Sunday, December 5, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
As Martin Luther has said:“Now the article of justification, which is our sole defense, not only against all the force and craft of man, but also against the gates of hell, is this: that by faith only in Christ, and without works, we are pronounced righteous and saved.”
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Confess that you are an undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinner and begin to pray as you have never prayed before. Cry out of the depth of self-abasement if you want to be heard. Come as a beggar, not as a creditor. Come to crave, not to demand. Use only this argument, 'Lord, hear me, for you are gracious, and Jesus died; I cry to you as a condemned criminal. who seeks pardon. Deliver me from going down into the pit, that I may praise your name.' This harboring of a proud spirit, I fear, has been a great source of mischief with many, and if it has been so with you, amend it and go now with humble and contrite hearts, in lowliness and brokenness of spirit, to your Father whom you have offended, for he will surely accept you as his children. Your salvation does not depend upon what you do, but upon what Christ did when he offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin. All your salvation takes root in the death throes of Calvary; the great Substitute bore your sin and suffered its penalty. Your sin shall never destroy you if upon that bloody tree the Lord’s chosen High Priest made a full expiation for your sins; they shall not be laid against you any more forever. What you have to do is simply accept what Jesus has finished. I know your idea is that you are to bring something to him; but that vainglorious idea has ruined many, and will ruin many more. When you are brought empty-handed, made willing to accept a free and full salvation from the hand of the Crucified, then, and then only, will you will be saved." -C.H. Spurgeon
HT to the folks over at Defending Contending
I also agree with Chris 100% that folks like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Mike Horton, etc., REALLY NEED to call Rick Warren out on this.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
*Note: although Gordon B. Hinckley is identified as the "current" president of the Mormon Church, Hinckley (b. 1910) died in 2008, aged 97 & as of Sept. 2nd 2010, Thomas Manton is the current president.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
HT: J.C. Ryle Quotes
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The first video is of James White dealing with the common Arminian argument against Calvinism, using John 3:16.
The below 3 videos is from Mark Kielar of Cross TV.
what is sin, were did it come from, what is the punishment for it? Well before I answer the question at hand I need to say this. The evangelic church today has let sin leave the church and the poet, this is a thing that beings worry and concerned to me. Why might you ask well because the sheep still need to hear about sin and what God does to these who sin. With the state of the church on sin as it is many sheep have not worried about there sin, and what it could do to them. Many pastes today don't want to heart someones felling for make them fell like there a bad person, when in fact that is what they are. The bible says that there is no not one that is good, we see in Rom 3:10 it says “as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;” so sin is on all man, 1Co 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” so what did Adam do to have all die? What is the word die meaning ? Well this is answered In the first book of the bible, Genesis. Gen 3:1-7 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” we see the first sin of man here the fall, and this is were all man died In Adam, when Adam ate of the tree, he had broken the law of God and he had bright sin in to the world. So now ever man after this is born of sin not born in sin. When someone is born in sin that is saying that they are born in to a world that has sin but they are not a sinner, but we see this is not true. In fact that view of being born in to sin is called Pelagianisam, were they believe that we are without sin until we have sinned for the first time, but we know it is not true. When Adam ate of the fruit, he had fallen from the grace and purer state he was in, before he fell from the fruit he had ate. Well this has answered part of one and most of two, but lets keep with what is sin. ( http://dictionary.reference.com/ transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam. any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle. any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It's a sin to waste time.) so this is from a dictionary, what does the wcf or the lbc or 1689? the lbc says this “ They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.” so we see that sin is not something that we chosse to do but something that we are bron of. a.w. Pink has this to say about sin "Sin is more than an act or a series of acts; it is a man’s make-up." the prince of preachers had this to say “Sin is a deliberate treason against the majesty of God, an assault upon His crown, an insult offered to His throne. Charles h. spurgeon” pink also had this to say about sin “What is sin? Sin is a species of rebellion against God. It is self-pleasing: it is the utter ignoring of God’s claims: being completely indifferent whether my conduct pleases or displeases Him.” Augustine had this to say “Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in Him.” so we see throw out the church age sin was in the popet and not cased out. So that is what sin is, but were does man get it well like we saw in genisens “Gen 3:1-3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" so adam now has taken the heart that we had, wich was peur and not sinful, to a state of sin that was not a state of God but a state that no matter what it was going to sin. This is called total depravity by the reformed Christians, now I must say that not all think that we are totally depraved in are state with God before regeneration form God. What is total depravity? We total depravity is this that man in the state that they are In are utterly and totally sinful. They have no good in them. Some will say that we are not as bad as we could be, but I find this to be against what is in the word of God. Man has been sinful from the start of time we see in the fall (genesis chapter 3, the fall of man) with this fall we have now be put in to a world of sin, and amity with God, that has no right standing with him. We see with the fall that we have now become dead in are sins and trespassers, that man can not get out of with out the help of God, so the big thing is how is sin going to affect us with God and what has to be done to change it.
So what is sin going to do to us with God? Well the fall is the starting point of this whole thing, ( Gen 3:1-24 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 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." To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--" therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.) what do we see here, we see how and not only how but why we are like what we are now (a life of sin) but is there a point were we have to say that sin is not something we are born with but that we must do? Well I say this to that what does the word say? Does it say that we are born sinless ( without any sin what so ever) or does it say we are born of sin (the word of that I use there is one that is used because when many say in sin they would be saying that we are born with out sin but in a sinful world) we see in (Psa 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.) so are not born in a sinful mother that was of the same nature was in Adam after the fall? Well what else can we find to back the thinking that we are born with sin in are heart, well lets stay in the old testament for now ( Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?) now this is showing us that we wont know are heart is like this, we see it asks us who can understand it, God does but what about man can man know there own heart? Well if God can and we are all siners with out the help of christ, then what are we? Well the bible say that we are a fool (Psa 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.) so if we say there is no God and we are a fool then can we know what are hearts are? Well I would hold to say no. the man out of regeneration can not know that his heart is wicked. But that is the old testament what does the new testament say about are hearts, and the sin that we have? (Mat 15:18-20 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone." ) so what is Christ saying well just look at it, he is saying that what every comes from the mouth is from the heart. When someone says I hate you that is not just them saying it but there heart. There heart is were the sin lies it comes from the heart. The heart is with out a doubt the thing that leads us in to sin. But I think there is yet more to being seen here, what does the sinful act do were is it in the relationship to the cross? Well that can be answered with the verse as well lets look first at were does it come from the sinful act that is. It all goes back to the fall. So then what has happened? Well man is bead in there sins. (Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins ) but with that does it come to all are dead in there sins well yes (1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.) now we are just going to look at the first part, the part that has to do with Adam, as we see that the fall after all is the key to sin, so in Adam all die, meaning what well meaning this, after the fall Adam was now a sinner, but wait I thought we were a sinner from birth, well we are but with Adam he was in the right standing with God with out a atonement for sin because there was no sin to atone for. But after the fall there was. So we all died in Adams fall or sin of eating the fruit. So how can one be in sin because of one man, well that is something that is called when he had kids they were of the same heart and so on and so forth. Now does sin do to us is there a punishment for it? Well again I will go to the bible and see what it says, lets go to the heart of the problem what is the punishment of sin? Well what does the bible say, it says that the punishment for sin is hell, we see this all over the place, the bible gives us a clear pitcher of what will happen if we do not repent of the sins, so the sin that we hold is what kills us? For is it the way of life that we have death? Well lets go to the bible, first I want to say that when we see the word dead in the bible when it is in context to sin like in (1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive) this is in the right standing we have with God not that we are dead in the flesh, now we have a dead spirit of God that makes the flesh sin. The heart is what will bring on to hell the state of the heart with God is what kills, not the dissection that man makes “the chose for God is one that cant be made with out regeneration” that is free will and with that we have the chose to sin or do good but I have showed you that we don't have a say if we sin your not. With sin we are in total bondage to the sin we live in. so what I have showed here to day? Well I have showed that we are in sin all the time and that we have no way out but through Christ and his death on the cross. Now before I end this I would like to say this.
What I have said here in this writing is not one that has come from my own accord but from the heart of the word of God, I put the writings here for you all to get to know the heart of the man before he has the grace of God in him and I wish that we take this as a, reminder of what we are in Christ and what others are on the outside of Christ, I did not bring the writings to you for any other means then to help you know and understand what the sin that he hold is and what it cant do to us. I pray that all have the writings I put out there in this that they do not think I am putting them to shame but only, to bring the light of what man is in everyday of his life to light for all of us the unsaved and the saved. May the gory go to God and God only with the writings I have done.
Soli deo Gloria
may God bring the grace that I have gotten to your hearts today and for ever more, amen.
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
In fact, the late A.W. Pink once remarked that: “Yes, there are tens of thousands who have been deluded into thinking that they have ‘accepted Christ as their Saviour,’ whose lives show plainly that they reject Him as their Lord."
Today, there’s been a sharp dispute between a view known as “Lordship Salvation” and “Free Grace theology.” One person laid down 8 points of free-grace theology, which is worth passing along.
1.) The only condition of eternal life is simple faith in Jesus
2.) Simple faith in Christ is intellectual assent
3.) The specific object of saving faith is Jesus and results in the promise of eternal life to all who simply believe in Him.
4.) Turning from one’s sins is not faith & isn’t a condition of eternal life
--At this point, the author notes: “Free grace advocates admit that turning from sin is not faithand is not a condition of eternal life. Please not that turning from sins is part of a Christian requirement, not a requirement to become a Christian. Repentence is not a condition of eternal life according to basic free grace theology”
5.) Perseverence in faith and good works is not a condition of eternal life
6.) Good works are not indispensible for assurance
7.) Eternal life is not based on future judgment of works
8.) Eternal life and eternal rewards must be distinguished by noting that the former is a gift and the latter is earned.
Furthermore, even more concerning is the remark by this Free-Grace proponent are the statements: “No matter what a believer does, he is eternally secure,” and “perseverence is a rewards issue, not an eternal life issue.” (I’ll deal with those later)
Now, to be fair, I can recognize that it’s a reaction against the Roman Catholicism, in which the salvation is by faith and works. Yet, as I pointed out in one of my previous notes, “Fruit,” John the Baptist told the people coming to the Jordan River to be baptized: “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance… Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:8 & 10)
First off, I would like to establish the authority of Christ as Lord. There are over 100 references to Christ as “Lord” in Scripture. In the gospels alone, Matthew 14:30, Matthew 17:4, Matthew 18:21, Matthew 20:30, Luke 2:11, Luke 5:8 & 12, Luke 7:6, Luke 10:1, Luke 11:1, Luke 24:3, John 11:3, 12, 21, 27, 32-33 & 39, John 14:5, John 21:7 & 15-17, refer to Christ as Lord.
Furthermore, Jesus Himself states in Matthew 28:18 that: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
And, in a similar vein, Paul writes: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
I see this harkening back to what Daniel wrote: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
As John MacArthur summed it up: “The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship.”
With that, I would like to get into a defense of Lordship salvation. But, I'd like to clarify that we're not saved by the law.
Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly states: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Furthermore, Paul notes: “…if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 2:21)
He also goes on to write: “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" (Galatians 3:10-11)
“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)
“It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:26-28)
Yet, with all that being said, obedience to Christ and His commandments are not optional for Christians.
First off, we get a picture of regeneration in Ezekiel, as I’ve noted before: “ 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.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Furthermore, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states: "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:46-49)
He also says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:5 & 9-10)
Similarly, Paul states in Romans 8:10-14 that: "if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
We also see this theme of obedience as a fruit of belief in the Book of 1st John.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1st John 2:3-6)
“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” (1st John 3:23-24)
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.” (1st John 5:2-4)
Again, I must stress that our obedience doesn’t save us, but it shows that we are indeed saved. We certainly won’t obey perfectly, but, we’ll continue in sanctification, which entails obedience.
To again quote John MacArthur, who, along with the likes of Paul Washer and Tim Conway, promotes Lordship salvation: “We do not ‘make’ Christ Lord; He is Lord! Those who will not receive Him as Lord are guilty of rejecting Him. ‘Faith’ that rejects His sovereign authority is really unbelief. Conversely, acknowledging His lordship is no more a human work than repentance (cf. 2 Timothy 2:26) or faith itself (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). In fact, it is an important element of divinely produced saving faith, not something added to faith.”
The 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith states in Chapter 16, point 2, that: “These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.” The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith almost mirrors this statement.
I must also say that, as I mentioned before, the statements posed by the Free-Grace proponent that all it takes is mental assent to become a Christian and that “No matter what a believer does, he is eternally secure,” as well as “perseverance is a rewards issue, not an eternal life issue,” are troubling.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that these statements, in many cases can be outright damning, given the passages of Scripture that I listed. The problem is that, given these statements, forces one into the borderline antinomian view of eternal security, often summed up in the popular phrase “once-saved, always saved.” And, unfortunately, this view of eternal security, when taken to it’s logical end results in “carnal Christianity.” By the term “carnal Christianity” or the doctrine of the “carnal Christian,” I’m referring to those who are “Christians” yet show no sign of regeneration and continue on in their worldly living, with no evidence of change.
That, my friends, proves to result also in an almost blasphemously low view of regeneration and sanctification, as well as the person of Christ.
I close with a quote from the Puritan Bible commentator Matthew Henry: “All the grace contained in [the Bible] is owing to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; and, unless we consent to Him as our Lord we cannot expect any benefit by Him as our Savior.”
Friday, June 11, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
According to King David: “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16)
One of the verses that I can’t get out of my mind, a passage that’s convicting for me, myself is: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’" (James 4:13-15)
I struggle with this, myself, but, it seems that a lot of us, and as I said, myself included, don’t live in light of an impending death. We read a parable that Jesus tells in Luke 12, to a person who insisted that He tell his brother to divide his inheritance: "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21)
In fact, Peter writes, to Christians, no less: “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. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2nd Peter 3:7 & 10-13)
Along the same lines, the author of Hebrews writes: “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27)
In the New Testament, we have three main pictures of judgment.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-46)
“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2nd Cor. 5:9-10)
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:11-15)
Now, in light of this, we, as Christians must realize that there is an impending day of death and judgment. Although we certainly aren’t saved by our works, we will be held accountable for our works before a Holy and righteous God.
However, it must be stressed, our hope is in heaven, and a joyful eternity with Christ. To sum it up, I’ll use the words of Paul: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:21 & 23) Furthermore, we read: “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2nd Cor. 5:8)
And, we also get this brief description of heaven in Hebrews 12: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)
On the other hand, if there are non-Christians reading this blog piece, REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!!! Seven times (Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30 & Luke 13:28) hell is referred to as a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Furthermore, in Matthew 8:12, 22:13 & 25:30 hell is described as darkness & in Matt. 13:42 & 13:50, hell is referred to as a furnace.
It’s also worth noting: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." (Revelation 14:9-11)
Furthermore, we read the words of Christ: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
I apologize for the rambling nature of this blog piece. But, that being said, my point is, life is short. According to King David: “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16)
And, although, in context this was in reference to God’s judgment on wayward Israel, I think these words should ring true for all of us: “…prepare to meet your God..” (Amos 4:12)
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Although I had been raised in the Phillips family since I was taken in as a foster child when I was 7 months old, and was considered their child, I wasn’t officially made their child until that day. With that, came a change in name, from Donielle (“Donnie”) Dean Ecford, to Caleb Donnell Phillips, my parents officially became my parents and my brother, Aaron, officially became my brother.
And, this is just a picture of what God does to the unregenerate person whom He saves through Christ. In fact, just on Friday, Al Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote on his blog: “The adoption of any child is a portrait of God’s grace. Just as every earthly marriage points in some way to the marriage supper of the Lamb, every adopted child is a pointer to the Gospel.”
It’s first worth noting that in response to the claims of the Pharisees that God was their Father: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me…You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.’” (John 8:42 & 44)
That being said, Paul writes to the Christians in Galatia: “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)
Similarly, Paul wrote in Romans: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)
And, in Epehsians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-7)
Now, this adoption has implications for the believer.
As Paul noted in Galatians 4:7 and Romans 8:17, we enjoy an inheritance. According to Titus 3:7, we are “heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Plus, according to James 2:5, we are heirs to the Kingdom of God. Peter describes our inheritance as “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” (1st Peter 1:4)
Furthermore, we also read the words of Jesus: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” (Matthew 25:31-34)
Now, with all this being said, there is a another aspect to our adoption as sons (and daughters) of God: discipline. Yet, interestingly enough, God’s discipline is actually seen as a sign of love.
Throughout the Old Testament, we read of God’s judgments on Israel, including the invasions of the Babylonians and Assyrians. We see a picture of this in Ezekiel 20:33-49
“Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.” (Psalm 94:12)
In John 15:1-2, we read Christ’s words: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Furthermore, we read: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:4-11)
And, in His rebuke to the Church at Laodicea, which Jesus Himself describes as “lukewarm” (Rev. 3:16) as well as “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17) says: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19)
The last thing I wish to touch on is, as we’re adopted by God, those who are Christians are our brothers and sisters in Christ, whom we love.
To quote John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” regarding the love that transcends even family and denominational lines: “The children of God, who therefore stand in the relation of brethren to each other, though they have too many unhappy differences in points of smaller importance, agree in supreme love they bear to their heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ their Saviour; of course they agree in disliking and avoiding sin, which is contrary to the will and command of the God whom they love and worship. Upon these accounts they love one another, they are like-minded; and they live in a world where the bulk of mankind are against them, have no regard to their Beloved, and live in the sinful practices which his grace taught them to hate. Their situation, therefore, increases their affection to each other. They are washed by the same blood, supplied by the same grace, opposed by the same enemies, and have the same heaven in view: therefore they love one another with a pure heart fervently….It extends to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, cannot be confined within the pale of a denomination, nor restrained to those with whom it is more immediately connected.”
Therefore:“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1st John 2:9-11)
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother….We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1st John 3:10-11 & 14-16)
With this, I’d like to close with a quote from Al Mohler: “The wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this — not one of us is worthy of adoption. In our sinfulness, not one of us has any claim on the Father’s love, much less a right to adoption. But, the infinitely rich mercy of God is shown us in Christ, in whom believers are adopted by the Father. And this adoption, thanks be to God, is eternal and irreversible.”
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
If you’ve been keeping up with the news, chances are you’ve been hearing about the new sex abuse scandal rocking the Vatican. On April 4th, “the Times” reported that the late Pope John Paul II ignored the abuse of 2,000 boys by a friend of his, the Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, without any sanction from the Vatican.(1) It has come out that the former Cardinal William Levada of Portland, Oregon, reassigned a pedophile priest, albeit after the priest underwent therapy, without informing parishioners, and in Italy, the Catholic Church is also undergoing a mounting scandal.(2)
Plus, in light of the sex scandals in Ireland and in the U.S., there are the allegations against the current pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. Accusations have arisen that the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict), as head of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” before becoming pope in 2005, swept many cases of sex abuse in Germany and in other countries, under the rug.
But, what’s the most troubling is the Vatican’s response to the issue. On Palm Sunday, amdist calls of some for the pope to resign, it seems that he made, apparently, at the very least, reference to accusations, saying that God helps lead people: "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.” (3)
The following week, on Easter Sunday, we read this: "’Holy Father, on your side are the people of God,’ Cardinal Angelo Sodano told the pontiff, whom victims of clergy sexual abuse accuse of helping to shape and perpetuate a climate of cover-up. Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, dismissed those claims as ‘petty gossip.’…Dressed in gold robes and shielded from a cool drizzle by a canopy, Benedict looked weary during much of the Mass, the highlight of a heavy Holy Week schedule. But as he listened intently to Sodano's paean, a smile broke across the pope's face, and when the cardinal finished speaking, Benedict rose from his chair in front of the altar to embrace him….Sodano's praise for Benedict as well as the church's 400,000 priests worldwide cranked up a vigorous campaign by the Holy See to counter what it calls a ‘vile’ smear operation orchestrated by anti-Vatican media aimed at weakening the papacy.”(4) There was also a case in which Vatican priest Raniero Cantalamessa likened the backlash against the Vatican and the pope in particular, to anti-Semitism, angering many Jewish groups.(5)
Now, some of you may be wondering why I’m doing a post on this issue. But, I see this actually as the indication of a spiritual problem in the Roman Catholic Church, and I also see this physical corruption as the sign of long-existing spiritual corruption.
As a result of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church convened the Council of Trent (1545-1563), and by its pronouncement, it disconnected itself from Biblical Christianity, and made it clear that it is no longer a Christian organization, but a false religion. (Although, I do believe that there are professing Catholics, who by the grace of God have come to trust in Christ alone for their Salvations, and therefore are born-again Christians)
Let’s take a look at a few examples: “CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema. CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema. CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that it is necessary for every one, for the obtaining the remission of sins, that he believe for certain, and without any wavering arising from his own infirmity and disposition, that his sins are forgiven him; let him be anathema. CANON XV.-If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema. CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him);let him be anathema.” (6)
In short, the Roman Catholic Church, at the Council of Trent, pronounced anathemas on the Gospel itself!!! For, in Scripture, we read, it is: “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Now, are works necessary, ABSOLUTELY!!! But, they are a sign of regeneration. As James says: "But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."(James 2:18)
Furthermore, at the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), the Catholic Church confession read in part: “I embrace and accept the whole and every part of what was defined and declared by the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification…. I firmly hold that purgatory exists, and that the souls detained there are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. Likewise, that the saints reigning with Christ are to be honored and prayed to, and that they offer prayers to God on our behalf, and that their relics should be venerated…I resolutely assert that images of 1. Christ and 2. the ever Virgin Mother of God, and likewise those of 3. the other saints, are to be kept and retained, and that due honor and reverence is to be shown them….. Then there is the definition of the Council of Florence: ‘The Roman Pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole Church.’”(7)
Because of the fact that the Catholic Church teaches a false gospel, it’s no surprise that these sexual abuse scandals are going on, as well as the Catholic Church responding this way. Why? Because, in teaching a false system, they’ve cut themselves off from the regenerating work of Christ. I’m going to concede that there are no perfect churches, and the church is a congregation of sinners saved by grace. But, when people are saved, despite the fact that they don’t become sinless, they are made new creatures (2nd Corinthians 5:17).
Furthermore, according to Scripture, we are to expel those who are in immorality until they repent!!! Paul writes: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” (1st Corinthians 5:9-11)
But, the most damning indictment of the Vatican is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatian Church: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)
So, this begs the question of how we should respond. First off, we should reach out with the Truth of the Gospel, as well as compassion towards Catholics, or at the very least, pray that God uses these series of scandals, as well as inevitable disillusionment from some to bring many people out of the Roman Catholic Church and into true Christianity.
In fact, according to one news story: “As the faithful filled churches this Holy Week, many Roman Catholics around the world are finding their relationship to the church tested by new revelations of clerical abuse and suggestions Benedict himself may have helped cover up cases in Germany and the U.S. There are fears that for those whose commitment is already wavering, the scandal could be the final blow, and a growing chorus is clamoring for the church to embrace full transparency, take a hard line against pedophiles, and reconsider the rule of priestly celibacy….’People are outraged really, they're furious with the complete failure of the church's leadership and their view would be that we are led by incompetent people,’ [Paul] Collins said.” (8)
This may just be me, but part of me can't help shaking the notion that possibly, God's allowing this to happen to the Catholic Church as a means to draw people to Himself.
Friday, April 2, 2010
I think Isaiah 53 is the passage that most thoroughly describes the death and ressurection of Christ in Old Testament prophecy.
"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." (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-11)
Plus, Jesus Himself predicted His death & ressurection.
In His rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees, who demanded a sign of His being Messiah, Jesus stated: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:39-40)
Also, we read: "See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day." (Matthew 20:18-19)
Now, we must get to the implications of Christ's ressurection.
First off, we see it as having spiritual ramifications.
"He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification." (Romans 4:25)
"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-5)
"But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:10-12)
But, I think that 1st Corinthians 15 gives us the clearest picture of the spiritual ramifications: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1st Corinthians 15:1-19)
But, there are also physical implications to Christ's ressurection.
In 1st Corinthians 15, we read: "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ." (1st Corinthians 15:20-23)
In Daniel 12 in talking of the end times, we read: "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."(Daniel 12:2)
We get a picture of this in Matthew 27, upon Jesus' death: "The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many." (Matthew 27:52-53)
We see this mentioned in 1st Corinthians 15:51-54, in which we read: "Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'"
We also read, in a passage that dispensationalists argue is referring to the pre-tribulation rapture and non-dispensationalists argue that which will happen at the time that Christ comes to destroy evil: "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." (1st Thessalonians 4:15-17)
Now, as Daniel 12:2 pointed out, there's also a ressurection of the non-believers as well, and there also seems to be a distinction between the ressurection of those who believed in Christ, as Revelation 20 points out: "Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!" (Revelation 20:4-6)
Finally, we read of this second ressurection, the ressurection of damnation, later on in Revelation 20, after the final rebellion: "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-14)
In fact, as the late Leonard Ravenhill put it: "The unholy dead are going to stand, great and small, before God. Sometimes I look at my Encyclopedia Britannica and I think of all the history that is going to pass before me in the flesh. I'll be interested to see Julius Caesar and Tiberius Caesar. I'll be fascinated when Pontius Pilate stands before Jesus. I think he'll be more uncomfortable than Jesus felt standing before him! It will be awesome when we see the founders of these cults stand before God. When, in God's name, is the Church going to open their heart and mind and see that every man will stand accountable to God? I don't care if he flies his own private jet or how many cities or millions of people he rules. It doesn't matter. The great of the earth and the lowest of the earth are all going to spend their time in eternity. They are going to live there forever and ever, "where their worm does not die" (Mark 9:48). Hell won't be the same for everybody. Some will be beaten with a few stripes, some with many stripes (Luke 12:47-48). But I tell you what -- I'd rather be the least in the Kingdom of God than the greatest in the kingdom of the devil, both in time and in eternity…..Think of Pharaoh and Herod the Great standing before Jesus and having to account for their deeds."
To conclude, I'd like to finish off with 2 quotes that I think sum up the matter well, regarding the implication of the ressurection of Christ from the dead: "In the New Testament the standard miracle, the standard of God's power, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Then, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, there is of course the resurrection of the individual from the dead."-Leonard Ravenhill
“Regeneration is the spiritual resurrection of the Christian…. This Divine quickening is spoken of as a passing “from death unto life” (John 5:24). It is a miracle: a miracle of Divine grace and power…. Only the living God can speak the word which will call forth a Lazarus from the tomb and He alone can regenerate… At his spiritual resurrection or regeneration the Christian is made partaker of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) so that new desires and affections are awakened within him.”-A.W. Pink
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
In Matthew 3:8-11, we read John the Baptist’s words to the religious leaders: “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Now, I’d like the briefly touch on the notion of regeneration, which I believe I already touched on before. In fact, this is the cause of our fruit. In 2nd Corinthians 2:17, we read: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” And, we get a picture of regeneration in Ezekiel 36:26-27, which states: “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.”
I’m sure that we know the “fruits of the spirit,” found in the Book of Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:19-230
Now, I want to be clear about what I'm not talking about.
I’m not advocating works-righteousness. But, what I am saying is that if you are a true Christian, YOU WILL BEAR FRUIT!!! To be completely honest, often being “born again” has been simply reduced to praying the sinner’s prayer, or coming forward at an altar call. Then, the supposed convert can go on living in a continuous state of worldliness, but God bless them, they’re saved because they prayed that prayer.
To quote Paul Washer: “The doctrine of a Christian living in a continuous state of carnality is ABSOLUTE HERESY!!! Do Christians sin? Yes. Can Christians fall into carnality? Yes. Can Christians walk in immaturity for a while? Yes. But, can Christians live a godless, worldly life, all the days of their life? Absolutely not!!! Why? Because Salvation is a supernatural work of God wherby if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, and new creatures live a different way!!!”
That being said, we read in 1st John: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1st John 2:3-5)
He also writes: “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit…. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him… We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1st John 4:13, 15 & 19-21)
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1st John 5:1-4)
Hear the words of Jesus: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned… As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love…. 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.” (John 15:5, 9-10 & 16)
James writes: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)
Now, it’s possible for a false convert to temporarily bear fruit. "Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." (Matt. 13:18-23)
And, as I once told a friend, I would connect Matthew 13:18-23, particularly with the person who is described as “rocky ground” to this passage in Hebrews: “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
I want to be clear that I believe in the doctrine of eternal security> I also want to stress that I believe each Christian will have different strengths, weaknesses & struggles. In fact, I remember once making, what I believe to be, the mistake of trying to gain assurence of my salvation by measuring my fruit against his & felt bad because I wasn't struggling with the same things that he was.
However, we also have this commandment: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2nd Corinthians 13:5) Also: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2nd Peter 1:10-11)
What I’m talking about is not sinless perfection. The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) referred to Christians as being "simultaneously saint and sinner"
In fact, the Apostle Paul admitted: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin… For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:14-15, 17-25)
In the same breath, I’m not trying to whitewash sin. It’s a heinous offense against God!!! Furthermore, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2nd Corinthians 5:10)
But, as John wrote: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9) He also noted: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1st John 2:1)
In conclusion, I must agree with the Puritan George Swinnock (1627-1673), who commented: “It is not one or two good actions, but a consistent conduct, that tells whether a man is a true Christian. . . . Sheep may fall into the mire, but swine love day and night to wallow in it. A Christian may stumble, he may even fall, but he gets up and walks on in the way of God’s commandments; the bent of his heart is right, and the scope of his life is straight, and thus he is considered sincere.”