Monday, May 11, 2009

The Nature of Man's Will and Heart

Christians know that man’s will is predisposed to evil because man is a fallen, sinful creature. Man’s will is not separate from man’s nature. If man has a fallen nature, then he has a fallen will. And man’s will is free to act according to its nature. Since man’s fallen nature is in rebellion against God, so, too, the will of man is in rebellion against God. This is why we hear the Holy Scriptures declare:

Romans 3:10-12 10 “as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

According to the Scriptures above, no man seeks for God – it is not his nature. As the Scripture states, it is man’s nature to turn aside from God. Left to himself, lost man will never choose Christ as his personal Savior. Even Satan cannot force man to turn away from Christ Jesus. The Evil One can tempt man to reject Jesus, but he cannot make him reject Jesus. Satan knows he doesn’t have to make man reject Jesus. Man is left to freely choose Christ, but because of man’s fallen nature, man will always reject Christ. Man cannot say, “The devil made me do it,” when it comes to turning aside from Jesus’ offer of salvation. Man is responsible for his own decisions and his own actions.

Man does not choose his desires, man chooses according to his desires. Where do the desires of man originate; they originate in the heart of man. This statement is validated by an observation made by the LORD concerning man:

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5 ESV)

The average man, when given the choice between a plate of salad and a plate of French fries, will choose the French fries over the salad every time. He may say in his mind, “I desire the salad because I know that it is better for me; yet, he will still choose the French fries. Why? Because his heart wasn’t in it. It was not the desire of his heart – no matter what logic or reason his mind was presenting to him at the time. The same thing occurs when it comes to man rejecting sin and asking God to forgive him of his sins.

Man will acknowledge his sinfulness, but that doesn’t keep him from sinning. He may mentally desire to change his ways, his habits, etc. and reform himself, but he will never be successful at it. Why? Because it is NOT the desire of his heart to change. And when it comes to the heart, man cannot change it! He cannot change his heart because that change is not the true desire of his heart. As a hog loves slop, man loves his sin. His will is enslaved by the desires of his heart. Speaking of his human nature, the Apostle Paul wrote:

15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
(Rom 7:15-19 ESV)

Paul was confessing that, even with a changed heart, though he has the new desire to not want to sin, apart from the grace of God, he will continue to sin. For by grace through the enabling faith that Christ provides you, can a person live the Christian life.

Man cannot change his heart, only Christ can. By the grace of God, man must repent of his sin and Jesus Christ will give him a new heart that will beat for God.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers

Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul warns about godlessness in the Last Days:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men” 2 Timothy 3:1-9.

We are told in verse 5 that these false prophets and false teachers will have an appearance of godliness, but they will have no real power. They are fakes, charlatans and deceivers of people who are beguiled by their faith and prosperity gospel. In verse 6 we are told they creep into households (by way of television and the radio) and capture weak women, burdened down with sins and led astray by various passions. These women go to seminar after seminar, buys CDs, videos and books, “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” They never find truth in these conferences, meetings and gatherings because what is preached and taught there (by women and men false preachers and teachers) is nothing but lies, half-truths and twisted Scriptures. They are promised wealth and prosperity, but it is the false teachers and preachers who are getting wealthy off of these poor, misguided souls.

I plead with you to listen to the words of God as recorded by Jeremiah His prophet:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD” Jeremiah 23:16.

False teachers such as Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Charles Capps, Robert Tilton, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Marilyn Hickey, Paula White, Rod Parsley, Joel Osteen and many others have visions that are delusions of their own minds, and are not representative of the Lord God of heaven:

25 “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, 'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!'
26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart,”
Jeremiah 23:25-26.

God exposes the fact that these charlatans did not get their teaching from God, but they are simply repeating lies and stories that they have heard from one another:

30 “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another.
31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, 'declares the LORD.'
32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD”
Jeremiah 23:30-32.

The only people who profit from their heresy and blasphemous teachings are the false teachers and preachers themselves.

We need to heed Scripture’s warning to be good Berean Christians (Acts 17:11); Christians are to make sure that a Bible verse is being taught correctly in light of the whole counsel of God:

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the na├»ve”
Romans 16:17-18.

God warns His shepherds to

“…hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers…
11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” Titus 1:9-11.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Second Coming of Christ

The Second Coming of Christ
By Creth D. Hopkins

What is the 2nd Coming of Christ? What exactly does it mean? A careful study of the Holy Scriptures unveils a clear understanding as to the manner of Christ’s coming.
I. His return will be personal.

“This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven" Acts 1:11.

Over 500 witnesses had personally seen Jesus following his resurrection. He had been personally with the disciples up to and including his personal ascension. The heavenly messengers are promising that He would come again in the same manner – a personal return.

II. His return will be physical.

Acts 1:11 confirms that the same Jesus, who had manifested His physical return to His disciples, and Who was then ascending in the same physical body, will return again in the same resurrected, glorified body in which He ascended:

“so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” Hebrews 9:28.

III. His return will be visible.

Check every reference of the 2nd Coming of Christ and you will find they all emphasize his visibility.

“you will see the Son of Man (Jesus) seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven" Matthew 26:64.

The Apostle John wrote:

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” Revelation 1:7.

IV. His return will be sudden.

Jesus warned

“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” Matthew 24:27.

A thief steals with a suddenness that always bewilders the victim. The Apostle Paul uses this imagery in describing the day when the Lord will make His appearance:

“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” I Thess.5:2

V. His return will be unexpected.

The 2nd Coming of Christ will not happen at a time when people are looking for it. Again, Jesus warns

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” Matthew 24:44.

VI. His return will be terrifying.

Regardless of your station in this life, if you don’t have Jesus as your personal Savior, His 2nd Coming will bring terror to your heart. Why? Because it represents the outpouring of the wrath of God on all unbelievers:

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Revelation 6:15-17?

VII. His return will be glorious.

With all the rest of the saints, all true believers can join the Apostle Paul in

“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” Titus 2:13.

Are you looking forward to the 2nd Coming of Christ Jesus? I pray that you are. The last recorded words of Jesus were

"Surely I am coming soon." Revelation 22:20a

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20b