|Posted on February 25, 2019 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda (The Church Reformed, Always Reforming)
This phrase goes all the way back to 1647, coined by Jodocus van Lodenstein, a pastor of a reformed church in the Netherlands. After researching the likely meaning he intended, I offer this summary; The church, having been reformed by the Word of God in its doctrine, worship, and polity, we are to see that we ourselves, from the inward person to the outward, are always being reformed by the Word of God (for more history read this Ligonier Article).
The Protestant Reformation (1517-Present Day) brought forth the Biblical gospel, worship, and church governance, in a world dominated by the false gospel, worship, and government of the Roman Catholic Church. While Rome was proclaiming a gospel of works (baptism, penance, indulgences, receiving the eucharist, etc.) plus faith are required for being justified before God, the reformation gospel was declaring the Five Solas (5 Alones); that we are saved by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, according to the Scripture Alone, and to the Glory of God Alone. Passages of Scripture like Romans 4:2-5 and Ephesians 2:8-9 were being made available to the common man through English and German translations of the Bible, along with reformation preaching.
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 Forwhat does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what isdue. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, Romans 4:2-5
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
This Biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, was causing no small stir as God was using it to bring many out of the faith-plus-works-gospel of Roman Catholicism. In response to the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church not only tortured and murdered many faithful believers, but also at the 19th Ecumenical Council from 1545-1563, (known as the Council of Trent) they rejected the gospel. In Canons 9 and 12, they directly call the Biblical gospel a false and damning one.
“Canon 9: 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 12: 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.”
What is surprising to many protestants today is that these Canons are still upheld by Roman Catholic teaching, even as recently as Vatican II (1962) they were reaffirmed. Some have attempted to soft-peddle what it means to be anathematized, but this word comes from the Scripture, meaning to be accursed, to be devoted to God’s divine wrath.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and areturning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 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. 9 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 (anathema). Galatians 1:6-9
The apostle Paul warned these believers to not embrace the false gospel of works (circumcision in this case) plus faith in Jesus as both being required to be saved, but to continue to hold on to the gospel of faith alone in Christ. Paul emphatically states, and repeats himself in verse 10, that those believing the false gospel of a works salvation are separated from God and under His divine wrath. What is glaringly obvious is that the Council of Trent is directly contradicting God’s Word in Galatians and saying if you believe Paul’s gospel, then you are anathema, that is accursed, and waiting to be delivered up to God’s divine wrath. Thankfully, we know God inspired Paul and not the Roman Catholic Church and Paul continued on to write this in Galatians 2:16.
“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
The apostles faced this challenge of the false gospel of works-plus-faith-salvation multiple times, and each time condemned it and reaffirmed a salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone.
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Acts 15:1
10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” Acts 15:10-11
There is a need to continue the clarion call of “The Church Reformed, Always Reforming”. When many evangelical protestant leaders are linking arms with the apostate Roman Catholic Church, we must stand on the Word of God, faithfully declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ, as once for all delivered to the saints. For, the gospel of faith alone, in Christ alone, for our salvation, is the only gospel which saves.
For an excellent resource on this subject, I highly recommend American Gospel: Christ Alone by Brandon Kimber. You can even purchase an evangelism pack to give it away to your catholic family and friends.
|Posted on December 5, 2018 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 ESV
Some of the Christian music I listen to is for worship and some of the other Christian music I listen to is for clean entertainment. This article is not intended to help us distinguish between these two, though that would be a useful article. The intent of this article is instead to encourage us how to make a distinction between that which calls itself Christian and that which merely has the Christian label attached to it but fails to be so.
I will be completely honest, if you look at my digital music library you will find worship music like the Getty’s, “In Christ Alone”. However, you will also find contemporary Christian music like Toby Mac and NF, artists which many of you have never heard. I even have an album by Johnny Cash, all because I wanted his song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. A great song about Johnny’s own sinful lifestyle, God calling him out of that life, and to call others out of that life to come to Christ. These last few artists I would consider to be music entertainment rooted in a Christian worldview. So, I am not coming from the perspective that all contemporary Christian music is bad. Yet, there are music artists that are being played on contemporary Christian radio, that at best, reject essential Christian doctrine, and at worst, are not even Christian. Philips, Craig, and Dean are a trio who oddly enough reject the Trinity, Pentatonix is a talented group but have members who are openly homosexual, and Matt Maher is not only a practicing Catholic but leads worship and teaches as a minister in the Roman Catholic historic tradition that is directly opposed to the gospel. These are only a few of the popular artists that come to my mind who have been regularly played on Christian radio for years.
Most recently in the news is Lauren Daigle, a woman bearing the Christian label, and has a recently sky rocketing career not only in Christian circles but also in the secular music world. Her music is sung every Sunday morning in churches around the world. Her recent album debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 100, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and was on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Some Christians are celebrating her being welcomed by the world with open arms. What some are now concerned about is her recent response to a question on a radio show. The host asked, “Do you feel homosexuality is a sin?” Lauren’s response:
“I can’t honestly answer on that. In a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God. So, when people ask questions like that…that’s what my go to is. I just say read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out let me know, because I’m learning too.”
The Bible is clear on homosexuality being a sin (Genesis 19:1-24; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 1:26-28, Jude 7). The Bible is also clear that Christ died for sinners, including the homosexual, who if like other sinners acknowledges their sin, repents and believes on Christ they are saved (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Notice, by Daigle’s response, it is not that she hasn’t thought about it, she has, and she has even had discussions about it. Her go to response is that she is, “not God”. Well, thanks for clearing that up. Can she call murder, stealing, or adultery sin? She should be able to do so and probably wouldn’t hesitate. Would she be in the place of God if she did? No. She would merely be affirming what God tells us is indeed sin. Quite frankly, her answer is a lame cop-out. There is no more excuse in this day and age for one who is in public ministry to claim ignorance on what God’s Word has to say about this issue. If Lauren Daigle doesn’t know if the Bible calls homosexuality a sin, she ought not be in a public Christian ministry like Christian music.
One of the bands I liked listening to when I was younger, because they came from the reformed Christian perspective and yet played the contemporary style of music with a little folk mixed in, was Caedmon’s Call. One of my favorite songs of theirs was “Thankful”. In this song Scripture was paraphrased from Romans 3:10-11 concerning the condition of man, “There is none righteous, not one who understands, there is none who seek God, no not one”. Now, Derek Webb, the previous lead singer says that he believes, “God made people good and the fall didn’t fundamentally change that.” This problematic statement has all sorts of ramifications on the gospel. He has come out, it seems, in support of the LGBT+ community and went on tour with Jennifer Knapp, an open lesbian who claims to be Christian. He also believes that human sexuality is non-binary, meaning there are not only two sexes man and woman and that those sexual relationships are not confined to be between man and woman only. Finally, he now calls himself an unbeliever.
With all the Christian artists out there it is impossible to know where they all stand theologically. But, make no mistake, their theology does inform their ministry, it comes out in their music, their interviews, and with whom they partner and support. Whether we like it or not, their fans are influenced by these artist’s ministries. Also, the world is either being encountered by the gospel through faithful music ministry or the world in its sin is being affirmed by their false ministry. So, what do we do?
We need to be a discerning people. We need to examine the messages we listen to with the Scripture. That applies to the music to which we listen, to the sermons we hear, to shows and movies we watch, to the books we read, to the conversations we have with others. We are constantly being bombarded with messages and you, I, our families and our culture are being influenced by the worldview in these mediums. The believer has always been called to discernment and it is necessary as you faithfully follow after Christ. Here are some passages to consider for how we ought to respond to the messages and messengers we hear. 1 John 4:1; Philippians 1:9-10, Hebrews 5:14; Romans 12:1-2; James 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Colossians 2:8; Proverbs 2:1-5; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 1 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 24:24
|Posted on May 1, 2018 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
(1Thessalonians 2:13 NKJ)
On Sunday we looked at Luke 1:1-4 and how Luke wrote the gospel to give Theophilus and others certainty about God’s fulfillment of His promises in the person and work of Jesus Christ. However, Luke knew that it would be through His writing of the gospel, and Theophilus reading the Word, that God would use these means to give him such certainty.
God is sovereign over all things and able to bring about His will at will, just as Ephesians 1:11b tells us, “who works all things according to the counsel of His will”, and Psalm 135:6, “6 Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.” However, the sovereign God of the universe chooses to use means to accomplish His will. For example, God chose to use the means of the gospel of Luke to bolster the faith of many so that they would have certainty. God uses the words of men (the written or proclaimed Word), inspired by the Holy Spirit, to give understanding by God, Jesus, and/or the Holy Spirit so that people will comprehend the Scriptures. Consider the passage read at the end of Sunday’s message in Luke 24:44-45, “44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”
We read of Jesus plainly stating that this is exactly what God does with Peter. Jesus asks two questions of His disciples, first, “Who do men say that I am?”, and second, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter acknowledges that Jesus is, “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” With so many rejecting who Jesus is, why such a different view believed and professed by Peter? Jesus answers that question for us in Matthew 16:17, “Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” From the preaching and teaching of the truth concerning Jesus, by Jesus, God the Father revealed the truth to Peter in such a way that he understood who Jesus was.
Though men are in such a condition that they are deaf and blind to God, God is pleased to do a miracle through the preaching of His Word, “In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness." (Isaiah 29:18 NKJ) Luke, Theophilus, the unnamed disciple, Cleopas, Peter, and all who believe required God to do this mighty work in our understanding that we might comprehend the Scriptures. Paul knew this, and thought it was so important to know that he shared how God powerfully works through His Word in us in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. The word for ‘effectively works’ is mostly used in the Scripture to describe a supernatural work done by God. Here, Paul states that he and others proclaimed the Word to the Thessalonians, the Thessalonians heard the words of men but God supernaturally gave them ability to understand them as truly the words of God.
This ought to be of great encouragement to us.
First, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ we ought to be thankful that God thought of us such that He miraculously worked in us so that we would understand the Scripture and receive it as true, as the Word of God. Hear the words spoken to Peter as though they were spoken to you, ‘Blessed are you, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’
Second, this ought to give us great encouragement as we share very difficult truths with the lost. The spiritually deaf need to hear, and God can give them hearing as we speak the gospel. We can share the ‘words of the book’, what is called foolish by the blind, but we know God who is able and does give them eyes to see.
Third, we ought to all the more seek to keep the Word before our children. If God gives understanding and supernaturally works through His Word we can see why God said to teach it diligently to them, when we sit, when we walk, when we lie down, when we rise up, why the Word ought to be always on our minds and ever before our eyes and theirs.
So, yes, God is sovereign, but He chooses to use you and me (ordinary means) to share His gospel with others so that through these means, God gives understanding (extraordinary means) to the minds of men, women, and children to comprehend the words as truth, as His Word, that we all would be certain!
Soli Deo Gloria,
|Posted on February 21, 2017 at 12:10 PM||comments (1)|
Head, Heart, & Hands: Dangers of Entering The Shack
Campus Crusade is excited about the movie release “The Shack” and is buying tickets to send people, they even have a sheet of 9 questions to help you discuss the movie with a friend. Music artists like Lecrae have endorsed the movie by calling it “dope”, along with many other main stream Christian music artists contributing to the movie soundtrack. Some believe this will be a great evangelistic tool to reach people for Christ, giving them a different view of God. Well, the movie, like the book, will certainly give them a different view of God, unfortunately that view is not going to be a Biblical one. It is useful to understand the theology of the author of The Shack, William P. Young. Through several interviews, along with many quotes from the book, Young’s theology represented is as Al Mohler stated, “undiluted heresy”.
Even those endorsing the book and movie will readily admit Young’s view of the Trinity has its problems. God the Father is portrayed by a black woman named “Papa”, Jesus by a Jewish carpenter, and the Holy Spirit is played by an Asian woman. First, this is not how God has revealed Himself in Scripture. God the Father and the Holy Spirit are not in human form, they are Spirit. God the Father is portrayed as Father, not mother, and the Holy Spirit is never visually displayed as a woman or a man. Young’s view of the Trinity has a modalistic flavor as in the book and the movie not only does Jesus have nail scarred wrists but so does Papa. Young believes that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all died on the cross. In an interview with Kendall Adams on March 2009, William Young stated that, “God the Father was in Christ reconciling the world”, which is a mishandling of 2 Corinthians 9:15. The Scripture tells us Christ died on the cross, not the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Young does not believe that God punishes sin. In fact, in the book Papa says, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment.” Too many passages make it plain God indeed punishes sin, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 NKJ) This punishment is not temporal either, but eternal, "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:46-26:1 NKJ)
Young pushes his belief of universal redemption in The Shack when “Jesus” says, “Those who love me come from every system that exits. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.” Further stated, when discussing all people of the world being reconciled to God, this conversation between the main character Mack and Jesus takes place, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you right?” “Papa responds, “The whole world, Mack.” Universalistic salvation is undone by the Bible, concerning those who are children of the devil, those who do not believe in Jesus, the Scripture addresses their end, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:13-15 NKJ)
It was pointed out to Young in this same interview that God was punishing the Son on the cross, to which Young replied, “Why would the Father punish His Son?” Well William, the Scripture says, “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 pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (Isaiah 53:6,10 NKJ) Also, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18 NKJ)
William P. Young’s god in The Shack is not God who has revealed Himself in the Scripture. Young’s downplay upon the seriousness and punishment of sin is in stark contrast to God’s handling of sin. The theology of the cross in The Shack is not the good news revealed in Scripture. Young’s representation is of a world already reconciled to God, no matter what they believe, is opposed to the message of the doctrine taught by Jesus to the apostles that unless people repent of sin they too will perish. The Shack teaches people that all roads do not lead to Jesus but rather Jesus travels through all roads getting to know people already redeemed, when in reality Jesus taught the road was narrow that leads to salvation and few travel on it. So, no, a false view of God, sin, salvation, and eternity is not something Christians should use as an evangelistic tool, rather, The Shack is a tool that militantly mitigates against the gospel of Christ. Don’t take your friends and family to The Shack to give them a view of God, for it is unable to do so, simply take them to the Scriptures which perfectly shows God, sin, salvation, and eternity straight from God’s very own revelation.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11 NKJ)
Soli Deo Gloria,
|Posted on October 11, 2016 at 11:00 AM||comments (2)|
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1Timothy 2:1-2 ESV)
There are very few things as sad as those who think they have a relationship with Jesus Christ but do not. Think about it, an individual who thinks that they have gone from being dead in their sins to being alive in Christ and yet on the Day of Judgment Christ will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23 ESV), and “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.” (Matthew 25:12 ESV) To live a life thinking that you are right with God, that you have been received by Him as His child, and yet to be denied to be welcomed into His presence would be the most devastating thing I can think of a human ever experiencing. In contrast, think of those who know they did not have a relationship with God, who knowingly hated God, who intentionally did that which they knew was displeasing to Him and who believe they are headed toward Hell. When they die and face the judgment of God, for the most part I would think they are not going to be shocked when their sentence is carried out. Now, back to the saddest of sad cases of those who are expecting a different outcome on that same judgment day. They go in expecting to be received by the One whom they thought, at least to some extent, they were serving. According to Matthew 7 and Matthew 25 these sorry souls even protest against why Jesus has pronounced judgment upon them but nevertheless they will be sent away into eternal punishment. (Matthew 7:21-23, 25:41-46) What a devastating outcome this will be for them.
I think it is more obvious about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton not having salvation as they clearly stand for positions God is against and Obama has openly mocked the Bible. However, for some it is more difficult when considering the salvation of Donald Trump, therefore I will focus on him. Trump is one who has professed himself to be a Christian. Just to be clear, a Christian is not anyone who merely professes Jesus as “Lord, Lord”, but one who has genuinely repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior, and as Jesus said they, “must be born again.” You may protest the title of this article, wondering about my salvation for judging another person’s standing with God. You may protest the title also because other well-known, well-respected believers, like Dr. James Dobson, who have affirmed Trump being a “baby Christian” who was possibly led to the Lord by Paula White. (Paula White is a known false pastrix who teaches a prosperity gospel, word of faith, along with other heresies, including, at best, a confusing teaching about Jesus not being the only Son of God.) Therefore, who am I to judge?
Let me have the Bible speak for itself on the matter of us being commanded by God to examine those claiming to be in the faith. First, in the immediate context of Christ teaching about those professing with their lips to know the Lord and yet Jesus plainly says to them, “I never knew you”, we are told we can recognize these false professors of faith “by their fruits” and He says we are to “beware” of them and their teaching. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit also wrote this, “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. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."” (1 Corinthians 5:11-6:1 ESV)
The Bible is clear, we are to examine. So, what fruit would I say is seeming to indicate Trump is not saved? Well, not by examining what others say about Trump, but what he has said about himself. You may be thinking it is what he has recently said released this past week. No, it is what he said back on July 18, 2015 in an interview with Frank Luntz. Donald Trump was asked the question by Luntz repeatedly and the final time, “But, have you ever asked God for forgiveness?” Trump’s answer, “I’m not sure I have. I just go and try and do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think, I if I, if I do something wrong, I just try to make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
There is no salvation apart from acknowledging our sin, confessing our sin, repenting of our sin, and trusting in Christ. The Christian is very aware of this, they know from what they have been saved, their sin, its power over us and its just punishment. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 ESV) The disciples were taught to pray, “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us”. (Luke 11:4 ESV) But, Trump’s response was worse than merely saying he doesn’t ask God for forgiveness, he also said when he does something wrong that he just tries to make it right and does not bring God into the picture. There is no making ourselves right with God apart from God being in the picture, as we are told, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”. (Ephesians 1:7 ESV) The believer brings his confession of sin and agrees with God about it, but the believer also casts themselves completely upon the mercy and grace of God found only through the Lamb of God slain for sinners. Praise be to God, that while we didn’t want Him to come into the picture, that is while we were yet sinners, God came into the picture anyway, Christ died for the ungodly.
So, if we try and pretend our candidate is saved, when there is some fruit that indicates they don’t know the gospel, we will not be praying for their salvation as God implores us. We will not be pleading with them to repent and believe on Christ, rather we will be found joining others in giving them false assurance and possibly for the pathetic motive of seeing our particular party win an election! We must pray for Donald Trump, but also, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others God has placed or will potentially be placed in authority over us. We should desire they would repent and believe the gospel and be saved. Our hope for this country is not in a political party, or an individual person running for office, or even Supreme Court justices, but in Christ who is already King of kings and LORD of lords who is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him. Therefore, we pray to God Almighty, we proclaim Christ crucified and risen again, and as the Holy Spirit brings new life into individuals, the Kingdom of God grows.
The picture above is from a gospel tract that can be found here, http://shop.onemilliontracts.com/Jesus-Is-King-Gospel-Tract-50ct-25x35-TM-013.htm.
|Posted on July 31, 2012 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:3-7
We all could share with one another the various difficulties this life has thrown at us. For many, it has been physical ailments,emotional ailments, relational struggles, persecution, spiritual warfare, and the list goes on. Thus, Peter just calls them various trials. We wrestle with these trials, question much, struggle with our faith, and at the same time to trust God. Through our struggles there are many voices that come our way to attempt to give us a reason for what we are facing and what we need to do to overcome them. Remember Job’s friends and the “help” they gave him. Those voices are still around today. Some professed Christian pastors erroneously want to argue that God is not omnipotent (Almighty God) and therefore cannot control all the trials we face. If this were true, how could Romans 8:28 be true? If God is not in control of our trials how could He work together allthings for our good? Praise be to God that He is sovereign and that there is purpose in our trials. We can trust our Almighty God amidst whatever life circumstances brings our way because God is God of our circumstances but also because He promises to use our circumstances for our good and His glory.
Consider how the passage above starts, with praise to God for causing us to be born again and the hope that we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ kept in heaven for us. Then, Peter well aware of various trials says that this truth of our salvation in Christ causes us to rejoice, even amidst these trials. Not only does Peter say we have this reason to rejoice through our trials, but he gives us another. God uses the trials to test the genuineness of our faith. This is a great blessing and an assurance to the believer that the faith that they have is not counterfeit faith. What rejoicing we trial laden believers can have, God caused us to be born again and allows trials to assure us that we truly have been redeemed by Him. But there is more! A genuine faith endures through the fire and this brings glory and honor to Jesus Christ. Knowing our persevering through various trials brings glory to our Lord and Savior is yet another reason we can rejoice through our suffering.
Very few voices come our way encouraging us to rejoice as we are grieved by these trials. Very few voices tell us that our faith is being tested to reveal its genuineness that it may give praise and glory to Jesus Christ upon His return. Therefore, suffering saint, God has come to you and says, for these reasons you can rejoice today.
|Posted on July 18, 2012 at 12:25 AM||comments (1)|
In view of the interest these survey results had in Sunday mornings message, I have reprinted the findings reported from Christianity Today in 2008 concerning the top five reasons Muslims convert to Christianity. There is no god like our God!
Grace and Peace, Chris
“A survey of 750 Muslims who converted to Christianity shows five predominant reasons they chose to follow Christ. The respondents were from 30 countries and 50 ethnic groups. The survey was prepared at Fuller Theological Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies, and reported in Christianity Today.
Muslims are now 21 percent of the world population, increasing from 12 percent in the past 100 years. And the growth rate of Islam is higher than that of Christianity (1.81% per year, compared to 1.23%). Christians still outnumber Muslims, with one-third of the world population naming Christianity as their faith.
In some parts of the world, significant pockets of Muslims are turning to Christ, including North Africa, South Asia, and Indonesia.”
— info from J. Dudley Woodbury, Russell G. Shubin, and G. Marks at ChristianityToday.com.Reprinted with permission from Leadership Journal.
|Posted on July 16, 2012 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Have you wondered why the Scriptures point to and culminate in the gospel of Christ (Luke 24:17)? For fifteen chapters in Genesis we have been seeing how over and over again God has foreshadowed and proclaimed the gospel thousands of years before Christ died and rose again for sinners. Consider the charge to the pastor to read, teach (1 Timothy 4:13), preach (2 Timothy 4:2) and proclaim the whole counsel of the Word of God (Acts 20:27) to the church?
So, Moses and all the prophets and all the Scriptures when rightly interpreted are about the gospel of Christ and God has designed the role of the pastor to read, teach, preach, and proclaim the whole counsel of the Word to the people of God, which is about the gospel of Christ. Therefore, the gospel is for Christians too! God has so designed His Word and the role of the church that we are consistently fed on the truths ofthe gospel day after day, week after week, and year after year. Paul wrote in Romans 1:7 that he was writing to the “saints” and later in Romans 1:15 Paul wrote, “I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome”. Why? Consider what follows the above verse, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17) The lost are certainly in need of hearing the gospel but beloved, make no mistake, we as believers are to continue to live by faith in the gospel. We regularly need to be reminded that we began living before God by faith in the gospel but also continue living by faith in the gospel.
Paul wrote to correct an error among the Galatians as some were teaching faith plus works for being justified before God. In explaining how he lived his life before God, Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (see Philippians 2:7-12) God saturates us in the gospel of Christ that we would continually live by faith in the gospel of Christ! How good God is to us to remind us of His amazing love and salvation for us in the gospel of Christ.
What means given above and others has God given us to be gospel saturated?
In which particular ways do the devil and your flesh attempt to distract you of living your life by faith in the gospel of Christ?
Are there particular areas where you can redeem your time, thoughts, and energy that they may be spent saturating yourself and others (family, friends, disciples) in the gospel of Christ? If so, will you really be losing anything of eternal value in giving more of your time, thoughts, and energy toward knowing and making known Jesus Christ and His gospel?
Grace and peace,