Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:1–12, NASB

The Church in our time did not descend suddenly into the level of apostasy we see all around us now. No, it actually began many generations ago when Christian leaders who compromised God’s Truth were tolerated or not dealt with through Church discipline as instructed in God’s Word. With each compromise comes a bit more heart hardening and a dullness of Spirit in their churches so that eventually true Biblical discernment becomes rare. Those who have not compromised are the minority while those who are walking in spiritual darkness view them as divisive, self-righteous, and judgmental. Why? These with discernment stand firm and rebuke those who teach what is not Biblical as if it is the truth while teaching against Biblical truth as if it is false.

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Jesus Christ’s Authority

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16–20, NASB

Jesus Christ is Lord of all of each of His people. Christians do not make Him Lord in order to be saved because He is Lord. Those who claim to be Christians, but refuse His Lordship, are not genuine Christians. That is very sobering isn’t it? It is supposed to be. Those are Jesus Christ’s own words about the nature of those who are and aren’t His disciples. There are some in the pulpit these days who treat Jesus as if He is just an add on their ministries. Several years ago I wrote a piece on evangelism and how it is God working through His people to do this work. The direction is Him working through us instead of us working and including God. However, I received one comment that stated what a “neat thing” it was when we included God in our evangelistic efforts. That bothers me to this day. Sigh…

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Our Lord’s parousia

For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20, NASB

In my biblical research in order to answer the claims of Universalists, I have found that much of their “doctrine” comes from a mishandling of sacred Scripture, especially those passages dealing with the state of the dead in Christ and the identity of those who meet the Lord in the air at his παρουσια or parousia or arrival or coming or presence. In this post we will look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and attempt to unpack Paul’s statement about our Lord’s παρουσια.

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Wisdom from the Holy Spirit

For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. Isaiah 64:4, NASB

Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: ec·u·men·i·cal
Pronunciation: \ˌe-kyə-ˈme-ni-kəl, -kyü-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin oecumenicus, from Late Greek oikoumenikos, from Greek oikoumenē the inhabited world, from feminine of oikoumenos, present passive participle of oikein to inhabit, from oikos house
Date: circa 1587
1 : worldwide or general in extent, influence, or application 2 a : of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches b : promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation
ec·u·men·i·cal·ly \-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Ecumenicalism is just a word. However, in these last days it has come to mean much more than the ‘promoting or tending tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation’ that we see in the dictionary definition. To the ecumenicists, it states that Christianity is the same regardless of definition of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, that is not even mentioned. Instead, they focus on calling those who attempt to emulate Christ’s humanism or good works their brothers. This has to be the case, because those who come together as “one” to stand against certain political or cultural issues actually claim to hold to doctrines that are mutually exclusive. However, as we see with the the recent actions of Rick Warren with his declaration that the Pope is the “Pope of all Christians,” for example, the ecumenicists are willing to overlook these differences as if they are negotiable.

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The privileges of the Lord’s sheep

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:7–9, NASB

On this blog we spend quite a bit of time looking at doctrine, heresies, apostasy, et cetera, but not enough time looking at the incredible privileges Christians have and why they have them. We must obey our Lord in standing firm against the forces of darkness, but we should also take the time to reflect on who we really are in Christ. The mind of Christ includes this my brethren and we should not neglect it. Why? It is as we learn the truth of who we are in Christ that we also gain the right perspective of God and His sovereignty.

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Judgement is coming

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10, NASB

So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done.” Luke 19:12–15, NASB

“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” Luke 19:26–27, NASB

If God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are honestly portrayed as we read in sacred Scripture the vast majority, those whose hearts are overrun by relativism, will stiffen their necks in rejection. However, when a smiling, culturally “relevant” preacher repackages the Holy Trinity and Christianity into a “product” that sells then that ministry will become huge. Book deals and speaking engagements deluge this new superstar of a religion that seems to exist only to speak what people want to hear. That is one reason the cup of God’s wrath is filling in preparation for His impending judgement.

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Fight the spiritual forces of wickedness – and win!

CRN correspondent Marsha West reminds us that there’s a spiritual battle raging in the invisible realm between the forces of good and evil. In his letter to the Ephesian church, the Apostle Paul explains what Christians must do to protect themselves against the “fiery darts” of the evil one. But many Christians are unfamiliar with the armor of God, and are going about their daily lives unprotected. As a result, they’re getting pummeled by Satan and his demons. Marsha describes each piece of armor, explains its importance, and makes the case as to why believers must “put on the whole armor of God” everyday.

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Kirk Cameron, former evangelical pastor-turned-Catholic take to TBN to make case for Santa Claus

According to Christian News Network:

Actor and filmmaker Kirk Cameron recently invited a former evangelical pastor who converted to Roman Catholicism to TBN to make the case for Santa Claus as Cameron promotes his new film “Saving Christmas,” which seeks to convince Christians who choose not to celebrate the holiday.

Cameron shared a segment of the interview on his Facebook page on Tuesday, in which he spoke with historian William Federer, a former evangelical minister who now identifies as Roman Catholic. Sporting the Liberty University logo embroidered on his shirt, Cameron invited Federer to outline the history of Saint Nicholas and other items found in his book “There Really Is a Santa Claus: The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions.”

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Pope affirms RC doctrine of Immaculate Conception that Mary was conceived ‘without original sin’

Christian News Network writes:

In one of the feasts and celebrations marked on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar leading up to Christmas, Catholics around the world observed the Feast of Immaculate Conception on Monday, a day in which those who follow the religion commemorate their belief that Mary was born without sin.

The pontiff known as Pope Francis led Catholics in the annual observance of the holiday, delivering an Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square.

“Oh Mary, our mother, today the people of God in celebration venerates you, the immaculate, preserved from the contagion of sin from the beginning,” he prayed. “Accept the gift I offer on behalf of the church in Rome and throughout the whole world.”

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The deception of Universalism

Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) Ephesians 4:8–10, NASB

The heresy of Universalism, no matter how wonderfully it is packaged, is easily refuted from sacred Scripture if we practice solid exegetical techniques. That is, if we keep everything in context, then the passages used to support Universalism prove not to support this false doctrine at all, but are about other things. My focus on writing this post on Universalism is to address what we are seeing today as more and more professing evangelical leaders join the ranks of those who teach ‘The restoration of all things in ages to come.’ This teaching is very subtle and seductive as well as appealing to those who have loved ones who do not walk with the Lord. However, it is unsupported by the Bible.

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School board allows ‘transgender’ males to play on girls’ teams

Christian News Network reports:

A Minnesota high school sports league’s decision to allow male students who ‘identify’ as females to participate in girls’ sports has elicited concern from many parents and Christians.

On Thursday, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors approved a controversial “transgender” student policy. Once the policy goes into effect next year, male high school students who “identify” as females will be allowed to participate in female-specific athletic programs.

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Researchers use cells from ‘donated human fetuses’ to create smarter mice

Christian News Network writes:

The research, which is now raising ethical questions, involves injecting cells from unborn babies into the brain tissue of baby mice.

“Researchers took the immature glial cells from donated human fetuses and injected them into mouse pups,” the New Scientist reports.

It is not known whether the “donated human fetuses” had been aborted or miscarried.

The injection resulted in the creation of smarter mice as compared to ordinary lab mice as the cells assist with memory retention. Scientists compared the outcome to “ramping up” the memory of one’s computer.

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What is the work of the Holy Spirit?

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. John 15:26–27, NASB

We live in a time of biblical ignorance. Much of the ignorance is intentional. Not long ago I was involved in some discussions with a group whose main goal appeared to be to separate Jesus from Holy Scripture. Those who are immersed in the Word of God as they walk before the face of God in their sanctification see this movement with a great deal of incredulity. How can anyone learn about Jesus and what is expected of His disciples if all understanding of Him comes extra-biblically?

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To Christmas, or not to Christmas, that is the question

I have noticed in recent weeks what seems to now be an annual occurrence of Christians-shouldn’t-celebrate-Christmas-because-it’s-a-pagan-holiday commentary online. So to address that topic head on, I should like first to say that I would never urge a brother or sister to go against their conscience if they felt that celebrating Christmas was wrong or sinful. I do not disdain my brothers or sisters who are uncomfortable with such celebrations, nor do I feel somehow superior in my freedom. But what I should like to point out is that a lot of this fear over celebrating Christmas (and oftentimes, Easter, too) comes from misinformation attributed to an historian named Alexander Hislop. We’ve posted before about the myths associated with Hislop – myths that were formed from his own biases, and which were not actually rooted in historical data. And I would therefore urge, with all gentleness and kindness, for my fellow Christians to think this issue through biblically, historically and truthfully. After all, God is the author of all truth, isn’t He? So truth matters.

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Those who abide in Christ must first believe the One whom God sent

You do not have his word abiding in you because you do not believe the one whom he sent. John 5:38, translated from the NA28 Greek text

καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. John 5:38 NA28

In John 5:30–47, the apostle gives us several witnesses to establish the truthfulness and genuiness of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Our Lord Jesus presented to those who opposed Him these witnesses who testified to His identity as the Son. The first witness given is John the Baptist in vv. 32–35. The second witness is our Lord’s own words in vv. 35, 36. The third witness is the Father in vv. 37, 38. The fourth witness is the Old Testament scripture in vv. 39-47. However, as is the case from this point to the end of John, those who most vehemently opposed our Lord and His ministry refused to believe.

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Unless you repent, you will perish

After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him. And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27–32, NASB>

I have been asked many times how our salvation could be totally by Grace alone through faith alone, totally God’s work alone if it involved our repentance. My response has always been that the repentance part is our response to our Lord’s call, ἀκολούθει μοι, “Follow me.” However, the washing of regeneration, the gift of faith had been given as part of this effectual call. That is why we turn as Levi did, leaving everything, rising, and following our Lord. There are two calls of the gospel, the general call and the effectual call. The general call goes to everyone so there is no excuse. The effectual call, as the one above to Levi, which the Pharisees and the scribes objected to, always leads to repentance and goes only to God’s elect.

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Satanic Temple approved for capitol holiday display

CBS Miami reports:

Florida’s Capitol will have a new holiday decoration this year. The Satanic Temple will be among its nativity scenes and secular presentations.

The Florida Department of Management Services this week approved the proposed holiday display from the Satanic Temple, which a year ago was rejected because the agency said its proposal was “grossly offensive.”

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Town told to keep Christ out of Christmas parade

According to Fox News, the town of Piedmont, Alabama wanted to honor the “reason for the season” but out-of-town atheists objected. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Piedmont’s mayor a threatening letter stating that the theme “alienates non-Christians and others in Piedmont who do not in fact have a ‘strong belief in prayers’ by turning them into political outsiders in their own community. … The sentiment of ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’ does not qualify as a secular celebration.”

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Rob Bell gets his “OWN” TV show

Stand Up For The Truth writes:

OWN television has just announced the premiere of its new series titled, The Rob Bell Show. The same Rob Bell who challenges the truth of the Bible and continues to influence millions of fans around the world (having just returned from a national tour with New Agers Deepak Chopra and Oprah), despite his fall from biblical Christianity. The same former pastor of Mars Hill church who denies the doctrine of a real Hell (making him a heretic in the true sense of the word). He is the author of many books pushing unscriptural doctrine including Velvet Elvis, Love Wins and his new The Zimzum of Love, giving people a “startling new way of looking at marriage.” (Bell has come out in support of homosexual marriage.)

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Legal group: repeal of D.C. amendment will have ‘severe impact on religious liberty’

According to Christian News Network:

A Christian legal organization is warning that the recent repeal of an exemption that allowed private schools in Washington, D.C. to adhere to their convictions about sexuality will have a “severe impact on religious liberty.”

Liberty Counsel reports that the D.C. City Council passed the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 this week, which does away with an exemption afforded to faith-based schools to live out their beliefs on homosexuality. The exemption is better known as the Armstrong Amendment, which was passed by Congress in the 1980’s.

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There is no new type of Christianity

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:3–5, NASB

In my study of Christian Apologetics, I have looked at the writings of Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and John Owen in defense of God’s truth, as well as listening to the debates done by our brother Dr. James White. It is amazing how no matter how “new” the attacks on God’s truth are, the more they consist of the very same rebellion that is exposed throughout both the Old and New Testaments of sacred Scripture. The arguments of those who propose “different doctrines” rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith expose hearts that are spiritually blind. They may indeed have very different religions or doctrines from each other, but their opposition to the truth of God will all be according the very same rebellion found in the temptation from the serpent in Genesis 3:1, “Yea, hath God said…?” Those who dwell and minister in this area of rebellion do so with a sense of self-confidence that they are “right” and “cutting-edge” and “not mired in the past” are actually guilty of casting doubt on God’s good doctrines given to the Church while constructing man-made theologies whose foundations are no better than wet sand and, even worse, they attempt to gain as many followers as possible to reject the truth and enter with them into the ‘New Kind of Christianity’ that is their version of the church founded on their different doctrines.

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‘We love Jesus!’ – Iraqi children proclaim love for Christ in face of Islamic beheading

Christian News Network reports:

Four Iraqi children firmly declared their love for Jesus in the face of death when Muslims in the country recently demanded that they convert to Islam.

Andrew White, chaplain of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, relayed the story in a recent video as he shared both about the persecution that Christians face in the country and the bravery of the children in standing up for their faith despite the consequences.

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Court orders school district to pay $75,000 for denying boy use of girls’ restroom

According to Christian News Network:

The Supreme Court of Maine has ruled that a local school district discriminated against a male student that identifies as a female when it denied him from using the girls’ restroom.

The court ruled 5-1 on Thursday that the Orono School District violated the Maine Human Rights Act when it offered then-5th grader Wyatt Maines the use of the staff bathroom, but barred him from using the restroom for female students.

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From where does faith come and to whom does it belong?

This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Galatians 3:2–5, NASB

When it comes to the justification by God of His people, shouldn’t the clutter be removed and the rubbish swept away? All aspects of our salvation should be clarified and those things that are only meant to cause confusion or misdirection (showing those with discernment their true source) should be shown for what they really are and cast aside. Then, with a sharp focus, we must look at the truth, which means we go to the source; i.e. The Word of God not some emergent or missional guru. Therefore, in this post we will look at part of Romans 10, in which the Apostle Paul, showing that God has provided a way to justification in His eyes to both Jews and Gentiles, further nails down from where salvation comes, who possesses it, and how they got it. What could be more important than that?

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Rick Warren’s call for Christians to unite with Catholics, ‘Holy Father’ raising concerns

According to Christian News Network:

In a new video, megachurch leader and author Rick Warren is calling for Christians to unite with Roman Catholics and “Pope Francis,” who Warren recently referred to as the “Holy Father”—a move that is raising concerns among Christians nationwide and is resulting in calls for Warren to repent.

Warren made the comments following his visit to the Vatican last month, where he spoke at an interfaith conference on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman.”

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