Belief vs. unbelief

Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. Psalms 78:21–22, ESV

There are only two groups of people in the world. There are Christians, the elect, and everyone else, the non-elect. What separates them? What is the difference? It is not that different streams of faith, as new agers and the “emergents” say, which are all equal and going to the same place and color people in different ways. No, that is what universalists of every variety are selling, but that is most definitely not what God’s Word explicitly says. No, the difference between those in Christ and everyone else is that the former are possessors of faith, which is the Greek word πιστις, which is transliterated as pistis. It and its many grammatical forms are translated as “assurance,” “faith,” “belief,” et cetera throughout the New Testament. Before we define “unbelief,” let us define biblical faith, πιστις, so that we can see very clearly what marks the true believer from the false professor.

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Private interpretation and subjectivism

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:13–14, ESV

Even though it is discounted by many today, the Protestant Reformation was a wonderful work by God in that the Gospel was freed from the captivity of the apostate Roman Catholic Church. Over the centuries the Gospel had become obscured as the Bishop of Rome was declared perfect with authority over Scripture. Any resistance to his authority was dealt with through excommunication followed by being burned at the stake. The Reformation not only recovered the Gospel and Justification by Faith, the Bible became available to the common people whereas before this, no one was allowed to read it by the edicts of the Pope. At Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms when pressed to recant of His teachings he proclaimed,

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

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The doctrine of election and the free gift

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:14–16, ESV

When those of us who came from an Arminian or Free Will background come to grips with the reality of God’s Sovereignty, it is amazing how we struggle with letting go of the responsibility to “earn” our salvation. Of course, part of that struggle is rooted in the misconception that “election” happens at salvation. Ephesians 1 makes it clear, however, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. An honest reading of that epistle by the Apostle Paul shows us that God’s people are His in completion even though many of them have not yet believed and repented. They are our Lord’s sheep.

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Ergun Caner’s lawsuit against Jason Smathers dismissed with prejudice

Jason Smathers writes:

US Federal Court says posting Caner video is fair use, not copyright infringement. Footage will be online again in short order.

[Update: you can now view the videos Ergun Caner sued to suppress here.]

In 2010 videos showing Ergun Caner deceiving the US Marines was posted on Witnesses Unto Me. At that time Ergun Caner was still preaching behind Christian pulpits, telling a web of lies. His story was about a young man who grew up trained to do “that which was done on 9/11,” growing up in Turkey in the house of a polygamist Muslim before moving to America as a teenager and eventually becoming a Christian. In truth, Caner was born in Sweden and moved to Ohio while he was two years old.

Nearly three years later, Ergun Caner began sending copyright complaints concerning many videos online that contained proof that he invented a fake life story. When submitting such a notice concerning the Marines videos, this author responded by stating the video is public record, created by the US Government, and not subject to copyright. Caner responded with a lawsuit.

Today, the court has ruled on a motion to dismiss by stating the use of the video was fair use and not a violation of copyright. The case is dismissed, YouTube and Viddler will soon be informed so the videos will return, and the court will entertain a future motion for legal fees to be recouped by charging them to Caner.

Smathers’ post includes the final judgment of the District Court, and its order granting the motion to dismiss Caner’s lawsuit. The court order contains a helpful account of the background to the case.

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Who are antichrists?

Some Will Depart from the Faith Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons 1 Timothy 4:1, ESV

According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15 the mark of Christian authenticity is abiding or remaining in Him. This is not simply a continual profession of faith, but a remaining faithful to Christ in our orthodox Christian faith. According to Paul, It is a two-fold action of departing from the faith and giving heed to seducingspirits, and doctrines of devils. The Apostle John called the Christian leaders who do this “antichrists.”

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Heaven is real, but ‘Heaven is for Real’ is really not

President of CRI, Hank Hanegraaff, reviews “Heaven is for Real”, the best-selling book that was recently made into a feature film. He offers ten reasons why both the book and film is a dangerous diversion. According to Hank:

There is nothing new under the sun. From the time occult parapsychologist Raymond Moody coined the moniker “Near-Death Experience” (NDE) to the present, bestsellers on NDEs have abounded—Embraced by the Light by Betty Eadie; Beyond Death’s Door by Maurice Rawlings; Life after Life by Raymond Moody; The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Alex Malarkey; 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper; My Journey to Heaven by Marvin J. Besteman; Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander—to name just a few.

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World Vision, Christian organization? Part 2

In part 2 of her piece on the World Vision fiasco, Marsha West examines whether or not World Vision is truly a Christian organization as they claim.

I previously wrote about the controversy swirling around the so-called Christian organization World Vision. For those who are unaware of what occurred on March 24, WV announced that they had plans to hire “married” homosexuals.

The backlash was fast and furious. Christian leaders, Roman Catholics, the pro-family movement and others in the faith community made it abundantly clear that they opposed WV’s decision to hire people in counterfeit marriages on the grounds that the Bible teaches that homosexuality’s a sin. It’s no secret that Bible-believers hold to the teaching that God established the marriage sacrament for the purpose of bringing Him glory; thus marriage other than that which He designed does not bring glory and honor to Him. One would assume that WV’s president and board members had an understanding of what the Bible teaches on marriage – but maybe not.

They learn fast, though. The board noticed a storm brewing when donors began to withdraw their financial support and they quickly changed course. The public’s reaction was so strong that they reversed their decision faster than greased lightning.

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Blasphemy and persecution

All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10–13, ESV

Receiving Christ’s Word and becoming like Him in our conduct will unavoidably mean being treated by the world in the way it treated Christ. “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). The believer is privileged to participate in the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10), and it is only as we are willing to bear His reproach and suffer for His sake that we are promised that we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Jesus Himself was blasphemously accused of being demon-possessed. They hated Him without a cause (John 15:25). The believer, like Christ, must be willing to be misunderstood and have his good works maligned. Since our best efforts in serving Christ are mingled with sin and human imperfection, it should come as no surprise that our motives and behavior will be misinterpreted because of our forthright identification with Him. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). A mark of the world is to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20–21, ESV

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Former nanny to Doug Phillips’ family files lawsuit, alleges sexual misconduct

World Net Daily is reporting that Vision Forum’s former president, Doug Phillips, has been named in a lawsuit by Lourdes Torres, a young woman who worked as a nanny for the Phillips’ family beginning at the age of 15. Torres has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, alleging that Phillips committed “inappropriate, unwanted, and immoral sexual acts” against her while she worked and lived in the Phillips’ home and tended to his children. View article →

The sword of the Spirit

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God Ephesians 6:16–17, ESV

I have noticed that some of those who should be contending earnestly for the faith spend way too much time either defending themselves from these sorts of attacks or they are being consumed with nit picking with others to the point of distraction. I am in no way suggesting that all professing Christians should be automatically considered our brethren, however, if the faith of a brother or sister in Christ is solidly grounded in Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, and Sola Scriptura, then I am most certainly not going to contend with them over things that the Bible does not make clear enough for that. We must contend for the essentials, the non-negotiable parts of our faith only. On the other hand ecumenicalism is always out there and ready for us to make the foolish mistake to compromise. View article →

Bill Gothard legalism

A couple of years ago, I innocently posted an illustration on my Facebook wall which to me at that time, illustrated what I thought was a biblical concept of submission in the home. Shortly after posting it, I began receiving information that this illustration had originated with a man named Bill Gothard, and who was a very influential figure, if not the most influential figure, in the hyper-patriarchal homeschooling movement I had just begun to research. View article →

Should Christians pay any attention to the ‘blood moons’ talk?

For those who don’t know what the blood moon chatter is all about, or have maybe heard something about it but don’t know what it is, writer John Hagee has recently published a book which purports to have scientific evidence that there will be four lunar events which Hagee claims are known biblically (and prophetically) as “blood moons.” These blood moons, Hagee claims, herald the beginning of the End Times. This teaching has inexplicably gone viral, with USA Today picking up this story, and #FourBloodMoons becoming one of the hottest trending topics on Twitter and Facebook. Even I got on Twitter and posted about it, and I never get on Twitter! View article →

The religion of works-righteousness

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:24–30, ESV

Many who believe they are Christians are not. They have a form of righteousness, but it is not the righteousness born from above. It is self-righteousness. One group that contended with John the Baptist, our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, was the Pharisees. Who hasn’t heard believers accusing other believers of being Pharisees? These accusations are usually thrown at people who are stricter than the accuser in their judgments of saved and lost. The Liberal calls a person who judges on the basis of regeneration as the only evidence of saving faith as being a Pharisee. The mainstream church-goer calls all fundamentalists Pharisees. The antinomian calls those who preach Lordship salvation Pharisees.

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Christians must tell the truth like Elijah

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 1 Kings 18:17–19, ESV

There was a time when the English and American cultures were defined by a “Christian world view.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the “Remnant” of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Secular Humanists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.

The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom.

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A sister in need

Two nights ago, the phone rang at 10:30. Not the latest we’ve ever gotten a phone call, but definitely later than most calls. As I picked it up, I turned to my husband and half jokingly said, “I hope this isn’t bad news.” But it was. My sister was on the other end, weeping. She told me that the young husband of a friend of ours had unexpectedly passed away due to complications from diabetes. The husband’s name was Toby, and he was only 36 years old. Toby’s wife, Amanda, was now a widow with four young children. View article →

World Vision, Christian organization?

Marsha West probes for answers to some of the questions World Vision supporters have been asking since the organization shocked the Christian community by announcing its plan to help advance the gay agenda:

The dust has settled a bit since Christian humanitarian aid organization World Vision’s March 24 announcement that it would hire gay couples who are legally married in the state in which they reside. Since “World Vision-gate” remains a hot topic, it’s time for some introspection; likewise to do some digging to find out if WV truly is a Christian organization, as it claims.

When WV announced its decision to hire gay people, not surprisingly Bible believing Christians found the decision unsettling. Clearly, WV’s Board of Directors chose to ignore the plain teaching of Scripture regarding homosexuality. As a result, a large number of believers, including some high-profile evangelical leaders, took to the blogosphere in protest and thousands stormed WV’s website. Board members hadn’t counted on the huge uproar their unbiblical decision would cause. Certainly they expected WV’s financial support to take a minor hit from unhappy sponsors. But evidently no one anticipated just how big the hit would be. According to one source, 10,000 sponsors pulled out.

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Monergism, synergism and limited atonement

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.” Leviticus 23:26–32, ESV

As I write this, it is about 4 days until the Jewish Passover 2014. It was over 2000 years ago just before Passover on the Jewish calendar that our Lord Jesus Christ was arrested, tried, and crucified. In Christian Doctrinal Orthodoxy we believe that at the Cross of Christ, at His crucifixion, His death made atonement for a specific people given to Him by God the Father. He became their propitiation.  Please carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Do you see the serious emphasis God places on the need for His people’s atonement? What is this atonement? Biblical atonement is the act of God canceling the debt of His people’s sin. Without it God’s wrath against their sin could not be appeased.

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Law and Gospel

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16–17, ESV

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6, ESV

“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19, ESV

God commanded Adam to eat from every tree of the Garden of Eden except from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He told Adam that if he did eat of it that he would surely die. In the next chapter we find Eve beguiled by the Serpent’s wiles to look upon that tree and desire it for food to become wise. She took of it and ate then gave some to Adam. God then encountered them as they hid from him since their eyes were now opened because they now knew good from evil. They had lost their innocence. Their vertical relationship with God was now broken. Their ability to commune with Him was no longer there. Why?

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