Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Doctrine of Divorce

Any departure from Scripture invariably works evil in one form or another. The first and most detrimental result of the Roman Catholic doctrine that not even adultery is a proper ground for dissolution of the marriage bond (although annulments are granted for much less serious offenses), is to render that crime easier of accomplishment and more frequent. An unscrupulous husband or wife knows that his or her partner cannot obtain a divorce on the ground of adultery  and so feels less restraint.
Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, p. 354.
First and foremost, the doctrine that not even adultery is a proper ground for dissolution of the marriage bond is not Roman Catholic—it is biblical! Jesus does not teach that divorce is allowed for the committal of adultery. Read those passages carefully and note precisely what they are saying. They are saying that those who divorce are committing, and are causing to commit, adultery if re-marriage should take place. Let's take a look:
1. "Everyone who divorces his wife...makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Matt. 5:32
The person who marries a divorcee is committing adultery.

2. "Whoever divorces his wife...and marries another woman commits adultery." Matt. 19:9
The person who divorces their spouse and marries another commits adultery.

3. "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery." Mark 10:11-12
The person who divorces their spouse and marries another commits adultery.

4. "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery." Luke 16:18
The person who divorces their spouse and marries another commits adultery, and the person who marries a divorcee commits adultery.

5. "So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man." Rom. 7:3
Again, being married to another while your spouse lives is committing adultery.
According to the Bible, remarriage after divorce is committing adultery. In fact, the Greek word translated "commits" and "committing" is in the middle voice, which is present tense continuous, meaning a constant state of adultery. When Paul gives exposition on this subject, he begins with "To the married I give instructions (not I, but the Lord)," and then he makes it clear that "the wife should not divorce her husband (but if she does, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife" (1 Cor. 7:10-11). These are not Paul's words—they are God's! The only dissolution of the marriage bond given in Scripture is that of death (Rom. 7:3; 1 Cor. 7:39).

Secondly, such a doctrine does not render adultery easier of accomplishment or more frequent. That is a fallacious declaration. Such a doctrine, or a lack thereof, is not going to place any more or less restraint on an unscrupulous husband or wife. Any such unscrupulous husband or wife obviously is not Christian to begin with, and any such unscrupulous husband or wife clearly does not understand, nor obey, the teachings of Scripture regarding marriage and the duties and responsibilities of the husband or wife. The husbands and wives who know what the Bible teaches in regard to marriage and embrace their responsibilities as husband and wife will have no issue with purposefully committing adultery.

Thirdly, marriage is a picture of the Gospel, as well as a picture of Christ and the church. If the Bible taught that there was proper ground for dissolution of the marriage bond, apart from death, then what does that say about the Gospel? What does that say about Jesus and the church? What does it say about the teachings of forgiveness and reconciliation that run through both pictures? If God hates divorce, how can Jesus, Who is God, provide any sort of ground for dissolution of the marriage bond, other than death, when He explicitly said, "What God has joined together, no man is allowed to separate" (Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9)?

Lastly, most Christians, when regarding divorce, ignore what all the passages say as a whole and focus only on the two found in Matthew, latching onto the phrase "except for fornication" at the cost of the rest of the context. Let's break Matthew 19 down into a conversational script format so that we can understand the context clearly:
Pharisees: "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?"

Jesus: "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no man is allowed to separate."

Pharisees: "Then why did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND HER AWAY?"

Jesus: "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way."
Moses was merely regulating what they were already doing because of the hardness of their hearts. If the supposed "exception clause" is as most Christians understand it to be, then why does it appear only in the book of Matthew and not in any of the other books? For more on this, please read a previous blog entry of mine entitled Divorcing Divorce. It is important that Christians understand the correct teaching on this important issue and that they live it out practically with the help of the Holy Spirit. A husband/wife who loves God first with his/her entire heart, entire soul, and entire mind, and loves their spouse as themselves will never have to be concerned with adultery of either type, whether in marriage or the result of re-marriage.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

23 Questions On Coming To Christ

by Unknown

Below, you'll see 23 simple questions designed to help you decide what God has said in the Bible about how we come to Christ. Some of the verses answer the questions explicitly, while others offer implicit principles for your consideration.

Granted, some of the either/or answers may not necessarily be mutually exclusive. (You can make them mutually exclusive by adding before each question the phrase, "In this/these verse[s]...") Yet, taken as a whole, these verses are a powerful witness to God's sovereign rule over our salvation.

All Christians believe humans make choices. The issue is how do we choose Christ - by internal, self ability and desire, or external, God-given ability and desire? And, if God gives His ability and desire to us, can we resist, or does He prevail?

1. Was your will free from Satan's control, yes or no? 
"So ought not this woman...whom Satan has bound...for 18 years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" (Lk. 13:16) 
"the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." (2 Tim. 2:26) 
2. Was your will free from sin's control, yes or no? 
"His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, & he is caught in the cords of his sin." (Pr. 5:22) 
"whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (Jn. 8:34) 
"For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." (Acts 8:23) 
"you were slaves of sin" (Rom. 6:17) 
"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, slaving various lusts and pleasures" (Tit. 3:3) 
"they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage." (2 Pet. 2:19)  
3. Is God sovereign & in control over humans' wills including yours, no or yes? 
"you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." (Gen. 50:20) 
"But I will harden his (Pharaoh's) heart, so that he will not let the people go." (Ex. 4:21) 
"And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians." (Ex. 12:36) 
"And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen." (Ex. 14:17) 
"But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand" (Deut. 2:30) 
"For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them" (Josh. 11:20) 
"God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech" (Jud. 9:23) 
"the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'" (2 Sam. 24:1) 
"The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets" (1 Kings 22:23) 
"that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom" (Ezra 1:1-3) 
"the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God" (Ezra 6:22) 
"He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants." (Ps. 105:25) 
"A man's heart (will) plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." (Pr. 16:9) 
"The king's heart (will) is in the hand of the LORD...He turns it wherever He wishes." (Pr. 21:1) 
"Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger...I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath I will give him charge...Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so" (Is. 10:5-7) 
"For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?" (Is. 14:27) 
"Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure'" (Is. 44:28) 
"I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever" (Jer. 32:39) 
"I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me." (Jer. 32:40) 
"I will give you a new heart (will) and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart (will) of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." (Ezek. 36:26-27) 
"For His dominion is and everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have you done?" (Dan. 4:34-35) 
"For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done." (Acts 4:27-28) 
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28) 
"Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" (Rom. 9:19) 
"But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills." (1 Cor. 12:11) 
"for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13) 
"Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'" (Jas. 4:15) 
"For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled." (Rev. 17:17) 
God Is in Control of ALL Things,
and Sovereign Over ALL Things

Wow! Could God possibly make it any clearer that He controls our wills? What we're saying is: God is in control (of ALL things, even salvation.) He is sovereign (over ALL things, even salvation.) Most Christians acknowledge He's in control only in a general, vague sense. But, He tells us He's in control of every minute detail of His universe, even your decisions, and the number of hairs on your head.

In the Fall, Did Adam & His Offspring Lose
Their Desire and Ability to Come to Christ?

4. After Adam and Eve sinned, did they move toward God, or hide from Him?
"Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God" (Gen. 3:8)
5. Did Adam initiate contact with God, or did God initiate contact with Adam?
"Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Gen. 3:9)
6. As a fallen sinner, were you just spiritually sick, or spiritually dead?
"for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen. 2:17) 
"you...who were dead in trespasses and sins...even when you were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Eph. 2:1, 5) 
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive" (Col. 2:13)
The spiritually dead can't raise themselves. They must be raised by God.

7. Could you spiritually see the gospel, or were you spiritually blind?
"yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive & eyes to see & ears to hear" (Deut. 29:4) 
"I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand...For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them." (Mt. 13:13-15) 
"Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.'" (Jn. 12:38-40) 
"to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins" (Acts 26:18) 
"there is none who understands" (Rom. 3:11) 
"But their minds were blinded." (2 Cor. 3:14) 
"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
The blind can't see, until God first gives them sight.

8. Could you spiritually hear the gospel, or were you spiritually deaf?
"yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive & eyes to see & ears to hear" (Deut. 29:4) 
"I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand...For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them." (Mt. 13:13-15)
9. When you were spiritually dead, blind, & deaf, did you desire & seek God, yes or no?
"Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen. 6:5) 
"men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." (Jn. 3:19) 
"For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light" (Jn. 3:20) 
"haters of God" (Rom. 1:30) 
"There is none who seeks after God." (Rom. 3:11) 
"I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me." (Rom. 10:20)
10. Are unbelievers not sheep because they don't believe, or do they not believe because they're not sheep?
"But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep." (Jn. 10:26) 
11. When you were spiritually dead, deaf & blind, were you born again by your will, or God's will?
"who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (Jn. 1:13) 
"it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." (Rom. 9:16) 
"of His own will He brought us forth (birthed us) by the word of truth" (Jas. 1:18)
How much of a part did you have in willing your own physical conception? None! Your parents conceived you by their own wills. As it is with physical birth, so it is with spiritual birth. You didn't ask to be birthed. The Father birthed you.

Then, the question arises, "If fallen, dead, deaf, blind sinners can't come to Christ, then how do they come to Christ?" Does God give the new birth because they believed, or so that they can believe? In other words, is faith the cause of the new birth, or is the new birth the cause of faith?

To believe that fallen, dead, deaf, blind sinners repented and believed to be born again is like getting the cart before the horse. Logically, they must have first been spiritually born again, before they could repent and believe in Christ.

Well, whether faith or the new birth comes first is irrelevant - because God gives not only the new birth, but also faith and repentance, so He gets all the credit, as you'll see below...

12. Did God predestine your adoption & inheritance according to your will, or His will?
"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world...having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph. 1:4-5) 
"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11)
13. Did God choose you because you would believe, or so that you would believe?
"God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thes. 2:13)
14. Whose choice made the ultimate difference, the apostles' choice, or God's choice?
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit" (Jn. 15:16)
15. Whose will made Paul an apostle, his own will, or God's will? 
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God" (1 Cor. 1:1)
16. Did God call you according to your purpose (will,) or His purpose?
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom (not "what") He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:28-29) 
"who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Tim. 1:9)
17. Who opened your heart, you or God?
"He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures." (Lk. 24:45) 
"The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14)
18. How many of the lost does God call/draw, all or only some?
"Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Mt. 11:27) 
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (Jn. 6:44) 
"Moreover whom He predestined, these he also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." (Rom. 8:30)
19. How many of those whom God calls/draws respond, some or all?
"And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48) 
"whom He called, these He also justified" (Rom. 8:30) 
"concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Rom. 11:28-29)
20. Who did your repentance come from, you or God?
"Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." (Acts 5: 31) 
"God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." (Acts 11:18) 
"those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance so that they may know the truth" (2 Tim. 2:25-26)
21. Who did your faith come from, you or God?
"...those who had believed through grace" (Acts 18:27) 
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8) 
"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer..." (Phil. 1:29) 
"God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thes. 2:13) 
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17) 
"looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Heb. 12:2) 
"to those who have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God" (2 Pet. 1:1)
22. Who made the difference in your decision for Christ, the evangelist or God?
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase." (1 Cor. 3:6-7)
23. Who made the difference in your decision for Christ, you or God?
"that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus...that as is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'" (1 Cor. 1:29-31) 
"For who makes you differ? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7) 
"But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10) 
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9)
If you made the difference in your decision for Christ, then you'd have reason to boast, wouldn't you? Many credit God for 99% of salvation, and themselves for the other 1% (their decision.) Will you give Him ALL the glory?

Man Gets the Credit for Sin,
But God Gets the Credit for Salvation 

Ever since Adam and Eve's Fall, their offspring are spiritually dead, deaf, and blind. And, they freely, willingly, voluntarily choose sin instead of God. So, the Bible always makes man responsible for his sin. God is never responsible for man's sin.

But, ever since Adam and Eve's Fall, God (by His undeserved grace) initiates contact with some sinners. He gives them new birth, new desire and ability to freely, willingly, and voluntarily choose Him. So, the Bible always gives God the credit for salvation. Humans are never credited with having achieved salvation.

Undeserved Grace 

Praise Him that He's chosen to save some because of His undeserved grace. He could have justly chosen to save none. That's what He did for the fallen angels. They have no plan of salvation, no opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved. They don't deserve it, and neither do we!

He could have justly left Adam and Eve and all the rest of us to perish in hell. He didn't have to design a plan of salvation. He doesn't owe salvation to anyone. He freely chose to redeem a people for Himself, to the praise of His glorious grace.

So, who made the difference in your conversion: The evangelist, you, or God? Who gets the credit and glory for your decision for Christ: The evangelist, you, or God? God made the difference, didn't He. Yes, God gets all the credit and all the glory for saving us, doesn't He?

Dear saint, if He has given you the gifts of new life, repentance, and faith, then won't you humbly bow down low right now, to thank Him, and worship Him!

Witness with Confidence in God's Power to Save Sinners!

So, we can witness with confidence in God's power to change sinners because He makes the difference - no matter how hard-hearted the hearers are, and no matter how skilled an evangelist you are. Now do you understand Calvinism, Arminianism, so what?

Now, go and take the good news of Christ crucified and raised, to all nations. Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them. Surely He will be with you always, to the end of the age...

Friday, December 19, 2014

God's Love-letter

by Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity" or "HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness," 1662

The Scripture is God's love-letter to men.

Here the lamb may wade--and here the elephant may swim!

The blessed Scriptures are of infinite worth and value! Here you may find . . .
     a remedy for every disease,
     balm for every wound,
     a plaster for every sore,
     milk for babes,
     meat for strong men,
     comfort for the afflicted,
     support for the tempted,
     solace for the distressed,
     ease for the wearied,
     a staff to support the feeble,
     a sword to defend the weak.

The holy Scriptures are . . .
     the map of God's mercy--and man's misery,
     the touchstone of truth,
     the shop of remedies against all maladies,
     the hammer of vices,
     the treasury of virtues,
     the exposer of all sensual and worldly vanities,
     the balance of equity,
     the most perfect rule of all justice and honesty.

Ah, friends, no book befits your hands like the Bible!

The Bible is the best preacher. This book, this preacher will preach to you . . .
     in your shops,
     in your chambers,
     in your closets,
     yes, in your own bosoms!
This book will preach to you at home and abroad; it will preach to you in all companies; and it will preach to you in all conditions.

By this book you shall be saved--or
     by this book you shall be damned!
By this book you must live.
By this book you must die.
By this book you shall be judged in the great day!

Oh, therefore . . .
     love this book above all other books,
     prize this book above all other books,
     read this book before all other books,
     study this book more than all other books!
For he who reads much--and understands nothing, is like him who hunts much--and catches nothing!

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long!" Psalm 119:97

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Can We Stop This Nonsense?

In Point of Grace's song How You Live (Turn Up the Radio) from their 2007 album How You Live, they have these lyrics:
"Cause it's not who you knew and it's not what you did, it's how you lived."
I am sorry to have to break this to those biblically illiterate Christians out there who do not read their Bibles, but it is not how you live. It is absolutely all about Who you know. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6). "There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). If you do not know Jesus—the real Jesus of the Bible, then how you live is absolutely meaningless because you will still find yourself in hell for all eternity after you die.

In Jill Phillips' song Broken Heart from her 2014 album Mortar & Stone, she has these lyrics:
"There are other ways that Jesus could have saved the world. Ones that wouldn't end up with Him dead. Could've done it with an order from the throne of God, but He did it with a broken heart."
I really wish these biblically illiterate Christians would start reading their Bibles. It would help them avoid saying foolish things like this. There are not other ways that Jesus could have saved the world. There was only one way in which He could do so. "Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22b). "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement" (Leviticus 17:11). Without the shedding of blood there would be no remission—no forgiveness—of sins. To say there are other ways Jesus could have saved the world is to acknowledge you either do not read and/or understand your Bible.

Christians, please stop following foolish philosophical nonsense and start reading, believing, and obeying your Bible. There are many professors of Christianity out there who have written many books. First John 4:1b informs us to "test every spirit to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." Many professors of Christianity have adapted non-Christian philosophies and attempted to merge them as one. As a professing Christian yourself, you ought to be wise enough and discerning enough to know your Bible and to be able to spot humanistic philosophies and/or cultish philosophies, such as the nonsense that comes from the New Age or "Enlightened" Movement. This is nothing more than a modern form of the Gnostic heresy that Paul, James, Peter, and John wrote to condemn in the Bible. Derive your beliefs directly from the Bible—not from songs or movies or any other exterior source. If you are not on guard, error will slowly creep in and overtake you, corrupting your beliefs. "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matt. 10:16b).

Who's the Biggest Failure In the Bible?

According to some preachers and teachers, God is the greatest failure in the Bible. If you hold to certain doctrines, like that of Arminianism, it is not difficult to see how one could come to that conclusion. After all, a God who apparently sets out to save all mankind, being long-suffering toward all men and not willing that any should perish (a misquotation of 2 Peter 3:9), and only succeeds in saving some most definitely is a failure. To these preachers and teachers, Judas, Adam, and Satan may have been failures, but they are not as big of failures as God. It just blows my mind how people can say that God is sovereign and then turn around and claim foolish nonsense like this. It does not even dawn on them the contradictions in what they claim to believe and the things that are coming out of their mouths.

Scripture says that God accomplishes whatever He wills and that His purposes will always come to pass (Eph. 1:11; Pss. 115:3; 135: 6; Job 42:2; et al). According to John 6:37, all of those that the Father gave to Christ Jesus as an inheritance from before the foundations of the world will come to Him in saving faith. So God has not failed in the least; not in creation and certainly not in salvation. From our viewpoint and understanding it may appear as though He has failed, but from His viewpoint and understanding, which are higher than our own, He succeeds every time. We need to quit trying to judge God based on our line of sight and our faulty reasoning. It never ceases to amaze me the number of Christians who limit God by trying to associate Him with human beings. God is not a man. He is not like us. Quit trying to box Him up with human understanding. That is like a hand-drawn 2D object trying to figure out the complexities of its 3D creator. God is not limited by our capacities.

When your belief system is filled with failures to interpret and understand Scripture correctly, of course God will inevitably be the biggest failure in Scripture. It is the Arminianist way. However, when you interpret and understand Scripture correctly, God is always the unfailing victor. His apparent failure is based on your failure to grasp what the Bible teaches. To read the entire Bible and arrive at the conclusion that God was a constant failure demonstrates your lack of ability to see the big picture or to understand anything you read. Any preacher or teacher who voices clearly that God is a failure needs to be avoided at all costs. Any preacher or teacher who does not believe God is a failure but teaches doctrines that clearly express such failure should be avoided as well. How you think and believe will be determined by the kind of people you surround yourself with and immerse yourself in. Be wise, not foolish.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Misquoting the Bible: Philippians 4:13

"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
" Philippians 4:10-19
As with Jeremiah 29:11, this verse is also frequently misquoted and misapplied by Christians who rip it from its immediate context and attempt to apply it to various situations and circumstances in their life or others. It, likewise, has nothing to do with our personal pursuits and endeavours. It also has nothing to do with skills or abilities, employment, relationships, or anything else like that. When someone we know shares with us their struggles, fears, worries, doubts, or concerns about a particular area of their life and we quote this verse to them as some attempt to comfort, we are again doing so erroneously and incorrectly. We are ripping the verse from its immediate context and performing eisegesis upon it.

Philippians 4:13 is not an absolute statement. It is a restrictive statement, confined to the immediate context. Paul is not using this verse to say we can win our sports games because it is Christ Who strengthens us; he is not using this verse to say we can achieve whatever skill set we desire because it is Christ Who strengthens us; he is not using this verse to say we can perform whatever laborious activity we engage in because it is Christ Who strengthens us. We need to keep this verse in the context of what he said in the preceding verses. Paul uses this verse to state that, by the Lord's help, he can use well both prosperity and adversity. Whatever God called him to or put upon him, in this context—prosperity or adversity, he could do because he was united to Christ and indwelt by the Spirit. If he was put in prison for spreading the Gospel, he could endure it for the sake of Christ because it was Christ strengthening him.
"The secret of living amid life's difficulties is simple: trusting God in such a way that one can say, I can do all things through him who strengthens me. This does not mean God will bless whatever a person does; it must be read within the context of the letter, with its emphasis on obedience to God and service to God and others." —ESV Study Bible, p. 2287.
Once again, Christians should never have favourite Bible verses, unless those verses come from the book of Proverbs. Why? Because far too often they are isolating it to itself at the expense of the immediate context surrounding it that explains its meaning, and then misapplying it to their situation. Christians should have favourite Bible passages, understanding what the passage teaches and applying it correctly.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Misquoting the Bible: Jeremiah 29:11

"Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.'
"For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,' declares the LORD.
"For thus says the LORD, 'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'"
" Jeremiah 29:1-14
This verse is frequently misquoted and misapplied by Christians who rip it from its immediate context and attempt to apply it to various situations and circumstances in their life or others. It has nothing to do with our personal pursuits and endeavours. It has nothing to do with skills or abilities, employment, relationships, or anything else like that. When someone we know shares with us their struggles, fears, worries, doubts, or concerns about a particular area of their life and we quote this verse to them as some attempt to comfort, we are doing so erroneously and incorrectly. We are ripping the verse from its immediate context and performing eisegesis upon it.

Jeremiah 29:11 is not about us. It does not apply to us. Jeremiah is not using this verse to say God has plans to prosper us in our careers; he is not using this verse to say God has plans to prosper us in the pursuit of new skills; he is not using this verse to say God has plans to prosper us in our marriages. We need to keep this verse in the context of what he said in the preceding and following verses. Jeremiah uses this verse to state that God has a plan to restore Israel to their land after the Babylonian captivity has run its course.
"This deliverance will not depend upon your merits, but upon my own mercy and kind thoughts and purposes I have for the seed of Abraham my servant, and I am resolved in my own thoughts what to do; I intend not the blotting out of the name of Israel from the earth, but to give such an end to their trouble as themselves expect and desire, thought not so soon as they may expect it, being deceived by their prophets. There shall be an end of your captivity in my time, and that is after you shall have fulfilled seventy years in that captivity." —Matthew Poole's Commentary On the Holy Bible, vol. 2, p. 581.
"This antithesis is not in keeping with what follows. The meaning is rather: Although I appoint so long a term for the fulfillment of the plan of redemption, yet fear not that I have utterly rejected you; I know well what my design is in your regard. My thoughts toward you are thoughts of God, not of evil. Although now I inflict lengthened sufferings on you, yet this chastisement but serves to bring about your welfare in the future." —Keil & Delitzsch Commentary On the Old Testament, vol. 8, p. 255.
The context for this passage is very simple. Verses 4 through 7 are things God commands Israel to do while they are captive in Babylon. Verses 8 through 9 are things God commands Israel not to do while they are captive in Babylon. Verses 10 through 14 address God's promise to restore Israel to their land once the Babylonian captivity comes to an end. This passage has nothing to do with Israel in the future (as Dispensationalists falsely interpret it), and verse 11 has nothing to do with us.

Christians should never have favourite Bible verses, unless those verses come from the book of Proverbs. Why? Because far too often they are isolating it to itself at the expense of the immediate context surrounding it that explains its meaning, and then misapplying it to their situation. Christians should have favourite Bible passages, understanding what the passage teaches and applying it correctly.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Miquoting the Bible: 2 Peter 3:9

"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow concerning His promise as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward you, not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
" 2 Peter 3:1-13
2 Peter 3:9 is often quoted by those who believe that Jesus died and shed His blood for each and every individual that has ever lived in an attempt to claim that He is not willing that any individual should ever perish. However, when we study this verse and its immediate context, we soon learn who this verse is talking about. Is it talking about all men? No, it is not! If God is not willing that any should perish, then none will perish because His will will be accomplished: "My purpose shall stand, and I will accomplish all that I please" (Isaiah 46:10). Whatever God wills is what happens because He has willed it. If you think human will can override God's will, think again. You might want to go back and read about Jonah and Nebuchadnezzar.

Our first step in determining who this verse is talking about will be in examining the Greek language. The word "some," from "as some count slowness," and the word "any," from "that any should perish," are the exact same Greek word—tis (τις). It means "certain ones." So, our passage could read like this:
The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as certain ones count slowness, but is long-suffering toward you, not willing that certain ones should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Now, reading it in that light is very telling. God is not willing that certain ones should perish. Which ones are those? That is what we are going to answer by the end of this study.

Our next step in determining who this verse is talking about is to ask "Who is the 'you'?" Well, that's simple enough to answer. The good student of the Bible will immediately consider the context and read the verse prior, which reads: "But, beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." The immediate context has just revealed to us that the "you" is the "beloved." In fact, in this entire chapter Peter differentiates between "you" and "they."

Who are the "beloved"? Again, the good student of the Bible will keep with context. The very beginning of this chapter reads: "This is the second epistle I now write to you, beloved." Ah ha! Peter has written two epistles to this "beloved," but we still have not figured out who these people are. For this, we need to turn to his first epistle. There, in the first verse of the first chapter, we read: "To the elect."

Finally! We have just discovered who the "you" is. The "you" (or "us" as the King James translates it) in 2 Peter 3:9 are the "elect." The first "certain ones" in this verse refers to the "they" while the second "certain ones" refers to the "you" (or "us"). Now, in the King James Bible, the word "elect" appears in the second verse of 1 Peter 1, but this is a translational error because in the original Greek it is the fifth word from the beginning of the book.

There is one more nail we need to put in the coffin on this issue. The word translated as "all" is the Greek word pas (πας) and means:
  1. individually
    1. each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
  2. collectively
    1. some of all types
Now, there are those who, even after seeing this, will still reject the truth in place of their personal opinions and feelings. These people claim to study the Bible but have never studied it a day in their life. They read it and they read books that support their position, but not once have they actually studied the Bible. They will outright deny the evidence we have just uncovered because they do not truly believe what the Bible has to say.

Whether you like it or not, the "you" or "us" in 2 Peter 3:9 is speaking of and to the "elect." God is long-suffering toward certain ones (vessels of wrath) for the sake of certain ones (His elect—vessels of mercy) to come to repentance. This is what Romans 9:22-23 teaches us as well: "What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, has endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for the vessels of mercy, which He had beforehand prepared unto glory." Revelation states crystal clearly that there are those "whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" (13:8) and "whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" (17:8). Ephesians 1:4 tells us that "[God] chose us in [Jesus] before the foundation of the world." Romans 8:19 says, "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God." Time waits for the revealing of each believer. Until the very last believer who will believe comes to faith, God will be patient with the vessels of His wrath. He is patient with them for the sake of His chosen, not willing that any of His chosen should perish -- and none of them will (John 6:39; 17:12; 18:9).

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Misquoting the Bible: John 3:16

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:14-18).
John 3:16 is probably the greatest misquoted and misinterpreted verse in all of Scripture, with 2 Peter 3:9 close behind. This verse began to be largely corrupted and perverted through Billy Graham's ministry, which is why pretty much the entire world knows this verse. But the way in which this verse is represented by the majority of believers who have been influenced by such erroneous teachings could not be further from the truth. If you have read my previous blog entry titled The Word "World", you will have learned that the word "world" has over eight different possible usages throughout Scripture. It rarely ever means each and every individual on the entire planet without exception. It does not mean such here either.

In verses 15 and 16, the word translated as "whoever" ("whosoever," KJV) is the Greek word pas (πας—the same word we examined in the blog entry 2 Peter 3:9) and means:
  1. individually
    1. each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
  2. collectively
    1. some of all types
In 2 Peter 3:9, this word is translated as "all." Replace "whoever" with "all" and re-read these verses. You might read it like this: "that all believers may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that all believers in Him should not perish, but have eternal life"; or like this: "that all that/who believe may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that all that/who believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." "Whoever" is not an optional statement. It is a declarative statement. It is saying "the one that does believe," "those that do believe," "all that do believe." Those who are those that.

Arminianist-based faiths treat "whoever" as if it is offering an option, which it is not. It is not saying "whoever wants to believe," but is declaring "the ones that do believe." Man does not want to believe. Man hates God (John 3:19-20; 7:7; 15:18). Man is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Man does not seek after God (Rom. 3:11b). Man rejects God (Rom. 1:18-19). Man cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Man is full of evil (Mark 7:21-23). Man is lawless, rebellious, unholy, and profane (1 Tim. 1:9). Man is a child of wrath (Eph. 2:1). Man does not choose God (John 15:16). Man will not believe unless he is part of Jesus' flock (John 10:26). If God merely made an offer of salvation to mankind and left the decision to be saved up to man, no one would ever be saved! Why? Because we cannot alter our original state. If someone comes and preaches the Gospel to us, there is nothing in and of ourselves that can change our spiritual blindness, to regenerate us and make us born again, to give us a heart of flesh, to make us love God, etc. God must do that before we are able to respond to His call, and after He has done it we will respond to His call. Read my blog entry Faith Is A Gift. If all these things are true of man, and they are, then man will never come to God by himself. God must first change man's heart by regenerating him and drawing him to Himself, at which point man will freely accept Jesus as Lord. If Jesus is not your Lord, He cannot be your Saviour. A regenerated man will never and can never reject Jesus. Only the unregenerate can do so. Those who claim to have been regenerated and now reject Jesus demonstrate that they were never regenerated to begin with. They merely put on a show for all to see, imitating what they saw and heard. But they never belonged to Jesus (Matt. 7:15-23; John 6:66; 1 John 2:19).

If "world" in verse 16 is supposed to mean each and every individual without exception, then the same logic must be applied to verse 17. Therefore, each and every individual will not be judged but will be saved through Jesus. Trying to force the meaning "each and every individual without exception" onto the word "world" results in support for the heresy of Universalism. If one is going to argue that "world" must mean "each and every individual without exception" in one verse, he must use that same argument for all verses. The fact of the matter is that the word "world" is rarely used this way in the Bible and has over eight different uses. Ignorance wants to force a single meaning upon a word when the word is clearly used in different contexts throughout Scripture and the whole of Scripture contradicts such a forced meaning of the word.

Verse 18 tells us that the one that does not believe "has been judged already." Past tense. Compare this to John 5:24 where it says the one that believes "does not come into judgment." Future tense. One has already been condemned while the other will not be condemned. Revelation states clearly that there are those “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundations of the world” (17:8; cf 13:8). These vessels of wrath (Rom. 9:22; Prov. 16:4; 1 Pet. 2:8) were "long beforehand marked out for this condemnation" (Jude 4; cf. 2 Pet. 2:3).

John 3:16 is a verse about God's elect. God so loved His chosen people that He sent Christ Jesus to be a propitiation for their sins. All of Scripture supports this correct interpretation. Jesus came to save His own people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Jesus gave His life for His own people—His sheep (John 10:11, 15), the church (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27). He accomplished redemption for His own people (Luke 1:68). Scripture never mentions mediation for any other except His own! His people consist of believing Jews and Gentiles. All people—each and every individual without exception—have not been given to Christ Jesus as an inheritance (John 6:37; Eph. 1:18). No one can come to God unless the Father has given him to Jesus and draws Him (John 6:44, 65). If all mankind is being drawn to God, then they will all come to Him, which again is support for the heresy of Universalism. The fact and truth of the matter is that Jesus came to redeem those whom the Father gave Him, of which all will come to Jesus in faith (John 6:37).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jesus' Teachings On Love

It is truly and utterly amazing the number of biblically illiterate Christians who keep referencing "the teachings of Christ on love" when such teachings practically do not exist. Jesus had very little to say on the topic of love. In fact, everything He had to say in regard to the topic of love can be found in these passages:
Matthew 5:43-48
"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Matthew 22:37-39; cf. Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37
"But when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered themselves together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.""

Luke 6:27-36

"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way. And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. 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 Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

John 13:34-35

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15:13
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
The individual who gave the most weight to the topic of love, as far as the written word is concerned and as understood by most Christians, was the Apostle Paul. But to those individuals who call themselves "Christian" all the while belonging to a cult that teaches Paul was nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing, the entire teaching on love becomes invalidated, which leaves them with nothing to preach on the issue.

Furthermore, the individuals who repeatedly refer to "the teachings of Christ on love" have no clue what His teachings on love actually were, nor do they adhere to them the way they keep insisting others do. The "love" they are referring to, which they falsely attribute to Jesus, or even the Apostle Paul, is a false love. It is an idol in their lives that they worship. They go around spouting "love, love, love" without the faintest inkling of true biblical love. They have turned their false concept of love into a god, and their concept of love is acceptance of everyone and everything regardless of anything else God's Word has to say. Start reading your Bibles, people!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Amused, Entertained, Seduced

S. Houghton

The fact is that theatrical performances, in order to be paying propositions, must pander to the baser passions in unregenerate men and women. They must be a reflector of the world—the world that lies in the Wicked One. This, say some, is their merit—they are a mirror of life, and as life includes the foul and the sordid, so too must the theater.

We grant that the playwright sets out to mirror life. So too does Holy Scripture. No book is so revealing as to human nature! No book better portrays human sin! But if the theater and the Book do one and the same thing, then wherein lies the vast difference between them? And why may not one be the handmaid of the other?

For a variety of reasons; but principally for this—that, whereas the Book shows . . .
  sin in its true evil colors,
  sin in its devilish origin,
  sin in its downward course,
  sin in its dreadful wages,
  sin in its awful and eternal consequences;
on the other hand the theater displays sin that men may be amused, entertained, and alas, all too often seduced! The Book smites the conscience and leads a man to say, "Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!" It causes him to cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

But the theater tends in another direction altogether. As it sets out to entertain, so also it blurs a man's sight of that which is truly spiritual and divinely holy; as it aims to amuse, it dulls a man's ability to examine himself in the pure light of revealed truth.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One of the Broadest Avenues That Lead To Destruction

Hannah More, 1745-1833

I do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce the theater to be one of the broadest avenues that lead to destruction! Fascinating no doubt it is, but on that account the more delusive and the more dangerous. Let a young man once acquire a taste for this species of entertainment, and yield himself up to its gratification, and he is in great danger of becoming a lost character, rushing upon his ruin. All the evils that can . . .
  corrupt his morals,
  blast his reputation,
  embitter his life,
  and destroy his soul—
lurk in the purlieus of the theater! Vice in every form lives and moves and has its being there. Myriads have cursed the hour when they first exposed themselves to the contamination of the theater. 

Light and darkness are not more opposed to each other, than the Bible and the theater. If the one is good, then the other must be evil. If the Scriptures are to be obeyed, then the theater must be avoided. The only way to justify the theater, as it is, as it has ever been and is ever likely to be, is to condemn the Bible—the same individual can not defend both!

(Editor's note: Hannah More's words have certainly come true in our generation. Our American "entertainment" has perhaps done more to corrupt our society than anything else. We Christians would do well to evaluate our entertainment choices by God's Word.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

If the World Loves Us, Smiles On Us, and Speaks Well of Us

by James Smith (1891)

The concern of Jesus for the safety and happiness of His people, is both great and astonishing! He had watched over His disciples while He was with them, and being about to leave them He would make them the special care and charge of His Father, and thus He prays, "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, KEEP through Your own name, those whom You have given Me!" John 17:11

Notice the circumstances in which we are placed: "They are still in the world." They are chosen out of it, are raised above it—and yet are left in it, for holy and important purposes.

The world to the believer, is a place of trial. Every principle he has, as well as the profession he makes, will be tried here.
Storms will arise, and often suddenly and unexpectedly.
Labors have to be performed, and self-denying labors too.
Persecutions must be endured, and at times these are fiery and long-continued.

This world is . . .
   a treacherous environment,
   a field of labor,
   a weary land,
   an enemy's country!

The world to the Christian is a place of DANGER. He has foes both within and without. From some he must escape by fleeing, and from some by resisting.

"The corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:4) is defiling, debasing, and disturbing! It must be overcome; we must cleanse ourselves from it, and escape from its contagion!

Then we have to do battle with . . .
   the god of this world—the prince of the power of the air;
   the powers of the world—or ungodly, persecuting men in authority;
   the men of the world—or the masses surrounding us;
   the things of the world, especially . . .
     the lust of the flesh,
     the lust of the eye,
     and the pride of life!

In such a world, surrounded by such evil elements and diabolic agents, we must be in danger, and shall be severely tried!!

Hence Jesus pleads with His Father; He fixes on the holiness of His nature and character, and cries, "Holy Father!" His grace, or His mercy, or His pity, more generally attracts us, because we feel unworthy, or miserable, or weak. But His holiness fixes the eye on His obedient Son, and our great High Priest!

He prays for their preservation: "Holy Father, KEEP through Your own name, those whom You have given Me." Keep through Your own name, that is, keep them . . .
   in the knowledge of Yourself and of Your truth;
   by Your power, mercy, and providence;
   to show forth Your truth, Your mercy, and Your love.
The Lord's people, therefore, will be kept by God's power through faith unto salvation.

Beloved, if Jesus thus prayed for us, then our preservation is certain, and our perseverance is sure. We shall be kept, in answer to the prayer of our great High Priest . . .
   to His gratification,
   for His honor, and
   to the Almighty Keeper's glory!

Whatever storms may arise,
whatever foes may assail us,
whatever trials may come upon us,
our Heavenly Father will keep us, in honor of His Son.

Kept by the all-seeing eye and all-powerful hand of Jehovah we shall persevere, though . . .
   the road is rough and treacherous,
   the journey is long and dangerous,
   and our strength is but small.

Let us in every season of danger . . .
   when foes and fears beset us,
   when our hearts misgive us, and
   the cross lies heavy upon us,
then let us hear Jesus praying for us, "Keep through Your own name those whom You have given Me!"

Reader! Are you OF the world or are you one of Christ's redeemed people IN the world? Saints in the world are like . . .
   pure lilies among stinging thorns,
   precious diamonds among filthy pebbles,
   harmless sheep among ravenous wolves!

If the world loves us, smiles on us, and speaks well of us, then we are certainly OF it! And if of the world, we shall certainly be damned along with it.

But if the world is to us a place of trial, and a place of danger; if we feel that we are not at home in it; if we are longing and preparing to leave it, that we may go home and dwell with Jesus in His Father's house forever, then all is well with us, and will be well forever!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just Convert Already!

Let me ask you a question.

Whose responsibility is it to convert someone?

That is right.


So why do many Christians behave in such an unsightly manner by trying to impress their beliefs upon others and force them to convert? Why do they act in such a way as if the conversion of a person relies entirely upon them?

News flash! There is nothing that you or I can say or do in order to convert another person. Absolutely nothing! Our job is simply to preach the Word and answer their questions, doubts, and skepticisms. Until you learn Who God is, and come to terms with His sovereignty, you will forever be doing evangelism wrongly by doing it in your own power.

I learned long ago that no matter what I say or do I will never be able to convert a single soul to Christianity. Why? Because it is God who must change their heart in order for them to respond to the Gospel. When I am talking with people, I will make it known to them early on that while I would love to see them saved and born again, I am not trying to convert them because it is not in my power to do so. I cannot convert a single being. If they have questions, I will answer them; if they have doubts, I will provide the facts and evidences; if they have skepticism, I will correct them; and I will share the Gospel. That is all I can do; provide answers to the best of my ability. If they want to end the discussion and move along, I oblige them. I have planted the seed and/or watered it. The rest is up to God.

Christians who keep hounding an individual and pounding them with their beliefs are doing a huge disservice to the individual and making the whole of Christianity look bad. If the individual walks away, do not keep following after him/her casting your pearls before swine. No matter how many times you say something, or how many different ways you say it, or how much more information you try to give them in order to attempt to persuade them, you will never convert them! Conversion of a soul is not your responsibility, nor is it in your power to do so. Stop trying to be God!

When I read through my Bible, I see Jesus and the Apostles doing precisely what I have learned to do. When the rich young man came to Jesus and asked how he might inherit eternal life, Jesus did not keep adding more and more information on top of what He had already said in hopes of making a conversion. He said what needed to be said and left it at that. All hounding an individual is going to get you is a false conversion just so you were able to put a notch on your belt. You may never see a person genuinely converted because of something you said or did, but when you get to heaven you might be surprised to find out all the people God converted using you. But when you try and force conversions, keeping record of how many you supposedly saved, when you get to heaven you will be devastated to learn that none of them were converted by God and every single one of them ended up in Hell because you felt the need to force a conversion to appease your ego.

God is the only person who can convert a soul. Stop trying to play God by doing what only He can do. You do what you are responsible for doing and leave the rest in God's capable hands. When unbelievers know you are not trying to convert them, even though you wish to see them saved, they will be more relaxed when speaking to you about these things, even if they disagree entirely with everything you have to say or share. They may even get angry at some of what you have to say, but they will continue conversing because they do not feel as if you are trying to force something down their throat. Our job is to simply give them the truth; provide them with answers. God will deal with how that truth is shaped within their lives. God can take a single nugget of truth you shared and use it to bring about a conversion. You do your work and leave God to do His.

"Salvation is from the LORD." Jonah 2:9c

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Identify Counterfeits

Let me ask you a question. How is it that federal agents and the like are able to identify counterfeit money? The answer is simple. They train by studying the original intensely. When a counterfeit bill is presented, the flaws will be obvious because they have spent countless hours looking at the authentic.

Let me ask you a follow-up question. How ought Christians (every Christian) to be able to identify counterfeit religions and sects of Christianity? Once again, the answer is simple. They ought to train themselves (2 Tim. 2:15), like the Bereans, by studying the Bible intensely. The Bible is God's Word, after all. As Christians, ought we not to desire to know its contents inside and out? To know the mind of our Creator, God, Lord, Saviour, and King? To know more of Him? "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2). "...Walk as children of Light...trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord" (Eph. 5:8c, 10). "...That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col. 1:9).

You see, we can (and ought to) know the mind of God because He has given us His written Word. If I want to know God's mind on controversial subjects such as abortion or homosexuality, all I need to do is turn to God's Word. I should know God's Word so well—know God's mind so well—that when controversial subjects come up, I should already be standing firmlyunable to budge. I should not need to hum and hah about it not knowing where I ought to stand.

This is not a task meant only for specific types of Christians (e.g., preachers and teachers). This task is meant for every Christian! Every Christian is going to encounter resistance from the enemy, the devil, and his children. Every Christian is going to encounter counterfeit teachings and teachers in their every day life. Every Christian ought to be equipped to be able to answer these. "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15). "Let your speech always be with grace, as though season with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Col. 4:6).

If counterfeit religions such as the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door, you are not going to be able to ask your pastor or your theologian friend for answers. God has ordained the meeting between you and them. You ought to be well-seasoned enough in the Word to be able to reason with them and give a response to their false teachings and doctrines. If all you do is rely on others, then you will never be anything more than a spoon-fed parrot. You will simply repeat what you have been told and it will never become real to your own soul; something you know intimately because you have spent hours studying and meditating upon it.

Christians are supposed to be in God's Word daily, because that is where we hear from God and learn God's mind. If you never open your Bible ever, how can you claim to be a Christian? You apparently do not enjoy hearing from the One you claim as your Lord and Saviour. If your husband/wife wrote you a book about himself/herself, would you not pour over it so that you may know them inside and out? So ought every Christian to do with the Bible. Every Christian should train themselves (or be trained) to identify counterfeit religions and sects of Christianity by studying God's Word—the Bible—intensely. That way, when the counterfeits are presented they will be so obvious because the Christian has spent countless hours studying the authentic.

"Now [the Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11

"[Study] to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching (what's right), for reproof (what's wrong), for correction (how to get right), for training in righteousness (how to stay right); that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17