Is the apostate church in our time the scarlet woman?

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Revelation 3:1–2, NASB

When my dad died in 2010 I inherited my grandfather’s Bible. My grandfather was a remarkable man. He was born in 1877 and became a preacher of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the 1890s in Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. My grandfather preached from this Bible well into the 1950s. It is full of notes and his own cross references. However, there is one thing in the bible that no one, apparently, knew was there. It is a letter written to him from one of his sisters, Lucy. It had to have been written to him either in the late 1940s or early 1950s, since she died around that time. Below is a quotation from it that I found especially fitting in light of the present condition of the visible church.

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I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope

And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
Psalm 143:2, NASB

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:3–4, NASB

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:24–26, NASB

Despite the “popular Christian” teachings in our time that suffering is never God’s will for His people, a close, sober, and honest study of scripture reveals that the fires of tribulation are used by God to form and refine His people. The view that God desires of each Christian always to be healthy and prosperous is based on many false assumptions. One false assumption is that salvation is somehow deserved and those who profess faith can claim anything they want from a god who is bound to meet all their requests. Another false assumption moves the focus of salvation from God glory to the person’s glory and their “having their best life now.” Sin is seen as simple mistakes that God overlooks because He is all love.

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Are you abiding in Christ?

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. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:4–10, NASB

For the first 20 or so years of my Christian pilgrimage, I was in a very immature spiritual state. I was utterly convinced during that time that my worth as a disciple depended upon my performance, my learning, my obedience – my righteousness. With that mindset it was a very horrible experience at times, since I was on a roller coaster ride of obedience and backsliding. What amazed me during that period was that I was looked at as one of the more mature believers at our church. I knew better. That all changed in 2004 and 2005 as God drew me into the light and drastically changed that ‘mindset’. It was as I learned and held to the truth that our salvation is all according to God’s will, not ours, that I began to have peace and freedom. He chose us according to the good pleasure of His will, not according to our abilities or any other inherent attribute we may have, and we are righteous in His eyes because He has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. With this remaking of my mindset came the beginning of the end of that cycle of obedience and backsliding. It was as if it had been put to death or that it had lost traction.

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Sin, faith, regeneration, righteousness, flesh and spirit

“Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:51–52, NASB

Charles Spurgeon spent the last several years of his ministry contending with “liberalizing” efforts within the evangelical churches in England in what came to be known as the “Great Downgrade Controversy.” That “downgrade” gained momentum not only in England, but here in the United States and around the world. It began in the 19th Century when seminaries began embracing “higher criticism” of the Bible. This caused many promising biblical scholars eventually to cast loose that which moored them to orthodoxy, the belief that the Bible is God’s Word – inerrant, and complete. Even though movements came forth to contend with this liberalization, this downgrade, instead of dying, has only changed form many times while still poisoning the Church like a parasite, sucking the spiritual life from it.

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Should believers dialogue with apostates and heretics?

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For,

“The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
“He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:8–12, NASB

This era of the Church is one of extreme deception due to compromise with the standards and focus of the world. Separation between the Church and the world is not being kept. Instead, the holy barrier between the two has been breached as false prophets have welcomed in not only the world and its ways into their churches, but have also embraced the world and it ways including mysticism of the Eastern religions. Syncretism is the new byword of the Emergent Village for instance.

On the other hand, God is good. He keeps His promises. The Lord told Peter that He is the one building His Church and no evil will ever be able to destroy it (Matthew 16:18). If this is true, and it is because our Lord spoke it, then how do we reconcile the rapid apostasy of so much of the visible Church with what He said?

God always keeps a remnant during times of rampant apostasy. These Christians are the small group whom God has reserved who have not bowed the knee to Baal. These are also the ones in whom God is developing Christlikeness and through the fires of persecution by those in the visible Church who have succumbed to the heresies and ungodliness going on in it, He is teaching them how to stand firm and never compromise with evil. In this they learn the difference between debate and dialogue and know that the former actually clarifies the truth and why they hold to it while the latter is only a conversation which has the intent of compromising the truth.

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Genuine Christians are dead to sin while being alive to God

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:6–10, NASB

Easter is approaching as I write this. It’s still over a month away, but it seems like we are already in some sort of “Easter season.” Of all the markers we celebrate as Christians, Easter was the one I had the hardest time understanding when I was a small child. It seemed so wrapped up in chocolate bunnies and Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts, dressing up in new clothes for church, et cetera. My mother tried to help me see the Biblical connection with our Lord’s Resurrection, but I failed to make sense of it until I was older. I saw it as a teen and young adult, but did not really  “get it” until God had mercy on me, a sinner, and resurrected me unto new life as a Christian.

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Sanctification and our flesh

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20–23, NASB

If you read or listen to the “testimonies” of the “new evangelists” or the emergents, or even those in the conservative denominations like the Southern Baptist Denomination who are working very hard to transform themselves into something they perceive as more culturally relevant, you will discover that they, across the board, arrived at their theology as they became “refugees” from some form of pietism or American Evangelicalism that leaned heavily towards semi-pelagianism and/or legalism. That mix, in whatever proportions, is intellectually veneer-thin. When the leadership within those groups move at all away from being centered on God’s Word and His grace then all that is left is the legalism that only leads those in unbelief to despair for, without the preaching of the Good News according to the Free Grace of God, all that is left is simply manmade religiosity. These “refugees” now look at all whom they view as dogmatic in any way about their theology as simply “fundamentalist”, even though there is a vast difference between what we preach and teach and that from which they fled. Of course, these “refugees” are mired in unbelief, no matter how “religious” they appear.

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Should Christians ever be at peace with their flesh?

“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for gain,
And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
“They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
But there is no peace.
“Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time that I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 6:13–15, NASB

Some may read my last few posts and believe that I and all who agree with the theology taught in those posts are antinomians. However, that is a case of missing the point. The doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone is Biblical. Works-righteousness only leads to self-righteousness and never to peace and joy that is found by the regenerate who know their salvation is bound up in the righteousness of another, the Lord Jesus Christ, not their own. Those who despise the doctrine of imputation say that it leads to antinomianism. I present this post in answer to that.

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Salvation by grace alone through faith alone excludes works righteousness

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:7–12, NASB

In the passage above John the Baptist was addressing a form of spiritual blindness that was afflicting the Pharisees and Sadducees. Is there the same sort of stubborn blindness pertaining to Christianity? Yes, sadly there is. Spiritual blindness is a darkness beyond our ability to describe. This blindness is rampant in the “visible Church” in our day. Jesus prophesied about this.

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New Testament grace is coupled with the person and work of Jesus Christ

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 NASB

ὅτι ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσέως ἐδόθη, ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο. John 1:17, NA28

Without a doubt the “visible church” in our time is in a great deal of confusion. Why? It is because there are scores of so-called “Christian leaders” who have compromised the truth in order to make their ministries more acceptable to the world.

As our Lord stood before Pilate and said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Pilate said what to our Lord? He said, “So you are a king?”

Our Lord replied, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

What was Pilate’s answer? He said, “What is truth?”

What is it that our Lord is teaching us here is that we must learn and appropriate and apply to our lives? God’s truth is not editable. It is not modeling clay. It is not something that changes as times and seasons and culture changes. Grace is our theology.

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Be encouraged my brethren!

And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets sent the angel to show his slaves things which have to happen quickly. And behold I am coming quickly. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:6–7, translated from the NA28 Greek text

Καὶ εἶπέν μοι· οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι πιστοὶ καὶ ἀληθινοί, καὶ ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν προφητῶν ἀπέστειλεν τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει. καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ. μακάριος ὁ τηρῶν τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου. Revelation 22:6–7, NA28

The enemy of our souls is relentless and if we look too long and hard at what apostasy and outright heresies are being embraced by the visible church, we can become quite discouraged. Never forget my brethren, our enemy could do nothing without the permission of God. Therefore, let us not be discouraged with the battle. Instead, we must resolve to continue to fight the good fight, never giving in to those who are attempting to change Christianity into something else. Yes, God may allow them to appear to succeed, but be assured that what awaits them is anything but what they have been deceived into believing. Instead, it is time for a bit of encouragement for those of you who so desperately need some.

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Discern, discernment, discerner, prove

But He answered them saying, “When evening has come you say, ‘Fair weather, for the sky is fiery red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today stormy weather, for the sky, being overcast, is fiery red.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but not the signs of the times? Matthew 16:2–3, translated from the NA28 Greek text

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· [ὀψίας γενομένης λέγετε· εὐδία, πυρράζει γὰρ ὁ οὐρανός· καὶ πρωΐ· σήμερον χειμών, πυρράζει γὰρ στυγνάζων ὁ οὐρανός. τὸ μὲν πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ γινώσκετε διακρίνειν, τὰ δὲ σημεῖα τῶν καιρῶν οὐ δύνασθε; Matthew 16:2–3, NA28

The lack of spiritual discernment is a plague in the visible Church in our time. We see this in so-called “church leaders” going after every form of “entertainment” in order to increase numbers in their “churches.” We see this in calls from so-called “church leaders” attempting to reconcile historically protestant denominations with the Roman Catholic Church. We see this with deliberate attempts to cause confusion about sola scriptura, the sovereignty of God, the holy Trinity, election, you name it. If a doctrine of the Church is used by God to bless His people and draw them into a holy and growing relationship with Him then it is under attack by the enemies of the truth and those with little to no discernment become confused. This has been going on for quite a bit longer than most believe.

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To confess

If we confess our sins , He is faithful and just, that he may forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9, translated from the NA28 Greek text

ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. 1 John 1:9, NA28

When the focus of “Christianity” is moved from being God-focused to man-focused, confusion is the ultimate consequence. We see this with so-called Christian leaders like N.T. Wright, who is nothing more than an intellectual “Christian” liberal who is attempting to redefine the Gospel or “Good News” along the lines of those who follow Jesus asserting Christ’s kingdom here on earth. On the other hand, there are multitudes of other aberrations of Christian doctrine in which so-called Christian leaders with no understanding of the Sovereignty of God and His Grace attempt to dismantle Christian doctrine and redefine it along the lines of Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, and Arminianism.

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The offense of the gospel

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34, translated from the NA28 Greek text

Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. Matthew 10:34, NA28

For what will be benefited a man if he acquires the whole world, but he forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26, translated from the NA28 Greek text

τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ; ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; Matthew 16:26, NA28

What is is the offense of the Gospel? Let us examine scripture to answer that.

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Let us draw near unto God

You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship ME, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” Matthew 15:7–9, NASB

What does it mean biblically to draw near unto God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:

let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22, NASB

Here is Hebrews 10:22 from the NA28 Greek text: “προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ·”

The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the present tense, subjunctive mood, middle voice, first person, plural of προσέρχομαι or proserchomai, “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.

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Authentic Christians, apostates, and antichrists

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. Acts 20:28–31, NASB

True, genuine, authentic Christianity is exclusive. It is not a smorgasbord or buffet of options from which men may take what they like while rejecting the rest and still call themselves Christians. While a statement like that may not be popular in this postmodern, politically correct, 21st century culture which advocates tolerance that is sort of a give and take “conversation” in which people with opposing views find a middle ground, it is still the truth. Authentic Christianity is quite the opposite. That is not to say that many who call themselves Christians have not colored their own personal theology with postmodern presuppositions, but these are what we call apostates. What is that?

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The reality of Christian authenticity

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. 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. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 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 8:34–38, NASB

Jesus is coming back. Are you ready? Are you trusting in man-made or self-made religion to be what God will recognize as sufficient so that Christ will be your Advocate before the Father when you are judged? Without Christ as your Advocate, you will have no defense. How does Christ become our Advocate? How do we know if He is our Advocate? Let us examine Christ’s own words about this.

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The King of Heaven humbles those who walk in pride

Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth:“May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation. Daniel 4:1–3, NASB

The deepest, widest blind spot that most professing Christians have is that they are convinced their religion pleases God. Pride disguises itself in many different ways. One that I have noticed in most professing Christians is a form of self-righteousness that sees their religion as making them so well-pleasing to God that anyone who is not part of their denomination or church could not possibly be right with God. Pragmatism springs from a desire by spiritually blind Christian leaders to mimic what other “successful” preachers or pastors do to grow their congregations or baptize huge numbers of converts. When these manipulating processes seem to work the first result is deeper spiritual blindness. Why? Idolatry always produces spiritual blindness. This blindness keeps those in it deceived into believing a lie. What lie? The lie is that God is not totally sovereign and needs their help to further the Kingdom. Their religious efforts may appear to “work,” but since the results are the fruit of fleshly methods and the works of men they only lead to cultivating pride. However, we must never forget that God is Sovereign.

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Christians are to be Biblically discerning rather than politically correct

There is a myth in these post-modern times that has deceived untold numbers of professing Christians. The deceived have believed the lie that Christians are not to confront and rebuke false teachers nor preach or teach anything that has the potential to cause division within the visible Church. The visible Church contains the churches we see all across this globe. This would include denominations and local churches and ministries that we can see visually and of which we can partake. The invisible Church is made up of the elect, the called-out ones. This is the true Church of genuine believers. It is within the visible Church. Therefore, the visible Church contains both genuine believers and professing believers who are not genuine. View article →

The message to the church in Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:” Revelation 3:7, NASB

One of the big errors of our time in the visible church of the 21st century is the misguided concept that truth is subjective. In other words, truth is what you want it be. This concept is, of course, simply borrowed from the world, which loves it. While I do not contend that I know when our Lord will return, I do know that it will be at the end of this age prior to the age to come. I know that He has been given a people for Himself from the Father. I know that His blood purchased them at the cross. I know that those whom He saves must live in this sin-sick world to be sanctified, to mature in Christ, and for their lives to glorify God. These truths, and so many more from God’s Word, are not subjective.

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The Christ of God

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” Luke 9:18–20, NASB

We must agree that there is a growing apostasy that appears to be consuming the visible Church. This can cause us anguish and grief along with some growing excitement in anticipation of the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, let us not forget that there are many who claim to be “christian” who view this as the very thing they are trying to accomplish. They view our exposition of it as “interference” and “over reaction.”

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Do not love the world or the things in the world

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4, NASB

Compromise is a term the world system likes. In fact, the world system as we know it in our time runs on rails greased by compromise. Even though the U.S. Constitution protects the right of free speech to its citizens, the political correctness movement is doing all it can to squelch or smother the expression of “opinion” that is contrary to what it deems as inoffensive. It appears that the right of the easily offended is more protected than the right of those who speak the truth and live by it.

The emergent movement, for example, teaches that it is wrong to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in completion. Why? It is divisive. It is exclusive. It offends. Instead, its leaders teach that we should only preach things that bring people together. Another difference between orthodox Christianity and the emergents has to do with separation from the world system. We teach what the Bible teaches, that is, Christians must not be friends of or part of the world system because those who are actually prove that they are an enemy of God. On the other hand, the emergents consistently teach that repentance is no big deal and all sorts of sins condemned in the Bible are not grounds for separation from the local body of believers.

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The Cross of Christ separates the living from the dead

“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” John 14:19, NASB

When our Lord spoke of the “world” in John 14:19, He was talking about those in this temporal existence who are not believers. They are not Christians, even though some in that group may profess to be so. In this context, He was also referring to the Jewish religious leaders of His own day who so opposed Him and His ministry, and who would continue to oppose the early Church, as is seen all through the books of Acts for example. What is it that separates those alive in this world from those who are not is that the living truly see Jesus for who He really is, believe and are saved, while those who refuse to do so, reject the gospel, and remain in their sins – even if they may develop a form of Christianity that suits them, but is absent of the real Jesus.

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If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24–25, NASB

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a message given to be passed on as “Good News” of the completed work of Christ on behalf of those He came to save. The message is about His incarnation, His perfect life, His death on the cross, His three days and nights in the tomb, and His resurrection. All of these things were attested to by witnesses. The resurrection is the proof that our Lord is God and that the work of the atonement is complete. Those who effectually hear the Gospel, believe it, receive it by grace through faith and repent as they turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour. As is made clear in Ephesians 2:1–10, there is no one is able to do this on their own, God must intervene making then alive in Christ who were once dead in their sins so they could believe and be saved.

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Why are the elect chosen?

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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3–6, NASB

Not long ago I listened to an attack on “Reformation Theology” in which the preacher based his entire case upon one single charge. He said that a Monergistic interpretation of the Bible is based upon a faulty presupposition. That presupposition is in two parts. The first part is that we say man is dead in trespasses and sins and incapable of obeying all commands to come to God in his own ability. The second part is that we say God takes the initiative and regenerates those whom he has elected before the foundation of the world, enabling them to repent and believe and come to Christ and be justified by faith.

This fellow totally ignored the fact that this theology is based upon God’s free choice before the foundation of the world, and the redemptive work of Christ in the obedient life and keeping the Law and going to the cross to the become the propitiation for those elect. That’s right, he totally ignored what was actually accomplished at the cross. Instead, his interpretation of all those “difficult” passages like John 6:44 are best to be seen as God’s people being those who come to him in repentance and then he saves them. So, totally ignoring all these passages about election and imputation, he says salvation is a totally synergistic system which man kicks-starts by first coming to God in repentance, and then God takes over from there. He gave examples of genuine converts he had seen who came in brokenness, and he could tell they were saved because they grasped the truth and walked in repentance, et cetera. He contrasted that with false converts who were simply religious who never walked in repentance. Right, could it be that he is confusing the order of things? Could it be that those he is seeing coming in repentance have been regenerated by God first, and now are able to believe because they are the elect of God?

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