Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What if Hell...

Rob Bell. an emergent pastor, echoes John Lennon and asks the question, “What if hell does not exist?”

Let me ask Pastor Bell this question, “What if hell does exist?”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spiritual Inventory

There comes a time when we must ask ourselves this question:

Is my life my own, or does it belong to Jesus Christ?

If you do not ask that question with painful vulnerability and honesty, then most likely your life is yours alone. You know, the two masters thing.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Subtle Humanism

Where do we get the word "democracy" from? We get it from the Greeks.

Demas = people or popular
Kratos = power

Democracy = people power

As you can see we did not get democracy from God, we got it from one of the most humanist cultures in history. On many levels democracy is a departure from God's Word and a denial of His sovereignty. One of the most profound deceptions in the church is not just the emergent movement or divorce or greed, but believers who loudly proclaim the sovereignty of Almighty God but join with unbelievers to effect moral change through the power of people.

Many believers will give thanks this weekend for a country called America, but would those same believers give thanks if that country was persecuting them with imprisonment, torture, and even death? Many in the Chinese church give thanks for the deep persecution they must endure and many refuse to murmur and complain about their country. They have embraced God's sovereignty and understand the workings of the Potter. Democracy, earthly freedom, and prosperity have seduced the church and slowly but surely rendered her an adultress.

Here is a spiritual Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Worry and Complaining

Matt.6:24-26 - No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Take no thought, or another words, do not worry. The practice of worry stems from a reliance upon things and circumstances other than God, and a discontent with the present and a fear of the future. Verse 24 teaches that worry is the result of a compromise in who is our Master. Worry is an issue of the heart but is usually revealed by the mouth.

I Cor.10:10 - Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Phil.2:13-15 - For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Jude 16 - These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.

So worry begins with doubt and fear and is complimented by complaining and murmuring. To have uncompromised faith, rest, and peace in our Heavenly Father is an attitude that unbelievers cannot fathom or understand. In fact, it is called the “peace that passes all understanding”. It is part and parcel of the reason why the lost wonder about the hope which lies within us. But so often professing believers exhibit much the same sentiments as do the unbelievers.

Millions of believers listen to talk radio and watch talk television in which the host and guests complain and murmur and criticize throughout the entire program. Whether it be about the president, or Muslims, or gays, or the economy, or any number of things, their core message is filled with words that create discontent, worry, a critical spirit, and a sense of entitlement. By entitlement I mean that discontent reveals that we believe we deserve better.

It is quite a spectacle when a sinner receives eternal life as a gift, and receives the eternal companionship of Jesus Himself, and exhibits attitudes and speaks words that seem to indicate he wants more. How can Jesus radiate His glory in and through us if we murmur and complain and worry? We say we believe that God is in control, but then we so often attempt to manipulate circumstances in the flesh, all the while wringing our hands and speaking words of doubt and discontent to anyone who will listen. And the reasons for such worry and complaining are varied, but usually center around health, rebellious children, and the supreme idol of all - money. Of course there are others such as politicians, government issues, and earthly freedoms that are either restricted to us or immorally offered to others.

The truth is that the church should be a beacon of the good news and should never join in with the worriers and complainers. We in the west are significantly spoiled and we have become accustomed to having our desires met - quickly! Have you ever spoken to a Haitian believer? Or an African believer? They exhibit such humility and gratitude even when their lifestyles are something about which we could never endure. Why? Because they have not been jaded and assimilated into a culture that expects and demands certain amenities that we call “blessings”.

How many believers worry and complain during the week about their employers, their finances, the political environment, their cars, their health, and then march into church on Sundays and sing praises unto God? How many of those praises reach God’s throne room? How can we act and speak like the world, but gather on Sundays and claim we are different, and not be revealed as hypocrites? The truth is that we have become so accustomed to worry and complaining that it has become a part of our lifestyle and we feel no conviction about it. That is a spiritual tragedy.

Our minds should be fixated upon Him, and our hearts should be filled with unspeakable contentment and praise for all He has done and all He will do. Listen to the average prayer request session. When a believer loses his job it demands much prayer and intercession, but when a believer gets a raise it is God’s blessing. In effect we draw the lines between blessing and cursing financially. Do we stop to think that God has a plan and is in control?

Believers follow the current political charades without realizing that it compromises their minds, grieves the Holy Spirit, and slowly but surely draws their attention to things that do not edify or manifest Christ. And given enough time, you will grow to dislike liberals or conservatives depending on which side you take. It is all so unbecoming to a believer and eventually dilutes his commitment to Jesus Christ.

There is spiritual freedom in contentment and a divine acceptance of God sovereignty and control.

Col.3:1-3 - If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Wow! I would dare say that if those were the only discipleship verses we had they should lead us to be living epistles. All the promises are yea dn amen in Him. He must be the source and destination of all our affections, and if so, what could cause us discontentment and distress? It is His love and His presence that should draw our hearts, and we should be actively cultivating a more robust and meaningful relationship with Christ. And when we experience that kind of relationship, we should guard it with our very lives and not allow the thorns and thistles of earthly things to choke out the glory of His presence.

All of us will at some point come up short and allow certain things to invade the space in our hearts that should belong to Him, but with quick and sincere repentance we can be fully restored. But it is those things about which we have become familiar and fail to recognize the negative spiritual impact upon our hearts that should concern us. I hope and pray that we all take another inventory concerning the things about which we care, the things we speak, and the things that cause us worry. As things wax worse and worse, believers will be forced to make large decisions. Will we worry and complain, or will we rest completely in Him?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus and you will see, “He does all things well”!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Behold He Comes

Redemption approaches but so does the doom
The ark door is open, there still is some room
Many will live, but much more will die
The truth you believed is unclothed as a lie

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide
His glory consumes all the Earth

Behold He comes, Behold He comes

The end times unfold with the signs of the times
The closer He comes, the greater our crimes
His horse now is saddled, awaiting the ride
In the midst of the lost lives a long waiting bride

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide
His glory consumes all the Earth

Behold He comes, Behold He comes

Who hath believed our prophetic report
The earthly attractions, a self righteous fort
The people reject the suggestion of fear
The sound of man’s wisdom has stopped up their ears

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide
His glory consumes all the Earth

Behold He comes, Behold He comes

Leave all your treasures there’s no time to lose,
The judgment is coming for all who refuse
His love is consuming, His grace beckons still
For all who can hear Him, and whoever will

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide
His glory consumes all the Earth

Behold He comes, Behold He comes

Jesus the bridegroom returns for His bride
For those who received Him, for those He has died
Take just a moment and look deep inside
To death or to life, you now must decide

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide
His glory consumes all the Earth

Behold He comes, Behold He comes
Only Believe

Jesus did not suffer so people could own guns, or vote, or go to war, or experience economic growth, or even promote different kinds of morality. Jesus suffered and died for our vile sins and so that we could have everlasting life. Any steps away from that message are to different degrees a compromise of the gospel. Any moral changes in a believer after he has been saved are residual and must serve to draw attention to Christ Himself.

Moral changes in a believer, however positive and dramatic, are not germane to the gospel itself and reveal the power of Christ rather than the path to Christ. When believers champion moral causes they do a disservice to the gospel and misrepresent the gospel message entirely. Moral change without Christ, personally or legislatively, may be desirable in the natural, but in the spirit it presents a works based religion that cannot save and is in fact in conflict with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The path and payment to everlasting life was completed in full upon the cross and authenticated by the resurrection. There is only one way to appropriate Christ’s completed work to a sinner’s own personal life.

Believe. Only believe.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jesus Did Not Come Back


Jn.14:1-3 - Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Do not fear nor fret, my brethren, Jesus has given us His Word, and one word from the mouth of the Lion of Judah is worth more than all the words of all mankind. The words and predictions of men will always fail since they are built upon the sinking sand of self righteous conjecture, but the Word of the Living Christ stands sure and fast. Jesus will return again to this world. Not for the sake of mountains and streams, but because He has an everlasting covenant with a remnant of believing sinners who have been redeemed by His blood and kept by His power. And who indeed can fathom the depth of His beautiful power or the strength of His eternal love?

Who can know, in fact who can imagine the splendor of the eternal glory of the Risen Christ? To stand before the Lord of all Lords and be enveloped by His glorious presence is beyond all mental ascent and all internal imagery. Human words cannot touch the hem of His eternal garment, and conjecture will one day appear a pitiful looking glass when all creation falls before His throne. We will have to be changed just to live.

The prophet Isaiah saw a limited vision of the Lord in the year that King Uzziah died. Even a finite vision revealed his own sin and purified his heart. But what will be the experience when we have been made unto His image, and when we stand before Him Who purchased our very souls, and how shall we shout and weep and sing and praise His Holy Name? Eternity itself will permeate our beings and the thought of never ending life will render us consumed with awe and everlasting joy. Purified and sinless, we can only imagine the emotion.

But with what words can we even dare to tip toe into the sight of His glory? The shining of His face, the brilliance of His throne, the indescribable magnificence of His very being, and in the midst of the colossal revelation of His eternal Lordship are those scars which adorn His hands and provide the everlasting landmarks of His suffering accomplishment upon that bloody tree. As if we could forget, dear Lord, you have carried those wounds into your throne room and wear them as a crimson badge of redemption. We will fall before Him with grateful worship!

Carnal men make spurious predictions that only draw attention to themselves. They openly disobey the teachings of the One they claim to know, and they elicit a pirate’s treasure of funds from deceived souls. Calmly and without tears they speak prophetic narratives concerning the return of the King of Kings. But anyone who understands the implications of such a divine visit must be undone completely. Even those of us who are redeemed and look for the Christ as our Lord should quake within and be broken before such an awesome coming reality. This is no eschatological chart or mathematical computation, THIS is the glory of the Creator God coming with a colossal entourage of angels and His resurrected saints. This approaching event deserves more than just billboards and television spots. This coming entrance deserves a sacrificial allegiance and surrendered obedience that amazes and confounds and hopefully awakens the souls of a lost and dying world!

Matt.25:5-6 - While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

The world and the church are enamored with calculations and time zones and end time predictions, but both are uninterested in the One who will come in clouds of glory. The predictions of an obscure old man hold our curiosity for a moment, but after the predictions are revealed as a lie we all return to our earthly lives and place the second coming once again in the innocuous safety of our doctrinal shelves. But make no mistake, Jesus promised He would come again!

What does that, what should that mean to us who bear His name? Our predictions concerning His coming are not bound by one day or hour. He may come at any and all times. And what shall we compare with that event? What earthly thrill or exhilaration can dare stand with His glorious return? The stars themselves must bow before Him who spoke them into existence. Bethlehem’s straw is now a celestial brilliance that accompanies the Risen and Reigning Christ! Paul and Peter and Moses and Abraham and Mary herself are now His redeemed subjects who ride solely upon the wings of His eternal glory.

While we reject the incoherent ramblings of an old man, let us allow the Holy Spirit to reinvigorate an atmosphere of expectancy, permeated with a spirit of obedient sacrifice and uncommon worship. The Creator Christ is coming, and although He has clearly warned us against setting dates, He has also clearly commanded us to be ready. Have we not had enough of this present world? Does not the aroma of this fallen atmosphere create a stench in our spiritual nostrils? Have we not yet had our fill of water that does not quench, and food that does not fill, and things that do not satisfy, and religion that does not save?

Oh Lord Jesus, we have become accustomed to living outside the excitement of your coming and the glory of your gracious presence. We speak of your coming with such ambivalence and emotional dearth. Forgive us for our assimilated lives and help us to see once again the glory of your Person and the eternal grace that draws You back again to receive us. Revive your church, dear Lord, so that the Crucified and Risen Christ might receive the reward of His sufferings with the entire universe as a witness.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tomorrow - May 21, 1911


Atheists around the country are having “rapture parties” mocking the May 21st date set by Harold Camping. That is exactly why date setting does a disservice to God’s kingdom. However, mocking God is a dangerous business that will one day experience divine retribution.

*** When asked where Camping will be tomorrow he replied.

"I'll probably try to be very near a TV or a radio or something," he said. "I'll be interested in what's happening on the other side of the world as this begins."

Not praying, not witnessing to a neighbor, not on a street corner preaching, but in front of a television. I can hear it now, "Hey, will they let the rapture ball down in Times Square?"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Redemption and the Gay Issue

The candidates for redemption are sinners. All sinners of every stripe and kind and depth are those for whom Christ died. As it pertains to redemption there are no levels of sin which require a deeper expression of God’s grace. All sinners are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and no amount of good works can aid in that redemption. There is only path to redemption and only faith can traverse such a path.

The price has been paid in full through the death and resurrection of the Son of God. And every baby born bears the stain of Adam’s sin, and every child manifests that sin and accumulates his own portfolio of transgressions against a holy God. The fallen nature inherits sin and willingly exhibits that it is a fallen nature. The goat cannot be anything but a goat without Christ.

The question then becomes “How much sin does a sinner have to forsake before he can be saved?” The answer is none. That is correct, a sinner does not have to reduce his inventory of sin before he can redeemed, and in fact, it is his sin which authenticates candidacy for redemption. Christ came to redeem sinners. The word "repent" (metanoia) means changing one’s mind and believe on Christ. And after one is redeemed, how much sin does one have to abandon before he can be seen as redeemed? The answer is none.

Of course when a sinner is redeemed his life is changed and he willingly and through the power of the Spirit allows inward and outward changes to be made in his life. But let us be clear, all of us still sin willingly and also in ways about which we are deceived. This issue is extremely important as it pertains to how we present Christ and His gospel, and how we minister to those who have made professions but still sin in different ways. It is also significant as to how we understand and appreciate our own redemption.

If a sinner cannot be saved if he still sins then no one is saved. Perfectionism, the theology that suggests that a saved person can and should come to the place where he does not sin, is absurd in both doctrine and practice. I publicly testify of the power of Christ in my life that has freed me from many sin bondages and has transformed my life. But I also confess that I sin every day, and that I am sure I do things that are sinful in God’s eyes but about which I am blind.

But let us also be clear about the nature of redemption. No one, absolutely no one, can be saved and inherit eternal life with Christ without personal faith in Jesus Christ. The entire chapter of Romans 10 deals with this in inescapable clarity. No one can be redeemed without hearing the gospel and believing it. Of course this truth is under significant attack in today’s new evangelical genre which suggests that sinners can be saved in other religions if they are God fearing and faithful to their “religious tradition” That teaching is a damnable heresy that maligns the sufferings of Christ, gives false hope to sinners, and dilutes the already tepid passion for missions. It emanates from the fallen intellect of man which believes it knows better than God and can rewrite ecclesiastical history by an amazing series of Scriptural contortions that appeal to the flesh and provide head nodding comfort to deceived listeners.

Every sinner who trusts in Jesus Christ with childlike faith, even if ignorant of some of the basic doctrines we believe are necessary for maturity, are saved and secure in Jesus Christ. And every sinner who dies in his sins is lost forever and separated from the same Christ without remedy. I refrain from a description of the conscious state of the eternally lost, but suffice to say it is horrific without equal. I take no joy in that.

But in today’s evangelical landscape there has arisen a phenomenon that challenges our theology and demands that we practice what we preach. There is a growing number of professing believers who believe that Christ is redemptively exclusive and that only through faith in Him can anyone be saved. These people’s lives have been changed, and many have been delivered from drugs, theft, drunkenness, and a host of other sins. They read the Scriptures and pray, and many witness and are involved in world wide mission efforts.

But the group to which I refer is deceived in one major area. They do not believe that homosexuality is a sin, and they practice that behavior. I do realize that there are churches that are gay oriented which do not believe that Christ is exclusive as well. I am not dealing with them. But the question arises, “Can a person be saved and still practice a sin without realizing it is a sin?” My observation is that if a person cannot be saved and practice a sin then no one is saved. Let us pull back the curtains on our own expressions of the Christian faith and see if we can meet the standard to which we hold others.

Let us examine those of us who would emphatically believe that homosexual activity is a sin. Have you ever read the hatred and self righteousness spewed forth on many discernment blogs? When orthodox men like John McArthur (for example, and many others) lead a “Christian cruise” in which believers spend thousands of dollars on themselves, engage in gluttony, and in general enjoy a hedonistic journey to nowhere, and yet call it “Christian” , are they saved? Wesley, Calvin, Moody, Luther, and all the oft quoted dead theologians would soundly call that practice a sinful mirror of the hedonistic culture, and yet no one questions the salvation of those cruise goers.

And the pastors and singers that speak and sing on these cruises go for free as well as sell their Cds and books, and the pastors still receive their handsome salaries from home while they cruise. If that isn’t hedonistic I don’t know what is. But I do not question their salvation just because they fail to recognize what should be Scripturally obvious to any impartial student of the New Testament, to say nothing of the biographies of Wesley and Edwards and Paul himself. And in a classic irony, many of these pastors will rail against the prosperity message during such a luxurious cruise. Do we suggest they are not saved because they openly suggest such things are Scriptural and even profit personally from them?

Of course the culture has so blinded us that many of you will not see what I am saying. Since we all practice hedonism to some extent we are blind to its sinfulness or its scope, but since most of us are heterosexual it is easy and convenient for us to climb Mt. Orthodoxy and throw heterosexual stones at those who are deceived. In fact, we throw stones shoulder to shoulder with our second and third spouses! God’s forgiveness and restoration seems to operate exclusively within the heterosexual boundaries.

Do I need to suggest that millions upon millions of faithful evangelicals never read God’s Word and never pray? Do I need to suggest that millions upon millions of evangelical believers look at pornography and covet their neighbor’s wife and practice self gratification? Do I need to suggest that millions upon millions of evangelical believers knowingly and regularly drive well over the speed limit? Do I need to suggest that millions upon millions of evangelical believers entertain their spirits by attending movies that use blasphemous language and show graphic sex and nudity? Do I need to suggest that millions upon millions of evangelical believers never witness at all? Do I need to suggest that thousands of evangelical pastors spend more time on the golf course than in the prayer closet? And do I need to suggest that millions of evangelicals are remarried to women and/or men with whom they began a relationship before they were divorced, and yet they serve in many different capacities in local churches?

And do I need to suggest that millions upon millions of professing believers who fit the above descriptions rail against homosexuals who profess Christ, and these same evangelicals strongly contend that no one can practice homosexuality and be saved? At this juncture, there must be a stronger word for “hypocrisy”. Again, we must reexamine the power of redemption, and we must admit that we have consistently inflated our own spiritual walks and in so doing deflated the power of Christ’s forgiveness and grace. I am not saying that every gay person who professes Christ is saved, but I am saying that it is possible that a saved sinner can be deceived about that very situation.

For too long the church has used homosexuality as a convenient whipping boy and through many choruses of “Amen!” we have stroked our doctrinal egos and affirmed our lukewarm expressions of Christ’s redemption. Should a saved person leave the gay lifestyle? Absolutely! But there are many things about our own lifestyles that we should leave but have been incorporated in to the accepted fabric of ecclesiastical practice, or at least treated as imperfections that are misdemeanors when compared with other sins that do not plague our own inward temptations. The question of accepting gay couples into the local church is an entirely different subject than suggesting that some may be saved. I cannot advocate accepting sinful behavior into the open fellowship and being an example to our children, however we still accept many sinful practices that are dangerous examples to the children but are safe within the heterosexual community of faith. The church is in desperate need of a revival.

Let us not be so quick to sit in the seat of the scornful. Let us not alter God’s Word about sin, but let us also not have microscopes for others and telescopes for ourselves. Some people are born with same sex attractions and they are very difficult to overcome. There are many gay people who have come to Christ and walk in victory, but many will confess to being born with such sexual patterns. I watched a documentary of a man who was born with the inward compulsion that his left leg below the knee was not supposed to be a part of his body. He became a computer analyst and was married with four wonderful children, but he lived every day with the torture of this feeling.

Eventually he killed his lower left leg with dry ice, and the doctors were forced to amputate it. The man experienced great freedom and joy! There are many mental and emotional anomalies with which people are born, and so how can we say that there is no one born with same sex attractions? They are all part and parcel of the curse, but Christ’s redemption is outstretched to all of us. We must all be broken before our Lord, and with contrition and humility we must share the good news. The gospel is for sinners, all sinners, those who reject it and those who believe it.

Never be deceived about your own spiritual state. You need as much of God’s grace through Christ today as you did at the moment you were saved. Let as reject the self righteous hierarchy of sins, and let us lift up the Lord Jesus to saint and sinner alike. Let us put down the hobby horses that have too long blinded us to the reality of our own situation, and the brilliance of the glory of God found in the face of Jesus Christ!
Bin Laden's Young Wife

Osama bin Laden once gave his wives the option of leaving Afghanistan, but his young Yemeni bride was determined to stay and be "martyred" alongside him. On May 2, 2011 that same wife rushed the Navy Seals and was shot. She was willing to stand by a murderer and die for him and Allah, and yet in America millions of professing believing wives cannot remain faithful to God and their husbands. The same can be said for millions of husbands as well.

Where is the Lord God of Elijah?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cowards * Update

Men like John Crossan and Marcus Borg deny the resurrection, the dual nature of eternity, and the authority of Scripture, but at least they are courageous enough to openly embrace their heresy. But men like Rob Bell, Doug Paggit, and Brian McLaren are cowards who speak in riddles and nebulous verbiage designed to provide cover for their heresies. If you cannot clearly understand what a Christian teacher is saying, then his teachings are probably false.

Why do men like Bell and Paggit speak with cloaked verbiage? It is because of the fear of man and their attempt to bridge several "camps".


They also wish to hold onto followers who still believe them to be Biblical and they want to sell books.

Date Setters

The date setters for Christ’s return are legion. They have all been wrong, and yet most of them rearrange their original predictions when their first one comes and goes. To set a date certain is a form of intellectual self righteousness and goes against every principle set forth in the New Testament. In fact, it magnifies the date and he who sets it but minimizes the Savior.

Do not look for a date, but look for the Lord Jesus.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Full Embrace of Eternity


The Glory of Suffering

I Pet.1:3-5 - 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, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

So much of western Christianity centers upon this life and all that God has for you materially here and now. What kind of a God showers material blessings upon a segment of His people while allowing millions of others to suffer? It is impossible for us who live in the west to comprehend just how deeply people are suffering around the world.

But the Spirit through Peter tells us that our inheritance is not here on this earth. Our inheritance is reserved for us in a place where God dwells called heaven. And if we truly believe that, then what attraction could the things of this world have for us? The truth is that for every attraction, or addiction, we have to the things of this world, we expose our unbelief in both eternity and the Lord God himself. The entire process is a systematic battle against Christ and a systematic surrender to the flesh.

Now the colossal rebellion can be found in the prosperity theology, but bits and pieces of that carnal philosophy has been subtly embraced by much of the western church, including many who would strongly disagree with any prosperity message. The “have your cake and eat it too” principle has slowly crept into Church practice at the individual level, until the local church as a whole openly prays for God’s blessing on million dollar loans and encourages each member to make a financial vow to cover the debt. And these debts are almost never to send missionaries, but they are by and large building funds.

But as the church pays large interest sums every month to pay for the new building, they still profess to believe that these buildings will soon be left to the inhabitants of the earth who were not rescued. In fact, the joke goes “Let the Mormons have them!” And one of the most exciting times in a local church is when they cut the ribbon on a new building, which incidentally is owned by a bank. Again, the things of this life, even when they are purchased through debt, seem to elicit the most amount of joy in the average church.

Get a pay increase? A praise report! Lose your job? A prayer request. Suffering and loss are never praise reports, and the fiery trials are times of mourning rather than rejoicing. Let us see how the Apostle Paul viewed the trials of this life as compared with the glory of eternity.

II Cor.4:7-12 - But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

II Cor.6:4-10 - But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

II Cor.11:23-30 - Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
30If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

I Cor.4:9-13 - For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

II Cor.4:13-18 - We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
14Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have highlighted some things, but I really feel that God’s Word speaks for itself, and that we should all read these words again and again, until their power transforms us so that we can say with all joy and sincerity and in a daily affirmation,

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Phil.3:7-8 -But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

God change us from the inside out!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Deflection of the Homosexual Issue

The Presbyterian Church of America has voted to ordain practicing homosexuals and lesbians. Let the red meat frenzy begin as those of us who know that is unscriptural rally to affirm each other's adherence to Scriptural authority and integrity. It has become customary to use the falling away of others as evidence that we ourselves are walking in accordance with God’s Word. The more egregious the compromise in others, the greater it can be railed against and provide cover for our own sins and Scriptural compromise. Typically, abortion and homosexuality are considered the best diversions that keep us rallying around the sins of others while ignoring the egregious sins that plague the most “orthodox” among us. Of course we tacitly admit to being imperfect in measures just soft enough to soothe our doctrinal consciences, but not loud enough to interfere with our spiritual slumber.

Against the backdrop of the glaring departure from Scripture in the PCA, I would like to look internally at our own “camp” and allow the Spirit to ferret out the foxes, large and small, and confront us with our own compromises. We love to do thorough spiritual surgery on others, but how eager are we to lay down upon the operating table and allow the only authentic and true Surgeon to take His redemptive scalpel and penetrate the layers of protective self righteous tissue and expose the sins that remain alive and well within our own hearts? If being like Jesus only required being anti-abortion and refusing to ordain practicing gay people, we could retire from our journey and claim “We’ve arrived!”

The church will never experience a revival as long as we are content to parade the sins of others and refuse to take a painful inventory of our own discipleship apart from comparing ourselves with others. If our “discernment” is passionate and robust when it is aimed at others, but is very dispassionate and unenthusiastic when we speak of our own sins, then our “discernment” is nothing more than self serving research that accommodates the flesh and quenches the Spirit. And most of the discernment wing of evangelicalism is obsessed with doctrinal detours, but blind to the very real compromising practices of hedonism, nationalism, and open displays of self righteousness camouflaged as “contending for the faith”.

These discerners should thank God for those who commit abortion, or suggest homosexuality be accepted, or even malign the exclusivity of the Lord Jesus Christ, because if it were not for them they might not have anything about which to write. Surely the orthodox community’s sins are not legion enough to provide subject matter for entire discernment ministries. Oh we have our faults, and no one is perfect, but please do not lump us in with those whose sins are so easily identified. God must have His hands full with the PCA and the Rob Bell’s of this world, and given the scope of the falling away in general, our sins and powerless manifestation of Christ must be dealt with at another time when there are less pressing issues. (painful satire)

And yet like Achan we have become partakers of the fallen culture in direct violation of God’s written Word, and hidden it deep under layers of doctrinal orthodoxy. We save up money for our own pleasure, we borrow money from the heathen, we live beyond our means, and we join hands with the fallen sons of Adam over issues of morality and money which diminish, and at some level deny, the realities of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And let us bear our portion of the responsibility for the state of the church and of the culture in which we live. Perhaps it was the benign, innocuous, and lifeless expression of western Christianity that made men like Rob Bell and Rick Warren susceptible to deception as they searched for a deeper reality but found a deeper deception. If Luther were alive would he not find at least 95 issues with which to nail upon every evangelical church door today? But alas, the sins and compromises of others have pacified us into believing that an orthodox statement of faith serves as exculpatory evidence that both clears our name of serious wrongdoing and crowns us as Christ’s faithful servants.

The truth is that we have become fans of Jesus rather than followers. I speak about us - you and me - not the emergents or the seeker churches or the purpose driven people, no, us. If we truly desire to become followers of Jesus Christ we must read again the New Testament in its entirety in the space of two weeks or so. And as we read, we need to ask the Spirit to let us see things that we have forgotten to look for. We need to allow the words to uncover our own hearts and expose our own sins, without the sins of others diluting the seriousness of our own enormous foxes.

In the midst of a fallen and hedonistic culture, the life of a true follower of Jesus should be unmistakable and rather dramatic in its revelation. If our lives are not startling in the midst of such darkness, then where would they be? But like a man whose cancer will take his life in 5 years criticizing a man whose cancer will kill him in days, so does the church love to critique those whose rebellion is much worse than theirs. If you are satisfied with the level of commitment you now employ, and if you believe Christ is being glorified through your living sacrifice, then disregard this post. But if there are things that have struck a chord within your heart, then it is you to whom I speak.

Holy Spirit do what only You can do.
An Unholy Alliance

II Chron.26:8-21 - And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.
9Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning of the wall, and fortified them.
10Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.
11Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands, according to the number of their account by the hand of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the ruler, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king's captains.
12The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour were two thousand and six hundred.
13And under their hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy.
14And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones.
15And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.
16But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
17And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:
18And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.
19Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar.
20And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him.
21And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.

King Amaziah had a son named Uzziah. King Amaziah “did right in the sight of the Lord” but with the caveat “not with a whole heart”. Young King Uzziah was a success in politics, in military operations, and his fame spread throughout the region. But even though God had blessed him, his heart began to be filled with pride. King Uzziah’s view of his own power was inflated, and he wanted to demonstrate how close he and Jehovah were. Although he was the king of the southern kingdom, he was not allowed to stand in as a priest. Even in the Old covenant God drew a distinct line between the secular and the spiritual. It is also wise to note that the nation of Israel is different than any other nation since the nation itself was to be God’s people. No other nation would ever have that divine moniker again.

But one day King Uzziah decided to enter the temple and offer incense unto God. That, of course, was against God’s commandments even if his heart was pure. But the Scriptures clearly tell us his heart was lifted up against God, which is another way of saying he was prideful. Just as he was about to light the incense, the High Priest Azariah along with eighty other priests went into the temple and confronted the King. Azariah was angry that someone would dare interfere with what he was doing, but right as the confrontation was taking place King Uzziah was struck with leprosy.

There must be a firewall between the government and the church. And this wall goes both ways. In fact this wall must be a blood wall. Much of the church has insisted that America is a Christian nation and nothing can be further from the truth. That construct is a manipulative deception based upon a national hubris that is overt idolatry. There is only one entity that is “Christian”. The church. All other things are secular enterprises upon which some attempt to use the Christian moniker for advantage. The church, the true church, is the only thing that the Son of God died for.

All these moralistic, conservative, and political arguments are nothing more than a useless waste of time and energy. They have nothing to do with eternity. Christ died for sinners, not nations. This coming year many churches will invite politicians as guests in the Sunday morning service. Some will be asked to greet the people, others may even lead in prayer, and some might even give a message. It is time that the priesthood of believers follow in Azariah’s footsteps and demand that the gathering be not smeared with fallen politics and secular nationalism.

The family is not a democracy, and the church is not a democracy, so why do believers insist that democracy is of God? One of the greatest sins of the visible church in America is the allegiance paid to this secular nation and the insistence that God birthed America and still affords it favor He withholds from all other nations. To pledge allegiance, including the words “under God”, to anything secular is idolatry and an affront to New Testament Christianity.

Would Paul have pledged allegiance to Rome? Many of the early martyrs would have been spared had they pledged their allegiance to their particular country. But this idolatry is not confined to that specific arena of sin. Patriotism and nationalism is a sin which affects and infects all other aspects of a believers spiritual walk. You may well see hatred, murmuring, a critical spirit, unbiblical alliances, and self righteousness of all kinds in believers who hold unbiblical loyalties to a secular nation.

And of course, to hand out pamphlets in church that supposedly outline candidate’s views is also the height of compromise and spiritual infidelity. To have people, sitting in an assembly that is supposed to be for worship, reading over political pamphlets is astounding and unthinkable many decades ago. Where are the Azariah’s of today? While the Bible Azariah chased the King out of the temple, the modern day Azariah places the lit censor in the politician’s hands and invite him to desecrate the meeting.

I write this in hopes that in this coming election year many more believers will allow the Spirit to open their eyes to the futility of such things, but more importantly the spiritual compromise and infidelity of involvement. Nothing of God can be accomplished except through the gospel and the Holy Spirit. Christ came into the world to save sinners, not to moralize nations. And most people, believers and unbelievers, will vote for the candidate they feel might help their finances. Money is usually the deciding factor.

The last time I voted was in 2000 and I voted straight Republican. Not long after that I realized how futile and compromising that behavior was and is. But let me be clear, I do not hold myself above anyone who continues to participate in the political process and who still wave the flag. I still have much ground to conquer in my own life in order to be like Jesus. I only offer my perspective because I believe that what I am sharing is of God.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Will All Laugh

at Gilded Butterflies
This phrase from Shakesphere’s (I am a fan.) King Lear is a wonderful observation that can have many applications. He said this referring to his two treacherous daughters who sought to add to their own fortune by stealing his. A butterfly is a beautiful insect, and the word “gilded” indicates having an additional and unnecessary and even overdone application of gold or silver or some other attempt at beautification that makes its appearance rather gaudy. So rather than enhance its beauty, the gilding in effect renders it excessive and ostentatious.

So a monarch butterfly soars in its natural beauty. But if it were to be gilded by the hands of man, it would not only lose the majesty of its original beauty, but it would also lose its ability to fly. So in effect, the gilding would not only make that butterfly pretentious and inappropriate, but the gilding would prevent the butterfly from flight. In fact, the gilding would kill it.

I would like to make a gospel application to the phrase and its meaning. The gospel itself soars with majesty and power simply based upon the strength of its truth and its Author. It is profound in its spiritual content yet simple in its narrative. And after a while, this simple narrative becomes unappealing to the mind of fallen man. And yet the craftiness of this fallen mind does not just reject the gospel outright; it seeks to alter it in ways that seem more intellectual and more compassionate and more beautiful.

Men continue to guild the gospel with all sorts of things derived from their own imaginations. And in a daring display of hubris and vain imagination, men guild the perfect Son of God with the works of their own hands. There are several things about Calvinism that I admire even though I am decidedly not a Calvinist myself. I admire the way the reformed crowd generally and emphatically denies that men’s works are not a part of salvation and that God alone must be given all the glory.

To add to or subtract from the perfect Son of God is not only dangerous, it is spiritual treason. This is no game of show and tell, this has eternal implications. The Crucified and Risen Christ needs no enhancement from the fallen creativity and self righteous contrivances of men. And when men guild the Savior with human works it not only diminishes His very being, but it renders His redemptive power as useless and without the grace necessary to save.

Just as a gilded butterfly becomes a prisoner to its artificial clothing, so do any and all projections of the Christ that have the weight of Adam’s nature as an ingredient, regardless of how polished and religious. The gilded Christ is no Christ at all, but they are all nothing more than New Testament golden calves which cannot hear, cannot speak, and cannot save. The gospel message is not only superior to all other spiritual messages, it is exclusively superior. All other messages regardless of how intellectual, how compassionate, how inclusive, or how melodic to the soul are nothing more than imposters and counterfeits that sing as the sirens of darkness.

The colossal nature of the gospel is contained in its childlike simplicity. The august brilliance of Christ’s gospel is the love that constrained Him to bow an immeasurable distance in order to rescue those who were His very enemies. That is the unfathomable depth of the simplicity that is found in Christ. Ungilded and unvarnished, the gospel message contains the redemptive power of the Creator. To add frills is to openly deny its completeness, and like sweet poison it is palatable to the flesh but death to all who partake.

Never be ashamed of the simple gospel. Never be ashamed of Bethlehem’s stable, or the dust of Nazareth, or the submission of Jordan’s baptism. Do not be ashamed of the rejection of His countrymen, or the denial of His own disciples, or the heartbreak of Gethsemane, or the chains of wicked men. Embrace the shame of the mocking of Herod, and the washing of Pilate’s hands, and the call for His murder. Wear the badge of His scourging, present your face and receive the spittle that dripped down His face, let His thorns wound your own head, and after you have clutched them all to your own bosom, privately and publicly, there is but one last thing you must do.

Espouse the cross.

Do not just identify with it doctrinally or emotionally.

Seek it, desire it, and die.

Years ago I wrote this.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


There is an arrogance hidden in those who seek to dismantle redemptive truth. There is also an arrogance in some who hold to those truths. We must reject both manifestations of arrogance and while standing unwavering upon Christ and His gospel we must give all the glory to Him.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Time's Death Will Birth Eternity

The gift of time continues to die, while the gift of eternity rises to meet time’s demise. And when time breathes its last measured breath in the pangs of labor, timeless eternity will come forth like a living promise and radiate forever with the glory of the Risen Christ.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Safety of a Church Service

Within the amusement park a person goes through the gate and climbs into one of the cars linked together and riding upon rails. He straps himself in and brings down the bar that will keep him safe. He is ready for the ride, and even though it may be fast and exhilarating accompanied by many twists and turns and elevated emotions, he is confident of one thing. At the end of this ride he will leave the car just as he entered it. Safe and unchanged.

Just like a church service.
God's Final Promise

II Cor.1:20 - For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

In the end and throughout all eternity, all truth will be recognized as having its source and destination in the Crucified and Risen Christ.

Imagine standing in the mysterious expanse of eternity and beholding the divine figure of the exalted Christ. The glory that surrounds and emanates from Him is immeasurable, and in a powerful mystery His glory is being revealed in His worshipers as well. One particle of God’s glory can illuminate the universe, but here we stand in the throne room of the personification of that glory and engulfed in His majesty. Go ahead and treat this like some fairy tale, but one day it will be the only reality left standing.

I realize the concept of eternity has become passé and must bow to the titillations of the “now”, but do not be deceived. The revelation of eternity is rapidly approaching and very soon every blood bought believer will be changed in a moment into the very likeness of the Son of God. No one should set a date, but everyone should be living with an air of expectancy!

But we should be, we MUST be, hungering and thirsting to see and be with our Beloved Savior. This world should be becoming less and less appealing to us, and we should be about our Father’s business with a redemptive love for the lost but a heart that is longing to be with Christ. The church should not be rearranging the doctrinal furniture; we should be rearranging our cold and indifferent hearts to surrender to the truth already revealed in Scripture.

In a real sense, when false teachers dismantle New Testament truth and present something new, they are attacking the Lord Jesus Himself who is the Author and Protector of all truth. Please do not even give any attention to such men and women and such modern movements, they are diabolical strategies that entice the flesh but are as deadly as the Garden’s serpent. Keep your hearts fixed upon the Lord Jesus and instead of changing Him let Jesus change you.

God keeps His promises, and the promise of the Spirit in this present age of grace has sealed believers with the everlasting promise of spending forever with Him. Oh my brethren, bask in that for a while. Rest in Him and let the warmth of His presence and the strength of His grace overshadow your entire being. You belong to Him and nothing can rip you from His redemptive grasp. The scientist, the philosopher, and the entire fallen race search for the meaning of existence, but we have found the Christ.

Not of our own devices and inflated intellect, but by God’s grace and through God’s Spirit have we been brought to the foot of the cross. The foot of the cross, you ask? Oh yes, and therein lies the highest stumbling block. It is the eternal scandal that an object of scorn and death is the very fountain of everlasting life. Such a narrative and such a truth is absolutely scandalous. Our elevated view of ourselves demands some ascending steps of spiritual knowledge that can be gained through meditation and self deprivation and of course, mental ascent. We must have a religious caste system that champions the intellect of man and pays homage to those who deem themselves as “holy men”. And men who sit cross legged, or sit on bar stools, or even stand behind pulpits and pontificate some philosophical nonsense are held in high esteem and listened to by pitiful souls who believe they are stimulating their minds and spirits, but in reality they are being drawn into spiritual shipwreck.

But all that is rubbish. Our Redeemer is as simple as He is unfathomable. And that is the very paradox which confounds the wise. God cannot be known outside of Christ for one very basic reason - Jesus IS God. “Learn of Me” was His admonition to all of us. The church by and large has fallen out of love with Jesus, the real Jesus, and has constructed many counterfeit versions of Jesus which are not Jesus at all. And one day Jesus will come as Lord and reveal Himself in ways inconceivable to the natural mind. We will have to be changed in order to even receive this revelation of the Risen and Reigning Christ!

I grow weary of this present world, and I grow exceedingly weary of the growing apostasy that seeks to strip Christ of the glory He not only earned at Calvary, but the glory that was always His. But let there be no mistake, those who are sealed with His Spirit are on a journey that will culminate with His embrace. But those who are not sealed are on a collision course with this same Redeemer who will ultimately be their Judge. We have fallen upon the Rock, but the Rock will fall upon those who die in their sins.

We have had enough of this world, and it has nothing that can really excite us anymore. It’s all so much of the same. There is only one thing that must hold our desire. We must see Him. Until then we occupy and share Him with others, and worship Him as we prepare for that Great Feast of the Lamb!

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Church has Abandoned the Bullhorn

A few years ago a pastor named Rob Bell produced a video entitled “Bullhorn Guy”.

This is that video.

The entire video is built upon a straw man that conveniently blurs the line between message and methodology. Since Bell did not show us the man or let us hear his message we are left to take Bell’s perspective. But let us assume that this man was indeed preaching “hell, fire, and brimstone” in a rude and abrasive way. Then we would all reject his methodology. I have witnessed such preachers.

However Bell does not just disagree with the man’s method of communication, he disagrees with the basic premise. Bell even goes so far as to say that we should not even attempt to convert people, and that we should respect and tolerate all religions and their particular beliefs. As much as some rude bullhorn guy is, in Bell’s words, “dangerous”, Bell’s words are eternally dangerous and rip at the very fabric of Christianity. Let me again reiterate that I have witnessed men who present Biblical truth in a way that is ineffective and even designed to be offensive.

But men like Rob Bell are pointing people away from redemptive Christianity in a way that is an affront to the cross and the Savior Himself. Bell rehearses the earthly needs of people, but he downplays, and even completely ignores the eternal predicament of lost sinners. How easy is it to sit on some park bench and pick apart some well meaning preacher while sinners walk by your scornful seat without hearing one sentence about Jesus. It is the zenith of hypocrisy.

But as I said, his perspective about the way this man was preaching is not even the primary issue. Every believer with a basic understanding of Biblical truth must hear some alarming thoughts by this man Bell who is among a growing number of false teachers. The world is full of starving, sick, poor, oppressed, and tormented people to be sure. We as believers should not turn a deaf ear to their needs, but we cannot let the sound of those needs drown out the sound of their eternal situation. The problem with men like Bell is that they no longer believe that people who die in their sins do not go to be with Christ.

And if that is true, even though it goes against the overarching theme of the New Testament, then why in the world are we wasting time with missions? These modern day false teachers imply that when Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the gospel, He meant go tell everyone they can have a better life here on earth. And if you are so concerned with the poor and downtrodden, then sell all you have and give it to the poor and follow in Mother Theresa’s footsteps. To spend much money making videos and printing books and holding conferences so you can tell people about the poor is a hypocritical paradox simply by its construct.

And those emergent leaning folk who teach such tolerance and religious acceptance seem to be very judgmental about such “guys” like this bullhorn preacher. John the Baptist would have been great fodder for these modern day “can’t we all get along” types. I do not endorse a message of condemnation, but I completely reject the “Jesus-less” message of food, clothing, and shelter. It is a message of apostasy that does despite to the message of God’s grace and makes the cross subservient to the works of man.

Heb.10:29 - Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

The word "holy" means to be set apart or sanctified. When God says something is "holy unto Me" he emphatically means it is not to be touched or tampered with. I do not know if these men are saved or not, but what I do know is that they are touching that which is holy unto God, and they are presenting a different Jesus and a different gospel.

Beware, the time of apostasy is not coming. It is here.

Friday, May 06, 2011

How Does it Feel to be Free?

Please do not confuse this freedom with some form of earthly freedom purchased by guns and defended by the same. This freedom of which I speak is not defined by elections and votes, and it goes much deeper than a democratic process. This is not some freedom which accommodates everyone’s particular proclivity to express themselves in sin or otherwise. This freedom must be experienced or any attempt to communicate its power and essence is extremely limited.

How does it feel to be free?

How does it feel to have the weight of sin lifted from your very soul?

How does it feel to know the freedom in eternity?

How does it feel to be free from hatred and prejudice?

How does it feel to experience a peace that passes all understanding?

How does it feel to be free from past guilt?

How does it feel to be free from divine judgment?

How does it feel to be accepted in the beloved?
How does it feel to be free from laboring to achieve your own redemption?

How does it feel to be free to approach a Holy God and call Him "Father"?

How does it feel to be free from your useless wandering?

How does it feel to be free from bondage?

How does it feel to be free from the scrutiny of men?

How does it feel to be free from spiritual uncertainty?

How does it feel to be free??

It feels like Jesus.
They are not of this World

II Tim.2:1-5 - Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

Jn.17:14-18 - I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

Yes, we are in this world. And we are to work and do those things which attend to this present life. We eat, we sleep, we laugh, we cry, and we manifest the generic things that all human beings manifest. We are human beings to be sure.

But just what is the Lord telling us through these, and other, Scriptures when He deals with being different? Jesus did all the things we associate with being alive in this world, however no one can deny He did not walk according to the dictates and principles of this world.

“They are not of this world, even as I am not of the world.”

What a profound declaration! But what are the practical and observable implications of that surpassing truth? In order for us to even approach the substance of such a statement we need to divest ourselves of church tradition, and resist the overt and subtle temptation to compare ourselves with ourselves. (II Cor.10:12) In other words, we must realize that how the average western believer lives is filled with convenience and compromise. The early believers lived in a culture that was hedonistic and pagan and they were persecuted and despised for their faith. Many gave their lives for Jesus Christ.

We also live in a culture of hedonism and paganism, but somehow we are accepted and many times celebrated. Something is very wrong, and I do not suggest we purposefully desire to be hated and seek to be persecuted. But why is it that the Incarnate Christ was so despised that they crucified Him, and yet we live almost unremarkable within a similar culture? And far from withdrawing from the practices of this present world, the church has come to adopt and participate in the majority of its practices.

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

Do we really desire to please our Heavenly Father? If so, then what are the “affairs of this life”? Of course they cannot mean to eat and drink and work, but they must mean something other than things that are by nature sinful. We are in the midst of a war. Not a visible war, and not a war among nations. This war is a million times more savage than any earthly war, and the spoils of this war go far beyond land and wealth and earthly power. This war is for the eternal souls of men and ultimately for the glory of God.

But the metaphor presented by God’s Word is completely accurate. Soldiers cannot afford to be inattentive, and they must not join in with the enemy and his tactics. As soldiers of the Kingdom of God our weapons are not of this world. Instead of hate we preach love. Instead of violence we use prayer. We gain victory through surrender. The most valiant among us is the least. Our chain of command has only two levels: The King and His servants.

But the church has become soft. We have cupped our ears to the sirens of this world, and slowly but surely we have been assimilated into this fallen culture that is the outright enemy of the Risen Christ. Our weapons are dull, and our prayer closets have been abandoned. God’s Word is neglected, and we use it to present theology among ourselves rather than begging its power to filet our hearts and transform us into earthen vessels that brilliantly shine the Son of God. We enjoy the frivolity of the kingdom of darkness, and our gatherings are predictable and on schedule.

We live among the lost with little observable differences save a once or twice a week trips to some building. We shed no tears for those among us who are headed for eternal disaster. We cling to our testimony concerning how God changed us when we were saved, but why doesn’t God miraculously change us now? We are satisfied and content with our saltless and dispassionate existence, and we placate our consciences with politics. We stand shoulder to shoulder with unbelievers and pledge allegiance to a pagan nation with tears in our eyes and hands over our hearts, and even commit sacrilege by ascribing God’s name to this pagan nation.

Night after night the church house remains dark, only becoming bright at the traditional and regulated times. The situation is desperate, but the church continues to operate as business as usual. The average believer is in as much debt as the unbeliever and lives in as much opulence as he can afford - or - cannot afford. Elongated prayer meetings are things of historical legend, and for every tear shed at gatherings there are a thousand laughs. The blessing of God is now defined as enough weekly offering to meet the church mortgage payment.

But where is the glory of God that should pulsate in and through His redeemed? Where are these “peculiar people” who live in such victory that they love not their own lives unto death? Where are the Spirit filled people whose very presence convicts the lost, not because of harsh judgment, but because of the tangible fragrance of Jesus the Christ? If television was God, we would all be eternally transformed by now.

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

What hardness is that? The average believe avoids suffering on any level, and his life is so innocuous that persecution is hardly warranted. I have painted a bleak picture and to be sure this is not the message upon which large churches are built. But I believe this is an accurate mirror of just how far we have strayed form the faith and its Founder. It is insidious and crippling.

But imagine a group of people who profess to believe in and follow the Lord Jesus; people that are without worry or concern or even interest about the machinations of this fallen world, but who live and breathe eternity. Imagine people who are so humble, so loving, so gracious, and so dedicated to redemption that they have become pronounced within this culture. These people walk in prayer and speak with words of grace seasoned with the salt of the Spirit. To say that they are different is to diminish the word different. They are not known because they do not drink or smoke or curse, no, they are known because they exhibit such selflessness and unconditional love for those in need of the Savior. Some perceive them as distinct, others as bizarre, but all must admit to a remarkable quality that centers upon the Person of Christ.

Our Lord Jesus deserves followers who have forsaken all and set their faces like flints on a journey that leads to Him. Let us cease the façade and openly admit to standing in desperate need of a spiritual awakening that breaks up the fallow ground and removes the ecclesiastical traditions that tarnish the true revelation of the Bride of Christ. This world is coming to an end, and the eternal kingdom of God is about to unfold in all its majesty. Behold, the Bridegroom comes!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

True Riches

There are many heresies being taught today. Some are obvious and attack the deity of the Lord Jesus. Some teach a works salvation while others suggest a universal salvation. One of the most prevalent deceptions is a relatively orthodox theology but in practice they are shallow, carnal, and lukewarm. Activity does not reflect God’s presence nor does wonderful worship music. But I would like to address a certain and vicious heresy which is called the “health and wealth” gospel. This theology advocates that God desires all believers to be rich and healthy.

This “gospel” was spawned by a hedonistic culture in which believers desired to gain wealth and not feel any conviction about it. It is appealing to the flesh and is alluring to the poor and rich alike. It is the love of money all dressed up as Biblical teaching, but nothing could be further from the truth. The immediate hurdle these false teachers must ford is the lack of ecclesiastical history. Most prosperity teachers suggest that this “revelation” has been hidden through the centuries and that Satan has deceived us so we would not gain the wealth it takes to spread the gospel and that provides for us the lifestyle that God has always desired for us.

As we will see one must be Biblically illiterate in order to espouse such nonsense, or allow your fleshly lust to manipulate the Scriptures into conforming to your carnal desires. But let us understand that many western believers who would reject such a theology do exhibit it in practice on some level. We have become blind to our own hedonistic practices and we sometimes soothe our consciences by confronting this health and wealth gospel. It is often easy to camouflage our own compromises by magnifying more grievous compromises by others.

To diminish the sufferings of our Glorious Savior and distill them into some personal financial scheme is an unusual heresy and deserving of public exposure and rebuke. Who would have ever suspected that the church would become so enamored with Babylon that it would construct a theology made in its very image? In effect, that theology has taken the cross and made it into a hedonistic idol and called it God’s will. And because the church at large is so compromised and so captured by the culture it exists in peace with such falsehoods even if that particular church does not believe it.

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It is impossible to be rich and not have the love of money on some level, and many poor people have the love of money as well. How do advertisers create a hunger for their products? They place their products before you in enticing ways. And so does this culture bombard us with money, entertainment, and things. And much of the church has succumbed to the cultural sirens, even creating a theology that is compatible with this fallen culture.

I Tim.6:9-11 - But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Heb.11:25-26 - Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

Ja.1:9-10 - Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

Ja.2:5-6 - Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

Ja.5:1-3 - Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Rev.3:16-17 - So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Matt.6:24-33 - No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

I Tim.6:3-11 - If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

II Tim.4:3-4 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

These are just a sampling of the New Testament teachings that show us how we should view money. It is a necessity, but it should never be what we seek. And to suggest that when someone donates money to a particular ministry that God will give that person more money is not only preposterous, it is blasphemous.

Imagine the Lamb of God suffering upon that bloody cross. The scene is repulsive and violent and reveals the extent to which God loved and sought us. Watch Him lift up His body by using the nails in His hands and feet and gasp for air. Listen as He asks the Father to forgive His executioners. He bears the pain for all sin, and He suffers the indignity of surrendering His life to the hands of wicked men who He Himself had created. The scene removes our breath and brings forth tears of worship.

But now men have taken this holy altar of sacred redemption and have made it a cash register. It makes the sin of the temple money changers seem like a misdemeanor when compared to this unspeakable spiritual felony!! Let all those who follow the Risen Lamb reject and rebuke such spiritual treachery, and let us commit to a consecrated life that comes out from among them and allows our earthen vessels to be broken so completely that the unmistakable fragrance of God’s Son goes before and after us. All the gold and silver, and all the money in the world cannot be compared to one tiny drop of blood that came from Emmanuel’s veins.

Matt.16:25-26 - For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

I Pet.1:18-19 - Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Halleluiah to the Eternal Lamb of the Living God!!