Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jesus Christ is the Answer to Evil

By My Anonymous Friend

Two days ago a most horrific crime was committed in an elementary school in a small town in Connecticut. 26 people were murdered by a mad man. 20 of these were youngsters aged 6 and 7. Many are analyzing, speculating, pontificating, and lecturing us as to what could have caused a young man to kill his own mother and all these innocent children. It is not my intent to try to explain this tragedy. All I can say is that evil is real and very much present in our world.
 
I would like to add a further note which is that part of the biblical Christmas story also involves evil. In fact it also involves the murder of innocent children. Amid the lights, dinners and gift exchanges, let us not forget that a power mad politician viewed the birth of Jesus as a potential political threat. To make sure no newborn baby would ever challenge him for power, Herod ordered all babies aged two and under in Bethlehem and surrounding areas, to be killed. I wonder how many parents grieved then just like the parents in Connecticut do today? Hundreds maybe? Who knows? Both are horrible displays of human evil and depravity.
 
Christmas is a season of joy, celebration, and happiness. After all we wish one another a "Merry" Christmas! I am not suggesting we do anything less. I simply share this sobering reminder that it is precisely because of evil and depravity that the Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus meant that the Lamb of God which would serve as the atoning sacrifice for the very depravity we saw on display two days ago and which, to be very sure, resides in each of us as well, entered the human scene.
 
So the joy of this season goes much beyond dinners and concerts and gifts. The fundamental joy consists in the fact that it marks the introduction or public display of God's remedy for depravity. So as we all grieve and hurt for the surviving loved ones in Connecticut, there can also be room in our hearts for joy and celebration. As we pray God's comfort and peace to those in the deepest of sorrows, let us also pray to give thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ! Depravity and evil are only too real! The remedy for sin and evil as well as the provision for redemption are equally real!
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Futility of Racism

Racism has become the constant mantra of some today, especially in the political arena. It seems that the political parties are always looking for an angle to get the vote of certain "racial groups" by putting "race" first. So often, "race" seems to be the primary consideration, depending on whose votes are desired. There seems to be never-ceasing cries of "racism" when someone speaks against the policies of a candidate or office-holder who happens to be from one group or another. 
 
This phenomenon certainly has been shoved in our faces by both some in the media and some politicians concerning President Obama. If you disagree with him, you are a racist. If you oppose his policies, you are a racist. If you didn't vote for him, you are a racist. I would certainly agree that it would be racist to vote against any candidate because of the color of his or her skin. What we never hear is that if someone chooses to vote for a candidate because of the color of his or her skin, that is likewise a racist behavior.
 
When it comes to President Obama, there is no doubt that there are those who absolutely refused to vote for him because of his skin color. It is likewise true that there are many who voted for him primarily because of his skin color. Neither of these positions indicate a level of maturity and common sense that is really a necessity for those who would accept the responsibility of voting. What a candidate stands for is infinitely more important than the color of that candidate's skin.  
 
It is also interesting to note that the Republicans were accused of racism when Herman Cain was leading in the primary polls. The convoluted logic involved was that the Republicans were just trying to prove they weren't racist because they could now say that they "had their black guy, too," so clearly they were insincere and hypocritical, which made them racist. And who can forget the racial stereotypes that were thrown at Condoleezza Rice when she was Secretary of State? At some point, the whole racist issue with all of the "race-baiting" and accusations becomes absurd. Americans should be better than that, but whatever the country as a whole does, Bible-believing Christians must be better than that.
 
The lunacy of racism is underscored when we look at it from the perspective of creation. Evolution is, without a doubt, a racist teaching. Some people are more evolved than others, which makes some "races" less human than others. Just ask Adolf Hitler. He considered Jews to be closer to ape than human, and certain others, such as any people with dark skin, were just a bit above the Jews in the hierarchy of evolution toward the white, blonde-haired blue-eyed "Aryan race." Charles Darwin was quite obviously racist, and the title of his most famous book reveals that fact. We normally hear the title of the book as The Origin of Species. The full title of the book, which is On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, is rarely mentioned. 
 
On the subject of racism, Ken Ham of "Answers in Genesis" makes some profound and insightful observations. In an article entitled "Are There Really Different Races?" he says the following: 

·    "Darwinian evolution was (and still is) inherently a racist philosophy, teaching that different groups or “races” of people evolved at different times and rates, so some groups are more like their apelike ancestors than others."

·    "Racist attitudes fueled by evolutionary thinking were largely responsible for an African pygmy being displayed, along with an orangutan, in a cage in the Bronx zoo."

·    "Scientists today admit that, biologically, there really is only one race of humans."

·    "ABC News stated, 'More and more scientists find that the differences that set us apart are cultural, not racial. Some even say that the word race should be abandoned because it’s meaningless.' The article went on to say that 'we accept the idea of race because it’s a convenient way of putting people into broad categories, frequently to suppress them - the most hideous example was provided by Hitler’s Germany. And racial prejudice remains common throughout the world.'"

·    "Personally, because of the influences of Darwinian evolution and the resulting prejudices, I believe everyone (and especially Christians) should abandon the term 'race(s).' We could refer instead to the different 'people groups' around the world."

·    "The Bible does not even use the word race in reference to people, but it does describe all human beings as being of 'one blood' (Acts 17:26). This of course emphasizes that we are all related, as all humans are descendants of the first man, Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), who was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)."  

·    "In other words, the so-called 'racial' differences are absolutely trivial - overall, there is more variation within any group than there is between one group and another. If a white person is looking for a tissue match for an organ transplant, for instance, the best match may come from a black person, and vice versa. ABC News claims, 'What the facts show is that there are differences among us, but they stem from culture, not race.'" 

·    "If the Bible teaches and science confirms that all are of the same human race and all are related as descendants of Adam, then why are there such seemingly great differences between us (for example, in skin color)? The answer, again, comes with a biblically informed understanding of science."

·    "When Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven' (Matthew 19:14). He did not distinguish between skin colors. In fact, scientists have discovered that there is one major pigment, called melanin, that produces our skin color. There are two main forms of melanin: eumelanin (brown to black) and pheomelanin (red to yellow). These combine to give us the particular shade of skin that we have."

·    "Geneticists have found that four to six genes, each with multiple alleles (or variations), control the amount and type of melanin produced. Because of this, a wide variety of skin shades exist. In fact, it is quite easy for one couple to produce a wide range of skin shades in just one generation..." (Note: I have several times heard Ken Ham say, "We are all the same color. Some of us just have more of it than others.") 

I agree with Ken Ham that we need to drop the whole idea of "races." There are "ethnic groups" or "people groups." There are different cultures, and these are legitimate and a part of God's plan, but there is only one race - the human race. Continuing to talk about "race" is futile in that it does nothing to promote evangelism or Christian unity, but it does a great deal to further Satan's purposes of dividing people and promoting hatred between cultures.

 

The article from which I took these quotes may be read in its entirety here. There are many articles on the "Answers in Genesis" website that touch on this subject and related subjects. These articles may be found here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Unknown God - Acts 17:16-34

...Part of the reason the Apostle Paul was grieved was that he had come to a city that had been thoroughly influenced by all of these false philosophies. He had seen how these philosophies and the false view of God they had begun with was now affecting everything in their lives ... their view of life and the value of human life ... their view of economics ... robbing from the rich to give to the poor is only sensible in that kind of situation.
 
Frankly, the Apostle Paul in Athens was provoked in his spirit in the same way that you as a Christian should be provoked in your spirit when you look at what's happening in the United States ... There is an abandonment of God and a biblical-centered worldview and philosophy ... When God speaks through His Word, He speaks to EVERY part of your life. There is a biblical view or politics. There is a biblical view of economics. We would call that the free market or ... the stewardship of private property ... There's a view of the family - a recognition of the high value of the family ... There's certainly a view of law ... that God is our lawgiver ... The majority of people around us today are now influenced by atheism, pantheism, or what we would call humanism or secularism. You say, "Well someone is a secularist." Here's another term for it - a liberal. The term "liberal" is describing someone who is a secularist, and a secularist in the broad, general picture is someone who is taking a worldview that is based upon an atheistic view that there is no God, and if there is no God, it affects everything about your life ...
 
... It is impossible to rid yourself of all that influence ... You need to understand it, you need to see it, and you need to confront it ... and we say ..."Here's where we're going, here's where the culture around us is going, and  ... we're going to reject all of their false views for what is a biblical view ... verse 21 - "It's always about something new, novel, different ... That is not new. That's been the way it's always been. We're always after something novel, something new, something different ... That is the way that it is in the American church ... I have to be honest with you ... I have no problem with that which is new. I like new gadgets ... but I also love the foundation of biblical principles by which I recognize there's not just something new and untried and untested. There's something that is proven, something that is grounded - a solid rock upon which I can build my life. So I'm not looking for something new, fresh. I'm not looking for all the newest ideas. I'm looking for that which is tested, tried, proven. I'm looking for something to stand upon.
 
Paul ... sees their idolatry, their philosophy, their novelty ... He confronts what he sees with Scripture ... "The Unknown God" ... becomes his launching point ... "God who made the world and everything in it." That is a great place for all Christian proclamation of God to begin. He is the Creator ... Biblically, you cannot think like a Christian ... you cannot believe as a Christian that the Bible is true and that somehow evolution is a possibility. You have to recognize that the Bible teaches through and through that God is our Creator ... What Paul says is a strong statement that there is a God and He is the Creator of everything that we see around us ...
 
... Some of you would say, "... Are you telling me that if I am going to believe the Bible that I need to be a creationist?" That's EXACTLY what I'm telling you ... Every major portion of the Bible claims that God is the Creator ... "If I believe the Bible, do I have to believe that God is the Creator?" Yeah. That's exactly what I've been saying...
 
... As Christians, we have every reason to believe that there is a God and that He is the Creator ... Talking about who this God is, we'll not only see Him as the Creator, but we'll see Him as the Ruler, we'll see Him as the Sustainer, we'll see Him as the Ordainer - the one who makes all history happen. And we're going to see that God has spoken to us and that God has commanded us to repent and to turn to belief in the Lord Jesus Christ ...
 
... As Christians today we must not ever be intimidated by the philosophers and idolaters and all those people who are looking for newfangled things. We must not be intimidated by them. We must firmly stand and proclaim that God is the Creator ...
 
To hear this entire sermon by Pastor Jeff Anderson, click here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

REAL Buffalo Noise

If you want to hear some REAL Buffalo Noise, click here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Being a Berean (Acts 17:1-15)

Pastor Jeff Anderson consistently teaches the superiority of the Scriptures over all human ideas, human opinions, and human efforts. Following are excerpts from one of his sermons, "Being a Berean," from Acts 17:1-15. The entire sermon can be heard here.
 
...The apostle says in 1 Corinthians 2, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified ... And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (NKJV)
 
... Our greatest reasoning and our greatest logic when it comes to biblical persuasion is to reason from the Scriptures ... because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
 
... The modern apologetic, the defense of the faith that you find in so many Christian colleges, so many books that you read, is somehow an attitude that says, "Let's take the Bible and hide it behind our back and now we're going to convince people ... and somehow we'll sneak in a little bit of Bible, maybe at the end." That is not the biblical way. The biblical way is to make sure the Scriptures are there and the Scriptures are the first thing. "Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.'" (Acts 17:2-3, NKJV)
 
...The Logos is not just our persuasive words. It's the reasoning that comes from the Scriptures, and when you go to all of the Scriptures it becomes obvious ... Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the one we need to trust in ... Why? Because they received this, not as the words of human wisdom, not just because we are compelling, not just because we are persuasive, but because the Word of God has brought them to faith, and it's the Word of God that we must use ... There's no place for us to manipulate people just by sheer emotion ...
 
... turn on the television and watch all the commercials ... they're all about emotion. They're trying to stir people to feel a certain way rather than to think a certain way in order to buy whatever it might be that they have.
 
As Christians we must not fall into that ... If we fall into that, we can tell nice stirring stories, we can move people to tears, we can play music, and we can get them to walk an aisle and make a certain profession of their faith in Christ, but ... people who go out and with emotion they're trying to convince people and they only use stirring things and manipulate people and they get a certain response but the response doesn't last ...
 
In America we've done a great job in the last hundred years of getting people to walk aisles, make professions, raise their hands. We've done a really good job of manipulating people into making a profession of their faith in Christ, but we see very little fruit of that, and the reason ... is because we have fallen to the pathetic ... rationale of trying to convince people by only stirring and appealing to their emotions ...
 
... We must be sure we are not doing that. We must be sure we are depending on the Spirit of God to compel people and drive them. Why? Because the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; they are spiritually discerned. And the thing we can do is pray that the Spirit of God would grant people repentance to acknowledge the truth. And we can plant the seeds of the Scripture and give them reason from the Scripture. Give them the Word, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. These are the things that we must give ourselves to. We must not ever give ourselves to whatever it is that produces results and seems to help us pad our figures and count our results and somehow feel good that, "Hey, we accomplished something today."
 
... If I were to just get up and tell you emotional stories, and we'd play a little bit of music that could kind of manipulate you, then we could have you come down forward, and I could write to all my friends and say, "Hey, we had twenty people come forward today. Look at me. Success! Successful day! God was glorified! Twenty people came forward!" Who knows what happened with those twenty people who came forward? If instead we're simply reasoning from the Scriptures, we might not see a visible response. We might not be able to report a certain number of baptisms or a certain number of responses or how many people came forward to pray. Instead, we are depending upon the Lord Himself to stir and move in the hearts of people to where HE is persuading, and they come to genuine faith.
 
... We should go to the Scriptures ourselves and reason with them and see if these things are indeed so ... We have no excuse ... Be a Berean ... Go to the Scriptures and see if these things are true ... We should be Bereans - people of the book. We should give ourselves to understanding and seeing if these things are true, and then we use these Scriptures to persuade other people. We reason from the Scriptures to convince them of who Christ is. We don't figure out how to have some huge city-wide meeting, have the best music we can possibly have to entertain and get people in, get the most compelling speaker who's going to come and tell us some sad stories, make sure we have a couple of testimonies, make sure everyone cries by those testimonies that come - and then somehow give them an appeal for which they can come forward.
 
That is not how we're going to change America or how we're going to turn our world upside down. We can only turn our world upside down by being people of this book and by reasoning from these Scriptures and letting the Word of God produce faith in hearers ...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Daniel's Prayer of Thanksgiving

We so often think of this time of year as a time to thank God for all His blessings – material things – our homes, our cars, our wealth relative to the rest of the world, our country, our freedom, food, etc. For these things we most certainly should be thankful, but Daniel’s prayer of thanksgiving teaches us the importance of being thankful for much more. It reveals a great deal about the nature and character of God – the things on which are based all His blessings to us. We need to be especially thankful all the time, not just at a special time of year.

Daniel’s prayer is found in the second chapter of his prophecy. King Nebuchadnezzar had his dream of the great image, and it troubled him, because he did not know what it meant. He called in all of his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans – in other words, his alleged “wise men.” Of course, these men were not truly wise at all. They had no connection with the God of heaven. It quickly became clear that Nebuchadnezzar did not really trust the wise men, because he demanded not only the interpretation but the content of the dream itself. When the wise men asked him to tell them the dream so they could interpret it, he accused them of stalling and threatened to destroy them if they could not tell him the dream, but he promised great rewards for anyone who could do so.

Their response rang quite true. Even these heathen “wise men” had enough sense to know that only God (or “the gods” as they put it) could do what the king was asking. The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, There is not a man on earth who can tell the king's matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh (Daniel 2:10-11, NKJV). 

Nevertheless, the king gave orders to have all of the wise men of Babylon destroyed, and this order included Daniel and his friends. When Daniel found out about the king’s command, he went to his house, along with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. There they prayed and asked for the answer so that they might not be destroyed with the rest of the “wise men” of Babylon.

Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king's demand" (Daniel 2:19-23, NKJV).

This prayer recognizes the superiority of the God of the universe, the God of the Bible, over all false gods that men have created. This we should be thankful for on a daily basis, because if we did not have such a God, He most certainly could not provide for us all of the other things we think about when we list the things for which we are thankful.

Notice the specific content of the prayer.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever… God is eternal. He is outside of time. He is not limited as we are. We need to see things in eternal perspective and not just temporal perspective. He is eternally worthy of our praise and worship.

…wisdom and might are His. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. All of our questions find their answers in Him, and He is the one who can do something about our situations. There is no situation too big for Him to handle.

He changes the times and the seasons… God controls His creation. This contrasts God with Babylonian fatalism based on astrology. They looked to the stars, but God made the stars. God has power and control over all those things men look to. In spite of the evidence, man has chosen to worship the created thing instead of the Creator.

Romans 1 tells us that …the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:18-20, 25, NKJV). 

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1, NKJV).

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:3-4, NKJV). 

He removes kings and raises up kings… God is sovereign. This statement contrasts a sovereign God with the weakness of Babylon deities. We sometimes wonder why God allows certain men – dictators, tyrants – to be in power. We can be confident that He has His reasons. And ultimately, all will bow to Him. 

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11, NKJV).

He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things… God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. The wise men of Babylon were not really wise men. They were not recipients of divine wisdom. Man is completely dependent on God for wisdom. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:22, NKJV). There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV).

He knows what is in the darkness… There is no hiding place from God. He knows all about us.

…light dwells with Him. He is the source of light, in contrast to the darkness. Only He can save human beings.

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king's demand. We ought to first and foremost thank God for all He is, and then it will be very natural to thank Him for all He provides.

Coming to grips with the very nature and character of God helps put all things into perspective. No matter what comes into our lives, we who know the Lord can accept it as from the hand of our Heavenly Father who knows all things, who is in control of all things, and who loves us with an everlasting love.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A New and Living Way

It seems that our pastor gives me so much great material for blog posts that I do not need to come up with very many of my own. He is fearless in his proclamation of the Word of God, and he is a great blessing to the people of Grace Bible Church. The following is excerpted from his sermon, "A New and Living Way," based on Hebrews 9:19-25, which he preached on Sunday evening, 11/11/12.
 
...I'm thrilled tonight to have as many young people as we have here because you young people all need to understand that this is not Sunday school games. This is not a bunch of entertainment, fun and games, and a joke.
 
The problem with the American church is we've made the American church all about entertainment and market-driven, and we try to win people in and woo them in by entertaining them. We start getting them on jumping jamborees when they turn two years old. Soon they're in fifth grade and there's more entertainment. Soon they're in high school where there's nothing but rock and roll music and dances and hollering and whooping and rejoicing and entertainment, and then soon they turn eighteen and they find out the world is a whole lot more entertaining than the church. And 90% ... 90% of young people who are growing up in churches today are abandoning the faith. And perhaps they're abandoning the faith because no one is willing to stand and tell them that if they reject the Lord Jesus Christ and do not come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if they reject and turn away from Him, there is nothing for them except for fearful judgment, and that is eternal judgment in hell.
 
And you young people need to understand that at Grace Bible Church we're not playing games with you. We're not manipulating you. We're not doing everything we can to somehow woo you in and get you to be members simply because we want you to be here.
 
We want you to know that we want to teach the Scriptures because Jesus Christ is a great Savior, and He provides a wonderful salvation, and if you turn from Him and if you turn from His salvation, there's nothing for you but fearful judgment for all eternity, and that is a burning, literal hell that Jesus Christ knew so much about that He left heaven to come to this earth and deliver you from that hell.
 
You must, you must believe in Jesus Christ. And it's not just the children that are here. It's also the adults ... this great Savior Jesus is someone to believe in, someone to be trusted, someone to give our life and soul to ... It's a fearful thing, fearful thing, to fall into the hands of the living God.
 
... It is high time for the American church to get serious about this warning.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Can a Real Believer Stop Believing?

We have all known professing Christians who, for a variety of reasons, turn their backs on the Lord and claim to no longer be Christians. Several years ago I had a student challenge the doctrine of “perseverance of the saints,” commonly called “eternal security.” She said, “But I know someone who was a Christian, and now he isn’t.” My response was the typical, not always accepted, but nevertheless correct, “How do you know for sure he was a real believer? And how do you know for sure that he has really fallen away?” This conversation that many of us have had, probably more than once, sets the stage for the question, “Can a real believer ever fall away?”
 
The answer to that question hinges on the word “real.” The Scriptures are very clear that when there is saving faith in Jesus Christ, there is “eternal life.” A real believer possesses this eternal life, which by definition is in fact, eternal, and can never end. A real believer “will never perish” – no “if’s, and’s, or but’s.” A real believer is in a position where Jesus said “no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28, NASB). If a truly born again believer could ever be lost, we have the absurdity of becoming “unborn” along with the fact that God becomes a liar, because His promise is otherwise. My salvation is as secure as the integrity of God.
 
While it is true that a real Christian can fall into sin and lose his fellowship with the Lord, there is nothing in Scripture to negate God’s promises to His own. When a believer sins, there is conviction. Romans 7:12-25 graphically illustrates this fact. Someone who has saving faith will not get away with sin and will not ultimately fall away from salvation, because that God-given conviction will always draw him back. The only good conclusion is that, based on the Scriptures, those who ultimately fall away were never believers in the first place, no matter how well they played the Christian game, even if they “served the Lord,” as did Judas Iscariot. Notice the words of John. “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19, NASB).
 
One reason for the falling away of “believers” is that they never were exposed to the real Gospel and came by way of “easy believism.” So often, well-meaning Christians, in their zeal and haste to see others saved, will reduce the Gospel to a simple “repeat after me” formula that results in false profession and a deceptive sense of “security.” This can be especially true in dealing with children.
 
Dr. John MacArthur says that we “…have to cease doing something that has been traditionally done through the years, and that is telling people that if they prayed this prayer, they’re saved. I grew up in a generation, you know, when you’ve led this person to Christ, then say to that person, ‘Did you mean what you said? Now you’re saved …’ You can’t do that. You don’t know that when they prayed that prayer that really was salvation. You can’t see justification take place. It’s an invisible transaction. You can’t even see regeneration … we have this idea of salvation that says, ‘If you pray this little prayer, God will save you’ … That is the most skewed view of salvation. God only does what He wills to do and what He purposes to do. And all the sinner can do is the model of Luke 18, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ You can only ask, you can’t demand … Now He’s not going to turn away the one who comes in all honesty, but I think ... we’ve taken it out of the hands of God and put it into a formula … and in the absence of genuine repentance, that formula is a recipe for apostasy.”
 
Another cause of false profession is the emotional approach, where the heartstrings are touched by a touchy-feely, warm fuzzy message rather than the actual Gospel. Often, people are brought into a situation where they “feel comfortable” and respond to the emotionalism they observe. In reality, if unbelievers “feel comfortable” in a church, there is something wrong with the church. The truth convicts, and being convicted does not always feel good, but it can lead to repentance and salvation. “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NASB).
 
However, Christians whose faith is emotion-based rather than truth-based are far more likely to live other than their profession and to let others down. This enables those they seek to win to use the lamest of all lame excuses for rejecting Christ, which is “I don’t want anything to do with being a Christian, because Christians are such hypocrites.” That “excuse” has been around for a very long time, and it is no more valid today than it was in the past. As a matter of fact, the book of Romans teaches that even those who never heard of Christ are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20), so where does that leave those who have heard? Blaming others for one’s behavior is very common today, and it may be popular with some psychologists, but it will not get anyone anywhere at the Great White Throne Judgment.
 
One who suddenly decides he can no longer believe the Bible and therefore “falls away” has clearly decided he is in a position to judge the validity of God’s Word. It is interesting to note that generally those who come to such a conclusion have not been taught and have never taken the time to learn basic biblical truth. It is normally a matter of the “experience” of salvation not “feeling” so good any more. Again, Dr. MacArthur says that in order to take this stance, “…you have to put yourself in a position to be the judge of Scripture’s validity. That is a very proud position to take, given the fact that for thousands of years the most godly and brilliant minds in Christianity have found the Bible to be consistent, inerrant, divine, you know, it verifies itself again and again and again every which way possible, but you are a higher judge, you are a more clear minded authority than all the Christian scholars of all the ages. So I think the danger sign in somebody that’s headed toward apostasy is they want to render judgment on the Scripture that is independent of history and that is independent of Christian theology … I think it comes because the heart is so proud and so rebellious that it will deny what is patently obvious.”
 
Some will deny the truth regardless of the evidence. Dr. MacArthur goes on, “…all the Pharisees knew that Jesus rose from the dead. They knew that. They knew He rose from the dead because they bribed the Roman soldiers to lie and say somebody stole His body. So talk about ... ‘don’t confuse me with the facts.’ That’s the resolute hard-heartedness of an apostate who with all the right evidence makes the absolute wrong conclusion.”
 
The best thing that can happen in our churches is the faithful preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Generally, those who fall away tend to come from the “feel good” types of churches rather than from churches where the Scriptures are faithfully taught. When real believers know the Scriptures, and where there is growth, there is no danger of ultimately falling away, because growth in the Lord indicates saving faith. MacArthur continues, “Go to the Word of God and anchor yourself in the Word and those doubts will disappear … don’t let temptation turn into sin by making you doubt the things that are clearly promised and revealed in Scripture.”
 
I am very thankful for my church and my pastor, who knows the Truth, teaches the Truth, preaches the Truth, and lives the Truth. “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:32, NASB).
 
The document from which I have been quoting is entitled “When Believers Stop Believing: Portrait of an Apostate.” It is the transcript of a radio interview of well-known pastor and Bible teacher, Dr. John MacArthur. The entire interview can be found here. I would also recommend Dr. MacArthur’s series of sermons on “The Doctrines of Grace.” There are no “feel good” platitudes here – only solid teaching of the Truth.

Friday, November 9, 2012

POST ELECTION WAKE UP CALL TO ALL CHRISTIANS

by Kathy (Note: I do not know Kathy. She is a friend of a friend. I received her article by email and got her permission to reproduce it here. It is certainly food for thought.)
 
For those who were too silent on biblical truths these past four years, I fear we are now reaping the devastating harvest of that choice. Generations to come will not know the Truth as a consequence of our silence. 
 
We have sent the message to our country that the following were not important enough issues to speak boldly and publicly about.
 
~You can believe that any desire or sexual perversion is fine and you can redefine God's design for marriage and family so as to accommodate your sinful lusts that God condemns.
 
 ~Any parent can end the life of their child without any shame. Their self-centered plans are what matters and God's plans for that life aren't worth considering.
 
~We can ignore God's authority when He says if you do not work, you do not eat. Government is there to take care of your every need as they redistribute others' wealth as they see fit. (Government takes on the role that God gave to fathers.)
 
~Our stand with Israel against the surrounding Muslim nations can continue to weaken in the powder keg of the Middle East. The importance of America being an ally with Israel, and the blessing that God promised, can be forgotten along with many other biblical truths.
 
The list could go on...
 
What can we as Christians do now? I fear it is only a matter of time before our freedoms to speak God's truth will be taken from us in the name of "hate speech." Because we did not speak as we should have yesterday, we must speak today and keep speaking!
 
So, today, in our homes, our places of work, our neighborhoods, and especially in our CHURCHES, we must take on the fight of this battle for God's truth. Speak out boldly as you never have before on these issues. Don't ever raise the white flag of silence because you fear your government or what others think! Rather, you must renew your reverence for God and have a greater fear of being disobedient to Him and the result that brings. (God will continue to judge our nation as we are already seeing.)
 
God help us to wake up, for our time to speak may be short! Thanks for letting me share what is on my very heavy heart. Keep praying for America!
 
Kathy

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hearty Approval

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20, NASB).
 
"...and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them" (Romans 1:32, NASB).
 
Sin has been a reality since the Garden of Eden. However, God's people have always been expected to repent of sin and live godly lives. When people and their culture not only practice sin but legalize it, they are "calling evil good and good evil," and they are also giving "hearty approval" to things God has called evil. Our country crossed over that threshold a long time ago.
 
As Christians go to the polls, it is important to remember our responsibility to avoid giving "hearty approval" to evil. We need to know what the candidates believe and stand for. We need to be aware of the party platforms. We need to think about the long-term implications of our vote as we consider what kind of judges will be appointed by the winner. We must not give "hearty approval" to those who "call evil good and good evil."
 
There is an excellent article on the blog "By Grace Alone," entitled "Spurgeon on Voting."  In a sermon delivered on March 22, 1857, Spurgeon said, "Let us whenever we shall have the opportunity of using the right of voting, use it as in the sight of Almighty God, knowing that for everything we shall be brought into account, and for that amongst the rest, seeing that we are entrusted with it."
 
There is another excellent article on the blog, "Sola Sisters," entitled Election 2012:  “Is it Wrong to Vote for the Lesser of Evils? Shouldn’t We Instead Vote for a Third Party Candidate?” A key quote from this article:  "...do not imagine you are taking the high road by refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils. In fact, by voting for your third party candidate, you are choosing the lesser of three evils. And if your candidate cannot win, your vote is effectively insuring the victory of the greater of three evils."
 
Finally, my friend Ralph Petersen on his blog, "Well Meaning Gentlemen with Different Ideas," has published an article entitled "It Is Never Right To Do Wrong To Do God's Will."  He states, "In this election we Christians have a duty to do right at the polls. Our choices should be determined by our biblical values. In our representative republic, our leaders are selected and appointed by us as our agents. Look, I don’t know how to say this any clearer; if you vote for an ungodly leader who does immoral things, YOU ARE GUILTY OF HIS SINS. He is your agent. You engaged him and empowered him."
 
Other articles on my blog that are pertinent to this election:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, November 2, 2012

True Salvation or False Profession?

On October 21, our pastor preached a sermon entitled "Strengthening the Church" over Acts 14:21-28. Following are some excerpts.
 
All of the activities of Grace BibleChurch are like lipstick on a pig unless we are making disciples. We can have a great Sunday school program, but if our Sunday school program is not about making disciples and preaching the gospel and strengthening the church, it is all for nothing ... an awful lot of youth ministry is lipstick on a pig ... unless we are making disciples and preaching the gospel.
 
Preaching the gospel, making disciples, strengthening the church ... He's not talking about the programs that it represents. He's not talking about having a better choir, a better nursery, a better whatever it may be. He's talking about strengthening the souls of the disciples ... Grace Bible Church is the people that are gathered together for this purpose, and the strengthening of souls is something that needs to continually happen ...
 
We are always trying to make sure we are teaching assurance of salvation ... you can know that you have eternal life, based on First John 5:11-12 ... Aren't you grateful that you can know? But here's a challenge: we have been so insistent and so emphasizing assurance of salvation ... that we have extended false assurance to people who are not true believers ... There is a time when it is absolutely necessary for us to exhort people to continue in the faith and that time at Grace Bible Church is right now. That's an exhortation to our young people. Just because you grew up in a Christian home does not guarantee that you have a walk with Christ ... Just because you went to Sunday school and Awana, even got your Citation Award or whatever it may be, accomplished lots of Scripture memory, if you do not continue in the faith, then you are not a follower of Christ.
 
I'm not telling you it's a works salvation. I'm telling you that there's a genuine demonstration of faith that is not just what you think ... it's not what you think, it's not how you feel in an emotional way, it is a demonstration of your full trust, including your will, trusting in Him, and if you're fully trusting in Him, then you will CONTINUE IN THE FAITH. I'm telling you, it's clear. You will continue. If you go out from us, it's because you were not of us. That's what the Scripture teaches in First John. The people who go out from us and abandon the faith and go that wrong direction, they go out from us because they were not of us, and no matter how they looked on the outside, and no matter what they said on the outside, and no matter how much emotion they had in responding to certain things, if they're going out it's because they were not of us. They were never saved in the first place is what I'm telling you, and I'm warning you that right here in this room are people who have made some sort of a profession, walked a certain direction, but you are right now considering abandoning the faith, and I am exhorting you strongly to continue in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Just because you were born into a Christian home does not make you a Christian any more than being born in a garage makes you a car ... You say, "...why are you so worked up about this?" Because I've watched it happen over and over again - watched it happen to our young people. Young people who grow up going on mission teams, knowing the gospel, giving the gospel to other people, growing up in the youth group, winning their Citation Award, achieving all kinds of things, and eventually they abandon the Christian faith and have nothing to do with Jesus Christ, and then the exhortation says, "Ah, be comforted mom and dad, because at least they said a prayer when they were three years old and they have assurance of salvation." BALONEY! They haven't continued in the faith because they never truly trusted in Christ. And my exhortation is to believe in Christ. Continue with Christ. Follow Christ ... There is no other. There is no alternative. Jesus is IT! ... Beware lest you neglect such a great salvation. Beware that you would turn away from Christ. Beware that you would somehow abandon the faith. Young people, beware that somehow you would stop continuing in this Christian faith ... There's going to be suffering and there's going to be straying ... Make sure that you are continuing in the faith...
 
...Some of you are like, "Whoa, I thought I was in a church that taught assurance of salvation." I do. I teach assurance of true salvation, but I also believe that there are false professions of faith. I believe that there are people who respond with emotions or intellect who do not come to a full trust in Jesus Christ, and they look like us, they act like us, they continue with us for a long period of time, but if they abandon the faith, it is because they were never saved in the first place, and my exhortation is STRONG, "Be warned to continue in this faith. Do not stray. Do not abandon. Continue to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ...

...I'm so sick of giving false assurance to a bunch of people who are not believers. Have you ever heard this kind of nonsense? ... A kid goes off, gets involved in all sorts of immorality, drug addiction, becomes a murderer, he's in prison, but his mom says, "Whew, but at least he prayed a prayer when he was three years old. Whew. I'm glad he's got assurance." That kid has no assurance, because he's abandoned - I'm not telling you he's lost because of the bad things he's done. I'm telling you that the fruit of his life is demonstrating he never, ever came to genuine faith ... The assurance that you are a child of God will never be some prayer that you said with your mom when your were three, four, five, ten. or however old it was. Your assurance will not be that you walked an aisle at a church or raised a hand or said a certain prayer at the end of some sort of service. Your assurance will be the work of the Spirit of God in your life, and when you see the work of the fruit of the Spirit of God in your life, you can know that He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ. Continue, continue in the faith...

You say, "Jeff, you're teaching a works salvation." I'm not. I'm telling you about saving faith that really produces works and change in your life. I'm telling you that when Jesus Christ comes into you, He saves you and He saves you completely ... I'm telling you that God will begin a work, God will complete the work, and part of God's working in you will be for you to continue in the faith ... I'm not causing you to doubt your assurance. I'm telling you that God is able to keep you and that God will keep you, but when God keeps you, you continue in the faith ...

If you are ever in Colorado Springs on a Sunday, please consider attending Grace Bible Church, a church where the Word of God is held in the highest regard.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Feelings or Truth?

by Ron Livesay
 
Humans are most certainly emotional beings. This is part of being created in the image of God. However, our emotions must not be allowed to control what we do, because emotions are unreliable. How we feel must be controlled by truth, not the other way around.
 
I once was involved in a church situation where a major decision was made on the basis of how a church leader felt about it. I cannot think of one biblical example of a good and right decision being made on such a basis. Instead, the Bible makes it very clear that good and right decisions must be made on the basis of good and right doctrine. For example, I do not believe that Gideon felt very comfortable with the idea that God instructed him to cut his army to 300 men, but regardless of what his feelings may have been, he simply obeyed the Lord, and a great victory followed. Many more examples could be cited. On the other hand, decisions made on the basis of feelings tend to have disastrous results. I think of the case of Cain. He was upset because God did not respect his offering. Nevertheless, in his anger at God for not respecting his unbelief and disobedience, he killed his brother. Again, many such examples are found in Scripture.
 
I recall a church business meeting from many years ago when I was a teenager. A topic was being discussed and there was no clear agreement on what should be done. A man stood up and said, "I feel this is right." My dad, who was never at a loss for words and was never afraid to speak up, stood up and asked, "What does feeling have to do with it?" He then quoted a Scripture that was most pertinent to the debate. Someone else stood up and asked, "Who does he think he is,  quoting Scripture in a business meeting?" Really... someone would actually quote the Bible in a church business meeting? What is the world coming to? But then in reality, what is more appropriate in any church meeting than the Scriptures?
 
This is very much like the deacon board chairman who told the pastor, "We don't care what the Bible says, we don't believe that, and we don't want you to preach from that passage." That is a major "oops," to put it mildly. "We don't care what the Bible says" is extremely dangerous ground.
 
"But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1, NKJV). Sound doctrine leads to sound living. Loose doctrine leads to loose living. Far too many churches today emphasize teaching of feel-good "pop psychology" instead of sound doctrine. This certainly can lead to ignorance of biblical principles and the resultant natural disobedience to those principles.
 
There is also the idea that we must make visitors feel comfortable in order to attract them to the church and ultimately to salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more absurd. If unbelievers feel comfortable in the church, there is something wrong with the church. The gospel message is offensive to unbelievers because of the sin nature. Without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, the natural man is repelled by the truth. "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV).
 
If we think we can draw them in by entertaining them and making them feel comfortable, it necessarily follows that we must either hide or water down the gospel. Concerning hiding the gospel, the Scripture says, "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord..." (2 Corinthians 4:3-5, NKJV). The gospel must be made clear and must not be veiled behind "feel good" teaching.
 
The reality of sin is an important teaching, yet many are afraid to mention it in this day for fear of offending people and driving them away. However, a person needs to be aware of his lost condition before he can get saved. It is a great disservice to hide the truth for fear of being offensive and causing someone to feel uncomfortable.
 
Not only are we to avoid hiding the gospel, we must also avoid watering it down. Watering down the truth in order to make it more palatable to unbelievers and to make them feel comfortable is to pervert the Gospel of Christ.
 
"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3, NKJV).
 
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9, NKJV).
 
I once had a young pastor tell me the advice he had been given by an older, more experienced pastor. It was quite simple and was stated something like the following:  "Don't put your confidence in methods or new ideas. Just faithfully preach and teach the Word. Let the Lord bring the results."
 
Other posts related to this topic are found here and here.