You Can’t Sell What’s Not Yours!

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I’m sure you have all read a story, seen a movie, or television show, where the plot revolves around the main character selling his soul to the devil by signing some contract. Usually it is for fame, fortune, power over enemies, or to get the girl. Come to think of it, usually it is a combination of those things. Growing up in America during the 80’s, freedom was the centerpiece of what it meant to be an American. I never felt more free than when I was about 12 years old. I was old enough to go anywhere I wanted, as far as my bike could take me, and young enough to not have the responsibilities of taking care of myself or others. I would ride my bike to, “Black’s Bridge” and play by the river. I would take my BB gun and shoot dragon flies, or whatever else would sit still long enough. My cousin and I would catch snakes and keep them in a 5 gallon bucket, only to dump them in my mom’s bed while she slept. If I had to come up with a time in my life where I felt free, that would be it. If you wanted to be a patriotic little man, you needed freedom.

As I grew I started to feel the bands of oppression tighten around me. I needed a job. I had to pay my bills. I married a woman who had two small sons. I needed a better job. I had to be a good role model. I needed to teach the boys how to be good men. My wife and I had two daughters, so I had to be more tender and help my wife help them. I had to keep my marriage strong. No time for difficulties at work. Appliances wear out and break. Everything costs money. Unexpected surgeries send us into debt. Life starts choking the feeling of freedom away pretty quick.

I found out that the laws were overly restrictive as well.  I still don’t understand how property taxes can be legal.  I also don’t understand the legal requirement to have a concealed permit to carry a firearm.  Apparently we now aren’t free to practice our religion either.  Bake a cake or get shut down.  While babies are being denied their freedom by being aborted.  We really aren’t free in America.

Only when I started thinking spiritually about it did it start to make more sense. As a young man I was Arminian and slightly Pentecostal in my theology. I had no problem with thinking a person could sell their soul to the devil. It was theirs after all. Of course I thought it was wrong to do so, but theoretically, it could happen. I also had the sense that it was impossible, niggling at the recesses of my mind. Later in life, as God worked in my sanctification, He brought me into a fuller understanding of my sinfulness and His holiness. This in conjunction with learning more about soteriology lead me to understand that I am not my own. In fact, no human being owns themselves. We are all created by God for His glory.

Now the premise of selling your soul to the devil just seems ludicrous. You simply can’t sell what you have no rights to. God has the authority.  The problem here is that my pre-conversion soul is already a slave to sin nature, because of the fall. The devil doesn’t have to buy it. It is fallen from the start.  That doesn’t mean the devil owns it.  He is a fallen creature too.

Not to mention, the devil doesn’t have the means to purchase a single soul, nor does he have the authority to purchase one. He is a creature himself. He is under the same authority we are. Theoretically, his only purpose for purchasing a soul would be to rend it from the saving hands of Christ. Since it isn’t possible for God to lose even one of the elect, this is not a concern.

If souls could be bought and sold, we as fallen creatures would make a market out of it for sordid profit, to be sure. Ignoble and greedy, we would make slaves of souls. God in His sovereignty and providence has ensured that won’t happen. We do however; need to be rescued from the slavery that we are in before conversion, the bondage of the soul to sin. God in His sovereignty made man. He made him in full knowledge that he would fall when tempted. He made man, knowing who He would save from sin and who He would not. He made man, knowing that He would curse his progeny for the original sin, with death. All people born after the fall are born as slaves to sin because of the fall. We are all sinners and dead spiritually.

The Holy Spirit makes the elect alive according to the will of the Father, so that we can sense our sin and need. It becomes real to us. In this conviction, the elect seek reconciliation with God. In the newness of life they are driven, compelled, and ravenous, for relief of the condition of condemnation. The knowledge of our own personal sin is the impetus that drives us to the foot of the cross.

The same God who made us, who knew that we would be sinners, also made a way for us to glorify Him according to His sovereign decree. God in the second personage of the Trinity put on flesh at the incarnation, being born of a virgin, by the work of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of the Father, Christ Jesus, our Passover lamb became the vessel for the wrath of God that our sins warrant. He in obedience to the Father suffered the very wrath of God, that we deserve upon the cross, to justify us. The penalty being paid by the one who was innocent, paying the penalty for the guilty who justly deserve it. All of this was planned out from the very beginning.

I hope we can see that it is ludicrous to think for a moment that our souls are our own, and free to sell. The devil is just another creature and your soul is already a slave to sin. Our only hope is to recognize our need for a redeemer. Only God can fathom the depths of our debt. We cannot rightly perceive how sinful we are. He alone can justly account the measure of wrath we deserve and He alone can atone. So don’t delay. If God has convicted you of your sin, repent of it and believe upon Jesus’ work on the cross for your justification. Pray that God will redeem your soul from sin and you will be His for eternity.  Better to belong to God than be able to sell your soul for any worldly gain.

A Review of Eric Metaxas’ “Bonhoeffer Abridged, Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy.”

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As I start my review, I confess, I knew very little of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I knew he was considered a hero of the faith, for which he died under the cruelty of Hitler.  That was the extent of my knowledge.  This book is short.  It doesn’t contain too much information.  I didn’t feel inundated by history.  I didn’t have to labor to understand Bonhoeffer.  Metaxas did an excellent job of helping me get to know Bonhoeffer in a way that made me want to learn more.  Metaxas introduces the reader to Dietrich in his childhood with his family.  The background establishes his foundation in the faith, that would later lead him to being martyred by the Hitler and his henchmen.

Dietrich was a highly educated man and very German.  His family was well to do, and situated in the elite class of citizens.  Dietrich had many opportunities afforded  him due to his families position in German society.  One of those opportunities was travel abroad.  Bonhoeffer was well traveled.  He made a couple of trips to America.  He was not impressed with our Churches, and thought they had gone the way of the Churches in Europe, until he visited a gospel centered, African American Church.  Of course this would have been a very different time in history.  Please don’t equate what Bonhoeffer saw to the silliness that goes on now.  One of my favorite quotes from Bonhoeffer came early on in the book inspired by that Church.

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Another one of my favorite quotes came later in the book once he was a prisoner of the Nazis.

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Because of this primer of Bonhoeffer, I find myself desiring to read his works.  I definitely want to read, “Ethics.”

The parallels between the conditions in Germany and modern America were blatant.  It is obvious that we are ripe for the same scenario to play out here, today.  For those who think it can’t happen, read this book.  See us in it.

Overall, the book was true to its title.  It is an abridged biography.  The important milestones are all there.  All throughout his life, I got the sense of hope.  He was perpetually hopeful.  When he fell in love later in life, shortly before his imprisonment, I felt hopeful for him.  I knew that he was going to die soon, but because of his correspondence with his loved ones, and the way that he encouraged them, even in his state, made me feel hopeful.  I know the reason for his hope.  I was very encouraged to see how he lived and died.  He understood the reason for the hope within.

If the LDS are right about who God is, then God and His word are wrong.

If the LDS are right about who God is, then God and His word are wrong.

In the Bible we have doctrines that are expressed by Jesus Himself, The one and only God incarnate, none ever before Him and none after Him anywhere or anytime.  These doctrines are repeated and expounded upon by the Apostles in the Epistles of the New Covenant recorded in the New Testament.  These doctrines are exclusive claims to actual truths.  When someone else confesses a doctrine that asserts something other than what has already been established by the one true, immutable, and infallible God, then our only option is to reject their  assertion as heresy.

Let’s look at some of their doctrines that conflict with Biblical doctrines, and are mutually exclusive in their claims.  Christians claim there is only one true God.  There has never been any other god besides Him. He has always existed in trinity. He has never not existed.  We also claim that if you don’t believe in Him as explained here, as one being in three personages, that you can not be called part of the Church.  Because, you have put your faith in a different god.  Obviously, worshipping a different god makes you not a Christian.

Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons) do not have one triune God.  They actually have a number of gods approaching infinity.  They choose to worship just one of the gods Joseph Smith imagined for them.  The god they choose to worship, was once a man named Elohim.  He lived on a planet orbiting a star called Kolab.  So their god is an E.T. extra terrestrial, alien from outer space.  Allegedly he was such a good follower of the mormon doctrines that he was promoted to being an exalted man.  He eventually became the god of this solar system and the Earth that we live on.  So the one god that they worship out of the billions of gods they have, was once a created man.  He was born of his father god and goddess mother.  They now call him Heavenly Father and believe he has a body of flesh and bone.  They believe that he had sex with Mary the virgin and that Jesus the spirit child was then embodied in his biological son with Mary.  Here is a quote from the Brigham Young University site,

As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret” (TPJS, p. 345). Thus, the Father became the Father at some time before “the beginning” as humans know it, by experiencing a mortality similar to that experienced on earth. There has been speculation among some Latter-day Saints on the implications of this doctrine, but nothing has been revealed to the Church about conditions before the “beginning” as mortals know it. The important points of the doctrine for Latter-day Saints are that Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in a divine continuum, and that the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern, model, and example of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel (see Mother in Heaven). Knowing that they are the literal offspring of Heavenly Parents and that they can become like those parents through the gospel of Jesus Christ is a wellspring of religious motivation. With God as the literal Father and with humans having the capacity to become like him, the basic religious questions “Where did I come from?,” “Why am I here?,” and What is my destiny?” are fundamentally answered.

Keep in mind that our LDS friends co-opt many of our words.  They mean something completely different to them.  When we talk of God the Father or Jesus we are talking about a very different God than they are.  They might believe we are talking about the same god, but they have better and more true information than we do.  The gospel to them is not the same things we think of.  Their gospel is a bunch of laws, rules, do’s and don’ts, from their book Doctrine and Covenants.  Our understanding comes from the Biblical definition.  The word, “gospel” means, “good message or news.”  When we think of the gospel of Jesus, we understand it to mean the penal substitutionary atonement wrought by Christ God Himself for the salvation of His sovereignly elected saints to bring glory to His name. In Christianity the work has been done by Jesus.  He paid for our sins.  By repenting and believing in Him, his work is imputed to us.  It is done, done, done.  We do good works because of our new affections and desires born from a regenerated spirit as born again believers.

with this article on only of few of the many differences, I hope it is obvious that the LDS are not Christian.  They are a polytheistic Arian cult, created by the false prophet Joseph Smith.

A Review of Todd Friel’s Book, “Jesus Unmasked: The Truth Will Shock You”

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The title of this book is pretty indicative of the subject matter.  The author succeeds at explaining who Jesus was and is.  He teaches that Christ is the focus of the Bible in its entirety.  He demonstrates how Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies, shadows and types.  All of this is done with simple terms when possible.  When it is not possible Mr. Friel explains the nomenclature for the laymen.

I have to make a small disclaimer here.  I am a big fan of, “Wretched Radio.”  It is a radio show and podcast.  Todd Friel is the host/on-air personality.  I have learned a lot, a lot, a lot, from the show over the years.  My review will be from the perspective of a Reformed Baptist and a fan of the show.  So don’t expect much in the way of negativity.  I honestly agree with all of what is said in the book.  I find it to be Biblically sound and interesting to read.  It is a, “must read” for everybody.  If you’ve just been born again or if you’ve been 50 years into the sanctification process this book will edify you.

In the first chapter the author deals with world views, specifically post-modernism.  This was a great place to start as a philosophy class on epistemology would not be beneficial for the target audience.  This is a short chapter that sets the tone for the rest of the book.  You get a look at the serious subject matter and a look at some of Todd’s humor that makes him such an interesting fellow to listen to.  It is obvious that he has a level of mastery of the subject matter without coming off as an aloof overlord.

The following chapters flesh out some basics of Christian theology in simple terms.  Then he gets down to the bulk of the work, which is highlighting Christ from the beginning of the Bible to the end.  Vary rarely in Christian books of around 200 pages do we get such a complete and profound picture of Jesus.  Most of the books I’ve reviewed in the recent past have been theological fluff, Christian cotton candy, hardly worth reading at all.  You know how you feel after eating junk for a month?  Yep! That’s how most “Christian books” leave me feeling after reading them.  They were time killers with not nutritional value.  I probably would have got more out of them if I’d eaten them.  Well, that is not so of this work.  I would rank it up there with, “The Holiness of God” by R. C. Sproul, or maybe, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.

The main way that the author highlights Christ throughout the entire Bible is by expounding on the prophecies, shadows, and types, that Jesus fulfills.  This can be a bit tricky.  I’ve seen some pretty bad attempts that only make the Bible look disjunct.  When done correctly, as in this case, the Bible comes alive.  The harmony of scripture sings to the heart and mind of the believer who sees the richness and majesty of the true faith established once and for all by God.  Being able to see the ark Noah built and understand that it is a look forward to Jesus.  Seeing the rock that sprang forth lifesaving water in the desert for the Israelites, and how Jesus is the better fount.  Seeing the Sabbath, from our perspective, looking back to recognize rest in Christ’s work.  These and many more examples fill the pages of this book.  The gospel is fleshed out fully and explicitly.  You won’t find a list of, “do’s” to check off, and you won’t find some silly, formulaic, “pray this prayer.”  You will understand who Jesus is, what you are, what He has done, and how you should respond.  If you have loved ones who aren’t saved, get them this book.  If you have friends or family who are young in their faith, get them this book.  If you have become a crusty old codger, get yourself this book.  It will blow the carbon out of the old exhaust and get you fired up again.

You can buy this book from the wretched store.

You can pick up a copy at Christianbook.com

You can purchase it from the publisher Newleaf

or you can get it on Amazon in different formats including audio.

The gospel of Jesus

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The gospel of Jesus. We are a sinners who deserve death and hell. He is God incarnate. He is righteous and holy. He deserves all of the majesty of Heaven and our praise. In His longsuffering He endures our hatred of Him and His law. He condescends to save us from the condemnation of hell. He is raised upon a cross, thereupon crucified. He takes our punishment upon Himself, thus satisfying the justice of God. The wrath of God is assuaged by His atoning work. We hear about what He has done for us and either believe it or not. If not, then the flames of hell are waiting for us, and rightly so, for we are fully culpable for our transgressions. If we believe, then repentance is our faith revealed and testimony to the dying world. We hate our sins and turn to Christ our redeemer, who purchased us with His sacrifice upon the cross. He becomes our Lord and Master. Sin no longer rules us. Our minds are being renewed by the reading of His word. Our hearts are transformed into new living hearts with God honoring desires. He sanctifies us as we grow in faith and knowledge of Him. We are born again. Not to live as slaves to sin and death, but to live as bondservants of Christ and holiness. Love Jesus with all of your heart, for He is the Savior!

All arguments in favor of gay marriage are invalid.

Regardless of the revisionism that is going on with the liberal, “ahem… theologians” a gay marriage is not an acceptable marriage according to God Himself and His word.  In this few verses spoken by God Himself, incarnated as the Word made flesh, He said in Matthew 19:3-6 in the New Testament, “…3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”…” Oh and if you’re curious that is God/Jesus quoting Himself when God spoke in Genesis.

In Genesis 1:27-28 God says that He created male and female for the purpose of reproduction and that for His glory as more humans equates to more image bearers. Genesis 1:27-28, “…27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” …”

In Genesis 2:24 we have the definition of marriage ordained and officiated by God, “…24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh…”

So any union devised by the darkened heart of sinful humans that isn’t the God ordained and defined union of one man to one woman for life is by Biblical definition not a marriage. You can call it what you want, but it isn’t marriage.  Since Biblical marriage is a religious union the government has no business in it other than protecting our 1st amendment rights.  We should never be forced to condone homosexual marriage or facilitate one, be it in business or our personal lives.  It is an obvious abuse to do so.

Any sexual relations outside of a Biblical marriage are sinful. Homosexual desires are sinful.  Heterosexual lusts are sinful outside of a heterosexual marriage.  Desiring your spouse in a heterosexual marriage is not sinful.  Desiring someone outside of your heterosexual marriage is sinful.  These are very simple concepts people.  God is very clear in His word people.

So since you can’t be married unless it is a heterosexual marriage, and all sex and lust outside of that marriage are sinful, you can see that homosexual lusts and unions are sinful and not to be condoned or in any otherwise facilitated by the Church.

The only people that have problems with this are the ones who want to condone, endorse, and otherwise approve of perversion. “Hey! I don’t like being called a pervert or thinking of myself as a pervert!  I know!  I’ll twist God’s word around or completely disregard it and live in disbelief of Him.  That way I can justify my perversion instead of repenting and being forgiven.”  Wow! What a mess.

Listen folks every Christian is no better than the vilest offender. The Bible says we all deserve to be killed by God, sent to Hell, and to have God’s wrath poured out on us for all eternity because we are sinners.  Romans 3:23, “…23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, …”Even just a lie makes you worthy of hell.  Revelation 21:8, “…8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”…”  Proverbs 12:22, “…22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight…”  God sees a lustful thought as adultery.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “…but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart…”

We don’t hate liars and we don’t hate homosexuals. There are Christians who were once liars, and homosexuals, but they have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus to save them.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “…9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. …”

Why would anyone being saved by grace hate a person who hasn’t been? Maybe you haven’t experienced hate from a Christian; maybe they have just told you the truth in love?  Proverbs 27:6, “…6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy…”  We don’t want you to die and go to hell for being an unrepentant sinner.  We just want you to experience saving grace through saving faith and repentance given by God.

Forgiveness of sins is available to you. Jesus, being fully God and man, lived a perfect sinless life, one that you could not live.  He earned all righteousness by obeying the law of God.  He went to the cross and there was crucified, enduring the horrendous torture.  Upon the cross the wrath of God that has been stored up for you upon the Day of Judgment was poured out on Jesus.  He paid your penalty.  Justice has been satisfied for you so that you don’t have to go to Hell and suffer, Jesus suffered for you.  Only He could take the suffering of infinite punishment and survive until it was complete as He is God.  The man Jesus then died, was buried, and resurrected of His own power, thus conquering death and sin.  All we must do in response is to admit that we are sinners who deserve Hell, turn from our sins and begin to fight them, turn towards Jesus, and believe that His work of atonement on the cross paid our sin debt, and set us free to live for Him.  Repent, and believe!  It is that simple to be born again and made into a new person.

Lost, Saved, Baptized, Rinse and Repeat.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I got saved and baptized when I was a kid, but then I walked away from my faith, and now that I’m an adult, I have come back?” Then, they get baptized again and share their testimony. After a few months of being, “back” they walk away again/backslide. A while later they decide they need to recommit their life to Christ, so they come back to Church and get baptized again. I don’t know how many times, in the Nazarene Church I attended, I heard someone say this, but it was a lot. I didn’t know how to understand this then. I didn’t have the Biblical knowledge to know this was wrong. I knew it was wrong intuitively, but couldn’t build a case Biblically.
I struggled with this myself. Was I really saved that time when I was 19? If so, why am I still fighting these temptations to sin in my life? The Nazarene Church taught, “Entire Sanctification” back then. It was a doctrine that said it was possible for a person to mature spiritually, in this life, to the point where they no longer sinned. I got so frustrated with my constant failings. I cried out to God and told Him, “I can’t do it! I can’t stop sinning! If You want me to stop you are going to have to stop me!” So then came about a 10 year period where I gave up fighting the sins that were too hard to stop on my own. Sure I gave the outward appearance of being a Christian when I was at Church, but at work I still acted like a child. I used profanity all of the time, I told dirty jokes, I engaged in low humor, I entertained hateful thoughts against others because of their political beliefs, and I liked what I saw on television, except I would still cringe when a show used blasphemy. I knew I was doing wrong. I knew from what the Bible said, I was doing these things because my heart desired to do them. I also knew in my head that I didn’t want to keep doing them.
The Church also taught that you could become apostate or lose your salvation if you continued to sin after being saved. This was the doctrine of, “Apostasy.” I remember asking the Pastor about what it said in Hebrews 6, about not being able to be saved after losing your salvation by continuing in willful sin. He explained that was correct. I asked him how anyone can stay saved if that was true. Another person quoted the passage about forgiving 70 times 7. They were trying to tell me if I repent, Christ will keep forgiving me, but if I didn’t repent, and then died, that I would go to hell. All of this didn’t jive with what I was reading in the Bible. It seemed as if people were just cherry-picking passages out of the Bible to justify the way they wanted to live.
The denomination had its own definition of sin. I couldn’t justify it with what I had been reading in the Bible. I knew I was a sinner. I knew I kept committing sins. I felt powerless to be holy like the Church said I must be. My best efforts kept failing. That is why I gave up. The Church said sin was a willful transgression of a known law of God. I asked, “What if I fell into traffic, looked up to see a truck coming, cussed, and then was killed before I could repent?” I was told that was just a mistake, not a sin. So I asked, “What if, I blasphemed instead of cussed, in the same scenario?” I was told I might go to Hell. I was having a difficult time understanding being saved if it was always precariously perched on the narrow ledge of my flawed capacity.
I went down the roads of, “Easy Believism” and “Cheap Grace.” I rejected the doctrines of, “Entire Sanctification and Apostasy.” While I was confused and erring I still knew and was strongly convicted that this was not right either. There is something I am missing. I was going through a very difficult time in my life.  I didn’t trust God with my money, I didn’t trust God with my marriage, and I proved I didn’t trust God by my actions.
A good friend suggested I read the book, “Crazy Love” written by this, Chinese American Pastor from California, with a shaved head. I was not at all anticipating the affect it would have on me or my life. Francis Chan’s book was a kick in my guts. It wasn’t a cruel kick, but rather one that was used by God. He got my attention and exposed how I was lukewarm. I was going to be told, “depart, I never knew you.” It was also about the same time this new radio program was playing on the local A.M. station. This funny, yet serious man named, “Todd Friel” with, “Wretched Radio” kept chipping away at what I had been told by the Church, with truth from the Bible. He was presenting a Reformed view of soteriology. (salvation) It was rocking my world. I was also listening to a local theologian on the same station. His name was Matt Slick. At first I was like, “What’s with this clown’s name? Is he a used car salesman or what?” So I was curious. I went to his website, “CARM.ORG” I read many of his articles and listened to his program and Todd Friel’s program intently and found myself nodding in agreement with them. I got on the internet and watched video after video from Matt Chandler, David Platt, Paul Washer, John Macarthur, R.C. Sproul, Leonard Ravenhill, Martyn Lloyd Jones, and so on. It was like I had this table with a billion puzzle pieces on it, and I only had a couple of corners figured out with some clouds, and these two men were helping me put the pieces together faster than I had ever done before. One day after most of the pieces were put together it was like someone nudged the table and the remaining ones fell into place. It was one of those epiphany moments you have in life.
I don’t want to forget to mention the affect that, “Witness Wednesday” on, “Wretched Radio” had on me. I heard Ray Comfort and Todd Friel presenting the real gospel message to people on the streets and on college campuses. I finally heard the gospel after 15 or so years of believing I was a real Christian. Instead of hearing, “You’ve got a Jesus shaped hole in your heart. Won’t you let Jesus in? God is a gentleman and won’t come in unless you ask Him. He is waiting at the door of your heart, won’t you let Him in?” I was in a state of shock. It was so simple. Why hadn’t anyone preached this to me before?!? Why? Why? Why?! I was so angry with the Church, my friends, and most of all me. How could I not get it? Faith and repentance! Du!
What I had known to be the Christian faith was off by just a scant amount, it seemed Christian, but it was out of phase. Through all of these influences in the middle of my suffering, I heard about real saving faith and repentance that are granted by God. Faith I couldn’t force myself to have in 15 years of trying. Repentance I couldn’t force myself to do, and the effects of these two things. I found myself running headlong into a study of Reformed Theology, the Reformers, the Puritans, and God’s sovereignty. My wife would ask me if we could talk about something other than religion. My co-workers were probably wondering what was going on with me. I would talk about my faith with everyone I met and share the gospel with them. I started evangelizing wherever I went. I actually read my Bible from cover to cover with a reading plan from R.C. Sproul’s Ligonier. I consumed scripture like I had never done before. The word of God became alive to me. Doctrine after doctrine fell into place in a harmony I had never before experienced in all of my piece-meal Bible reading.
I’d be remiss, if I didn’t tell you about the great help Dr. R. C. Sproul’s book, “The Holiness of God” was to me. He corrected the low view of God, the high view of man’s abilities, and the marginal view of sin that I had. It fixed in my head how holy God is, how helpless man is, and how offensive sin is. With this knowledge firmly ensconced in my mind, I could finally put the false teachings behind me.
You see, people don’t get saved and then lose their salvation. They don’t get resaved over and over again. You get saved ONCE! If your life isn’t characterized by growth in knowledge of personal sin and in holiness you aren’t saved. It never happened. Do you read your Bible regularly? Do you hate sin in your life, the sin you used to make room for? Do you love to go to Church and be with God’s people and worship Him together with them? Do you trust Jesus alone for your salvation and righteousness? Do you love to do good works, not out of a sense of duty or obligation, but rather do… YOU… LOVE… to do the good things God has prepared for you to do before creation?
A saved person is a new person. They are a different person. They have a different nature. They are born again. They died to themselves and were resurrected with Christ a new person. I never got this in all those years. I suspected there was more to this religion, but I couldn’t grasp it. I couldn’t comprehend it… yet! Then God worked a double miracle in my life of regeneration, and justification. I trust Him to complete the sanctification that He has started in me. I desire to be conformed to His word and will instead of shrinking from it. I love Jesus! I hope you will to.  Watch the video to get the gospel presented to you.

What is the Pastors Primary Function?

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The primary function of the Pastor is to faithfully exposit the word of God to the body, in obedience, love, and truth. Doing this glorifies God and serves the body. Many Pastors today are overburdened and inundated with projects and outreach. They have been told by many pragmatic men that the way to grow the church is to do, do, do. This isn’t the model of the gospel and it isn’t the model of growing true converts. Certainly it will work to add goats to your pews. Yes, the number of people attending will go up. Yes, there might be some that get converted listening to you preach the gospel on Sunday. These are not your primary duties that you have been commended to do. You sir, have been entrusted with the Holy Word of God and His elect beloved! Do not stray from your commission. All of the techniques that the world employs are not to be in your toolbox. You have the blessing and obligation to plumb the depths of God’s word and return to the flock with a bountiful harvest of truth. When you preach from the pulpit don’t think of it as a chance to evangelize a few lost sinners visiting the church, but view it instead as a time of ministry to God’s elect. He knows what they need to grow and to do the work He has for them. He has a plan to provide for them, and that plan involves you. God wants to use you to educate His people. He wants to use you to help in their sanctification. He wants to use you to equip them Biblically so that they can do the work of evangelism and outreach. By laboring on behalf of the Lord’s gospel you equip and impassion the flock to evangelize the lost, feed and clothe the poor, visit those in prison, and provide for the orphans and widows. It is easy to mix up your personal walk as an individual Christian and your commission as a Preacher of God’s word. There are things that you will do as an individual for God, and there are things that you will do as a Preacher. The first comes from being a born again believer and the other is a Holy Vocation. God in His sovereignty will grow or shrink a congregation. It won’t be based on your efforts. You are called to be faithful, to live by faith, to do what has been ordained by faith.

Faith or Works, Why Do People Keep Arguing About This? It Is So Obvious!

A Quick look at Romans 4

 

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So let’s look at Romans 4:4 out of context first and see what it says, “…Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.…”  Out of context we see that this verse is talking about receiving what one has earned for himself.  This seems pretty obvious.  When we add context we can infer so much more than a vague sense of getting what you deserve.  So let’s add some context now.  Here is Romans Chapter 4;

“  1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,             AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.

8“BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”

9Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 10How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

16For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”

In the first two verses we read,

““  1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.”

This tells us that we cannot be justified by our works and that trying to cite them as justification before God is not.  To back this up Paul quotes scripture in verse 3,

3For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.””

And then in verses 4 and 5,

4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,”

Now we have Paul explaining that the sinner who does works to attain righteousness can never do enough to remove their guilt and that they have earned for themselves condemnation.  This is in response to the Jews at the time who were attempting to put the gentile believers under their same yoke.  Then he explains that the ungodly sinner who puts his faith in Jesus for the fulfillment of righteousness has that righteousness from Christ.  In the next few verses Paul backs up what he said by quoting scripture again,

6just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,             AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.

8“BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.””

In verses 9 through 12 we see that the circumcision was the outward working and seal of the righteousness credited to him by faith before he was circumcised.  This is how we can know that saving faith that justifies and imputes righteousness can be for the gentiles as well, because it was done to Abraham before he was circumcised.

9Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 10How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.”

“      13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”

In 15 people have used this inappropriately to justify not sharing the gospel, but this is not what this is about at all.  This is about someone who by faith has been justified and is no longer subject to the condemnation the law brings.  That is the point being made and is supported in context by the rest of the scriptures.

Verse 16 says quite a bit so we will look at it by itself for a moment,

“      16For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,”

This verse unpacks the doctrine that elect people of the Jews and gentiles alike are part of the true faith that Abraham had from God Abraham and that through faith in the work of Jesus and by His grace to us all who believe and repent are part of the covenant of the true justifying faith.

In the following verses Paul sums up the doctrine of saving faith verse works righteousness,

17(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.””

Abraham’s faith that God would make him a father of many nations even at his old age was credited to him as righteousness and then we can see how it is extrapolated out to his descendants who include the Jews and the gentiles.  This is made clear in verses 24 and 25 as those who have faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection to save us from our sins.

Faith doesn’t compel God to act on our behalf the way prosperity/health/wealth false teachers say it does.

Faith doesn’t compel God to act on our behalf the way prosperity/health/wealth false teachers say it does. Our words are NOT containers of power. Our prayers do not make God do things for us, no not even when we add, “In Jesus name.” to the end. Faith is the belief that God will do what He has said. Faith is the belief that He is who He says He is. Here is a section of scripture that is always violently twisted by the false teachers. I want you to notice something. The centurion didn’t make Jesus heal his servant. He came asking humbly for his servant to be healed. Jesus, being God decreed that it is so, and it was. The servant was healed because Jesus did it in accordance to His own will. He wanted to heal the servant. He demonstrated the love, mercy, and sovereignty of God in this healing. The lesson is to come to Jesus humbly and ask, believing that He is God and if it is “HIS” will it will be done. Then when He says it is so, we demonstrate great faith by believing Him. Do you want to hear Him tell you things? Read the Bible. Don’t wait for a, “word” or, “a still small voice.” Open your Bible and study it. Read His words and believe them. Live your life as if you do believe them. That is great faith.
Matthew 8:5-13 NASB And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, (6) and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” (7) Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” (8) But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (9) “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” (10) Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. (11) “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; (12) but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (13) And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.