Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34, translated from the NA28 Greek text
Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. Matthew 10:34, NA28
For what will be benefited a man if he acquires the whole world, but he forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26, translated from the NA28 Greek text
τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ; ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; Matthew 16:26, NA28
What is is the offense of the Gospel? Let us examine scripture to answer that.
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You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship ME, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” Matthew 15:7–9, NASB
What does it mean biblically to draw near unto God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:
let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22, NASB
Here is Hebrews 10:22 from the NA28 Greek text: “προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ·”
The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the present tense, subjunctive mood, middle voice, first person, plural of προσέρχομαι or proserchomai, “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the move to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination while at the same time protecting other people’s religious beliefs, “well-intentioned, but naive.”
Christian News Network reports:
While speaking on the last day to his trip to India, Barack Obama urged acceptance of religious pluralism in the nation, adding on a personal note that sometimes his profession of Christianity is questioned and that he is instead thought to be a Muslim.
“Our nations are strongest when we see that we are all God’s children—all equal in His eyes and worthy of His love,” he stated to approximately 2,000 youth gathered at the Siri Fort auditorium.
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. Acts 20:28–31, NASB
True, genuine, authentic Christianity is exclusive. It is not a smorgasbord or buffet of options from which men may take what they like while rejecting the rest and still call themselves Christians. While a statement like that may not be popular in this postmodern, politically correct, 21st century culture which advocates tolerance that is sort of a give and take “conversation” in which people with opposing views find a middle ground, it is still the truth. Authentic Christianity is quite the opposite. That is not to say that many who call themselves Christians have not colored their own personal theology with postmodern presuppositions, but these are what we call apostates. What is that?
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34–38, NASB
Jesus is coming back. Are you ready? Are you trusting in man-made or self-made religion to be what God will recognize as sufficient so that Christ will be your Advocate before the Father when you are judged? Without Christ as your Advocate, you will have no defense. How does Christ become our Advocate? How do we know if He is our Advocate? Let us examine Christ’s own words about this.
The slogan “black lives matter” excludes the unborn says Washington Times columnist Kenneth Blackwell. He wonders if the civil rights leaders really care when a black life is lost, or whether they simply exploit situations for political gain. Blackwell writes:
Today, on the somber anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, it’s time for black leaders to face up to the real danger threatening black lives in America. It isn’t the police. According to an anti-police brutality organization, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, 313 blacks were killed by “police, security guards and vigilantes” in 2013. It isn’t even black criminals, who, as Rudy Giuliani famously pointed out on “Meet the Press,” are responsible for 93 percent of violent deaths among blacks. Sources estimate that between 6,000 and 8,000 blacks are murdered each year.
Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth:“May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation. Daniel 4:1–3, NASB
The deepest, widest blind spot that most professing Christians have is that they are convinced their religion pleases God. Pride disguises itself in many different ways. One that I have noticed in most professing Christians is a form of self-righteousness that sees their religion as making them so well-pleasing to God that anyone who is not part of their denomination or church could not possibly be right with God. Pragmatism springs from a desire by spiritually blind Christian leaders to mimic what other “successful” preachers or pastors do to grow their congregations or baptize huge numbers of converts. When these manipulating processes seem to work the first result is deeper spiritual blindness. Why? Idolatry always produces spiritual blindness. This blindness keeps those in it deceived into believing a lie. What lie? The lie is that God is not totally sovereign and needs their help to further the Kingdom. Their religious efforts may appear to “work,” but since the results are the fruit of fleshly methods and the works of men they only lead to cultivating pride. However, we must never forget that God is Sovereign.
Emergent guru and one-time pastor of a megachurch, Rob Bell, is a busy man these days. He has a show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel and has also been busy with his Zimzum of Love book promotions. And then there’s the podcast program he recently launched. Amy Spreeman, co-host of Stand Up For The Truth, reports that other theological partners on The Liturgists podcast “do not actively promote our names and personal images” for ego reasons. “What do The Liturgists talk about when they talk about God the Father?” Amy asks. “Well actually, they talk about God the Mother.”
There is a myth in these post-modern times that has deceived untold numbers of professing Christians. The deceived have believed the lie that Christians are not to confront and rebuke false teachers nor preach or teach anything that has the potential to cause division within the visible Church. The visible Church contains the churches we see all across this globe. This would include denominations and local churches and ministries that we can see visually and of which we can partake. The invisible Church is made up of the elect, the called-out ones. This is the true Church of genuine believers. It is within the visible Church. Therefore, the visible Church contains both genuine believers and professing believers who are not genuine.
Photo credit: Liane Metzler.
Christian News Network reports:
The U.S. Army has ordered the removal of a sandwich board outside of an Arizona recruiting office because it included the phrase “On a mission for God and country.”
The sign, which has been posted outside of the recruiting office since at least last October, was removed on Friday following complaints. A photo of the sandwich board had been proliferated online, drawing ire from atheists and church-state separation advocates.
Stand Up For The Truth reports:
On January 21st, about 30 of contemporary Christian music’s best-known singers from the last four decades will be joining New Age sympathizer and devout Roman Catholic Roma Downey for a special live online concert called “We Will Stand.” The concert is being presented by CCM United and has a motto of “One Message, Many Voices.’” According to an article titled “We Are United: The Story Behind ‘The Greatest Night In Contemporary Christian Music,’” there could be over a million viewers with a potential reach globally of 40 million.
According to Christian News Network:
Less than a week after controversy erupted over an announcement that a Muslim call to prayer would be broadcast at North Carolina’s Duke University, it has come to light that students at UCLA in California have been doing so for some time.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:” Revelation 3:7, NASB
One of the big errors of our time in the visible church of the 21st century is the misguided concept that truth is subjective. In other words, truth is what you want it be. This concept is, of course, simply borrowed from the world, which loves it. While I do not contend that I know when our Lord will return, I do know that it will be at the end of this age prior to the age to come. I know that He has been given a people for Himself from the Father. I know that His blood purchased them at the cross. I know that those whom He saves must live in this sin-sick world to be sanctified, to mature in Christ, and for their lives to glorify God. These truths, and so many more from God’s Word, are not subjective.
In 2011 Rick Warren, who is the pastor of a megachurch in California and the author of the popular “Purpose-Driven” books chose to enter into a partnership with a man who is steeped in New Age/New Thought spirituality. Warren elicited the aid of Dr. Mehmet Oz to come up with a health and fitness plan for his church. Marsha West has learned that a recent study by the British Medical Journal showed that “Half of Dr. Oz’s health advice is bad.”
And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” Luke 9:18–20, NASB
We must agree that there is a growing apostasy that appears to be consuming the visible Church. This can cause us anguish and grief along with some growing excitement in anticipation of the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, let us not forget that there are many who claim to be “christian” who view this as the very thing they are trying to accomplish. They view our exposition of it as “interference” and “over reaction.”
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4, NASB
Compromise is a term the world system likes. In fact, the world system as we know it in our time runs on rails greased by compromise. Even though the U.S. Constitution protects the right of free speech to its citizens, the political correctness movement is doing all it can to squelch or smother the expression of “opinion” that is contrary to what it deems as inoffensive. It appears that the right of the easily offended is more protected than the right of those who speak the truth and live by it.
The emergent movement, for example, teaches that it is wrong to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in completion. Why? It is divisive. It is exclusive. It offends. Instead, its leaders teach that we should only preach things that bring people together. Another difference between orthodox Christianity and the emergents has to do with separation from the world system. We teach what the Bible teaches, that is, Christians must not be friends of or part of the world system because those who are actually prove that they are an enemy of God. On the other hand, the emergents consistently teach that repentance is no big deal and all sorts of sins condemned in the Bible are not grounds for separation from the local body of believers.
Photo credit: Liane Metzler.