Thursday, May 30, 2013


Dear Friends and Family,

Well, my time has first surgery (the actual deep brain stimulation surgery) is on Monday, and I get my batteries installed on Thursday (this will be done at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati). So the next week will be a hard one for me. I covet your prayers. Would you pray for the Lord to guide and direct the hands of the surgeons who will be doing the operation? ...also for the nurses and assistant doctors who will be helping? Pray that no infection sets in and that the surgery does not provoke a stroke. I am at peace about choosing to have the surgery, and I believe that it will be very beneficial for me. I just would like the Father's hand to cover all the details! *:) happy Many thanks to you all for covering me in prayer.  The surgery is scheduled to take about five hours. I will be at the University of Cincinnati Hospital, and if you should like to find out how I am doing after the surgery you can contact one of the following people:  Rita Baker (937-524-9390 or 937-667-7535), Sandra McIlvain (828-320-0726) or my husband Tom Marts (937) 287-8238.

With love,


What Does it Mean to be Born Again?


There are only two kingdoms in this universe. For many, many years the western church has rejected the invisible kingdom of God and has instead lived and practiced within the kingdom of this world, or in other word, the kingdom of darkness. Now the kingdom of darkness is not dressed in gothic attire and reciting druid chants. No, the kingdom of darkness is cloaked in morality, religion, and an obsession with the temporal. It can and does appear to be moral and compassionate and has even adopted some Biblical words that make it appear what it is not. Yes, the kingdom of darkness is a chameleon like entity that has many alluring elements. It can even appear as an angel of light, and even boasts that it is the kingdom of God.

And in the midst of this deception there are literally millions of seemingly well meaning people who believe in one God and who even attend a gathering where the name of Jesus or Christ is used, but who still live in their sins without the redemption of Christ applied to their lives. They are religious and have a sense of right and wrong, many are baptized church members, and many are law abiding citizens of this present world. But they are satisfied and content in their religious lives but are deeply deceived as well. They are religious to be sure but they have never been born again.

Centuries after the Day of Pentecost the visible church descended into apostasy. Good works and indulgences became the pathway to eternal life and the church became a ceremonial as well as political institution which imprisoned the masses through hollow superstitions.

But God graciously gave the church a new birth during the Reformation even though Luther and Calvin and Zwingli were flawed men. But during those trying years the truth that only through faith can a sinner be saved, and that no man can be saved unless he is born again of the Spirit, was revived. But after the Industrial Revolution the church became infiltrated with materialism and hedonism and intellectualism. Through many decades of compromise the church succumbed to the dictates of the culture and discovered it could incorporate the principles of the culture into the beliefs and practices of the church.

And eventually the church became a well organized system which openly appealed to the masses and provided a place where even unsaved sinners could find religious and domestic fulfillment. Like an amusement park the church branched out into almost every area of cultural enjoyment as well as political activism and by those and many other means it found that sinners could be draw into its community. The evangelical community grew in numbers and gave birth to a wide variety of different church genres which were designed basically to draw sinners and once drawn minister to their temporal and religions desires. It was an ingenious plane which continues to bear much numerical and monetary fruit.

And now, after decades upon decades of that kind of system the evangelical churches are filled with people and large edifices have been built to accommodate the growth. In fact a growing church is now recognized as the divine stamp of approval. Like a restaurant that is always packed it is assumed that a large church has something to offer. And many times they do have much to offer in the way of activities, age group ministries, wonderful music, exciting sermons, and a sense of community. And I suspect these kinds of churches will continue to grow and prosper.

Now in the midst of this evangelical explosion the phrase “born again” is rarely uttered. And if it is it is used within the context of being a baptized church member. The “church member” construct, another western idea stolen from the culture, has given millions false spiritual comfort because the local church decrees a person to be saved when they accept him into that particular fellowship. It is quite the spiritual sleight of hand and it has cast a religious fog upon much of the evangelical world. A sinner can now be completely unregenerate and still be received as a member because the church declares him to be a believer. It all smacks of Romanism.

Jn.3: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

What a statement. It seems so legalistic and intransigent, does it not? Inflexible. Ask the average pew dweller what it means to be born again and you may well get several different answers as well as some honest church members who admit they have no idea. How can a preacher call out to his church members that they must be born again? He might lose members who help pay his salary as well as the church debt. And perhaps many preachers themselves are ignorant of what it means to be born again, and what authentic saving faith means as well. The entire evangelical community wallows in a spiritual conundrum while still claiming to be alive and growing. To say the current situation is sad is to minimize what has happened.

So given the directness and clarity and spiritual importance of the words spoken by our Lord and Savior, would you not expect the issue of being born again to be a paramount issue within the true church? If no man can see the kingdom of God without being born again, wouldn’t that be a gospel imperative? And given the eternal implications shouldn’t the phrase “born again” and the teachings on the subject be so consistent within the church that we must guard against being so redundant that it brings complacency? But that is not what has happened. The phrase and teaching and even the theology has been ignored to the extent that millions have been welcomed into God’s kingdom by the decree of man without the decree of God. 

Being born again of the Spirit is a sacred event without which no sinner can inherit eternal life. In other words no one can be saved without being born again. No one. There are no exceptions and no caveats. This is no doctrinal game and there is no room for compromise. It cannot be negotiated nor can it be diluted. Without being born again you can be saturated with religion as well as evangelicalism and still be dead in your sins. Can there be any more serious situation? And when I was saved in 1975 the term was still being used but being back pedaled in favor of more modern and compatible terms.

What does it mean to be born again? Reading the words of Jesus in the third chapter of the gospel of John gives us a sacred definition. All men are born sinners. Yes they inherit Adam’s sin as well as voluntarily adding to their own inherited portfolio. But adding to it does not make sinners more or less spiritually dead. Dead is dead. The compassionate and moral church goer who has not been born again is as dead as Charles Manson. And so we are still left with that question. What does it mean to be born again?

What is born of the flesh is flesh. Those are the words of the Creator. But what is born of the Spirit is Spirit. And so there is the definitive line of demarcation. Everyone is born of the flesh, but all who are born of the flesh stand in need of the new birth in the Spirit. And this new birth is not just an accumulation of information. It is not just a doctrinal test. It has nothing to do with men’s religion. It does not come with a belief in God. And it has nothing to do with church membership or baptism or communion or doing any amount of good works here on earth. This new birth can only come with a genuine and life changing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And when a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ the Spirit creates a new person in Christ Jesus. This is a life changing event which translates that sinner from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Now I ask you, how can anyone have that experience and not know it or remain basically the same? Perfection will only come in heaven, however the born again person becomes a new person and exhibits all kinds of outward manifestations driven by what has happened inside his very being. Here is a sinner lost and dead in His sins and void of God’s Spirit and then the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence within His very being and yet He does not know it? I had never heard the phrase “born again” but after I became a believer I remember the first time I heard those words I said, “Yes, that is exactly what happened to me!”

And that is exactly how the Spirit bears witness inside us. When I hear someone say, “Yes. I am a Christian but I am not one of those born again people” I am astounded. What other kind is there? The church has invented all sorts of ceremonies and ecclesiastical acknowledgements that keep people from Christ. I went through three years of catechism and was confirmed and received my first communion but I was still lost. I had gained some information but I was not born again. How can we shuttle teenagers in like cattle and pronounce them saved at the same age just because they finished some denominational requirements and mumble yes to some liturgical questions?

And many evangelical churches are no better. Play some atmosphere setting music, make a well oiled appeal, and bring them forward and have them repeat a prayer. And there and then give them all sorts of assurance and pronounce them saved and ready for baptism. And what are the fruits of a true believer in the evangelical playbook? Church attendance, tithing, church involvement, and some conservative moral and political views are the required fruit. And the born again experience is completely absent in the entire equation. The ministry of Spirit has been circumvented and poured into a manipulative evangelistic procedure.

Imagine a dead man lying on the floor. He has been pronounced dead, He is not breathing and his heart has long since ceased to beat. He has no brain activity. But a doctor applies the paddles to his chest and although he had passed on long ago his eyes pop open, his heart begins to beat and he begins to breath. In reality he has been given new life. He has been born again in the flesh. But that is exactly what happens when a sinner is born again in the Spirit. He is dead. There is no spiritual knowledge. He cannot know God because he is completely lost. There he lays spiritually dead. But the Spirit comes along and miraculously draws that dead man to Christ, and that sinner suddenly but decisively believes on Jesus, and he is made alive in the Spirit.

That man realizes that he was once dead but now he lives. He knows he was once lost but now he is found. He can now learn the things of Christ and the things of the Spirit. He now has a hunger to know more of Jesus and he now knows the meaning of the gospel and the redemption of Jesus. Things that once seemed foolish are now received as spiritual food to his soul. The dead people all around him begin to notice the difference in his words and actions. He may change very fast or he may change not so fast but there is no denying he has and continues to change.

You see, no religion and no man made organization. This is being born again. And without being born again no sinner can be welcomed into the kingdom of God. This is as serious as it gets. Are you born again?

Monday, May 27, 2013

As He is, so Are We in this World


I Jn.4: 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

I Pet.2: 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

In almost forty years of being a believer, and in being a preacher for 35 years, I believe I have seen almost everything as it pertains to church life and practice. In that time I have watched as the church has concentrated on numbers and growth, and I have seen colossal structures be erected because some bank thought it was a good investment and it could make great sums on the interest. I have seen certain preachers reach god-like status, and Christian television has become a huge business. I have seen prayer reduced to some perfunctory religious observance, and instead of denying self the church would teach members how to fulfill themselves.

And I have seen the office of elder or bishop be transformed from a humble, praying, and shepherding ministry to a sort of campus CEO who has his hands in almost every endeavor within the church. I have watched as great sums of money were entrusted to American churches which resulted in bigger and more technologically modern buildings as well as larger and larger staffs. Many churches began schools which also expanded membership and made more funds available. The youth ministry became a huge endeavor with all kinds of activities and some churches even built large and modern youth centers which include expensive sports arenas.

I have seen churches become embroiled in political movements and debates, and certain preachers became darlings of some political party. Some preachers would even become radio and television commentators and leave preaching Christ. Many would champion certain moral issues and even join hands with heretics and infidels in order to bring America back to some fairy tale existence. I have seen churches lend their buildings to political rallies and political panel discussions as well as being voting places. It has happened almost overnight and it is now accepted as the norm. In fact it is now embraced as God’s will altogether.

And now it is the year 2013 and everything has changed. The western culture is now by and large the church culture as well. Salt can be purchased at the store and light is turned on by a switch, but those two commodities are in short supply within the church. Yes the church consumes much salt and the auditoriums are filled with light however in the Spirit there is a great want of those things. The church has become very relevant and in the process we have lost our way.

But the path laid out for every believer and the true church has always been very clear. It is so clear and defined in such simple terms that we have rejected it and sought more sophisticated and relevant paths. There are two phrases in the two portions of Scripture that illuminate that path. “As He is so are we in this world” and “that ye should follow his steps” describe, define, and command the path to us all. And therein have we failed not only to pursue that path, but we have failed to even consider it in these modern times. And since we have not been walking humbly along that divine path the church has earned two monikers: unremarkable and religious.

But let us imagine that we had just been given the Spirit on that Day of Pentecost. Let’s imagine that we ourselves are the first generation of the church. Yes we know we must preach Jesus and His gospel, that would be our mission. But what template could we embrace as it pertained to how we should speak and how we should think and how we should live as well? There is one and only one template available to us: We must find out what Jesus was like and what He lived and taught and by God’s Spirit we must strive to emulate Him in all our ways. Now those words seem very simple and a straight spiritual line between two points, but somewhere along the way the church has lost that vision and created a much more complex and culturally focused vision. And layers upon layers of religious culture have been laid upon the lives of professing believers until there is little difference between believers and unbelievers. In fact, if the unbeliever is pro-life and pro-traditional marriage and fiscally conservative and attends church there is actually no difference.

After 38 years of being a believer I believe that the church should have as it mission to spread the gospel and teach all the teachings of Jesus and strive to follow Him. We must once again learn of Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. We must be consumed with learning of our Master and Redeemer. Instead of just knowing about Him, we must endeavor to know Him personally. And knowing Him in all His ways and in all His teachings and in all His commands must propel us to live lives that not only mirror His person, but which are actually Him living through us. That is not some novel idea which can be marketed as Sunday School material complete with all kinds of visual aids, but that is what we should have been doing all along.

This is what should be reverberating from our pulpits. This is what mature believers should be teaching the new borns. This is what the elders of the church should be exemplifying. This, my friends, is Christianity.

I exhort us all to put away childish and carnal things. Away with all this conservative nonsense and political activism. Away with selfish desires and the lure of material things. Away with striving for the temporal and not the eternal. Away with good advice and moral issues. Everything we are, everything we believe, everything we think, and everything we live must found in the person of Jesus Christ. Everything. And in order to make that a reality on any level we must do two things. We must set our hearts to seek Him in all His ways, and we must be in a continual state of emulating what we have learned in the power of His Spirit.

There are many hurdles to climb in order to even begin. First we must realize the depth of our need. We cannot sugar coat where we are and where we need to go. And we cannot feel a sense of self affirmation just because we can identify the compromises of the modern church. Our journey requires an uncommon humility that sees our own spiritual condition as in desperate need of an awakening, a revival, and all beginning with a genuine repentance. To be even more accurate, we must learn about true repentance all over again. The burden is light and the yoke is easy but the path requires much sacrifice and a denial of self.

Lk.2: 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

Everything in the Scriptures is written for a reason. This is an account of Mary and Joseph, as well as their 12 year old Jesus, leaving Nazareth and going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Only the men were required to go, but Mary made the pilgrimage as well (reminiscent of Hannah). The Feast itself lasted seven days, and the trip took approximately 2 long days from Nazareth to Jerusalem. As the entire large company left to return to Nazareth, Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus back in Jerusalem. After a day's journey they realized their mistake and returned to Jerusalem to find Jesus. They found Him in the Temple asking and answering questions with the most learned theologians. They then returned to Nazareth together.

Lk.2:45 - And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him.

Let's put the whole event in perspective against the general backdrop of today's experience both collectively and personally. Think about it. Joseph and Mary took TWO WEEKS every year and went to Jerusalem. Not as a vacation, not on a cruise to see the Holy Land, and not continuing to earn a salary while they were there. They lost two weeks of wages, and the journey was approximately 60 MILES of walking over hard terrain with no accommodations (bathrooms, showers, restaurants, walk in clinics, hotels). And the entire trip was spiritual, not sentimental. It was an incredible sacrifice unto Jehovah and they were not wealthy.

Which of us would do such a thing today? Which of us would take two weeks out of our year, sign over our paycheck to missions, and go to a secluded camping place to do nothing but seek God? No recreation or traveling, just seeking Jesus. We would all think we were being punished by God.

OK, now they have observed the Passover, and they are leaving Jerusalem without Jesus. Hmm...religious people leaving the church and leaving Jesus behind. Does it bring up any present day parallels? Let us not assume that all the people that made that trip to Jerusalem were completely motivated by a desire to seek and please God. No, many had long since settled into a stagnant and perfunctory observance that Paul describes as "Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.". Look at today. So many "professing"(whatever that means) Christians continue to "go" to church, even give, maybe even serve in some capacity, yet their secret spiritual life has long since died out and they are sadly just "going through the motions". Many, if not most, evangelical church goers have spent as much quite time in prayer and Scripture devotion this week as has Hugh Hefner. How do we know that? Because we all have experienced that on some level and we know that it is a war to remain intimate with our Lord! And we do not sense the spirit of urgency among believers today about their devotional life!?

Lk.2:46 - And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the Temple...

Now Mary and Joseph return to Jerusalem and they search for THREE DAYS. How many of us can claim we have searched for Jesus for three days? One Day? A half an hour? Oh I know, we don't have to seek Him. He is right here is our statement of faith. This three days just adds to their inconvenience, but they are motivated by their love for Jesus. Motivated by their love for Jesus? Whatever does that mean in today's spiritual world? Excluding the "inconvenience" of getting up early on Sunday, where is the sacrifice? Food, clothing, money, sleep, entertainment? No, we believe today that God wants us to have all those things and that we are to give out of our abundance - never sacrifice. What do you think Mary and Joseph AND Jesus were doing on their way to Jerusalem? Praying, reading the Scriptures, and preparing their hearts for worship. What do we do before church? Most people barely make it to the building on time, much less pray, read the Scriptures, and prepare their heart for worship. So if we are not sacrificially preparing our hearts and seeking God early on Sunday mornings before corporate worship, can we assume that Sunday is an anomaly and Thursdays are better? Tuesdays? Saturdays?

The great preacher, Savanarola, refused to preach unless he was filled with the Holy Spirit. This would sometimes make the congregation wait and pray (good for them) before he would come out and preach. One time in particular he sent a deacon out to inform the people that he would not come out of his prayer closet until God filled him with the Spirit. The deacon dismissed everyone with prayer and asked everyone to pray. He told them that as soon as Savanarola came out he would call the church together. THREE DAYS later, the word was sent throughout the community, the preacher was coming out to preach. The church overflowed with believers and non-believers alike waiting to hear this "eccentric" preacher. As Savanarola preached the Word of God, the anointing of the Holy Spirit was so strong that believers repented, scores were saved, and revival broke out throughout the community for almost a year! (As a side note, Savanarola was martyred - by his own denomination!)

LK.2:48 - And when they saw Him they were amazed...

Mary and Joseph were amazed at the 12 year old Jesus. How amazed are they now, in 2013, while they bow before the risen Christ in worship and adoration? That's right, Mary and Joseph are right now worshipping their Lord and Savior! Do you ever wonder why we are moderately moved by worship music in church, and when it's over we all return to our homes (Nazareth?), change our clothes, and return to our former lives unchanged? I wonder what would happen if we all refused to leave the church building until we were filled with God's Spirit, and were AMAZED at Jesus? You know what? It might take THREE DAYS! But, sadly... we don't have that much time.

I have watched a documentary called “Grizzly Man” which is the controversial account of a man named Timothy Tidwell. He was consumed with Grizzly bears in Alaska, and he spent thirteen seasons watching and filming their activities. He was roundly criticized for being too close to those huge grizzly bears, but he so desired to know them that he was willing to endure the danger. One day the thing that many had feared became a reality, and one of the bears that so consumed Tidwell, consumed him.
Would to God that some of us would get so consumed with Jesus that one day we would be consumed by Him.
Oh God, make it so for Your glory.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chipping Away at the Exclusivity of Christ

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There is no doctrine or truth more foundational to the Christian faith than the redemptive exclusivity of Jesus the Christ. And let us at the outset define what we mean by that terminology.

Jn.14: Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Only Jesus died for our sins. Only Jesus was God in the flesh. Only Jesus was raised from the dead. Only Jesus conquered death and hell. Jesus alone is the Savior, the Redeemer, and the Lord of all Lords. And Jesus alone can offer and provide eternal life to a sinner. No amount of good works regardless of how noble and self sacrificing can forgive one sin or elevate a fallen sinner’s eternal status. To suggest such a thing undermines the cross and the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Now there are more and more spiritual miscreants who openly and with great subtlety suggest that a personal faith in Jesus Christ, by name and by His Person, is unnecessary for eternal life. Many will teach that in the end everyone will be given a post mortem opportunity to believe on Jesus, while others suggest that believing in monotheism is sufficient. And still others pluck out some Scriptures from the gospels and have presented a social gospel which openly teaches that through helping the poor and the downtrodden a sinner can receive eternal life because they acted like Jesus even if they did not know Him.

And yes there are all kinds of different versions of what I just described. The common thread among them all is that they make room for redemption to an array of people who have never trusted Jesus Christ. They suggest that God will give them Jesus regardless of their belief system. In fact as God sees sinners who have had no opportunities to hear the gospel or understand it He will create a way for them to inherit eternal life which does not necessitate a personal faith or even being born again by the Spirit. And let me wade out into waters that are very unsafe within evangelical circles. Many orthodox believers firmly teach than unborn babies as well as children who die as infants will automatically go to heaven. In the end that may be true but it cannot be Scripturally authenticated. That view is usually fueled by human compassion and even some sentimentality. That belongs in God’s hands but He has not chosen to give us doctrinal illumination. And yes, I have heard many, many messages on the subject.

But all of that chips away at the truth that Jesus is the exclusive Savior and Redeemer, and that only through Him can a sinner be redeemed.

I Jn.5: 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

This is the zenith of all doctrines. It is the eternal truth which must never be diluted or compromised. It is what defines the sacrifice at Golgotha. It is the reason for the Incarnation. It illuminates man’s sin and God’s plan of salvation.

Jn.3: 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

How can it be presented more clearly? And this is the passion behind the Great Commission. And yet men have found all kinds of caveats based upon logic and applications of certain aspects of God’s divine nature. God is love but God is also just. God is merciful but God is also holy. God is love but God also exhibits wrath. God is gracious and yet God condemns sin. So how can we reconcile all these different qualities of God’s character? The cross. And without faith it is impossible to please God.

When the children of Israel made a sacrifice on the Day of Atonement did it apply to all non-Jews who were pagans but helped people? Or was it just for those who were God’s covenant people? Of course God only recognizes His covenant which was displayed temporarily by the blood of bulls and goats but now is found exclusively through Jesus Christ. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, and we are only justified by faith in that sacrifice. There is no other way, and unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

But when we makes exceptions that are unsound Scripturally but are arrived at through logic and argument then we enter a slippery slope. Can I say that God will not save all aborted babies? Or can I say that God will not save any children who never reach that nebulous age of accountability? What I can say for sure is that the Scriptures do not teach infant universalism, or that a sinner who never hears the gospel can still be saved. And yet that is exactly what men have constructed as truth based wholly from their own stretching of certain attributes of God. They do not stretch His holiness or justice, but they stretch His grace and mercy to cover those who still stand without saving faith. That is a form of universalism.

God can do what He pleases, obviously. But we cannot construct truths based upon what seems right to us and without solid Scriptural teachings. I have heard people suggest that the gospel of Jesus is nothing more than “information” which cannot be required of everyone for eternal salvation. They believe that sinners can be redeemed without that information through a combination of good works and a response to a nebulous caricature of God that is ignorant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now if that isn’t heresy than I do not know what is. And yet that is what many evangelicals actually believe in their hearts. And not only is that unscriptural, but is serves as a conscience salve which removes the passion of missions.

Here we are in the last days when the dictates of culture and the pleasures of sin will begin to alter the truth. I realize that many who are reading this particular post will not receive it altogether because we have been so used to the norm that any meditation outside the doctrinal box is unsettling. But the exclusivity of Christ is as important as it gets, and no one can be received through the gates of splendor without being washed in the blood of the Lamb. And since that seems like a such a narrow path the church has decided to add some caveats. From purgatory to age of accountability to unreached sinners and some other exceptions the church has created its own list of sinners who can be awarded redemption without faith. But God will be the final arbiter of redemption.

But all we can do, all we must do, is live and preach God’s Word and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. To dilute His exclusive position as Redeemer by allowing sinners to pass without Him is to violate His Word which is Him in Person. Does that violate your sense of fairness? Is it unfair that those who have never heard the gospel will perish? What if some sinner without Jesus has given his life in the service of others and has died helping the poor? Does your conscience demand that he is allowed to spend eternity with Christ? And why would a monster like Jeffrey Dahmer get to believe on Christ and gain eternal life while that humanitarian is rejected? It seems so unfair and so unjust does it not?

Yes, it does. But what is most unfair is that anyone will spend eternity with Christ. Anyone. The path is very narrow and all who pass through must go through the cross. Any other way is a delusion and a deception and leads to eternal damnation.

Jn.10: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

Jesus is the only door and all who pass through must do so by faith and not some sovereign awarding of redemption because of some limitations or because God views their filthy rags more righteous than the filthy rags of others. Let us remain steadfast in our faith that there is no other cornerstone than can be laid but that of Jesus Christ. All other ways may seem fair and logical through our own sense of fairness but they cannot stand against God’s Word which IS Jesus Christ.

The Latter Day Calling


Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

As most of the organized church moves farther and farther away from Christ and his teachings the end of all things is at hand. And the allegiance of professing believers is being sorely tested. But most of the evangelical community has become so inoculated and intoxicated with a false religion they call Christianity that they see anything even close to a warning as extremism. There are many aspects of this modern version of Christianity that serve as a buffer and prevents any deep and authentic evaluation from individual believers or the church as a whole.

Professing believers have found wonderful fellowship in their local church, and while they scold their children about peer pressure they themselves have become imprisoned within the same principle. Good fellowship is defined as having people within the same demographics as you, and having some socio-economic kinship as well as having an ecclesiastical construct which appeals to your children. In general a family atmosphere is one of the most alluring factors in the average local evangelical church. And make no mistake most evangelical churches strive to build those social ties because the leadership knows that those are the ties which will grow and keep the membership.

In fact there are a legion of books that help instruct the local evangelical leadership as to how to construct that kind of family atmosphere and a sense of belonging. I have read many of those books and they place the gospel or a preaching of God’s Word as peripheral. A church can grow and build without any real gospel or call to a sacrificial discipleship. You doubt that? Pull out the Yellow Pages and there you can find many. Create some slick advertisement, friendly people, age group ministries, competent follow up to visitors, and pleasant and relevant preaching and you have the makings of a growing church. Now some of those things should be a part of every church, but when the means become an end and the gospel of Jesus Christ and a continuing challenge to sacrificially serve the Risen Christ becomes non-existent then you have a club and not a gathering of self denying followers of Jesus Christ.

But it is most difficult to extricate one’s self from the midst of one of those evangelical clubs. The initial doubt about the Biblical authenticity of your fellowship is quickly dissolved with the love and fondness you have for the people and many times the preacher. And just the thought of what it would require to leave also aids in the resistance in any change. The status quo, while admitting all churches are imperfect, is a well worn path. In fact there are many dedicated believers to whom you look up that attend your own fellowship and even entertaining the thought of leaving is an unspoken indictment against them. And besides, your children are settled and have made friends. You see, the deck is stacked against even a season of fasting and prayer to seek God’s will.

The prospect of the unknown is also a deterrent against allowing the Spirit a free reign concerning the will of God in this area. And you may be seen as judgmental and eccentric or even extreme. You have so many good relationships that may be jeopardized if you were to hold up your present ecclesiastical construct to Biblical scrutiny. In fact the Spirit may also identify things in your own spiritual walk which may require repentance.

And then there is the issue of humility. Let me share from my own personal experience. I have found true and genuine humility an incredibly elusive spiritual trait. When you have seen things that are definitely against the teachings of Jesus so clearly that you have had boldness to speak about them, then you have entered into a battlefield where humility is rarely sought. I have often spoken truth in a self righteous spirit even though what I have shared was truth. It is a great paradox which only Jesus Himself has been able to master. Speaking words of correction that indict the church leaders does not lend itself to humility. In fact it is a breeding ground for pontification and hubris.

Just peruse the discernment blogs and you can quickly find some obnoxious and self righteous rhetoric. That is to be avoided if we really want to follow Jesus. But be aware you will need to do constant sentry duty about your own motives and attitudes. This is no “I have arrived” proposition. This is a journey which when properly trod will often require repentance and will also lend itself to an experience of pain, some doubt, and some tears. It is not an easy path. But it is the path upon which He walks. If you are looking for a self affirming and easy path you must not even consider leaving the path the church is continuing to walk.

But this issue is not just about some minor or even major compromises. The issue goes much deeper than that. In fact the issue rips at the very fabric about the nature of the faith. Yes, it is Biblically plausible to suggest that the core of evangelicalism has left the faith and now overtly practices a hybrid form of Christianity which takes pagan and hedonistic principles and employs them into both its practices and doctrinal foundations. And what is left is not a compromised form of the faith but a completely different faith altogether. Now that is quite a statement is it not?

But for anyone to even consider such a statement it takes a process of the Spirit. And that process does not begin with cataloguing the sins of the church. Believe me, it begins with the Spirit holding up a mirror to your own sins. And many cannot bear such a sight and therefore retreat back into the comfort of the modern ecclesiastical forest. After all they still believe in Jesus and they still support missions. They even believe in a literal hell. So what’s the big problem? You see, only the Spirit can open a heart to see things which cannot be seen through logic and must be seen apart from any comparison within the evangelical community. These things must be seen in the Biblical abstract. And yet we are geared to see things with a comparative lens that allows for and even embraces imperfections and shortcomings. But these imperfections and shortcomings are so grievous and so profound that they not only are opposed to the teachings of Jesus, but they provide a platform for a continuing departure from His teachings that is directly affected by the descent of the surrounding culture.

These last days present a real and tangible challenge to each individual believer. There are so many compromises and easy paths available to us all that millions upon millions are walking along in a sort of religious fog and unaware that the Spirit is calling the followers of Jesus into a sacred chamber of His presence which is remarkably separate from the ecclesiastical norm. But so often words like these just lend themselves to a little thought and perhaps some quantitative consideration. In other words they elicit some fleeting thoughts but rarely any life changing commitment. The overwhelming majority of truly saved believers have their testimony rooted in days gone by and not in any real sense in the present. The changes that we experienced in those early days suffice and we do not even entertain the possibility that the same Spirit that changed us then desires to do a miraculous metamorphosis within us today as well.

Rom.12: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

If we only had John 3:16 and these two verses would that not challenge us way beyond what is being presented today? When was the last time the Spirit deeply changed your heart and your life was once again changed in an observable way? When was the last time you diligently sought the face of Christ and the power of the Spirit in order for Him to mold your heart into His? Most church members would consider those words as some kind of spiritual mumbo-jumbo. He who has ears let him hear.

Would you, could you even consider that there is so much more to the faith of Christ that is now being believed? Can you even pause for one precious moment and entertain the thought that Christ would have you alter your course? Take a moment and answer this question: Is there a burning thirst within your heart to know Him more fully? And if there is not that thirst tangible within you what are you willing to do to regain it again? Are you ready to stand before the Risen Christ?

How much of your heart belongs completely to Jesus and how much belongs to the things and cares of this present world? These are eternal issues which have been drowned out by the consuming influence of this material world. How much time is left only God knows. But perhaps you still have today. Yes there is a calling in these last days, but this may not just be the last days, but this may be the last day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reject the Lies

Rom.3: 9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

The Roman Catholic Church is a religion that is fraught with falsehoods and even bizarre practices. But this present pope has already shown his damnable lies. In his recent sermon he said that even if atheists do good they are redeemed and will go to heaven. HERE is the link.

Most religious people believe that being a good person can secure you a place in heaven with God. They envision a kind of weighing your good against your bad and then hoping you are more good than bad. This is very common in the religious psyche. But that is religious thinking and not according to Scripture. In fact that is self righteous thinking as well. It minimizes the effect of sin and minimizes the holiness of God. If indeed it were true than why would Jesus have to die?

The entire mental construct of good outweighing the bad is a deception of the evil one. You see the devil loves religion. He rejoices in all the useless activity and moral crusades and denominations. While the church is consumed with prosperity and how to save your marriage and building large debt ridden buildings the devil is busy leading souls to hell. And of course he is also busy deceiving people into believing there is no eternal justice.

There is only one way to gain eternal life and that way is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That has nothing to do with how good or bad you have been. Nothing. The Scriptures declare us all unworthy and completely incapable of even presenting one righteous work of our own. Every good work we have done has been tainted by mixed motives and self righteousness. Before God we stand without a shred of holiness, and without holiness no man shall see God. We are in desperate need of something we can never have on our own. We need holiness and righteousness as well as forgiveness. Only Christ can give us what we need.

We are completely reliant on God’s Word for any truth pertaining to all things spiritual. It is true we can see the existence and power of the Creator just by observing His creation, but to understand His nature and our nature and the redemption of Christ must be ascertained through Scripture. Only God can reveal Himself to His creation. And He has chosen the miracle of Scripture through which to teach and instruct us about Him. It must have been an exceedingly difficult task just because the gulf between us and God is unfathomable. How does Einstein teach an ant the Theory of Relativity? You see?

And in addition to that great chasm of intellectual and spiritual capability there was still the matter of sin. But in the continuing display of God’s amazing grace, He gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us those Scriptural truths. But the miracle and even the mystery of it all is that God used the pens of sinful men with which to scribe His eternal Word. Please understand that the truths of God’s Word did not originate when men penned them in Scripture. God’s Word is eternal and is inherent in His very being. But God took His spirit Word and poured it into ink and paper and gave it to mankind. This, my friends, escapes the realm of human understanding and is fully and only comprehended in the realm of faith, which is another gift of God.

I do not believe that men cannot seek God. It is evident they do. I did. But that verse clearly reveals to us the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many people have sought God in their own strength and with selfish motives. They hope to gain something here on earth, or they desire to appear spiritual to others. But without the Spirit using the gospel, God’s Word, sinners are bound to find a god of their own creation and not the God of Creation.

Matt.13: 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

What do men seek? That is a long, long list. Even within the church people seek for all sorts of things. They seek promotion within their firm. They seek good grades from their children. They seek a championship from the kids team. They seek to lose weight. They seek a new house. They seek all sorts of things. Well, how do we know they seek these things? Listen to them speak, and watch how much time and effort they put into these pursuits. What a man hungers after is what a man spends time and effort pursuing. What he truly desires is what he expends his time for.

So if a man was truly seeking the face of Christ and His glory he would be spending uncommon time in God’s Word and in deep prayer and maybe even fasting in order to crucify the flesh and allocate that eating time to this spiritual pursuit. There would be a passion about his schedule that would be overtly different than what the mainstream of church members were doing. But who do you know that you could point to and say that man is almost obsessed with spiritual things and he seeks the face of God with passion?

You see, the reason the man sought and bought the pearl of great price was because he believed it to be of great value. He was seeking goodly pearls but this pearl captured his life and he sold everything and bought it. The application is very obvious. What we truly value is what will consume us, and if it is money and comfort and success then our lives will be spent pursuing those things. And if so, then we will be found in the mainstream of evangelical life. But if we ever see Christ for who He is and much deeper than just within a systematic theology or a statement of faith, then perhaps we may be so capture by His glory and goodness and power and mystery that something deep within us changes. And if that change takes place through the ministry of the Spirit, then nothing can satisfy us but Christ.

And when I say “satisfy” I do not just mean for salvation. Yes, Jesus is the only way to redemption and eternal life. There is no other way. But once the Spirit has drawn us to Christ and we have been born again, is that where we resume our mundane lives? Is there something deeper and richer for the believer who will forsake all and follow Christ? Are there treasures beyond human understanding that will be showered upon that believer who will diligently seek Christ? And if that is so we must now ask the question, “Just what are we doing?” Let us not be satisfied with rebuking false teachers like Rob Bell, Rick Warren, and Pope Francis, but let us press hard after the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
But in these last days do not even entertain the deceptions that come forth from lying lips even though they claim to be Christian. Anyone who says that sinners can be saved without a personal faith in Jesus Christ is a liar and a heretic. Let God be true and every man a liar.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bear One Another's Burdens



"I caught him reading Rob Bell, but He has repented."

The Tongue


The tongue is a world of iniquity!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Redemption and Grace or the Demands of the Law


A baby is born with what is commonly called “Down’s Syndrome”. There are some obvious visual aspects as well as intellectual and emotional aspects as well. Another baby is born a girl but she has abnormal levels of testosterone and it alters her physique as well as changes her normal sexual attractions. Another baby is born with an adrenaline seepage which makes him frustrated and his temper is way out the normal range. Another baby is born with autism and refuses to respond to normal commands.

There are perhaps thousands of other biological abnormalities which result in irregular and sometimes bizarre behaviors. And the ones to which I refer have a direct relationship between behavior patterns and some physiological malfunction. Babies are born every day with these kinds of issues from slight to moderate and all the way to extreme. And as these children grow up they must deal with inward emotions and desires and pressures that normal children cannot imagine. That does not mean that most misbehaving children can blame it on some biological issue, but what it should do is make us aware that the effects of the curse reveal themselves in an array of areas. It is very easy and self serving to dismiss these kinds of facts and blanket everyone with a pristine and willful disobedience to the law and thereby relieve any struggle with the depth and scope of God’s redemption. All men are born sinners and all stand in need of redemption before a holy God. And Christ is the only path to that redemption.

But the church has isolated certain sins and ignored others. And along with that we have dismissed a range of disorders caused by physiological issues and labeled them as sin via an overt choice of that particular sinner. We have erroneously thought that any syndrome of disorders is an excuse for sin, or disrupts the doctrinal syntax as it pertains to sin. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the disorders and maladies to which I refer are all sin related and can be traced back to the very first sin. And since all men are born as sinners then that eliminates this emphasis on either the qualitative or quantitative assessment of sin, especially as it pertains to divine judgment.

If all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and if by one man’s sin we all are born fallen and in need of redemption, then how can works be recognized as part of the redemptive process? And if there are no works of righteousness that we can do to affect positively God’s offer of complete redemption through faith in Christ alone, then what implications does that upon the very essence of redemption and how it is made effective in a sinner’s heart and life? This is where the church has so often ventured into the vault of God’s eternal truth concerning redemption and taken certain unwise liberties. And when liberties are taken with the gospel then those liberties become stumbling blocks, falsehoods, and even heresies.

Each sinner stands before God as fallen and completely and utterly undeserving of eternal life. In fact, he is deserving of eternal death. His sin both inherited and practiced is empirical evidence that demands justice before a Holy God. That scenario is a constant among all men. No one is more or less deserving of God’s mercy and grace, and no one is more or less deserving of God’s justice and punishment. All men stand shoulder to shoulder with no plea or explanation. Eternal death awaits us all as we stand before God dressed in nothing but our sin and false righteousness. That situation is as dire as it gets.

Take the Christless humanitarian who dedicates his life to helping others, and place him beside the Christless practicing homosexual who is also a drug dealer to children, and you have two sinners equally condemned before God. Does that shock you? Do you have a difficult time coming to grips with that comparison? I mean doesn’t the humanitarian deserve some kind of consideration even though he still needs Christ? In our fallen minds we have created some self serving caste system which takes the consequences and weight of sins that are clearly evident here on earth, and we have translated them into the realm of eternal salvation. And even if we admit that Christ alone is the door, we subliminally, and sometimes openly, suggest that certain sinners must be viewed differently even without Christ. But I ask you this: If all sinners are dead in trespasses and sins, how can someone be more dead than totally dead? That reminds me of Miracle Max in the Princess Bride as he looked upon the dead Prince and he says, “I’ve seen worse.” Miracle Max goes on to offer the prognosis that the Prince is “mostly dead”.

Most of us find that humorous, however that is sometimes how we see things as it pertains to the eternal state of sinners. The sin of the gay drug dealer is far worse than the sin of the humanitarian when assessed through earthly prisms. But when we weigh their sins if front of the Holy and Eternal God of All Creation their sins have equally destroyed their souls and equally present an horrific affront to that same God. I hope, I pray that you can see the difference. This is not a condoning of sin, but this is the essence of the gospel. The offer of redemption goes out to whosever will regardless of their sin. It is an eternal miracle of grace without preconditions except that it applies only to those who are still dead in their sins. And that includes us all.

So now if we recognize the essence and purity of the offer of God’s redemption, and if we also recognize the equality of all sinners before God, then we can allow the Spirit to illuminate our eyes to the scope and the depth and the unsettling grace that is inherent within the gospel. Condoning sin? Absolutely not! Easy believism? Never! Lip service means being born again? God forbid! But let us now embrace the uncomfortable elements of that gospel. The word “uncomfortable” is used to show our own self righteousness because when we see lost sinners in a caste system it emanates and is fed by self righteousness and an unspoken perspective that we ourselves were only “mostly dead” and somehow became a believer with less sinful baggage than others.

Oh but the endless riches of His eternal grace! Open your hearts my brethren and see just who you were and what He has done! Were you any less of an enemy of God than others? Is the man who loads the bombs on the planes less culpable than the pilot who drops them? You see, when we look at the majesty of God’s redemption through the dirty lens of earthly perspectives we do a heartbreaking disservice to His love and grace. In fact, we also diminish the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How much blood did He shed for your sin? Was it less than He shed for David Berkowitz or Jeffrey Dahmer or Susan Atkins?

No, again we love to weigh things out like we were ordering lunch meat at the deli. You and I needed ALL of His shed blood as did all those who I listed. No sinner comes to Christ needing any less of His sacrifice than the whole! And please think on this…He gave it all to each and every one of us. You and I did not need some or even most of His sacrifice upon that cross. We needed it all! And so it was given to any sinner who repents and believes the gospel. You may not have understood the depth of it all when you first believed, but now you do. How could God do such a thing for me? Or you? This is beyond us and yet we cleave to Him in love and worship.

Take a brief look behind you. What is that we see? I see a grave now empty with dirt scattered everywhere. I see this grave filled with rotting works of the flesh and all sorts of diabolical transgressions committed against a Holy God. But I see no corpse. I see an empty grave of sin from which I was made alive. And sometimes I bring a corpse over to my former grave and I point it out to him and I invite him to look at me now. And I make it abundantly clear that I did not arise from that grave of sin by any power of my own, but that I believed on the Author of Life named Jesus and in an instant I was made a new and alive creation in Him! And as he gazes at my former grave, that sinner realizes he is still dead in his. And only through the miraculous ministry of the Spirit that sinner can be drawn to Jesus and like me look at an empty grave of sin where he once reposed.

And not one element of the law did I keep in order to be made whole. And look around at all the graves still left untouched by the Spirit. Can you not see something very similar? Yes, they have all been dug to the same depth. They may be different in the specifics of their repulsiveness, but they are equal in that repulsiveness. And the quality of their death is equal and complete. But when any sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and is resurrected from his place of spiritual death, he stands equal among the saints and is in fact alive in Christ. Completely, profoundly, and eternally.

Halleluiah! What a Savior!