Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Years Challenge for the Brethren.

In the Book of Revalation we read two scenes from heaven that I find absolutely fascinating. In Revelation 5:7-14 it states: "And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.' Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped."

We also read: "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'" (Rev. 7:9-12) We also get a description of these people standing before the throne of Christ: "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Rev. 7:14-17)

Now, I hope you notice something here, something that I've noticed. Who are the saints in heaven focused on? Christ, their redeeemer!!!!

Believe me, I know firsthand how hard it is to be focused on Jesus Christ. I struggle with worry quite a bit, to be perfectly honest. So, I say this not as someone who's conquered this, but as a person also struggling with being completely focused on Christ.

But, I still find it amazing, and a valuable lesson for us (those of you who read this who are saved through Christ alone by God's grace alone): that we should be focused on Christ. Now, as I said, I struggle with this myself. But, this coming year, I challenge not only myself, but my readers who are fellow siblings in Christ to do as the author of Hebrews urges us to do: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Believe me, I also know how tempting it is to try & look unto my OWN righteousness & not to CHRIST'S. And, it's also tempting to fall prey to theology that's more about MY glorification rather than God's. I mean, we have SO many popular preachers these days like Robert Schuller, or Joel Osteen, or the whole other list of prosperity preachers like Benny Hinn, TD Jakes or Creflo Dollar, who basically teach a theology that's not CHRIST centered, but MAN centered (little wonder they're so, popular, huh? And believe me, I could write a whole other thing about 2nd Timothy 4:3)

But, anyway, I'm challenging myself and my readers to be focused on the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus the Christ, God in Human Flesh!!!!! May God richly bless my dear brothers & sisters in Christ in this new year!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Story of 48 Church Splits

Tim Conway shares the story of 48 church splits between 1911 & today. I think he makes a very good point in regards to how churches need to be focused on the glory of God. I would also add that we need to be focused on sound doctrine, as well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jonathan Edwards on Holiness

"Holiness is a most beautiful and lovely thing. We drink in strange notions of holiness from our childhood, as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. 'Tis the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties. 'Tis a divine beauty, makes the soul heavenly and far purer than anything here on earth; this world is like mire and filth and defilement to that soul which is sanctified. 'Tis of a sweet, pleasant, charming, lovely, amiable, delightful, serene, calm and still nature. 'Tis almost too high a beauty for any creatures to be adorned with; it makes the soul a little, sweet and delightful image of the blessed Jehovah.

"Oh, how may angels stand, with pleased, delighted and charmed eyes, and look and look, with smiles of pleasure upon their lips, upon that soul that is holy; how may they hover over such a soul, to delight to behold such loveliness! How is it above all the heathen virtues, of a more light, bright and pure nature, more serene and calm, more peaceful and delightsome! What a sweet calmness, what a calm ecstasy, doth it bring to the soul! How doth it make the soul love itself; how doth it make the pure invisible world love it; yea, how doth God love it and delight in it; how do even the whole creation, the sun, the fields and trees love a humble holiness; how doth all the world congratulate, embrace, and sing to a sanctified soul!

"Oh, of what a sweet, humble nature is holiness! How peaceful and, loving all things but sin, of how refined and exalted a nature is it! How doth it clear change the soul and make it more excellent than other beings! How is it possible that such a divine thing should be on earth? It makes the soul like a delightful field or garden planted by God, with all manner of pleasant flowers growing in the order in which nature has planted them, that is all pleasant and delightful, undisturbed, free from all the noise of man and beast, enjoying a sweet calm and the bright, calm, and gently vivifying beams of the sun forevermore: where the sun is Jesus Christ; the blessed beams and calm breeze, the Holy Spirit; the sweet and delightful flowers, and the pleasant shrill music of the little birds, are the Christian graces. Or like the little white flower: pure, unspotted and undefined, low and humble, pleasing and harmless; receiving the beams, the pleasant beams of the serene sun, gently moved and a little shaken by a sweet breeze, rejoicing as it were in a calm rapture, diffusing around most delightful fragrancy, standing most peacefully and lovingly in the midst of the other like flowers round about. How calm and serene is the heaven overhead! How free is the world from noise and disturbance! How, if one were but holy enough, would they of themselves [and] as it were naturally ascend from the earth in delight, to enjoy God as Enoch did!"-Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tim Conway on Submitting to the Government

Tim Conway preaches on submission to the government. The text he preaches from is from Romans 13:1-7, which reads: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed."

John MacArthur on the "Unholy Trinity"

In this piece, John MacArthur addresses the false teaching of the so-called "Word of Faith" teachings that are prevalent amongst the televangelists like T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, and Kenneth Hagin.

Friday, December 11, 2009
John MacArthur

"I don't watch much television, and when I do I generally avoid the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). For many years TBN has been dominated by faith-healers, full-time fund-raisers, and self-proclaimed prophets spewing heresy. I wrote about the false gospel they proclaim and the phony miracles they pretend to do almost two decades ago in Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. See especially chapter 12). I had my fill of charismatic televangelism while researching that book, and I can hardly bear to watch it any more.

Recently, however, while recovering from knee-replacement surgery, I decided to sample some of the current fare on TBN. From a therapeutic point of view it seemed a good choice: something more excruciating than the pain in my leg might distract me from the physical suffering of post-surgical trauma. And I suppose on that basis the strategy was effective.

But it left me outraged and frustrated—and eager to challenge the misperceptions in the minds of millions of unbelievers who see these false teachers masquerading as ministers of Christ on TBN.

I'm outraged at the brazen way so many false teachers twist the message of Scripture in Jesus' name. And I'm frustrated because I'm certain that if these charlatans were not receiving a large proportion of their financial support from sincere believers (and silent acquiescence from Christian leaders who surely know better), they would have no platform for their shenanigans. They would soon lose their core constituency and fade from the scene."

Read more here at John MacArthur's blog.

Paul Washer on Total Depravity

Paul Washer shares on the doctrine of man's "Total Depravity."

John Calvin once wrote: “Every one of us is, even from his mother's womb, a master craftsman of idols” He's also commented: "Man's mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain."

We read in Psalm 14:2-3: "The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one."

And, we read in Ecclesiastes 9:3, which states: "This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead."

Quotes (#5)

"Hell will be highly populated with those who were 'raised right.' The citizens of heaven will be those who, by the sheer grace and mercy of God, are there solely because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ."-R. Albert Mohler

(Read the article "Why Moralism is Not the Gospel-and Why So Many Christians Think It Is" here)

Pelagianism: Then & Now

It seems that today a lot of people don't like to believe that they're sinners. There's been an argument that Pelagian theology is becoming prevalent in American "Christianity"

The first video from the White Horse Inn deals with the historical heresy of the British monk Pelagius (circa 354-420/440). Although it's addressed in greater detail in this video, Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin and believed that one can make a choice to be either good or evil. This brought him into conflicts with Augustine of Hippo, as noted.

The second program from the White Horse Inn tracks the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian entrances into modern American Christianity. It particularly deals with the Pelagian tendencies of nineteenth century revivalist Charles G. Finney (1792-1875).

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Return of Christ: Hope and Judgment

It seems that there’s been an obsession with the end times these days. The History Channel has been airing documentaries on Nostradamus and the Mayan 2012“prophecies,” as if they were true. According to them, or at least how it’s represented on the History Channel things will get worse until the apocalypse dawns and the end of the world occurs. A rather hopeless turn of events, isn’t it?

Yet, as Christians, we have a greater hope: the return of Christ. In fact, Paul refers to it as “…our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) Throughout the New Testament, we see and can almost feel the anticipation of the return of Christ. In fact, the angels told the disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11)

Jesus Himself promised his return. John 14 was one of the favorite passages of Scripture of my late grandmother, part of which states: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3) We also read the so-called “Mount Olivet discourse” recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21:7-28. Clearly, there will be signs such as apostasy, famines, earthquakes, and wickedness. Yet, as Jesus said: “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man….and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:31)

As I said, as Christians, we have clear hope in Christ’s return. I’m not sure if you’ve had someone who trusted in Christ alone for salvation die. For me, I’ve lost my father and beloved grandfather, both of whom were saved. Now, Paul writes in a letter to the Church in Corinth, and states that: “we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2nd Corinthians 5:8)

The point I’m trying to get at is that another hope that we have is, not only the resurrection of the bodies of the dead believers and their reuniting with their souls, btu also the reunion of those believers on earth at Christ’s return, with those who died in Christ. As Paul writes: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (2nd Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Even, this hope was seen in the Old Testament, such as what was written in the prophet Zechariah: “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” (Zechariah 14:4-5)

And, of course, after Jesus returns, believers will enjoy an eternal paradise. I personally believe that there will be a literal Millenial Kingdom prior to the creation of the new heavens and new earth, something that I would differ with most Reformed Christians on. But, that being said, it will be a wonderful state, where Christ will reign physically on earth, both during the Millenial Kingdom, and on the new earth.

Isaiah notes: “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 51:11) He writes: "For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:22-23) Peter refers to the new earth as a place “in which righteousness dwells.” (2nd Peter 3:13) And, of course, chapters 21 and 22 from the Book of Revelation regarding the new creation that God will unfold for His people probably don’t even need mentioning.

Now, that being said, there are some of the Emergent “Christians,” who claim that God will just “restore” creation to it’s original, pre-fall state. In a sense, that’s true. However, that being said, a lot of the Emergents try to downplay, or outright ignore Christ’s judgment of the non-believers. Emergent guru Brian McLaren even referred to the Jesus who will come back & destroy the wicked, as a “jihadist Jesus.”

Yet, John notes in Revelation that: “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, 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, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’” (Rev. 6:15-17)

John goes on to say, and I think that this is particularly where people like Brian McLaren run into trouble: “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. 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. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 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. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.’ And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were 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.” (Rev. 19:11-21)

Similarly, Zechariah prophesied: “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city….And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the LORD shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other.” (Zechariah 14:2-4 & 12-13)

So, while those who are redeemed by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, will enjoy an eternal joy focused around Him, those who are unbelievers will be judged, as indicated in Revelation 20:11-15, and will be cast into the lake of fire. Plus, prior to God’s creation of a new heaven and new earth, God will destroy the old ones. Peter writes of scoffers: “they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly….But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." (2nd Peter 3:5 & 6, 10)

As beautiful as the new heavens and new earth will be, only those whose names are written in the “Book of Life” will be allowed to partake in it. It is only when we call upon the name of Christ are we made righteous and Holy in God’s sight, when Christ’s righteousness is transferred to us. NONE of us deserve the promises God has made for His people, as we are at eminity with Him until we trust in His Son, who took upon the wrath the Father on behalf of those who will be saved.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Paul Washer on the Presence of God.

I think this to be an interesting point from Paul Washer & one that I'm inclined to agree with. I would also add a couple passages that he didn't mention in this clip. After Job questions God, and "the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind," (Job 38:1 & 40:6), Job had two responses: "Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further." (Job 40:4-5) He also says, after God questions Job again: "Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,things too wonderful for me, which I did not know...I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:3 & 5-6)

We also read of John's experience with Christ: "Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 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, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.'" (Rev. 1:12-17)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Sermon on Regeneration

This sermon was preached by Paul Washer at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Manhattan, Kansas, on September 29th, 2007.

The text he preached on was Ezekiel 36:22-28, which reads: "Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God."

Old Testament Prophecy Regarding the First Coming of Christ

With Christmas season underway, I thought it would be fitting to go through some Old Testament prophecy regarding the First Coming, and indeed, the ministry, death and ressurection of Jesus.

The first prophecy comes from Genesis 3, right after the fall, when God tells Satan: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."
(Gen. 3:15)

We also read of God's covenant with King David.

"When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever... And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever...And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'" (2nd Samuel 7:12-14 & 16)

But, clearly, the greatest number of references regarding the first coming of Christ, come from the prophets.

"But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." (Isaiah 9:1-7)

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins."
(Isaiah 11:1-5)

"'And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,' declares the LORD. 'And as for me, this is my covenant with them,' says the LORD: 'My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,' says the LORD, 'from this time forth and forevermore.'" (Isaiah 59:20-21)

"Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." (Micah 5:1-2)

"And say to him, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.'" (Zechariah 6:12)

May you be blessed this Christmas season, as we remember the Lord's merciful & humbling descent to us to bring Salvation, which is referenced in Isaiah 53: "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 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. 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...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. 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. 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." (Isaiah 53:4-6 & 10-12)

A Sermon on the Living in the Light of the Return of Christ

Pastor Steve Lawson of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, preaches on living in light of the return of Christ.

The primary text that he's preaching on is from the so-called Mount Olivet Discourse. It reads: "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake." (Mark 13:28-37)

We also have similar warnings regarding "being awake" in other passages.

"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'There is peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief." (1st Thessalonians 1:1-5)

We also read, in Revelation 16:15, Jesus' words: "Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!"

I'm reminded of one of the duties at Windsor Castle in England, that I saw in a documentary. One of the duties is for a man to watch out for the queen, so he can raise the flag over the "Round Tower" once the she enters the wall of the castle. So, similarly, we have a duty to watch for the return of Christ.

I would also add, that, along the same lines, should the Lord tarry, we won't know when death will come upon us. An example of this is seen in Jesus' parable of the rich fool. Sometimes, such as in my father's case (he died of cancer), we will have a general idea when it will be time for us to die. But, on the other hand, there are other cases, even within my family, of those who died suddenly.

The Four Pastors

A Blog that I follow posted this and I thought it to be rather interesting.

The following fictional scenarios depict four types of today’s pastors. But the question is, how much is fiction, how much is fact?

The emerging pastor
The emerging pastor felt a little insulted that only 4 people showed up for the Saturday night coffee and conversation church service. Because of the small turn out they went to Starbucks and discussed suffering while listening to U2. They hung out on couches and read a popular new coffee table book, and talked about how Jesus identified with our pain as He hung on the cross, feeling what we feel, the god who screamed with us, so we could have solidarity in suffering. Some expressed their doubts about hell and heaven, and the sacrificial atonement. They went home without answers, empty, but having engaged the culture.

The market driven pastor
The market driven pastor was disappointed that only 4 people showed up for the highly promoted Recover Up 101 and dessert night. The church was dying, and he had hoped the sign on the road would bring in more people from the community. Because of the small turnout he decided to skip the worship time. While they ate dessert they read through steps 1 -12 in the manual, and talked about how a #1 best selling book had changed their lives. Then they were led in a discussion about finding their purpose, sharing their hurts and hangups, and joining God’s family for community and happiness. Some quietly wondered why they didn’t feel happy, but went home feeling glad about having found a positive church with a smoking area and a coffee bar.

The contemplative pastor
The contemplative pastor was pleased that 4 people showed up for Lectio Divina night. She started by slowly leading them in a sacred reading of Psalm 23 in the candle lit room. They were encouraged to find a quiet place at different tables to concentrate on being still. After practicing their breathing exercise as instructed, they repeated the passage slowly until one word popped out at them. Then they were to quietly repeat this over again until an inner silence was reached. They waited to hear God speaking to them like this for a few minutes before regrouping to share what they thought they heard. They went home euphoric about their experiences, with various handouts of Thomas Merton and St. Teresa of Avila quotes to read over until next week.

The faithful pastor
The faithful pastor didn’t take note that only 4 people showed up for Bible study and communion on the night of November 11th. In spite of the small turnout he played all ten songs on the music sheet with his guitar, and led the small group in worship in remembrance of what the Lord had done to save them. They sat in a circle and read through the whole chapter of John 19, every verse, and prayed and thanked the Lord for His substitutionary sacrifice for their sins, and that while they were sinners, Christ had died for them in their place. Some quietly wept in between prayers of thanksgiving and partaking of the bread and the cup. They went home spiritually nourished and refreshed, having fixed their eyes on Jesus that evening.

HT:Defending Contending

Paul Washer on Repentence

I found this short video dealing with repentence to be rather encouraging. I, myself, got rather burned out with anxiety over "am I repenting perfectly?"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Follow-Up on a Previous Blog Post

A few days ago, I made a comment in a blog post about the behavior of NewSpring Church, and linked my readers to the story of Dr. James Duncan. Well, yesterday, Chris Rosebrough, on "Fighting for the Faith," interviewed Dr. James Duncan and he told his story, as well as reviewed a message that Perry Noble gave to pastors.

At Rosebrough's other site, he also notes Perry Noble's remarks regarding those who want to go deeper into Bible study during sermons.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quotes (#4)

"God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation."-John Calvin

A Shameful Act

I was shocked, horrified, and OUTRAGED to read this story from Professor James Duncan regarding his experience with the leadership at NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina. This is TRULY DISGUSTING and NewSpring Church needs to come clean and repent of their sin!!!

The church is pastored by Perry Noble, seen here, SCOLDING his congregation for them expecting him to be a pastor.

May God grant them repentence!!!

We read in 2nd Timothy about the duties of pastors: "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching...As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2nd Timothy 4:1-3 & 5)

We also read, in Paul's letter to Titus: "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." (Titus 1:5-9)

My prayers go out to the Duncan family.

Biblical & Doctrinal Ignorance & the Need to Study Scripture

It seems that there’s been a growing ignorance these days about the great truths of Scripture. What’s worse is that this is coming from professing Christians. Back in August, Shane Rosenthal, producer of “the White Horse Inn,” surveyed a little fewer than 100 professing Christians at an Evangelistic crusade led by Billy Graham’s son in St. Louis. The results were rather disturbing.

96% agreed with the statement: “God is like a helpful coach who’s there to help us when we need Him; He wants us to be happy.”

Rosenthal also asked the question: “Which of the following do you think is the best summary of the Christian gospel,” with multiple choice answers.
14% answered: “God changing me”
12% answered: “Making a decision for Jesus”
36% answered: “Living for God”
3% didn’t know
Only 35% regarded “Christ’s life death and resurrection,” as the best summary of the Christian gospel.

66% felt that “Christianity is primarily about my personal transformation”
39% have never heard of the doctrine of Justification
And perhaps, the most startling was that 67% DISAGREED with Romans 3:10-12, which states: “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good,
not even one.’"

(To read more of the results, click on the link)

There was also a Pew Research forum survey which revealed that 37% of white Evangelicals believed that there was more than one religion that leads to Eternal Life, which flies in the face of Jesus’ words in John 14:6 and the proclamation of Peter before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12.

Now, a lot of this, I would say, is a reflection of the shallowness of a considerable amount of American Evangelicalism. In fact, Mike Horton, in his 2008 book Christless Christianity: the Alternative Gospel of the American Church, noted: “my argument in this book is not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal, but that it is becoming theologically vacuous.” (Horton, pg. 23)

Now, we read that Paul wrote to Timothy that: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2nd Timothy 4:1-2)

That being said, however, those of us who aren’t pastors have a duty, too. We have a duty to study Scripture.

After the death of Moses, we read that God told Joshua: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

In Psalm 1:2, in the description of a blessed man, we read: “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Now, clearly, we have something of a distinction between JUST the Old Testament Law, and the Gospel as well. However, there is a precedent set down for us on the importance of studying Scripture.

When confronted by the Sadducees regarding the marital state of a woman who was married 7 times and was resurrected, part of Jesus’ response was: "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scripturesnor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)

Acts 17:11 commends the Jews at Berea, “...for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

We read in Paul’s letter to Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2nd Timothy 3:14-17)

Paul notes that one sign of spiritual maturity is that “…we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14) And, clearly, one main way is through the studying of Scripture.

Paul also notes in his letter to the Romans that “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)

Charles Spurgeon once had this to say about Bible study, which I find to be AWESOME: “We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word. Holy Scripture requires searching — much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men…. No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure…They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur — who shall dare to treat them with levity? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them….Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with wrought gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems…Happy he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Saviour.”


I don't know if you've noticed the commercials for Scientology recently. Surely, many people are aware of the celebrity followers of Scientology, such as Tom Cruse and John Travolta. Over my fall break in October, I went back to my hometown of Wheaton, Illinois, with one of my best friends. Over that weekend, the two of us took the 45 minute train ride into downtown Chicago, and the two of us saw a group, dressed in costumes, picketing Scientology in Millenium Park. In this lecture,the late Dr. Walter Martin discusses this bizzarre group, which he has described as "cultic, occultic, pseudoscientific, and theologically aberrant."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Charles Spurgeon on One's Salvation

This quote comes from Charles Spurgeon's book Morning by Morning: Daily Readings for the Family or the Closet, which was published in 1867. I think he was dead on.

"IN the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power. What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition? When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost. This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds : even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell, nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God's grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, 'Thou shalt,' man shall not say, 'I will not.' Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honor upon God, and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner. It was everlasting power. 'Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.' So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works, nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. 'Because He lives we live also.' 'For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God.' 'Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.' Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!”-Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jim McClarty's Sermon on the Sovereignty of God

In this sermon, preached in 2005, Pastor Jim McClarty preaches on the sovereignty of God. Although, I rarely use the NIV, and prefer either the ESV and the NASB, I found it interesting that 283 times in the NIV translation of the Old Testament, God is referred to as "O Sovereign LORD." In the NASB version, we read: "The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,and His sovereignty rules over all." (Psalm 103:19)

We also read in Ephesians, perhaps the greatest passage of Scripture regarding the sovereignty of God in salvation: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."(Ephesians 1:3-6)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Note From my Friend Regarding Limited Atonement

Yet again, my best friend & beloved brother, Charlie Brennan, wrote a WONDERFUL note, and the false notion regarding the old evangelistic cliche that Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking, awaiting for you to open the door. I would add that the verse, from Revelation 3:20, is actually taken out of context. Christ was actually speaking to the wayward CHURCH in Laodicea.

the picture of Christ knocking on the door

"so let me start here many say that we can choose God. they will use the picture of Christ knocking on the door of someones heart, with the handle on the other said that he is not. now i say to this we cant choose God. "John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." so we see that by this verse in john that we cant pick to follow God. but the thing that they will say is well you can the handle is only were only you can open it. but i say to this who's to say he goes to all doors. lets go back to the verse, i spoke of before john 15:16 we see that in this verse.

"Joh 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

i have heard that this is for the disciples, that Christ pick them and that they had nothing to do with it. now this is true but Christ is talking to all that his father gave him. in fact Christ does not pray for the world but the ones given to him by the father. we see this in John 17:9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. that Christ does not pray for the world. now i go back to the picture of Christ knocking on the door. if Christ would not pray for the world why would he not go to every door then, so we see in many verse in the bible that we cant pick but only be picked. Christ did not and i say did not die for everyone. we see this in John 3:16, 15:16 , and john 17:9.

so one might say that i am taking john 3:16 out of context but i will refer you to my past note on this excite verse. and you will see that i take you back to the Greek and go from there.

this picture that we have is in fact taken out of what it means by all who say we can pick. i see this pitcher as him picking the door in which to go to and to save that person not the whole world but the would of the believers only. so we see that the Atonement of Christ on Calvary was, Limited Atonement not universal.

Soli Deo Gloria and God bless"

The Misconceptions of God & False Gospels

I think that Paul Washer waxes elloquent regarding the false notions of who God is, as well as how that has infected modern Christian theology. AMEN!!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Explaination of John 3:16 from my Friend

Now, before, I post this, I'm going to say that my best friend and beloved brother and co-laborer in Christ, Charlie Brennan, wrote this. I didn't.

John 3:16 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.' Now many people think that this verse talks about the WHOLE word. Now if we take the word 'world' back to the Greek (κόσμος,n {kos'-mos}) it means 'of the believers only.' Many people when they hear this, they will say. If it means 'of the believers only' they will say that then there is no reason for us to witness to someone. But that is not true we must witness to them. The other thing they will say is that we don’t know who will believe in Christ, and I say this we don’t know who God has picked before the start of time. To be saved and who he has not that is why we must witness. Ok so let me put it this way, Timmy form [sic] the start of time was not picked to be saved so then john 3:16 would not be valid for him. But now we find Timmy and he was picked before the start of time to be saved at the age of 22. So now john 3:16 is valid for him. Now Timmy is only 19 right now so this means that when someone says 'of the believers only' does not mean that it is for the sheep of this time but the sheep of the coming days, weeks, months, and years to come. Many people think that it means of the sheep this day right now. But as I said Timmy is 19 now and will be saved at the age of 22 so if this is true then 'of the believers only' means for all sheep now and to come. So the Greek says for this verse that the word WORLD means 'of the believers only,' not the whole world."

Do We Have Free Will?

This has been a hot-button issue between Calvinists and Arminians. Now, as you can guess, I am what people would call Calvinists, although, I prefer the term "Reformed." I would say that the matter of free will hinges on whether one believes in the total depravity of man and that they are dead in their tresspasses and sins. I think these two sets of videos will kinda clarify my point.

This first set is Mark Keilar explaining the problems with the free-will doctrine.

The second set is a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon in 1855.

I find these to be great explaination of the faulty beliefs regarding free-will.

Quotes (#3)

“I’m here to tell you tonight that the Gospel is not Christianity 101. The Gospel is EVERYTHING in Christianity. It is not some beginning truth, it is not a tract, it is not four spiritual laws, it’s EVERYTHING. It’s the greatest revelation of God.”-Paul Washer

The Theology of William P. Young

It seems like there's an obsession with William P. Young's book The Shack. However, I thought this to be a rather insightful look into William Young's theology.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quotes (#2)

"Nothing gives the believer so much joy as fellowship with Christ. He has enjoyment as others have in the common mercies of life, he can be glad both in God's gifts and God's works ; but in all these separately, yea, and in all of them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as in the matchless person of his Lord Jesus...Where can such sweetness be found as we have tasted in communion with our Beloved? In our esteem, the joys of earth are little better than husks for swine compared with Jesus, the heavenly manna. We would rather have one mouthful of Christ's love, and a sip of His fellowship, than a whole world full of carnal delights... All earthly bliss is of the earth earthy, but the comforts of Christ's presence are like Himself, heavenly. We can review our communion with Jesus, and find no regrets of emptiness therein; there are no dregs in this wine, no dead flies in this ointment. The joy of the Lord is solid and enduring. Vanity hath not looked upon it, but discretion and prudence testify that it abideth the test of years, and is in time and in eternity worthy to be called 'the only true delight.' For nourishment, consolation, exhilaration, and refreshment, no wine can rival the love of Jesus."- Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Jim McClarty's Sermon: "The Best News You Ever Heard"

Although this sermon was preached in 2007, I just came across it today. I find it a prime example of the proper use of both law and gospel.

John MacArthur on the "Rich Man and Lazarus"

I thought this to be a fascinating expository sermon on this famous story told by Jesus from Luke.

"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'" (Luke 16:19-31)

Now, John makes a comment at 36:57 regarding the fact that the redeemed won't be able to see into hell. However, I would disagree with him on that point, on the basis of Isaiah 66:22-24: "For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make
shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me,declares the LORD. And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."