The mystery and victory of the resurrection

And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:17, NASB

All of us have witnessed a certain very well known Christian leader who appears very genuine in his faith and even takes stands against those who would dilute the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ no matter how costly. He debates homosexuals who are demanding to be called “gay-Christians,” for instance, and come out of those debates very well, with those he debates licking their wounds, etc. Then, just a few weeks later we see this very same Christian leader worshipping and praying at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, even taking part in a “revival” there. This is confusing. It is also well known that this same Christian leader is virulently anti-Reformed Theology.

For those of us who are Reformed in our theology this makes it even more troubling. How are we to handle this? We must never forget my brethren that just because someone expresses that they have faith and believe does not mean that he or she actually does. One’s genuiness in Christ is not revealed by confession. The Bible teaches of only one way to know if one is truly in Christ. That is perseverance in the faith to the end.

Christians are not saved through the good works in their walk or even by the fact that they do persevere, but they prove their Christian authenticity through these things. Faithfulness is a mark of genuineness. When professing Christians wander off the path for whatever reason, this does not mean that God will forsake them, refusing to have mercy on them and bring them back.

In John Bunyan’s monumental work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, we see how easy it is for pilgrims to be deceived by all sorts of things, to become distracted; and this blinds them spiritually so that they lose sight of the spiritual and, therefore, see things through eyes of flesh. Then they find themselves off the path in all sorts of deception and trouble. God is good. He will draw His genuine believers back to the narrow path, but those who are not truly His will reside in their spiritual blindness and remain deceived in their fleshly pursuits or false doctrines.

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A calling out of all false teachers

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3–4, NASB

Carefully read the passage above my brethren. The writer of the Epistle of Jude is the brother of James, the well-known leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Gal. 2:9) and, therefore, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In v. 3 we read that Jude had intended to write a letter on salvation as the common blessing enjoyed by all true believers.

This intent was probably to emphasize unity and fellowship among believers as he reminded them that God is no respecter of persons, however, his plans were changed. He doesn’t say why he “felt the necessity” to write something else, but what we have in this letter is actually a call to battle for the truth in light of the appearance and infiltration into the Church of apostate teachers.

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Convention unanimously votes to boot congregation for supporting homosexuality

Christian News Network reports:

The California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board has unanimously voted to withdraw fellowship from a local Southern Baptist congregation after its minister affirmed his support for homosexuality.

As previously reported, Danny Cortez leads New Heart Community Church—a small congregation in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Last year, Cortez concluded that he no longer agreed with the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality and was instead “gay affirming.”

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What is religious externalism?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self- indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25–28, NASB

Because of our old church going Purpose Driven in 2006, my wife and I left. The journey to find a new local church fellowship was a long and difficult one. One of the churches along the way was just a few blocks from the one had just left. A coworker of mine served there as part of one of their worship teams. This was one of the churches my ex-pastor was continually commenting about because of how small it started out and how big it had become while his church seemed to be stagnant, maybe even declining. The “worship” at this church was what I like to call “show time!” There are all sorts of colored lights with spotlights on those “performing.” Each had their own microphone and were all dressed in the same colors. There were at least 20 musicians on stage playing drums, keyboards, guitars, horns, you name it. The drummer was enclosed in a glass booth. It was all very “contemporary.”

After the “worship,” the main pastor walked onto the stage with the spotlights following him. The stage was black. The stairs were black. They worked the lights so that nothing could be seen on the stage except the pastor. He was dressed casually in all black. He was carrying a nice looking cardboard box that he set on the table next to the lectern. He said a few words to direct our attention to the screen that dropped down silently behind him. Then the auditorium went dark. We watched a movie for about 15 minutes of a glass blower working on a vase. The video took us through the whole process of blowing and shaping the glass. It looked like both hard work and a bit fun. In any case, when the movie ended the spot light came back up revealing the pastor preparing to open the box.

He then spoke of Jesus desperately desiring for “us” to give Him a chance to make our lives better. All we had to do was “accept” Him, and then Jesus would remake our lives unto excellence. Then he reached into the box and took out a beautiful glass vase. He told us that this vase was the one the glass blower in the movie was working on. He gestured to the vase and said, “This is what Jesus wants to do for you, to take you from corruptible sand to beautiful glass.” I don’t remember much after that. That was one of the shortest “sermons” I have ever heard.

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All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. John 6:35–37, NASB

Human reason, which is worldly wisdom, is useless for anyone to rely on in order to be saved. Our salvation is a work by all three persons in the Holy Trinity. God the Father chose his people before the foundation of the world. He set into motion all of the circumstances that would result in all of them becoming part of the Family of God. The Son, Jesus Christ, became the God-Man. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He lived a perfect, sinless life then was murdered by wicked men, dying a horrible death by crucifixion.

While dying on the cross, the Father poured out His wrath upon the Son. This wrath was against the sin of those whom He elected. Jesus became sin on their behalf. He knew no sin, but He became separate from the Father because of their sin. His death paid the price for their sin. Jesus was three days and nights in His tomb, but rose from the dead. His resurrection paved the way for all who believe on Him as Lord and Saviour for their future resurrection.

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The Osteen predicament – mere happiness cannot bear the weight of the Gospel

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, addresses the absurd comments made by Victoria Osteen, wife of prosperity preacher Joel Osteen, during a recent talk she gave at his church. Victoria Osteen said:

I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it – we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?

Mohler offers valid reasons why Joel and Victoria Osteen’s slick version of Prosperity Theology is a heresy that is spreading throughout much of the world. “The important issue is this,” says Mohler, “Prosperity Theology is a false Gospel”.

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Will Christians be snookered by Shemitah?

Stand Up For The Truth’s Amy Spreeman reports that false prophet Jonathan Cahn, who wrote The Harbinger, has come out with another “prophetic” book entitled Mystery of Shemitah, and it’s “flying off the shelves”. Spreeman watched an interview with Cahn on It’s Supernatural that was so troubling it made the hairs rise on the back of her neck. View article →

Pope challenges taboo by marrying couples who lived ‘in sin’

Yahoo News reports:

A single mother, people who have been married before and couples who have been living together “in sin” were married by Pope Francis in a taboo-challenging ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday.

In another signal of the openness of his papacy, Francis asked to marry 40 people from different social backgrounds who would be a realistic sample of modern couples.

Popes very rarely perform marriages – the last one was in 2000.

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For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12, NASB

In this day in which the truth is said to be unknowable, Christians must rely on the only source of pure truth we have. There is no truth that we can say is the complete truth unless we take it from God’s Word. The Bible is pure truth and it is the authority we rely on in order to have a firm foundation in this lost and dying world that is consuming itself in rebellion against God.

Just a few weeks ago we learned that “Christian music artist” Michael Gungor is “Christian Liberal,” that is, he rejects the infallibility of God’s Word, its inerrancy, its authority, etc. However, he said something very troubling in defending his position. He said that every Christian generation must fight the battle against those he classified as fundamentalist “Bible worshippers.” He stated his theology as being based on following Jesus not what the Bible says. However, we counter, how do you know the truth about Jesus without the infallible and complete truth about Jesus from the Word of God?

Let use look more closely at Hebrews 4:12 to learn about the Word of God and how God uses it in the lives of both believers and unbelievers.

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Jesus Christ is God; He is the Word who became flesh

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life – and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 John 1:1–4, NASB

What sort of Christian message is it that is not Christ centered? Any form of preaching that is man-cenetered instead of God-centered does not contain the genuine gospel and so is not Christ centered.  Instead the focus is on the needs of the people rather then God’s glory. This includes all forms of “seeker-sensitive” preaching. I contend that the entire “seeker-sensitive” paradigm does not serve the role of bringing the lost into the Kingdom. Instead, it only confuses them.

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9/11: a wake up call for one woman

9/11 woke me up. In fact, it awakened both me and my husband from our easygoing lifestyle. You’ve read articles that mention there was a massive influx in church services right after 9/11 happened? My husband and I were part of that. We went to church with lots of questions. If our lives can be snuffed out in an instant, what does it all mean? Is there a God? If there is a God, is He good? And if He is good, why did He let 9/11 happen? Turns out, we were asking all the wrong questions. View article →

Yieldedness unto Spirit-filling

Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1–2, NA28

Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1–2, translated from the NA28 Greek text

One of the requirements for Spirit-filling, which is truly the key to that filling, is “yieldedness.” Those professing Christians I have dealt with who are mired in unbelief about God’s sovereignty, for instance, also display all outer evidence of not being filled with the Holy Spirit. What do I mean?

They are not Christlike. They do not reason critically. They are emotional about everything. They use dirty tricks and logical fallacies to try to promote their “cause” instead of stating their points and relying on the Holy Spirit to implant His truth in the hearts of those in debate. Of course, that would imply that their position was biblical, which it is not because if it were then there would be no need for such manipulation. In any case, what is the biblical nature of this “yieldedness” that enables believers to become Spirit-filled?

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The prosperity priestess and the pied piper of IHOP

CRN correspondent Marsha West reports that prosperity preacher Joyce Meyer has agreed to speak at the upcoming International House of Prayer’s Onething Conference. The director of IHOP is none other than self-proclaimed “prophet” Mike Bickle. Could this be a sign that Meyer is on the verge of aligning with the modern day “apostles and prophets” movement?

Marsha also reports that noted evangelical philosopher and apologist Ravi Zacharias appeared on Joyce Meyer’s TV show; likewise, popular Reformed pastor Francis Chan shared a stage with Mike Bickle. How is it that men of their stature are unaware that both Moore and Bickle preach a carefully crafted counterfeit Christianity?

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The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalms 111:10, NASB

Are New Testament believers to fear God or was that only for the Old Testament? The answer to that is yes to the former and no to the latter. However, it is possible to have irrational fear of God so we must fear God properly and in the right context. So, what is a good description of right fear?

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Whom do you fear?

“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:4–7, NASB

We are told not to fear earthly things or other people no matter how evil or violent they are. However, we are told to fear God. Much of the fear Christians have, however, is not based in their fear of God, but in the fear of their own failures being exposed or their own spiritual deficiencies being exploited by the devil’s seed. Of course some of that fear comes from the spirit of fear that dominates some Christians.

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DirecTV, CVS pushing homosexuality in television commercials

Christian News Network reports:

As the sin of homosexuality becomes more of an accepted behavior in American culture, satellite television provider DirecTV and drug store giant CVS have become the latest to join the bandwagon of major corporations pushing homosexuality in marketing campaigns.

In a commercial entitled Rivalry, DirecTV uses two men who state that they are “just like any couple” to promote the provider’s NFL Sunday Ticket.

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‘Terrify the enemy of Allah’: British imam cites Koran telling Muslims to terrorize

Christian News Network reports:

During a recent interview on the Russia Today program Worlds Apart, London-based imam Anjem Choudary cited the Koran in acknowledging that terrorism is part of the Islamic faith.

Choudary was asked by host Oksana Boyko in regard to the beheading to two American journalists whether Islamists can “hold an individual responsible, for the actions of a collective.”

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‘Even if I am going to hell’: Bill Nye ‘the Science Guy’ defends evolutionary beliefs

According to Christian News Network:

In the latest issue of a widely-circulated science magazine, Bill Nye ‘the Science Guy’ defiantly defends his evolutionary beliefs and says that even if he ends up ‘going to Hell,’ it still won’t prove that the earth is young.

As previously reported, Nye debated Answers in Genesis (AiG) president Ken Ham earlier this year in a historic creation/evolution debate that was viewed by millions. Two months after the debate, Nye attacked Ham’s biblical creation beliefs in an opinion column published by Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

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Do you believe men or do you believe the Word?

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. Luke 2:15–20, NASB

Human faith is not the same thing as Genuine (saving) faith. The former is based in Human reason and intellect. The latter is supernatural. What passes for faith in many professing believer’s “Christianity” is a belief based in who preaches to or teaches them. This is not Genuine faith because it is not a belief in the Word or in God through the Word. These are “believers” who will eventually fall away. Some may last a lifetime, but if the fires of tribulation come upon them they slide into apostasy because their faith is not of the substance that endures.

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But who do you say that I am?

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

In our last several posts we have looked at the growing apostasy that appears to be consuming the Church. Let us not forget that there are many who claim to be “Christian” who view what we have been discussing and exploring as the very thing they are trying to accomplish. They view our exposition of it as “interference” and “over reaction.” We must never forget that only those who have the truth of God written on their hearts can see the veracity of these things.

Only they have the ability to escape the delusion that is swiftly coming upon the earth. I believe we should look at the Biblical truth about the real Christ so that we will be able recognize all impostors. We will do that in this post along with the markings of a genuine disciple, one who has the truth of God written on his or her heart.

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