do evangelists always seem to think that the only reason I’m not a Christian is because A) I hate Jesus or B) I’ve never heard of him?

Below is my response to Cary.  Keep in mind that when engaging Atheists, we are not mandated to convince them with arguments (although argument certainly has its place), but rather we are to proclaim the truth as it is written in the Word of God.  We must be honest and true to Scripture, no matter how difficult these truths might be to the hearer.  Proclaiming these truths, we trust that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit,

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication… that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 6:17-20.

Hi Cary,

Thanks for the reply and I appreciate your honest and amicable tone. It seems some of your reply was directed at the girl who wrote Tony the letter, so I will reply to points where I may be able to answer biblically and theologically.

Firstly, I can empathize with your feelings toward Christians whose motivation for evangelism seem to be about numbers or winning arguments. The biblical mandate, however, is to proclaim the Gospel biblically without concern for numbers or winning arguments. This should naturally lead to witnessing encounters rooted in genuine compassion and concern for the lost soul, thus taking however much time is necessary, if possible, to convey the truth of God’s Word regarding salvation.

To your first question, non-Christians may not openly profess to hate Christ, but their not loving Him by acknowledging Him as Lord or submitting to the Law of God is rebellion against their Master. Further, professing Christians can and often do hate God as revealed in their lifestyle of sin and love for the world. Jesus is clear that the world hates Him, and as a result will hate His chosen ones and the truth:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. – John 15:-18-19

We find in James 4:4:

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

These are just a couple of examples for why the Bible says you hate Christ. You may not hate Him as much as you possibly can, but you are naturally an enemy of Him because you do not worship Him. According to the Bible, this would make you in violation to the 1st Commandment because you have placed yourself on God’s throne to live your life according to your will, instead of submitting to the Lordship of Christ and acknowledging His rule and reign in your life. This holds true for the Christian false convert who professes to know God but by their deeds they deny Him (Titus 1:16). Paul also talks about them in Philippians 3:18-19:

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

I was one of those false converts for many years. So whether false convert or Atheist or idolater, the Bible defines these types as enemies of God because they do not love Him. You might find the following article helpful that contrasts the difference between a child of God and a child of the god of this world (Satan):  Who Am I According to God?  Who Are You?

To your second point, you say you and “we” already know “all of this”, but what you fail to understand is head knowledge does not equate to salvation. My experience has been, even here in the “Bible Belt”, is that most professing Christians do not have a biblical understanding of the Gospel. We do not, then, operate on assumptions when evangelizing that everyone already knows the Gospel. I have heard it said by 2 or 3 different foreign missionaries asking when American churches will be requesting missionaries to come to the U.S. to proclaim the Gospel in America. It is truly a sad state of affairs in a country that was so rich in Christian heritage, but has now fallen into grave rebellion against God.

Biblically speaking, the reason why you are not a Christian, perhaps at least not yet, is because you are still dead in your sin (Ephesians 2:1). Not only are you born condemned in sin (John 3:18), but the god of this world has blinded your mind so you cannot see the light of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Therefore, “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). Moreover, “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).

Speaking of childbirth [as you mentioned], the Bible says you must be born again to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). That is why you cannot see. You can no more cause yourself to be born again than your child can cause himself or herself to be born from the womb. No intellectual argument, no matter how convincing, can convert you. It comes “…not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). However, the Bible also says in John 6:37, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

So the question for you, Cary, is will you continue to suppress the truth of God (Romans 1:18), or will you exercise faith and trust in Christ? God says in Hebrews 11:4 “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Perhaps God will use this discussion to draw you close to Him by seeking the truth in His Word. Perhaps He will have mercy on you and reveal Himself to you in greater measure that you might turn to Him and be set free from the bondage of your sin and the god of this world. Perhaps you will hear the voice of the Son of God and He will call you forth from the spiritual dead to give you eternal life. Perhaps you will recognize Christ calling you to come eat from the Bread of Life and drink from the Living Water, that you may never hunger or thirst again. Perhaps God will produce in you a contrite heart that you will grieve over your offenses against Him, which will produce repentance leading to salvation. Perhaps you will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, who calls His sheep by name, that you may respond to His irresistible call of grace to follow Him. Perhaps your soul will be awakened that you might receive the reward of your inheritance as an adopted son of the Most High and a co-heir with Christ to rule in His eternal kingdom.

But then again, perhaps you like your life just the way it is and would rather be left in your trespasses and sin. God is rich in mercy and grace, and the door is open for you to walk through. We are told to strive to enter through the Narrow Gate, meaning we must do everything in our power to be sure we are on the narrow road that leads through the narrow gate to eternal life. Are you happy with the status quo to continue doing things your way, or are you honest enough in your search for truth that you would embark on a journey to investigate the claims of Christ? The truth is there for those seeking it, so the ball’s in your court. I suggest you start in the Gospel of John or the book of Romans.

I hope to hear from you soon, Cary – I’ll be praying for you and thanks for taking the time to comment.

This article was originally posted at The Speak:Truth Project

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jesus: Holy and Righteous God of Love and Wrath - Part 4

By Justin Edwards

Last week I posted the first three parts of this series that outlined some of the attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only true God.  In Part 1 it was shown that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament; that He is unchanging; that He is the Alpha and the Omega; and that He is a God of love, mercy, and grace.  Part 2 outlined that Jesus is a holy and righteous God; and Part 3 showed that He is a just judge who will pour out His wrath on those who have rebelled against Him (those who reject the Gospel or live a lifestyle contrary to it).  Yet, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, there is Good News!

Despite His terrible and just wrath against the wicked - all born into this world who have a sinful nature - the Lord Jesus Christ is rich in mercy.  He has provided a way out for sinners to escape the wrath to come.  If you have a penitent heart for having sinned against God, pay attention to what the Bible says about the Savior.

The Suffering Servant

The prophet Isaiah gives the most detailed account of just how much Christ suffered for His people.  From a human perspective, yes, it was the Jews who murdered Jesus, and it was the Romans who washed their hands of this crime, but ultimately, it was not they who crushed the Son of God.  It was His own Father who crushed Jesus.  God killed His own Son, and it pleased Him to do so.  Why?  Because this was God's plan all along - to redeem a people for Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:14).  Let's turn our focus to Christ's sufferings in Isaiah 53:1-12, which was written over 700 years before the 1st coming of Christ:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Listen to C.J. Mahaney portray the account of Christ's sufferings from the 2007 Resolved Conference message titled The Suffering Servant.

The Redemptive Savior

Why did Christ come?  He most certainly did not come to give you your "best life now", nor did He come to merely give us an example for which to live by. Scripture tells us He came to shed His blood, without which there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22):

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. - Matthew 1:21

Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. - Romans 4:25

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, - 1 Corinthians 15:3

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. - Hebrews 9:28

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. - 1 Peter 2:24

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Love of God

Why did Christ have to die?  As shown above, the shedding of blood is necessary to atone for sin.  There is no other way.  Why is this the case?  The only answer I have is it is the infinite wisdom of God that decreed it necessary, and our thoughts are not God's thoughts, neither are our ways His ways (Isaiah 55:8).  If He said it is good and necessary, then it must be good and necessary and I accept that by faith.  But what was the motivation behind it all?  The Good News is based on love:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. - 1 John 3:16

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. - John 10:11

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. - 1 John 4:9-10

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:6-8

Ironically enough, Love epitomized is the most hated person in the world.

Jesus the Only Way

You have no doubt heard that Christ said in John 14:6,

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Whether you have heard it once or a thousand times, it remains true.  You must go through Jesus Christ by faith in order to receive eternal life.  There is no life found in Buddha, Allah, Mother Earth, New Age philosophy, the Catholic jesus, the Mormon jesus, the liberal jesus, the social justice jesus, or any other jesus who is not the Narrow Way Jesus.  This is what He says, 

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:13-14

Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. - Luke 13:24

Only those with contrite hearts will enter the kingdom of God as the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 7:10,

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

If you want Life and to escape God's wrath, this is what Jesus says to you:

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. - John 6:35

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. - John 4:13-14

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? - John 11:25-26

Do you want this Bread and Water?  Do you want Life?

Jesus Is Worthy

The Son of God is worthy for you to come to Him.  

He was crushed by His own Father to demonstrate His love toward sinners.  Are you a sinner?  

God killed His own Son, who willingly laid His life down for His sheep.  Are you one of His sheep?  

Jesus refrained from saving Himself so that He could save and heal the sick.  Are you sick from the disease of sin?  

Beaten, cursed, afflicted, bruised, scorned, mocked, tormented, and brutalized - is He not worthy of your worship, praise, devotion, allegiance, love, and surrender? 

A perfect man, the only one to ever grace this earth, became sin so His Father could punish Him as our substitute.  He bore the iniquities of His children.  Are you one of His children?  Is He not worthy for you to come home?  To receive your inheritance?

The angels know He is worthy and sing,

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! - Revelation 5:12

The saints exalt Him by singing,

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. - Revelation 4:11

The glorified creatures of heaven proclaim, 

Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!...Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” - Revelation 7:10-12

Is the Lord Jesus Christ not worthy of you to join the heavenly choir?

Purchased to Be Set Free

Jesus tells us in John 8:34-36

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Dear friend, do you want to be set free?  Do you want to know and have true freedom?  Freedom from the bondage of your sin, freedom from the god of this world, freedom from your enslavement to your flesh, freedom from the love of the world and the things of this world?  Do you want this freedom?  This is why Christ purchased His people with His own blood - to set them free!  He bought us to set us free!

Jesus, a holy and righteous God of love and wrath, will set His people free.  If you are of His people, and you are weary from the chains, cry out to Christ to be set free.  Don't wait any longer, today is the day of salvation.  To illustrate this point, that Christ bought us to set us free, listen to Paris Reidhead below.  Truly, when our freedom is purchased by One so worthy, we will want nothing more than to be His slave.

Won't you be a slave to Christ?  That is the Good News, dear friend.  The freedom is yours for the taking - become a slave to the worthy and glorious risen King.  Yield your life to Christ, and be free. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Salvation - Ian Thomas

By Justin Edwards

"Salvation involves the reoccupation by God of a guilty sinner in such a way that Jesus Christ has the unchallenged, absolute, perpetual right to dictate the terms whereby that individual henceforth will run his life." - Ian Thomas

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jesus: Holy and Righteous God of Love and Wrath - Part 3

By Justin Edwards

In that day the Lamb shall become a Lion.  A lion captures its prey by its mighty jaws, and once it is caught, he crushes his prey and conquers his prey and consumes his prey.  So it will be in this last day for the Lion of the tribe of Judah as He will capture and crush every unbeliever outside of Himself.  So terrifying... - Steven Lawson

In a day where most people believe that God has only three attributes - love, grace, and mercy - it is imperative that we effectively communicate all of God's attributes, including His holiness, righteousness, justice, and wrath.  By excluding any of these attributes or denying them, one is preaching, teaching, or believing in a different god altogether - one that doesn't exist.  God is all of these things, and most emphatically He is holy, holy, holy (Revelation 4:8).

Part 1 of this series briefly outlined from Scripture that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, that He does not change, that He is the Alpha and Omega, and He is gracious, merciful, and loving. We'll get into these latter three attributes later, but not without first discussing his other attributes.  Part 2 briefly outlined God's holiness and righteousness, and this post will discuss the justice and wrath of God, who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

I remind the reader that if you do not base your understanding of Jesus Christ on the Word of God, then you have no objective standard from which to base your opinion.  And that is all you have - opinion.  You have built your house on a bed of sand, and in the end it will fall.  You must trust in the Jesus of the Bible, the whole Jesus, lest you never receive His enduring love and face the fury of His wrath. 

Let's continue our understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in Scripture.

Sin Is Lawlessness

Before we discuss the justice and wrath of God, we must first take a look at sin.  Sin is simply defined in 1 John 3:4 as

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Sin is breaking the law of God, and living a sinful lifestyle is living in lawlessness. It is rebelling against God's commandments.  Because God is holy and righteous, rebellion against His wisdom provokes Him to wrath as we see in Deuteronomy 9:7:

Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.

The Law that He has given us to love is found in the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:1-21), yet we are a rebellious people and do not love the ways of the Lord as we ought.  Some of us hate the commandments, others dismiss them, while others try to live by them as if doing so will earn them a ticket to heaven by their own self-righteousness.  However, the Bible says it is impossible for unbelievers and religious hypocrites to submit to the Law of God:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. - Romans 8:7

We therefore stand as men and women condemned under the Law of God.  There is nothing that we need to do to be condemned nor is there anything that God must do to condemn us as we are condemned already (John 3:18).  We, by nature, are sinners, and as sinners we do what naturally comes to us - sin.  As such, God has appointed Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign judge to carry out the sentence of condemned sinners.

God Is Just

God doesn't do things because they are good, something is good because God does it.  Because He is a good judge, He will leave no crime against Him unpunished.  He must carry out justice for every sin that has ever been committed by every human that has ever walked the planet (Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 16:27; 1 Corinthians 4:5).  Sin is a violation of God's holiness, therefore His holiness must be vindicated by punishing every single sin that has violated His holiness. Every injustice will be brought into account.

Scripture often uses righteousness and justice as synonyms, so let's look at a few more verses displaying this attribute:

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. - Psalm 7:11

Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” - Genesis 18:25

Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right? - Job 8:3

Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. - Job 34:10

To declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. - Psalm 92:15

But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. - Psalm 9:7-8

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! - Romans 9:14

And I heard the altar saying,  “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” - Revelation 16:7

Jesus Christ the Judge 

Because God is upright and good, He must punish wickedness as it is an affront to His holiness.  In order to carry out justice, there must be a judge.  The Lord Jesus Christ is that judge, and Scripture is clear that He will not allow the wicked and those who disobey Him to go unpunished.  This is what the Bible says:

The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed. - 1 Samuel 2:10

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. - John 5:22-23

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. - Acts 10:42

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. - Acts 17:30-31

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. - Romans 2:15-16

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: - 2 Timothy 4:1

The Wrath of Jesus

So how will Jesus carry out God's justice in the future (as opposed to his present judgment per Romans 1:18-32, etc.)?  A survey of the Revelation of Jesus Christ reveals many judgments will come upon mankind through wars, plagues, famine, natural disasters, and other supernatural terror.  Angels and demons alike will carry out these judgments, and it will be known by mankind who is judging them.  On that day, the wicked will seek refuge, but there will be no escape from the wrath of Christ:

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” - Revelation 6:15-17

In that day, we see how this Great King will come in glory:

...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. - 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

When Christ comes, the One who is called Faithful and True, He will come in righteousness to make war as He judges the wicked.  He will strike them down as the Lord treads the winepress of the fury of His wrath:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus Christ is not coming as a gentle and meek Lamb, He is coming as the fierce Lion of the tribe of Judah to destroy the wicked and their works, and this includes everyone who disobeys the Gospel and rebels against His righteousness.  All sinners who remain on that day will be 

...slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. - Revelation 19:21

After Christ establishes His earthly Kingdom and reigns for 1,000 years, He will resurrect from the dead those who rebelled against Him.  This is what the Bible says is in store for the wicked as they face the final, righteous judgment of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. - Revelation 20:11-15

Will that be you on that great and terrible day?  What Jesus do you profess to know today?  Is it a jesus you have crafted with your mind, who is corrupt by overlooking sin?  Is it a jesus who loves, loves, loves, yet is not holy, holy, holy?  Is your jesus more concerned with social justice and solving people's problems than he is with the salvation of men's souls?  I tell you, if your Jesus is none other than the Jesus that has been revealed in the Bible, then you are worshiping an idol and you will face the wrath of the Lamb of Almighty God.

This is no day to be playing with your eternity.  In Part 2 I posted a link to a message by Dr. Steven Lawson on the Great White Judgment, and I think it's important enough to post it again here.  You can find the article at this link, or for convenience, you can view the video below.

There is still good news to be discussed, please continue to Part 4.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Proof That God Exists

By Justin Edwards

Go to Proof That God Exists
If you’ve never visited presuppositional apologist Sye TenBruggencate’s web page, then it’s a must that you do.  He provides an easy-to-understand interactive tool to fundamentally prove the existence of God through logic.  For a little while now, I’ve been interested in studying presuppositional apologetics so to strengthen my understanding of logic to be used in witnessing encounters.  I’ve been able to pick up things here and there (thanks to Chad Williams and Dustin Segers), and finding Sye’s website has helped me understand it more systematically.  I’m really eager to study this more in depth.

From the website, Sye states:

You have likely heard that it is impossible to prove that God exists. You have heard wrong. Not only can the existence of God be proven, denying the proof undermines rational thought. It is true that God does not need anyone, let alone this website, to prove His existence. The Bible teaches that the existence of God is so obvious that we are without excuse for denying Him. No one needs proof that God exists, I simply offer these 8 steps to the logical proof of God’s existence in addition to what you already know (and may be suppressing).

Whether you are an unbeliever or someone desiring to sharpen their understanding of the nature of laws  and how they are necessary to prove anything, then please do visit Sye’s website, Proof That God Exists.  If one doesn’t start with God, then they have no basis for rational thought unless they borrow from the Christian worldview, which states God is the author of truth, logic, mathematical laws, scientific laws, and moral laws .  You will find this basic proof very useful when engaging Atheists and/or moral relativists on the street and elsewhere.

You may also find the following from CARM helpful:  The Christian Worldview, the Atheist Worldview, and Logic.

On the Box hosted Sye as a guest on Episode 105 last week – check it out below as they discuss presuppositional apologetics:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jesus: Holy and Righteous God of Love and Wrath - Part 2

By Justin Edwards

Is the Jesus you know the Jesus of the Bible?  Or is the jesus you know a figment of your imagination - one that you have crafted to be palatable with your lifestyle and worldview?  If you do not have an objective and absolute source of truth from which to base your understanding of Jesus, then all you are left with is your opinion, the consequences of which will leave you condemned.

What do you know of The Great White Throne Judgment?
There are many types of jesus' in the world today - there's the mystical jesus, the prophet jesus, the good teacher jesus, the good example jesus, the philanthropic jesus, the liberal jesus, the social gospel jesus, and the "love wins" jesus.  These jesus' are mere figments of people's imaginations because none of these jesus' exist.  They are false christs and have no power to save because they are dead gods created after man's own image.  They base these jesus' on mystical experiences or on loose interpretations of Scripture, cherry-picking verses while ignoring the rest of the Bible.

The Jesus of the the Bible, on the other hand, is the glorious and sovereign King of the universe.  He is Lord of lords and there is none like Him. He is supreme ruler of creation, robed in glory, majesty, power, and honor. This Jesus is beautiful and pure, and He is worthy of praise and worship.  No, there is none like Him.  And as yesterday's post clearly showed, the Jesus of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament, and this God does not change.  He is the First and the Last and He is a God of compassion, mercy, grace, and love.  But His attributes do not stop there.  The same Jesus who is compassionate, merciful, gracious, and loving is the same Jesus who is holy, righteous, just, and wrathful.  Without understanding this Jesus, the One represented by the whole counsel of God, then one cannot know Him, or worse, one is not known by Him.

Let's begin with the holiness of God.

God Is Holy, Holy, Holy

And one called to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” - Isaiah 6:3

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,  “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” - Revelation 4:8

Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? - Exodus 15:11

There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. - 1 Samuel 2:2

The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! 2 The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. 3 Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! - Psalm 99:1-3

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. - Luke 1:35

What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God. - Mark 1:24

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” - Luke 5:8

What does it mean to be holy?  Most simply, it means to be set apart.  God is totally set apart from man.  There is none like Him.  He is totally "other".  Note too that no other attribute of God is so elevated than that of His holiness.  To make this point, R.C. Sproul says in The Holiness of God,

Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy that the whole earth is full of His glory (source).

We must begin with the holiness of God; we must begin with the holiness of Christ, who is God.  Jesus Christ is holy, holy, holy, and there is none like Him.  Let us now look at the righteousness of God.

God Is Righteous

The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked. - Psalm 129:4

The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. - Deuteronomy 32:4

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. - Psalm 97:2

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. - Psalm 119:142

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ - Jeremiah 23:5-6

What is righteousness?  This attribute of God defines His goodness, rightness, perfection, and justice.  Psalm 18:30 says,

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

His standard for good is perfection and is revealed through the Law.  This is why we all fall so short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  This is what is revealed about the Law of the Lord in Psalm 19:7-9:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 

Yet, those who hold contempt for the perfect Law of God will by judged by the perfect Law of God. If you find yourself being one who has rejected the Word of God or dismissed it for any reason, or perhaps you love your sin more than the righteousness of Christ, know that you will be held accountable for your contempt of His righteousness.  Psalm 1:5-6 tells us,

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

And perish you will if you are not reconciled by God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  You will perish by the justice of God and under the wrath of God.  You will perish under none other than the wrath of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come.

This leads us into Part 3 that covers the divine justice and wrath of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jesus: Holy and Righteous God of Love and Wrath - Part 1

By Justin Edwards

Opinions may be hazardous to your soul - read the source of Truth.
Who exactly is Jesus?  Was He merely a great teacher that provided us an example for which to live by, or is He God Himself who was manifest in the flesh 2,000 years ago to save His people from their sin?  Did Jesus come to merely show us how to love, or did He come to testify to the Truth, proclaiming a message of salvation rooted in repentance and faith?  Did Jesus come to tell us that "love wins" in the end, or has He commanded all men everywhere to repent unto Life lest they remain condemned under the wrath of divine judgment?  Who really is Jesus, and how can we know He is who He says He is?

The opening paragraph provides a brief contrast between today's liberal and missional postmodern jesus that has plagued the visible church and the Jesus who is clearly shown to be God in the inerrant and sufficient Holy Scriptures.  The false jesus of postmodernism tells us the church should be only concerned with social justice and healing the world with a positive message of "love".  They aim to redefine Christianity so to rid it of the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).  The god of this world has blinded them to the glorious Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4) and they have exchanged the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).  They are ignorant of the One True God of Scripture:  the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of both the Old and New Testament.

Let's take a look at Scripture to see who Christ really is.  By observing just a few verses (not exhaustive by any means), we can easily see that neither the God of the OT nor Jesus changes, we see that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, we see that both God of the OT and Jesus is Lord, and we see that both are one in the same - the Alpha and Omega. If we do not base our understanding of Christ on the Word of God, then all we are left with are opinions based on the figment of our imagination, the consequences of which are fatally hazardous to the soul.

God Does Not Change

For I the Lord do not change... - Malachi 3:6

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. - James 1:17

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind... - Numbers 23:19

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8

God of the OT and Jesus Are Both Lord

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. - Deuteronomy 10:17

They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” - Revelation 17:14

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. - 1 Timothy 6:13-16

Jesus Is God

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” - Exodus 3:14

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” - John 8:58

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. - Colossians 2:8-9
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - John 1:1

The Alpha and Omega

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. - Isaiah 44:6

“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. - Isaiah 48:12

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last - Revelation 1:17

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. - Revelation 2:8

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” - Revelation 22:13

Now having established that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, let's take a look at a few Scriptures showing God having compassion and showing grace toward His people (even to the wicked) in both testaments.

God Is Merciful, Gracious, and Love

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. - Exodus 34:6

For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them. - Deuteronomy 4:31

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. - Psalm 86:5

For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. - Psalm 108:4

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. - John 13:1

He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. - Acts 14:17

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. - Luke 6:35-36

Yet even though Jesus is a God of love, grace, and mercy, Scripture reveals He is also a holy, righteous, just, and wrathful God.  We'll take a look at these attributes of God later this week.  Please continue to Part 2.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Calvinism: "Salvation Is of the Lord"

From The Grace Community Blog on an excerpt taken from a sermon titled “A Defense of Calvinism” by C. H. Spurgeon

Calvinism: “Salvation is of the Lord”

That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer?

Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Todd Friel on Challies/Piper/Warren

By Justin Edwards

Todd Friel discusses Tim Challies' review of the John Piper interview with Rick Warren

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Christless, Secular "Worship" Music at North Point

By Justin Edwards

A popular trend in [post]modern evangelicalism is secularizing the worship service to be more palatable to the itching ears in attendance at churches entertainment venues across America.  Whether it's Elevation Church covering Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade", or NewSpring Church covering AC/DC's "Highway to Hell", the music in many churches today is aimed at appealing to the carnal nature instead of aiming to glorify and worship the Lord Jesus Christ with pure and holy hearts.

Two Scriptures I'd like to mention before leading into the video below are from John 4:23-24:

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

and Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

With these in mind, the following video comes from Andy Stanley's North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.  These talented men put together a medley of songs from musicians ranging from the last few decades, many of whom have at least one thing in common:  worldliness.  About 25 musicians were covered in the medley, including The Beatles, Elton John (twice), Beyonce, Aerosmith, Destiny's Child, Maroon 5, Jason Mraz, Bob Marley, Poison, and Whitney Houston.  Not only did these "worship" leaders sing music that had absolutely nothing to do with Christ (not that all music must, but this is church after all), but the musicians they covered very much love this world and the things of the world, whether they be homosexuals, lovers of themselves, fornicators, lovers of money, or idolaters - of whom Scripture tells us will not inherit the Kingdom of God:

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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

There is no need to go outside of Scripture to preach a message on love, especially no need to bring the world into the church to suit itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  The message preached and the music for worship must be Christ-centered, intended to build up the saints, not to stunt Gospel-centered spiritual growth. Church is to be the Christian's refuge for God-exalting worship, not a place where worldliness is accepted and praised.  While we are to go out into the world to share the Gospel with sinners such as those listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, church is not intended to conform to the world to make it more entertaining to sinners.  As one facebook commenter said yesterday,

What you draw them with is what you have to keep them with.

Indeed, which is to say these churches collectively show by their fruit that they love the world and the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17).  If you find yourself in one of these seeker-sensitive, postmodern, man-centered, flesh-appealing, Gospel-less, idol-worshiping, life-enhancement "churches", then you must come out from among them (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). 

We have been separated as a holy people to serve the One True Holy God, who has saved us from our sin, who has caused us to crucify our flesh with its passions and desires, and who has decreed that all believers purify themselves from the things of the world, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God (1 John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 7:1). We are to worship God in the spirit of holiness rooted in the truth of Holy Scripture, and we are to meditate on "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, [and]...anything worthy of praise."

Let us live and worship like it, becoming holy as He is holy:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:14-16

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