Daily Archives: January 2, 2017

What is the Gospel?

Unfathomable Grace

Law or Gospel — Which comes first?

Sometimes in life, the question is posed to us, “Which do you want first — the bad news or the good news?”

In response to this question, some choose to hear the good news first. It appears they desire to be thoroughly overwhelmed with the positive before getting their dose of the negative.

Others choose differently. They would rather hear the bad news first, get it out of the way, and put behind them their wonder and worry. Then, after processing the ramifications of the bad news, they hope to soothe the pain an end the conversation on a good note with positive vibes.

Well, Scripture does not offer us options. The Bible makes the choice for us, and it chooses to present the negative before the positive. The Bible declares bad news before declaring good news. It first presents the holy, wise, beneficial and condemning Law, then it publishes…

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Not recommended teachers/authors/speakers

Early in 2016, Michelle Lesley compiled a list of women teachers, speakers and authors that should be avoided like the plague. In October she added several women to the list (here). There’s no guessing necessary as to why Michelle doesn’t recommend certain high profile Christians because she includes examples of their flawed teaching; likewise, she names some of the wolves those on the list choose to partner with. Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Victoria Osteen and Christine Caine, to name a few.  The Bible urges believers to do their homework (Acts 17:11) for the reason that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1).

Now take a look at Michelle’s list…

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‘Pope Francis’ Urges: ‘Let Us Entrust the New Year to Mary’

The mother of Jesus was a sinner just like all human beings born into this world. Therefore she needed Jesus Christ as a Savior.  The Bible says nothing about Mary ascending to heaven or having an exalted role there. Yet the pope of Rome urges Catholics to entrust her with the new year “so that peace and mercy may grow throughout the world.” We believe that the mother of Jesus should be held in high esteem, but she is not worthy of our worship or adoration.  So with this in mind, following is Christian News Network’s report:

The leader of Roman Catholicism, Jorge Bergoglio, also known as “Pope Francis,” observed the feast of “the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God” on New Year’s Day, urging followers to “entrust the new year to Mary.”

“Let us entrust the new year to Mary, Mother of God, so that peace and mercy may grow throughout the world,” he Tweeted on Sunday, generating over 33,000 likes and 11,000 shares.

The feast “coincides with the octave-day of Christmas” on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and was initially the feast of the Circumcision of Christ until being replaced in 1974 by Pope John VI. The “mother of God” concept, however, can be traced back as early as the Council of Ephesus in 431.

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See our Research Paper on Roman Catholicism

Transgenderism: “A Mental Disorder” Says a Top Psychiatrist From Johns Hopkins

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

dr-paul-mchugh

Our Left Wing government is attempting to push transgenderism down our throats; making those of us who do not accept this aberrant behavior as normal, ‘transgenderphobes.’ Now, a top psychiatrist from Johns Hopkins is telling us the truth about what he terms is a mental disorder.

From CNSnews.com

Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.

Dr. McHugh, the author of six books and at least 125 peer-reviewed medical articles, made his remarks in a recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal, where he explained that transgender surgery is not the solution for people who suffer a “disorder of ‘assumption’” – the notion that their maleness or…

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The “Grievous Sin” of Neglecting the Church (Ames)

The Reformed Reader

The Marrow of Theology by [Ames, William] The Lord Jesus has a special love and care for his church (Eph. 1:22-23, 5:25ff).  He is the good Shepherd who carefully watches over his flock (Ps. 23) and unselfishly gave up his life to save her (Jn. 10:11).  He loves his bride (the church) so much that he promised to build her up, beautify her, sanctify her, protect her, and preserve her unto the end (Mt. 16:18, Eph. 5:27, etc.).  For these reasons Christians should be quick to identify with the church, love her, support her, and pray for her.  We find Christ’s blessings in his church.  William Ames wrote well on this:

“Since the ordinances of Christ always have God’s blessing joined with them, various promises of God are made to the church about the presence of Christ (Mt. 18:20, 1 Cor. 5:4).  So in a special way he is said to live and walk in the churches (Rev…

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Saying No to Church = Divorcing Christ from His Bride (Murray)

“We cannot think of Christ properly apart from the church.  All the offices he exercises as head over all things, he exercises on behalf of the church.  If we think of the church apart from Christ, or transfer to the church prerogatives that belong only to Christ, then we are guilty of idolatry.  But if we think of Christ apart from the church, then we are guilty of a dismemberment that severs what God has joined together.  We are divorcing Christ from his only bride.”

Some people today believe they can be a Christian without being part of a church.  I know of people who call themselves Christians yet purposely do not associate with a local church fellowship.  This is an unbiblical attitude that results in an unbiblical lifestyle.  Hebrews 10 talks about not forsaking the assembly, and 1 John says that people who went out from the Christian group were really not part of the group (Heb 10:25 & 1 John 2:19).  John Murray gave a good reminder of the tight bond between Christ and his bride, the church:

“We cannot think of Christ properly apart from the church.  All the offices he exercises as head over all things, he exercises on behalf of the church.  If we think of the church apart from Christ, or transfer to the church prerogatives that belong only to Christ, then we are guilty of idolatry.  But if we think of Christ apart from the church, then we are guilty of a dismemberment that severs what God has joined together.  We are divorcing Christ from his only bride.  The central doctrine of the Christian faith should remind us of the evil of such divorce, for this doctrine is that ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it’ (Eph. 5:25).”

Since Christ loved his church that much, so should his followers!  True, the church is not perfect.  But Christ didn’t run away from it or forsake it, instead he loved the church and died for it!  So the Christian must not run away from the church or forsake it, but love it, pray for it, and join with it – out of love for and obedience to Christ.

John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray Volume 1, p. 238.

Rev. Shane Lems is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and serves as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

The post Saying No to Church = Divorcing Christ from His Bride (Murray) appeared first on The Aquila Report.

TD Jakes still peddling Modalism heresy

Chris Rosebrough from ‘Fighting For the Faith’ recently exposed clear evidence that TD Jakes is not a Christian. On his program Rosebrough played  the latest audio of TD Jakes peddling the heresy of Modalism, a heresy condemned by the early church for denying the Trinity. To peddle Modalism is to peddle a different deity and a different gospel.

Matt Slick from  Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry describes Modalism as “probably the most common theological error concerning the nature of God.  It is a denial of the Trinity. Modalism states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes or forms. Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son; and after Jesus’ ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and…

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CultureWatch: Hardened Hearts and the Judgment of God

Now here is a topic most people would rather not discuss – and I include many pastors and church leaders here as well, not just pagans. But I must discuss it nonetheless. It is about the hardness of heart that comes due to sin, and the warnings about it as found in Scripture.

There are numerous passages that speak to this, so we had better pay close attention. One of the key texts is Hebrews 3:13 which says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Now it is quite apparent by the context that this warning is given to believers. Verses 12-14 reads:

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

hard-heart-2It is not my intention here to enter into the big debate about whether believers can lose their salvation, or are eternally secure, and so on. So please wait till I write a few rather longish articles on those quite complex and detailed debates before sending in your views on this thanks!

In the meantime I can recommend one book edited by Herbert Bateman on this and other passages in Hebrews called, Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews (Kregel. 2007).

But if even believers are warned about the dangers of a hardened heart, how much more then are non-Christians at risk in this? And that is the focus of what I want to speak about here. The Bible says much about sin-hardened sinners and what a dangerous place that is to be in.

A key passage on this is Romans 1:18-32. Some of the scariest words of Scripture are found in verses 24, 26, 28: “God gave them over”. Sinners who continue in sin, continue to shake their fist at God, and continue to reject the truth are eventually given over by God.

Let me look at one further set of passages. Since I have again just finished reading through the book of Revelation, let me cite a few passages from there about this very issue. They are quite frightening passages indeed. They speak about God’s just judgment being poured out on the earth, and the reactions of non-believers.

No matter how bad the judgments, these sinners refuse to repent, but dig their heels in even further, cursing God. Consider a few of these texts:

Revelation 9:20-21 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Revelation 16:8-11 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Revelation 16:21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Those are some pretty heavy duty passages. They depict all too well what happens when the human heart is hardened in sin and rebellion. Instead of allowing a bit of the fear of God to touch their hearts, they are so hardened that these terrible judgments simply harden them even further.

We do read about one other case of judgment in which hardening is not mentioned (nor is repentance). In Rev. 11:13 we read: “At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”

Scholars differ on two issues which arise here: is this real repentance and conversion in 11:13, and do these judgments contain within them a final offer of repentance, or are they simply retributive in nature? As to the first question, one can compare Nebuchadnezzer’s response in Daniel 4.

For example in v. 34 we read: “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.” Does that indicate an expression of genuine repentance and faith? It could be.

So too with Rev. 11:13. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to God. Does that mean that real repentance took place? Some scholars say no to both cases. And was the judgment dished out simply an act of punishment or was a real offer of repentance included? There is variance of opinion on this matter as well.

However we line up on these questions, the main issue of hardened hearts must still be dealt with. As Robert Mounce remarks, “Once the heart is set in its hostility toward God not even the scourge of death will lead men to repentance.” Or as Robert Wall comments, “The world’s resistance to God’s reign and to God’s transforming grace found in Christ is constant and pervasive.”

J. Ramsey Michaels says this about Rev. 9:20-21:

For the first time, John gives full attention to the human response to these divine judgments. He has mentioned the human response twice before, but only in passing, as a way of dramatizing the severity of the judgments themselves, first in 6:15-17, where people hid in caves and cried out to the mountains to fall on them, and second in 9:6, where they desired death but did not find it. This time the human response is in spite of the severity of the judgment, not because of it. The point is made twice (vv. 20, 21) that these terrible judgments did not bring about repentance or a change of heart among those who were not killed.

Such callous hardness of heart is just so amazing to consider. But we do know that at the end of the day all men will bow the knee to God and give him glory: some will do so willingly while some will do it only under duress. As Philippians 2:9-11 puts it,

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

We have a chance now to repent and give glory to God while God offers mercy and pardon. But a day is coming when he will only offer strict justice and judgment. Then too men will bow the knee, even if it is unwillingly. Plenty could be said about all this in general, and the frightening phrase of God ‘giving them over,’ but by way of summation and exhortation, I very much like what R. C. Sproul has to say about this:

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.

He goes on to say this:

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 time is now my friends. Take up the offer now of grace and forgiveness obtained through repentance and faith before it is too late.

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January 2, 2017: Verse of the day

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God has always been sovereign over His creation; however, in John’s visions of the time of the end, God takes charge of the kingdoms of the world by setting His Messiah over them as king. This means the end of suffering for the people of God, the end of the kingdoms of the world, and the arrival of justice.

Faithlife Study Bible