but what things were gain to me, these I have considered loss on account of Christ. But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already been perfected, but I press on if indeed I my lay hold of that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7–11, translated from the NA28 Greek text
From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Justified through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the fourth grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986.
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit but in humility, esteeming one another above self. Philippians 2:1–3, translated from the NA28 Greek text
Over the last several years there has been a “movement” in the visible church that has been made up of group called the “Young, Restless and Reformed”, or YRR. I have always been puzzled by the YRR group. Why? God’s truth, especially the Gospel, divides, but those who are truly in Christ are called continually in sacred Scripture to come together, to unite in love and humility as exemplified by Christ himself. On the other hand, what I see in the YRR folks is a co-opting of a genuine restoration of Reformation theology by those who are attempting to blend it with the seeker sensitive, cultural relevance, and gospel contextualization which are all corrupting influences that move the focus back to the mis-direction mainstream evangelicalism was going, but with the hope or desire of “getting a pass” because they proclaim themselves to “be reformed.” As those in the seeker sensitive paradigm have found though, emotionalism and getting people to work through motivations other than the genuine moving of the Holy Spirit will work only for a short period of time. Why? It is all of this flesh – and that means it is of this world. That is not what Christians are called to do. I believe the recent tragic implosion of Mark Driscoll’s ministry is a prime example of what we are talking about.
Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Philippians 1:1–2, NA28
Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:1–2, translated from the NA28 Greek text
In vv. 1–2, Paul and Timothy give the standard Christian greeting that was very common in the early Church. Notice that it is from both Paul and Timothy, who identify themselves as δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (slaves of Christ Jesus), but it addressed to all the ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (saints in Christ Jesus) at Philippi. The word “saints” translates ἁγίοις, which is actually a form of an adjective that means “holy.” That root word is ἅγιος or hagios, which in the dative form, as used in this passage, designates “saints.” Paul used this word in Ephesians 2:19 saying, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Who are the “overseers”? This is the Greek word ἐπισκόποις, the dative, plural of ἐπίσκοπος or episkopos, “overseer, bishop.” In the Greek, it literally refers to someone who “looks over” or “watches over” a group of people. It is translated as “overseers” or “elders” in the church. Paul gives their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7. What we must understand, my brethren, is that in 1 Peter 2:25, Peter refers to our Lord Jesus Christ as “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Therefore, Jesus is the chief overseer of our lives. Those men who are appointed as elders and such in our churches function on His behalf and should use His life as a model.
Pastoring 101 – here’s what should happen when seminary students show up for their first day of class: they are handed two live sheep. And the professor then tells them this: your assignment is to look after these sheep for the next semester. You are to feed them, care for them, tend them, comb their wool, and protect them from wolves. If, at the end of the semester, you return both of these sheep to me, alive and in good condition (i.e. they not frightened, malnourished or missing any limbs), then you will have earned the right to graduate to the next step: learning how to minister to actual people.
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4, NASB
The role of a Christian writer primarily focusing on the growing apostasy in the church is a tough one. As the Lord shows us what is really going on in the “visible church” that is Christian in name only it is easy to become overwhelmed. If we focus on the these things to the exclusion of our devotion to our Lord we will find in short order that these battles take a heavy toll. They cannot be fought in our strength alone. Fortunately, we can remain in the fight in obedience to our Lord as long as we are doing battle while yoked to our Lord. Also, we must never lose sight of our Lord’s own promise to never stop building His Church (Matthew 16:18).
According to a Baptist Press news release:
Baptist Press has released an in-depth look at the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts to alter public opinion on homosexuality. The report examines both the HRC’s new campaign in Mississippi and its overall efforts during more than three decades of seeking to advance LGBT rights.
Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· 1 John 2:15, NA28
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15, NASB
There is a certain type of love that God hates. We find that in John 15:18–20:
Εἰ ὁ κόσμος ὑμᾶς μισεῖ, γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐμὲ πρῶτον ὑμῶν μεμίσηκεν. εἰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἦτε, ὁ κόσμος ἂν τὸ ἴδιον ἐφίλει· ὅτι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκ ἐστέ, ἀλλʼ ἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, διὰ τοῦτο μισεῖ ὑμᾶς ὁ κόσμος. μνημονεύετε τοῦ λόγου οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον ὑμῖν· οὐκ ἔστιν δοῦλος μείζων τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ. *εἰ ἐμὲ ἐδίωξαν, καὶ ὑμᾶς διώξουσιν· εἰ τὸν λόγον μου ἐτήρησαν, καὶ τὸν ὑμέτερον τηρήσουσιν. John 15:18–20, NA28
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:18–20, NASB
God has no love for “love of the world system that is opposed to God.” Jesus made it clear in the passage from John 15:18-20 that those who are “of the world” are not of God nor are those whom He has selected from out of the world part of the world. This is why those who are still “of the world” hates them. I want to reinitiate here that there are plenty of apostate, “so-called Christians” in our time who exhibit that very same hatred toward those of us who refuse to back away from Orthodox Christianity and God’s Word and being infallible and complete. In any case, John is telling us in 1 John 2:15–17 two important truths about genuine Christianity. First, the Christian loves God and fellow Christians and an absence of love of the world must habitually characterize the love life of those to be considered genuinely born again.
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 mysticism of the Eastern religions. Syncretism is the new byword of the Emergent Village and the New Evangelism. 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.
Amy Spreeman, co-host of Stand Up For The Truth, reports that the 10th anniversary edition of the controversial book Jesus Calling has undergone a miraculous “transformation” without any explanation from publisher Thomas Nelson or the author Sarah Young. Could this be damage control by the publisher who discovered that Young’s “Jesus” is not the Jesus of the Bible?
According to Christian News Network:
An appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling that struck down a law granting U.S. pastors tax-free housing allowances.
Recently resigned megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll is reportedly considering re-establishing himself as a pastor, perhaps with the help of Word of Faith teacher Robert Morris.
Since his resignation, former megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has reportedly fled the biblical process of church discipline at Mars Hill, perhaps in favor of setting up another church elsewhere with those willing to turn a blind eye to his sins and unresolved conflicts at his former church. (For documentation of Driscoll’s having fled the discipline process, listen to the audio of Mars Hill pastor A.J. Hamilton speaking at the 19 October 2014 Mars Hill church service, beginning at the 37 minute mark.)
Understandably, many eyes have now turned to Dr. Piper, who has in past years given Driscoll a large and generous platform, beginning with featuring Driscoll at the 2006 Desiring God conference. In a recent interview, Dr. Piper was asked if, given the magnitude of the scandals now associated with Driscoll, he had any regrets in partnering with Driscoll over the years. In essence, Dr. Piper stated in the interview published on 13 November 2014 that, despite “mistakes that Mark may have made” or instances in which “he might have walked out of step with the truth,” he had “no regrets” over partnering with Driscoll, and that despite some misgivings he had, he felt that Driscoll was on the whole a solid teacher.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1, NASB
False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology’ gives them a green light.
Amy Spreeman, co-host of Stand Up For The Truth, reports:
Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, who gave us the unbiblical The Bible and The Son of God films, is now making a 2-hour Lifetime Television series, “The Women of the Bible.”
Stop. (Just stop.) Back up to The Bible and The Son of God. These two programs were so error-filled, that we need to review just how far off Downey and Burnett are from biblical truth…
A grizzly video has surfaced that shows Muslims in Lilburn, Georgia beating themselves bloody as part of an Islamic ritual to commemorate the death of the grandson of Mohammad. According to Christian News Network:
To remember his death, many Shi’a Muslims observe the Day of Ashura each year, generally in October or November. In countries such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan, the observance is considered a national holiday, which to some also is a time when Muslims seek to shed blood as a means to obtain forgiveness for sins.
According to Christian News Network:
The headquarters for the Mormon religion, also known as the Latter Day Saints (LDS), has acknowledged in a new official essay that its founder practiced polygamy and had up to 40 wives, including a 14-year-old and women who were already married.
“Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo” is the first of a three-part series to be posted on the LDS.org website, and focuses on the life of Joseph Smith and the many wives that he took to himself after purportedly being commanded by an angel to “practice plural marriage.”
that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12, NASB
God’s truth, which is the truth and there is no other, is true regardless of whether people believe it or not. I pray for wisdom and discernment every morning before I go to work. God answers this is surprising ways sometimes. One way He does this is when I receive an email or comment from one who is opposed to what we teach here. As I read what they have to say, I often have to retreat into prayer right then in order to grasp the direction from with the deception is coming. Other times I can see it quite readily. In these cases, it is very easy to spot the error because their suppositions or arguments are based on one or more invalid assumptions about God’s truth. Never forget, it is very easy to build a very deep case on an invalid or wrong point. When people do this, then their entire case is nothing but a house of cards ready for the strong wind of truth to come in and blow it away. In the other cases in which I must retreat into prayer in order to ascertain how to respond to the attack, I have found that our enemy or one of his minions has caused this through some level of spiritual protection for those serving him. However, their power is nothing when compared with God’s. We may not, on our own, be able to see through the mist or haze or whatever that protects the lie(s), but when we humbly and boldly take the attack to the throne of grace, God is good and will reveal the truth to us in His timing. Through this, we know how to respond with the sword of the Spirit or whether to respond at all.
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. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10–20, NASB
In order for us to be effective warriors in The Truth War, we must have the right weapons and know how to use them. In the passage is Paul’s list of the armor for the Christian.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25, NASB
We live in an evil time. There are large numbers of “Christian” leaders who claim to be ministers of God, but prove by their words and actions to have thrown off the authority of God. They do what is right in their own eyes while claiming that they are only following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The fact that what they say or do is unbiblical seems to trouble very few. When some point out the truth to them, they claim that God has lead them to do what they do by giving them their “vision” so it must be okay and those who protest are just legalistic.
Christian News Network reports:
In a see-saw battle over the matter, a state judge in Texas has ordered the outspoken lesbian mayor of Houston along with other city officials to stop providing life and health insurance benefits to the partners of homosexual employees.
Houston mayor Annise Parker—who has been in the headlines recently after attorneys for the city requested copies of sermons from certain pastors during the discovery phase of a lawsuit surrounding a petition seeking to overturn Houston’s “bathroom bill”—issued an order last November that required the city to provide the benefits to homosexual city workers “legally married” out-of-state.
Christian News Network reports:
A number of Christians are expressing outrage after a popular cereal company recently used Tony the Tiger in a print advertisement promoting “gay pride.”
“Wear your stripes with pride,” an advertisement featuring the Frosted Flakes icon, was reportedly published in the Atlanta, Georgia pride guide last month to coincide with the city’s homosexual pride march and festival. Kellogg had served as one of the sponsors for the event.
“At Kellogg, we’re an evolving culture that respects and accepts employees’ sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression so that all employees can be authentic and fully engaged,” the advertisement reads.
And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:3–4, NASB
Unbelief is the fruit of arrogance. I hear nearly every day from some New Evangelism/Emergent/postmodern know-it-all that certainty is the product of pride and the only ones who are truly humble are those who view uncertainty in all things as a virtue. What is unbelief in this context? To define it we must first define its opposite, belief. In John 6:35 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” So those who “believe in Jesus” are those who do what? Those with belief come to Jesus to partake of this promise instead of seeking fulfillment elsewhere. These believe God; therefore, those in unbelief are those who do not believe God. They may believe Him in some things, but they do not do so to the level that causes them to place all their trust in Him and His promises as their Lord. Those in belief live within the context of Jesus Christ being their Lord while those in unbelief do not. Oh, they compensate to be sure. They create their own Jesus who is more to their liking. Since they created him, they have him being “lord” in their context, but most certainly not according to that which we are clearly given in Sacred Scripture.
According to the Associated Press:
U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are gathering at a moment of turbulence for them and the American church, as Pope Francis moves toward crafting new policies for carrying out his mission of mercy – a prospect that has conservative Catholics and some bishops in an uproar.
The assembly, which starts Monday in Baltimore, comes less than a month after Francis ended a dramatic Vatican meeting on how the church can more compassionately minister to Catholic families.
Christian News Network reports:
A Wiccan priest opened an Alabama city council meeting with an invocation to the ‘gentle goddess and loving god’ this past week in an effort to make the prayers that open each session more diverse, appeasing church-state separation groups.
“O gentle goddess and loving god, we thank you for the beauties and the wonders of the day that you have given to us, and for the opportunity we have this evening to assemble here and work together to make Huntsville a better city for all of its residents,” Blake Kirk led those in attendance at the Huntsville City Council meeting on Thursday.