Let him be anathema

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:23–24, NASB

I have been a Christian since January 1986. I had just turned 34 in October so I was an adult with a wife and children when God had mercy on this sinner. However, I grew up in a “Christian” home going to church every Sunday until I grew up and went my own way. I know that Christians are commanded to be forgiving, kind, and gentle with others. However, we are also commanded to stand firm and withstand false teachers and their doctrines. When I began writing and blogging as an extension of my teaching ministry, I soon experienced a very rude awakening. When I wrote about things that were experiential and not tied to any specific doctrines no one seemed to care, but the closer I came to that dividing line that separates God’s Truth from everything else, the attacks of every sort seemed to descend on me from every direction. The more precise I came in laying out what is true from that which is not true, the angrier many of my so-called brethren became. It seems the way to ‘get along’ in the visible church is to accept the default form of Christianity and never, even if you have irrefutable Biblical truth to the contrary, teach against it. The one who does that is labeled as divisive as well as an enemy of Christian unity. But this stance is all one-sided. We are divisive for publishing God’s pure doctrines, but those who hold to man-made doctrines are allowed to say anything they want about us. It is as if they have free speech, but we do not.

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The hermeneutic of humility

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1–5, NASB

The lack of tolerance within the visible church for the exclusivity of the genuine Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is rooted in the “Hermeneutic of Humility.” Even amongst some pretty solid Christians that I am close to, I have noticed that pained or shocked look on their faces when they hear me succinctly define the Gospel the way our Lord Jesus did and the way the Apostle Paul did. These reactions are rooted in the “Hermeneutic of Humility,” which is a way of looking at our faith and interpreting the very Word of God through a filter that sees certainty as a product of pride and uncertainty as a virtue. It looks so humble to these people when they hear a Christian leader say that they don’t know the full truth about this or that, but as far as they know, “blah … blah … blah.” These people contend that to be certain divides people, while uncertainty creates an environment of unity. I have been accused of being filled with pride over the last several years so many times by some people because I will not agree with their interpretation of scripture or whatever. My brethren, our God does not give us His truth in shades of gray. He tells us succinctly what is truth and what is not. The Gospel, for instance, is very well defined and those who insist on a variegated version of it do so because they view certainty as divisive and uncertainty as being truly humble and uniting.

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Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost

But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. ‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above And signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:14–21, NASB

Thus began the Apostle Peter’s sermon following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost just 10 days following our Lord’s Ascension. I am going to walk through this sermon with you so that we can see how the Gospel works when preached with power and with the right focus. Who is being glorified in vv. 14–21 above? Is it the preacher Peter? Is it those prophesying? Is it those responding? No, it is God who is causing this to happen through the moving of His mighty hand. What will be the result as Peter summarizes in v. 21? Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Here is that verse from Greek, “και εσται πας ος εαν επικαλεσηται το ονομα κυριου σωθησεται.” The NASB’s rendering of “calls on” translates επικαλεσηται the aorist, subjunctive, middle form of ἐπικαλέομαι or epikaleomai, which, in this context, is making use of the name of the Lord in adoration as Lord and Saviour. This is a turning to Him for salvation from the hour of judgment and wrath to come. That is how Peter opens his sermon. Let us see the rest.

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How far should Christians go in coexisting with other religions?

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1 Peter 3:13–20, NASB

Genuine Christianity cannot coexist with any other religion. God has given us the tenets of our faith and they are mutually exclusive with the claims of all other religions. There can be no peace between them and true Christianity because once compromise has taken place here then what remains is something less and no longer true. We are called to live our lives in the flesh here in the temporal, but with entirely different motives than non-Christians. The confusion about this exists because what passes for Christianity, for the most part, in our time has been compromised. The world has been welcomed in in various ways at different levels and the professing Christians within are far more concerned about their temporal existence rather than obeying God in all things for His glory.

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Who enters into the Lord’s rest?

For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, “When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest. Psalms 95:7–11, NASB

Those who insist that we are in a ‘post-evangelical era’ and must, therefore, radically alter not only how we do church in order to reach unbelieving people in our time, also insist that this must be accompanied by a toning down of one’s Christian convictions about the truth. We are told that the culture we are in now will not respond to those who are militant, aggressive, preachy, and extremely sure of their convictions. I ask, since when has pragmatism become how the Gospel works? Did Jesus preach and teach pragmatically, or did what He taught cause a huge division between those who believed and those who didn’t? You know the answer to that. He pulled no punches. The reality of His ministry was the epitome of God’s ways not being man’s ways. All we are told to do until our Lord returns is make disciples, teaching them all that He has taught us. In the meantime we are to abide in Christ, love one another, deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus. We are to be the antithesis of world and its ways, not conforming to it in how we minister.

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Responding biblically to false accusers

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11–12, NASB

Christian apologetics and discernment are very serious things. It is very easy to incorporate the ways of the world into one’s method and focus. When this happens, attacks on professing Christians come from an impure motive. This then causes the ones making the accusations to use slander, speaking evil against their target falsely. They revile the Christian, persecuting him and his ministry using innuendo. They have no real evidence that their accusations are true. Guilt by association is their bludgeon, and its use is meant to deceive many into believing their false report. How are we to balance this? We must continue to stand firm and, using the discernment given to us by God, expose false shepherds. It must begin with godliness.

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Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37–39, NASB

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3–12, NASB

Hell is real. All who do not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity there. Those who repent and believe are those who ‘come to Jesus to drink.’ They believe as the Holy Spirit is poured out on them to the point that their lives are taken over by Him. Those who do will never experience hell. Instead, they come to Jesus and find rest for their souls. Those who do this are poor in spirit. They mourn for their sins. They are not proud, but meek. In their growing godliness they hunger and thirst for Christ’s righteousness to become manifest in them. They become more and more Christlike, therefore, they take on His character. They show mercy as He does. They become more and more pure of heart. They remove themselves from seeking their own. Instead, they become those who live to bring others to their Lord. Conversely, this holy and separate life does not cause them to find peace in the world. No, instead they are persecuted for righteousness sake.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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The permanence of justification

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 NASB

In my younger days when I was working on my undergraduate degree, I had a professor who used to work in a major manufacturing company in the US. He used his experiences there in analogies pertaining to the management topics we were studying. He used one of his former co-workers there as an example, a bad example, as he taught us how we should work together toward our common goals, et cetera. This fellow’s nickname at that company was ‘Yeah-but.’ He told us that it never failed that in meetings when someone had a solution to an issue or a concept of a better way to do things, this fellow would always interrupt and start his diatribe against it with the words, “Yeah, but…!”

I have had many encounters with “religious yeah-buts” on my blog. In most cases the encounter went something like the following. I had written a post dealing with our Justification and the “religious yeah-but” responded to it with something like, “Yeah, but what about those sins you have committed since God saved you?” In every case it did not matter how I replied to the “religious yeah-but”, he or she was convinced that, yes he or she was saved by grace through faith, but it was his or her obedience, et cetera, that kept him or her there. If the “religious yeah-but” sinned, he or she lost his or her salvation and had to be re-justified I suppose. Is this biblical?

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The cleansing power of God’s Word

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. John 15:3, NASB

All people are born dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). This condition of spiritual death also means that each person, though desperate for fulfillment that can only be satisfied in God, cannot come to God, know God, or even seek Him. Because of this, they pursue fulfillment from everything around them. The number one method of doing this is via the flesh. The flesh is all about self and self-gratification. The problem with this is that nothing works for very long, including religiosity.

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Unrepentant sin leads to spiritual blindness

O Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol. I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength, Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And they are cut off from Your hand. You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths. Your wrath has rested upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah. You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out. Psalms 88:1–8, NASB

Despite what many so-called Christian leaders are teaching in our day about the necessity of repentance in the life of the believer, the Word of God teaches us something entirely different. In it, we learn that the life, vigor, and comfort of our spiritual life depends much on our actively and deliberately mortifying the sin that clings so closely, which results in genuine repentance. This teaching has unfortunately been neglected much over the last several decades to the point that some scoff at its necessity in the Christian walk. However, if we go back and read the Puritans and others that came before we find that personal holiness has not always been neglected in the Church as it has been in our day.

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Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17, NASB

There is a false belief in much of 21st century Christianity that grew out of the late 20th century push to merge fundamentalism with conservative politics. That false belief is that the U.S. government is somehow supposed to be Christian, and should govern this country within that framework. Is this the role that God gave government? What about the Christian’s role in politics? Should Christians labor and give large sums of money for political purposes, or should those resources and effort be used for God’s Kingdom instead? Martin Luther was often caught in the middle between kings, emperors, and popes, and what he believed God willed for him to do. How did he handle this?

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Thanksgiving trip and sabbatical

and he fell on his face at His feet thanking Him and He was a Samaritan. Luke 17:16, translated from the NA28 Greek text

καὶ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ· καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρίτης. Luke 17:16, NA28

I am leaving Wednesday morning to drive from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas. My wife and I have been invited to spend the Thanksgiving holiday there with her brother and sister-in-law and their son. He lives here in the OKC area as well and will ride with us on the roundtrip. I will be offline at least through Saturday the 29th. As I prepare for the trip I have noticed some things that have caused me to reflect on how “thankful” I am to God in the midst of some very ugly societal downgrades. The Ferguson, Missouri riots began last night for instance and it looks like there is political maneuvering behind much of how this being both instigated and handled. I am totally aghast at the blatant ignorance of some of the “talking heads” on television about “the rule of law” and our President saying the most absurd thing last night in his speech that the violence and all that went with it in Ferguson was “understandable.” Is it? Should it be?

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God’s grace and God’s justice

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Jude 1:17–23, NASB

I just watched on Fox News the the last couple of hours coverage of the Grand Jury decision in the St. Louis County, Missouri not to indict Police Office Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. I listened to the entire speech of the the prosecutor, so I had a very thorough understanding of the process and how the evidence went down in that case. However, his speech was then followed by questions from the media. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did those people actually listen to his speech? Do they have no understanding whatsoever of what the term “rule of law” means? It was as if they were demanding that his prosecutor override all the evidence and indict the policeman in the case because so much “political pressure” from all directions demanded it. I thought that, with a few exceptions, those reporters would have been given a failing grade from my newspaper reporting class professor at Oklahoma State University back in 1970. As the prosecutor left the microphone and headed to the door, I heard one of the reporters yell after him, “How are you going to sleep tonight…?”

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