16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. Matthew 10:16-19 (NASB)
If we listen to the common message from the vast majority of “Christian” leaders these days we will not receive one of eternal focus, power, or value. Instead, if we hear a message that tells us that God desires for all of His people to have it their way, to have their best life now, to live any way they choose all the while seeing that the point of Christianity is to be blessed here and now. Along with that it insinuates that if we suffer then we must have sin in our lives that we have not confessed. Is the point of Christianity the believer’s health, wealth and prosperity? Is the focus of our faith primarily on this life now?
1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3 (NASB)
As Christians walk through their days that turn into weeks that turn into months that turn into years that turn into decades that turn into the length and breadth of their lives, they are continually put into circumstances where they must either believe and obey God or disbelieve and disobey Him. Most believers I know have a horrible habit of limiting God by their lack of faith (unbelief). Tragically, these decisions can result in walls of spiritual blindness to become erected in their hearts. With this spiritual blindness can come apathy or, worse, apostasy. Their decision to limit God with their lack of bold brokenness is based in idolatry. …
Then the Lord said to me,
Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.But I said,
Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.Jeremiah 14:11-13
Jeremiah goes on to describe the land, how the cisterns have no water, the ground is dismayed, there is no rain on the land, the crops are dried up, and wild asses stand and pant, and there is no water in all of the land. This is part of the judging hand of God.
How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? …
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? Jeremiah 12:4a-5
Jeremiah cries out to God with some troubled questions on his mind. These are the standard questions people ask when things begin to go wrong in an individual life, or in the life of a community, or a nation. I heard recently that a very well-known and well-liked high school girl disappeared mysteriously a few days before, and no one knew where she was. All her high school friends were praying for her. She was a Christian, and they were sure that God would protect her. …
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:16
Christ is the focus of the apostle’s gaze in this text. He begins a dissertation on the surpassing excellencies of Christ from verse 15-22. I want to focus our attention right toward the beginning of this beautiful section to focus on one key phrase. That is the statement “all things are created through him and for him.”
What does it mean that all things are created for the Son? What exactly does this text convey about the Son?
48 Therefore, Jesus said to him, “Except you see signs and wonders you never believe!” John 4:48 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
I lived in the Kansas City area from September 2001 until the first couple of weeks of December 2012. In Kansas City is a “church” that calls itself “World Revival Church.” It is closely associated with another “church” that was once sued by the corporation ‘International House of Pancakes’ because it used the same logo, i.e. IHOP. In any case, the people behind these “churches” advertised heavily on local television during the evening news hour while we lived there. The focus of their ads was not to come there to see God glorified or to come and learn about Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Nope, it was all about “feelings” and “being blessed” and “experiences.” …
3 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, 4 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. 5 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)
This blog has been online since 2006 and over the years I have tried to address all of the forms of “Christianity” that were in fact “Strange Fire.” How did we know they were “Strange Fire?” They did not line up with what God’s Word says His people will do as they serve Him. 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.
21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. Romans 6:21 (NASB)
When first began writing and blogging (2006) the majority topic of discussion was undoubtedly what was going on in the seeker sensitive churches all around us as they abandoned expository preaching, replacing it with topical sermons, entertainment, drama, dance, videos, et cetera. Things sure have progressed, or is it actually the opposite with the gospel contextualization having replaced all of that with the goal of church globalization within the framework of Dominonism? I remember some of the debates from that time and as I look back on it now, I see what was actually happening. …
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB)
A pernicious lie currently permeating the visible Church in our time says that all who profess Christ are genuine believers. This lie conveniently overlooks that even our Lord’s chosen 12 contained one devil. Another closely associated and equally detrimental lie says that Christians must never judge. If taken together, these two lies create an environment of deceit in which professing Christians who prove their disingenuousness by their words, their actions, and their doctrines, which is their “fruit,” cannot be brought before the ecclesiastical court of their church brethren for discipline. In fact, in this environment, to even address the issue is to be classed as a judgmental hypocrite.
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. Luke 2:15-20 (NASB) (Read verses 17-20 on the site)
Human faith is not the same thing as saving faith. The former is based in Human reason and intellect. The latter is supernatural. What passes for faith in many professing believer’s “Christianity” is a belief based in who preaches to or teaches them. This is not saving faith because it is not a belief in the Word or in God through the Word. These are “believers” who will eventually fall away. Some may last a lifetime, but as soon as the fires of tribulation come upon them they slide into apostasy because their faith is not of the substance that endures.
A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, Brother Saul, receive your sight! And at that very moment I was able to see him. Then he said: The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” Acts 22:12-15
Paul recounts his own conversion experience to this enraged mob which had just been ready to tear him limb from limb! I am sure that if I had been in his shoes I would have been trying to get out of there as fast as possible. But Paul recognizes this as his opportunity and he wants to be the instrument to reach this stubborn crowd. So he seizes the only opportunity he has, hoping the Lord will give him success, and he tells of his own conversion and specifically the role which Ananias played.
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all. Psalms 139:1-4 (NASB)
Our God is beyond our understanding. Thankfully, He has revealed Himself to us, to a degree, in His Word. Those who claim to serve Him, but treat His Word as if it was not important, or refuse to submit to the truths therein are fools. That has always puzzled me about those who take a sliver of God’s Word, misinterpret it, and then build massive doctrines around their misinformation. Have they no fear of God?
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-14 (NASB) (Read 13-14 on the site)
Genuine Christians are marked in this life by a spiritual journey that God uses to sanctify them. Sanctification is the process whereby God removes Christians from the pollution of the world and conforms them unto His holiness. I have had some so-called “Christians” attempt to deny this as true for all Christians. They claim that only God is Holy and there is no call by God for His people to repent and mortify their sins. Regardless, the Word of God does contradict what they say.
15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NASB) (Read verses 17-18 on the site)
“Religion, if it is worth anything, is worth everything; but it is worth little if it is not worth suffering for.” – Matthew Henry
There has been such a long drought of the Word of God being rightly divided by true shepherds of the flock in so much of the visible Church that the spiritually weak and immature believers make up the vast majority. Their understanding of God is not well developed. …
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:15-23 (NASB) (Read verses 18-23 on the site)
The attack on Sola Scriptura is nothing new nor should we be surprised by the shrill and accusing voices of those whom seem bent on leading their adoring followers into greater and greater error and apostasy. This attack on the Word of God is first seen in Genesis 3 when our enemy asked of Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 (NASB)
Being Reformed in my theology, I adhere to the Sovereignty of God in all things. He keeps remnants of believers even in the most apostate of times. He always has pockets of genuine believers who know their Lord by His grace through the faith He gives no matter what darkness is attacking the Church. According the the passage I placed at the top of this post, we see what the source is of the false doctrines propagated by apostate “Christian” leaders. That source, of course, is that they have been seduced by evil spirits and now they are following and teaching the doctrines of demons or devils. In this post we will look at the different epochs or eras that have not only come to attack the Church down through the ages, but have remained and are still with us now. …
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 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)
In the passage above the words “Put on” translate the Greek verb ἐνδύσασθε (endysasthe) the second plural, aorist middle imperative case of ἐνδύω (endyō) which means “clothe.” This is a command for believers to clothe themselves with the “full armor of God” and never take it off. Why? The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We ἐνδύσασθε 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 only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Therefore, we must become discerning and wise and that means we must consistently wear this armor.
While God’s Word does not give us all the details about our future home with Him, Scripture is hardly silent when it comes to His eternal kingdom. In fact, the Bible contains many descriptions of heaven.
However, some of those descriptions are cast in apocalyptic or prophetic language filled with symbolism and mystery. Such complex imagery can be confusing, even for seasoned biblical scholars. Some want to treat the verses like riddles or treasure maps that unlock deeper meaning and hidden truths about what we can expect in heaven. Others look to allegorize the imagery, leading down infinite rabbit trails of subjective interpretation. But that’s not why the writers of Scripture—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—described their heavenly visions the way they did.
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:1-8 (NASB) (Read verses 5-8 on the site)
There is a form of man-centered theology that is called “vision-casting” or “vision-questing.” Beware of it, whatever those who do it call it. The crux of their theology goes something like this. God wants everyone to have a vision and so every Christian needs to try really hard to pursue a vision until it aches within them. Then they know its from God and then they need to run after it as hard as they can. What passages from the Bible do you suppose they use to support that? Well, since its not found anywhere in God’s Word, they attempt to use passages out of context to do that and then misrepresent …
45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46 (NASB)
In the passage above, John 1:45-46, we see two of our Lord’s future Apostles, Philip and Nathanael, conversing. Philip finds his friend Nathanael and tells him that he and other friends have has found “him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.” This is, of course, the Messiah. Then he tells him who he is, “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” What was Nathanael’s response? He asked a rhetorical question, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” What was Philip’s answer? It was the one we must all take to heart and make the foundation of how we approach both evangelism and apologetics. He said, “Come and see.”
By Mike Ratliff
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)
There is 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. Continue reading
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to the ones in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Romans 8 is best understood after reading the Apostle Paul’s exposition of his own “wretched man” trapped in a “body of death” in Romans 7:14-25. (Read these verses on the site)
There are some who teach from this passage saying that it describes Paul’s life before Christ citing that this description is contrary to his own account or description of true believers in Romans 6 (cf. vv. 2,6,7,11,17,18,22) . However, as we read this passage it is obvious that this is a believer because he desires to obey God’s law and hates his sin. He is humble, recognizing that nothing good dwells in his humanness. He sees sin in himself, but not as all that there is, and he serves Jesus Christ with his mind.
15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. Titus 1:15 (NASB)
I am constantly amazed at the diversity I witness in the believers who interact with this ministry. This, of course, displays Christ’s power to bring together in unity dissimilar people from every place on this planet and from all walks of life. Part of our sanctification is dealing with our unredeemed flesh. God uses it to humble as well as teach us to fight the good fight. We will never be totally sinless as long as we have our flesh within us. Our enemy also works within our flesh to create division in an effort to split what God has unified. Much of the attack from him and his minions will be to foment conflict between mature believers and those who are not so mature. Also, he is always working in a effort to create self-confidence and self-righteousness in believers. He knows that when believers fall into that trap they are working from a base of pride rather than humility.
Why is it important to know the truth about heaven? With all the contradicting theories and theologies, you can imagine that some Christians would prefer to live in blithe ignorance about what awaits beyond the grave. But knowing the truth about heaven is not just about being right for the sake of being right.
God’s people need to know the truth about heaven because it fixes our eyes on God, His kingdom, and the work He has called us to accomplish in the meantime. But knowing the truth also equips us to defend against the wide array of false teaching about heaven and eternal life. Already this week we have discussed unbiblical doctrines about heaven, including soul sleep and purgatory. Today we’ll consider some biblical texts that give us ammunition in the fight against these and other Satanic lies.
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. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” John 1:14-18 (NASB) (Read verses 16-18 on the site)
In John 1:18 the Apostle tells us that no one has ever seen God, but the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us, that one, explained him. What got Jesus in hot water with the religious Jews during his earthly ministry? It was when he did that very thing and it was always in opposition to the presuppositions according to which the Scribes and Pharisees operated. …