14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:14-17 ESV)
The Apostle Paul did indeed bear the marks of persecution on his body. He had been found to be worthy to suffer shame for the name as had Peter and John (Acts 5:17-42). Paul had been stoned, beaten, imprisoned, run out of town, and would die as a martyr. Why were they persecuted so? They preached the truth. They preached against sin and works theology. They preached the Cross. They preached the exclusivity of the Gospel and against pluralism. They held that God’s truth was absolute. This is the message the natural, unregenerate person hates. This is the message the pseudo-Christians hate as well because the clear bright light of God’s truth reveals their compromises and false doctrines.
18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20 ESV)
Those with discernment will have to admit that in these last days it appears the table is being set for one big religion as our dear brother Ken Silva shows us here. Today I witnessed much discussion about Beth Moore’s “prophecies,” but mostly about her warning her followers about those troublemakers (those with discernment who point out the unbiblical nature of what she is saying) who doubt what she is saying. Much of the discussion has been directed toward this “big, persecuting church” in the last days in relation to the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, let us not forget that there are many who claim to be “christian” who agree that those doing the discernment work are “interfering” and “over reacting.”
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17 ESV)
The Great Down Grade Controversy in the late 19th Century was between Charles Spurgeon and a few orthodox ministers who stood against the trend towards modernism that was sweeping through England in the last years of his ministry. That conflict had many similarities with the battle we are in the midst of right now with the movement into “relevance” and “the new evangelism.” Just as in Spurgeon’s day, there seems to be only a remnant that is standing against this onslaught against the truth for the sake of being man pleasers.
8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The Visible Church in our time has continued with what Charles Spurgeon referred to as The Great Downgrade. That was, of course, the move to liberalize the doctrines of the Church so as to make the individual churches become more “user friendly” to people, that is, to not be so offensive by being so forceful with moral stands against “certain sins” while, at the same time, giving up adherence to long held statements of faith such as the Five Solas of the Reformation: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory). Continue reading →
1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” (Genesis 35:1-3 ESV)
idolatry 1: the worship of a physical object as a god 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something (from Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary)
I’m sure that most Christians’ conception of idolatry is one in which people fall down and worship some statue or image or a facsimile of something that appears to resemble a “god.” While that is an example of idolatry there is a more subtle form of idolatry that all people are neck deep in outside of the grace of God. If we look closely at the dictionary definition I placed near the top of this post, we will see that the first definition is our conception while the second is the reality of which we must all agree that we are guilty. The last word in that definition could easily be change from “something” to “someone.” Then all we have to do is look in a mirror to see who that someone is. We are all guilty of idolatry to some level. Continue reading →
17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” (1 Kings 18:17-19 ESV)
There was a time when the English and American cultures were decidedly “Christian.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the “Remnant” of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.
The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom. Continue reading →
24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:24-25 ESV)
Let us never forget that those of us who stand for God’s Truth not only being knowable, but binding on all, are in a serious war. This is not a skirmish or a battle. It is a war. In his book The Truth War John MacArthur exposes the tremendous battle that is being fought over what is truth and what isn’t. The Church is wounded and compromised to an extent greater than most of us can imagine. Brian McLaren has said that the primary purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was not to provide a way for His people to be saved from their sins, but to show people how to be Kingdom people. He makes the message sound so right and our flesh loves that message, but it isn’t Biblical. This statement is nothing more than unbelief packaged as an alternative truth to designed to deceive people into discounting the truth from God’s Word thereby keeping them in darkness. It should be clear that this is a direct attack on the Gospel.
20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24 ESV)
Compromise and tolerance in our day are seen as ultimate virtues. While our flesh-bound reason agrees with this, there is the problem of our Lord’s own words from Sacred Scripture which say the very opposite. In these first few decades of the 21st Century, the mindset seems to be that we must never take a stand if it can be criticized by anyone. Several years ago I was writing some doctrinal things on this blog which caused many to no longer read or comment here. One of the comments I received at that time caused me to pause and reflect on my motives for doing what I was doing. The comment went something like this, “If you take stands in your articles, like you are doing now, in which you say this or that is the truth then you are opening up yourself to criticism.” Now, what was this person really saying? Continue reading →
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:4-13 ESV)
God is Sovereign. There is not one area of creation in which He is not Sovereign. Evil exists and men do evil things, but even in that God is still Sovereign. Creation is cursed and God has not yet culminated this age when He will restore it to its proper relationship with Him in the age to come. However, He has sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the Elect. At the cross, He redeemed them. However, in life here on planet Earth they must still live in this fallen world. Jesus warned His Apostles and us about what this life would be like for His people on this cursed planet from the birth of the Church until the culmination of the end of this age.
I was involved in a discussion the other day with someone who claimed that it was impossible for a person to be both a Baptist and Reformed in their Theology. I got involved because I saw no sense to what he was saying in the discussion group. When I assured him that I was a Baptist, but not Dispensational he said that was a contradiction in terms. It was then that I went after his presuppositions. His presuppositions was that only those in the Covenant and given a mark of that Covenant, which was reference to their infant baptism, and no one else could be a member of the New Covenant. I then challenged his understanding of believer’s baptism throughout the book of Acts of Jewish and Gentile believers. He then said they were believers not disciples. His theology stated that a person could be a disciple and not be a genuine believer. I disagreed saying that a genuine disciple was a genuine believer while all false disciples were also false believers. This is where we came to the crux of the disagreement. I went to the Greek in The Great Commission and our Lord’s statement about the true cost of Discipleship in Luke 14:25-33. It was then that he claimed that using the Greek meant nothing and I then accused him of playing word games insisting that just because of false disciples such as Judas meant that the term “disciple” was nearly meaningless. That ended the discussion. I doubt if there will be another.
However, we do know that believers are called to role of reconciliation, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek by being Spirit-filled. Also, the genuinely humble believer will not be timid, but bold.
Part of being bold because of the moving of the Holy Spirit within us is to proclaim the truth even if it takes the form of a rebuke. We are told to love our enemies, but we must not have unity with professing believers who are mired in heresy. On the other hand, those in apostasy must be rebuked in love with the goal of restoring them to fellowship and unity within God’s truth.
Much of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A large part of those prophecies take the form of God rebuking His people for their apostasy as well as declaring His coming judgment upon the world for their rebellion against Him and His ways.
One such prophet was Ezekiel. His book opens with him witnessing the glory of God in a magnificent vision. His account of it in Ezekiel 1 is utterly amazing. It is obvious that when he wrote it that he was struggling to describe the indescribable. In v26-28 Ezekiel describes his reaction to seeing this. Continue reading →
1 Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty- five years old, and he reigned twenty- nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. 3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east 5 and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place. 6 For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord and turned their backs. 7 They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the Holy Place to the God of Israel. (2 Chronicles 29:1-7 ESV)
We must admit that the spiritual condition of the 21st Century Church in this country and in most of the West is generally or mostly apostate. Thankfully, God always has His remnant of faithful believers even in the worst apostate periods. Over the last several years as I have posted on the topics of righteousness, repentance, sanctification, Antinomianism, and the nature of salvation, the resistance to some of these teachings has, at times, been quite eye-opening. There are some who see any call to walk righteously as hypocritical because they associate it with self-righteousness. Is walking in right behaviour hypocritical? Continue reading →
 Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone. (Hosea 4:17 ESV)
Idolatry is the natural state of man. Left to themselves, people will worship or idolize someone or something. On the top of the list of those things we place on pedestals of idolatry is self. Professing Christians are not immune. They idolize Christian leaders, their churches, their doctrine, their liberty, their self-righteousness, their denomination, their particular translation of the Bible, and anything else they can view as something that gives them a sense of religious identity. Tragically, most see nothing wrong with this. Genuine Christianity has been supplanted by religiosity and there are only a few left who see the difference. We lament over the growing apostasy in the Church, but should we be surprised?
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:24-27, ESV)
As I stated in yesterday’s post, Submitting To The Authority of Scripture, cultural Christianity is not the same thing as Genuine Christianity. It has been the same all through the history of the Church. The Genuine Church has always been the “regenerate remnant” within the larger, unregenerate “visible church.” A few years ago Harold Camping was calling for the end of the world or the return of Jesus Christ to bring about the end of the world and even predicted it to come about on a certain date. When that date came and went he said he had been wrong and so changed it to another date. Of course, that date came and went. However, there was a certain “zinger” to his predictions that got a lot of Christian discernment people who are keen on eschatology very interested in what he was saying. One of his predictors that the “end was near” was the apostasy of the “church.” Continue reading →
20 ”The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 ”And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:20-22 NASB)
The Bible very clearly teaches that Christians should examine themselves quite often in order to see what their spiritual condition is. Genuine Christians are not perfect people. Neither are they always full of happiness, in perfect health while having plenty of money in the bank. No, the fact that all believers are called to be humble, poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart and many other things that are growing in their character unto Christlikeness means that they will spend much of their time in the fires of sanctification.
It is during these times of pruning that believers are in the greatest danger of becoming despondent, discouraged, and even depressed if they have not learned to view their circumstances correctly.
Despite what many in the Easy-believism or Universalism camp teach, there are people who profess Christ who are not genuine. They are not regenerate nor do they have the Holy Spirit. They are not in Christ. All genuine Christians abide in Christ according to their new nature. They remain. They may go through the worst tribulation(s) imaginable, yet they remain attached to the Vine. However, when tribulation descends on the disingenuous professing Christians they do not endure because they have no root in themselves. The world and the deceitfulness of riches cause others to fall away. These are not genuine believers. Continue reading →