When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals. Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 1 Kings 18:17–19, NASB
There was a time when the English and American cultures were decidedly “Christian.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the remnant of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.
The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom.
Jesus said to him, “The one having been bathed does not have need except to wash his feet, but is wholly clean, and you are clean, but not all.” For He knew the one betraying Him, therefore, He said, “Not all are clean.” John 13:10–11, translated from the NA28 Greek text
λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ὁ λελουμένος οὐκ ἔχει χρείαν εἰ μὴ τοὺς πόδας νίψασθαι, ἀλλʼ ἔστιν καθαρὸς ὅλος· καὶ ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε, ἀλλʼ οὐχὶ πάντες. ᾔδει γὰρ τὸν παραδιδόντα αὐτόν· διὰ τοῦτο εἶπεν ὅτι οὐχὶ πάντες καθαροί ἐστε. John 13:10–11, NA28
We have been discussing the rampant apostasy in the “visible church.” While it seems that is is much worse now than it as ever been, let us never forget that the genuine Church has been infiltrated and mixed together with unbelievers, heretics, and apostates from the very beginning. In the passage above we see that one of the our Lord’s own chosen disciples, one of the 12, would betray Him. However, in John 13:18 our also makes it clear that this betrayal would fulfill Old Testament prophecies about an insider betraying Him.
I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ John 13:18, NASB
Now, we enter that part of John’s account of our Lord’s last Passover Feast in which His betrayer is sent away to do his deed. In contrast, our Lord reveals that those who truly belong to Him follow the commandment from God to love one another. Then He reveals to Peter that, even though Peter declares that he would rather die than leave the Lord, he will deny that he even knows Jesus three times this very night. Let us take a closer look.
According to the Israeli National News:
In response to the Presbyterian Church USA’s (PCUSA) decision to divest from American companies doing business with Israel, Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center) filed a whistleblower action against the organization with the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) over meetings PCUSA held with Hezbollah terrorists.
According to the Christian News Network:
Regional presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are voting on whether to ratify a vote taken by the General Assembly and regional delegates last year to change the definition of marriage in its law book and to allow ministers to perform same-sex “marriages” in states where the practice is legal.
τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως — ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς — ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ; ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά. 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20, NA28
For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20, NASB
Over the last few months (or is it weeks or is it days?) it seems those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” we have been warning you about over last several years have become even more bold in their moves away from what we call doctrinally sound Christianity. Rob Bell has been the most dramatic with his teaming up with Oprah. He has accused any Christian who relies on sacred Scripture as its source of doctrine as being closed minded, behind the times, and not relevant. Andy Stanley has said pretty much the same thing, but not in such a dramatic way, while Rick Warren is trying to get all Protestants to come under the Roman Catholic Pope. Of course within all these guys’ teachings we will find elements of universalism and ecumenicalism. This leads them to be soft on the doctrine of hell for instance. Why do they all end up in the same place eventually, which is to deny the inerrancy and authority of sacred Scripture? They must do this because Scripture condemns what they are doing.
“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.
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.
For those who are unfamiliar with the name Jonathan Welton, he’s one of the contributors to The Physics of Heaven along with Bill Johnson, who claims to be a modern day “Super Apostle”, and Johnson’s wife Beni. Apostle Bill runs the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, CA that trains its students “to enjoy the presence of God, say what He is saying, and do what He is doing.” According to John Lanagan, the book serves as a roadmap to Christian entanglement with the New Age and quantum mysticism. Lanagan writes:
While writing a booklet concerning The Physics of Heaven, I was fascinated to learn Jonathan Welton states, “I have found throughout Scripture at least 75 examples of things that the New Age has counterfeited, such as having a spirit guide, trances, meditation, auras, power objects, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and more. These actually belong to the church, but they have been stolen and cleverly repackaged.”
According to The Independent:
Children may be born with parents of the same sex following a breakthrough which scientists believe paves the way for “two dad” families.
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.
Christian Headlines reports on an online survey of young adults. According to the survey, “Young adults who said their fathers explained ‘biblical principles’ to them on a daily or weekly basis growing up were significantly more likely to say they lived by typical Christian behavior as adults by praying, volunteering, reading the Bible, and attending church frequently and avoiding pornography, marijuana use, abortion, and co-habitation.”
“Is it possible for a Christian to know God’s will and not have to agonize over it?” asks CRN contributor Marsha West. Moreover, “Should a believer make a decision without first spending hours in prayer, asking God to reveal His will? Must a Christian avoid making a decision until he or she has a ‘peace about it’? What about waiting for a ‘sign’ from God?” In part 1 of this series, Marsha addresses the visible Church’s slide into mysticism to find the answers to these questions.
Christian News Network reports:
The governor of Alabama, who formerly served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher at the Baptist church where he remains a member, says that he will obey the recent federal court ruling striking down the state’s Sanctity of Marriage Act as being unconstitutional.
“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.
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.
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.
Former Mars Hill Bible Church pastor and Emergent leader Rob Bell is a controversial figure. Recently, Bell was invited by Oprah Winfrey to host The Rob Bell Show on her OWN channel. Bell denies the existence of hell, promotes “Mother God,” and insists that homosexuality is not a sin, thus our “homosexual brothers and sisters” must be accepted by the Church. Therefore, it is no surprise that he is reportedly thrilled by the idea that same-sex ‘marriage’ may soon become legal in America. Amy Spreeman, co-host of Stand Up For The Truth, offers Christians this advice:
When it comes to heretical teachers like Bell, we are NOT to “eat the meat and spit out the bones (advice found nowhere in Scripture), but instead we are to follow the command to mark and avoid false teachers.
Christian Headlines reports:
The Florida high school that told a student not to say “God bless America” during morning announcements said this week that the student did not violate the U.S. Constitution.
“Upon consultation with legal counsel and review of legal advisories, the Nassau County School District has taken the position that a student’s use of the phrase “God Bless America” during the morning announcements at Yulee High School does not violate the Constitution of the United States,” the school district said in a statement.
In 2014 WORLD Magazine revealed that Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company somewhere around $250,000 to ensure that a book by its pastor Mark Driscoll and coauthored with his wife, Grace made the New York Times best-seller list. Some say the practice is “dishonoring to the Lord.” The magazine now reports that popular pastor and author David Jeremiah’s ministry, Turning Point, purchased copies of at least three of Jeremiah’s books to ensure that they would make the New York Times bestseller list. Last year WORLD asked Jeremiah about his book marketing practices, to which he replied: “You can’t just write a book and say I’m not going to have anything to do with marketing. If you don’t care enough about it to try and figure out how to get it in the hands of other people, nobody else is going to either.” In the acknowledgments section of his 2012 book God Loves You, Jeremiah even credits the man who got Driscoll in so much trouble – the president of Result Source, Kevin Small – as the “genius behind the plan.”
Christian News Network reports:
A florist from Washington is in jeopardy of losing her business, home and life savings after a judge ruled against her on Wednesday for declining to fulfill an order for a same-sex ceremony, but rather provided a referral for the regular customer.
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.
“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.
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.
Over the weekend, a video surfaced showing Islamic terrorists beheading 21 Coptic Christians for no other reason than for their religious beliefs. There are anywhere from 10 million to 60 million Coptic Christians worldwide. What do Coptics believe? According to Christian apologetics site GotQuestions.org, Coptic Christianity is similar to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy in that it emphasizes faith-plus-works in salvation as well as liturgical ritual.