The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith

To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

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. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

1 Timothy 1:2–11, NASB

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. What is the aim of the charge of a true disciple? 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 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.

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15–20, NASB

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Slaves and shame

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” 34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:31-38 NASB

One of the major weapons of our enemy is attacks centered on provoking our pride, to incite us to be deeply concerned about what others think of us in relation to our profession of faith and how we walk the narrow path set before us by God. Our Lord warned us that this sort of attack would be coming our way and it causes professing Christians to lose their boldness as they actually seek to preserve “their life” for their own sake. When we are more concerned with our image and standing before men rather than for Christ and His gospel then we compromise because we have set our minds on the things of man rather than then things of God. View article →

Christ is both God and man

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 NASB

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)

If we listen to some today it is as if the Incarnation of Christ was to show Man how to live in such a way that there would be no war, no hunger, no sickness and that the Earth be recovered back to the pristine state of Creation. Was this His mission? If you go to any secular book store either such as Barnes and Noble or even Amazon.com and browse the religious/theology section you will find a large number of books that attempt to blend Jesus Christ into all religions or even non-religious causes. I found one recently that was a supposed list of the parallel sayings of Buddha with those of Christ. View article →

Being humble in all circumstances

12 οἶδα καὶ ταπεινοῦσθαι, οἶδα καὶ περισσεύειν· ἐν παντὶ καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν μεμύημαι, καὶ χορτάζεσθαι καὶ πεινᾶν καὶ περισσεύειν καὶ ὑστερεῖσθαι· 13 πάντα ἰσχύω ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με. (Philippians 4:12-13 NA28)

12 I know both how to be humbled and how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to have lack. 13 I can do all things in the one empowering me. (Philippians 4:12,13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The enemy of our souls, Satan, does not attack believers in such a way that we should recognize him as being who he is. Instead, he comes disguised as the voice behind the theologian from the best seminary who may be the leader with a huge church empire and also be the author of many best-selling books. How does he attack what we call the Orthodox Christian faith? You know, the preaching of the gospel, the weekly opening of the Word of God, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, et cetera. He attacks that by putting people in place that both insist on and those who promise to deliver “more.” You know, taking emphasis away from all that stuff above and giving people “what they really want!” Sometimes the leaders doing this think this is what the people really want, but it is not. That is when the sheep go to their pastors and ask to be fed rather than be entertained. What happens most of the time nowadays when that takes place? View article →

Christians are quickened together with Christ

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:8-15 NASB

The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from own Savior to deny self, forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slide right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.View article →

The Doctrine of Original Sin

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. View article →

The authority of Jesus Christ the Son of God

25 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν ὅτε οἱ νεκροὶ ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀκούσαντες ζήσουσιν. (John 5:25 NA28)

25 Amen, amen I say to you that an hour is coming an now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those having heard will live. (John 5:25 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The misunderstanding or false teaching about two truths pertaining to our Lord Jesus Christ and man are at the center of much of the false teaching that passes for “Christian theology.” It has always been so. The first truth refers to the deity of Christ and His sovereign authority as Lord and God. The second truth pertains to the original sin of Adam and fact that all people are born dead in trespasses and sins, no exceptions. That spiritual death is without any ability to please God in any way. If we get either of these truths wrong then we will get the Gospel wrong and that means all our theology is wrong as well. View article →

Your faith must not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB

Martin Luther is considered the “Lighting rod of the Protestant Reformation.” It was through his battle with the Roman Catholic Church that the doctrine of salvation through Justification by Grace through Faith alone was recovered and from that, many Christian martyrs went to their deaths refusing to compromise their faith by denying the truth of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified based not upon the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. So much of the pressure being brought to bear upon Christians in our time is to not be so precise in our theology, but be more willing to “compromise” along doctrinal grounds for the sake of “unity.” The “mega-church” model is based precisely upon never offending anyone, but being non-threatening and willing to be all things to all people in order to attract everyone, but to what? View article →

What is Self-Righteousness?

17 Because you say, “ I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, Revelation 3:17 NASB

Self-Righteousness: the attempt to meet God’s standards based upon one’s own merits.

A thorough study of our Lord’s earthly ministry reveals with certainty the following truth. Our Lord was merciful in every instance to those who were broken, humbled, and spiritually helpless before Him. On the other hand, the proud, the self-righteous, and the self-sufficient He rebuked and shunned, which is thematically summarized for us by James our Lord’s brother in his epistle. View article →

What is the difference between Justification and Sanctification?

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30 NASB

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 NASB

justify Function: verb Inflected Form(s): jus·ti·fied; jus·ti·fy·ing Etymology: Middle English justifien, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French justifier, from Late Latin justificare, from Latin justus Date: 14th century transitive verb 1 a: to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable b (1): to show to have had a sufficient legal reason (2): to qualify (oneself) as a surety by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. 29 May 2008

sanctify Function: transitive verb Inflected Form(s): sanc·ti·fied; sanc·ti·fy·ing Etymology: Middle English seintefien, sanctifien, from Anglo-French seintefier, sanctifier, from Late Latin sanctificare, from Latin sanctus sacred — more at saint Date:14th century 1: to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use :consecrate 2: to free from sin :purify 3 a: to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to b: to give moral or social sanction to 4: to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12(Douay Version)> Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Merriam-Webster Online. 29 May 2008

The theological climate in the “visible church” today  has taken on the characteristics of a free-for-all. Most professing believers’ Bible knowledge is extremely shallow. On top of that we are also in a period of intellectual barbarianism which is marked by relativism. This causes the truth to be perceived as unknowable. Those holding this form of thinking refuse to believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. In this intellectual climate it is little wonder that false prophets and false teachers can lead so many astray simply by saying what people want to hear. View article →

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:16-18 NASB

The test of true faith is that which is revealed in how one lives and walks through this life. Right belief, that is, a faith that lives in a regenerate heart born from above, is exhibited in right living as James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ wrote in the passage above. Notice also that he began that passage in v16 with, “Do not be deceived,” or Μὴ πλανᾶσθε from the Greek. This literally says, “not be deceived.” The verb πλανᾶσθε here is the present imperative active form of the Greek verb πλανάω which means “to lead astray, deceive.” So, in the form used here, James and the Holy Spirit is commanding and warning believers to actively work to not be lead to believe the lie that which is the opposite of the truth that he is about to share concerning the nature of how true Christian faith produces a true Christian walk. The good gift of faith comes from God and all the gifts that follow concerning this Christian walk do as well. This is God’s plan for His people that they should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. View article →

The blessedness of forgiveness

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 posts 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. View article →

And whenever you pray, do not be as the hypocrites

Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς· (Matthew 6:9a NA28)

You, therefore, pray in this way: (Matthew 6:9a translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The context of Matthew 6:9-13 from which get what is traditionally called “The Lord’s Prayer,” is, of course, Matthew 6, which is part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. The theme of Matthew 6:1-18 (the context of vv 9-13) is found in v1, “Προσέχετε [δὲ] τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μή γε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.” Or, “But be careful of demonstrating your righteousness before men with the aim to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven.” Our Lord gives an example in vv 2-4 of believers giving alms to the needy. Their motive is to be seen by others in order to receive praise from men. Then in vv 5-18 our Lord gives uses and examples of prayer, fasting, and forgiveness, which will be the subject of this post. View article →

Standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Philippians 1:27–30, NASB

The growing apostasy of the visible church all around us can be alarming at times. In fact, there are times that those leading the way into that apostasy seem to “raising the bar,” so to speak, at a quickening pace with their efforts to turn their followers away from biblical Christianity. They are not living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. They are not standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. No, they are going after all sorts of extra-biblical religious manifestations and trying to intermix them with their Laodicean version of Christianity, which is not Christian at all.

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Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7–10, NASB

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10–13, NASB

What ails the Church the most at this time in the early 21st century is actually the root of most, if not all, of the growing apostasy we are witnessing. This ailment is the product of decades upon decades of poor doctrine and man-serving preaching and teaching. God has given the Church, except for His Remnant, a spirit of stupor that has blinded them so that they have believed the lie that the center of all things is not Christ, but themselves. Their felt needs are far more important to them than God’s glory. They view God as being good when their circumstances are ok, but not good when they aren’t. They have bought their goods at Vanity Fair and they have become their idols. Let us look at a wonderful biblical example of a man who did not devalue his relationship with God in order to have temporal pleasure.

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But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20, KJV

knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20, ESV

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20, NASB

τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται· 2 Peter 1:20, NA28

Know this first, that every prophecy of scripture is not of one’s own interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20, translated from the NA28 Greek text

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. The young man was so excited that he could barely contain it. He could not stop talking about his experience at his new church in Tulsa under a very well known Word–Faith pastor. He went on and on and on.

I had been a Christian about 10 years by then and had not yet entered into that long period of dryness that God put me through that ended in 2004, so this must have been in the early 1990’s. In any case, neither the young man nor his wife would engage me personally in conversation nor would they look at me directly. They only talked to those around me. However, with each emphatic point he made that I knew was unbiblical I would try to interject something, but was ignored.

Finally, there was a point in the conversation when he made one of those points and everyone became quiet and I simply said, “But that is not Biblical and what you are describing is subjectivism, not anything that can proved by Scripture.”

His answer was simply this, “God still speaks to His people and not all of His truth is found in the Bible.”

I then asked, “Will He then say things to these prophets that are contrary to what the Bible says, or will He say things that these people prophesy that does not take place? If so, what then?”

He then pooh-poohed me away and would not let me engage him in any more conversation. The “religion” he was involved in has its foundation in men’s private interpretation of the Bible, along with God supposedly speaking prophecy directly to them thereby “confirming” there false interpretation of the Word of God. I never could find out from them how one could really know if that word from God was really from God, or if it was just their over active imagination.

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And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” And the ones reclining with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Luke 7:48–49, translated from the NA28 Greek text

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῇ· ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. καὶ ἤρξαντο οἱ συνανακείμενοι λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν; Luke 7:48–49, NA28

I went to “Easter” services at our church with my family last night. Yes, we still call it that, but I assure you there was nothing pagan, or worldly about what went on there. I heard the Gospel preached clearly and succinctly. I heard how vital our Lord’s resurrection is to not only our faith, but also to our entire orthodox belief system. Jesus was raised from the dead and, 40 days later, he was taken up into Heaven to sit at right had of God the Father. However, we are told in the Word that in like manner, our Lord will return (Acts 1:9-11).

As I heard the Gospel preached, I rejoiced and worshipped God and thanked Him for saving me. I know that I most certainly am unworthy of being one of the elect, but that is the nature of grace and, I as I think back on how God the Father drew me to the Son even though I was not even thinking about going that way myself, I am amazed that He would have mercy on a wretch like me.

In Luke 7:36-50 we are given the circumstances of our Lord saving a woman who most of us could most certainly relate to, if we are honest.

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Standing firm against hypocrites speaking lies from a seared conscience

Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times  some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, in hypocrisy of ones speaking lies, having been seared in their own conscience 1 Timothy 4:1–2, translated from the NA28 Greek text

Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν 1 Timothy 4:1–2, NA28

I have previously made clear what all Christians’ stance should be on homosexuality. That stance is biblical and any attempt to soften, change, or redirect it has as its source the father of all lies and enemy of our souls. I am sure all reading this here in April 2015 are aware of the “human rights” crisis that was manufactured around the Indiana state government passing a bill that is nearly identical to that which exists in 21 other states and is also on record in the Federal Government, which became law during the Clinton administration. Yes, this law simply says that a person’s religious convictions cannot become subject to that of the state or another group, etc. In other words it simply supports the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Notice the part in italics. That being said, we live in a time in which liberal activists demand tolerance for everyone – that is, everyone except Christians who have a conscience bound to the Word of God, who refuse to violate that conscience simply because society or the government demands “tolerance” for that which the Word of God says is evil. These liberal activists demanding tolerance reveal their real selves when they become totally intolerant of those who are not going to violate their consciences bound to the Word God even if it costs them everything, even death. History is replete with examples of this (PDF).

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Remove the evil from among you

I wrote to you in the epistle not to mix with fornicators, not meaning complete dissociation from the fornicators of this world or greedy and swindlers or idolaters, since you would have to then go out from the world. But now I wrote to you not to mix with anyone who is called a brother if he is a fornicator or a greedy man or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or a swindler. Do not eat with such a man. For what do I have to do with the judging of outsiders? Is it not the ones within you are to judge? But the ones outside God judges. Remove the evil man from among yourselves. 1 Corinthians 5:9–13, translated from the NA28 Greek text

Ἔγραψα ὑμῖν ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι πόρνοις, οὐ πάντως τοῖς πόρνοις τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἢ τοῖς πλεονέκταις καὶ ἅρπαξιν ἢ εἰδωλολάτραις, ἐπεὶ ὠφείλετε ἄρα ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελθεῖν. νῦν δὲ ἔγραψα ὑμῖν μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι ἐάν τις ἀδελφὸς ὀνομαζόμενος ᾖ πόρνος ἢ πλεονέκτης ἢ εἰδωλολάτρης ἢ λοίδορος ἢ μέθυσος ἢ ἅρπαξ, τῷ τοιούτῳ μηδὲ συνεσθίειν. τί γάρ μοι τοὺς ἔξω κρίνειν; οὐχὶ τοὺς ἔσω ὑμεῖς κρίνετε; τοὺς δὲ ἔξω ὁ θεὸς κρινεῖ. ἐξάρατε τὸν πονηρὸν ἐξ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν. 1 Corinthians 5:9–13, NA28

As the true Gospel is proclaimed with power, it is always accompanied by the Law which is used by the Holy Spirit to reveal to the lost their utter need for a Saviour and the complete helplessness to save themselves from the coming wrath of God upon all sin that has not been covered by blood of Christ through his atoning work on the Cross. Those who have not been justified by faith alone through grace alone, through believing the Gospel and receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour, are those mentioned in the passage above that are “outsiders.” He also makes it clear that many are “called a brother,” but their actions of an unrepentant lifestyle reveal that they are subject to being judged according to church discipline and cast out of the local body of believers.

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Division and factions in churches serve God’s purposes

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19, NASB

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21, KJV

In the passage from Galatians, which I placed above, at the end of v. 20 is the word “heresies.” The NASB translates this same word as “factions.” It is a form of the word αἵρεσις or hairesis, which is only theoretical in that one can hold different views than the majority and remain in the same body but he is a heretic. Heresy is theoretical and does not become practical until the heretic tears himself away, σχίζω or schizō. Then he is schismatic and is the source of σχίσμα or schisma. In that, schismaticalness is practical heresy.

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The testing of our faith

Consider it all joy my brothers whenever you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect that you may be mature and complete lacking in nothing. James 1:2–4, translated from the NA28 Greek text

Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν. ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω, ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι. James 1:2–4, NA28

The man-centered religions that claim to be “Christian” in our time could never take James 1:2–4 literally. No, instead, they must demand from their own man-made Jesus that they have their best life now and that the sun stand still so that they can fulfill the vision that they claim to have received from him.

This whole idea of a faith that is self-renouncing, while submitting to Christ as Lord in all things, taking up our crosses, bearing his reproach outside the gates because he bore our reproach to pay the price to atone for our sins, is totally alien to those so-called Christians in those religions. Add to that the fiery trials of sanctification and their claim that we are taking the Bible too literally and that, since God is love, He would never do that to anyone.

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Who are genuine Christ-followers?

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matthew 4:18–22, NASB

It seems like just the other day, but actually it was in late 2004 through 2005 and into 2006 that the old Slice of Laodicea blog was going full tilt. Jim Bublitz, Ken Silva and Ingrid were taking it as well as giving it from those who hated to hear the truth that there is a dividing line between orthodox Christianity and everything else that calls itself Christian, but isn’t – that is, apostasy in one form or another.

I came into the battle seeking the truth. I was desperate because my church was being sucked into the Purpose Driven paradigm, and no one there would listen to my warnings. Both Jim and Ken were a great help to me. In any case, it was during all of that that we witnessed a group of individuals declare war on the orthodox Christianity we defended, refusing to be called “Christians” any longer, preferring to be called “Christ followers.”

I always looked at that with humor, because that seemed so self-righteous and pretentious and, if we look carefully at what these people were trying to say by that, they were driving themselves even further into a works-righteousness religion. Let’s look at our Lord’s own words in his calling people to follow Him.

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But we have the mind of Christ

Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? Isaiah 40:13, NASB

When we observe Christian leaders operate according to the world’s standards and methods, with pastors taking on roles other than shepherd of the sheep then responding to righteous criticism with further deception, what we are actually witnessing are professing Christians not walking within the wisdom that is available to all true believers via the mind of Christ. This same situation is seen in all who have been deceived by and drawn into the “Innovation Cult” as well. That would include those proponents of easy-believism in all its forms. We see it in “church organizations” that are built around a personality, rather than following a shepherd of the sheep who is obediently following the Lord as he should. When a Christian leader becomes the focus rather than Christ in a ministry then we see this idolatry begin to take shape. How often do we see one of these personalities build up a large church then when he moves on to the next church the one he built just falls apart? This should not be, and is indicative of a form of Christianity that is built around this personality cultic focus rather than around following Christ.

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Rulers of the darkness of this world

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10–12, NASB

As we study Ephesians 6:10–20, which in most New Testaments is labeled as “The Armor of God” or something similar, we need to pay close attention to the reason God has given us this armor and, therefore, why it is necessary for us to put it on and keep it on at all time. The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We take up this whole armor in order to stand firm in the evil day. Well, this is most definitely an evil day when truth is seen as something to be bargained away or shunned, while lies and that which is only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Because of this, we must become discerning and wise; therefore, we must consistently wear this armor.

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He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:9–15, NASB

The mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting the “good fight” of being a living sacrifice and walking in repentance. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”

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