For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:9–15, NASB
The mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting the “good fight” of being a living sacrifice and walking in repentance. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”
Christian News Network reports:
One of the nation’s largest Christian bookstore chains has announced that it has pulled all of its “Heaven visitation resources” following the passage of a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolution surrounding the “sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife.”
Here we have another abomination from a far-left advocate of abortion on demand, this time in a children’s book by Mary Walling Blackburn, assistant professor of art at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. In her book, Blackburn portrays an aborted child as a “happy ghost.” NewsBusters columnist Katie Yoder writes:
The story follows Lee as he (or “she,” as the author stressed) searches for his sister – who might be an apple, a pig, or somewhere in a tree. Lee later decides “Sister is a happy ghost!” and explicitly says he’s glad Sister isn’t around to inconvenience his parents.
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1–3, NASB
It is imperative that Christians have a correct and viable theology of suffering. These health, wealth, and prosperity preachers in our time will disagree of course, but let them. We have God’s truth, His Word, held in objective context held up against their subjective, ear-tickling smoke and mirrors false religion. Oh, there may indeed be some “spirituality” going on in there, but to proclaim, “God is here!” or “God is in this!” or “We are having a revival, come and join us!” is the very act of man elevating himself above God, telling Him what to do and when.
However, I digress. God has always used suffering in the lives of His people to sanctify them, to draw them to prayer, to purify them, to grow them spiritually, and to direct their paths. Paul called some of his suffering a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan (2 Corinthians 12), but allowed by God to keep him from exalting himself because of his great knowledge. When we learn to view the seriousness of our sin as Paul did and God’s glory as imperative then we will begin to understand that sin in the life of a Christian is an anathema in a realistic, daily sense rather than in some sort of abstract give and take.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him A drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19–21, NASB
It is the duty of all believers to serve the Lord by being good soldiers, ready for battle to stand and contend for His Truth no matter the cost. However, there are right and wrong ways this is done. It is vital for the apologist to know the truth, and that is found only in God’s Word. Yes, some godly Christians speak and write truth from God’s Word, but the primary source for us is the Word of God. This is why it is vital that believers sit at the feet of good and godly teachers of God’s truth that they may know and love His pure doctrines. I have seen so many good Christians attempt to stand up to apologists for some man-centered version of our faith, but they are not prepared. This usually ends badly. The reason this happens is that these good people use tactics born in the flesh rather than from the humble, and wise heart that is submitted totally to the will of God. The enemy is an expert at inciting people to react emotionally to what they perceive as wrong, and this can lead to snippy arguments that produce only bad fruit.
In part 1 of this series, CRN correspondent Marsha West brings to light some of the pitfalls that occur when Christians leave Jesus Christ out of the equation and fall in line behind pragmatic pro-family “evangelicals” in their effort to “save America” from the ravages of Secular Humanism. Many pro-family groups put on the cloak of the evangelical, but are they really evangelical in the true sense of the word?
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
Romans 4:7–8, NASB
The Church – the genuine Church that is – is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our holy, righteous, and just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some.
You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
John 15:14–19, NASB
A study of the book of Acts reveals that as Christianity spread as the Apostles obediently made disciples wherever they went, it was always accompanied by persecution. The hotter the persecution the more encouraged the brethren became. While that is not logical to the fallen mind, that is exactly how God grew His church. In the early second century, the bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John, was brought to the Roman authorities and ordered to confess that Caesar is lord. Polycarp was eighty-six years old at this point. All he had to do was utter that statement as he offered a pinch of incense to Caesar, but he refused. He was martyred by fire.
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:11–19, NASB
All in Christ have much in common no matter what doctrines they hold. Therefore, this post’s focus is on the marvelous outcome of our salvation that we are Children of God and because of that we have a “purifying hope” in Christ.
Christian News Network reports:
Scientists exploring the Atlantic Ocean have discovered mysterious metallic nodules on the ocean floor that may provide telltale evidence of the Great Flood.
Last month, a German research team announced the discovery of dense clusters of manganese nodules on the ocean floor. Using a mesh net intended to scoop up marine life, the researchers accidentally brought up balls of manganese ore from over three miles below the water’s surface.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1–10, NASB
I am in no way backing off of the fact that I am a Calvinist. God is sovereign. He is perfect. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and immutable. He is holy, righteous, and just. Did I mention that he is sovereign? Yes, He most certainly is that and if you study – honestly study – holy sacred Scripture with the goal of finding God’s truth, and not seeking an excuse to justify your own belief system, you have to come away from an exclusive, totally exegetical study of it grounded in the presupposition that God is righteous and just, and that man is His creation to do with as He pleases.
Also, any attempt to place the free will of man over and above the sovereign will of God is an act of rebellion, and causes men to interpret scripture from an alien hermeneutic, leading them to totally misunderstand God and His will. As I have posted several articles lately about Reformation theology, I have also received many “communications” from certain people who find it “offensive.” I have been doing this a long time, and I hope you have noticed that I no longer allow “arguing” of any kind on my blog. Debate and arguing are not the same thing. No one in the offended camp wants to debate…
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond- servant of Christ.
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:8–12, NASB
The title of this article may surprise many. There are many professing Christians in our time time who take the stance that no one can know everything about the gospel. They say that we must be tolerant of others views of salvation because the gospel is inherently unknowable. Several years ago, I may have become confused by that argument, but not anymore. Our God is very precise and He does things His way in His timing and always for His glory.
Christian News Network reports:
The leader of a megachurch in San Francisco has announced that it will no longer require members who struggle with feelings toward the same-sex to remain celibate—as long as the sexual activity is within “marriage”—an announcement that has led to
“Our pastoral practice of demanding life-long ‘celibacy,’ by which we meant that for the rest of your life you would not engage your sexual orientation in any way, was causing obvious harm and has not led to human flourishing,” Fred Harrell of City Church, the largest professing evangelical church in San Francisco, announced in a letter on Friday.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1–2, NASB
In our daily Christian walk it is a rare day in which we take every thought capture and, through our active repentance, successfully deny ourselves through every circumstance. I don’t think I could claim that I have successfully done this the majority of the time. However, our God is wise and omniscient. It should be a matter of great rejoicing on our part that our perseverance is in His hands and is based on the work of the Holy Trinity on our behalf, not on our will power.
According to Business Insider:
Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC has hired an evangelical Christian legal advocate, Jordan Sekulow, as a senior adviser. The move could be a crucial step in Bush’s outreach to the religious right as he tries to win over dubious voters in the conservative grassroots ahead of the 2016 GOP presidential primary.
Sekulow is the Executive Director of the conservative legal advocacy group American Center for Law & Justice. The group was founded by televangelist-turned-university-president Pat Robertson in 1990 as a conservative alternative to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25–27, NASB
There are really only two groups of people in the world. There are those who are branches bearing fruit in the True Vine who is Christ, and then there are those who are either totally separate from the vine in their rejection of Gospel or are branches in the True Vine who bear no fruit. Those branches which bear fruit have been cleansed by the washing of water with the word by Christ. Their sins are forgiven. The other group has not been cleansed so remain in their sins even though they appear to be in the True Vine.
Church Watch Central pulls no punches in bringing to light what’s going on with celebrity preachers:
When you have popular leaders of movements who appear to HATE God’s Word by rejecting what God says the qualifications are for leaders/elders, you have unrepentant men in positions of power. Both Brian Houston and Mark Driscoll (among others speaking this year) are serious threats to the global Christian Church unless people start voting with their feet on issues of Christian integrity.
According to the Christian News Network, the American Humanist Organization “is supporting an effort to erect a statue of Clarence Darrow on the grounds of the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee. The courthouse is where Darrow famously defended the teaching of evolution in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.
Liberals from the Presbyterian Church USA (which is not to be confused with other Presbyterian denominations) have voted to approve same-sex “marriage”, thereby choosing to ignore the clear teaching of God’s Word on homosexuality. The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin against God and those involved in the lifestyle must repent. According to Pennlive.com:
The Rev. Mark Englund-Krieger, executive director of the Carlisle Presbytery, described the meeting of voting members as well-attended, cordial and effective.
“From a process perspective, it was excellent,” he said. “Obviously, there is a wide range of opinions and perspective on this and we continue to be very divided about this question. But this passed the presbytery pretty significantly almost by an 18 vote margin. That is pretty significant.”
In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 1 Timothy 4:6, NASB
From January 1986 until the late fall of 2005, I probably would have, if asked, responded to the question in the title that Christianity is a life – or at least a relationship – while doctrine, though unnecessary, helps us understand that. I didn’t really believe during that time that doctrine was of any real value. Why? My whole understanding of Christianity was that it was based on my experience. For some odd reason I didn’t think much past that in an attempt to understand why my experience would be so radically different than other Christians’ experience.
At the core of all of what we recognize as apostate christianity in our time is something really no different than the liberalism that was fought by the theologians in the late 19th Century, such as Charles Spurgeon, and those in the early 20th Century, such as J. Gresham Machen.
Over the last few days on Facebook, for instance, I have witnessed posts showing people holding up signs in front of them professing that they are Christians, but then thanking God for abortionists. In other cases, there are pretty much the same “so-called Christian” groups abandoning everything doctrinally that would line them up with Christian orthodoxy, including the inerrancy of the Bible and its authority. Since they have abandoned the authority of the Bible, they have also rejected all orthodox doctrines that are offensive to secularism.
Of course, ever since our Lord ascended into heaven, the Church has been under attack by wolves. There has never been a time in its history when it was perfect. There have always been false teachers teaching false doctrine to false professors.
In the early part of the 20th Century, J. Gresham Machen was embroiled in a very severe attack on orthodoxy by determined liberals attempting to take over the Presbyterian Church, USA. It seemed like he was contending alone but, of course, he was not alone – he had the Holy Spirit, and those whom God drew to listen, believe, and come from the darkness of compromise to follow Dr. Machen into continued obedient Christian orthodoxy.
Word of Faith heretic Creflo Dollar preaches a false gospel, not the “gospel of grace” he claims to preach. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the prosperity preacher needs money to purchase a new private jet so that he can “safely spread the word of Jesus around the world,” as the multi-million dollar jet he now owns recently experienced engine failure.
Christian News Network repots:
A street preacher in the UK who is charged with making “homophobic” and “Islamophobic” remarks has just completed a two-day trial and awaits a verdict on whether or not biblical speech about the issues is considered a crime in the country.
Mike Overd, a street preacher for five years, is accused of speaking against homosexuality and Islam last June and July on two separate occasions. He is now facing two charges of using threatening and abusive words and a charge of causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress under the Public Order Act.