Category Archives: Biblical Lesson/Teaching

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

False teachers are not always argumentative or divisive; often they are some of the nicest people we know. They usually creep in not with scowls on their faces but with big smiles. They don’t normally creep into churches and teach obvious heresies and falsehoods; they usually subtly question the truth and teach partial truths, and they are not always identified by what they actually teach but by what they leave out of their teaching. 

Throughout history, our enemy has raised up many false prophets and false teachers, but perhaps never before in history has the church itself raised up so many of its own false teachers, parading them and welcoming them into their homes and churches. False teachers abound on many of the so-called Christian television networks, and books by false teachers fill the shelves of many so-called Christian bookstores. And while many Christians are rightly concerned about the growth of religions such as Islam, the greatest threat to orthodox Christianity is not other religions but false teachers who creep into the church unnoticed.

False teachers creep into the church not because they look like false teachers but because they look like angels. They disguise themselves just as their master Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. When false teachers attempt to creep into the church, they typically don’t look like wolves because they wear sheep costumes and use some of the same language that the sheep use. They regularly quote Scripture, and they are often able to quote more Scripture than the average Christian.

False teachers are not always argumentative or divisive; often they are some of the nicest people we know. They usually creep in not with scowls on their faces but with big smiles. They don’t normally creep into churches and teach obvious heresies and falsehoods; they usually subtly question the truth and teach partial truths, and they are not always identified by what they actually teach but by what they leave out of their teaching. They often speak of Jesus, salvation, the gospel, and faith, but they twist the words and concepts of Scripture to fit their own versions of the truth, which is no truth at all.

They typically don’t attempt to creep into churches where the Word of God is preached boldly and passionately, in season and out of season, and where the people are eager for the sound preaching of Scripture and are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, they usually target those churches where people are indifferent to doctrine and apathetic about the preaching of the Word of God.

The surest way, then, to prevent and stop the spread of false teaching is for Christian leaders and laypeople, pastors and parishioners, teachers and learners, to be committed to the sound preaching of God’s Word and to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Only then will false teachers be recognized for who they are and the sheep of Christ be protected from error, all to the end of living coram Deo, before the face of God, for God’s glory according to God’s unchanging truth.

Ligonier © 2018. Used with permission.

The post Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing appeared first on The Aquila Report.

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Combatting the Lies the World Believes

Code: B180406

It makes sense that the truth is the best defense against a lie.

But should that be the church’s strategy when combatting the lies of the world? Should we try to persuade and out-argue sinners bent in defiant rebellion against their Creator? Should we present rebuttals and counterpoints to sway the minds of those caught in the slavery of sin? Should we pin the hopes of another person’s eternity on our ability to present a better, more convincing argument?

We recently asked John MacArthur about the best strategy to combat Satan’s lies and penetrate the darkness with the light of God’s truth. Here’s what he had to say:

We need to be aware of the lies that permeate and corrupt this world, and the threat they present to those in the church. But we should not overestimate our own persuasive abilities when it comes to reviving dead hearts. There is no argument that can awaken the conscience or impart new spiritual life. There’s no speech that can soften the sinful heart of stone.

Throughout our recent series on the lies that dominate the world, we attempted to impart the tools and insight you will need to defend against these lies and their poisonous influence. But the power to truly defeat them lies solely in the gospel, and the work of the Holy Spirit to convict, illuminate, redeem, and transform.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180406
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Herescope: Did Hell Disappear?

Creating A “Low-Intensity Faith”

The Wall Street Journal wrote last week that “Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, a friend and frequent interviewer of the pope, reported that the pontiff had denied the existence of hell.”

Sinners who die without achieving eternal salvation “are not punished,” the pope said, according to an article by Mr. Scalfari in the Itlaian newspaper La Repubblica. “There is no hell; there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”[1]

Predictably the Vatican would later release a statement that partially denied the report, but also “stopped short of a specific denial.”[2] This clever dialectic maneuver is a perfect example of two steps forward, one step back. Now the issue of hell is on the table and up for debate, once again illustrating how the Pope Francis has “shaken up perceptions of Catholic doctrine.”[3]

The Pope is merely following in the steps of other theologians and leaders who have professed orthodoxy out of one side of their mouth while teaching new doctrine.[4]Their strategies appear to be the same. The Wall Street Journal’s Vatican correspondent, Francis X. Rocca, describes it:

For more conservative critics, the pope’s approach amounts to promotion of a “low-intensity Catholicism that can be easily welcomed by those far from the faith and even hostile to it,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who writes for Italy’s L’Espresso magazine.[5]

An Editorial by Pastor Jim Jenkins

The nun turned her back on the class. (We were still not safe from scrutiny… we all knew she also had eyes in the back of her head.) Jimmy Cummings could make these strange voices and sounds and get us giggling… and then when the good sister turned around to find the culprit, Jimmy could instantly take on the countenance of a cherub and someone else would be blamed. His unique ability served him well. He is now Voice Actor Jim Cummings… the voice of Winnie the Pooh!

I digress… Back to what the nun had written on the green blackboard. She took the pointer, a weapons grade staff with a rubber tip that looked like a ballistic missile, and pronounced the phrase she had written:

Ex Cathedra 

She then went on to explain that whenever the Pope was seated in the chair (also called the throne of St. Peter) whatever he said was infallible. He was not to be questioned for he was speaking in the place of God. The Latin phrase ex cathedra means “from or out of the chair”

There was another Latin term we would learn:

Imprimatur 

Imprimatur was the term used to describe the authority of the Church when it came to anyone publishing anything that had to do with the teachings of the Church. It was an official endorsement or sanction… a seal of approval. Yet another Latin phrase would be the official Imprimatur:

Nihil Obstat

It means “Nothing is in the way or is unacceptable or offensive.”

Two days ago, I was listening to a national talk show. I actually got on the air and was able to engage the host on a topic that is important to me… how the media is intentionally trying to undermine our values and beliefs. After the conversation and just before the commercial break, the host teased the topic for the next segment:

“Stick around folks, did you hear the Pope said there is no Hell?”

The current Pope has made numerous remarks that seem to confute not only Catholic Dogma, but the Bible itself. He took a lot of heat when he opined about the whole issue of homosexuality. “Who am I to judge?” I mean no disrespect, but I said out loud when I heard it, “I know who you are… You are Vicar of Christ on earth, the unquestionable representative of God to over a billion people. You sit on a throne, and utter remarks that are deemed to be infallible. You and those who rule with you can excommunicate people, hence cut them off from the means of grace… ergo consigning them to the Hell you said is not what the Bible describes, and Jesus believed to be real. In the New Testament, Jesus mentioned the word Hell more than He did Heaven.”

The implications of all this are far reaching. What else in the Bible will be deemed to be inaccurate or false? Does the word infallible mean… sometimes or ‘sort of’? And what of all the tormented souls who died believing that they were damned to Hell? The Pope is reported to have said that the unrepentant ones don’t go to Hell. They just disappear. The Bible describes torment that never ends… a Dante’s inferno.

There is an angst that is palpable in our world… Constitutions mean nothing. Vows mean even less than nothing and we, lemming-like, rush to fall into the abyss as the institutions of power in our country disassemble all that was based on God’s word.

Listen to this noble school mission statement:  

“Christo et Ecclesia”

For Christ and the Church! This is the founding mission statement of Harvard! Princeton had this lofty goal for its students, To know God in Jesus Christ… to live a godly sober life.”[6]

God said, “For I am the Lord. I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”(Malachi 3:6) The writer to the Hebrews said under the unction of The Holy Spirit, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God!” (Hewbrews 10:31) We have for a long time meekly submitted to the abandonment of the very notion there is such a thing as Truth. One writer quipped “God created man in his own image and likeness… and now man has returned the favor.”

I remember preaching a message years ago in which I talked about the Bible’s use of the word authority. Now for Catholics, authority rests in a man who speaks ex cathedra… from the chair. For those who rule us politically their authority can be described as ex officio… out of the office they hold. But for the believer in Jesus, the authority that He grants us is based on our relationship with Him. The word translated authority in the Greek is exousia. It is a derivative of the verb “to be” It can be rendered ‘Out of who I AM’.

Is there a Hell? Is it how the Bible describes it? I read in the Bible that there is a hell and that Jesus affirmed it and warned that some will go there. I have staked my life on its veracity.

I hold that the answer does not rest with a man, or an organization, or a tradition. The Bible says, “All Scripture is God breathed.” (1 Timothy 3:16) “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” said Jesus, “but My Words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33) That is proof enough for me.

The Truth:

For the truth about hell, see Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s excellent article, “An Imaginary Cosmic Reality,”[7] where he refutes the denial of hell. Here is a brief excerpt:

Many, even Christians, reject the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles regarding the eternal punishment of the wicked. They point out that no biblical word expresses the concept of “eternity,” but only “a long period”or “remotest time” (Hebrew ‘olam) or “age” (Greek aion). They argue that because of these words’ multifaceted meanings there is no word in Scripture expressing a forever category of time. Therefore it is presumptuous for anyone to think hell will never end. But the Apostle John describes the state of being consigned to the Lake of Fire as one of being “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). The time frame expressed is in multiples of forever-s, one of ages of ages. These multiples of ages is the longest concept of time the Greek language, or perhaps any language, can express (Greek plurals, eis tous aionas ton aionon, Revelation 20:10). Combined with “day and night” (Greek, hemeras kai nyktos), “for ever and ever” nuances a timeless existence in which 24/7, for ages of ages, the unholy trinity—the beast, the false prophet, the devil—and others will be confined. Together, the clauses express the “the unbroken continuity of their torment” in perpetuity.

“And I say unto you my friends,
Be not afraid of them that kill the body,
and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear:
Fear Him, which after He hath killed
hath power to cast into hell;
yea,
 I say unto you, Fear Him.” 
(Jesus, Luke 12:4-5)
“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)

Endnotes:
1. Francis X. Rocca,  “Shifting lines: Pope’s Uncertainty Principle,” The Wall Street Journal, March 31-April 1, 2018, p. A9.
2. Ibid
3. Ibid.
4. See Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s “Love Loses,” a review of Rob Bell’s book Love Winshttp://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/05/love-loses.html and his article “An Imaginary Cosmic Reality” reviewing Wm. Paul Young’s book, Lies We Believe About Godhttp://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/06/an-imaginary-cosmic-reality.html
5. Rocca, Ibid.
6. Everett Piper, The Wrong Side of the Door, p. 23.
7. http://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/06/an-imaginary-cosmic-reality.html

Four Things People Often Miss About Judas (and What We Can Learn from Them)

James tells us that the “double-minded man [is] unstable in all of his ways” (James 1:8). That is a very good description of Judas. He was double-minded, and in the end, the faith that he once professed he abandoned completely. Here are four things that are commonly overlooked when it comes to Judas.

The Commitment He Made

Judas had made a commitment to Jesus. There was no reason to think he was anything but sincere in his faith. Like the rest of the disciples, he had left everything to follow him. Judas had been actively involved in ministry. He had been given remarkable spiritual gifts.

Luke tells us, “[Jesus] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:1-2).

Judas was a gospel preacher! He had been given a special gift of healing. He had exercised authority over demons. Active involvement in ministry is a good and a wonderful thing, but it is not, in itself, a sign of spiritual life or spiritual health.

The Opportunity He Was Given

Judas walked with Jesus for three years. He saw the greatest life that has ever been lived, up close and personal. You can’t have a better model of faith than Jesus or a better environment for forming faith than Judas had in walking with Jesus.

He was a direct witness to the miracles. When Jesus fed the 5,000, Judas was there. He took the bread and distributed it along with the other disciples. When Jesus calmed the storm, Judas was there. And he was there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. You can’t have better evidence for faith than Judas had.

Judas heard all of the teaching of Jesus. He heard the Sermon on the Mount, so he knew that there is a narrow road that leads to life and a broad road that leads to destruction. He heard the warnings that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, so he knew that there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain. He heard the parable of the prodigal son, and he knew that Christ was ready to welcome and forgive those who had wasted themselves in many sins.

With his own ears, this man heard the finest teaching. With his own eyes, he saw the clearest evidence. In his own life, he had the best example. And yet this man betrayed Jesus.

How deep the problem of the human heart is! It “is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;” (Jeremiah 17:9). Do you understand your own heart?

Can you understand how a young person who is raised by godly parents in the context of a healthy church, taught the truths of Scripture from an early age, and grounded in apologetics can end up abandoning the faith that he or she once professed?

There is an important truth here for parents, leaders, and friends who grieve over someone you love who has abandoned the faith they once professed. You say, “Where did we go wrong? What more could we have done? Did we fail in our teaching? Did we fail in our example? Should we have immersed our son or daughter or friend in a different environment? Perhaps that would have made a difference.”

This story is telling us that even the finest teaching, the best example, and the most compelling evidence—the ultimate environment for incubating faith—cannot, in and of themselves, change the human heart.

The Choice He Made

Satan made a relentless assault on the soul of Judas, as he makes a relentless assault on everyone who chooses to follow Christ. There is nothing unique about the experience of Judas here.

  • “Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot…He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them” (Luke 22:3, 4).
  • “The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son to betray him” (John 13:2).
  • “Satan entered into him” (John 13:27).

The Bible’s clear statements about Satan’s activity have led many people to say, “Well, poor Judas, he didn’t have a chance. Satan entered into him. What could he do about that?” But that evaluation overlooks the fact that Judas opened the door of his life to Satan.

Judas had been stealing from the bag. And when he kept this sin secret, Satan entered into him. He made a deal with the chief priests and then sat down at our Lord’s Table with a known sin that he would not confess, and Satan entered even further into his life. Unconfessed sin always opens the door to Satan’s power.

Satan does not gain a foothold in the lives of people who are walking in the light with Jesus. He only has access when we open the door. Klaus Schilder says, “It is the peculiar majesty of Jesus that He can conquer man without man’s first approaching Him. But Satan’s frailty is proved by this, that he cannot approach a soul unless that soul has first turned to him” (Christ in His Sufferings, 185).

Sometimes in the church, we get this the other way around. We are afraid that Satan will somehow have secret access to us, but Jesus, he can do nothing unless we ask him to. No, the Bible teaches us precisely the opposite.

The Outcome He Embraced

Judas went out into the darkness he had chosen, “and it was night” (John 13:30). When you get close to Jesus, one of two things will happen: Either you will become wholly his, or you will end up more alienated from him and more antagonistic toward him than if you had never known him at all.

Among those who hate Christ the most are not a few who once professed to trust him. Christ’s claims are so exclusive, and his demands so pervasive that, in the end, you must either give yourself to him completely or give him up altogether. There is no middle ground.

Only those who have never known him can remain indifferent to him. For those who get close, the only outcomes are full devotion or eventual antagonism and every day, each of us is heading in one direction or the other.

Worth Any Cost

In a day when many people are abandoning the faith that they once professed, the story of Judas warns us to guard our hearts, lest we drift away. The story of Judas also equips us to reach out to others who may be close to walking away from faith. Christ calls us to “be merciful to those who doubt. Save others by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 22-23). Finally, the story of Judas reminds us that nothing good can come from giving up on Jesus Christ. He is of supreme value, and following him is worth any cost.

[This article originally appeared at The Gospel Coalition.]
[Photo Credit: Unsplash]

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The post Four Things People Often Miss About Judas (and What We Can Learn from Them) appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility

God is sovereign in creation, providence, redemption, and judgment. That is a central assertion of Christian belief and especially in Reformed theology. God is King and Lord of all. To put this another way: nothing happens without God’s willing it to happen, willing it to happen before it happens, and willing it to happen in the way that it happens. Put this way, it seems to say something that is expressly Reformed in doctrine. But at its heart, it is saying nothing different from the assertion of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” To say that God is sovereign is to express His almightiness in every area.

God is sovereign in creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Apart from God, there was nothing. And then there was something: matter, space, time, energy. And these came into being ex nihilo—out of nothing. The will to create was entirely God’s. The execution was entirely His. There was no metaphysical “necessity” to create; it was a free action of God.

God is sovereign in providence. Traditional theism insists that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent—all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present. Each assertion is a variant of divine sovereignty. His power, knowledge, and presence ensure that His goals are met, that His designs are fulfilled, and that His superintendence of all events is (to God, at least) essentially “risk free.”

God’s power is not absolute in the sense that God can do anything (potestas absoluta); rather, God’s power ensures that He can do all that is logically possible for Him to will to do. “He cannot deny himself,” for example (2 Tim. 2:13).

Some people object to the idea that God knows all events in advance of their happening. Such a view, some insist, deprives mankind of its essential freedom. Open theists or free-will theists, for example, insist that the future (at least in its specific details) is in some fashion “open.” Even God does not know all that is to come. He may make predictions like some cosmic poker player, but He cannot know absolutely. This explains, open theists suggest, why God appears to change His mind: God is adjusting His plan based on the new information of unforeseeable events (see Gen. 6:6–71 Sam. 15:11). Reformed theology, on the other hand, insists that no event happens that is a surprise to God. To us it is luck or chance, but to God it is part of His decree. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33). Language of God changing His mind in Scripture is an accommodation to us and our way of speaking, not a description of a true change in God’s mind.

God is sovereign in redemption, a fact that explains why we thank God for our salvation and pray to Him for the salvation of our spiritually lost friends. If the power to save lies in man’s free will, if it truly lies in their unaided ability to save themselves, why would we implore God to “quicken,” “save,” or “regenerate” them? The fact that we consistently thank God for the salvation of individuals means (whether we admit it or not) that belief in absolute free will is inconsistent.

God is sovereign in judgment. Few passages of Scripture reflect the sovereignty of God in election and reprobation with greater force than Romans 9:21: “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” On the face of it, this might appear unfair and arbitrary—as though God were playing some vindictive child’s game with the petals of a flower: “He loves me; He loves me not. He loves me; He loves me not.” In response, some people have insisted that God has the right to do whatever He pleases and it is none of our business to find fault with Him—a point that Paul himself anticipates (Rom. 9:20). Others have taken the view that if God were to grant us what we deserve, we would all be damned. Election is therefore a gracious (and not just a sovereign) act. Both are true. But in any case, our salvation displays God’s glory: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36)

HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY

The assertion of divine sovereignty is not without further questions that should be addressed.

First, there is the question of evangelism. If God is sovereign in all matters of providence, what is the point of exerting human effort in evangelism and missions? God’s will is sure to be fulfilled whether we evangelize or not. But we dare not reason this way. Apart from the fact that God commands us to evange-lize—“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19)—such reasoning ignores the fact that God fulfills His sovereign plan through human means and instrumentality. Nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to be passive and inert. Paul commands his Philippian readers to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13).

Second, there is the question of ethics. We are held responsible for our actions and behavior. We are culpable in transgression and praiseworthy in obedience.

Third, in relation to civic power and authority, there is the question of God’s sovereignty in the determination of rulers and government. God has raised up civil governments to be systems of equity and good and peace, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them who do well (Rom. 13:31 Peter 2:14). But this is also true of evil powers and corrupt regimes that violate the very principles of government itself; these are also under the sovereign government of Almighty God.

Fourth, in the question of both the origin and continued existence of evil, the sovereignty of God meets its most acute problem. That God does not prevent evil from existing seems to call into question His omnipotence or His benevolence. Some non-Christian religions try to solve this problem by positing that evil is imaginary (Christian Science) or an illusion (Hinduism). Augustine and many medieval thinkers believed part of the mystery could be solved by identifying evil as a privation of the good, suggesting that evil is something without existence in and of itself. Evil is a matter of ontology (being). Reformed thought on this issue is summarized by the Westminster Confession of Faith:

God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain what-soever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the crea-tures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (3:1)

God is the “first cause” of all things, but evil is a product of “second causes.” In the words of John Calvin, “First, it must be observed that the will of God is the cause of all things that happen in the world: and yet God is not the author of evil,” adding, “for the proximate cause is one thing, and the remote cause another.” In other words, God Himself cannot do evil and cannot be blamed for evil even though it is part of His sovereign decree.

God is sovereign, and in His sovereignty He displays His majestic glory. With out it, we would have no being, no salvation, and no hope. Soli Deo gloria.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

Source: God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility

Turn My Eyes from Looking at Worthless Things

The eyes are the lamp of the body. It becomes what they behold.

Lured by desire and the passions of the flesh, the eyes look upon secret loves too dark for anyone but their Creator to fully see and know. Prone to wander, how they feel it—the pull to gaze upon worthless things…

Worthless Vanity

She rolls out of bed and gets ready for the day, wrestling through outfits, but finally choosing the deep blue shirt. People say it compliments her eyes. Her friend, the mirror, is also her greatest foe, faithfully awaiting her gaze and reflecting what she wants to see—but only after it condemns her, only after she heeds its brutal, silent critiques.

Do people see how hard she’s working to maintain her figure and erase her years? And if they did, would it matter?

Would the mirror be any gentler, any kinder to her?

Worthless Attention

The bright screen bores itself into his brain. A constant barrage of entertainment, his phone never leaves his sight or lacks for his attention. He fears missing out—yet he doesn’t hear the flesh-and-blood voices around him when they call his name.

A like outweighs a life.

But it’s never enough; the attention feels like an endless black hole. He’s not even sure who he is anymore since he can change his reality at the touch of a button, with the swipe of a screen—

He’s got others fooled. He’s even got himself fooled.

Or does he?

Worthless Lust

It’s destroying him, the brazen image he can’t get out of his mind. It’s one in a series, and it’s shriveling his soul. He knows this—but he can’t seem to win the fight. The allure is too much, the immediate pleasure too sweet…

The nagging conviction too strong to ignore.

He knows he needs to tell her, to confess everything. But he also knows the outcome, that he fully deserves whatever happens…

Worthless Ambition

Success is her drug. That promotion? The applause and respect? The best high. She’s addicted, though she won’t admit it. She works to live and lives to work, even though her Bible tells her this will never satisfy her.

On any given day, her circumstances rule her. Failures sap her confidence and spoil her mood, while success fills her with pride and delight to keep going—

But how unreliable. She’s controlled by something she can’t control, and she knows it.

She wants out of ambition’s grip.

Looking to Death

But him—

He sets his face like a flint to Calvary, refusing to turn back. He will do his Father’s will, even if it means torture and brutality, the hatred and venom of men. Even if it kills him.

Even if it means his Father’s wrath.

He has her in mind, her obsession with vanity weighing upon his shoulders; and him, as he carries his selfish desire for man’s approval. He takes his addiction to lust, and suffers the punishment for her idolatrous ambition.

For all their worthless loves, he loves them unto death.

Looking to Jesus

…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

My brother, My sister, My friend: You will become what you behold. Look to Me. Take in My goodness and perfection, and see what I endured—for you. Behold My sacrifice, My life-blood spilt for you, the nails in My hands, and the anguish in My soul.

Weep and mourn for what your worthless loves cost Me.

But don’t stop there.

Look to the empty grave. See how I disarmed death and triumphed over it. Behold how the chains of your sin hold Me no longer. Because I’m alive, no longer do they hold you.

I died to give you life in My ways, to turn your eyes from worthless things…to Me.

Behold Me, and as you do, your whole body and soul will be full of light.

[Photo Credit: Lightstock]

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The post Turn My Eyes from Looking at Worthless Things appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

HE IS RISEN: Jesus Christ Is Risen From Dead To Prove That He And He Alone Is The Only Way To Heaven

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the THIRD DAY according to the Scriptures. He did all that for YOU, to buy your pardon to SET YOU FREE.

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”Matthew 28:6 (KJV)

For the past 2,000 years, there has been one story that has taken precedence over any and every other story ever told. The story of a man, flesh and blood, who gave His life willingly on the cross as a ransom for sin, as the Old Testament prophets have proclaimed, and rose from the dead 3 days later to prove that every word He spoke was true and faithful.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:12,13 (KJV)

On the cross at Calvary, Jesus of Nazareth willingly shed His blood as a payment for sin. More specifically, as a payment for your sin, and my sin, for the sins of the whole world. Are you thinking that your religion will save you? Think again, it will not. It cannot. Maybe you’re a good Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, take your pick. They are all equally meaningless apart from the shed blood of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Open the pages of the Bible and search to your heart’s content, but you will never find a ruling class of priests for the church. There are no nuns, no popes, no Vatican, no sacraments, no confessing to a priest, no eucharist, no mass, no dress code, no haircut length. No tithing for a Christian. But on page after page, you will see a recurring theme. Everywhere you look, you will see Jesus, and He alone is enough. He is sufficient.

jesus-king-thousand-year-reign-millennial-temple-jerusalem-israel-bible-prophecy-now-end-begins

THE COMING LITERAL, VISIBLE AND PHYSICAL THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST ON THIS EARTH FROM JERUSALEM

In the Philippines, they are slashing their own skin in idolatrous rituals because they do not believe that Jesus on the cross paid it all. But Jesus shed blood is enough, it’s more than enough. And there is nothing you, on your best day, can ever add to it.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” Ephesians 1:7 (KJV)

After Jesus died on the cross, He lay in the tomb for 3 full days and 3 full nights. He was as dead as dead ever gets. But on the third day, according to the scriptures, He rose from the dead with the power over life and death in His own hands. Proving that He and He alone was the sacrifice for sin that God will accept. This is the gospel which we preach to the saving of your soul.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (KJV)

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the THIRD DAY according to the Scriptures. He did all that for YOU, to buy your pardon to SET YOU FREE. All you have to do is accept or reject that FREE GIFT. If you reject it, when you die, you will burn forever in a place called Hell. If you accept it, the Bible says the moment you die you will be with Christ in Heaven never to die again. Which one do YOU want?

Our sins have separated us from a righteous and holy God, but in His Mercy and love towards us He has made a way of escape for all those who seek it. I am talking to you, right here and right now. God has an AMAZING gift for you, it costs you nothing but it caused Him to shed every drop of blood He had so He could purchase it for you. What is it? It’s your salvation.

“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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)

Pray and ask the Lord, “Lord Jesus, be merciful to me a sinner, and save me. I now, with a repentant heart, receive you as my personal Saviour”.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans 10:13 (KJV)

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, buried, and rose on the third day to save you from the flames of an eternal Hell. He made the payment for your sin on the cross at Calvary, and rose from the dead 3 days later to prove it.

He is the only way to Heaven, without Him there is no hope of any kind. With Him there is eternity with God in Heaven. Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah of Israel, the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world. The one and only hope of mankind. The only Saviour.

“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 (KJV)


The post HE IS RISEN: Jesus Christ Is Risen From Dead To Prove That He And He Alone Is The Only Way To Heaven appeared first on Now The End Begins.

Resurrection and Justification

How is the resurrection of Christ linked to the idea of justification in the New Testament? To answer this question, we must first explore the use and meaning of the term justification in the New Testament. Confusion about this has provoked some of the fiercest controversies in the history of the church. The Protestant Reformation itself was fought over the issue of justification. In all its complications, the unreconciled and unreconcilable difference in the debate came down to the question of whether our justification before God is grounded in the infusion of Christ’s righteousness into us, by which we become inherently righteous, or in the imputation, or reckoning, of Christ’s righteousness to us while we are still sinners. The difference between these views makes all the difference in our understanding of the Gospel and of how we are saved.

One of the problems that led to confusion was the meaning of the word justification. Our English word justification is derived from the Latin justificare. The literal meaning of the Latin is “to make righteous.” The Latin fathers of church history worked with the Latin text instead of the Greek text and were clearly influenced by it. By contrast, the Greek word for justification, dikaiosune, carries the meaning of “to count, reckon, or declare righteous.”

But this variance between the Latin and the Greek is not enough to explain the debates over justification. Within the Greek text itself, there seem to be some problems. For example, Paul declares in Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Then James, in his epistle, writes, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar” (2:21) and “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (2:24).

On the surface, it appears that we have a clear contradiction between Paul and James. The problem is exacerbated when we realize that both use the same Greek word for justification and both use Abraham to prove their arguments.

This problem can be resolved when we see that the verb “to justify” and its noun form, “justification,” have shades of meaning in Greek. One of the meanings of the verb is “to vindicate” or “to demonstrate.”

Jesus once said, ” ‘Wisdom is justified by all her children’ ” (Luke 7:35). He did not mean that wisdom has its sins remitted or is counted righteous by God by having children, but that a wise decision may be vindicated by its consequences.

James and Paul were addressing different questions. James was answering the question: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (2:14). He understood that anyone can profess to have faith, but true faith is demonstrated as authentic by its consequent works. The claim of faith is vindicated (justified) by works. Paul has Abraham justified in the theological sense in Genesis 15 before he does any works. James points to the vindication or demonstration of Abraham’s faith in obedience in Genesis 22.

The Resurrection involves justification in both senses of the Greek term. First, the Resurrection justifies Christ Himself. Of course, He is not justified in the sense of having His sins remitted, because He had no sins, or in the sense of being declared righteous while still a sinner, or in the Latin sense of being “made righteous.” Rather, the Resurrection serves as the vindication or demonstration of the truth of His claims about Himself.

In his encounter with the philosophers at Athens, Paul declared: ” ‘Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead’ ” (Acts 17:30-31).

Here Paul points to the Resurrection as an act by which the Father universally vindicates the authenticity of His Son. In this sense, Christ is justified before the whole world by His resurrection.

However, the New Testament also links Christ’s resurrection to our justification. Paul writes, “It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:24-25).

It is clear that in His atoning death Christ suffered on our behalf, or for us. Likewise, His resurrection is seen not only as a vindication of or surety of Himself, but as a surety of our justification. Here justification does not refer to our vindication, but to the evidence that the atonement He made was accepted by the Father. By vindicating Christ in His resurrection, the Father declared His acceptance of Jesus’ work on our behalf. Our justification in this theological sense rests on the imputed righteousness of Christ, so the reality of that transaction is linked to Christ’s resurrection. Had Christ not been raised, we would have a mediator whose redeeming work in our behalf was not acceptable to God.

However, Christ is risen indeed!

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life”

Ephesians 2:1-10

Code: B180330

This Sunday, the church will celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His triumph over sin, death, and the grave. In his sermon “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life” (which he originally delivered on Easter Sunday twenty years ago), John MacArthur declares,

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is . . . the most determinative event of all time because by it, the destiny of every person is ultimately determined. It is the most impactful thing that ever happened in the history of this world. How you respond to the resurrection will determine whether you spend forever in heaven or hell.

The sermon focuses on Ephesians 2:1-10, and the apostle Paul’s vivid description of God’s redeeming work for those lost and dead in their sins. As John explains, this powerful passage of Scripture assaults the way unbelievers like to think of themselves. “People like to think they’re free. Oh, they love to think they’re free. That’s the biggie nowadays. Everybody is free to do his own thing, do whatever you want, do whatever feels good.” On the contrary, he explains that the sinner’s freedom is an illusion.

Man is not free. You don’t do your own will. You are locked in spiritual death. You are utterly insensitive to the realities of God, to the divine realm. You are hypersensitive to the influences of the evil world system around you. You are engulfed in your own personal sin.

Paul’s description of unrepentant man’s status is utterly hopeless; “Dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) does not leave a lot of room for nuance or interpretation. Dead is dead.

But thankfully Paul does not leave it there.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

As John MacArthur explains, “Here is the great, wonderful truth of Easter. . . . Dead people can come to life.”

This Sunday, our congregations will swell with unsaved people making one of their biannual trips to church. It’s a day when many lost and dead men and women pretend to be spiritually alive. That pantomime of faith only serves to deepen their own self-deception. They need to be brought face to face with the resurrected Lord, and understand the depth of their depravity and their spiritual needs that only He can meet.

Whether you want to remind yourself of the rich grace and mercy that has been poured out in your salvation, or you want to point a friend or loved one to the truth that only God can resurrect and redeem lost sinners, “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life” is a powerful, timely message.

To download or listen to “Exchanging Living Death for Dying Life,” click here.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180330
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

10 Things You Should Know about the Cross

March 30, 2018 
This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.

1. The cross is a Trinitarian event.

The Christian faith is distinctively Trinitarian and cross-shaped. Therefore, the cross must reveal the Trinity. God the Father sent the Son to save the world, the Son submitted to the Father’s will, and the Spirit applies the work of redemption to Jesus followers. Redemption is predestined by the Father (Eph 1:3–6), accomplished by the Son (Eph 1:7–10), and applied by the Spirit (Eph. 1:13–14). God did not withhold the Son, and the Son surrendered to the Father. Yet the Father is not sacrificing the Son. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all possess a single will. The sacrifice, while uniquely the Son’s work, is also the will of the three persons.

2. The cross is the center of the story of the Scripture.

A Bible without a cross is a Bible without a climax, a Bible without an ending, a Bible without a solution. The spiral of sin that began in Genesis 3 must be stopped; the death of Jesus terminates the downward spiral. In Jesus’s body, he took on the sin of the world and paid the price of all humanity. At the cross the new Adam, Abraham, Moses, David arises to create a new humanity, family, and kingdom. That is why Paul doesn’t say he decided to knowing nothing except the incarnation, resurrection, or the ascension of Jesus, but the nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Wisdom was found not beyond the cross, not above the cross, not below the cross, but in the cross.

3. The cross redefines power in the kingdom.

Jesus’s announcement that the kingdom of God has come is conclusively revealed in the Christ-event on the cross. The Scriptures narrate how God will manifest his kingship on the earth. He gives Adam and Eve the task of ruling and reigning over the earth as his representatives, but they attempt to seize power for themselves (Gen. 3:5). In fact, all of their children do the same. Babel (or Babylon) is the city opposed to the reign of God. Jesus comes as the true Son and redefines power by displaying strength through weakness. He does not exploit his power like Adam, but empties himself (Phil. 2:5–6). He becomes a servant of all, and thereby is exalted as ruler of all (Phil. 2:9–11).

The cross is not only where our sin is paid for, where the devil is conquered, but the shape of Christianity.

4. The cross inaugurates the new covenant.

At the Last Supper Jesus interprets his death as bringing in the new covenant. It is by his body and blood that his new community is formed. Just as the people of Israel were sprinkled with blood as they entered a covenant with Yahweh, so the disciples are members of the new community by the pouring out of Jesus’s blood. The new covenant community now has the Torah written on their hearts and they all know the Lord because of the gift of the Spirit (Jer. 31:33–34).

5. The cross conquers sin and death.

The cross cancels the record of debt that stood against humanity (Col 2:14). On the cross Jesus bore our sins in his body, so that we might die to sin and death (1 Pet. 2:24). The curse of sin and death was placed on Jesus so that we might obtain the blessings of Abraham (Gal 3:13). Understanding the cross and resurrection as a single event is important here, for it is through the death and resurrection of Christ that death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:54–55).

6. The cross vanquishes the devil.

On the cross, Christ did not only conquer sin and death, but he conquered the spiritual forces of darkness. A cosmic eruption occurred at Golgotha; a new apocalyptic force entered the world and the old magic was conquered by a deeper magic. He disarmed the power and authorities, putting them to open shame, and triumphs over them on the cross (Col. 2:14). When Christ rises from the dead he is seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power (Eph. 2:20–21).

7. The cross is substitutionary.

The cross is for us, in our place, on our behalf. He laid down his life for His sheep. He is our sacrificial lamb. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Just as Abraham raised his eyes and looked and saw a ram to offer as a burnt offering in the place of his son (Gen 22:13), so too we look up and see Jesus as our replacement. He became a curse for us (Gal 3:13), meaning he takes the place of all the enslaved, the rebels, the idolaters, and the murderers. If the conquering of the spiritual forces is the goal, then substitution is the ground or basis for this conquering (Gal. 1:4). “The cross represents not only the great exchange (substitutionary atonement), but also the great transition (the eschatological turn of the ages).”

8. The cross is foolishness to the world.

In a PBS television series the narrator said, “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central focus the suffering and degradation of its God.” And Paul acknowledges that this message of Christ crucified will be a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (1 Cor 1:23). It is not an inherently attractive message, until spiritual eyes of sight are granted. The world looks at the cross and sees weakness, irrationality, hate, and disgust. In the early decades of the Christian movement the scandal of the cross was most self-evident thing about it. It was not only the death of the Messiah, but the manner of his death that is an offense.

9. The cross brings peace, reconciliation, and unity.

At the cross the whole world has the opportunity to be reconciled to the Father. The peace that the world has been seeking, the unity of all people is found in blood. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14). Reconciliation for the world, peace, shalom, and unity comes only by the blood of the cross (Col 1:20). No blood means no harmony.

10. The cross is the marching order for Christians.

After Jesus explained to his disciples that he must suffer, he tells them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). Paul embodies the cross in his ministry, becoming the fragrance of death as he is lead on the triumphal procession (2 Cor. 2:14–17), and he evens says he has been crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20). But Paul does not merely apply the cross to his own ministry, but he instructs the new community at Philippi to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) which is defined by Jesus’s humility on the cross (Phil. 2:8). The cross is not only where our sin is paid for, where the devil is conquered, but the shape of Christianity. As Rutledge has said, “the crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else. . . is given true significance.”



Popular Articles in This Series

Sin Didn’t Kill Jesus—God Did

(Tim Challies) This sponsored post is adapted from The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament by John MacArthur—a book explaining the prophetic words of Isaiah 53 verse by verse, highlighting important connections to the history of Israel, the New Testament, and our lives today.

A Shocking Truth

The reality of Christ’s vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf is the heart of the gospel according to God—the central theme of Isaiah 53.

We must remember, however, that sin did not kill Jesus; God did. The suffering servant’s death was nothing less than a punishment administered by God for sins others had committed. That is what we mean when we speak of penal substitutionary atonement. Again, if the idea seems shocking and disturbing, it is meant to be. Unless you recoil from the thought, you probably haven’t grasped it yet. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). This is one of the major reasons the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews, and it’s sheer foolishness as far as Gentiles are concerned (1 Cor. 1:23). “But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, [the message of Christ crucified embodies both] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24).

There’s no way to sidestep the fact that the doctrine of penal substitution is unequivocally affirmed in the plain message of Isaiah 53. It is also confirmed and reiterated by many other passages throughout Scripture (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:24). The servant of Yahweh, though perfectly innocent, bore the guilt of others and suffered unspeakable anguish to atone for their sins. View article →

Source: Sin Didn’t Kill Jesus—God Did

The Eschatology of the Thief

Luke 23:39-43

Code: B180328

Eschatology is a hotly debated subject among modern believers. It concerns the study of the “end times,” last things, or future events in God’s redemptive plan. Its scope includes Christ’s return, the rapture, the millennium, future judgment, and God’s kingdom. Those are all broad and important issues—it’s understandable why a lot of ink has been spilled by people staking out their particular positions.

But there’s also an intensely personal aspect to our eschatological views. And that concerns the only two possible eternal destinations for every person who has ever existed.

“Where will I go when I die?” That is the most crucial question any person can ask. It’s the one facet of our eschatology that we can’t afford to get wrong. And yet too many people ignore that question, and instead become preoccupied with preserving this present earthly life—in spite of its inevitable demise.

Jesus was the consummate theologian on heaven and hell—almost all of our biblical knowledge on these subjects comes directly from His lips. And although He spent His life marching relentlessly toward the cross, He kept the emphasis of His ministry squarely on eternal judgment. He warned His disciples accordingly:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4–5)

That’s one of the most important eschatological statements in all of Scripture. Jesus tells us what our greatest fear should be. And the thief on the cross is a forceful advocate of that view—his words speak powerfully to those whose primary fear is the end of this temporal life.

The thief suffered the most grueling and agonizing physical death possible. Crucifixion was Rome’s supreme instrument of capital punishment, and a powerful motivational threat for their enemies and subjects. For people in the first century, there was no more dreadful death than crucifixion (and you’d struggle to top it today). John MacArthur adds:

The agonizing pain those crucified endured is almost incomprehensible. The most extreme word in the English language to describe pain is the word “excruciating,” which comes from the Latin word excruciatus, meaning “out of the cross.” [1]

It is staggering to think that in the midst of such unspeakable agony, the thief was filled with dread for something else. He still had the presence of mind to warn the other thief—who was “hurling abuse” at Christ—of an even greater danger. “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” (Luke 23:40). In the face of impending death and eternal judgment, the thief rightly understood that blasphemy was the epitome of foolishness. John MacArthur explains:

He realized that the torment he was enduring for breaking the law was insignificant compared to what he could expect for his sin from the divine Judge. He was afraid, not of those who were destroying his body, but of God, who would destroy both his body and his soul in hell. [2]

The thief had mastered the most critical essential of Christian eschatology. He knew he was deservedly headed for hell and Christ was headed for His glorious kingdom (Luke 23:42). The thief was acutely aware of his very real and imminent danger. He didn’t plead with those who wielded the earthly power at Calvary—the Jewish leaders or the Roman government. He turned to the suffering Christ and made one final desperate plea. And we’ll consider that next time.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180328
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

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