Daily Archives: July 18, 2014

9Marks Blog: When You Should NOT Submit to a Church

 

All of us will, at times, be called to endure humbly a leader’s mistakes and sins. Nonetheless, should you find yourself in a church where the leadership is characteristically abusive, I would, in most cases, encourage you to flee. Flee to protect your discipleship, to protect your family, to set a good example for the members left behind, to serve non-Christian neighbors by not lending credibility to the church’s ministry.

How do you recognize abusive leadership? Paul requires two witnesses for a charge to be leveled against an elder (1 Tim. 5:19), probably because he knows that leaders will be charged with infelicities more often than others, often unfairly. That said, abusive churches and Christian leaders characteristically . . .

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Zack Interview: Security on the USA-Mexico Border

5 Pt. Salt

The Border Patrol isn’t authorized any additional ammunition until 2015. And there is so much more you need to know. Mr. Zack, a former border patrol officer tells us that “Our own government is assisting in the downfall of America, and the American people need to know that.”

The government allows certain things to happen because it wants these things to happen.

Pay close attention at 6:40….at 7:49 and especially from 9:10 through the end. Here is the link to the video, just in case.

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Answering the Cranky Evidentialist

hipandthigh

apologist-profiles

 

 

 

 

 

….And I don’t mean William Lane Craig or Norman Geisler.

Now that I have expressed my concerns with certain presuppositional practitioners, and presented a simplified, theological outline of what I consider is the best way to engage unbelievers and advance the Christian faith [see here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3], I want to turn my attention toward interaction with criticisms from competing “apologetic camps,” as it were.

For this article, I turn my attention to a brief interaction I had back in 2009, with a pastor who was a self-described “evidentialist Calvinist.” We exchanged words on the subject of apologetic methodology in the combox under a post entitled, The Problem with The Evidentialist Approach to Apologetics.

My detractor had a strong dislike for presuppositionalism in general, and Van Til specifically. He even put up an article at his personal blog called something…

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Ligonier Ministries Blog: Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation?

We may live in a culture that believes everyone will be saved, that we are “justified by death” and all you need to do to go to heaven is die, but God’s Word certainly doesn’t give us the luxury of believing that. Any quick and honest reading of the New Testament shows that the Apostles were convinced that nobody can go to heaven unless they believe in Christ alone for their salvation (John 14:6; Rom. 10:9–10).

Historically, evangelical Christians have largely agreed on this point. Where they have differed has been on the matter of the security of salvation. People who would otherwise agree that only those who trust in Jesus will be saved have disagreed on whether anyone who truly believes in Christ can lose his salvation.

Theologically speaking, what we are talking about here is the concept of apostasy. This term comes from a Greek word that means “to stand away from.” When we talk about those who have become apostate or have committed apostasy, we’re talking about those who have fallen from the faith or at least from the profession of faith in Christ that they once made.

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Does the Doctrine of Hell Make God Unjust?

 

JusticeLast Friday, I posted some selections of Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” since last Tuesday was the 273rd anniversary of the greatest sermon preached on American soil. If you haven’t read that post, I would invite you to read America’s greatest sermon for America’s greatest need.

However, because I was on vacation last week, away from a computer, I wasn’t able to participate in the very disappointing comment thread that followed that post. The discussion was immediately derailed by objections to the doctrine of hell as the eternal conscious torment of the wicked who die outside of Christ. So because I wasn’t able to respond then, and because the objections presented are very common from our increasingly-secular, anti-biblical, and Christianity-intolerant culture (and so are objections you will need to respond to as you engage your “world” with the Gospel), I wanted to respond to those objections today.

 

Two Disclaimers

But before I jump right in, I want to make a couple disclaimers. First, this post does not set out to prove that the biblical picture of hell is that of eternal conscious torment. For the sake of time and space I assume it to be so. I know there are strenuous objections to this doctrine from the various corners of unbelief—both from those who do and do not claim to be Christians. Though I vigorously believe this to be the biblical teaching, it simply falls outside the scope of this post to make a full defense of the doctrine. For those looking for that, you might start here.

Secondly, I acknowledge the doctrine of eternal conscious torment to be a terrifying, awful reality. Though I speak about these things frankly, and what may seem like dispassionately, I want to assure you that I don’t do so with a sinful delight or an unfeeling vengefulness. Like our great God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11), and I don’t take for granted that I’m discussing an unspeakably horrifying reality that I hope none of you reading this ever experiences. In fact, it’s precisely because of my deep desire for you (and those to whom you minister) to escape eternal punishment that I endeavor to speak about it in this post. I don’t do so flippantly or lightly, but (I hope) with the gravity that it deserves.

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GTY Blog: Your Spiritual Workout – John MacArthur

 

Philippians 2:12-13

Code: B140718

by John MacArthur

What do you think of when you hear the words “work out”? You probably think of gymnasiums, weights, and all sorts of fitness equipment. Hard work, commitment, time, and resources are necessary to grow and strengthen our physical bodies. While exercise is popular in America today, it’s certainly nothing new.

Paul made use of this familiar imagery in his letter to the believers in Philippi. In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul’s exhortation for believers to exercise their spiritual growth comes down to those two simple, familiar words: “work out.”

But the workout Paul refers to is far more strenuous than a short jog on a treadmill—and it makes a much greater impact in your life.

Doing the Work

The principle of working out one’s salvation has two aspects. The first pertains to personal conduct, to faithful, obedient daily living. Such obedience obviously involves active commitment and personal effort. Scripture is replete with injunctions, both negative and positive, to strive toward obedience.

Sin in every form is to be renounced and put off and replaced by righteous thinking. Believers are to cleanse themselves “from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). They are to set their minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth,” because they have died to sin and their lives are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2–3). Just as they once “presented [their] members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness,” they should “now present [their] members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:19), walking “in a manner worthy of the calling with which [they] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to aggressive, strenuous effort in living the Christian life:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24–27, cf. Philippians 3:12-16)

He gave similar instruction to Timothy: “Flee from these [evil] things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11–12; cf. 4:15–16; Hebrews 12:1–3).

If living the Christian life were merely a matter of passive yielding and surrender, of “letting go and letting God,” then such admonitions not only would be superfluous but presumptuous. But those injunctions, and countless others like them throughout God’s Word, presuppose believers’ personal responsibility for obedience. They must choose to live righteously, to work out their salvation in daily living, while at the same time realizing that all the power for that obedience comes from God’s Spirit.

Persevering to the End

The second aspect of working out one’s salvation is perseverance, of faithful obedience to the end.

Salvation has three time dimensions: past, present, and future. The past dimension is that of justification, when believers placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and were redeemed. The present dimension is sanctification, the time between a believer’s justification and his death or the rapture. The future aspect is glorification, when salvation is completed and believers receive their glorified bodies.

Believers therefore have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. They are to pursue sanctification in this life to the time of glorification. In that glorious moment believers will see the Lord “face to face” and come to know Him fully even as they are fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12). They “will be like Him, because [they] will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). It was for that glorious moment that Paul so deeply longed. Looking forward to that time he exclaimed:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:8–14)

In the Olivet discourse, Jesus declared, “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Paul admonished Timothy: “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). The writer of Hebrews notes, “We have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Hebrews 3:14).

The Power to Persevere

Perseverance in the faith is the duty of every true believer, but the believer does not secure his own salvation through his own power. Instead, perseverance is the unmistakable and inevitable evidence of divine power operating in the soul (Colossians 1:29).

Believers will persevere because God’s power keeps their salvation secure. Jesus repeatedly emphasized that truth. In John 10:28-29 He declared,

I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Earlier in Philippians, Paul wrote that he was “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). From beginning to end, the entire divine work of salvation is under God’s control. In a well-known and beloved passage Paul wrote,

We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30)

So it is clear from Scripture that believers are responsible to work out their spiritual growth. But it’s also clear that their work is possible only through the power of God. How do the two coincide? Next time we’ll consider the Lord’s role in our spiritual growth.

 

(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140718
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Index to Christology Series: Deity and Eternality

The Domain for Truth

Paul1_001

Over the last few weeks I have been focusing on the deity and eternality of Christ.  I went over four main verses: John 1:1; John 8:58; Hebrews 1:8; and Colossians 1:17.  Here is an index of all the posts I made concerning this series on the deity and eternality of Christ:

  1. Christology: Deity and Eternality, Part 1
    • John 1:1, ““In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with   God, and the Word was God.”
  2. Christology: Deity and Eternality, Part 2
    • John 1:1, ““In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with   God, and the Word was God.”
      • Discussion concerning NWT (JW) interpretation of John 1:1, etc.
  3. Christology: Deity and Eternality, Part 3
    • John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
  4. Christology: Deity and Eternality, Part 4
    • John 8:58
      • YHWH; Tetragrammaton
  5. Christology: Deity and Eternality, Part 5
    • Introduction: “But of…

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Penciled Prayers: Fierce Wolves

“I know after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29).

Heavenly Father: it is not the rise of Islam; it is not other anti-Christ religions like Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, the Watchtower Society, apostate liberal denominations, or Atheism. None of these Christ-less, outside influences pose the greatest, present danger to Your Bride, the Church. The greatest threat to Your Body comes from within the visible Church. And that threat is in the form of fierce, ravenous wolves. Some are obvious. Some disguise themselves as shepherds and sheep. Some may be saved, but so deceived, so spiritually immature and inept, they ignorantly act like a wolf–all the while convincing Christians that wolves don’t bite.

The second greatest danger to Your Bride are Christians who have bought what many of the wolves are selling–namely: emotionalism over doctrine; feelings over truth; relevance over repentance; experiential subjectivity over biblical objectivity; safety in and acceptance by the world over self-denial and faithful cross-bearing; eisegesis over exegesis; Christianese over communication; CEO’s over shepherds; coaches over elders; egalitarianism over complementarianism; effeminacy over masculinity; feminism over femininity; gifts over the Giver of Life. This is no more true than in the confines of American Evangelicalism–a quasi-Christian, man-made system in which pockets of Your remnant survive and thrive.

Father, I thank You for my church. I thank You for my pastors and elders. I thank You for my brothers and sisters who make up the congregation. I thank You for how seriously my shepherds are about guarding the flock over which You have given them stewardship. I thank You for the pastors and elders of many other fine churches, large and small, that come to mind–churches where the authentic gospel is preached, the Word of God is rightly divided, the sacraments are observed, and those who comprise the congregation love one another and others. Lord, You have so greatly blessed me by allowing me to travel around the world to visit and serve wonderful churches. Thank You, Father.

Lord, my heart breaks for Your people and false converts who find themselves in false churches unbiblically ruled by tyrannical narcissists–unfaithful personalities who believe their own hype and demand their people do the same. My heart breaks for those who find themselves in false churches where false signs and wonders and demonic spirits are worshiped, or where abortion and homosexuality are encouraged and are touted as virtues instead of calling people to repent of these sins against one’s own body and the body of another.

Father, my heart breaks for Your people and false converts who find themselves in false churches where carnal, worldly, and blasphemous concerts, bad community theater, and Vaudevillian sideshows have replaced reverent, Christ-honoring worship–where strange fires of various hues and intensity singe the fleshy hearts of the faithful and temper the steely hearts of the faithless and hell-bound.

Lord God, I am very angry with these ravenous wolves–men and women who find themselves on the world’s stages and those with delusions of selfish grandeur who will never be known outside their small remote villages. But my prayer is not for their destruction, although I ask that You stop them from deceiving even one more person. Rather, my prayer is that You would discipline those who belong to You and cause the rest, who are nothing more than tools of Satan and who are discipling people to be twice the children of hell that they are, to be born again. I ask, Father, that You cause even the most vicious wolves to be born again, extending to them–through Your goodness, grace, and mercy–the good gifts of genuine repentance and faith in Your Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

O Lord, the names of so many wolves come to mind. And I had determined, for the protection and edification of Your saints, to name them when I published this prayer. But I thank You, Holy Spirit. I believe, through bringing Scripture to mind and pricking my conscience–reminding me of how proud and prone to conflict I can be–You have helped me to see a published prayer is not the place to name names.

Lord God Almighty, I ask You to discipline those among the men and women who come to mind–those who are saved but who have ignorantly or arrogantly joined the ranks of the pragmatists, the spiritualists, the “bad boys,” the women acting like men, and the entrepreneurs who ascend into pulpits on Sunday mornings. Bring them to repentance. Remove them from leadership. Remove them from influence. Remove them from the public eye until such time they are fit for Your service in a manner prescribed by Your Word and according to Your will. And I ask for those among the men and women who come to mind who are lost that You save them from You and Your wrath. Save them so they will not face You as their Judge. Lord God, please discipline or save every fierce wolf, and then use them for Your glory to truly build Your Church.

Father, please allow Your Bride to be more faithful and less gullible, more objective and less subjective, more rational and less emotional, more discerning and less compromising, wiser not slicker, more evangelical and less ecumenical, more evangelistic and less stylistic, more like You and less like the world.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Faith and Mental Illness – Podcast, blog post and Study Kit

Two outstanding podcasts on Faith and Mental Illness from Michael Horton.

Podcast 1: Faith & Mental Illness

Podcast 2: Darkness is My Only Companion

See Michael’s recent blog post on the issue and also this Faith & Mental Illness Study Kit.

5 Insights Into Idolatry

There are certain themes in Scripture that tend to beat you over the head with their persistence. Idolatry is one of those. It’s such a prominent theme in Scripture that some have said it is the central theme of the entire Bible.[1] And when it comes to idolatry, we humans are endlessly creative. As John Calvin said, “The heart of man is a perpetual factory of idols.” Give us the chance, and we’ll replace God with any and every object, person, ideal, or dream.

Most modern people don’t quite get the Bible’s obsession with idolatry. We think of idolatry as an ancient problem for backwards people who bowed down to statues, not a relevant one for sophisticated folks like us. But we aren’t beyond idolatry. We simply dress it up in different clothes.

Acts 19 gives us 5 insights into the reality of idolatry for us today:

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GAZA WAR UPDATE, Day #11: As IDF ground forces advance, one goal is to identify & destroy Hamas tunnels. Here’s the latest. Updated at 11:30am eastern Friday.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Explosion in Gaza as ground operations began Thursday night. Explosion in Gaza as ground operations began Thursday night.

Hamas is storing rocket launchers, rockets and weapons in tunnels under Gaza. They're also digging tunnels under Israel for terrorists to use to enter Israeli villages. Hamas is storing rocket launchers, rockets and weapons in tunnels under Gaza. They’re also digging tunnels under Israel for terrorists to use to enter Israeli villages.

UPDATED AT 11:30am EASTERN, FRIDAY: (Washington, D.C.) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday his government’s intention to expand the scope of the IDF ground campaign in Gaza.

The top priority is not so much to topple Hamas but to restore calm. To do that, Netanyahu says, one vital thing Israel must do is identify and destroy the labyrinth of tunnels and underground warehouses that Hamas and other terror groups are using to store rockets, launchers and other weapons under Gaza, as well as the tunnels Hamas is digging under Israel.

“We decided to launch the action after we tried all the other ways, and with an understanding that without this operation…

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End Times Prophecy Headlines: July 18, 2014

14 Reasons Obama Is Lying When He Claims The World Is ‘More Stable’ And ‘Less Violent’ Than Ever

With a straight face, Barack Obama has been repeatedly telling us that the world is “more stable” and “less violent” than ever. In fact, he believes that this is the best time in history to be alive because of how peaceful and stable everything is. And of course Obama is more than happy to take credit for his role in bringing all of this “stability” about. Just this week, his press secretary told the media that this administration has “substantially improved” the “tranquility of the global community”. Apparently these guys don’t think that we will notice all of the violence, war and terrorism constantly raging all around us. It would be wonderful if the planet actually was becoming a more peaceful place, but instead the exact opposite is happening. The world is becoming increasingly unstable, and if we aren’t really careful we could see World War III break out before too long. But if you listen to Obama, he makes it sound like we are living in an emerging global utopia. The following is an excerpt from remarks that he made during a White House event in June… (Read More….)

Dare one call it treason? – Family Security Matters

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD

Many Americans believe that the US Government, the Democrat and Republican Parties and the media are deliberately misleading the American people, hiding the most heinous fraud and Constitutional crisis in the history of the United States.

Individuals at the highest levels of the federal government may have aided and abetted a deception, which included willful ignorance, misinformation, false interpretations of the Constitution, outright lies and the creation of fraudulent documents and computer records to protect an ineligible, ill-prepared and unworthy candidate for the office of President of the United States.

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Two-thirds of illegal immigrant children approved for asylum: report – Washington Times

Nearly two-thirds of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children requesting asylum this year have had their initial applications approved, the House Judiciary Committee reported Friday in data that suggests those kids surging across the border who ask to stay will likely be able to gain admission to the U.S.

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