We Attain Heaven Through Faith Alone
We confess explicitly that faith alone is the instrument of our justification and our salvation. As it was for Noah in the flood and for the Israelites at the Red Sea, so it is for us. We are united to Christ by the Spirit through faith alone and through faith alone we commune with him and through faith alone we have been delivered, we are being delivered, and we shall be delivered. Through faith we inherit eternal life.
Why Should We Come to Church?
First, one of the main signs of the Spirit’s presence is a desire for God’s Word, of which the Spirit himself is the Author. Therefore, true Christians love God’s Word and desire to be taught its doctrines. (If you look back at Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, you will find that it is remarkably filled with doctrine.) Second, Christians need to be protected from ignorance and empowered by biblical knowledge.
Spiritual Fruits vs. Self-Righteous Fruits
Faced with our own barren tree, we often attempt to achieve in our own strength what is not growing in our hearts. We determine that we will act lovingly to that unlovable person, be kind to that annoying relative, or faithfully serve in that ministry (while grumbling to ourselves about it). We will work harder, be more disciplined, and pick ourselves up by our proverbial bootstraps and get on with it.
I’m a Christian but I’d Rather Be Cool Than Talk About Jesus
This strategy isn’t working really. I know that I need to have boldness and reach out, and yet I don’t. My swaggar is winning no one to Christ. You see, when I start talking about how cool and relevant I am? That’s lame. Seriously it’s lame. I don’t think non Christians are looking for good alcohol or a great tobacco or single-origin coffee or tattoos or a great man bun or a mountain bike. They’ve got that in plentiful supply. So why do I keep selling that? Why do we keep selling our relevance, when it’s not what they need or even want?
4 Questions to Ask an Older Woman
In spite of the Titus mandate, we older women are sometimes hesitant to say or do anything because:
1) We hear horror stories of well-intentioned women who offer unsolicited advice to others, and it is not welcomed. We are afraid that our motives could be misunderstood.
2) We are aware that our Christian life/love of husband/parenting skill/knowledge of the Word is not all that it should be. We feel that we are inadequate trainers.
20 Cognitive Biases That Affect Your Exegesis
Business Insider recently published an Infographic entitled 20 Cognitives Biases that Affect Your Decision-Making. If Infographics do nothing for you, I’ve summarized the information below. Have a look through and ask yourself: How many of these biases can also affect our exegetical decision-making. There were only two I found that I couldn’t match with exegetical biases (#13 & 19). But maybe you can suggest ways in which these might apply as well.
5 Things Adoptive Families Wish Their Churches Knew
Adopted children come with a variety of stories. Some may have been abused or neglected. Some may have witnessed and experienced horrific and traumatic things. Some may have developmental delays or a physical disability. Whatever their stories are, they are not our business unless the parents choose to tell us. But we have to be respectful of whatever unique needs they have.
New Report Shows Planned Parenthood Bilks Medicaid
One of the most recent discoveries happened during a March 2015 audit, when Texas looked into the practices of Planned Parenthood of North Texas. Out of a sample of 210 bills sent to Medicaid, 51 duplicated fees or otherwise inflated prices. The audit concluded the Planned Parenthood affiliate wrongfully billed Medicaid $129,028. Earlier, the Texas Ethics Commission fined the same abortion center for failing to report more than $25,000 in campaign contributions to Wendy Davis and other pro-abortion candidates.
Phyllis Tickle, who championed a church paradigm shift, is dead
Berean Research has the report:
It was lung cancer. Sadly, the emergent-New Ager clung to her teachings that Christendom must evolve. She frequently appeared with Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and those of other faiths to ring in a new era in the modern Church. (See “Emerging Towards Convergence”)
Tickle believed that throughout history, the Christian Church evolves every 500 years or so, and we are ripe for another paradigm shift. She wrote a book, Embracing Emergence Christianity: Phyllis Tickle on the Church’s Next Rummage Sale. Here is the publisher’s description of this latest apostasy:
I suspect this sort of idea is difficult for some of us to receive with joy. It is not on many of our agendas to to be so identified with Christ, in this hostile world, as to be required to suffer and die for him. It was only Peter’s agenda, however, and therefore on God’s agenda. Remember, the Lord Jesus had promised Peter, “when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21.18). Jesus predicted Peter’s martyrdom and Peter was, in effect predicting suffering, if not martyrdom for his readers.
For because Paul had taught, that a man is justified by faith without works, hence some inferred, that in whatever manner a man live, it, equally suffices, that he persuade himself that Christ is his Saviour. Which they could have inferred with no plausibility, if that had been evident which the very learned man will […]
Did you ever imagine a headline like this? The celebration of sin at our own White House, with our president and the so-called “Holy Father” is stunning to those of us who know what the Bible teaches. See Marsha West’s article, “GLAAD-handing: Obama invites gay rights activists to meet Pope Francis”. With that as the […]
Biblical truth is vitally important and needs to be restated, reaffirmed and re-defended on a regular basis. This is partly so because biblical truth is so very often twisted, perverted and abused. Thus we find the New Testament writers constantly insisting on the vital importance of sound doctrine and solid biblical teaching.
They were fully aware of how much false teaching and how many false teachers were wreaking havoc amongst the churches. So they were constantly engaged in teaching the flock, reteaching, and teaching again. One can never spend too much time on teaching biblical truth.
Yet today most churches actually play down or minimise sound teaching. They think doctrine is a secondary matter at best, and so they spend most of their time on offering “how-to” sermons: how to live your best life now, how to feel good about yourself, how to lose weight for Jesus – all the things the early church never focused on at all.
And if there is teaching, often it is woefully bad teaching – teaching which is substandard and sub-biblical. And I am speaking about pastors and Christian leaders here who should know better. They of all people should have the basics of biblical Christianity down pat, but too often they cannot even get that right.
Examples of this are to be found everywhere. Let me offer just one. Sadly one well-known Christian leader posted something recently which I was staggered to read. I had to read it three times to finally be convinced that he really was saying something this theologically and biblically confused. He posted this:
For those prophets stating that God is about to pour out his judgement on the world, you are taking away from Jesus sacrifice on the cross….. All Gods wrath and anger was poured out on him. we live under the dispensation of Grace, not judgment and it is an affront to our Lord to state otherwise. Even under the Old Testament Abraham talked God down from his wrath on Sodom, if there were but 10 righteous in the land……today we only need one – Jesus is our righteousness, He is our Lord who paid the price and redeemed us from the curse.
Wow, there is so much silliness, confusion and muddled theological thinking here that I don’t even know where to begin. But I must begin somewhere, so let me state that he seems to have no or little clue as to what the biblical story line is all about.
He offers us the incredibly unbiblical notion that somehow we are now living in a time of grace (whatever that means) and before this it was all judgment. Um, how can he say this if he has read the Bible through cover to cover? How can any leader make such a patently false and mischievous statement?
The simple truth is this: God always has been and always will be a God of grace, and he has always dealt graciously with us. God was gracious when he created the world. God was gracious when he made Adam and Eve. God was gracious when he provided coverings for the pair after they sinned.
God was gracious when he spared Noah and his family. God was gracious when he chose a godly line to represent him and bring in the Messiah. God was gracious when he rescued Abraham and Lot. God was gracious when he preserved his people in Egypt during times of great famine.
God was gracious when he delivered his people at the Exodus. God was gracious when he led his people through the wilderness. God was gracious when he gave his people the law. God was gracious when he raised up the judges. We could go on and on like this for pages. Everything God did in the OT was an act of grace.
But there is another fully biblical truth which we must never lose sight of: God always has been and always will be a God of justice, righteousness and holiness. Because of that, he must always act against that which defies his character and who he is.
Thus God judges sin, unrighteousness and evil all the time. He did so in the Old Testament and he does so in the New Testament. That divine judgment has not stopped after Calvary is plain to see if we simply read the book of Acts and the epistles.
Thinks of Ananias and Sapphira being struck dead; of Herod being struck down; of Elymas being struck blind; of Hymenaeus and Alexander being handed over to Satan; and so on. Judgment happens throughout the NT, and we see this in full flight in the book of Revelation.
This book is given over to judgment – and Jesus Christ is the righteous judge who does all the judging. Unfortunately it seems our leader cited above is not clear on these basics of Christianity. Yes Jesus judged our sin at the cross, and all those who avail themselves of that substitutionary atonement through faith and repentance are spared final judgment.
But even the believer is still judged in terms of chastisement, in terms of discipline, and in terms of a future judgment of his works. But individuals and nations that continue to shake their fists at God are of course still under the his wrath.
They face the just wrath and judgment of God continuously. If they do not turn in repentance, they will face the music fully when Christ returns. And reprobate and godless nations, which were routinely judged by Yahweh in the OT, are still in the same position today.
While we may not have the same sure word of the prophets as to how and when this is happening as we did in the OT, there is no reason to believe that God no longer cares about and deals with the nations today. Indeed, that message comes through loud and clear in Revelation.
The simple truth is, God does not change, he has not changed, and he will not change. He is forever a God of wonderful grace. But he is also forever a just, pure and holy God who cannot countenance sin in any way. Yes, Calvary was the provision for this for individuals if they accept it and submit to it.
But that does not for a moment mean that he ceases to be holy or angry with sin. His just wrath will alway burn against sin, because he always will be utterly holy and righteous. God today offers the same thing he has always offered to fallen man: grace and judgment.
Indeed, it can rightly be argued that even in his acts of judgment he is being merciful. They actually belong together. It is not a case of choosing which one we might prefer. They are both part of who God is, and we must embrace him fully with all his attributes working as one.
That we can all escape the final act of wrath and judgment if we come to Christ on the basis of what he did for us 2000 years ago is a glorious truth and one we must always proclaim and celebrate. But we must also proclaim and celebrate the fact that God is holy and just, and he will always judge sin. He has to, or he would not be God.
Hundreds of passages can be appealed to here, and in other articles I discuss many of them. Here let me remind you that what we find in Romans 1:18-32 is one of the most important and most powerful passages on these matters – and it was written after Calvary I might add.
Whole libraries are filled with commentary on this significant section of Paul’s epistle. Let me appeal to just one which so well explains what this is all about. R. C. Sproul in his discussion of this portion of Romans says this:
Three times in this section we read about human beings being given up by God. They are given up to their vile passions, the lust of the flesh, and their reprobate minds. When God judges people according to the standard of his righteousness, he is declaring that he will not strive with mankind forever. We hear all the time about God’s infinite grace and mercy. I cringe when I hear it. God’s mercy is infinite insofar as it is mercy bestowed upon us by a Being who is infinite, but when the term infinite is used to describe his mercy rather than his person, I have problems with it because the Bible makes very clear that there is a limit to God’s mercy. There is a limit to his grace, and he is determined not to pour out his mercy on impenitent people forever. There is a time, as the Old Testament repeatedly reports, particularly in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, that God stops being gracious with people, and he gives them over to their sin.
The worst thing that can happen to sinners is to be allowed to go on sinning without any divine restraints. At the end of the New Testament, in the book of Revelation when the description of the last judgment is set forth, God says, ‘He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still’ (Rev. 22:11). God gives people over to what they want. He abandons them to their sinful impulses and removes his restraints, saying in essence, ‘If you want to sin, go ahead and sin.’ This is what theologians call ‘judicial abandonment.’ God, in dispensing his just judgment, abandons the impenitent sinner forever.
Given that the sin homosexuality is singled out by Paul in this section of Scripture as the predominant example of why sinful man deserves the wrath of God, it seems we can say with full assurance that the West is long overdue for God’s righteous judgment. Despite what the leader I quoted may think, we are exactly at the place that Paul speaks about here.
If God judges Washington or San Francisco or Los Angeles or Canberra or Sydney today for this and other grievous sins, he would be entirely justified in doing so. The fact that individuals can now find the forgiveness of God based on what Jesus did at the cross does not in the least take away from the truths enunciated here in Romans, or in Revelation, or in the entire NT.
Because I think Sproul is so utterly spot on here, let me quote him again in closing, this time from his book The Holiness of God:
God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to his patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.
Since it is our tendency to take grace for granted, my guess is that God found it necessary from time to time to remind Israel that grace must never be assumed. On rare but dramatic occasions He showed the dreadful power of His justice. He killed Nadab and Abihu. He killed Uzzah. He commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites. It is as if He were saying, “Be careful. While you enjoy the benefits of my grace, don’t forget my justice. Don’t forget the gravity of sin. Remember that I am holy.”
Fertility rites and child sacrifice were the hallmarks of Canaanite worship — and yet they appealed to many Israelites. Should we be shocked, or look in the mirror?.…… Click here for full story
The head of a Christian humanitarian organization reports that the Islamic State terrorist organization has turned captured church buildings into torture chambers that are being used to coerce Iraqi Christians into renouncing Christ and converting to IS’ brand of radical Islam………… Click here for full story
Today, some 300,000 Jews around the world are followers of Jesus. And millions of Jews are searching for the Messiah and thus reading the Hebrew prophecies, and comparing them with the writings of the New Testament, and trying to decide whether Jesus really is the Messiah we have desperately longed for over so many centuries……… Click here for full story
The 10 “days of awe” between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, were to be used to take stock of one’s sins and concentrate on repentance before a holy God. America, like the ancient Israelites, has plenty to take stock of this year ……….. Click here for full story
How Much Closer Are We Now? – Markell
By Jan Markell
We hear so much about “converging signs” today. The Bible speaks about end-time signs that will increase like birth pangs near the end. I think we have passed the birth pang process, frankly.
As a popular TV preacher said, “We’re no longer in Kansas, nor the Land of Oz.” Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”, we’re looking around and seeing that everything is different. Everything we once took for granted and considered normal has been fundamentally transformed and usually not for the better.
But God is allowing it all, even if He isn’t orchestrating chaos, as He is not a God of chaos.
Have you noted recent major stories and how they confirm the words of those of us saying that things aren’t falling apart, they are falling in place. Stories like . . .
BORN AGAIN BABYLON: U.N Plan to Bring In Luciferian Global State
By Paul McGuire
From September 25 – 27th 2015 the United Nations will present its new fifteen-year plan entitled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Pope Francis will attend to proclaim The Gospel of “Sustainable Development,” and world leaders and the heads of powerful Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will organize a planetary transformation so monumental that Nimrod would be proud. This UN plan masquerades as global movement that will end poverty everywhere on Earth through “sustainable development,” “social justice,” and “equal rights to economic resources.”
7 Traits of False Teachers
A false teacher can be anyone in a position of spiritual authority or claiming to be. Wolves don’t often attack wolves, but they do go after sheep. They bring destructive teachings and lies into the church, often by telling people what they want to hear (Jer. 23). They provide layers of truth mixed with error, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Is the Antichrist a Muslim?
This is one of the questions I’m asked most often – especially in recent years.
For centuries, the overwhelming majority of those who have studied bible prophecy have claimed the Antichrist will come from a revived Roman Empire headquartered in Western Europe. But recent events in the Middle East, such as the rise of ISIS, have led some people to question that claim. They say the Antichrist will be a Muslim headquartered in the Middle East. Could this be true? Let’s examine what the Bible says.
The Roman Catholic Church claims to have started in Matthew 16:18 when Christ supposedly appointed Peter as the first Pope. However, the honest and objective student of the Scriptures and history soon discovers that the foundation of the Roman church is none other than the pagan mystery religion of ancient Babylon.
The church and it’s true beginnings. While enduring the early persecutions of the Roman government (65-300 A.D.), most of professing Christianity went through a gradual departure from New Testament doctrine concerning church government, worship and practice. Local churches ceased to be autonomous by giving way to the control of “bishops” ruling over hierarchies. The simple form of worship from the heart was replaced with the rituals and splendor of paganism. Ministers became “priests,” and pagans became “Christians” by simply being sprinkled with water. This tolerance of an unregenerate membership only made things worse. SPRINKLED PAGANISM is about the best definition for Roman Catholicism.
The Roman Emperor Constantine established himself as the head of the church around 325 A.D., which made this new “Christianity” the official religion of the Roman Empire. The first actual Pope in Rome was probably Leo I (440-461 A.D.), although some claim that Gregory I was the first (590-604 A.D.). This ungodly system eventually ushered in the darkest period of history known to man, properly known as the “Dark Ages” (500-1500 A.D.). Through popes, bishops, and priests, Satan ruled Europe, and Biblical Christianity became illegal.
Throughout all of this, however, there remained individual groups of true Christians, such as the Waldensens and the Anabaptists who would not conform to the Roman system.
The Worship of Mary
“The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” Jeremiah 7:18
Roman Catholics believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus and was sinless all of her life. She is worshiped in the Catholic church as the “Mother of God” and the “Queen of Heaven.” St. Bernard stated that she was crowned “Queen of Heaven” by God the Father, and that she currently sits upon a throne in Heaven making intercession for Christians.
The Bible teaches otherwise. In the Bible, Mary was a sinner just like the rest of us. She said herself that she needed a “Saviour” (Lk. 1:47), and she even had to offer a sacrifice for her sins in Luke 2:24. Jesus was only her “firstborn” son, according to Matthew 1:25, because she later had other children as well (Mt. 13:55; Gal. 1:19; Psa. 69:8). There’s only ONE mediator between God and men, and it isn’t Mary (I Tim. 2:5). The last time we hear from Mary in the Bible she is praying WITH the disciples, not being prayed to BY the disciples (Acts 1:14). The Bible never exalts Mary above anyone else. Neither should we.
Purgatory & The Bible
The Catholic Church teaches that a Christian’s soul must burn in purgatory after death until all of their sins have been purged. To speed up the purging process, money may be paid to a priest so he can pray and have special masses for an earlier release.
This heresy began creeping into the Roman Church during the reign of Pope Gregory around the end of the sixth century, and it has no scriptural support. In fact, Jesus warned us about this pagan practice in Matthew 23:14 when He spoke of those who devoured widows houses and made long prayers for a pretence. Psalm 49:6-7 tells us that a person couldn’t redeem a loved one, even if such a place did exist: “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:”
Peter addresses this issue in Acts 8:20 when he says, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” God’s word is clearly against the doctrine of purgatory.
The Mass & The Bible
By perverting the Christian practice of the Lord’s Supper (Mat. 26:26-28; I Cor. 11:23-27), the Catholic Church has created the Mass, which they believe to be a continual sacrifice of Jesus Christ:
“Christ…commanded that his bloody sacrifice on the Cross should be daily renewed by an unbloody sacrifice of his body and blood in the Mass under the simple elements of bread and wine.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, Pg. 13, Article: “Mass, Sacrifice of”)
Jesus never made such a command. If you’ll check the above references in Matthew 26 and I Corinthians 11, you’ll see for yourself that the Lord’s Supper is a MEMORIAL and a SHOWING of Christ’s death until He comes again. It is not a sacrifice. The Catholic Encyclopedia states the following:
In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ. It is called transubstantiation, for in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of bread and wine do not remain, but the entire substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ, and the entire substance of wine is changed into his blood, the species or outward semblence of bread and wine alone remaining.” (Vol. 4, pg. 277, Article: “Consecration”)
The Catholic Church teaches that the “Holy Mass” is a LITERAL EATING AND DRINKING OF THE LITERAL FLESH AND BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST. The priest supposedly has the power to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.
Now, what does God’s word say about such practices? If you’ll read Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11-12, and Acts 15:29, you will find that God absolutely FORBIDS the drinking of blood all through the Bible.
Rome teaches that the Mass is a continual “sacrifice” of Jesus Christ, but God’s word states that Jesus made the FINAL sacrifice on Calvary! This is made perfectly clear in Hebrews 10:10-12:
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”
The mass is unnecessary and unscriptural.
Salvation by Works
Through infant baptism, keeping sacraments, church membership, going to mass, praying to Mary, and confession (just to mention a few), the Catholic church has developed a system of salvation through WORKS. God’s word says that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not through works:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)
Jesus Christ came into this world to lay down His sinless life for YOU–to pay for your sins, because you couldn’t. Jesus is your only hope for salvation. Only by receiving Him as your Saviour can you enter the gates of Heaven. There is no other way.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)
The Lord Jesus Christ has come and PAID for your sins by shedding His own Blood on Calvary. By receiving Him as your Saviour, you can be WASHED from all your sins in His precious Blood (Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:14; Acts 20:28; I Pet. 1:18-19). Notice these important words from Romans 5:8-9:
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Jesus PAID your way to Heaven for you! By receiving Him as your Saviour, you will be receiving God’s ONLY means of Salvation for you. Are you willing to forsake YOUR righteousness and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your ONLY HOPE for Salvation? Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Are you willing to forsake your own righteousness, and trust Jesus Christ alone? He will save you just as He promised. Why not receive Him today and trust Him to give you a better way of life? source
J. Warner Wallace, author of God’s Crime Scene, was interviewed by Bobby Conway (The One Minute Apologist) and discussed the appearance of fine-tuning in the universe. Can this fine-tuning be explained from physical necessity, random chance or any other “natural” explanation, or is a Divine Designer the most reasonable inference? (For more information related to Bobby’s great ministry, visit: http://oneminuteapologist.com/)
To see more training videos with J. Warner Wallace, visit the YouTube playlist.
“Those who have received salvation are to attribute it to sovereign grace alone, and to give all the praise to Him, who makes them to differ from others.” —Jonathan Edwards
The doctrines of grace are so called because these five major headings of theology, often identified as the five points of biblical Calvinism, contain the purest expression of the saving grace of God. Each of these five doctrines—radical depravity, sovereign election, definite atonement, irresistible call, and preserving grace—supremely display the sovereign grace of God. These five headings stand together as one comprehensive statement of the saving purposes of God. For this reason, there is really only one point to the doctrines of grace, namely, that God saves sinners by His grace and for His glory. These two realities—God’s grace and glory—are inseparably bound together. Whatever most magnifies God’s grace most magnifies His glory. And that which most exalts God’s grace is the truth expressed in the doctrines of grace.
On the other hand, compromising any one of the five points dilutes and diminishes the grace of God. For instance, to speak of a mere partial corruption of man, one in which the lost sinner is only spiritually sick in his sin, makes a misdiagnosis that grossly diminishes the grace of God. Likewise, to espouse a conditional election that is dependent upon God’s foresight of man’s faith corrupts the grace of God. To teach that Christ made a universal atonement, making salvation possible for all (though actual for none), cheapens the grace of God. To believe in a resistible call that allows for the free will of man compromises the grace of God. And to think of reversible grace, which would allow man to fall away from the faith, contaminates the pure grace of God. These views undermine the grace of God, and because of that, sad to say, they rob God of His glory. And yet, such views are widely held in the church today. In any syncretistic Arminian scheme of theology, salvation is seen as being partly of God and partly of man—whether it be that man adds his good works or that he contributes his own self-generated faith to the finished work of Christ. These schemes divide the glory between God and man. To whatever extent one deviates from any of the five doctrines of grace, one marginalizes the glory that is due to God alone for the salvation of sinners.
Giving Glory to God Alone
Writing shortly before his death in 2000, James Montgomery Boice noted:
“Having a high view of God means something more than giving glory to God … it means giving glory to God alone. This is the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. While the former declares that God alone saves sinners, the latter gives the impression that God enables sinners to have some part in saving themselves. Calvinism presents salvation as the work of the triune God—election by the Father, redemption in the Son, calling by the Spirit. Furthermore, each of these saving acts is directed toward the elect, thereby infallibly securing their salvation. By contrast, Arminianism views salvation as something that God makes possible but that man makes actual. This is because the saving acts of God are directed toward different persons: the Son’s redemption is for humanity in general; the Spirit’s calling is only for those who hear the gospel; narrower still, the Father’s election is only for those who believe the gospel. Yet in none of these cases (redemption, calling, or election) does God actually secure the salvation of even one sinner! The inevitable result is that rather than depending exclusively on divine grace, salvation depends partly on a human response. So although Arminianism is willing to give God the glory, when it comes to salvation, it is unwilling to give Him all the glory. It divides the glory between heaven and earth, for if what ultimately makes the difference between being saved and being lost is man’s ability to choose God, then to just that extent God is robbed of His glory. Yet God Himself has said, ‘I will not yield My glory to another’ (Isa. 48:11).”
This is why the doctrines of grace are so desperately needed in our churches. They give glory to God alone. They define salvation as being all of God. When salvation is correctly perceived in this way, then—and only then—God receives all the glory for it. Only sola gratia produces soli Deo gloria.
This excerpt is taken from Foundations of Grace by Steven Lawson.
“Who are you to judge me?!”
This question makes the rounds frequently. On the blogosphere, in the Twitter feed, pinned and posted, the message is blaring: “You have no right to judge me!”
And in one sense, I totally agree. I have no right to judge you.
If I were the authority of the universe, I would have that right.
If I owned the corner on truth, I would have that right.
If you came into existence because of my will and creative effort, I would have that right.
If my word were the final say, I would have that right.
If I were God, I would have that right.
When we deliver clear Scriptural truth, that is God’s Word bringing judgment.
But the fact is, I am not God, but God has spoken. He has given His judgment on matters of ethics and morality. He is the authority of the universe. He does own the corner on truth. We did come into existence because of His will and effort. His Word is the final say. And God has the right to judge.
In fact, God is the judge.
And He is a gracious judge.
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Gen. 18:25).
God has provided us with His judgment through His Word. When Christians address moral issues and make a judgment based on Scripture, we are not “judging” that individual on the basis of our own authority. Our judgment is delivered from the authority of God’s holy Word—not our own fallible word. Admittedly, we can mishandle His Word; we can misinterpret it and muddy the delivery or misunderstand the context at times. But when we deliver clear Scriptural truth, that is God’s Word bringing judgment.
Jesus gave some pointed instruction as He warned us about judging others. He didn’t tell us not to deliver judgment; He told us how to deliver it:
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5).
He gave these specific instructions to warn us that we’d better not confront someone else’s sin until we first deal with our own hearts. This same instruction is repeated in the Gospel of Luke. Later Jesus gave a process we refer to as “church discipline” where the first step involves confronting someone in their sin:
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother” (Matt. 18:15).
Hmmm . . . that sounds an awful lot like “judging” someone.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he provides us with a bit of guidance in how we approach someone when we need to confront them and “deliver a message of judgment” (a word of truth from Scripture):
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).
Jesus provides ample instruction for delivering the truth in love, and when we fail to do that, we aren’t being faithful to love Him or others well.
Paul’s instruction is helpful, it places a guiding principle for us to follow as we approach someone who is “caught” or entangled in a sinful lifestyle. Paul (as inspired by the Holy Spirit) warns us that we are in danger of falling into the snare of sin and we must be careful and watchful of our own hearts. Our motive in having this conversation must be restoration.
Preparing Our Hearts
Some questions that might help with heart preparation before “delivering judgment” would be:
- Is my motive pure? Is my greatest concern spiritual deliverance or restoration?
- Am I approaching this issue as a self-righteous bigot, or am I offering truth as one who is equally in need of God’s transforming grace?
- Am I more concerned about winning an argument for morality than I am concerned about my opponent’s need for salvation or spiritual growth?
- Am I prepared to give a biblical and gracious defense of my position?
- Am I addressing a truth issue, or is this a preference issue?
- Is this the best time to have this conversation?
- Have I thoroughly prayed over this conversation?
- Am I reacting in pride or humility?
- Are my emotions sinfully involved with this issue?
- Can I convey love to my opponent as I deliver this message of truth?
Have you been slammed for issuing “judgment”? I hope you’ll run through the questions above when you’re tempted to confront someone. Jesus provides ample instruction for delivering the truth in love, and when we fail to do that, we aren’t being faithful to love Him or others well.
What are your thoughts on “judging others”?
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read “Does Speaking Truth Mean We’re Judging Others?“
We should see the pattern that is evident in these evolving claims, and be prepared to call them what they really are:
I have homosexual desires
Therefore I am a homosexual person (with “homosexual” being a newly-created category of “person” in 1973)
You must respect me as a person
Therefore you must respect my homosexual desires.
That does not follow. You are not “a homosexual person”. You are a person, yes, but your homosexual desires are harmful to you. I acknowledge that not many in our culture see it that way.
But we see it again in this Salon article, entitled “I’m a pedophile, but not a monster”:
I have pedophile desires
Therefore I am a pedophile person (with “pedophile” being the newly-created category of person)
You must respect me as a person
Therefore you must respect my pedophile desires.
Pretty soon, as in Argument #1, where the next line item became “laws must be created to protect my homosexuality”, we will start seeing a new line item in Argument #2: “laws must be created to protect my pedophilia”. All of this in the name of equality.
I want to point to a particularly egregious section in this Salon article:
When I was seven years old, I was fondled in the front yard of my grandparents’ home by a man I barely knew. It was a one-time event in my life and not a particularly traumatic one. A man I’ll call Hans, a German who was acquainted with my uncle and aunt from when they lived in Nuremberg, had come to visit America. He spent a day and a night at their place, and they lived next door to my family along with my grandparents, who shared their two-story brick house. That day, the man lingered in the house with my grandma, who was stuck with him while everyone else had gone to work, and as neither could speak the other’s language, it quickly became uncomfortable for both.
Grammy’s solution was to send Hans outside with one of the grandkids. As I happened to be in the room at the time, I was assigned the task. “Take him out and show him Papa’s garden,” she told me. “Tell him the names of the vegetables. He’d probably enjoy that.” I agreed. Besides, even though I knew not a whit of German, I was very much at ease in Hans’s presence. He was painfully thin, with a messy mop of hair and large glasses. I should point out that the men in my life, including my father, were gruff blue-collar types who could intimidate me. Hans was different: gentle, soft-spoken and appealingly awkward—a lot like me!
I took the man’s right hand with my left (my good hand) and led him out into the garden, which took up most of the front lawn at my grandparents’ place. I escorted my new friend down the rows of veggies, calling out each one as we passed it, and Hans would gleefully parrot the names. This went on until we made our way through the entire garden. I was proud to find myself educating an adult rather than the other way around. When the English lesson was over, Hans plopped himself down on a patch of earth near the garden and patted the spot next to him, indicating he wanted me to sit there. I did. I couldn’t believe this peculiar man I barely knew was so eager to connect with me, the weird little kid nobody liked. It felt good.
For long minutes we simply enjoyed each other’s company. Then, out of the blue, Hans slipped a hand into my shorts, even though we were only about 30 feet from the poorly paved country road that meandered through this stretch of country. This went on for several minutes. I was confused but not frightened or troubled. The only thing I could think to say while this was happening was “Peepee,” continuing the English lesson with my pet name for my genitalia even in the midst of my own abuse. Hans chortled and repeated the word: “Peepee.” Eventually this came to an end, and Hans, having gotten what he wanted, shooed me away. I can’t imagine why it didn’t occur to him that I would immediately rat him out; maybe he knew and just didn’t care. Anyway, he could hardly ask me not to, could he? I raced back to Grammy and promptly informed her of what had happened. She deliberated over what to do, in the end asking me to keep it a secret from everyone, including my parents, and ordering me to stay away from Hans. No authorities were called, and life went on as usual. Hans stayed that evening with my uncle and aunt and left the next day. I never saw him again.
We see this fact over and over again: homosexuality is not inherent in one’s personhood. It is caused by early exposure to misplaced (sinful) sexual stimulation. And it causes the recipient of the abuse to have confused thoughts about sexuality. To think that the abuse is a good thing.
We see it happening in this article as well. Instead of the author saying “this was wrong and it affected me in a sinful and harmful way”, this author is saying, “well, this experience wasn’t so bad, and it made me a pedophile, which I suffer with, so feel sorry for my condition”.
We need to challenge this line of thinking in its tracks. The alternative: our culture will adopt more and more of this type of confused and muddled thinking, and worse, more children are certain to be abused and therefore harmed, and who will grow up to be harmful and predatory adults themselves.
One of the biggest myths when it comes to the doctrine of hell (a close second after the oh-so-modern notion that hell doesn’t actually exist) is that God wants to send people there, while people don’t want to go. Many people imagine God as a tyrant, doling out excessive punishment on poor, unsuspecting, and innocent us. The reality is, no one wants us to escape God’s wrath more than God.
You weren’t designed for wrath. And hell wasn’t designed for you. You were designed for glory, for eternal happiness in God’s presence. But God won’t overpower your will. He’ll extend pardon to any and all who receive it—but we have to receive it. A pardon can’t be forced.
I recently read what must be one of the top 5 most bizarre Supreme Court cases of all time—United States v. Wilson, from 1833. The defendant, George Wilson, had pled guilty to several counts of robbery and “endangering the life of a mail driver.” This was apparently a serious enough combination of crimes that Wilson was sentenced to be executed. President Andrew Jackson issued Wilson a full pardon. But then Wilson (for reasons we will probably never know) refused the pardon. The odd case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and this was their verdict:
“A pardon is an act of grace … which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. … A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected…and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”
This is the irony and the tragedy of so many of our friends and neighbors: they will die and go to hell with their sins paid for and pardoned.
It doesn’t matter how gracious the pardon is: if someone refuses to accept it, the pardon does no good. God has already extended the pardon. But we must choose it for ourselves. We are free, like George Wilson did, to reject it. But why? As the 17th century bishop Jeremy Taylor once said, “God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy in him.”
God’s wrath may be a doctrine that pains us—but not nearly like it pains God. There is no one in the universe that wants you to avoid hell more than God. For those who reject God, the last voice they will hear as they step into hell is the voice of Jesus saying, “You don’t have to do this!”
God will not override you. But until the day of your death, he will pursue you, trying to wake you up. Don’t confuse what God intends to be space to repent with his absence. Don’t be lulled into complacency. Flee to Christ, because today is the day of salvation. And none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.
For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.
Kindle deals for Christian readers
Old Story New by Marty Machowski is 99¢ for the next few days. Also on sale:
- Truth Matters by Andreas Köstenberger—99¢
- Read the Bible for Life by George Guthrie—$2.99
- I Will by Thom Rainer—$5.38
- Reviving the Black Church by Thabiti Anyabwile—$9.99 (not on sale, but undoubtedly worth reading)
- Connected by Erin Davis—99¢
Finally, be sure to grab a copy of Are We Together? by R.C. Sproul free from Ligonier. They’re giving away it away in both ePub and MOBI formats.
Good stuff from Trevin Wax:
If you were to pull a book off my shelf at home and ask me about it, I’d probably be able to tell you the author’s main point, his way of making that point, and how that point coincides or contradicts others in the same field. Then, I’d either recommend it as worthy of your time or point you to another resource.
Friends, we are without excuse. All over Scripture we are called to serve the physical needs we encounter, yet many of us spend our days focused on our own needs and wants. How is your church addressing this global crisis? How is your family serving those in need in your community? Have you prayed for those who don’t know where to go for their next meal?
But it’s true that this movie has more in common with John Q than Left Behind; it looks and feels like a Hollywood blockbuster, not a piece of Christian spin.
So why does Captive succeed where others have failed? In part, it may have been strengthened by the filmmakers’ skepticism about the norms of the faith-based genre. As Bird put it: “I don’t think evangelistic filmmaking is either good evangelism or good filmmaking. I think it’s actually pretty bad propaganda most of the time.”
These are worth reading.
It’s hard to remember a mobilization of pro-life coalitions like the one we’ve seen in the months since the release of the first video. Planned Parenthood’s human trafficking operations have reignited our political and cultural discussions about abortion and human dignity, and many have testified of the videos’ having a profound—and in some cases, definitive—affect on their views.
So is pro-life winning? Not so fast.
I would appreciate your prayers over the next few days. I am currently heading to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), to speak at Se Hombre. Please pray for safe travels and that I would simply and confidently preach God’s Word.
Here are today’s Kindle deals: Preaching to a Post-Everything World by Zack Eswine ($2.51); How People Change by Timothy Lane ($2.99); One Anothering by Simon Schrock ($2.99); Mormonism Unmasked by Phillip Roberts ($2.99); The Religions Next Door by Marvin Olasky ($0.99).
Ligonier Ministries is giving away R.C. Sproul’s excellent book Are We Together? In it “R.C. Sproul takes his stand for the cardinal doctrines of Protestantism in opposition to the errors of the Roman Catholic Church.”
Russell Moore: “It’s hard to remember a mobilization of pro-life coalitions like the one we’ve seen in the months since the release of the first video. Planned Parenthood’s human trafficking operations have reignited our political and cultural discussions about abortion and human dignity, and many have testified of the videos’ having a profound—and in some cases, definitive—affect on their views.”
Geoffrey Kirkland says, “As I frequent the streets to open air preach to the masses, I need to review biblical goals of open air preaching so I remember why I do what I do and to guard me from veering off track.”
This article explains what Volkswagen did, and how they got away with it. (Note: one or two swear words.) “It sounds like the sinister plot of some straight-to-DVD movie. Since 2009, Volkswagen had been installing elaborate software in 482,000 ‘clean diesel’ vehicles sold in the US, so that the cars’ pollution controls only worked when being tested for emissions.”
This Day in 1950. Happy birthday to Tim Keller, who turns 65 today! You can with him a happy birthday at @timkellernyc.
The article is total clickbait, but still fun.
Trevin Wax has some tips for you.
It’s hard not to cry watching this video of a man serenading his wife with their old love songs.
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
Is Capitalism UnChristian? – “I’m not interesting in commenting on the specifics of either party’s job plan. There are, no doubt, many good ideas that could help the economy and many bad ideas to avoid. I’ll let you decide which are which. But I thought it might be worthwhile to think about where private sector jobs come from. Most basically, new jobs come from people with money to spend who want to spend their money on more people. This means…”
Praying the Bible – “What is it about prayer that’s difficult? Maybe we don’t know what to say, or we find what we’re praying about to be trivial—something not worthy of bringing before the Creator of the universe. But maybe you’re like me and when you sit down to pray, you find your mind… wanders. When this happens to me, my prayers wind up sounding something like this…”
The Doctrines of Grace: By His Grace and for His Glory – “The doctrines of grace are so called because these five major headings of theology, often identified as the five points of biblical Calvinism, contain the purest expression of the saving grace of God. Each of these five doctrines—radical depravity, sovereign election, definite atonement, irresistible call, and preserving grace—supremely display the sovereign grace of God. These five headings stand together as one comprehensive statement of the saving purposes of God. For this reason, there is really only one point to the doctrines of grace, namely, that God saves sinners by His grace and for His glory. These two realities—God’s grace and glory—are inseparably bound together. Whatever most magnifies God’s grace most magnifies His glory. And that which most exalts God’s grace is the truth expressed in the doctrines of grace.”
The Depth of My Depravity – “Testimony—that’s a good Christian word, isn’t it? Each of us has a testimony, an account of how God extended his grace to us. And these testimonies are beautiful things, each one recounting the sovereign work of our great God. Now, much has been said about how we tend to prefer the testimonies that feature the most dramatic lows. We have all heard those tales that almost seem to revel in past sins more than feel regret for them. But we like those stories because we find a certain kind of thrill in hearing how someone turned away from a life of such egregious sin.”
Why the Anglican Communion is Already Divorced – “Is the Anglican Communion about to split over different views of sexual ethics? You might think so after reading headlines about the archbishop of Canterbury’s proposal to “loosen” the structures of the Communion — a way of retaining his relationship to the liberal wing of the Western churches as well as the traditional Anglicans of the Global South. But to interpret the archbishop’s recent announcement as a split over sexuality is to miss the bigger picture. First, the impending dissolution of Anglicanism as it currently exists institutionally is over much more than sex. Second, the divorce has already taken place, just not formally.”
Tom Buck – Characteristics of a Healthy Church (Part 1)
Shut up, Christian!
Christianity vs. Every Other Religion
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Christian Headlines Daily – Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Tebow Rumors Fly: Will He Join the Bears or Cowboys?
Democrats Demand Man Who Released Planned Parenthood Videos Testify at Hearing
Anti-Conversion Clause in Nepal’s Constitution Could Threaten Christian Faith
Dozens of Women and Children Freed from Boko Haram
Evangelical Transgender Conference Rejects Notion that Gender Identity Can Change
Israeli Archaeologists Discover Possible Burial Place of the Maccabees
Ben Carson Clarifies His Anti-Muslim Comments
Franklin Graham Tells Obama Veto Pro-Life Bill at Your ‘Own Peril’
Religious Freedom Network Should be as ‘Outspoken and Organised’ as the Extremists
Conservatives Outraged that Gays are on White House Guest List for Pope Francis Visit
Religious Liberty, the Founders, and Us
Sensational Science: How Pride Corrupts Peer-Review
Pastor Helps Disarm Gunman in Church
I Have the Nine: a Retrospective on the Charleston Church Shooting
Loving the Foreigner: Seeing Refugees Through God’s Eyes
By Chuck Lawless on Sep 23, 2015 01:00 am
READING: Esther 1-5
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: Ahasuerus was the king of Persia. Esther, a Jew, was the queen. Haman, a leader in the government, sought a decree to have all the Jews killed. Mordecai heard about the decree and encouraged Esther to approach the king and plead for her people. That task — to approach the king unsolicited — was a frightening task indeed.
Mordecai’s response to Esther is perhaps the best known section of this book:
Esther 4:13-16 Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.”
Esther had no easy choice. If she did nothing, she would die with the rest of the Jews. If she did approach the king when he did not summons her, that could cost her life as well. But then again, Mordecai said, maybe God had raised her up to her position “for such a time as this.”
“For such a time as this . . . ,” he said.
“If I perish, I perish,” she responded.
God had raised her up at that moment in time for that specific situation. It was risky, yes, but God was in charge. Esther called the people to fast, and she confirmed her willingness to go to the king even if it cost her life. She was willing to take that risk for her people.
I am forced to consider this question today: if God calls me to accept a task that risks my life, am I willing to go? Would I rather perish doing what God told me to do than live while ignoring God’s commands?
I pray I would rather die.
After all, that’s what Jesus did for me.
PRAYER: “Give me that kind of faith and trust, God. If You call me, empower me to follow.”
Our Time is Short
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
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Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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