18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 (NASB)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22 (NASB)
If you have ever listened to or read any defense made by those who claim to be Christians, but also “Gay” then you know that they are very loose with how they handle doctrine and very vital words within those doctrines. One of those key words is “love.” The Biblical definition of love from a Christian perspective is one of self-denial under the sanctifying hand of God. However, for those who are attempting to invade Christianity with their “Gay Agenda,” they redefine “love” from a self-focused, narcissistic bent that is all about seeking self-fulfillment above all no matter who else has to pay the cost. On the other hand, the genuine believer, is regenerate, saved by grace through faith according to the mercy of God, and is on the path or way of learning to deny self even to the point of loving their enemies as Christ commanded.
1 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, having approached the High Priest, 2 he requested from him letters to Damascus to the synagogues that if someone he should find being of the Way, both men and women, he may bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
I listened to a sermon today by John MacArthur named “We will not bow.” The link to it is at the bottom of this post. I hope you follow that link and listen to it yourself. In it you will hear the truth that I have been attempting to lay out here for the last several weeks, that is, there are those who are genuine believers who will never bow the knee to Caesar or any other false leader, and then there is the majority of the visible church which already has. Yes, I know that is not the politically correct thing to say and many in the visible church think people like me are divisive for saying that Jesus told us what The Way was made up of and that He and His Apostles then told us that there would be false prophets, false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing attacking God’s truth and His Doctrines from every angle possible. However, He also said that He would always be building His Church and there is no power on earth that can stop Him from doing it. Therefore, from this we know that if we are obedient to following Him and not straying from The Way then we are His and He will keep us regardless of the evil that this dark world will bring upon us.
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” John 6:28 (NASB)
The flesh is still with us all, even those who have been born again unto eternal life. The flesh does not understand grace. The flesh does not understand the relationship to the Christian being born again unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, the visible church is ripe with false teaching at this time that emphasizes all the wrong things, and, coupled with rampant Biblical illiteracy, most professing Christians are like those Jesus was confronting in John 6 who could not conceive what our Lord boldly told them in vv35-40 that belief and salvation is a gift from God not something earned or deserved.
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 (NASB)
I spent many years as a deacon in two SBC churches in the late 1980’s the 1990’s and the early 2000’s. I would say that my spiritual maturity during that time was one of a new Christian who was growing, but certainly not someone who would be considered an elder. I was untrained theologically. The preaching and teaching we received in those churches was not very deep. The leaders in those churches were more interested in encouraging the people to work harder and give more. My main spiritual gifts are all centered around teaching so I gravitated toward teaching Bible Study classes. One of the things God did during that period that changed my growth rate in Christ was me being selected for Precept training as an instructor. Those going through the courses paid for the classes and part of that money went to have me and a few others trained to do Inductive Word Studies from God’s Word. I went to all three levels of training and the third level, in 1992, was learning how to do Greek word studies in the New Testament. This changed everything for me, but it was several more years of circumstances beyond my control that God used to move me into this discernment work that I do now.
11 In whom also we were made an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of the one working all things according to the counsel of His will 12 for us to be to the praise of His glory, having previously hoped in Christ. Ephesians 1:11-12 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The enemy of our souls is also a liar and hates all truth. He cannot stop people whom God has elected from being saved, but he can attack them and lie to them with all out assaults on God’s truth to keep them from knowing the wonderful width, depth and breadth of God’s love for them and that all of the truths about these things are contained in His good doctrines which are given to us in the Word of God. I have been dealing with several sniping attacks over that last several weeks from brothers and sisters in Christ who should really know better. They have been challenging the veracity of Reformation Theology and calling it “Calvinism” derisively and some have even gone so far as to call it a damnable heresy. When these things happen it is best to not react emotionally. We must not respond in the same tone as those throwing the sticks and stones and acting like little children who say they have the truth, they are right and we are wrong and then refuse to allow any discussion on the matter, which is what I have been encountering. No we cannot do that. What I attempt to do in all my posts is show from the Word of God alone what God says is the truth. That is what this post is all about.
16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 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 desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6 NASB)
19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 NASB)
The doctrine of original sin is a vital part of genuine Christian orthodoxy. For a long time I didn’t really appreciate how important it is in our concept of the depths of our guilt before our sovereign and thrice Holy God. However, as I have become involved in ‘discussions’ with those who reject this doctrine, God has revealed to me, through my studying his Word in order to answer certain ‘arguments,’ that when this doctrine is not part of one’s theology then their concept of their salvation is more self-centered and, in some cases, is understood that one is a Christian based solely on religious acts they have done. Let’s look again at the Apostle Paul’s thesis on our salvation, which none of us deserve.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-12 (NASB)
The key to understanding the passage above is in getting who the “us” is that Paul mentions repeatedly all through it. Whoever they are, they are indeed blessed. Of course Paul is talking about those who are called, those who believe the Gospel and are redeemed out of spiritual death unto eternal life in Christ. In this post we will look at one of the direct results of our redemption, which is the forgiveness of sins. It seems that the majority “opinion” of those with the loudest voices and coolest ministries in the visible church never talk about this because they never talk about sin and the doctrine of depravity. Why? They are merely a newer version of what is known as Christian Liberalism, which is a misnomer for it is not true Christianity at all for it denies the necessity of Christ as Saviour so they never preach the Cross. According to them, the Good News is about man not what God has done on man’s behalf. Fortunately, we still have God’s Word and some good solid Bible teachers, well grounded, who never waiver from preaching the whole Gospel. God still has His remnant and always will until Christ returns. Let us look at the three aspects of forgiveness that is the direct result of our redemption.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1 (NASB)
In this post we will look at Romans 4:13-5:1 which is the application of the theology that Paul presents in Romans 3:20-31, which could be summarized with the statement, “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight since through the law come knowledge of sin, but the righteousness of God is manifest through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” I must interject something my brethren. It is imperative that all truely in Christ know the truth, that is, God’s truth, and why it is vital that we believe it. Also, we must know it so well that we can defend it against all attempts by our enemy and his people to corrupt it and distract us from obeying it. How do we know what the truth is? We know it because it is bound to the Word of God.
43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. John 6:43-46 (NASB)
Even those who most ardently proclaim the sovereignty of man’s free will must honestly deal with passages throughout Sacred Scripture which make it clear that the human will of the natural man is incapable of attaining such a high role. In fact, God’s Word actually makes it clear that the Human Will is simply the faculty of choice with no inherent ability to make a decision on its own. It is the Human Mind that decides while the Will is the “faculty of choice, the immediate cause of all action.”1 Therefore, it is quite incorrect to allocate the sovereignty of choice to a mechanism within each of us, created by God, which enables us to carry out the volition of the mind.
5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. 1 Timothy 1:5-11 (ESV)
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. What is the aim of the charge of a true discipler? It is to produce the good fruit of of love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. That is the good fruit of a genuine prophet of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, our Lord Himself told us in His Sermon on the Mount how to discern whether a prophet was false or not.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)
1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB)
Life is a continual hunt or search for circumstances that will result in contentment. That is the focus for the natural man. When societal norms become relaxed from the “bonds” that restrict certain forms of self-expression” we witness rising levels of aberrant behavior that are simply attempts by seekers of this “contentment” to find, experience, and practice them hoping to finally reach some level of passion or peace or whatever will last and leave them in that “contented” state. We see this in Christianity as well. What we understand as Orthodox Christianity is not at all satisfying to the unregenerate. However, religiosity is an integral part of the human makeup, therefore, with this volatile combination, we witness increasing levels of bizarre forms of “Christianity” as those desperately seeking what “satisfies” go after the “feelings” as they vainly try to fill that hole in their soul that demands fulfillment.
24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. 25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?”
26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” John 6:24-27 (NASB)
45 And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47 (NASB)
The spiritual blindness of the ‘Christian,’ unregenerate heart is a wonder to behold. It is religious to be sure, but its framework consists of rationalizations that are developed in order to “have Christ” on one’s own terms. It allows for things such as compromises by the professor to “work” in such a way to accumulate wealth and/or position in society. It condones doing ministry in such a way in order become wealthy or famous. The focus is on the temporal. These “fellows” use religiosity as their cash cow.
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15 (NASB)
There is a certain type of love that God hates. We find that in John 15:18-20)
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:18-20 (NASB)
God has no love for “love of the world system that is opposed to God.” Jesus made it clear in the passage from John 15:18-20 that those who are “of the world” are not of God nor are those whom He has selected from out of the world part of the world. This is why those who are still “of the world” hates them. I want to reiterate that there are plenty of apostate “Christians” in our time who exhibit that very same hatred toward those of us who refuse to back away from orthodox Christianity and God’s Word and being infallible and complete. They even refer to us and our doctrines as “toxic”. In any case, John is telling us in 1 John 2:15-17 two important truths about genuine Christianity. First, the Christian loves God and fellow Christians and an absence of love of the world must habitually characterize the love life of those to be considered genuinely born again.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not warring according do the to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful through God to the overthrow of strongholds overthrowing reasonings 5 and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God and leading captive every thought into the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
All believers who are still in this life also live and walk in the flesh in a physical sense, but the goal must be to grow into maturity and no longer walk that way in a moral sense (Romans 8:4). Christians who are obediently doing this must actively war according to the spirit, never the flesh, in the battle to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-4). Therefore, those whose ministries are based around appealing to the flesh are actually warring according to the flesh and that does not work, at least not in an eternal sense. What is done in the flesh may look impressive to those who walk in the flesh in a moral sense, but they are impotent and powerless to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ. Why? They cannot successfully oppose satanic assaults on the gospel or any of God’s truths.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; Ephesians 5:6-11 (NASB)
In the passage above is the the word “fruit.” It is a translation of the Greek word καρπὸς or karpos. This word appears some sixty-six times in the New Testament. In most cases, it is used in reference to the the fruit of plants as in Matthew 21:19 or the produce of the earth (James 5:7, 18). However, its extended meaning in the New Testament is one in which we should pay special attention as well as to its opposite, ἀκάρποις or akarpois, which is translated in this passage as “unfruitful.” In this form, ἀκάρποις is the dative, plural of ἄκαρπος or akarpos. The dative plural simply means that this part of the phrase is an indirect object of the action of the sentence. In any case, this may be more significant than it first appears.
Follow the fruit…
The Harry Potter book series was marketed through Scholastic Books to their target group of 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, through sales at school book fairs as well as use in the classroom. Scholastic gives a place of honor to John Dewey (Oct. 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) on their website for good reason. John Dewey would have delighted in being able to place a wedge between Muggle parents and their magical children. Mr. Dewey’s intent was always for the educational system to have more sway in children’s minds than their parents. The truthXchange published an article by Steve Baarendse on September 23, 2011 entitled “The Muggles’s Protest.” It is a warning and a plea to the Christian community about the inherent dangers of Harry Potter.
Is the Harry Potter book series a matter of Christian liberty or forbidden fruit?
A Puritans’ Mind author, Dr. C. Matthew McMahon thoughtfully and scripturally examines the question, “Is Harry Potter really necessary?”2
There is much wisdom found in St. Augustine’s quote, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” The apostle Paul presented it like this:
14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Romans 14:14 (NASB)
“Come now, and let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18
The purpose in writing this 3 part series is to address concerns about the cultural phenomena; Harry Potter book series by author J.K. Rowling and the spiritual impact on our children. The books are about a wizard named Harry Potter, who attends the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The question is, “Should Christians (specifically children) be participating in filling their minds and imaginations with subject matter that Scripture has warned against, or should it be avoided?”
15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:15-17 (NASB)
This ministry is dedicated to the teaching of God’s truth, uncompromised, with the knowledge that in being obedient in this, God will use this to shine His truths into the hearts of His people thereby drawing them from just being professors in Christ to being mature believers who are obedient to Him in every part of their lives. I know what the former is like. I remember vividly that period prior to God drawing me to Himself, the process He used to do it, and the remarkable result afterward.
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)
My father died in 2010 at the age of 86. My mother will be 91 in October of this year if she makes it, but only God knows that. She seems to be nearing the end of her journey to the Celestial City. I have reflected much on this lately and, in light of this, my own priorities. Have I been wasting much of the valuable time and energy given to me by our Lord in building on His foundation with wood, hay, and straw? Have I been focusing on the things of this world, seeking the pleasures of this world to the exclusion of walking close with my Lord, living in His Word and prayer? Have I been putting self ahead of the needs of others? You see, what marks a true Christian over a false Christian is whether Christ’s character is being developed in theirs or not. This character development results in the believer’s perseverance.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)
One of the markers of genuineness in a Christian is separation from the World. This isn’t a physical removal from planet Earth or a disintegration of the body of a Christian. A genuine Christian’s character should be in a continual upgrade unto Christlikeness. That means that as he or she cooperates with God in their sanctification, working out their salvation with fear and trembling, their character will take on more and more of Christ’s character. They will love what He loves and hate what he hates. God is love, but He hates a certain type of love.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Romans 7:24 (NASB)
All genuine Christians have one thing in common—they are imperfect people who, no matter how much they desire to be Christlike, will struggle with the paradox of being new creations slowly becoming conformed to the image of their Saviour while being mired in a body of death that wants to be ruled by their old sin nature. How often do we cry out to God to release us from this prison? What good can it do for us to struggle so with the demands of the flesh?
17 pray without ceasing; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB)
Of all of the commands from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 I am sure that the one from v17, which I placed above, has caused the most consternation and possibly the most bad theology of all the others combined. What does Paul mean that we should “pray without ceasing?” Is this even possible without becoming a monk in some monastery locked up in a cell to spend the rest of your days praying and doing nothing else? Some have actually taught that and tried to put it into practice just like I described. Let us take a closer look.
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB)
The number one accusation thrown at those who take up the armor of God and use it in the battle as they are called to do, is that they are full of pride. Those who use this fiery dart are equating certainty with pride. Extra-biblical revelation should not be used in the battle by God’s warriors. Instead, the source of truth that is used is the sword of the Spirit itself, the Word of God. Experience is extra-biblical. Man’s teachings, if contrary to the Word of God, are extra-biblical. One’s own private interpretation of Scripture and/or experience is extra-biblical. These battles may appear to cause disunity in the Body, but unity that is held together through compromise is false. Christians should never seek to be yoked up with those who hold doctrine or beliefs that are contrary to the truth from God’s Word or are based solely on extra-biblical sources. Unity in the Body of Christ is commanded in God’s Word, but that unity is not based in compromise, but love and humility within those who are obedient to the truth.
27 For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 2 Samuel 7:27 (NASB)
Is there a difference between how a genuine believer should pray and how most professing Christians actually pray? Our perception is that we pray as we feel or desire or as the result of viewing both our needs and other’s needs. What we often overlook is that God is heavily involved in all aspects of our sanctification and that includes leading us in prayer. God loves those who are His and blessing them is part of His expression of that love.