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Putting John 3:16 In Its Place: The Meaning And Purpose Of This Text

Posted by Job on March 19, 2013

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Some use passages like these to assert that those who believe in limited atonement (or particular redemption) instead of universal atonement deny that God loves everyone. The argument goes that if God loves everyone, then it means that Jesus Christ died for everyone and that those texts “prove” it and accuse men of twisting scripture in order to claim otherwise.. Well C.S. Lewis and other believers of religious pluralism and universalism use 1 Timothy 4:10 –“For to this end we labour and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe “ – and many other scriptures to justify it. Is it similarly twisting scripture to say that they are wrong also?

Of course not. Why? Because we know that 1 Timothy 4:10 is not the only thing that the Bible says about salvation. So, it is because that we put 1 Timothy 4:10 in the context of all the other things that the Bible says about how God saves – including John 14:6’s “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” – in order to deny that this text teaches that men above the age of accountability can be saved outside of personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Thus, the same is true of John 3:16. While that text is extremely popular, very well known and much beloved, that is no reason to make it the primary text on the issue of salvation through which all other texts must be judged, held subject to and viewed in light of. That is interpreting scripture according to human opinion and emotion – our tendency to grab hold upon and emphasize the things that please and comfort us while putting less emphasis on the things that disturb and challenge us – instead of letting scripture speak for itself.

It is all well and good to love John 3:16. But we cannot use John 3:16 to pretend that Proverb 16:4 “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil ” isn’t in the Bible, especially since Romans 9:13-23 clearly uses Proverb 16:4 in order to explain the nature and purpose of God’s election as it applies to the Jews and the Gentiles? Now that is what requires the twisting of the Bible scriptures. Accepting those texts and putting them into the proper contexts is why the so-called 5 point Calvinists exist. The only alternative is to deny the meaning and application of those texts, which is what most theologians and other Bible students do … precisely what they accuse the believers of limited atonement of. Perhaps the best example of this is the common explanation of deniers of limited atonement that predestinate in Romans 8:29-30 doesn’t mean, well, predestinate, or the many others who claim that it really means “foreknowledge.” Similar explaining away is done with and who do the same with Ephesians 1:3-12 and also with the many “Calvinistic” texts that appear in the Gospel of John just as does John 3:16.

So, for example, using John 6:65’s “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” and John 10:26-29’s “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.” to interpret John 3:16 is not imposing an artificial human framework on the Bible. Instead, claiming that John 6:37 is based on God’s foreknowledge – and doing so in the complete absence of textual evidence to support it and when so many texts like Romans 9:13-23 contradict it – is when the denying the plain meaning of scripture from its literal, contextual interpretation is being done.

Does this mean that God does not love the world — all people and not just the elect — with an unconditional love? That begs the question of whether unconditional love as our modern humanistic Enlightenment-driven society defines it is a Biblical concept to begin with. If it were, then that would necessarily mean universalism. You may ask whether “world” really mean world or does it mean only the elect and whether world can be both, meaning all people in general, but only or especially the elect in particular?

Many do precisely those types of interpretative gymnastics, but they are not necessary. The “world” of John 3:16 does mean the world. But understand this: God is perfectly capable of loving the world and saving only the elect. Again, making the case that God’s loving everyone obligates Him to save everyone can only lead to universalism. The non-Calvinist viewpoint deals with this problem by saying that God TRIED to save everyone but failed. Now if you limit this “failure” to those who made a free will decision to reject Jesus Christ then that “solves” the failure issue after a fashion. The problem is that “God tried to save everyone but His efforts were thwarted by the free will that He gave us to accept or reject Him” theology simply cannot be a sufficient answer for the fact that the overwhelming supermajority of humanity has never heard the name Jesus Christ, and moreover before His advent had never encountered Judaism or the pre-Judaic Yahwism.

Truthfully, the pluralism of types like C.S. Lewis and the Roman Catholics (purgatory) and contemporary religious moderates do a much better job of explaining this problem, which is so real and vast that it has been a source of great heartache for missionaries like Hudson Taylor, who knew that he could not possibly reach every person in the vastness of China with the gospel of Jesus Christ and fell victim to the slough of despond and the giant despair (see Pilgrim’s Progress) as a result. God rescued him from that fate with the instructions for Taylor to be satisfied with going to the people that that God sent Taylor to. (And incidentally Taylor was not a Calvinist).

And here is the real irony for those who reject the Biblical doctrine of limited atonement. Even if you do not believe in limited atonement, the requirement of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation serves as a practical limitation anyway. Again, the only way to avoid that practical limitation is to be a universalist or pluralist. How “general” is the atonement to the person who lives his entire life as a sincere, upstanding, devoted, honest moral adherent to the Hindu religion because he spent his entire life in India in the 1500s and Hinduism is all he ever knew? The only relevance of general atonement to that person is that even though that person had absolutely no possibility of ever being saved, Jesus Christ still died for him so that “proves” that God loved him. Christ’s death on the cross made this person’s salvation hypothetically, theoretically possible in the spiritual realm even though it was still impossible in the natural one. Which means that the true purpose of general atonement that it provides a comfortable, reassuring view of God to the people who hold it. The doctrine is of no use to the sinner whatsoever. Whether you hear the gospel and do not respond with faith and repentance or never hear the gospel at all, from the sinner’s perspective the extent of the atonement doesn’t matter because the fate of the sinner is still the same. The issue is all about whether serving a God who limits the atonement or serving a God who doesn’t IN THEORY but does IN PRACTICE “feels better.”

Still can’t look at John 3:16 and “see” limited atonement? Well, you may not see religious pluralism in 1 Timothy 4:10 either. But that is what C. S. Lewis saw when he looked at it … justification for the religious pluralism doctrines taught by the Roman Catholic Church – and Lewis fellowshipped with a lot of Catholics, including his friend J.R.R. Tolkien – and embraced by virtually all moderate (meaning neither evangelical or liberal) Christians and an increasing number of evangelicals like Rob Bell. So often we see what we want to see instead of what the Bible says, and that has to change.

Does limited atonement mean that God takes pleasure in the destruction of the wicked? Ezekiel 18:23 would tend to say otherwise with “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live?.” But just as we being in the image of God often have to do things that give us no pleasure but are necessary, God’s justice requires that His wrath must be poured out on the wicked. The key to remember that merely because destroying the wicked does not give God pleasure does not require God to act in order to avoid displeasure. Claiming that it does is judging God by arbitrary standards created by our own emotionalism; our refusal to accept things that appear to us to be unjust. But why do they appear to be unjust to us? Because we feel that God owes us something. The truth of what the Bible says, which is that we are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3) to do with as He pleases is denied because of our unwilling to countenance the idea that God is the measure of all things and not man; that the universe is God-centered and not man-centered.

It is curious: no Bible-based Christian (as opposed to the idolatrous animal rights activist) takes offense at the notion that man, a mere creature made in God’s image, has the right to breed sheep for the purpose of eating them even while they are juveniles (lamb chops, leg of lamb, rack of lamb etc.) Yet we are offended at the idea that God, who is worth more than the entirety of creation (meaning that the distance between man’s worth and a lamb’s worth is much smaller than the distance between man’s worth and God’s worth) has the right to do with us as He pleases or else be judged as unloving and unrighteous, so we stumble at Yes, the Bible does not say that God takes pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but texts like “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” and “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” as a result.To do this we must make God out to be worth less than He is or we make ourselves out to be worth more than we are at God’s expense. Either way it is man-centered heresy.

So if you are struggling with the question “how can I say that God loves you without knowing whether you are elect or not”, I emphasize again that this goes back to the fundamental question of whether God can love someone without electing them to salvation. This answer – yes – is most clearly given in Matthew 5:45 … “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Also, an excellent teaching on this topic can be found here: http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/a294/the-love-of-god-and-the-nonelect

This brings about the inevitable question: how will this affect my evangelism? Well you can certainly everyone that God loves them, and use this truth clearly taught in the Bible as the basis for your evangelism. The Bible does not say to use the fact that God did not elect everyone to hinder evangelism, because quite the contrary God said that many are called (in that they hear the gospel … note that it does not say that ALL are called because all do not hear the gospel) but few are chosen (meaning that of those who hear the gospel, few will be saved). And this truth was illustrated by several of Christ’s parables, such as the parable of the sower of Matthew 13:1-23 and the wedding parable of Matthew 22:1-14.

So John 3:16 does not have to be abandoned by the Christian who believes in limited atonement. It means that when sharing the gospel we can tell sinners that everyone who believes – whosoever believeth – will be saved.The key is to stop right there and not add anything to it. Don’t say “Jesus Christ died for all of you so that means all of you can be saved if all of you believe.” Why not? Because the Bible doesn’t say so. General atonement is nowhere in the Bible. If it were, I would believe it and so would you. So whether in mixed company, hostile company (all unbelievers like Paul at Mars Hill) or all believers like Jesus Christ at His high priestly prayer or the disciples in the upper room awaiting Pentecost, limiting yourself to what the Bible actually says is all that is necessary, sufficient and justifiable.

So evangelist, just say “Christ died so that all who believe will be saved” and you will be true to the Bible. And that is the true meaning of the John 3:16. Before it was written, there was no promise, assurance or guarantee that everyone who believed would be saved. Now we contemporary Christians presuppose that and take it for granted because we have always known it. But keep in mind that the apostle John was originally writing that gospel not to people with 2000 years of Christian tradition behind them like us. Rather, the first audience who received his gospel was made up of pagans with a very different view of salvation than we have, and also to Jews who believed in justification by the works of the law in addition to faith.

So for both the Gentile pagans and even the Jews, it was very possible to believe in God (or the gods for polytheistic pagans) and still not be saved. For the Jew, one could believe and still be condemned if you did not keep the law. As for the pagans, their gods were arbitrary, unpredictable, conferring – and withdrawing – their favor on whims. So the true purpose of John 3:16 is not to talk about the extent of the atonement, but to teach the doctrine of justification by faith alone, sola fide, to the Jews first and then the pagan Gentiles.

This is evident if you stop taking John 3:16 in isolation and instead look at the entire chapter of John 3. This chapter begins with the rabbi going to Jesus Christ to seek instruction on spiritual things because He recognized that as God was obviously with Christ due to Christ’s miracles, Christ would know such things to teach. Christ in response taught the rabbi about the need for, meaning and nature of regeneration, being born again. The context of Christ’s discussion with the rabbi was never who could be saved, but how people are saved.

John 3:3 – by being born again. John 3:5-8 – by a work of the Holy Spirit, not of man. John 3:11-17 – Christ stating that it is by and through Him that this salvation will be achieved because of His divine sonship. And John 3:18-21 – the fate of those who do not believe, with 3:18 being the inverse of 3:16. In that context, the true context and meaning – it is crystal clear that the text never intends to claim that God gave Christ so that all can theoretically be saved! Instead, it states that God gave Christ so that all who believed would be saved, and that all who did not believe would not be saved! This fact that we today take for granted today was in complete opposition to the religious mindset of Jews and pagans of the time and place of John’s gospel. It was a truly radical, revolutionary groundbreaking idea that was foolishness to the Gentiles and an offense to the Jews.

So as this is all the scripture ever meant and was intended for, why claim that it says or was intended to proclaim more? Anything more is adding to scripture, which should not be done, chiefly because it is a sin, but also because there is no reason to. The sinner needs no more information than that, and the only reason to add more information than that is for the benefit of the evangelist sharing the message. It reassures the evangelist and makes his job superficially (by that I mean according to the flesh) easier, but the Bible makes it clear that our jobs in service to the God of the Bible are not going to be easy or flesh-driven to begin with.

John 3:16 is 100% true and very powerful. But the Christian should not and cannot impose meanings on it that do not exist because it makes us feel better. We Christians should cast aside such works of the flesh and acknowledge to ourselves that the Bible says what it means. God gives the evangelist the responsibility to share the gospel with all. God gives the sinner the responsibility to respond to the gospel with repentance. But the only ones who will be saved are those that God supplies with faith. Everyone who receives faith from God will be saved. No one who does not receive faith from God will be. It is this way because with our salvation as with everything else, God alone shall be glorified. That is the point of John 3:16, the point of the entire canon of scripture, and the point of all of creation in the first place. And when viewed next to the glory of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent perfect God, such notions that God only wants to be worshiped by those who choose to do so out of their free will – as if it is illegitimate for God to compel the sheep of His pasture to worship Him, and to train and condition us into doing so by conforming us into the image of His Son and providing His Spirit to live in us – must be rejected for the plain betrayals of the Bible and the picture of God that is revealed to us through His creation that they are.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

“I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

If you are saved, walk in this truth. If you are unsaved, you are without excuse. Repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ today.

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Theodicy Dialogue With Pastor Matt Wrickman

Posted by Job on January 26, 2012

Matthew Wrickman, a pastor and blogger with whom I have corresponded in the past, wished to discuss How The Penn State University Child Molestation Case Demonstrates The Existence Of God and did so in a comment, which he reproduced as a post on his site (which I encourage you to patronize). The objections – er dialogue points – that he raised are good ones as always, and my interaction with them is as follows. Pastor Wrickman’s words are in blocked quote format, and mine follow. Thank you.

“ Interesting response. Most commentators for the last 200 years at least have used evil in the reverse sense as the greatest problem for the existence of God. The line of logic would be that Sandusky is evil. If God was really good, really powerful, and really existed then He would have intervened and stopped the action. He didn’t so either He is not really good, really powerful, or does not really exist. As a line of logic it seems rather convincing. I, of course, would argue (as you hinted at) that God has intervened through the person of Son. That the cross of Christ represents Christ’s solidarity with the victims of Sandusky, as well as, his offer of healing to both victim and victimizer. Mix that with classical free will theory and I feel that the question has been answered; perhaps not superbly but answered nonetheless.”

Alas, you are of the Remonstrants, I am of the Synod of Dort! (Actually I am Particular Baptist after the manner of Charles Spurgeon, William Carey and Paul Bunyan and you are not classical Arminian or Wesleyan as you to not believe that one can lose his salvation, but otherwise you get the picture.)

“You once stated that you enjoyed boiling down arguments to the logical extreme”

Well, my love of reductio ad absurdum was in my angry, immature phase. (In what many might consider to be an irony, it was becoming a “5 point Calvinist” – or again more accurately a Particular Baptist – that helped me get past my anger, which I ultimately discovered was truthfully coming from within and was directed inwardly also.) I now rarely employ this debate tactic, though I hear that it is a very good tool for computer scientists and mathematicians.

“and that is where pointing from evil to God fails. At it’s extreme it allows for no differentiation between evil and God.””

I agree with you to a point, as a multitude of false religions (as I understand them) have deities that are dualistic, amoral or even malevolent. But that extreme is precluded by the holy scriptures. Though I do dabble in classical and evidential apologetics from time to time – to the extent that I am able – for the most part I adhere to the presuppositional apologetics school of Cornelius Van Til and similar, which takes the truth and authority of the Bible to be a non-negotiable starting point and proceeds from there. (I further build on that school by presuming a basic “rule of faith”, or a normative interpretation of the Bible, belief in its inerrancy/inspiration/authority, and application of its doctrines to the church).

So, inasmuch as the Bible differentiates between evil and God, I presume this to be true also. My purpose for authoring the above piece was intended not to much to be an exercise in philosophy, ethics or similar, but for evangelism and encouragement. Thus, it presumes some degree of faith – and please recall that faith is not produced by man but is given by God – and is not intended for the purposes of debating the likes of Sam Harris, Charles Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens.

“One might state that if evil has a positive outcome such as pointing to God; then committing evil cannot be entirely wrong (as it creates some good outcome). Therefore committing an evil act cannot be considered wrong and cannot then be evil.”

What you speak of is outcome-based religion. The problem with such religions is that man, lacking perfect knowledge and morality, is incapable of properly evaluating outcomes. Only God can do so. What we perceive to be a “good” outcome according to our perspective might actually be evil according to God, and the converse is also true. Consider an example: a small leak in a dam. A person might make an improper repair to the leak that for a time stops the water from running, but makes the dam weaker, or at minimum ignores the root cause of the leak. Now though the fix is flawed, it might last a long time – during the duration of that person’s life. And for that time, that person will be considered to have done a great good in fixing the leak, and will go to his grave with such estimation.

But suppose that the dam ultimately breaks and catastrophically floods the town! Was this a good deed? No, because in the most extreme case, where the leak would have been at most a minor annoyance but remained, the fix made the dam weaker and caused it to suddenly burst where it would not have had the fix not been applied. In even the most favorable possible case, the fix caused everyone to BELIEVE that the problem was solved, and hindered them from seeking a real solution, or from evacuating the town if no solution was possible or practical.

Such is the result of false religion: it creates self-righteousness and blinds the sinner from his need for God. And false doctrines in Christianity can similar impede the spiritual growth of a Christian. So, the measure of “good acts” are not by their outcomes (“the ends justify the means”) or their intentions (“he meant well/his heart was in the right place”) but rather the fidelity of these acts to the commandments of Jesus Christ as revealed by the Holy Scriptures regardless of their apparent outcomes. God and His Word are the standard, not the outcome or our perception of it, and by the definition of God as determined by His special revelation to us in the Bible, fidelity to God and His Word cannot be evil.

That is why the people who obeyed the commandments of God to commit genocide and fratricide in the Old Testament were not evil, and those who committed what might have been considered good in sparing, say, a Canaanite baby out of what seemed to be mercy upon the innocent who posed no threat when when God commanded to utterly destroy all the Canaanites would have been evil. Where of course we would say that killing a Canaanite baby is evil, and sparing the baby and raising it up according to the Jewish religion would have been good according to our own understanding, we have to accept by faith God’s statements when He says that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, and obey God according to that same faith.

If we do otherwise, and obey God when it conforms to our own sense of good and evil and abandon God’s commandments when they contradict them, we are following our own religion and morality and not God’s, and we have made ourselves into gods in the place of God.

“On another level it also implicates God in evil; because it seems to make God a participant in the evil action. Therefore one might question the goodness of God.”

Well, the psalmists and prophets seemed to regularly question the goodness of God, no? Yet they remained faithful. It is not blind faith, but faith in God’s self-revelation to us through His Son. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to answer all of our questions, but to reassure us, comfort us and keep us in the faith despite them. Or to save us from our faithless condition despite them. The Bible declares oft that we cannot understand God and His ways, and that we are not to even try to. We are to merely – as the old hymn says – trust and obey Him.

But let it be said that God does certainly use evil to accomplish His ends. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose, and this includes evil things. And God most certainly does use evil events. When a sinner commits evil, the Holy Spirit convicts him of this evil in order to drive him to repentance unto salvation. When a Christian commits evil, the Holy Spirit convicts him of this evil in order to drive him to repentance unto restoration. The Holy Spirit does not cause this evil, but He certainly uses it.

But as touching God and evil actions: consider when God sent a lying spirit to the false prophets in order to provoke wicked king Ahab into going into battle so that Ahab could be slain as a punishment for his (Ahab’s) wickedness. Consider also when God made pharaoh ruler of Egypt and hardened his heart so that pharaoh would oppress the children of Israel mightily, as God wanted an occasion to judge the Egyptians for their wickedness, to save Israel and make them a nation, and to display evidence of His existence and power to the world. Consider when God used the wicked pagan Assyrian and Babylonian empires to judge Israel and Judah for their infidelity to the Sinai covenant (and this required allowing Assyria and Babylon to conquer other nations and otherwise rise to power). And consider when Jesus Christ chose the non-elect Judas Iscariot as one of His apostles so that Judas Iscariot could betray Him and otherwise fulfill the prophecies.

It is very fair to say that God participated in these evil actions, if you rely on the common human definition of participation. In the Bible, God does asserts His right to do evil, at least according to man’s perspective of evil (when God did so, He was condescending to the limited understanding capacity of man in that He allowed them to regard His actions as evil).

Just because we see something as evil does not make it evil. God is the standard, the Self-existing Self-defined one who is goodness and righteousness within Himself. Evil, then, is by definition that which is contrary to God, and God by definition cannot be contrary to Himself. Any other definition of evil makes man a judge of not only himself, but of God. This is something than an unbeliever – especially an atheist or rationalist – will never accept but that Christians are called to accept, believe and submit ourselves to through faith.

The unwillingness to accept the fact that God Himself is the definition of good and that evil is defined by its being in opposition to God is the source of so many of these logical games, tricks and constructions on the behalf of many apologists. This fact also solves the apparent problem of God telling one person to do one thing at one time and another person to do something else (i.e. when God commanded Ezekiel and Hosea to break the Mosaic law by eating bread defiled with excrement and marrying a cult prostitute): we are simply to believe that God can do so without Himself being contradictory.

“I prefer the Biblical account which simply claims that God is the good God who overcomes evil. He is the one that thwarts evil, and instead works good in the life of the believer where the evil one had sought to sow destruction. Evil, then, remains evil; and God remains good. It is not the evil action that points to God; but rather His action in turning away the evil and establishing his redemption in its wake. The redemption points to God.”

The problem with that is that it relies on an incomplete portion of the Holy Scriptures, excluding bad facts. Consider, well, the book of Job (which has been as much a source of fascination and meditation for me as I certainly hope the Gospel of Matthew has been for you)! Let’s face it: God delivered Job into the hands of Satan for Satan to do whatever he wished with Job and all that he had save taking Job’s life. And please recall: the Bible is clear that the calamities that came upon Job were not due to any sin that Job had committed. Job’s CHILDREN died, not because of any sin of Job or the children, and despite Job’s daily sacrificing for his children in case they sinned. (Of course, their deaths would have occurred due to their original sin, as did Job’s death, but let us focus on their untimely deaths, which was considered to be an evil occurrence in OT times and still is to this day.)

We have to come up with a theodicy that is faithful to the entirety of the Bible. Not only must we do this in order to be faithful to God through His Word, but this is also the only way to construct a theodicy that encompasses the range of the facts of life that we have to confront, such things as wars, plagues, horrific crimes, miscarriages, birth defects etc. God does overcome evil by eliminating all that which is contrary to Himself. Keep in mind: this process will not be completely finished until the eschaton, when this creation is destroyed by fire, the wicked are cast into eternal flame, and a new heaven and a new earth is created.

As to why God did not make the original creation after the same manner of the new heaven and new earth, we just have to accept that God did all things according to a manner that pleased Him. The idea that God was obligated to prevent the existence of evil in order to not Himself be evil is man’s thinking, not our own. And it is thinking that is centered on man and his own interests, as we accuse God for not acting to avoid our own misery and suffering. We want to be able to say that God is not good if the result of His original creation was humans – most of whom never encountered with the gospel of Jesus Christ to either accept or reject – being punished in the lake of fire for an eternity. As mentioned earlier, our duty is to accept these facts because they are how God revealed Himself and His actions in the Bible, and not to generate contrivances to avoid the fulness of God’s self-revelation and its implications. Make no mistake: unbelievers are fully aware of these things! Have you ever perused skepticsannotatedbible.org and similar counter-apologetics efforts? It is far better to directly confront these things in scripture, meditate on them, accept them through faith, and work them into our systematic theologies than to simply pretend that they do not exist, or to come up with human-centered (if not necessarily humanistic) evasions.

One last point if evil has some positive function in our world then the ultimate destruction of it would in essence be destroying it, and with it destroying an important way of knowing God. Yet our God promises to end evil once and for all. That is our hope that on a day in the hopefully not-too-distant future He will return to bring into completion or fullness the reality of His Kingdom that he established in His previous visit. The cross is the seal of payment, and the spirit is his down payment asserting His intentions to return. Evil will be no more and His people will be entirely free to serve Him in eternity. We will then celebrate His victory, not His battle.

There is a difference between saying that evil has an absolute positive function in the world, and merely stating that God uses evil to accomplish His purposes. However, even if God did so as you speak, it would be well within His right to terminate it. Does God still feed His people with manna? Of course, God did a great thing by feeding His people with manna. Does the fact that you no longer eat manna destroy an important way of knowing God? Does the fact that you are not a Jew living in Jerusalem under the Mosaic law destroy an important way of knowing God? God forbid! So, if God can discontinue good things, then how much more so can He discontinue evil that He uses for good purposes? We know God only by God’s revelation.

Whether God’s revelation consists of His use of evil to accomplish His goals or not, the knowledge of God is the same. Why? Because God – the one providing the revelation – is the same. Even if you were to say that it is not “the same”, inasmuch as those in Old Testament times did not have the same knowledge as do we in light of the cross and the current ministrations of the Holy Spirit, their knowledge of God based on the revelation that they had was nonetheless sufficient to suit God’s purposes and that is what counts. God is only bound by Himself to reveal to us what He chooses for us to know of Him. He is not bound by us to reveal to us what we desire to know of him.

Further, God reveals Himself to us through the way that He chooses, not the way that we desire. Part of the error of some in the Pentecostal movement that I was once in is their demand that God reveal Himself to us in these ways in the same way that He revealed Himself to the early church, and also to Old Testament Israel. God’s actions and revelations are according to His will, not our desires. And the nature and character of God’s revelation are suitable to fulfill our needs. Not our wants, but our needs. Keep in mind in Romans 1 when Paul states that even the order and nature of creation should have been enough of God’s self-disclosure to live righteously and thereby be saved, and therefore those who do not – including those who never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ – are without excuse and therefore subject to condemnation on judgment day.

And of course we celebrate His battle. Are not the Psalms filled with the Jews’ praise of God’s battles on their behalf, physical and spiritual? Concerning Jesus Christ, do we not celebrate His trial in the desert, Gethsemane and the cross, and not merely the resurrection? Jesus Christ specifically instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper so that we would remember His passion. This knowledge of God that you speak of includes God’s battles for our behalf, because through these we know that God has both the power to save us and the love to forgive us. God’s destruction of Egypt and Israel’s other enemies is evidence of the former, and His restoration of the remnant after they broke His covenant is evidence of the latter. This is evidence of the very hope of which you speak!

Well, I am done! I thank this opportunity to dialogue with my old friend and brother in the faith. As always, I hope that I did not offend or mistreat you, and if I did, it was not my intent. Thank you, and I look forward to your response.

The Three Step Salvation Plan

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...

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John MacArthur: A Survey Of The Soils

Posted by Job on November 11, 2011

From the parable of the sower, Mark 4:1-20

http://gty.org

Posted in Bible, Christianity, evangelism, Jesus Christ, salvation, salvation through Jesus Christ, soteriology, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Necessity Of The Holy Trinity

Posted by Job on October 26, 2011

Motivated at least in part by the current controvery over oneness heretic T.D. Jakes, (also here and here) please read two very good pieces on the importance of the Holy Trinity. Hopefully, this will help Christians understand that we are to separate with heretics, not dialogue with them.

On The Trinity: Part One – Hermeneutics

On the Trinity: Part Two – The Trinity, Central to Apologetics and Evangelism

Posted in anti - Christ, Apologetics, apostasy, Bible, blasphemy, blasphemy Holy Ghost, blasphemy Holy Spirit, christian broadcasting, Christian hypocrisy, Christian salvation, christian television, christian worldliness, Christianity, church hypocrisy, church scandal, church worldliness, corrupt televangelism, discernment, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelism, false doctrine, false preacher, false preachers, false prophet, false religion, false teachers, false teaching, grace, interfaith dialogue, irresistible grace, Jesus Christ, Jesus Only, modalism, oneness pentecostal, oneness pentecostalism, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, Ruach Hakadosh, syncretism, TBN, TD Jakes, televangelism, trinity broadcasting network, unitarian, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Paul Washer: Regeneration Versus Decisionism

Posted by Job on October 26, 2011

In this sermon Paul talks about the misuse of Scripture in the understanding of salvation.
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1021081230111
Regeneration vs Decisionism – DEEPER Conference 2008 Breakout Session (Living Waters & Way of the Master)

Posted in Bible, Christianity, discernment, election, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelism, faith, false doctrine, false teaching, Holy Spirit, irresistible grace, Jesus Christ, Judaism, limited atonement, Reformed, religion, Ruach Hakadosh, salvation, salvation prayer, salvation through Jesus Christ, spiritual warfare, televangelism, testimony | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

John MacArthur: Is Infant Baptism Biblical?

Posted by Job on October 25, 2011

http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-369/is-infant-baptism-biblical#.TqcvB5136iU

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Why We Should Preach The Gospel To All Men

Posted by Job on May 27, 2011

Exodus 7:1-5 is a passage that I find fascinating.

And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, [and] my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

As for “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”,  I am not going to touch that text with a ten foot pole. It is not that this text is unimportant, for it is, and has a meaning in this context and in the larger narrative of the interactions between Moses and pharaoh and the Exodus from Egypt. Instead, it is that I simply do not know with a certainty what the text means, and will not pretend to. I will say that this statement is part of why I find this passage to be so engaging, but not the majority part.

Instead, this passage shows us the primary reason for evangelism. Despite what we often believe, indeed what we want to believe, the primary purpose of evangelism is not to convert poor sinners. Again, the primary purpose of sinners is not the conversion of the lost! And that, dear Christian, is precisely why we should not submit to the oft-cited justification for God-dishonoring (i.e. deceptive, abusive, or man-exalting) evangelism tactics, or for having people holding church offices that do not meet the Bible’s qualifications for them: “See how it wins people to Jesus Christ!” If we make winning converts the chief goal of evangelism, and evangelism the chief duty of the church, then so long as converts are being made, anything goes, the “greater good” is being served, and the ends justify the means, right? Well, this passage, this early Old Testament passage from the Torah, reveals the error in that thinking, and the excuse-making and dissembling based on it!

In this passage, God tells Moses to go preach to Pharaoh. The message preached to Pharaoh includes God’s identity – the God of Israel, the God of Israel, and yes Moses did use the Divine Name, YHWH or Jehovah, in the course of stating His identity – and God’s commands, which is to be believed, submitted to, and worshiped according to the manner that God instructs. Also, though this passage does not contain it, the message given to Pharaoh contained a warning of judgment that would come to him and his nation if he responded with disobedience out of faithlessness, or unbelief. Moses and Aaron told pharaoh that regardless of his belief and obedience or lack thereof, God’s purposes would still come to pass, and God’s people would be saved, and those who were not God’s people would be judged for their wickedness. Further, God told pharaoh through Moses and Aaron (maybe that is the meaning of … oh never mind!) that the word being preached to him would be verified with signs and wonders. So, make no mistake, the message that God told Moses (and Aaron) to reveal to pharaoh was a protoevangelism, a prototype or type of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Moses gave to pharaoh a message that was the forerunner of the gospel of the Prophet like Moses who was to come, the message that the church has carried and borne within itself through trials, temptations and tribulations ever since. From this, we can assert that evangelism that omits the identity of God (as not only Saviour but Lord and Judge), the deliverance from sin (which requires repentance), the horrible judgment on those who reject the message out of disbelief, and that this message is verified by the great miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, a fact attested to by above 500 eyewitnesses, is not legitimate evangelism. How could evangelism that actually contains less than the word of the Lord that Moses gave to pharaoh over 1000 years before the coming of Jesus Christ be legitimate, and what excuse is there for withholding any portion of the word that Moses did not other than our possessing a sinful shame and offense towards the word of God because of our love for this present world that Moses did not have, so much so that Moses rejected the pleasures of the Egypt in order to suffer many things in God’s service (Hebrews 11:24-27) ?

Now even the mere fact that Moses preached a type of the gospel to pharaoh is sufficient to fascinate the mind and stir the soul. But wait … there’s still yet more! What is really amazing is that God told Moses in advance that pharaoh would not listen! “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart … but Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you.” So, God told Moses to preach the gospel to one whose heart was hardened! God told Moses to preach the gospel to one that Moses already knew was not elect! God told Moses to preach the gospel to one that was reprobate, and would not be saved! One whose God’s heart had hardened, was irrevocably lost, and as a result had no more chance of believing the gospel than did the son of perdition, Judas Iscariot. Like Judas Iscariot, it would have been better for pharaoh had he never been born. Make no mistake, without faith it is impossible to please God, and faith comes not from man but from God, a gift of the sovereign Holy Spirit given to those that God the Father has elected unto salvation before the foundation of the world. Pharaoh’s heart, hardened by original sin, was going to remain that way despite the preaching of the gospel to him because it was not in the decree of God that pharaoh was one who would be saved.

So, the question must be asked: why preach to a man like this? Is that not a waste of time and effort? Now, the easy answer to this is “We are supposed to preach to all people because only God knows those that He has elected to salvation, and we are not to attempt to act in God’s place by presuming to judge and know who He has elected and who He has not.” While this is 100% factual in general, in this case it is not so, for God had already informed Moses of pharaoh’s state! Again, God informed Moses in advance that pharaoh would not listen, and sent Moses to preach the protoevangelium to pharaoh anyway! Despite the fact that he was going to “fail” (with respect to the attempt to get pharaoh to acknowledge the revelation of God, repent of his sins and obey the revelation), God sent Moses anyway!

And the question is why? Does God set people up for failure? And if God sent Moses to deliver His word, can the Word of God fail? Does not the Bible say that the Word of God does not return null and void, but instead will accomplish the thing that God purposes (Isaiah 55:11)? How can that be true in this case? The answer is simply this: God did not sent Moses to preach the gospel to pharaoh so that pharaoh could be converted. God’s purpose in having Moses preach was not man. It was not pharaoh. Instead, God’s purposes in having Moses preach was God. It was so that God would be glorified. This purpose is hinted at in this specific passage with “And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD” but is given more explicitly later, when God states that through judging Egypt and accomplishing Israel’s exodus, He would be glorified before pharaoh, before Egypt, and before the world!

Make no mistake, this passage establishes convincingly the truth that we preach the gospel primarily to glorify God, and that God is glorified whether converts result or not. Indeed, when converts do happen, God receives the double honor and glory, for God is glorified by the preaching, and God is glorified by the conversion, particularly since it is God who accomplishes conversion and not man. The notion that we evangelize chiefly to win converts is man-centered doctrine and practice and must be abandoned.

The notion that we evangelize primarily to glorify God is Biblical truth, which is God-centered doctrine and practice, and must be internalized by every Christian. And once we realize that the primary purpose of evangelism is to glorify God, then we can no longer suffer God-dishonoring methods and God-dishonoring people or institutions with our support and acceptance. We will also no longer compare the apparent, temporal “success” of the God-dishonoring tactics and people with the true spiritual fruit of those who labor according to God’s will and thereby glorify Him! Should we mock God in the service of exalting the cause of saving man, and then claim that God is served, glorified and pleased by the saving of man? God forbid!

Though man, being the work of God’s Hands, is very precious to God, God is more important than man. Though man has great value, and it is a terrible thing for a man’s soul to be lost to eternal torment, the value of God far exceeds the value of not only each individual man, but the collective value of all men that ever lived and ever shall live! God is more valuable than His creation, and it is the chief duty of God’s creation to obey and glorify its Creator! Suffering practice that dishonors God and leaders who disobey God rejects this truth of Biblical revelation in favor of the lie that man is more important than God, or equal in rank or value with God, and it is the duty of God, that God is somehow beholden, to conform Himself, to lower Himself, to humble Himself, and accept whatever man chooses to give Him. If this is the case, then why did God reject the offering of Cain, and what was His basis, rationale, or justification for it? How could God have been just in His rejection and judgment of Cain? How can God be just in His judgment of anybody? God forbid that this should be the truth!

Instead, the truth is that Jesus Christ the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus Christ! The truth is that God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. This means that our evangelism must not and cannot be to us-ward with the chief goal and end being man and his salvation but to God-ward with the chief goal and end being God and His glory. That was why God sent Moses and Aaron to preach a type of the gospel to pharaoh, and that is why God’s Son has sent His church to preach the fulfillment of the gospel to every creature. We must first reject the false teachers who claim that the gospel is for some and not all – which apparently is an aberrant unscriptural form of Calvinism that Charles Spurgeon and William Carey contended against in their day – and then reject the leaven who claims that winning converts justifies the corruption in the message, the evangelist and the institution! Please recall that Jesus Christ said that many who will perform evangelism and do many other great works in His Name will be counted as goats and cast into eternal flame (Matthew 25:31-46 with Matthew 7:21-23). The goats are those who do perform work, but as the man-pleasers do, and not in spirit and truth. They are double-minded, calling on God but seeking to please man. As a result, they are disobedient goats, not obedient sheep.

To glorify God, Christians, all Christians no matter their age, sex, race, class, status, church office, etc. must share the gospel oft, and do so in a manner that glorifies God by submitting to God through obedience. It is those who are the true laborers in the harvest of the Lord. So, fellow Christian, I urge that you would pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his harvest, and also that you would be counted among those labourers that He sends!

If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, I urge, entreat and implore you not to respond with unbelief and rejection as did pharaoh, for if you do, you will receive pharaoh’s reward, which is horrible judgment. Indeed, where pharaoh’s punishment as recorded in Exodus was bad enough, as it was a punishment in this life, it was only a type of the punishment to come, which is exceedingly grievous and eternal in its duration! Do not follow after the folly of pharaoh! Instead, repent of your sins, believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved. Follow the link below to find out how.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, evangelism, Jesus Christ, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, Reformed, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why Does The Media Focus Only On Harold Camping?

Posted by Job on May 26, 2011

Yes, Harold Camping has been exposed as a false prophet, deceiving many as concerning the timing of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Again. Yes, his deception has caused lots of problems and unnecessary harm, especially for his followers. Again. The question is this: what is the big deal? Why has Camping been the subject of such media attention for months when there are so many pressing stories to cover i.e. wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters, economic failures, political intrigues etc. on a global scale? Clearly the media has an agenda, but what is it?

First off, for the sake of sound doctrine, let it be known that the return of Jesus Christ will not occur until A) the gospel has been taken to all nations and B) a great apostasy, a great falling away from the true faith, occurs. As the great commission is a primary duty of the church, it logical to conclude that the falling away will occur shortly after the great commission is fulfilled, or when the great commission’s fulfillment and with it the time of the Gentiles draws to a close. Anyone who extricates themselves from rapture watching and religious right (or religious left) politics long enough to pay attention to the global missions movements knows that barring a fantastic miracle we are at least 100 years from fulfilling the great commission (the 10/40 window alone is an amazing challenge) and – despite the claims of Camping otherwise – far from there being a great falling away, there are more Christians – or definitely appreciable numbers of Christians in more places – today than at any time in history. So, if we can learn anything from this Camping episode, it is that we should heed the words given by angels and recorded by the physician Luke at the direction of God the Holy Spirit “why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” That was an exhortation to cease waiting for eternity and to get on with the business of living for eternity by loving Jesus Christ and walking in His ways.

With that out of the way, let it further be said that the error of Camping does not undermine the authority of the Bible, Jesus Christ or His church but rather confirms it. How? Because the Bible repeatedly warns against false teachers, including those who would lead people into error concerning His second coming. Jesus Christ said that “false prophets shall deceive many” in Matthew 24:5, and that many will be offended by the true faith in Matthew 24:10. Such false teachings were present even while the New Testament was being written, as the apostle Peter referenced them in 2 Peter 3:4, the apostle John did the same in 1 John 2:18, and the apostle Paul did the same in 2 Thessalonians 2.  Further, Jesus Christ predicted such specifically in Matthew 24:4-5! The New Testament makes it clear that we identify false teachers when they teach things that are in contradiction to the Bible. This truth is what drove William Tyndale to martyrdom, when he stated “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!” in response to being told that common people didn’t need to be knowledgeable concerning the Bible’s contents, because it was better to obey the pope than the Bible anyway. So, in rejecting Jesus Christ when He stated that none knows the timing of His return save God the Father (Matthew 24:36), and in rejecting Jesus Christ when He stated that the great commission will be fulfilled before He returns (Matthew 24:14) and in rejecting the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of Paul concerning the falling away first in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, this Camping teaches against things concerning God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and by his doing so and attracting so many followers he verifies the pages of the New Testament when it said that such a thing would happen. So, Camping did not harm the authenticity or integrity of the Bible by being wrong, but rather verified the Bible’s truth! Instead, Camping’s being RIGHT would have been an occasion to challenge the veracity of the Bible, for were Jesus Christ to return before we reach the many tribes in the 10/40 window or while there are tens of millions of believers risking persecution to worship in Africa and Asia, what would be said of those Bible texts?

So, make no mistake, there is nothing special about Camping. Was not just over ten years ago when there were tons of false prophets claiming based on Bible codes and numerology that Jesus Christ was going to return in 2000? (Never mind that the Bible doesn’t follow our modern calendars, and that Bede almost certainly incorrectly calculated the date of the birth of Jesus Christ that we use for “B.C.” and “A.D.” anyway). Or about 25 years ago Jesus Christ was going to return because it was 40 years after of the establishment of the modern state of Israel? (Never mind that Jesus Christ spoke “this generation” to the Jews of His own time concerning the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., and if the Bible actually does speak of the restoration of the political nation of Israel, it does not link this event to any timetable concerning Christ’s return.) So why all the fuss and the furor? It has to serve some sort of media agenda.

Consider this: how come when the subject in view is Usama bin Laden or some other Muslim terrorist, the media is quick to say “he isn’t a real Muslim” or “he doesn’t represent mainstream Islam that is practiced by hundreds of millions of peaceful followers”, but the media is quick to depict Camping as being in or near the mainstream of evangelical and fundamental Christians? In truth, as Camping rejects the Holy Trinity, he shouldn’t be classified as Christian at all. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and Jews all reject the Holy Trinity, a core foundational doctrine of Christianity that sets it apart from other religions that are either polytheistic or present a false teaching on God’s Unity. But while the media does its best to present Islam and increasingly Mormonism as moderate and mainstream, it uses Camping to create a wild eyed, dangerous fanatical face for Bible-believing Christianity.

Another thing: it isn’t as if Camping is the only false prophet or source of wrong information. Far from it. It is just that when so many others get things wrong and are exposed for their false, anti-Biblical thinking, nothing is ever said about it. Instead, the media, the academy, the elites simply move on. (Or they carry on as if the error was never made.) Consider liberal Christianity, such as the critical “scholars.” Barely a year goes by when an archaeological find of a Biblical site or a scientific breakthrough that confirms Biblical truth or discovery of early manuscripts verifying the existence of historical persons, places and the integrity of Biblical texts that the critical scholars challenged, yet the critical scholars are still accepted as scholars, and their methods – which would never be used in any other field because of their ascientific nature – accepted as reliable.

But that is just the Bible, right? Wrong. Take psychology. The theories of giants in that field like Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey have long been discredited. Yet they are still revered as having made great contributions to science, modern thought and human progress, and furthermore their discredited theories are still being taught as fact in our schools and universities. But psychology, save when it is based on experimentation and observation and does not deal with brain’s biology and chemistry, is a “soft science”, right? Sure, except that the theories in the hard sciences like physics and biology turn up erroneous also. Our schools still teach the long-discredited false leads in evolution theory, i.e. the “evolutionary timeline tree chart” that has long been abandoned as unworkable, and fossils allegedly showing primates evolving into humans that were actually either diseased humans or other animals as fact. You would be surprised to know how many of the things that were taught in science class has been quietly abandoned, how much more needs to be pushed from the classroom, and would be if the media held that community to the same scrutiny that it does evangelical and fundamental Christianity.

But that is just arcane science that has little relevance to our daily lives, so what harm does it do? Fine, except that the realm of false prophets also exists in government and policy. Many fantastic, dire predictions have been made and influenced the direction of governments and leaders to who knows what ends. Example? Global warming. Except that they couldn’t call it “global warming” anymore when many places in the world started experiencing prolonged unseasonably cold weather! So, the cause of the cold weather was attributed to greenhouse gas emissions also and “global warming” became “climate change.” I remember a specific prediction from the global warming prophets that had a lot of people frightened: after Hurricane Katrina and other large, powerful destructive hurricanes in 2005, the global warming community (the “climate change” moniker had not yet been instituted) claimed that the increase in the power and severity of the storms were caused by global warming, and that we could expect worse storms – and more of them – thereafter. They predicted that the hurricane season of 2006 was going to be one of the worst in history! All their models said so! What happened? We haven’t had anything approaching Katrina since.

Another example: peak oil. The experts a few decades back claimed that we had maxed out our oil production, that we had exploited the main reserves, that oil production was heading for an inevitable decline, and that we needed to alter our lifestyles and change our way of life to conserve what oil was left or face a global energy crisis. A few years after those dire predictions, some of the largest oil reserves in history were discovered, as well as technological breakthroughs for accessing oil, and possible new sources of oil, such as from shale and sand. (Do not mistake me for an oil company and fossil fuels advocate, quite the contrary I am fully supportive of alternative energy, and believe that a lot of great technology in that area is not being exploited.) And there was also the “overpopulation crisis.” It was promoted by folks who believed that if the world’s population reached 4 billion, it would become unsustainable, and the result would be mass famines and starvation, diseases, wars and environmental degradation. The only solution was immediate global population control programs! Well, now the world population is 6.75 billion and counting.

There is more. Remember when mad cow disease was going to ravage our food supply? Oprah Winfrey said “I’ll never eat a hamburger again!” (Of course, these folks OPPOSE abstinence from fornication as a defense against sexually transmitted disease as the Bible commands, but constantly promotes abstinence from eating the animals that God gave us dominion over and called lawful to eat.) Remember when bird flu was going to kill thousands, or tens of thousands? What about swine flu? Brought to you by the same false prophets who told you to run out and buy cellophane and masking tape to protect yourself from a nuclear terrorist attack after September 11th.

The prophets told us in the 1980s that AIDS was going to wipe out a significant portion of the U.S. population with little or no regard for lifestyle, and needless to say they were wrong, as AIDS rates only increased among homosexuals, the promiscuous and drug users while declining for everyone else. The lead false prophet was surgeon general C. Everett Koop, who used this false information to promote sex education and condom giveaways in schools starting in 3rd grade. Speaking of sex education, the false prophets told us that it would drastically reduce the venereal disease and teen/out of wedlock pregnancy rates, and it did neither. Instead, both shot through the roof, and further there are now new venereal diseases that even condom manufacturers acknowledge their products are useless against (not that you will ever hear that in any public school sex education program).

But wait, there’s more. The prophets told us that abandoning classical education for new education reforms (often based on Freudian or Marxist theories) would lead to markedly improved results and a transformation of society. They were totally wrong, American academic achievement has fallen off the map, and no one talks about it. The prophets told us that divorce and illegitimacy were GOOD for women, children and even most men, but education, poverty, drug use and incarceration rates say otherwise. The prophets claimed that we could eliminate racism through education. How is that working out? They claimed that we could eliminate poverty through government action, and now not only is poverty still a reality (as Jesus Christ said it would in Mark 14:7, not a favorite text among liberal theologians!) but unprecedented numbers of people in America and worldwide are reliant on government assistance of some kind. The false prophets also claimed that the triumph of Soviet communism was inevitable, and the best course of action was resignation, acceptance and learning from and becoming more like them, only to have the Soviet Union collapse and many remaining Marxist regimes like China and Viet Nam adopt more capitalistic economies. Those who predicted that the war on drugs and the war on terror (especially Afghanistan and Iraq) could be effectively and quickly won? Whatever happened to them?

The sociologists who said that eliminating censorship laws and allowing the free trafficking of pornography would make us more progressive and improve relations between the sexes? They have been nowhere to be found as rapists, child molesters and other sex criminals have proliferated, multiplying like rats. The social theorists who claimed that putting criminals in jail wouldn’t lower crime rates because the root causes were economic? Wrong, and verified when crime rates still remained lower despite two severe recessions and deep cuts in social services. (Well, street crime is lower anyway. White collar crime, the rich in their vain attempt to sate their lust for greed, remains through the roof. But the Bible said that this would happen concerning the wealthy also … see the book of James, which is not a favorite among political conservatives or those who teach the false prosperity gospel.) And another example: remember Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s claim that we had to immediately adopt a stimulus package to keep unemployment from hitting 8%? Unemployment has been at or near 10% for over two years! Anti-Christ? Probably not. False prophet? Definitely.

So, on one hand you have ONE Harold Camping, who again due to his rejection of the Holy Trinity and of many Bible texts (he forbids his followers from fellowshipping in local churches in violation of Hebrews 10:25) should not be considered a Christian is a false prophet. On the other hand, you have MANY worldly prophets who due to their embrace of ungodly, anti-Biblical ideas, doctrines, philosophies and imaginations that exalt themselves against God (2 Corinthians 10:5) that are utterly, totally and completely wrong all the time. Now both groups of false prophets are wrong for the same reason: their rejection of Biblical revelation as true, infallible, inerrant, and the final authority in all matters, and not merely things necessary for salvation. But the media and the elites shine the light on Camping to defame and discredit Christians who actually do adhere to the Bible while doing their best to cover up the fact that they so wrong so often on so many issues to the great harm of so many is appalling. It is hypocrisy at best, and a conspiratorial cover-up at worst. If anything, talking about Camping gives them an excuse to keep from having to address the huge mess that these folks have made of the economies, governments and societies of the world. Further, it allows them to transfer the blame from their failed policies – and the rejection of Jesus Christ and the Bible which reveals Him ideology that motivate them – to Christians, as if Christians are undermining their efforts.

Christians, for instance, are blamed for illegitimacy by opposing sex education. Christians are blamed for AIDS by opposing homosexuality. Christians are blamed for poor educational performance for opposing evolution. Christians are blamed for global warming for opposing climate change legislation. Christians are blamed for the wars and tension in the Middle East for supporting Israel and not a Palestinian state (by the way, I reject Zionism, and “Christian” Zionism is especially repugnant to what the Bible actually says, and John Hagee and not a few other false prophets follow this flawed school of interpretation). Christians are called misogynist for adhering to what the Bible says about the roles concerning men and women in the church, in marriages and homes and in society, and for opposing the murder of abortion. Christians are blamed for “Islamophobia” and “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Mormonism” for refusing to deny that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, and accused of undermining cultures with our missionary work. And the list goes on and on.

And it is only going to increase. As more and more ideas based on a rejection of the Bible and even of general revelation (see Romans 1:18-32) causes still more decline and failure, anger will increase against Christians. As the world continues to reap the fruit of the sin and wickedness that it sows, it will increasingly see Christians as scapegoats. Instead of repenting of their sins and acknowledging those as the true source of the misery and calamity, the blame will be on Christians for failing to get with the program.

This will climax in first sporadic but then general and organized attempts to silence Christians and remove us from their midst, in the hopes of keeping us from hindering their “progress.” This is far-fetched, you say? Not in the least, because it has already happened. An example is not merely the brutal repression and murder of Christians on a massive scale in the Soviet Union, China, Germany, Sudan and other totalitarian (whether Marxist, Muslim or fascist) regimes in the last century, but the experience of the church in the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire’s wealth, power and culture were declining due to the decadence and incompetence of its ruling classes, and from Nero to Decius, they saw Christians as a scapegoat.

The legitimate Christians refused to join in their state religion (an odd mix of paganism and patriotism not dissimilar from what goes on in our country today, including in not a few churches) so the Roman “gods” were angry. The Christians refused to join in their public activities (regrettably this is not a mark of contemporary Christianity!) so they were called “divisive” and were accused of undermining the common culture (in addition to not being patriotic!) that was allegedly needed to have a cohesive, strong empire. And Christians preached and taught against the immorality, wickedness and depravity of the people, the rulers and the times. They preached against the rampant adultery, homosexuality, violence and child molestation. They preached against the wanton excesses of the upper classes (again, not a mark of contemporary evangelical Christianity, unless the upper classes in view are Hollywood, government bureaucrats and other liberal elites). And they preached against paganism, not only by the people but the official state religion (again, the evangelical Christian preacher who even speaks of the freemasonry and occult that was vital to this nation’s founding and has been influential in it ever since is rare).

Then, the persecution began as sporadic and localized, but climaxed in a brutal, sustained attempt to completely rid the Roman Empire of Christianity. And despite the estimated ten million Christians that were killed by the Roman Empire (something that you will never see mentioned in history books or depicted in movies, as they are more wont to depict Christians as murderous crusaders and the like) and the carnage of the past hundred years, that is only a shadow of the real bloodbath to come. You see, unlike Harold Camping, I do not adhere to a rapture belief. Instead, I believe the Bible when it says that when the anti-Christ comes, it will be given to him to make war against the saints, and to overcome them. I believe the Bible when it says that the time of tribulation, of great sorrows, will be of such severity that it will be cut short so that the saints, the elect, will survive it. And I believe that the saints that were mentioned in Revelation and Matthew 24 that will see that horrible time are not Jews, or those converted by Jews during the great tribulation, but Christians.

And that is what it is all about. That is why turning an obscure preacher with questionable doctrine into an international news story lasting several cycles was done. It is why Westboro Baptist Church, a cult that has existed for decades, is only now becoming international news. It is why Terry Jones, an obscure leader of a small congregation, became an international pariah for burning a Koran when not only Muslims but the United States military routinely burns Bibles!

It is why terrorists attacks committed by atheists like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph are attributed to Christians. It is why violence against abortion clinics and doctors is an issue oft raised against Christians despite the fact that less than 5 such incidents have occurred in over 20 years, and only 1 in the past 10. The Hutaree militia drew headlines and a massive sting operation from the federal government as a Christian terrorism threat to rival that posed by Al Qaeda, and it turned out to be just a bunch of guys spinning yarns over the Internet.  Yet, the Marxist “liberation theology” types, not a few of whom were trained Soviet infiltrators, fanned the flames for any number of bloody murderous third world Marxist coups with their organizing and “preaching”, and the truth about their activities – and the level of support that they received from their ideological and religious fellow travelers in the U.S. – has never been documented by the media, Hollywood or our schools. Neither has the true history of our own “civil rights movement” – how it duped the black church and many well meaning white Americans into supporting Marxist subversive tactics, and how that movement was also organized by and rife with Soviet agents and sympathizers – been told, and nor can you expect them to spill the beans on their own false prophets.

The agitation propaganda against Christians will continue in the future just as it did in the Roman Empire. Christians should be heedful of the times, which means that we must be aware of what is going on, aware of where it is headed, and aware of whose agenda it is serving. That is why Christians should end these “battles” over “being represented in Hollywood” and the “culture wars” and “religious right politics” (and religious left politics) in favor of opening our eyes to the true state of affairs. Instead, we should study our Bibles, study about the early church during its time of persecution before Christianity was co-opted by the Roman Empire so that by learning about the church’s past, we can learn about the future – our future. Of course, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ will win in the end and vindicate and save His church. But make no mistake: just as Jesus Christ suffered Gethsemane and His passion before His resurrection and glorification, the church, being less than its Master Jesus Christ, must also suffer many things. Christians must be prepared so that we might stand during the time to come, and endure to the end. This is a battle that will be won not by guns, money or governments but by faith in the God who is fighting on our side and prevail.

It must be asked: which side are you on? The side of God, or of the wicked? Though Camping was wrong, his error only proved the Bible to be correct. The Bible makes it clear that the wicked perish and that Jesus Christ and those who believe in Him will triumph. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ, make no mistake, you will be counted among the wicked, because no matter how good you perceive yourself to be, before a holy and perfect God you are a sinner. I urge you, repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

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Which Is Easier To Say?

Posted by Job on May 26, 2011

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This [man] blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, [Thy] sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. Matthew 9:2-7

I have three observations from this passage.

1. Jesus Christ saw that this man had faith and then acted. Thus, faith was prior. This contradicts the curious doctrine held by many Reformed or Calvinistic believers that regeneration precedes faith. Now this doctrine has some merit, but only from an eternal viewpoint, from the perspective of the transcendent God who exists outside of time. This transcendent God chose His people, the ones who would be saved, from before the foundation of the world, and when He did so, it was done. Those people were considered saved, spared the wrath to come, and nothing could be done to nullify or revoke this fact. However, the eternal viewpoint is not the only viewpoint. God is not only transcendent, apart from time and creation (denying this, making God a part of creation, is the bedrock of so many false religions) but immanent with respect to creation, meaning that God does maintain a presence in time-space – indeed this presence is omnipresent – and sustains it (denying this is deism, among many other false systems), and then there was immanence par excellence by way of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. So while the salvation of the elect was an accomplished matter as soon as God decreed it before the foundation of the world, the regeneration of human beings happens at a specific time and place that God has also decreed. Compare this with the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the elect on the cross. That Jesus Christ would do this thing was decreed by God the Father in eternity before creation was accomplished. However, God also declared that accomplishing atonement would happen by way of His Son’s entering space-time, dying on the cross at a specified time and place in a manner that fulfilled prophecies from earlier times and diverse places, and being likewise raised from the dead. Though this act accomplished salvation for all the elect regardless of time, the cross nonetheless happened at a particular time. It would be therefore be improper to say “the atonement preceded Jesus Christ going to the cross” if for no other reason than the Bible’s specifically stating otherwise. In like manner, this example shows that one cannot say that regeneration precedes faith. In this text, Jesus Christ saw that faith already present in the man, and forgave his sins. Though faith is not of man but of God, a gift of the Holy Spirit sovereignly bestowed upon the elect according to the decree before the foundation of the world of the Ancient of Days, who is God the Father, this example shows that the Godhead is glorified by the Holy Spirit’s first giving a person faith and then accomplishing the work of regeneration that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross made possible. (I am aware that people were regenerated by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament prior to Jesus Christ’s atonement, with the deathless ascensions of Enoch and Elijah being the chief examples, but this was based on looking forward to the atoning act that Jesus Christ would accomplish at a particular place in time. Even in these cases, regeneration did not precede faith, and as the epistle to the Hebrews conclusively lays out, atonement did not precede the cross.)

2. Though “regeneration precedes faith” is a doctrinal aberration adhered to by some Calvinists, Reformed soteriology is also confirmed by this text. For at what point did the paralytic man exercise his free will? At what point did this paralytic man ask for his sins to be forgiven and to be saved? This paralytic man did have faith, mind you, and this faith was in whatever relevation of the Person of Jesus Christ that he had access to (for the Lord was not yet lifted up on the cross for sins, nor had He yet risen from the dead). But make no mistake: he came to Jesus Christ expecting to be healed! Even if he presumed that his paralysis was due to sin on his part (and the Bible makes it clear in the book of Job and when Jesus Christ healed the man born blind in the gospel of John that such is a false assumption!) the text and the context of this episode does not reveal that this paralytic had the priestly role of Jesus Christ in mind when he sought the Christ’s aid. It should also be noted that even the unbelievers in this episode did not challenge Jesus Christ’s ability to heal this man, but to forgive his sins! So, this man went to Jesus Christ expecting to be physically healed and thereby fulfilled his human responsibility of exercising his God-given faith (though this faith existed in the context of limited human knowledge) and when Jesus Christ being sovereign God saw that the faith given by the sovereign God the Holy Spirit was present in this man, Jesus Christ acted sovereignly, of His own initiative, unasked and uninvited (this man did not “ask Jesus Christ into his heart” or “say a sinner’s prayer”!) to save this man from his sins! And when the sovereign God acted in this manner, the paralytic had no say in the manner. He could not reject, refuse or undo it, nor could he truly even consent to it! This text, this example clearly demonstrates unconditional election and irresistible grace.

3. Point 1, that regeneration does not precede faith, and point 2, that unconditional election and irresistible grace are true doctrines, should inform our evangelism. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God says God the Holy Spirit in Romans 10:17. Regeneration happens when – in accordance with the time and place chosen by the Ancient of Days – one who has been elected unto salvation and given to Jesus Christ in eternity but from the temporal perspective is unregenerate encounters Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel, receives the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit, and is saved by the work of the Holy Spirit. Romans 10:14 asks us rhetorically “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” The Holy Spirit does not give faith apart from the preaching of the gospel, and the Holy Spirit does not regenerate in the absence of this faith.

Yet, the gospel is oft not being preached! A form of the gospel, perhaps, but not the gospel. The gospel of good works is often substituted where we try to draw people to Jesus Christ by being good, loving moral people so that we won’t have to use words. The Roman Catholic Francis of Assisi did say “preach the gospel, and use words if necessary”, but that is not Romans 10:14 or Romans 10:17. Also, a gospel of politics and social action is offered up to draw people to Jesus Christ, whether it is the conservative one of opposing abortion and homosexuality or the liberal one of relieving poverty and opposing political oppression. Yes, the Bible speaks of morality and justice on a personal and societal level, but those are in the interests of revealing God’s attributes and nature to mankind, and accepting only some of God’s attributes and not God Himself is but idolatry. Yet, these and other such flawed, distorted gospel presentations, which amounts to either Christless evangelism or evangelism that presents a false Christ, are common, even dominant.

Why? Well the answer is given in the text. When Jesus Christ presented the gospel – presented Himself in His priestly role and His divine prerogatives that bore witness to His identity as God in the flesh – what happened? He was opposed. He was hated. He was rejected. He experienced trials and persecution. “And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This [man] blasphemeth.” And the same thing happens to us when we present Jesus Christ as God who is not only Savior but Lord and Judge! That is what happens when we tell people that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, and unless we repent of our sins, believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation and love Him by keeping His commandments! We experience opposition! We face persecution!

Now instead of accepting what the Bible says when it tells us that we will receive opposition just as Jesus Christ did, that we will be scorned and rejected just as Jesus Christ was, because He is our Master and the servant is not greater than his master, we decide that the problem is either us or the message. We decide that if we are experiencing opposition, it is because something is wrong with us and we need to change. We decide that if we are experiencing rejection, it is because something is wrong with the message and the message needs to change. So, in order to gain carnal acceptance, we take Christ out of the message. When we deny that Jesus Christ is the only way, we deny Christ. When we deny that true repentance means turning away from sins and living in obedience to Jesus Christ, we deny Jesus Christ. When we deny that God alone saves us, and not works or membership in a church, we deny Jesus Christ. And when we deny or omit the reality of eternal judgment and damnation for sinners, we deny Jesus Christ.

And why do we do this? Go back to the text. “For whether is easier, to say, [Thy] sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?” We do it because it is easier! Again, the scribes who persecuted Jesus Christ with their blasphemy in this episode were willing to accept Jesus Christ the teacher, because there were many teachers. They were willing to accept Jesus Christ the prophet, for there had been several prophets. They were willing to accept Jesus Christ the priest, for there were many priests. They were willing to accept Jesus Christ the king, for there had been several kings. They were willing to accept Jesus Christ the miracle-worker, for there had been miracle workers. What they were not willing to accept was Jesus Christ as God, as the one God, as their God! Had Jesus Christ merely been willing to be accepted, He could have just healed the man’s paralysis and ignored that man’s sin. For what? So that man would have been well and whole and therefore able to walk into the lake of fire for eternity instead of being carried there? Is that what would have been in that man’s interests? How? Or had Jesus Christ merely been willing to avoid rejection by His own people and persecution, even the death on the cross, He could have just overthrown the Romans and been made emperor of the world with Jerusalem as the capital and Israel the chief people. After all, didn’t Satan offer Jesus Christ the very same deal during His temptation in the desert? But the people would have enjoyed the earthly benefits of Jesus Christ’s imperial rule during their lives only to be cast into the lake of fire after they died, because no atonement would have been made for their sins!

So, Jesus Christ didn’t just take the easy way in merely presenting Himself to this man as his Healer, a role that He knew that the faithless unelect would accept Him. Instead, He presented Himself to this man as his God, a role that He knew would be rejected by the faithless and the reprobate! Jesus Christ took the hard way! He asked “Which is it easier to do, forgive his sins or heal him” and did the hard part, which was promise this man’s salvation at that time, and then be the personal guarantor, the personal surety of that salvation when He went to the cross later! But now, so many of us who presume to speak and teach in Jesus Christ’s Name despise the hard road that Jesus Christ took for the easy road. Which is easier to say? Repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ lest you perish for eternity? Or “I am pro-life?” Or “I support family values?” Or “America is a Christian nation founded on Biblical principles?” Or “marriage was created by God to be between one man and one woman?” Or “I stand with Israel?” Or “no justice, no peace!” Or “help the poor, the orphans and the widows”? Or “judge not”? Or “let he who is without sin cast the first stone!” Or “we must be good stewards of the environment and of our bodies?” Or “God is love”? While Biblical support can be found for all of those notions (provided that they are given in context) the point is that they fall short of the message of Jesus Christ, and fall particularly fall short of the message of Jesus Christ crucified for our sins and resurrected for our justification! The message of eternal life and worship of God to those who believe, and of woe and sorrow exceeding for those who do not!

And why do we avoid persecution by saying the easy things instead of the hard ones? Because though we profess to love God first with all our heart, soul and strength as the chief commandment requires us, the truth is that we love ourselves more. Because we love ourselves more, we love the world and the things in it more. That is being double-minded, and the epistle of James reminds us that such a person will never receive a thing from God, and that includes the free gift of salvation. So, Christian evangelist, I urge you to make your calling and election sure. Get off the easy way and take the hard way. Bear witness of the true Jesus Christ with the true gospel today, and do not withhold Jesus Christ and the gift of faith from your fellow man because you value yourself so much than you value your fellow man. If you are unwilling to experience persecution to liberate your fellow man from sin and death by preaching him the gospel, how can you say that you love him? And if you do not love your fellow man, whom you see every day, how can you say that you love God whom you do not see? The Bible asks the same question and you know the answer. Do not blaspheme Christ by saying that which is easy! Glorify Jesus Christ by telling the world the truth of Him.

If you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, I urge you to do so right now.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

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Romans 4:17 – Speaking Those Things That Are Not As Though They Were!

Posted by Job on April 8, 2011

Rom 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, [even] God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Suffer me while I provide three examples of YHWH speaking those things that are not as though they were.

1. Creation

Genesis 1:1 reads “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” In the beginning of what? Space, time, matter, all of creation, the entirety of the existence of all things apart from YHWH Himself, for YHWH alone is I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). How did God accomplish creation? Well, by Jesus Christ were all things made (Hebrews 1:2 and John 1:3) and Jesus Christ is none other than the Word of God (John 1:1). So, when God said (among other things) “Let there be light”, YHWH accomplished creatio ex nihilo, which means that He made something out of nothing. Before God spoke, there was nothing. This means that with respect to creation, God spoke things that were not as though they were.

Let there be light: and there was light. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God called the firmament Heaven. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion … over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female!

After God spoke, these things were. Before God spoke, these things were not! God called these things before they were!

2. Sin

After God created Adam, He gave the commandment: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Note that God did not say “if you eat of it, you will surely die.” God said “in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.” We cannot hedge concerning this meaning. It likely did not mean that Adam would drop dead on the very day that he ate it, for that did not happen. Adam lived to be 930 years old. Instead, it was a prediction. God knew that Adam would eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil! God knew that the fall would take place! Do not be deceived. When God spoke those words in Genesis 2:17, He foretold the fall of Adam – and through Adam mankind – into sin though it had not yet happened. Adam ate thereof, and because of this in Adam all die (1 Corinthians 15:22). And for all who die in Adam, their fate is the second death; eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). So, with regards to Adam and all those in him, God spoke things that were not as though they were when He said or in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die! For Adam and those in him are not yet cast into the lake of fire, but rest assured: they will be.

3. Salvation

But do not despair! 1 Corinthians 15:22 also says that in Christ all live! Yes, that text was written after Jesus Christ came, endured His passion, resurrected and returned to God the Father in accordance with the scriptures. But immediately after the fall, in what is called the protoevangelium, God bore witness of this great salvation thousands of years before it occurred! Before the martyrdom of Abel, before the translation of Enoch, before the calling of Abraham, before Moses led Israel out of Egypt, before the star prophecy of Balaam, before the Davidic line was formed, before the children of Israel came out of exile and began longing for the Messianic hope, God spoke a thing that was not as though it were!

To Satan after the fall in Genesis 3:15, YHWH said “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God did not say “this woman”, referencing Eve, for Eve is the mother of all humanity, both elect and non-elect, both the Godly seed and Satan’s seed (those of Adam). He said “the woman.” Which woman? Revelation 12:1-2 reads “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” And who is this woman’s seed? It is given in Revelation 12:17 “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” And who is the dragon of Revelation 12:17? Revelation 12:9 tells us. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” So, clearly in Genesis 3:15, God called the mystery of the salvation obtained for the elect by Jesus Christ – something that was not because Jesus Christ was not yet come into the world and lifted up on the cross as payment for sins – as though it was.

Revelation 21:1-7 gives us a picture of the fulfillment of what God spoke in Genesis 3:15, of what His only begotten Son obtained for His elect, those called out before the foundation of the world. Indeed, that is yet another thing that God spoke that was not as though it were, for God decreed the salvation of those that were elect before they were even born; before they even were!

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Why can only God call things that are not as though they were? It is because God is the only One that is capable of making those things that are not be! Only God has the power to transform that which is not into something that is! With this body of facts at your disposal, how can you resist so great a salvation … one that is so great precisely because of the greatness of the One who makes it a reality for all who believe?

Do not be deceived: this has been the plan of YHWH from before the foundation of the world. Evidence of this is God’s creating man in His image and His likeness, and this makes man unique among all creation, including even the angels for whom there is no remedy, no avoidance of eternal damnation, for those who fell. God made man in His own image precisely so that upon His Word’s coming to the world in human flesh as 100% God and 100% man when He was born of a virgin by the Name Jesus Christ, He would so perfectly reveal God the Father to the extent that to look upon Jesus Christ was as looking upon God the Father! So by making Adam in His image, God called the redemption of those who would believe before Adam even plunged creation into sin in the first place. Though salvation through Jesus Christ was not, God called – God planned – as though it were.

So, now that you are confronted with this overpowering evidence, I urge and implore you to resist this Truth no longer. Instead, be saved by the One who speaks things that are not as though they were, and by doing so makes those things reality! Lest you perish in an eternal lake of fire, repent of your sins and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ by:

Following The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, Christianity, devotional, evangelism, Jesus Christ, prophecy, religion, salvation, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Proverb 18:21 – Death And Life Are In The Power Of The Tongue

Posted by Job on April 7, 2011

According to the Bible, our words have power, even unto life and death. That is why we should not be idle, vain, careless or irreverent with our words, but instead always speak with caution and with purpose. What are some of the ways that we speak death?

Taking the Lord’s Name in vain (Exd 20:7), lying (Exd 20:16), cursing and swearing (Jam 5:12), gossip (Lev 19:16), ranting, promoting unlawful division and vain arguing (1Ti 6:4), subversive speech (Gal 5:19) vulgar/profane speech (Gal 5:20), jealous speech (Gal 5:21) and spreading heretical doctrines (Gal 5:21) are but some examples of sinful speech.

Speech such as this causes sinful and destructive thoughts and deeds in both the speaker and the hearer. Consider as an example the great damage done by the words of Jonadab, which planted into the heart of Amnon a plot by which he could rape his half-sister Tamar as recounted in 2 Samuel 13. Jonadab’s words helped conceive and bring forth gross sin by Amnon, which caused great pain to Tamar, a coup attempt against David by his son Absalom, and the deaths of many people, including Amnon and Absalom.

Another set of examples with even worse consequences was the evil speech of the children of Israel during their wanderings in the desert. Faithlessness, ingratitude, lustings, idolatry, coveting, lying, strifes and seditions were just some of their wicked talk, and of course wicked behavior followed. A particular occasion was the evil report brought by 10 of the 12 spies (Numbers 13:32). This caused a revolt against Moses, the result of which was that none of the adults in that generation were suffered by YHWH to enter the promised land.

A greater still example: the words of the serpent, the dragon, Satan to Eve. They were not many. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Yet they were cunning, filled with malicious intent, and had their malicious effect: the fall of man; original sin.

The greatest example of evil words? “Hail master.” Those were spoken by Judas Iscariot when he revealed the identity of Jesus Christ to those who came to arrest and ultimately murder Him (Mat 26:49)! It did not take many words, and their literal meaning – of honor and respect – belied their abhorrent intent. Despite our attempts to cleverly disguise our words and distance ourselves from their consequences, with words as with actions, God knows the heart (Acts 15:8)! Above all men who ever walked the face of the earth, the wicked speech of Judas Iscariot demonstrates that one can sin with his words, and that the consequences of said sin is death because the soul that sinneth shall die (Ezekiel 18:20)! For who else did Jesus Christ say of but Judas Iscariot that it would have been good for him had he never been born (Mark 14:21)? Proverb 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof! Do not be as Judas Iscariot and speak death! Instead, speak life!

But how can one speak life? By bearing witness of the truth (John 18:37). What is truth? The word of God, ‘specially the gospel of Jesus Christ. Psalm 119:130 says the entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of testimony, which is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). When we speak the gospel, we are not speaking mere words, but we are speaking Jesus Christ Himself (1Cr 1:23, Phl 1:15, Phl 1:16, Act 5:42, Act 17:3, chiefly 2Cr 4:5)! When we give a full, true and legitimate gospel, we are not speaking about Jesus Christ, we are speaking Jesus Christ! And what is Jesus Christ but life? Have you not read John 1:4? In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Go back to Psalm 119:130. God’s Words are Jesus Christ. The entrance of God’s Word into a human heart that is good soil brings light, which John 1:4 tells us is Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ enters that good soil, it brings understanding of spiritual things to babes (Luk 10:21)! The gospel is foolishness to those who do not believe (1Cr 1:18), but it takes a carnal man that is dead to spiritual things and resurrects him (1Cr 2:14)! We know that this is so because when the Word of God goes forth, He does not fail, but accomplishes what God the Father wishes, and prospers in the thing that God the Father sent it to (Isa 55:11)!

So then, why are not all who hear the gospel receive this life? Because though many are called, few are chosen (Mat 22:14). It is only God’s sheep that the Father called out from before the foundation of the world (1Pe 1:20). It is only those sheep who hear Jesus Christ and come to Him in repentance and obedience when He calls to them by way of gospel preaching and Holy Spirit drawing (John 10:27). Those who forbear are not the sheep that God the Father gave to God the Son (John 10:26). The gospel of Jesus Christ never fails. Instead, it prospers in bringing in God’s sheep. It brings life in the dead hearts of those called out by God the Father, which is precisely the thing that God sent His only begotten Son to do (John 3:16)!

Now granted, there are other words that contain a measure or form of virtue, goodness and positive content which can bring forth an edifying result. Against speaking such things there is no law. However, those things should not be spoken to replace the gospel. Those things should not be spoken of besides the gospel. Those things should not be spoken in competition with the gospel. And those things certainly must not be spoken because the gospel is being rejected or because its speaking causes persecution. Why? Because speaking the gospel is speaking Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God, and the first commandment is that God comes first and has no competitor and no equal or rival (Exodus 20:3). Uttering anything else in place of the gospel is sinful speech, and the soul that sinneth shall die! If you are ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then Jesus Christ will be ashamed of us on judgment day. While there is virtue in other words, virtue is not life. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16)!

A key text on why Christians have the mandate to speak life:

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Now after being confronted with Romans 10:8-17, gentlemen, where is there room or need for any more debate? The gospel of Jesus Christ is the Word of faith, and preaching that Word brings life. So gentle Christian reader, you have a choice. Death and life are in the power of your tongue! You can either speak death by giving utterance to lawless, sinful things. Or you can speak life by proclaiming Jesus Christ and Him crucified. With all urgency and sincerity, I entreat and implore you to choose life today, and continue in that choice from this moment forth.

If you are not yet a Christian, please know this: only in Jesus Christ is there life. As a payment for sins, Jesus Christ was slain and then raised from the dead on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. This is a fact beyond dispute, because it was confirmed with the testimony of over 500 eyewitnesses, many of them well known, prominent and reliable people in their day and time. Thus, those who possess unbelief of this fact are without excuse, and they will receive an eternal, everlasting punishment for this belief: death in a lake of fire. Know that Jesus Christ did not come to bring death, but He came to bring life. You can receive the life that Jesus Christ came to bring by repenting of your sins and believing His gospel. You can – and should – do so immediately by:

Following The Three Step Salvation Plan!

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Spiritual Warfare In The Parable Of The Sower

Posted by Job on April 6, 2011

According to many popular spiritual warfare teachers, a major battlefield for spiritual warfare (binding and rebuking demons) and warfare prayer or directed prayer (praying against demons, their areas of influence and their activities) relates to evangelism and missions. These doctrines teach that there are powerful demons opposing the spread of the gospel by acting not just against comprehension and acceptance of this gospel of Jesus Christ in the minds of individuals, but that they keep entire regions, population groups, nations etc. in spiritual bondage. Sometimes it is through false religions and sinful practices, other times it may be government officials working to intimidate Christians, stop the building of churches, limit the distribution of Bibles, etc. There is a huge body of evangelism and missionary literature available that deals with this subject, and many large, respected Christian seminaries and Bible colleges deal with this issue in some fashion or another, including offering entire courses related to it, including how to stage and support successful evangelistic revivals. So it begs the question: how Biblical are the doctrines involved?

To answer, there does not seem to be a wealth of Bible texts that depicts the assumption of this scenario: that there is this huge swath of people that would receive the gospel and be converted if only demonic opposition were removed from the way. This is not to say, mind you, that these references are wholly nonexistent.

Revelation 2 and 3

Revelation 2 and 3 speaks of opposition to the churches in the way of false religious doctrines and persecution that may be influenced by demons. See the reference to the blasphemy of the “synagogue of Satan” as well as the “tribulation ten days” attacking Smyrna. Pergamos being located “even where Satan’s seat is” (a reference to the church’s proximity to a center of pagan emperor worship) and the martyrdom of Antipas, and accepted the false doctrines of Balaam and Balac (idolatry/sexual immorality) and the Nicolataines.

Thyatira adhered to the Jezebel doctrines (idolatry/sexual immorality) which is referred to as “the depths of Satan”. Philadelphia is being persecuted and withstood by another reference to “the synagogue of Satan.” However, no demonic persecution is apparent regarding Laodicea, Sardis or Ephesus. Instead, those churches – and presumably their evangelistic activities – were being hindered by love of the flesh and its works thereof, and this was particularly the case with Laodicea, who fell in love with money, prestige and power.

Also, even the churches that did have problems with demonic influences, it appears that in some cases those problems existed because what the evil influences offered appealed to the flesh – the fallen natures – of the church members, and the churches yielded to the temptation not so much of the evil spirits as of the flesh. This appears to particularly be a problem with Thyatira and Pergamos. By inviting demonic problems with their own carnality, those two churches were really no different from Laodicea, Sardis and Ephesus, in that the root cause of their problems was the carnality, not the evil spirits.

That is why Jesus Christ gives Thyatira and Pergamos the same remedy that He gives Laodicea, Sardis and Ephesus: repentance and return to true worship of Jesus Christ in holiness, sound doctrine and Godly fear. One should also note that regarding the two churches that did not provoke demonic persecution with their carnality or spiritual immaturity – Philadelphia and Smyrna – Jesus Christ does not tell them to respond to the demonic tormentors with spiritual warfare, but instead tells them to be faithful in the midst of trials by relying on Him and on His work, His promises and His faithfulness (see Revelation 3:8-10 and 2:10)!

So, regarding the demonic opposition that rises up against missionary work (and everything else), from what Jesus Christ told the churches concerning this opposition, we can take the position that His position is the same as that of the Holy Spirit speaking to and through Paul concerning his thorn in the flesh (a demon that tormented him) in 2 Corinthians 12:9’s “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Rather than going into spiritual warfare/deliverance over their oppression, the church was to heed the next verse’s admonition: “take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak , then am I strong.” So, rather than attempting to overcome this opposition with our own warfare tactics, we are to put our trust in the sovereignty and power of God to overcome them on our behalf for His glory. Our duty, then, is to be faithful to God by keeping His commandments.

Simon Magus

Another reference is that of Simon Magus in Acts 8-9. Using false religion akin to witchcraft and the occult, Simon Magus opposed the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Samaria. How was this demonic stronghold defeated? Not by spiritual warfare to bind it, or by directed prayer against it. Instead, Philip the evangelist simply kept preaching, and the Holy Spirit used his preaching to break down that stronghold Himself, and the Samaritans were converted. Demon spirits cannot withstand the power of God! Indeed, even Simon Magus believed the gospel! Though this Magus was not regenerated and went on to become a notorious opponent of the gospel and advocate of a gnostic syncretist system, even his form of belief – that lacked the power of Godliness – was evidence of the triumph of the sovereignty of God over against the works of both man and evil spirits.

The Whole Armour of God

Ephesians 6:10-18 is probably the most vital text to spiritual warfare/deliverance/directed prayer teachings. It reads:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand . 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

This passage may well seem to contain a treasure trove of spiritual warfare teachings, exhortations and methodology, especially if it is interpreted more spiritually than literally. Verse 11-12’s meaning, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places“, is impossible to dispute. However, the problem is that this passage is not quoted in its entirety when spiritual warfare teaches use it. So, consider verses 19 and 20, which complete the section and the thought.

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Recall that Paul is in a Roman prison for preaching the gospel at the time that he wrote this epistle. Rather than being some text on spiritual warfare that fails to reveal any warfare methods or practices and is of a sort that exists nowhere else in the canon of scripture, Paul was merely exhorting the church to preach the gospel, to pray for the spread of the gospel, and to pray for him specifically that he would not succumb to his flesh by allowing the persecution that he was experiencing (in jail) to cause him to either stop preaching the gospel, or even worse, to start preaching it in a way or manner that would minimize offense and better his situation.

Paul did reveal the truth that evil spirits were ultimately behind the spread of the gospel and his imprisonment, and that these spirits were the ones motivating the religious and political leadership to oppose Christianity in general and him specifically. But Paul’s purpose of doing this was to prevent his followers from using secular or temporal methods (i.e. political maneuverings or intrigue) to get him out of jail (recall that from Acts that Festus would have released Paul to the Christians had he been bribed) or overcome opposition to the gospel, but to instead rely on God. And, through the use of a military metaphor to make his words memorable (just as Paul used athletic metaphors for the same reason), Paul stated that this reliance on God and His will, being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might in order to stand against this Babylon system, meant possessing or exhibiting truth, righteousness, faith, prayer, salvation, and the gospel of peace (or of Jesus Christ).

Now had Paul simply written “go and be truthful, righteous, faithful, exhibit evidence of your salvation, preach the gospel boldly, and pray for yourselves and me also”, it would not been nearly as memorable, or as effective in the ears of the original hearers. However, it also would not have been the subject of such curious interpretations and applications as it has been through the years. One problem is that so many spiritual warfare teachers take this text as justification for their binding/rebuking/casting out doctrines and practices while ignoring what the text actually commands, which is truth, righteousness, faith, exhibiting fruits of possessing the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A particularly great irony: Paul wrote this text specifically so that the church would not have temporal aspirations or use secular (or spiritual) means to get them, but instead to keep their eyes fixed on God and eternity. However, spiritual warfare teachers, particularly those in dominion theology, use this verse to mean that Christians should use spiritual warfare against demons that control government and religions for the purposes of asserting political, social and economic control over nations and ultimately the globe. So where the Holy Spirit spoke that text through Paul commanding Christians to be patient, faithful and reliant on God, this verse is being misapplied by men who misuse Christ’s Name while pursuing their own thirst for power.

The spiritual wickedness in high places will be overcome by Jesus Christ, and not by man, and yes man does include Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will overthrow Babylon, not the church taking authority, recovering the dominion that was given to Adam (for the dominion given to Adam transferred not to the church but to Jesus Christ!), overthrowing Babylon, and setting up its own rule in its place. Revelation does not depict the church defeating and overthrowing Babylon, but Jesus Christ returning to defeat Babylon! Recall that it will be given to the beast to make war against the saints and to overcome them (Revelation 13:7) and that Babylon will be filled with the blood of Christian martyrs. Only the return of Jesus Christ will save us from this. Evidence of this is how Paul did not apply this very same text used by spiritual warriors in their quest to take towns and nations for Christ in asking for his fellow Christians to so much as pray to get him out of jail! Instead, Paul ultimately humbly glorified Jesus Christ by dying the death of a martyr.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4

This text is explicit. “But if our gospel be hid , it is hid to them that are lost; In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  This reminds us of Revelation 12:9, which says that Satan deceives the whole world concerning the truth of Jesus Christ. But what does 2 Corinthians 4 tell us to do about this sad fact? Not spiritual warfare to take on dominions, powers and principalities. Instead, there is merely a brief exhortation to confront this fact by the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is curious that in the prior chapter, there is an apparent reference to the blindness of the Jews reminiscent of Romans 11. Both Romans 11 and 2 Corinthians 3 state that the ending of this blindness, the “lifting of the vail upon their hearts” as it is called in 2 Corinthians 3:11-18, will happen when God commands it. The King James Version text states that this will happen when Israel turns to the Lord, and Zechariah 12 supports this. Israel’s turning to God will not occur as a result of Christians binding and rebuking dominions and directing prayer towards them, but after the times of the Gentiles – as mentioned in Romans 11 – ceases. Just as the return of Israel from Babylonian captivity happened when the prophesied 70 years were completed, the coming of Israel to Jesus Christ will occur when the times of the Gentiles end, and this is a predetermined time known only by God the Father. Warfare prayers cannot open the eyes of the blind. Only the Holy Spirit can. The Holy Spirit does this in concert with the preaching of the gospel by drawing sinners, convicting them and opening the eyes of those Satan has blinded.

Parable of the Sower

This brings us to the parable of the sower of Mark 4:3-20, Matthew 13:3-23, and Luke 8:5-15. This parable is probably the best theological treatment of evangelism and missions in the Bible, and all of the apostolic teachings in the epistles, including Paul’s, merely expands on it, or enhances the Christology of it. Jesus Christ is the seed, for His gospel is the seed, and the legitimate gospel presents Jesus Christ Himself: it is Jesus Christ Himself through the reality of His existence, His teachings, His work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead that is being sowed into hearts. Also, Jesus Christ is the sower, for it is the church, Jesus Christ’s own body, that preaches the gospel. For brevity, Luke’s presentation will be given.

5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed , some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down , and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up , it withered away , because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it , and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up , and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried , He that hath ears to hear , let him hear . 9 And his disciples asked him, saying , What might this parable be ? 10 And he said , Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see , and hearing they might not understand . 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear ; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved . 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear , receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe , and in time of temptation fall away . 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard , go forth , and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection . 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Please note first of all that the gospel is not only or merely to be preached where the way has first been paved by spiritual warfare and directed prayer. Instead, the seed is sowed everywhere. The gospel must be taken wherever the Christian goes, and it should be preached for and to the glory of God in addition to the goal of converting sinners. It is not to be preached in some strategic, planned manner desired to produce the most or best results after the manner of some corporate marketing scheme or government program.

Quite the contrary, the sowing of the seed seems almost heedless or arbitrary. The sower is only concerned about sowing the seeds, and the sower then leaves the seeds to their own fate. The reason is that the job of the sower begins and ends with sowing the seeds. (Please note that we are speaking of evangelism only, not discipleship or fellowship.) Just as a human farmer planting corn or watermelon, he simply puts the seed into the ground and allows “nature” (not really!) to take over.

Sure, he may water it, fertilize it, and take actions to remove weeds, but none of those will make the seed grow. Only God (not “nature”) can make the seed grow! And the same as it is with evangelism. Directed warfare prayer does not convert people, only the Holy Spirit does. The only caveat is that for the seed to grow, it must first be planted, so for converts to be made, the gospel should be preached. So, efforts in binding, rebuking demons and praying against them should be redirected towards evangelism, whether personal or public.

Another consideration: of the four groups listed by Jesus Christ, which were the seeds that landed 1. on the wayside, 2. on stony ground, 3. among thorns and 4. in good soil, the works of Satan were only explicitly mentioned in one of those, the ones that landed on the wayside! Now Luke 8:13 does say that Satan does this in order to prevent people from being saved. But Matthew 13:19 states that this is made possible only because of the failure of the person to understand or comprehend the gospel! While this certainly reminds one of Hosea 4:6’s “many people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge”, the truth is that only the Holy Spirit gives one knowledge or comprehension of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14 states that the natural man cannot perceive or understand spiritual things, and that includes the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, binding and rebuking the enemy and directed warfare prayer will not result in the effectual opening of the hearts of the gospel, because this will not happen in a heart where the Holy Spirit is not active to provide comprehension of that gospel!

Now what of the other two groups who are not saved, meaning those among the thorns and those on the stony ground? The failure of these groups are not attributable to evil spirits, but of human nature: the flesh. Those among the thorns do not persevere because they prefer the riches and cares of this world. They are akin to Demas and the aforementioned Simon Magus. While it is true that Satan is behind the Babylon system that tempts men with its illicit pleasures, but going into spiritual battle against that system is to no avail when the issue is not the Satanic availability of the system, but the failure of man to resist it. Again, without the work of the Holy Spirit, it is not so much that Satan that man cannot overcome, but rather his own flesh that Satan appeals to with his temptations: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It was these things that Satan appealed to in order to cause the fall of Adam, and it was also these things that Jesus Christ resisted during His time of temptation in the desert. So, it is not the presence of Satan but the absence of the Holy Spirit that is the key here, and that is something that warring against devils will not fix.

The same is true with the other group, the one that falls among thorns. Though Revelation and other areas of the Bible make it abundantly clear that Satan provokes and controls the persecution of those who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, the issue is those who yield to this persecution because of the weakness of the flesh. The parents of the man born blind refused to testify to the miracle of Jesus Christ worked on their own son because they feared being put out of the synagogues. The gospels refer to many others who believed in Jesus Christ but refused to testify of it because they feared the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Of those like unto them, Jesus Christ said that those who are ashamed of Him in this life will not be saved on judgment day!) The epistle to the Hebrews was written to warn Jewish Christians that they could not be saved if they abandoned the faith due to persecution, and Revelation 2-3 (indeed the entire epistle!) was written for the purposes of encouraging Christians to endure persecution to the very end.

Falling away due to the cares of the world and falling away due to persecution are two sides of the same coin. One is more concerned with pleasing the flesh than pleasing God, and the other is more concerned with preserving the flesh than preserving the relationship with God, and both are of Esau in that they mortgage their future inheritance for much lesser benefits in the present. The Holy Spirit is the One who gives Christians comprehension of the gospel so that Satan cannot deceive them with a lie (i.e. false Babylon religions including atheism), and the Holy Spirit is also the One who seals Christians so that they do not yield to the pressure on their flesh that the Babylon system exerts either through persecution or enticement. So, in all three cases, spiritual warfare and directed prayer will not overcome the lack of Holy Spirit involvement concerning an unbeliever. Doctrines otherwise are those which place the erstwhile spiritual warrior in the place of God.

More Workers In The Vineyard

Now Jesus Christ did tell us to pray on matters concerning evangelism and missions. However, just as Paul exhorted Christians to pray for the protection and the success of the missionaries and evangelists, Jesus Christ instructed us to pray for more missionaries. Matthew 9:36-28 reads “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted , and were scattered abroad , as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

Similarly Luke 10:2 reads “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into his harvest.” Now the prayer was not that the works and workers of Satan would be thwarted and overthrown so that people could be saved. Instead, the prayers were for more workers for the harvest! Why? The key term is “the Lord of the harvest.” YHWH is the Lord of the harvest, meaning that He is utterly sovereign over salvation of men.

The term translated “Lord” in this passage, kyrios, means (in the context that is most relevant here) “about which he has power of deciding.” Do not be deceived: the number of those who will be saved and the identity of those who will be saved is known by God, decreed by God, and is set forth by God from before the foundation of the world (Mat 25:34, Eph 1:4). Otherwise, in what sense could YHWH be the Lord of the harvest? In that case, YHWH could be manager of the harvest. Or CEO of the harvest. But YHWH could not truly be the Lord, the complete and total ruler, of it!

Consider an illustration. If you are selling a product, the manager or CEO can run the operation of manufacturing and marketing the product, but he does not have the power to choose who buys. Even if he breaks down and destroys opposition to the sale of his product by driving all competitors out of business and overcoming tariffs and regulations (the business equivalent of spiritual warfare evangelism) the consumer decides whether to buy or sell or not. Because the manager or CEO, despite all of his efforts and talents, still does not ultimately determine whether his product is bought or not (or by whom it is not) he is not the lord of the marketplace, only a manager or CEO in it. But God, in His sovereignty, is Lord of the harvest. He is Lord of evangelism. He is Lord of missions.

Thus, the number of those who will be saved, set forth from before the foundation of the world, will not be reduced by the plans of Satan, for God’s purposes shall come to pass. His Word shall not return null and void, but instead go forth and accomplish its purposes! Also, this number will not be enlarged by the prayers and warfare of the saints. We are but God’s servants, not little gods with dominion over salvation and those who hold the eternal fates of men in our limited, flawed sinful hands. So, our role is to pray that more Christians would obey God by taking on the duty of active evangelism and missions so that God will be glorified by more people, and so that there will be a further division of labor.

So, the Bible clearly teaches that spiritual warfare missions/evangelism is to no avail. Instead, we should do what the Bible actually tells us, which is to pray for the salvation of sinners, pray for more evangelists and to be evangelists ourselves. In this way we properly apply the Biblical evidence, obey God and glorify YHWH who is the Lord of His harvest.

If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, how does this relate to you? It is simple: you must repent of your sins and believe in the deity, virgin birth, atoning death on the cross for sins, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, you will be one of the seeds that did not land on good soil, and therefore lost to an eternal punishment in the lake of fire. But be encouraged: Jesus Christ promised that none of those given to Him by God the Father would be lost. So, one must take on their responsibility of believing in and confessing the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved in order to make their calling and election in Jesus Christ sure. Do this now! In order to do so, please click on the link below and:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, evangelism, false doctrine, false religion, gnosticism, Jesus Christ, limited atonement, missionary, Reformed, religion, spiritual deliverance, spiritual warfare, syncretism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

1 Peter 3:15 Refers To Testimonies Not Apologetics!

Posted by Job on April 1, 2011

There are three Bible texts that are commonly, widely and purposefully misapplied to suit doctrinal and various other agendas.

Revelation 3:20, which reads “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” is often applied to evangelism because it is convenient to contemporary Arminian/Wesleyan/free will salvation doctrines and practices. The truth is that this text is meant to be applied to a Christian that has backslidden or fallen into severe sin or error restoring a proper relationship or communion with Jesus Christ, and not the Lord and Creator of the universe begging and pleading an unregenerate sinner to accept Him. Even one who adheres to the free will soteriological system must acknowledge that Jesus Christ’s work was accomplished on the cross, and thus it is the Holy Spirit who draws, convicts and saves the sinner.

2 Corinthians 6:14, which reads “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?“, does not apply to marriage, but instead to Christian fellowship. The idea that this verse applies to marriage sets it at odds 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, which states that by being married to an unbeliever, the unbeliever and the children are sanctified (if only in an external sense after the “3a” definition of Strong’s concordance of hagiazō) and that God may use a believing spouse to save an unbelieving one. But how convenient is it to modern Christianity that we instead A) use the unbelief of a spouse as an excuse to obtain an un-Biblical divorce and B) that we choose to maintain fellowship with heretics, apostates etc. first in a local church setting by refusing to remove them from our church rolls, and then on a larger scale by allowing false teachers and churches to remain in our denominations and conventions, and on a larger scale still to various ecumenical and interfaith efforts (i.e. the Manhattan Declaration and many other efforts with Roman Catholics, Jews and increasingly Mormons). The popular meaning of this text is preferred precisely because the true meaning makes this saying “too hard” for so many in contemporary Christianity.

The third text is 1 Peter 3:15, which reads “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear“, which is often used to support the field of Christian apologetics. Now my purpose is not to attack the legitimacy of apologetics itself, although I will say that beyond such things as debunking myths and lies about  the Bible and its doctrines – i.e. attacks on the Jonah and the whale story based on pseudoscience as well as misconceptions held by other religions such as the Muslim belief that Christians worship three gods – I am increasingly skeptical of the utility and the motivations of many devoted to this field. Allow me to propose that were the main modern aim of apologetics, which is increasingly merely to show that a belief in some god (often a false one of deism or pluralism!) is rational and that Christians should be allowed to retain our privileged and influential place in western society based on it, be restricted to the presupposationalist method of Cornelius Van Til, which actually has the gall to take Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 seriously when they say “the fool has said in his heart ‘There is no Elohim!‘” then the number of “apologists” would decrease dramatically, for it would require bearing witness of the truth to the very powerful and privileged unbelievers that they are petitioning for tolerance and inclusion. Say what you want about the Creation Museum types, they know that the world – including a number of evangelicals who professed to be embarrassed by their spectacle – mocks and despises them, and they don’t care.

Still, the main issue is that if apologetics indeed is a legitimate Christian endeavor, its legitimacy should be established by using texts other than 1 Peter 3:15! Now the defender of apologetics would rejoin me by pointing out that the context in which 1 Peter 3:15 appears is dealing with Christian persecution, and that it was part of the attempts to lessen persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire that the church developed apologetics in the second century. While that is true, this field in its original form merely meant publicly answering lies that were being spread about Christian belief and practice, such as a common one of the time that during communion, Christians cooked and ate a newborn baby and then had an orgy. This activity quickly morphed into making Christianity appear more palatable to the ruling elites themselves so that Christians would be granted social and economic mobility in the Roman Empire, and such was a motivation of the infamous heretic Origen, who with his blasphemies earned much praise for his supposed intellectual prowess from the philosophers and intellectuals of his day.

Instead, to find the actual intent of this text, let us view the context.

And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For [it is] better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

So this context has little to support using rationalist philosophic devices of the sort that the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul denounced in Colossians 2:8 designed to make belief in God every bit as rational – and therefore just acceptable in mainstream society and elite institutions – as is atheism, feminism, Marxism, humanism but instead being able to stand in the day of extreme persecution even unto death by adhering to and giving your testimony. So, 1 Peter 3:15 is less C.S. Lewis (who incidentally was a religious pluralist just as is Rob Bell, and it is amazing and appalling by the great many who love and cherish the former while hypocritically excoriating the latter) and more Stephen of Acts!

When faced with persecution – whether facing certain death/torture/imprisonment or merely the mocking comments of acquaintances and coworkers – Christians must put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). (Yes, I remain a supporter of the Bibleman children’s video series even if my interpretation and application of that text has narrowed somewhat.) This is not “if you see a watch lying on a beach, you will not conclude that the watch made itself, but that that this watch had a creator!” type dissembling. Instead, the Christian is to give his testimony in such cases. This testimony consists of two parts.

The first part is the evangelion, the kerygma, the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins and raised from the dead for the purposes of granting eternal life to those who believe. Christians must know the gospel. Christians must understand the gospel. Christians must be willing and able to explain the full, true gospel to anyone under any circumstances, whether it is your friends and neighbors mocking and distorting your Christian beliefs and lifestyle during a social outing at the beach, a Harvard University dean grilling you about your commitment to multiculturalism and tolerance during your interview for a tenure-track faculty position, or a Muslim jihadist holding a scimitar to your neck threatening to rape you, pour gasoline over your body and set you afire, and then – to make absolutely sure that you are dead – chop your head off unless you convert to Islam.

The second part is what the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ has done in your life. How has becoming a Christian changed your life? In what ways has it transformed your character? What mighty works have you witnessed? What mighty works have you performed in Christ’s Name? What is the evidence of the power, the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, working in your life, and who other than you can bear witness of this evidence?

Make no mistake, it is by the power of our testimony in Jesus Christ that is personal, rooted in and given authority to by the Bible, and therefore shared by the universal church, that we overcome. We do not overcome by in philosophical exercises and games that due to their often flawed and limited nature (as they are the work of human speculation and not of God) are in many instances (more than the apologists will admit!) are not consistent, trustworthy or sound and also give a flawed, distorted or even inaccurate picture of the Person that is the Object and Author of the testimony.

2 Timothy 1:8 affirms this in telling us not to be ashamed of our testimony of Jesus Christ, and calls the power of the gospel the power of God. The apostle John stated that his reason for writing his gospel was to record and spread his testimony and to bear witness of its truth in verse 21:24. Further, Acts 14 describes how Paul and Barnabas withstood and overcame the persecutions and counter-missionary efforts of the Jews by “speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

In the opening of the first epistle to the Corinthian church, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul states that if the testimony of Jesus Christ is confirmed in the Christian, then this same Jesus Christ will on the last day confirm the Christian, and the Christian will be counted as blameless in judgment! A chief use of our testimony is in evangelism to win converts, as Paul told the Thessalonian church in verse 1:10 of his second epistle. It is only after the completion of testimony of the two witnesses of the apocalypse that the beast will be suffered to martyr them (Revelation 11:7). Revelation 12:11 says that in addition to the Blood of Jesus Christ, it is our testimony of Jesus Christ that overcomes Satan! Revelation also reveals that there is a tabernacle of testimony in heaven, and calls the testimony of Jesus Christ prophecy!

But principally, and this recalls Ephesians 6:11, it is made clear in Revelation 12:17 that Satan’s war is with those who keep the commandments of Jesus Christ and have His testimony! Having a testimony in the absence of obedience is not sufficient, for Jesus Christ told us in His parables that such makes you a goat that will be cast into outer darkness and not a sheep. Meanwhile, keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ in the absence of a testimony is not sufficient, for we are justified by faith in the One whom we are supposed to testify of, and not by works.

So, our testimony is a primary, chief spiritual warfare weapon! The famous “armor of God” passage of Ephesians 6 calls the word of God “the sword of the spirit” in verse 17, and many exegetes have noted that it is the only offensive weapon. Well, a legitimate testimony generated by the Holy Spirit and given utterance by one in whom the Holy Spirit indwells bears witness to the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ! In John 16, where Jesus Christ speaks of the persecution that His apostles and His church will endure for His sake, Jesus Christ states that the Holy Spirit will not speak of Himself, but instead will speak of what He hears? Well, Who does the Holy Spirit hear? Jesus Christ! Your testimony may not be the sword itself, but how can it be any less than either the handle that the cutting, two-edged blade is attached to, or the hand of the Christian that takes hold of the sword and wields it!

If this is the case, then why on earth would one adhere to an interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15 that causes us to take our only offensive weapon and hide it in its sheath? There can be only two reasons. The first is the lack of a testimony or an ability to articulate it. Such a person does not need to verse himself in suspect philosophical arguments. Instead, this is a person who is either unregenerate or immature in the faith and therefore urgently needs to attend to the former or the latter. That person doesn’t need to give some apology of Christianity but needs to hear and believe a testimony of a Christian so that he too can begin giving his own testimony!

The second reason why so many Christians are willing to abandon their offensive weapon is simply a desire to avoid giving offense, especially to the people whose approval we crave. Being lovers of this present world like Demas, we forsake the testimony of Jesus Christ with all its power, and instead resort to the arguments of men that have a form of godliness but denies the power thereof! We are supposed to turn away from these tactics and the thinking that motivates it!

These people know fully well that the gospel, the testimony, the message of the cross is foolishness to the world, an offense to those who do not believe. So, instead of using 1 Peter 3:15 to strengthen themselves in order to stand against the world and suffer abuse, shame and persecution because of this testimony, that text is twisted to avoid giving just such a testimony! 1 Peter 3:15 is misappropriated to justify giving the world something that it can accept because it is of the world – that being a human argument – in the place of bearing witness to something that the world hates and rejects because it is of the Holy Spirit that convicts the world of evil, which is a legitimate testimony! You can either give an apology and be embraced by pagans as a genius and hero like Origen, or give a testimony and be slain with rocks as was Stephen and also Antipas. If you love this present world, then you are an adulterer or adulteress who is an enemy with God (James 4:4) so as a result of your inner condition, perhaps an intellectual exercise will suit your aims of being loved by this present world. But if you love the world to come, then you will pick up the sword of the spirit and give your testimony!

Also: come let us reason together, Isaiah 1:18, does not refer to apologetics either. Instead, that text – and its context – is an exhortation to the children of Israel to return to their obedience of the Sinai covenant and its blessings, or else they will reap the covenant curses. It is a prophetic call to repentance by reminding Israel to “think about what you are doing and its consequences … you know of God and His ways and how He is both holy and merciful, so if you continue in your sins He will punish you because He is holy, and if you repent and fear YHWH then He will be merciful,withhold punishment and instead bless you!” Of course, while Israel is to use, rather than deny and suppress, their rational logic, the object of this logic is an appeal to what they already know about God based on God’s self-revelation to His covenant people. So rather than attempting to prove that God exists, this text is based on a presupposition of God’s existence, and is establishing the folly of knowingly disobeying the commands of the YHWH whose existence and attributes they already fully know of and do not deny!

Again, this is not a missive against apologetics itself. Instead, we should stop using texts that apply to testimonies and obedience and knowingly, willingly abusing those texts by using them in a way that they ought not to be. Yes, some examples of doing that do seem to appear in the Bible (most notably Jesus Christ’s creative appropriation of Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34) but lacking the inspiration and license of the Holy Spirit to write authoritative scripture, we should restrain ourselves from such things.

And it is particularly harmful if the motivation for this misapplication of Bible texts is a desire to avoid incurring the offense of the world with our testimonies by substituting something more acceptable to the world in its place. Jesus Christ said that if we are ashamed to testify concerning Him in this life, He will not speak on our behalf on judgment day (Mark 8:38)! If you have a testimony within you, the Bible is clear: you must share it, and share it boldly, meekly, fearlessly, humbly and often. But if you do not have a testimony within you, then that is a much greater problem. Address that deficiency immediately by:

Following The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelism, false teaching, Jesus Christ, testimony | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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