Wednesday, December 3, 2008
What does the Holy Scripture say about children of God?
John 1:12-13 12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Children of God are individuals who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, have been enabled to believe in His name, and have been given the right to become the children of God through the gift of salvation from God (Ephesians 2:8).
According to the Scriptures, there are three ways a person cannot become a child of God:
1. “who were born, not of blood…”. This declares that a person cannot be a child of God by being born into a particular family. A person’s relationship with God is not contingent upon the ancestry of his family. A spiritual relationship with God is not determined by a man’s physical relationship with his parents. He may have ministers in his family tree; his entire family tree may be made up of devoted Christians. Nevertheless, though the blood that flows in his veins may come from dedicated believers, this does not secure a place in heaven for the relative.
2. “who were born…nor of the will of the flesh…”. A man’s right to heaven is not determined by how many good works a man performs. So many people are deceived at this point. They are taught by their church that their good works earn their way into heaven; if they don’t work hard enough at doing, what the church determines to be good works, the person will not get into heaven. The Holy Scripture is very clear on this point: works of the flesh – no matter how noble and grand they may be – will not gain a man’s right into heaven.
3. “who were born…nor of the will of man…”. It is not the will of man that determines when and if he gets saved. Jesus made it clear: it is not man’s will, but God’s will that determines if a man is to be saved. Jesus declared:
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44
“And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." John 6:65
The Scripture declares: “who were born…out of God.” To be born again is to be born from above – out of God. The heavenly birth of man is up to God’s will – not man’s will. If were left to man, no man would be saved. Why? The Holy Scripture is very clear on this point:
“as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Romans 3:10-11
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Thanksgiving. Yes, it may sound strange, but it is true – there really isn’t a real market for Thanksgiving. But don’t we have the day off – it’s a holiday – right? And we have the some 45 million turkeys that the industry is making ready for our tables. And, of course, there are the football games – what more could you ask for?
I believe some reflection on the history of Thanksgiving would provide us some needed insight into why America is bypassing Thanksgiving. In 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated a three day Thanksgiving festival with the local Indian tribes. Why? They had survived losing half of their population the first winter, had learned how to fish and farm from the Indians, and had finally raised enough crops in the third year to have a Thanksgiving celebration. Death, starvation, and hard times are always good reasons to be thankful for a merciful God Who providentially takes care of you.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed into Law that the third Thursday in the month of November would be set aside for a Thanksgiving holiday. When? 1863 – right in the middle of the hardest war Americans have ever fought – The Civil War! War is another good reason why we should pause and give thanks to a merciful God for His many kindnesses to us.
When you add all these reasons up, you’ll find that America is experiencing all the same symptoms for Thanksgiving. Then, why is it that we are forgetting to celebrate Thanksgiving the way our forefathers did? I believe the answer is simple: as a Country, we do not have a humble spirit and a grateful heart to God for His many mercies. We have forgotten God. We got rid of Him in the classroom, we don’t talk about Him in the marketplace, and His gospel message is seldom preached in pulpits across our Land. Our Country used to be known as “the free and the brave,” because Americans spoke of “God and Country” without hesitation or embarrassment. It is different today. If you believe the liberal media, the average American doesn’t talk about God in a personal way, and he is also embarrassed to be an American.
Fellow Americans, we need to get back to God. We need preachers who will boldly preach the gospel; namely, that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for sinners. And, as sinners, we need to repent of our sins and seek God’s forgiveness. Only as we return as individuals to Christ, will we, as a Nation, get our Country back where it needs to be – thankful to God, for His many mercies to us all.
“The United States is described in mainstream media as largely Christian (between 70 and 80 percent, depending on the study, identify themselves as “Christian”), and compared to the rest of the world, this is certainly the case. However, not all within this vast group of Christians are alike.”
The most important question in the world is this: “Are you confident that the faith you have will take you to heaven?”
You will know if your faith survives through the trials of life that will come upon you. Tragically, there are many fair-weather Christians, who in times of testing, will find their faith wanting – and they will fall away. One chief reason why this is true is that people are being taught to embrace the love of Christ without embracing the Cross of Christ. Christ and the Cross are inseparable!
An intellectual ascent to the teachings of Christ is simply not enough. People today wish to embrace the spiritual but refuse to acknowledge the supernatural. They like many aspects of the gospel of Christ: love, being a good neighbor, being a peacemaker, etc, but they have rejected the Person of Christ. Consequently, when trials, persecutions and even death come, these ‘Christians” will fall away. And in falling away, they prove themselves to be false Christians.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:24-25
Where is the self-denial? Where is the self-sacrifice? To a true Christian, the central pivotal point in their life is the Cross of Christ – that is where they met Jesus! Meeting Christ at the Cross changes a person’s life forever. The Apostle Paul wrote it this way:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
Human faith rejects the Cross, it is repulsive to it. Saving faith embraces the Cross, its very nature is drawn to it. Why? Because saving faith is part of the gift of salvation:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
Saving faith can’t fail! It is unfailing, undying – true faith endures! This is why the true Christian has a living Hope that the Apostle Peter talks about. Read how Peter states it:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – I Peter 1:3-9
Are you a Christian? Is the self-denial and self-sacrifice of the Cross seen in your life? Are you relying on your human faith, or the gift of saving faith? Will you be one who falls away in times of tribulations, or will you stand for Christ? Don’t fool yourself, where you spend eternity will depend upon the answer. Is Christ Jesus living His life through you?
Time will tell.
The recent decision of the Constantine Board to allow “ghost hunters” to monitor the Constantine Theater for paranormal activity is a most regrettable one. Blinded by the greedy prospect of having tourists come and visit “the haunted theater,” the Board has opened up the proverbial Pandora’s Box of evil. Soon, the Board will be approached by other groups seeking their opportunity to tape a ghostly voice or video a hapless spirit.
What disturbs me most about their action is their refusal to heed the warnings of GOD:
“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” – Proverbs 3:7
“…evil comes to him who searches for it.” – Proverbs 11:27b
I have no doubt but that the “ghost hunters” will find evidence of demonic activity. They may try to white-wash it and say these are “friendly spirits;” but God has spoken clearly upon this matter.
When a human dies, he immediately finds himself in either heaven or hell – depending upon whether he received Jesus as his personal Savior and was striving to follow Jesus in his lifetime. For a human soul – once he dies – there is no second chance. There is no purgatory. God states clearly, “For it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus makes it very clear that there is “a great gulf fixed” (Luke 11:19-31) between the living and the dead. It is impossible for a soul or spirit to come back from the dead and to wander upon the earth.
Ghost of friends or loved ones are actually demons impersonating humans. Satan – the god of this age – works hard at drawing mankind’s attention away from the one, true God. The Devil tempts people by drawing them away with both their feelings and their imaginations.
Citizens of Pawhuska and of the Osage – be warned! Do not play around with Satan and his demons. This action taken by the Constantine Board will only encourage demonic activity in our area! The evil spirits who promote drug abuse, suicide, terror, and despair will most assuredly increase their activities in our town and our beloved Osage.
Satan delights in tormenting humans. And we play the fool when we toy around with demons, spirits, ghosts – whatever you may call them! They are evil and their sole purpose is to promote evil. Unless Pawhuska – as a people – repents of her rebellious heart toward God and cry out to God for His mercy and forgiveness, we shall see more suicides occur, greater drug abuse, more physical abuse in families, more chaos in our schools, and more spiritual deadness in our churches.
In the church that does not faithfully preach Christ and the Cross, Satan reigns supreme. Residents of Pawhuska know the churches that truly lift the name of Jesus and serve Him. They are also aware of the churches that are spiritually dead. They maybe filled with religious activity, but when it comes to preaching and teaching Jesus Christ and His Holy Word, they are dead in spirit – and tools in the hand of Satan!
As a community, we are playing around with demons! Satan and his demons are going to have a field-day with our town because of our foolishness.
Oh, beloved Pawhuskans and fellow citizens of the Osage – repent of such rebellion; cry out to God for His mercy. And in His love, He may forgive us.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
The worst thing that could happen to Pawhuska is this: God would give up on us.
Repent, before it is too late.
Many people recognize the good teachings of Jesus, and in that sense, they believe in Jesus. But herein lays the dilemma: it is not good enough to simply believe in the teachings of Jesus. Aligning oneself with the moral teachings of the Holy Scriptures will not remove sin from the heart of a person. Being a moral person in a relativistic way may label you as “good” in the sight of others, but it will not save you in the eyes of God.
The words of Jesus are not to be merely agreed to intellectually; they are designed by God to draw you into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. An exercise of the mind is not enough; it takes an exercise of the heart as well. Jesus said,
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
“And you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free” (John 8:31-32).
How do you know that what you have with Jesus is not mere “head-knowledge,” but that it is – in fact – “heart-knowledge?” If you truly know Jesus as your personal Savior, the Truth you have gleaned from His Word will set you free from the sin in your life. And to the degree that you remain in His Word – by living it out by faith each day of your life – will be the degree that you shall be free indeed!
It is the Presence of the Truth – that is Jesus – in your life that sets you free from the sins of your life. So many churches are full of people who have a head-knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ, but they know nothing of a heart-knowledge of the Savior. How can such a thing be said? It is simple: their lives display no freedom from the trappings of sin that fill their lives. Their hearts are still filled with anger and hate toward others. Greed and envy fills their minds – discontent and unrest permeate their being. And all the while, these “church-goers” attend their worship services – their lives full of hypocrisy – never meeting God! Is it any wonder why so many worship services are exercises in futility? From the pulpit to the pew, there is spiritual deadness. They have a head-knowledge toward God but lack the heart-knowledge toward Jesus Christ.
And when these observations are made, these church-goers react the same way as the Jews did in the passage aforementioned. As to the Jews mentioned, Jesus said to them,
“But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I hear from God” (John 8:40).
1. “If anyone would come after Me…
2. “let him deny himself…
3. “and take up his Cross…
4. “and follow Me.
5. “For whoever would save his life will lose it,
6. “but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
Jesus calls his believers to follow Him. This is implied in the name “follower.” Yet, the average so-called believer today has understandable problems with this command from Jesus. You have many people, who call themselves Christians, who do not follow Jesus Christ. It is a popular fad to wear ‘the Cross’ as a pendant, but to live what the Cross represents is a total different matter. They look on the Cross as a symbol of love and of peace Indeed, love and peace are to be found at the Cross, but only through the horrific death by Jesus on the Cross. Jesus is the Savior of the world only in the sense that the world has but one, true Savior – Jesus Christ!
To be a true follower of Jesus, a man has to deal with the Cross of Jesus. What do I mean by that? The answer is found in the words “let him deny himself.” To deny oneself is to disown oneself, to repudiate oneself. In other words, you must refuse claim to yourself – “I did it my way” goes out the window! Of course, this flies in the face of what the world teaches man today. It is a “me-ism” society in which we live; me, myself, and I rule the heart. Caring for others is a distant second to loving oneself – loving Christ is out of the picture.
But that is just what Jesus demands: you must disown yourself, your feelings, and your will. How is that possible? Jesus said, “…and take up his Cross.” Each person has his/her own cross to bear for Christ’s sake. It’s one thing to look at Jesus on His Cross, it’s quite another thing to look at our own cross and hear Jesus say: “take it up.” And when you look closer at the statement, you will realize that it is a command. Jesus is commanding us to take up our Cross and follow Him. Unless we place our will on the Cross, we cannot be a disciple of Jesus. Unless we place self on the Cross, we cannot be His disciple. It is as simple as that.
To be a Christian is to live for Christ, not for self. To truly be Christian is to disown self, take up the Cross of self-denial, and follow after your new Master – Jesus Christ! By losing self, you gain your soul. To those who are destroying themselves, this is folly; but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God working within them. If you do not deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow Jesus, then you are not His child.
To whom do you belong?
Monday, October 27, 2008
It is the believer, the true child of God, who is given understanding from God through His Holy Scriptures as to the reasons for suffering. Satan will use suffering in our lives to blame God, to accuse God, and to reject God. We even go so far as to believe that suffering and pain is always the result of sin. In John 9:1-38 the disciples of Jesus asked this very question concerning a man who had been born blind. They asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Jesus was making it clear that suffering and pain is not always caused by sin. There is not always a direct one to one relationship between suffering and guilt. In fact, there are other reasons that the Scriptures provide: (1) righteousness, (2) obedience, and (3) growth just to mention a few. A non-believer does not understand this; he sees no purpose in it. A child of God knows that God is working in his life, in times of suffering and pain, to deepen his faith in his Master. The health and prosperity preaching of today would disagree with this. They even go so far as to say, “it is not the will of God for any of His people to suffer; in fact, if you are suffering, it is because of sin in your life.”
What does the Scripture say?
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.” – Philippians 1:29
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” – I Peter 4:19
3 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Roman 5:3-5
19 “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”- I Peter 2:19-21
Truth faith is confirmed by suffering, false faith is destroyed by it.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
1. A godly wife is strong and carries her strength with dignity. She is not afraid of the future.
Vs.17 – “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
Vs.25 – “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
2. A godly wife is not a busybody, she is wise and teaches kindness.
Vs.26 – “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
3. A godly wife is not lazy. She looks to the needs of her family and is not idle.
Vs.27 – “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
3. A godly wife is a good business woman, is industrious with her hands, and works hard for her family.
Vs.13-16 – “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”
4. A godly wife is trusted by her husband and will do him good. She will not bring shame to his name.
Vs.11-12 – “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
5. A godly wife will be a mother whose children praise her, and her husband will praise her, too.
Vs.28 – “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”6. A godly wife realizes that outward charm and beauty are temporary; she focuses on pleasing the Lord in everything she does.
Vs.30 – “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
7. A godly wife will be known for her godly example and Christian works.
Vs.31 – “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
The Christian woman of today is challenged by the world to be many things – most of which have nothing to do with the aforementioned list. She understands her role as wife and mother is the most challenging role to which God calls her. Only by God’s grace can a woman maintain the balance that is so necessary to fulfill such a high calling.
God be praised for all you women who put Christ first in your life. Your godly example and Christian witness is sorely needed in our world today. Bless you in your service to Him, in your love for your husband, and in your devotion to your family.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
According to this Scripture, there is the secretive will of God and there is the revealed will of God. God does not hold us responsible for His secretive will, He will hold us responsible for His will declared in and through His Word. It is not what we don’t know that He will judge us by, it will be by what the Holy Spirit has made clear through His Holy Scriptures that God will hold us accountable.
In studying the Word of God, it is supremely important to “let Scripture interpret Scripture.” It is not our business to interject our own interpretation into a Bible passage when the interpretation is already there to be mined. This is why we are commanded to study the Word of God (II Tim.2:15); as we study the Word we will learn how to rightly divide it. There may be many different applications of a given passage which can be drawn from it, but there is only one biblical interpretation:
“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21).
There are several rules that will help in rightly dividing Holy Scripture:
1. The Holy Spirit will lead us to use passages with clearer light on a given subject to rightly interpret more obscure passages relating to the same subject.
2. The teachings of Jesus are greatly amplified upon in the writings of the Apostles: Paul, John and Peter. Using their letters as eyeglasses, a student of the Scriptures can glean much valuable insight into the Gospels.
3. The key to understanding the Old Testament books is found by utilizing the New Testament books as eyeglasses to understand how the Holy Spirit led the New Testament writers to understand the Old Testament Scriptures.
4. If a verse is difficult to understand by itself, put it back into the paragraph from which it came. If it still proves hard, then place the paragraph back into the chapter, and then finally into the whole letter itself. By doing so, the student will discover many of the treasures in the Scripture in question.
5. Additional treasures can be found when you take what you have learned in a specific passage, then compare it with the way the thought is used in other books of the Bible. By letting Scripture interpret Scripture, the student will glean much gold from such an in-depth study.
God’s revealed will is the Word of God. Jesus stated:
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” – John 14:15, 24
The following is another set of guidelines that will help the Bible student to discover the will of God as it is expressed in the Scriptures:
1. Come to the Word of God with the purpose of blessing the Lord, thanking Him for His blessedness, and asking Him for His mercy:
“Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes!” – Psalm 119:12
“Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy, And teach me Your statutes.”
– Psalm 119:124
2. Meditate and contemplate more on the Word of God than you do the cares of this world:
“I will meditate on Your precepts, And I will contemplate Your ways.” – Psalm 119:15
“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes fruitful.”
“And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” – I John 2:17
3. Obey what you have already been given the grace to understand:
“Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.”
– Psalm 119:33
“If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”- John 7:17
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” – Psalm 111:10
4. Turn off the Television and CD player:
“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.”
“Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.”
– Psalm 119:133
5. Turn to God’s Word first, before you execute any of your decisions:
“I thought about my ways, And turned my feet to your testimonies.
“I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.” – Psalm 119:59-60
6. Believe God’s Word before you know it; He desires your best:
“Teach me good judgment and knowledge, For I believe Your commandments.”
– Psalm 119:66
“I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O LORD! I will keep Your statutes.”
– Psalm 119:145
7. Know that even in hard times, God’s will is best:
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”
“I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” – Psalm 119:75
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Too often is the term “successful church” equated with what could pass for a smooth running business model straight from an MBA course. There is little dissimilarity between the average church today and a secular business model: you have your boards and your committees, your functions and activities – a great deal of form with very little substance. Where did the 21st century church go wrong? I am persuaded that the cause of the secular shift in the ecclesiastical domain lies in the pulpit.
There is a dangerous shift in emphasis from the proclamation of the Word of God to the entertainment of the people in pew. This has led to a growing mentality, among attendees, that reflect more of an observatory attitude, than a participatory spirit. Too often is the case that a Pastor stands before an audience waiting to be entertained, rather than a congregation of believers waiting to be fed. And I believe that brings us to the crux of the matter: how and what is the flock (the people) of God being fed in today’s churches?
The proclamation of the Word of God is being replaced by a demand for more media in worship? Over the last quarter century there has been a great influx of drama, the singing of mantra-like choruses, and the increased use of “the big screen.” The preaching hour has been relegated to a fifteen or twenty minute monologue filled with anecdotes, one-liners and jokes. It is a rare thing to find any holy unction in the pulpit today; in fact, most people don’t even know what that is anymore – they have never heard it! Instead of hearing God’s Word preached by God’s man, the church is served up a multi-media presentation aimed at the titillation of the human senses. Consequently, the methodology of worship is focused upon the sensory sentimentality of man, rather than the promotion of the work of the Holy Spirit of God upon the heart of the worshipper. In the emerging church of today faith is tied to feeling, rather than to fact. The axiom “the Bible says it, that settles it” has been replaced with “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” In addressing “how” people are fed today, human subjectivism is encouraged at the cost of biblical absolutism. It is no longer “Thus saith the Lord,” but “How do you feel” that counts.
The Pastor of God’s people is not to be an entertainer or a promoter. He is to feed God’s people with the Word of God. God emphasizes this by the repetitive use of the word “shepherd” over against the word “pastor.” Only one time in the New Testament, do you have the Greek word “poimae” translated “Pastor” (Ephesians 4:11); the word “poimae” is more correctly translated “shepherd” in all other instances. A true shepherd of God’s flock will declare the oracles of God – nothing more, nothing less. When you study the language of the New Testament you will discover that the terms “shepherd” and “flock” have the same common root. To put it simply, a true shepherd will connect with the flock of God. Herein, lies one of the problems found in today’s churches; in too many cases, the man behind the pulpit is not a true shepherd of God. And if the man is not called of God to fulfill the two-fold call of the ministry: “prayer and ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4), then the man will naturally default to human conventions and sensory productions.
The shepherd of God is commissioned by God to feed His flock His Word. It is noteworthy to point out the three-fold emphasis of “feeding the flock” that Jesus demands of Peter in John 21:15-17. Why is there such an emphasis? “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). This focus on the Holy Scriptures is underlined in Paul’s letter to the young pastor, Timothy:
“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 competent, equipped for every good work”
(II Timothy 3:16-17).
In the forty-two years I have been in the Lord’s ministry, I have seen His faithfulness to His Word; God’s shepherds need to display the same kind of faithfulness. The Scriptural mandate to shepherds is clear:
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
The concern of the pastor should be the approval of God, not the approval of man. Strong churches are grown by the faithful preaching of the Word of God. Media productions of man will not sustain God’s people in hard times; feeding on the Word of God will develop strong believers – Christians who will be able to withstand the difficult times ahead. Pastors must be willing to pay the price of prayer and study in the Holy Scriptures for the sake of God’s people. Let us never forget that God will hold us accountable for the souls He has entrusted to us (Hebrews 13:17).
Let us renew our commitment to prayer and to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). God demands it, His people need it, and we must provide it. It is hard work, but a most satisfying one. Hear the words of a man who had a shepherd’s heart:
“The closet is the best study.” – Charles H. Spurgeon
Friday, October 10, 2008
Satan loves the fact that Halloween is being celebrated. Why, you may ask. The following are some of the reasons:
1. Anything that will minimize the reality of the horror of Satan will be something that he will applaud. Satan does not want people to take his reality seriously. He stokes the fires of hell in preparation for souls who do not take him seriously. To believe that Satan is not real is idiocy.
2. Anything that minimizes evil is Satan’s delight! He especially loves it when parents allow their children to dress up as devils, witches, monsters and ghosts. These images are not just costumes, they are emblematic of the real thing! The Devil is the god of this world. And his world is truly filled with witches, warlocks, monsters and ghosts that thrive in his realm. Why do you think that the Scriptures are so dogmatic:
Exodus 22:18 ¶ “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
Isaiah 19:3 em>>"Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them; And I will confound their strategy, So that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead, And to mediums and spiritists.”
We are emphatically told not to fool around with anything of Satan or any of his agents. To dress up, both adults and children, in outfits that make light of the evil in this world is foolish at best, and it is inviting evil into our community at worst.
1 Timothy 4:1 ¶ “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,”
We must understand that we are in “the last days.” We are going to see more of evil – Satanic evil – than we have ever seen before. We are going to hear of more reports of spirits, ghosts and spiritists. Crime is on the increase, drug abuse is growing worse and worse. All these are the signs of ‘the last days”
While on the surface Halloween represents fun and treats; under the surface, Halloween makes our children and our adults insensitive to the evil that is in the world. Halloween teaches people that they don’t have to take Satan seriously.
The Holy Scriptures make it very clear: Satan hates humans because they are created in the image of God. Satan knows that his time is short – his ultimate end is everlasting torment in the lake of fire prepared by God for Satan and his demons. Satan’s goal is to take as many souls with him into hell as he possibly can.
Don’t let Satan trick you; Hell is no treat!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
This is a question that has haunted Christians since the beginning of time. “If my unbelieving brother is in hell, will I see him from heaven?” is a question that personalizes the issue even more. What is the answer?
As the spokes of a wheel converge on one axle at the center, so do many Scriptures come together to answer this question that is the center of our attention.
Consideration #1 –
Hebrews 9:15 “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are [the] called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
The writer to the Hebrews declares that Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of His death on the Cross. All of our transgressions (our sins) which were committed under the first covenant earned death – “For the wages of sin is death…” [Romans 6:23a]. Jesus set us free by the payment of His blood for our sins (this is redemption) when He took our place on the Cross (this is substitutionary atonement) to satisfy God’s holy wrath against the Elect for their breaking of His righteous law.
In this new covenant we do not find a simple refurbishing of the old – a remodeling of what we had. No, it is much more than that – infinitely more! It is in the new covenant established by Christ that we are declared to be a new creation in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
The verb parelthen( that is translated ‘passed away,’ can also be translated “come to an end” – as in “did pass away” or “disappear.” Too often is the deepest sense of the word not appreciated. In Biblical Greek there is what is called the ‘aktionsart’ of the verb-stem. It is a word descriptive of the “kind of action” rather than the “time of an action.” And in the text before us the emphasis should be placed on the fact of God’s removal of our sins, not merely the time in which He made them disappear. This glorious truth is declared in the following passage:
10 “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Consequently, the new covenant established by Christ, on behalf of His Elect, declares that in being “born again” [anothen = ‘from above’], a saved sinner is created as a new man:
Ephesians 4:24 “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
A saved sinner is created in Christ a new creation – a new man – that will receive “the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15c). The “eternal inheritance” includes a new heaven and a new earth:”
2 Peter 3:13 “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
Consideration #2 –
In a glorified body (another part of the eternal inheritance promised to the Elect) we will enjoy the presence of God:
17 " “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy.”
According to the Scripture, “…the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (v17b).
Look at the following supportive Scriptures:
Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”
Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
12 “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,"
17 then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
Just as God will not remember a saved sinner’s former life, former habits and former relationships that were of the flesh, so a saved sinner – in his glorified body – will not remember anything that relates to the flesh – our former ways, habits, sins and relationships that were made in the flesh.
Look at the following supportive Scriptures that refer to the things and people of this earthly existence:
Proverbs 10:7“The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.”
Ecclesiastes 9:55 “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.”
Isaiah 26:14 “They are dead, they will not live; They are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And made all their memory to perish.”
17“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy.”
1 John 2:17 “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
What a deliverance is this – what a mercy of God poured out upon His people! No more sins to plague us, no more memories of relationships gone bad, no more actions to regret – all are remembered no more! No wonder that the Scripture shows our heavenly Father wiping away the tears of His saints:
Isaiah 25:8“He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.”
16 "They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;
17 "for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
1 “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
Consideration #3 –
We are given to understand that the relationships we have with others in eternity will be based upon the relationship we have with Christ. In Matthew 22: 23-33, the subject of eternal relationships was brought up by the Sadducees. What is interesting to note is that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection at all; nevertheless, Jesus answers the question about relationships in heaven in this manner:
Matthew 22:30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”
In another passage in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus spells out that eternal relationships with Him in Heaven are based upon obedience to Christ here on this earth:
46 “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.
47 Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You."
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?"
49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers!
50 "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."
In the Gospel of Luke the following testimony by Christ is recorded:
19 ¶ “Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd.
20 And it was told Him by some, who said, "Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You."
21 But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."
Those relationships we have on this earth that are based upon our relationship with Jesus Christ, as displayed by our obedience to Him in our life, will be the relationships that we will have in heaven. We will know our believing parents, our believing siblings, our believing friends. Those outside of Christ – who have no relationship with Jesus – we will have no memory of them. They relate to our fleshly existence, as we live as citizens of this earth. But we, as Christians have dual citizenships: one earthly and one heavenly:
19 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Our citizenship in heaven will be enjoyed in a body “conformed to His glorious body” (v21a). We will know all the saints in heaven by name, we will recognize them and know them in Christ. What a tremendous time that will be, when Christ gathers in all His Elect to be with Him in the new heavens and the new earth.
Consideration #4 –
We are told in Scripture that those in Hell will remember the relationships they had while on earth. They will also be able to see into heaven and recognize those people they knew while they were on this earth. This insight is given by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus:
19 " There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
20 "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
21 "desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'
25 "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
26 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'
27 "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house,
28 'for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'
29 "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'
30 "And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "
The following insights are gleaned from the passage before us:
I. Concerning Lazarus – the saved sinner
A. v.22 – at the point of death, he was immediately taken into the presence of God.
B. v.22 – “Abraham’s bosom” is symbolic of the comfort and sweet fellowship a saint will have with God.
C. v.22 – the fact that he was carried is symbolic of the rapture of the saint to Heaven.
II. Concerning the rich man – the lost sinner
A. v.23a – When he died, he found himself in torment
B. v.23b – He found himself in torment for he was in Hell
C. v.23b – He was able to look into heaven
D. v.23c – He recognized Lazarus
E. v.24 – He cried out for mercy – not for his soul, but for the relief of his flesh
F. v.25 – He had full memory recall of his earthly lifetime
G. v.27 – He was aware of what was going on in earth relative to his father’s household, and in particular, his five brothers.
H. v.28 – His request for his brothers was fleshly in nature; he wanted his brothers to know of the horrors of hell rather than the glories of heaven.
III. Concerning Hell –
A. v.23 – Hell is not a state of mind, but a real place.
B. v.23 – Hell is a place of torment for the unrepentant sinner.
C. v.23 – From Hell the unrepentant sinner can see into Heaven.
D. v.24 – Hell is a place where no relief from torment can be found.
E. v.24 – Hell is a place of tormenting fire.
F. v.25 – Hell is a place filled with lifetime memories.
G. v.26 – Hell is separated from Heaven by a great gulf that no one can cross.
H. v.27-28 – People in Hell know what is happening to their families on earth.
Some Final Conclusions –
1. We should never presume that we know the spiritual condition of a person – albeit a family member or a friend. Only the Lord knows the heart.
2. We should encourage believers in the knowledge that they will know in Heaven all those saints who know the Lord as their personal Savior.
3. Saints in Heaven will not know any person in Hell – they will have no memory of the things of the flesh, and the things of the world. No relationship that did not bring glory to God will be remembered by the saints in Heaven.
4. There is no intermediate state where the soul goes when he dies; either he will go to heaven as a repentant sinner saved by grace, or go to hell as an unrepentant sinner who was unwilling to come to Christ – there is no third option.
5. While Hell is a horrific place of fire and torment, the greatest anguish that is experienced by a sinner is eternal separation from Jesus Christ.
Monday, September 15, 2008
13 ¶ " Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Entering the wide gate a man will find a way that ultimately will lead to eternal destruction. This broad road is strewn with the broken pieces of man-made religions, that promises eternal life to a man if he works hard enough and lives a good enough life. These religions are broken because they fail to deliver eternal life; instead, they lead a man to destruction.
Entering the narrow gate a man finds what is often referred to as ‘The Roman Road.’ Along its path are the following signposts:
#1 Romans 3:10-11
10 “As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 “There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.”
#2 Romans 3:23
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
#3 Romans 5:8
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
#4 Romans 6:23
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
#5 Romans 8:1
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
#6 Romans 8:2
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
#7 Romans 8:5-6
5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6 “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
#8 Romans 8:14
14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
#9 Romans 8:28-30
28“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
#10 Romans 8:38-39
38 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 “nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Which road are you on?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me”
This message of Jesus runs contrary to the pluralistic spirit of today. Jesus does not allow a person to add anything to the Word of God. In Galatians 1:8, the Apostle Paul states that a person is accursed if they add anything to the Gospel that is declared through the Holy Scriptures. It is that serious. To add or subtract from the Holy Scriptures brings a holy curse upon the individual or the organization that does it.
When this plain teaching of Holy Writ is applied in today’s world, it shows that the cults of Mormonism and the Jehovah Witness and the Roman Catholic Church falls under the curse of God; for in every organization mentioned there is a concerted effort upon the leadership to add to the Holy Scriptures their own traditions and human dogma.
Just as the uniqueness of the Bible is not to be tampered with, so also is the declaration by Christ relative to how a person finds residence in Heaven. There are some very popular false teachers today who declare that there is more than one way to Heaven. This is a lie borne out of hell itself.
The Son of God declares that there is but one way a person can get to Heaven and that is through Him – Jesus Christ the Lord!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
My pastor never mentioned semi-Pelagianism or Arminianism. The positions which these two views held were foreign to me – neither did I ever hear of Calvinism. I knew nothing of the historical framework in which these views were taught. I just knew that I was a Baptist – and a Southern Baptist at that! While I was taught that the Bible had all the answers, I was never taught the importance of learning how to rightly divide the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15). If I wanted to know what Baptists believed, I was told to go to the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message – the Southern Baptist Convention Confession of Faith. It was in this state of mind and with these “Baptistic attitudes” that I grew into manhood.
After returning from the Vietnam War (in 1972) and being honorably discharged in 1974, I entered Criswell Center for Biblical Studies in Dallas, Texas for my seminary training. It was in courses on Church History, History of the Reformation and Baptist History that I first learned about the men: Pelagius, Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin, along with other men like Martin Luther, George Whitefield and Charles H. Spurgeon. I knew that I would like Charles Spurgeon when I discovered that he was a Baptist! It was when I began to take Systematic Theology that I learned what these men taught.
My professor for Systematic Theology I was a Briton by the name of John Pretlove. He was an excellent professor – but he was British! And I was an American! It was then that I discovered a latent prejudice against Britons that – because of history – I, along with a lot of Americans, have toward the British. When he began to introduce to the class the differences between Arminianism and Calvinism, I discovered that I had been raised by my pastor with one foot in the semi-Pelagian camp and the other foot in the Arminian camp. Each time the professor raised a Calvinistic point for discussion, I found myself rising in opposition to it – beginning my response to it with the phrase, “The Bible says!” Professor Pretlove listened patiently to my response and then would politely reply, “Brother Hopkins, where is your Scripture?” The following is one example of such a verbal exchange:
Professor Pretlove: “Calvinism teaches that Jesus came to save the Elect; that is, those sinners whom the Father gave to the Son before the foundation of the world.”
Me: “But the Bible says that Jesus came to save the world!”
Professor Pretlove: “Brother Hopkins, where is your Scripture?”
Me: “John 3:16 – ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’”
Professor Pretlove: “Brother Hopkins, what do you do with the following Scriptures:
KJV Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
KJV John 17:9 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”
KJV Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”
I would sit down totally frustrated. I knew a lot of what the Bible said, but I knew very few Scriptural addresses. And, since I did not have the Scriptural reference in my head, I could not adequately answer the professor. The resultant feelings ran deep inside me:
1. I greatly resented Professor Pretlove for embarrassing me in front of the class.
2. I did not dig into the Scriptures to find out what the whole counsel of God actually said on these issues. I was too busy being a full-time student.
3. I didn’t like Calvinism. It was different than what I had been taught, and it didn’t have the name Baptist connected to it. You can imagine my shock when I later discovered that Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist pastor, was a Calvinist!
I passed the course, but I maintained a distain for the professor until after I graduated from CCBS (in 1976).
In 1977, I was called by the Lord to pastor an SBC Church in Euless, Texas. I was delighted and entered into the pastorate with great zeal. Everything was going great for the first six months. One morning, as I entered my Study, I was suddenly struck with an overwhelming sense of God’s Presence. I went to my knees in prayer as a tremendous heaviness came over me. For the first time, the gravity of preaching and teaching the Word of God to His people really hit me! As I was pondering this heaviness, the following Scripture came to my mind:
NKJ Hebrews 13:17 ¶ “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
The phrase ‘as those who must give account’ really hit me hard. The fact that I would have to give an account of what I preached and taught the people of God suddenly gripped me. I became scared. The thought of my teaching something not consistent with the whole counsel of God terrified me. While in school, God had given me a great love for the Biblical languages: Hebrew and Greek. Now, I found myself being led of the Lord to begin searching the Scriptures in the languages it was originally written in, so that I could find out what the Holy Scripture truly said.
Over the next three days, I prayed and fasted while I studied the Holy Scriptures. I felt impressed by the Lord to call Professor Pretlove and ask his recommendation on some books that would assist me in honestly looking at the Doctrines of Grace. To be honest with you, I did not enjoy making that call – because of my dislike for the man. I was still sinning in that area of my life. I must also admit to you that I went into the study with a determination to tear apart Calvinism. Why God would bring Calvinism to my mind, I didn’t have a clue. In my humanity, I didn’t like it. But the thought of the souls of God’s people haunted me. I knew that I could not preach or teach until the Lord and me resolved this issue.
I would read a statement, and then I would dig into the Scriptures. I would translate every verse – I didn’t trust the English. I wanted to be sure I had it right! For three nights and three days I poured over the Scriptures, and as the Spirit of the Lord began to illumine my mind, the tears began to flow down my cheeks. I discovered many things – truths that were always there in the Scriptures, but I had never seen them before. And by the end of that period of prayer and fasting, I found myself to be a thorough going Calvinist in the same camp of Charles H. Spurgeon.
That was thirty-one years ago, and I am still learning more of the precious Doctrines of Grace. I will continue to strive to teach the whole counsel of God – The Doctrines of Grace – as long as there is breath in me. The souls of God’s people are precious.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Evangelism is introducing Jesus Christ to the lost. It is as simple as that. While there are a myriad of methods used to present the Gospel (the Good News) of Jesus Christ, evangelism is, nevertheless, the presentation of Jesus Christ and His message of repentance to lost souls.
Revival, in its simplest terms, is both the reclaiming of the regenerate who have become hardened with sin, as well as inspiring the redeemed to greater depths of holiness before a thrice-holy God. Revival is not something that man works up, but that God pours down from heaven. The agent of revival is not the machinations of man, but God Himself. An evangelistic overflow is a consequence of spiritual revival.
When Revival comes, the following observations can be made:
1. There is an unmistakable divine visitation of God Himself! Planning committees cannot plan it, cottage prayer meetings cannot make it happen – God in His sovereignty elects to come down upon a meeting, whose heartfelt purpose is to glorify God. I am not talking about a three-day meeting, a week-long meeting, or even a two-week meeting. I am talking about a movement of God upon a group of people where the message is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This kind of divine visitation is not – cannot be – controlled by man. God takes over the services. And the effect of God’s sovereign power is so strong that the affect is felt not only by the person in the pew or the stadium seat, but it also moves into the community itself. Lost people sense the presence of God in the community; and this evangelistic overflow results in lost people getting saved.
2. Sin is seen in all of its awfulness. Saved people who have been living hypocritical lives see the awfulness of their lives as they have been grieving the Holy Spirit within them. Lost people see the sins in their lives and come to realize that they are damned for all eternity unless they seek Jesus for mercy. The lost man comes to understand that he is living under the wrath of God, and that only the blood of Jesus Christ can save him from such wrath.
3. The whole counsel of God, as perceived in the Doctrines of Grace, is lovingly embraced by those who love the Scriptures. Gone are the me-centered sermons that lift up man, and in their place are messages that preach the sovereignty of God in all His love, all His justice and all His mercy. God-sent revivals will always center on a holy God Who hates sin, a God Who covenanted with His Son, Jesus Christ, to save a people that the Father gave to Jesus before the foundation of the world, and a God Who purposes to save sinners for whom Christ died!
4. As repentance runs deep, there is a great sensitivity to sin in a person’s life. Confession of sin is common in God-sent revivals – not only between believers who have held grudges against one another for years, but also a searching out of lost people in the community where wrong has been done, but has never been dealt with. In true God-sent revival, the gray of compromise and rationalism dissolves. And all that a person is left with is “I have sinned against God and man.” This new awareness leads to the reconciliation of relationships and the restoration of lives.
5. Illumination into the Word of God grows quickly as the person is sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is showing them in the Word of God. Hunger for the Word of God becomes immense and the thirst for the Living Waters of the Scriptures cannot be quenched. Sensitivity to the clock goes out the window as people seek “Thus saith the Lord.” The preaching of the Word of God becomes paramount. Meetings will often last for hours – with no complaint from the people.
6. Churches are called back to the pattern of the Biblical Church as shown in the Bible. Traditions made by man fall by the wayside, as churches seek the Scriptures for what it means to be the church of God. There are no sectarian biases, there are no denominational agendas in a God-sent revival. God calls his churches back to Him and His Word. This is why a truly God-sent revival transcends denominational lines as the Holy Spirit moves among the churches of a community to bring about revival in God’s people.
7. There is a distinct evangelistic overflow – the community feels the impact of a God-sent revival. Business practices are changed as God get a hold of the heart of the owner; worldliness ceases to be promoted as men get right with God. And the people of the community see the differences. Churches who have split off from one another forgive one another, and the people of the community – who have known of the splits and the hard feelings, take note of the changes. All of this leads to an openness on the part of the community to the revival, for it was the churches hypocrisy, bitterness toward one another, and an unforgiving spirit that kept so many lost people out of the churches.
8. Satan and his forces rise up against such a God-sent revival. Satan cannot tolerate the people of God repenting of their sins and getting right with God and with one another. The Evil One will do anything in his power to undermine, subvert, malign, and cripple the affects of a God-sent revival. He will use other disgruntled churches, who are jealous and envious over what is happening, to attack the preacher of the Gospel and the people who listen to what God is saying through His man. Plainly put, many churches don’t want a God-sent revival, and Satan knows this. He is all too willing to encourage them to stand against a God-sent revival.
This is the kind of Revival our community needs. This is what America needs. Oh, may God grant, in His boundless mercy, another great pouring out of His Spirit upon the churches in our land – and may Revival come!
Friday, August 22, 2008
We have tried throwing more money at our schools, mistakenly thinking that the problem with education is financial in nature. It is not! Preachers have filled the ears of their church members with sermons of love, goodness, prosperity and health – and still we have a continuing decline of attendance in our churches. Self-help courses and self-improvement classes are at an all time high, yet depression, despair and despondency rages on unhindered in the hearts of an ever increasing number of people. People are loosing hope in their churches, their schools and their government at the local, county, state and federal levels. Something must be done, but what? If we don’t change the status quo, we will lose our beloved America in a generation. If we are not careful, we will wake up one day in a Marxist regime that will strip us of our individual liberties for the sake of the State. Yet, we should not make the mistake of thinking that our problems are political in nature. They are not!
The problem we have in Osage County is the same problem we have in our Country as a whole – we have rebelled against the Sovereign God and have turned our backs on Him. Unless we repent of our sins, and cry out to God for mercy, God’s judgment on us and America will be strong and swift. God has told us in the Holy Scriptures what we need to do:
2 Chronicles 7:14 14 "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
This call to repentance is not to the lost, but to the people of God! Our churches have more of the world in them than they have Christ in them. Revival is only realized in the hearts of His people! And this is what we need – revival of the individual Christian and revival of the churches. Only when repentance is realized in the heart of the believer, will lost men see the difference and be drawn to Christ. We need to seek God’s face and cry out to God for His mercy. Only then will God forgive our sins and heal our land.
Monday, June 2, 2008
In a recent study concerning the benefits of taking a vacation, one point stood out to me. It has been found that time away from the everyday grind is a positive thing relative to easing the tension that builds up over time in a person's life. In fact, the survey stated that taking a vacation will actually peal off so much tension in a person's life, that the effect would actually lengthen a person's life. I like that.
Distance from home and work is not the critical factor, it is the total detachment form home and work that makes a vacation work. Don't bring work with you, turn your cell phones off, and refrain from checking into the office - these are some of the things that you must do if you are going to have a successful vacation with your family.
Another thing that makes a vacation work is to totally focus on the family. If that is accomplished, then you will definitely make a good memory for the entire family - and isn't that one of the major reasons for taking a vacation - making a memory.
So, take a vacation. It is worth it.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
As citizens, we have lost the need to remember the almost one million Americans who have given their lives in battles on this earth for the privileges which we, by and large, take for granted. All of these privileges, which are just assumed by the average American - as a given - can be found under the umbrella called "freedom." To get into your car and drive wherever you wish - is a freedom. To be able to stop where you want, eat what you want, buy what you want, and basically do what you want - all comes from - freedom. Americans have gotten used to freedom so much that the average American is hard pressed to define it when asked. When you are born with it, it is hard to explain it and easy to take advantage of it.
I believe this is one reason why Americans find it hard to understand much of the world; it is just as hard for much of the world to understand Americans for the same reason. The average American has had to pay little or nothing for the freedom they enjoy; whereas, the average citizen of the world would pay almost anything to have such freedom. There is a danger that lies in the human matrix of the mind when it comes to freedom. If freedom is not held precious but mundane, it can be lost overnight. On the other hand, if freedom cannot be realized by a human, that human will overtly seek to destroy the other human who takes freedom for granted. We must remember this.
This is what we are seeing played out on the world scene today. Islamic countries have been under religious bondage for centuries. And the radical elements of Islam, who manhandle their own people, are in earnest to destroy any person, people, or country who enjoys the freedom they do not have. Because their religion does not provide the freedom the human spirit seeks, the radicals seek to destroy the religion that promotes such freedom, and the adherents of such a religion. We must remember this.
America was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles that promote freedom of the soul. The founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, stated that He came to set men free. He made good on such a claim by dying on a cross for the sins of His people, and sending the Holy Spirit to guide sinners to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Once a person receives Christ as their Lord and Savior, a whole new worldview opens up to that individual. And at the heart of this new worldview, is the concept of freedom. We must remember this.
Islamic radicals understand the connection between the Christian worldview and freedom. Liberals in our beloved Country do not understand the connection. They think that Christianity is an old time religion that needs to be forgotten. Secular progressive thinking that promotes the political correctness of today teaches that Americans must become more pluralistic in our thinking. Being absolute in anything is not appropriate in today's society - especially when it comes to faith and politics. Herein lies a dangerous weakness for our beloved USA. Politics simply is a reflection of our faith. Strong, vibrant Christian faith will display itself in a vibrant, strong politic of the people. Our Country was founded upon just such a strong, political ethic. We must remember this.
It is this Judeo-Christian foundation that liberals, with their existential thinking, are in earnest to destroy. What they deem to be irrelevant is the very thing that Islamic radicals want so much to destroy. Why? Because the Islamic radicals understand that the Judeo-Christian principles, upon which our Country was built, are not obsolete but rather essential to our very existence as a Nation. Bad politics make strange bedfellows; those who appose Christianity and are in earnest in trying to remove God from the political history of our Country find themselves in bed with the Islamic radicals who have the same goal in mind - the annihilation of the Christian worldview that has made America the world power that she is. We must remember this.
We must remember the strong faith displayed by the pilgrims when they first came to America. That faith carried them through their first hard winter wherein they realized a loss of half of their people. The pilgrims did not survive because of their politics, rather because of their strong faith. Their Christian worldview can be easily seen in every aspect of their life - including their politics. By acknowledging God and their need of Him, God blest them and carried them through their trials. We must remember this.
Throughout our American history, this dependency on God can be documented time and time again. Whenever Americans confessed their dependency upon God, God blessed them. By following His principles, as shown in His Holy Bible, America grew mighty and strong for the first two hundred years of her existence. We must remember this!
Nazism and Marxism were no match for a Country based on a Christian worldview. America was proud of her Christian heritage. We must remember this.
But times have changed. Today, radical Islam and terrorism is a two-headed hydra that is biting at our feet. But these are not the greatest enemies we have to fear. Our greatest enemies lie in the seditious waters of relativism and existentialism that are steadily eroding the very foundation of our Country. Since the 1960's we, as a Nation, began to lose our faith in our government leaders and in our religious leaders. That skepticism eventually has led us to lose our faith in all expressions of authority - from religion, to government, to family.
Our society is fast becoming a pluralistic society that stands for nothing - and will fall for anything! In rejecting man-made religion, we have rejected the one true God and the revelation of Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ. The liberals cry, "Separation of church and state," and then misuse the phrase as they strive to eradicate any mention of God in any of our history. Relativistic thinking has coined the phrase "pro-choice," and then abuse such a freedom by taking the lives of millions of defenseless babies - who were given no choice! Existentialism has proclaimed the essence of
me-ism with the statement, "If it feels good, do it" - and has deceived millions into thinking that they are not responsible for their actions - someone else is! "Let someone else do it, it is not my responsibility!
With the aforementioned mentality greasing our national skids, we are quickly sliding downhill into the pools of depotism and anarchy. In seeking to be free from all restraints to our subjective me-ism, we are becoming enslaved to rational nihilism. We have forsaken God!
We, as a Nation, must repent of our sins of selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness and cry out to God for His mercy. We have been so blest, with so much, that we have turned from God and have begun to worship the gods of materialism and humanism. God will not take second place in our lives. As long as America honored God, God blest us. Now, we have forsaken Him. Pray that He will not forasake us!
Monday, May 19, 2008
What can we do? First, we can PRAY for the Christians who are in California. They are fighting a tremendous battle. If this decision is not overturned by the voters in the November election, then the affects of this liberal court decision that, in affect, is legislating public policy, will be seen in other states across our Country. It is a sure thing that this is headed for the Supreme Court; but we need to be fighting it - now!
Secondly, we can be contacting our own representatives and telling them of our concerns about this moral atrocity. The men and women that represent us must stand up and declare their own position on this matter of the institution of marriage.
Lastly, Christians need to be standing on the Word of God and defending the moral integrity of the traditonal institution of marriage. It is easy to take the position that as long as it is not in my state, then I don't have to really take a stand on this. There is no point in causing waves, is there? This kind of thinking is dangerous because of its numbing affect that it has on the conscience of the average citizen. We must view what is happening in California as analogous to our fighting terrorists in Iraq. If we don't fight and deal with terrorism in Iraq, then we shall fight it on our home soil. In the same manner, if we don't help our California Christian brethren fight this issue in their state, then we will one day see it in our state as well. It is as simple as that.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Expelled makes it very clear that there is a big difference between Creationism and Intelligent Design. With Creationism, you have as a premise, a Supreme Being called God Who takes an active interest in the creation He has made. With Intelligent Design, you have as a premise, some kind of Intelligent Designer - whether it be called God or something else - who is behind all the incredible designs scientists are discovering in a plethora of scientific fields. With ID, you do not have to acknowledge or deal with the matter of faith or religion. You are simply acknowledging a Superior Intelligence other than, and greater than man.
Therein lies the rub! Darwinists are appalled at the thought that there could possibly be a higher intelligence than themselves. Their arrogance on this point is quite apparent in the film. Ben Stein does a superb job at drawing out scientists, who are darwinists, and have them display both their foolishness in their support of darwinism, and their animosity toward anyone who suggests that there might be flaws to Darwin's theory of evolution.
Prior to Charles Darwin's publication On The Origin of Species in 1859, the pervading thought at the time was that there was a Creator behind creation. Using the axiomatic proposition that scientists have a responsibility to question the status quo, Darwin was unhindered in his publication of his work. The point of the movie Expelled is that scientists do not have that same freedom today!
There is no room for free inquiry in the realm of science when it comes to the subject of Darwinism. This presents a tremendous problem. In Darwin's day - and in his writings - he took the cell to be the simplest form of matter known to man. Because of nanotechnology, we have discovered that there are literally galaxies of molecular material in a cell. As one scientific mathematician puts it, it would be mathematically impossible for all of what makes the cell to have just happened - even if you take five billion years to do so. The complexity of the cell demands the probability of an Intelligent Designer behind it all. This possibility causes fear to run rampant in the hearts of Darwinians.
I am persuaded that Darwinism will one day fall by the wayside along with all the other theories that man has proposed in written history. There is just too much new information being presently gathered that refutes the theory of darwinism. You can't hold down truth forever! And no matter how hard the scientific establishment tries to hold back the truth that is being discovered, the internet and other channels of communication will continue to present to the world what the present opposition to truth does not want the public to know.
It is understandable why the scientific community cannot tolerate the possibility of a Creator - much less an Intelligent Designer. If there is, indeed, a God Who is actually superintending Creation, then there is a God Whom man will one day have to face. That thought terrifies a Darwinist who rejects the existence of God. And this is why ID is too close to sounding like the Creator in their mind; consequently, they have to reject the possibility - or even the discussion of Intelligent Design. And as they reject the possibility of ID, they must also reject anyone who talks about it.
See the movie while you can - the opposition is doing everything possible to stop the showing of it.
I wonder why?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
- The Faith Given Once, For All by Charles Colson and Harold Fickett is a must read for every Christian living in the 21st century. As Christians, we are in a spiritual warfare with our fallen nature, the age in which we live, and with Satan himself (Eph. 2:1-3). The liberal society in which we live is increasingly anti-Christian. The gods of materialism, social tolerance and humanism are assaulting Christianity every day and the casualty count among Christians is alarming. How can this be?
More and more Christians are being overrun by the age in which we live because they are poorly prepared to give a strong defense for the faith that was handed down to them. Too many pastors have bought into the secular progressive idea that we don’t want to offend anyone with the Gospel. We dare not speak with a tone that projects authority: “Thus saith the Lord” – that would be narrow-minded! Truth and doctrine must be jettisoned and in their place, we must preach acceptance of others and the value of self. Wrap the love of God in a gospel of prosperity and health – this is what people want to hear today. You can preach Jesus without preaching doctrine. Anyway, there are many ways to get to heaven – right?
Colson answers such foolish notions with a resounding “No!” He goes on to explain:
“To present Jesus without doctrine is to present a disembodied savior, a moral teacher perhaps, but with no more authority than Confucius. This is why I believe that the question of truth and its knowability is the most important single issue for the Church and perhaps for the culture today (p64).”
It is for this reason that Colson and Fickett wrote The Faith Given Once, For All. In the book the following three questions are addressed:
What Christians Believe - Why They Believe It - Why It Matters
It is not being narrow-minded when a Christian says that Christ is the only way to heaven – Jesus said it (John 14:6). Yes, a Christian is supposed to be accepting of people (Rom. 14:1), but that does not mean that we are to be accepting of sinful behavior.
And who defines what sinful behavior is? God does in His Word! Too many Christians are disengaging from the truth of the Gospel for the sake of peace with their fellow man. Subjective sentimentality is a poor replacement for objective truth.
I highly recommend Colson’s book. Get it, read it – it will prepare you for the end times in which we live (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Monday, April 7, 2008
God must have a sense of humor. After Voltaire's death, his home was being auctioned off to the highest bidder. It was purchased by the French Bible Society. In the same house where the Bible was put down, Bibles were soon running off the presses for the masses.
Today, between 30 and 60 million copies of the Bible are printed each year throughout the world. Those who read it realize it is not simply a book. It is the Word of God. While God used some forty writers over a period of 1500 years to write it down, there is only one Author - God Himself! The Bible is Truth, because God is Truth - nothing more, nothing less.
"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the Word of our God stands forever." - Isaiah 40:8
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
As a homeschooling family, we are very close. We find the mistaken notion that a homeschool child is not adept at social interaction a rather humorous thought. We have learned this: if a child can learn to interact with his siblings in the give and take of a large household, he or she will be quite capable in knowing how to get along with other people outside the home.
As parents, we have also learned from the wisdom given in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."
In the Hebrew language, the verse reads like this: "Train up a child in its own unique way..."
No two children are alike. Yes, absolutes should be taught to all the children, but they should not be taught in the same way to each child. That would be a mistake. The challenge of parenting is to discover the uniqueness of each child. Once that is discovered, the important things of life can be taught the child in a wonderfully personal way. Each child will learn best when what is being taught is uniquely crafted to their own individual character.
How do we, as parents, accomplish such a foreboding assignment? It takes alot of time given over to each child in the following areas:
1. observing the child
2. listening to the child
3. playing (interacting) with the child
4. being a good example to the child, and finally
5. matching our life example with verbal training to the child in the area you, as a parent, are seeking to develop.
Sure, it sounds like a big list - and it is, but they are worth it!