How can we discern the Lord’s will?

Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1–2, NA28

Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1–2, translated from the NA28 Greek text

Both the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul used light and darkness in analogies pertaining to spiritual life and spiritual death. For instance, in John 1:4, 5 the Apostle says, “ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.” Or, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not grasp it.”

In order to lay the foundation for this discussion on discerning the Lord’s will, it is imperative that we understand what is being said in these two verses. First, the “Him” in v4 refers back to ὁ λόγος or “the Word” from v. 1. This is, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ. In v. 4, we learn that in Him was ζωὴ or zōē, “life.” This ζωὴ is not simply the life we all have here and now, but was φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων or the “the light of men.” What does that mean? This light comes from God and brings to this dark world true knowledge, moral purity, and the light that shows the very presence of God. Finally, notice that this light shines into the darkness, but the darkness does not “receive, admit, or grasp” it. Those who discern the will of God are in His light. Those who cannot are in darkness.

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Thus you will recognize them by their fruits

Μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς ἀπατάτω κενοῖς λόγοις· διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας. μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν· ἦτε γάρ ποτε σκότος, νῦν δὲ φῶς ἐν κυρίῳ· ὡς τέκνα φωτὸς περιπατεῖτε — ὁ γὰρ καρπὸς τοῦ φωτὸς ἐν πάσῃ ἀγαθωσύνῃ καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ — δοκιμάζοντες τί ἐστιν εὐάρεστον τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ μὴ συγκοινωνεῖτε τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις τοῦ σκότους, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἐλέγχετε. Ephesians 5:6–11, NA28

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do no be joint partakers with them; for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the the fruit of light is in all that is good and right and true), proving what is will pleasing to the Lord. And to not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:6–11, translated from the NA28 Greek text

In the passage above is the the word “fruit.” It is a translation of the Greek word καρπὸς or karpos. This word appears some sixty-six times in the New Testament. In most cases, it is used in reference to the the fruit of plants as in Matthew 21:19 or the produce of the earth (James 5:7, 18). However, its extended meaning in the New Testament is one in which we should pay special attention as well as to its opposite, ἀκάρποις or akarpois, which is translated in this passage as “unfruitful.” In this form, ἀκάρποις is the dative, plural of ἄκαρπος or akarpos. The dative plural simply means that this part of the phrase is an indirect object of the action of the sentence. In any case, this may be more significant than it first appears.

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Enter through the narrow gate

Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι διʼ αὐτῆς· τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. Matthew 7:13–14, NA28

“Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are the ones entering through it. How narrow is the gate and constricted the road leading to life and few are the ones finding it.” Matthew 7:13-14, translated from the NA28 Greek text

It has been said that no prophet preached about Hell as much as our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also true that His preaching would be considered “divisive” and “offensive” in today’s politically correct culture. However, I seriously doubt that if preaching the truth or hurting someone’s feelings or offending someone’s “sensibilities” were the issue with our Lord it would make any difference.

He would not hesitate to preach the truth because in God’s truth is life. In man-made truth is only death. Consider the passage at the top of this post. The lie that has taken over our society is that it is a sin to be narrow-minded. We must be as broad and as accepting as possible. We must be all-inclusive in all things to the point of madness.

From this our enemy has sown the lies such as “There are many roads to heaven,” and since God is a good God He must also me a “fair God” so “eventually everyone will be saved.” The problems with this are that this “god” is a creation of these people’s wishful thinking not The God, our God, the Creator of all things. Also, in His Word, our Lord Jesus taught exactly the opposite of this as the passage above clearly says.

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Glory, praise and worship

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Luke 9:28–32, ESV

As we continue in our discussion and deeper look at the makeup of the dividing line between genuine Christianity, that which is God centered, and counterfeit Christianity, that which is man centered, let us look the vast difference in how each side understands the concepts of God’s glory and the praise that is His due. The word most often translated as praise in the New Testament is δόξα or doxa. It is also translated even more often as glory.

However, in secular Greek, δόξα means opinion or conjecture, especially favorable human opinion, which then includes an evaluation placed by others, such as fame, repute, honor, or praise. Is this what is meant in God’s Word when δόξα is used in reference to God’s glory and the praise that His due? I submit that that definition exactly defines most professing Christians’ understanding of praise and worship, but is not in any way shape or form what is true δόξα.

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Oh, if only we could recognize how poor and filthy we are in God’s sight!

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” Zechariah 3:1–4, ESV

The neo-evangelists in our day push their evangelical emphasis to the forefront where it has become the golden calf in their churches. Instead of obeying our Lord to make disciples they seek to multiply their numbers through easy believism. They use shame tactics to get their flocks to bring their friends and relatives to church so they can hear that Jesus wants to come into their lives so they can live abundantly here and now.

It is a golden calf because it is the primary focus at the cost of discipleship. Being an idol, it cannot deliver on its promises though. Whereas, we learn in the Bible that those who abide in Christ and His word and obey Him in all things will have an abundant life. This abundant life is spiritual not material.

It is the byproduct of becoming more and more Christlike as God molds and shapes His people as they surrender to the Lordship of Christ more and more in every part of their lives. On the other hand, the golden calf’s version of the Gospel is incomplete and skewed towards “decisions for Christ” instead of giving people the good news that even though they are filthy in God’s sight because of their sin, there is peace available between God and men through the Son who paid the price for their sin.

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Does salvation happen because of making a decision for Christ?

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:13–17, ESV

Are people saved when they decide for Christ or make some sort of decision or when they receive saving faith? I contend that the majority of the preaching nowadays is of the former variety while the latter is very misunderstood and not preached much at all. In fact, there is much hatred to the latter by many who call themselves “Christians.” Let’s look at what the Bible says.

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How are genuine Christians to handle false accusations and slander?

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11–12, ESV

Christian apologetics and discernment are very serious things. It is very easy to incorporate the ways of the world into method and focus in the process. When this happens then attacks on professing Christians always come from an impure motive. This then causes the ones making the accusations to use slander, speaking evil against their target falsely.

They revile the Christian, persecuting him and his ministry using innuendo. They have no real evidence that their accusations are true. Guilt by association is their bludgeon and their usage is meant to deceive many into believing their false report. How are we to handle this? We must continue to stand firm and, using the discernment given to us by God, expose false shepherds, but foremost, it must begin with godliness.

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It is vital that genuine believers become mature in Christ

Καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης Ephesians 4:11–14, NA28

And he gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some shepherds and teachers, for the equipping of the saints to the work of ministry to the building of the body of Christ; until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and at the fuller knowledge of the Son of God, as a man of complete maturity according to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ that we should no longer be infants tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of teaching by the cunning of men with craftiness according to deceitful scheming Ephesians 4:11–14, translated from the NA28 Greek text

In 1887, Robert Shindler, a fellow pastor and close friend of Charles Spurgeon, wrote in Spurgeon’s publication, The Sword and the Trowel: “It is all too plainly apparent men are willing to forego the old for the sake of the new. But commonly it is found in theology that that which is true is not new, and that which is new is not true.”

If we think deeply and honestly on those searing words with all humility and willingness to repent of what God shows us about ourselves, I am certain that each of us must repent of falling for the fallacy of seeking that which is new or different in our theology.

If we are honestly seeking the will of God that is both good and right, but if we are looking to have itching ears tickled or are pursuing the subjective or experiential as the means of fulfillment then all we are really doing is falling for some lie and are revealing that we are indeed just infants in the Lord who are being tossed by waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine by the cunning of men with craftiness leading to the scheming of deception. I doubt if any one reading this really wants that.

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Homosexual “equality” is just repackaged tyranny

Christian political writer Gina Miller challenges Christians to speak out against the radical homosexual movement. What lies in store for Christians if “church leaders don’t push back strongly against the militant sodomite activist”? To see what our future holds, Miller advises us to look at what has happened in Denmark.

According to a report in the U.K. Telegraph:

The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.

Denmark’s church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote “historic”.

“I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it’s only heterosexual couples.”

Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.

The far-Right Danish People’s Party mounted a strong campaign against the new law, which nonetheless passed with the support of 85 of the country’s 111 MPs.

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Southern Baptist seminary president apologizes for admitting Muslim student

Christian News Network reports:

The head of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offered an emotional apology to Southern Baptists for accepting a Muslim student into his school’s Ph.D. program — an unusual step for an evangelical seminary but one other schools have taken for years.

“I made an exception to a rule that I assumed, probably wrongly, the president has the right to make if he feels that it is that important,” Paige Patterson told Southern Baptist delegates on Wednesday (June 11). “He was admitted as a special student in the Ph.D. program.”

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All Scripture is breathed out by God

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV

I receive numerous comments on the posts on this blog that never see the light of day because those who post them either do not bother to follow the rules clearly posted, which are assiduously enforced, or they have failed to read them. Their error is that they they attack what is posted here from Sacred Scripture as truth, in context, clearly exposited and exegeted with innuendo, human philosophy, but never, I repeat, never do they go to God’s Word and make any attempt to show me where I have erred in my exegesis of the text.

In fact, I can’t remember anyone ever doing that since this blog has been online, but I have had more attempts than I can remember to protest and derail the truth from God’s Word from the humanistic platform of outrage that God is Sovereign and they are not. One hot topic has always been the fact that Sacred Scripture is the inspired Word of God and that makes it infallible and inerrant.

But what makes it so abhorrent to those who insist on protesting, it also means that the truths it presents are God’s truths and that our Sovereign God is going to hold all outside of the Body of Christ accountable to His Law and are, therefore, liable to His wrath. They, therefore, hate God’s truth and resist it as such hoping, I suppose, that this will somehow remove their liability.

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Southern Baptists unanimously affirm Biblical sexuality, oppose ‘transgenderism’

According to the Christian News Network:

Southern Baptist leaders voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to affirm the biblical model of human sexuality, agreeing that gender identity is solely determined by biological sex and not by ‘one’s self-perception.’

As previously reported, church representatives at the annual Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore considered a number of items for discussion this week, including the topic of gender identity. While many claim that a person’s gender can differ from one’s sexuality, the Southern Baptists declared just the opposite in a resolution titled “On Transgender Identity.”

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University ordered to pay over $710,000 for discriminating against Christian professor

Christian News Network reports:

A university in North Carolina has been ordered to pay over $710,000 in attorney’s fees for discriminating against a Christian professor in denying him a promotion because of his beliefs.

As previously reported, Mike Adams works as a professor of criminology in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Adams, a former atheist, was hired in 1993, and became an associate professor in 1998.

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You cannot serve God and money

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. Proverbs 23:1–5, ESV

The god of the natural man is self. Worship of self revolves around self-gratification. This idolatry is enhanced in a consumer driven economy such as in the United States. The “visible church” is not immune. From pastors like Steven Furtick becoming so wealthy that he can build a huge 16,000 square foot mansion to Mark Driscoll and his elders forcing all of the leaders in his church to sign non-compete agreements that if they leave that church for whatever reason they cannot start a new church or even become part of an existing church within a certain square mile radius of any of the Mars Hills campuses. These things are the fruit of “ministries” that are focused primarily on the “bottom line.” If you keep these things in mind then you must understand that how these ministers and those like them “minister” to their “flocks” is all designed to keep the money flowing in.

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Oprah Winfrey now playing god?

Apprising Ministries brings you the latest on the upcoming movie The Shack and shows you why Oprah, who’s as “Christian” as DeePak Chopra, playing god in the movie is actually consistent with her religious belief system.

Do yourself a favor, stay away from the spiritual shanty shack.

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The things of the Spirit of God are only discerned spiritually

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14, ESV

When the Word of God ceases to be the plumb line of one’s faith, walk, understanding of truth, and knowing God then what replaces it is human reason which, outside of the Grace of God, is completely unable to know God’s truth when it sees it. There seems to be a large number professing Christians who raise a protest when I teach on doctrine. Their contention is that they simply refuse to believe that what I am teaching is the truth.

Upon what do they base this? It is all based within their own reasoning. Never do I receive a clear Biblical indictment against the truths I share. Instead, the protests are couched in feelings, human reason, common sense, or philosophy. My brethren, we must not flinch from these protests. God’s truth is knowable because the Holy Spirit imparts divine wisdom to His children for this purpose. Never forget, it is falsehood that cannot stand scrutiny. The truth has nothing to fear from deep examination, therefore, let us defend it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Truth-telling and homosexuality

“If ever there was a subject which is almost universally surrounded in falsehoods, deception and misinformation,” says apologist and ethicist Bill Muehlenberg, “it is the topic of homosexuality.”

According to Muehlenberg. the liberal media will not challenge the dangerous homosexual lifestyle for fear of reprisals from the powerful and well-financed homosexual lobby. But there’s hope! Muehlenberg believes that the truth will eventually come out due largely to a few “brave voices being raised” who refuse to cave in to gay activist’s threats and intimidation. We learn the names of four of them in this piece.

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