Sunday, December 30, 2007

Know Yourself, Know the Truth

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9

When Plato expressed the ultimate purpose and great imperative of philosophy with this command, “know yourself,” he had struck upon a valuable insight. If we would know our purpose in life, how we should relate to the world and to others around us, what our goals and dreams and desires should consist of, how we should spend our time, then we must know who we are. We must know how we were made and for what purpose, and we must know whether or not we are fulfilling that purpose, and if not, how we might do so. If we desire to order our lives according to wise and reasonable principles, then first a thoroughgoing self-knowledge is indispensable.

However, this command is not so easy to put into practice. Who really knows what he is like, deep down inside? Who can say from what mysterious inner workings of our minds come bizarre dreams, unexpected, random thoughts that defy all reason, moments of insight and creativity, moments of foolishness and lapses of judgment? Do we really know how our minds function? Do we really know what we actually want or need? If so, then why is it that, when we have finally accomplished or acquired something that we thought we wanted, we suddenly feel so empty and let down? Who has not felt the deep and inexplicable yearning for something more, and not knowing quite what it was or how to pursue it, tried to bury the yearning in a busy pursuit of professional advancement or entertainment or any of those other things that have always let us down before? If we are ever to rise above this condition, we must know who we are, what we were made to do and enjoy, why we are not doing and enjoying what we were made for, and how to pursue a soul-deep change.

But even here we must take another step back: for we cannot know ourselves until we know the One who made us. We cannot find out about our purpose or that in which lies our highest and eternal joy, unless we hear it from the very lips of our Creator. We cannot understand the miserable extent to which we have failed, unless we measure ourselves against his perfection. And neither can we encounter the only hope of a lasting solution, unless we measure our failure against his proffered grace. In our last study, "Knowing Our God," we spent some time examining who the Trinitarian God is, and how he has revealed his character to mankind. Now, we are ready to take up this daunting question, “Who are we?”. But since our hearts are “desperately wicked and deceitful above all things,” we stand in dire need of grace, as we search the scriptures in pursuit of an answer to this perplexing question. Spirit of God, uncover before us the truths of your word, show us who we were meant to be, and how we can find true joy and fulfillment!

Let us now examine the nature of mankind in four different conditions: Man Innocent, the estate into which he was first created; Man Depraved, the estate into which he was plunged in consequence of his rebellion against God; Man Regenerated, the estate into which God's grace brings him in this life, giving him a new, spiritual nature, co-existent with his old, depraved nature; and Man Glorified, the estate into which God's grace will bring him in eternity, causing his new, spiritual nature to triumph and destroying his old, sinful nature forevermore.

Man Innocent

The nature of man as the image-bearer of God is what sets him apart from the rest of creation, and gives him a unique and dignified role among all God's creatures. It is a difficult task to define concisely what is meant by the “image of God” in man, but it is at least possible to observe several characteristics or predicates of that divine image. For example, man possesses moral agency, that is, his decisions and actions are directed to some end, either positively good or negatively evil, and are motivated by a heart attitude that is likewise either good or bad; hence, he is justly responsible for the reward or punishment due to all of his actions. Man is likewise characterized by perpetuity, so that, once created, he will exist in some state forevermore; by creativity, so that, just as God brought all things into existence according to the idea of his own mind, so man is able to shape existing material intelligently and artfully according to his fruitful imagination; by speech-capability, so that, just as God through his Word brought his intentions into being, so man through his word is able to express his thoughts and ideas; by rationality, so that, man's actions are not the mere product of brute instinct, but vested with the qualities of deliberation, desire for the highest good, and wisdom in how to pursue that desire; by dominion, so that, just as God rules over all his creation, man rules over all that is under him, subduing all kinds of animals and putting the earth to fruitful use; and by society, so that, just as God is in ceaseless and joyful fellowship with the members of the blessed Trinity, so man is ever in society with others of his kind, and is not complete without this fellowship.

The Image of God
Gen 1:26-27; Gen 9:6; 1Cor 11:7; Jam 3:9

Moral Agency
Gen 2:16-17; Gen 4:7; Deu 11:26-28; Deu 30:15-16; Eze 33:14-16; Mat 23:33; Rom 3:5-8; Heb 2:1-3; Heb 10:28-29

Dan 12:2; Mat 25:46; Luke 20:34-38; John 5:25-29; 1Cor 15:50-55; 2Cor 5:1-4; 2The 1:5-10; Rev 20:11-15

Gen 4:20-22; Exo 31:1-6; 2Chr 26:14-15; Ecc 7:29; Amos 6:5

Its Origin
Gen 2:19-20

Its Uses, Good and Bad
Job 16:5; Psa 12:2-4; Psa 141:3; Pro 10:11; Pro 15:26; Pro 15:28; Pro 18:4; Mat 12:34-37; Jam 1:19; Jam 3:1-10

Its Analogy to the Divine Word
Gen 1:1-3; Psa 29:3-9; Isa 40:5-8; Isa 55:8-11; John 1:1-3; Heb 1:1-3

Pro 25:2; Isa 1:18; Isa 43:25-26; Dan 4:36; Acts 17:2-3; 1Pet 3:15

Gen 1:26-28; Gen 9:1-2; Psa 8:5-8; Heb 2:6-10

Its Origin
Gen 2:18-24

Its Blessedness
Psa 127:3-5; Ecc 9:7-10

Its Spiritual Aspect
Son 2:1-4 [See the rest of the Song of Solomon as well.]; John 1:12; Rom 8:14-17; Eph 5:22-32; 1John 3:1-2; Rev 19:6-9

Its Analogy to Inter-Triune Relationships
Psa 2:7; John 5:17-23; John 11:27; Rom 1:1-4

Man was originally created good, and not just neutral or morally undetermined. He had a nature that delighted in fellowship with God, and that was drawn to do the very works that God had commanded. He was not finally confirmed in his state of moral uprightness; but he was, nevertheless, positively righteous, and not just a “blank slate,” a being with an unwritten character, whose nature would be determined by his own, self-shaping decisions and actions.

Gen 1:27-31; Gen 3:8a; Gen 5:1-2; Ecc 7:29

Although God created man in his own image, and morally good, he did not give him such a strong character that he could not be tempted to do evil. He was not as the good angels are today, and as glorified man will be in the future, that is, unable even to be tempted with sin. He was good, but he was still susceptible to temptation. While he was in this state, God designed a test to see if he would obey, and thus be confirmed in his state of holiness; and so he placed in the middle of the Garden of Eden the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (that is, a tree designed to show, or give the knowledge of, whether man would remain good or be plunged into evil); and he commanded Adam not to eat of its fruit.

Ecc 7:29; Gen 2:16-17; Gen 3:1-6; 2Cor 11:3; 1Tim 2:13-14

When God created man in his own image, he created him as a being that was ultimately responsible to obey him alone, and in the case of disobedience to undergo the severest penalty of eternal death and punishment away from the presence of his Creator, whose fellowship he had been made to enjoy. Even before the Fall, man was given responsibilities that he was obligated to fulfill, including the exercise of dominion over the earth, the multiplication of the human race, and obedience to God's prohibitions; but there was no curse, no wearisome labor, and no dissatisfaction involved in fulfilling them. God created him to enjoy what he had commanded him to do.

To his Creator
Isa 29:16; Isa 45:9-12; Isa 64:8; Mal 2:10; Rom 9:20-21

To exercise dominion
The Source of Dominion
Gen 1:26; Gen 2:19-20; Gen 9:2-3; Psa 8:3-9

The Responsibility to Rule Well
Exo 23:11-12; Deu 22:6-7; Deu 22:10; Deu 25:4; Pro 12:10; Isa 32:20; Jam 3:7

The Dominion of Man Ultimately Realized in Christ and his Kingdom
Isa 65:25; Heb 2:5-9

To multiply
The Mandate
Gen 1:27-28; Gen 9:1

The Realization
Gen 2:21-25; Gen 3:20; Gen 4:1; Gen 5:1-3; Psa 127:3-5

The Necessity to Do So According to God's Commands
Pro 5:15-21; Mat 19:3-8; Eph 5:22-33

The Spiritual Aspect of the Command
Rom 4:16-18; Gal 3:7; Philemon 1:10-11; Heb 2:9-13

To obey
The Threat of Death Contingent Upon Disobedience
Gen 2:15-17; Deu 28:15-16; Deu 28:45-48; Deu 28:58-61; Psa 119:21; Psa 119:155

The Blessings Contingent Upon Obedience
Lev 18:5; Deu 28:1-14; Psa 19:7-11; Psa 119:1-8; Psa 119:97; Psa 119:46-48; Psa 119:156-158; Psa 119:176

The Need for Divine Enablement
Psa 119:10; Psa 119:12

Perfect Obedience Found Only in Christ
Mat 3:13-17; Mat 4:1-11; Heb 4:14-16; Heb 5:8-10; 1Pet 2:21-25

Christ's Perfect Obedience Imputed to the Believer
Rom 4:22-25; 1Cor 1:30-31; 2Cor 5:20-21

The responsibilities that God enjoined upon innocent man were joined with the greatest of privileges. Man's responsibility to exercise dominion over the earth was characterized by the great privilege of ruling beneath and in analogy to God's own universal rule; his responsibility to multiply and fill the earth held forth the immense privilege and joy of society with others of his own kind, in the likeness of the blessed relationships within the eternal Trinity; his responsibility to obey God was attached to the unspeakable privilege of walking in fellowship with him, and enjoying the good fruits of the Garden that he had placed him in. Man, when he was first created, was the most blessed of all creatures, given great responsibility and filled with unspeakable joys and privileges, all of which derived from his unique relationship to God, as the one being formed in the image of the Divine.

[See verses under the previous point, “Responsible”]

Summative description: Man innocent was able to sin and able not to sin.

Man Depraved

The Fall
Although God created man innocent, upright, good, and in his very image, yet man rebelled against the Word of God in the Garden of Eden, and plunged himself and all his race into a state of misery and hopelessness. The effects of this fall were catastrophic and widespread: the image of God in man was marred (but not completely obliterated); man was placed under a curse of immense proportions, changing the delightful responsibilities and privileges that he had enjoyed into a sorrowful and exhausting toil; all of creation was plunged into a curse and made to exist in vanity; mankind came under the sentence of the eternal punishment of death; and all the descendants of that first man and woman were made the heirs of the sinful nature, curse, and punishment into which their first parents had plunged themselves.

Its nature
Misconception of God
Gen 3:1-3; Psa 10:2-14; Psa 78:19-20; Psa 94:3-11; Mal 1:2-3; Mal 2:17; 1Cor 2:6-10

Misconception of Self
Gen 3:4-5; 2Chr 26:16; Isa 14:12-17; Eze 28:2-9; Eze 28:12-19; Dan 5:20-21; Rev 18:7-8

Gen 3:6; 2Ki 7:1-2; Psa 78:21-22; Psa 78:32-33; Rom 14:22-23; Heb 3:7-13; Heb 11:6

Gen 3:6; Deu 18:18-19; 1Sam 15:22; Ecc 5:1; Jer 7:22-24; Amos 5:21-24; John 14:23-24

Its effects
Gen 3:9-24; Gen 4:10-12; Gen 9:24-25; Deu 27:26; Deu 30:15-20

Distortion of all previous responsibilities

1.) The Responsibility to Obey
Gen 4:6-10; Gen 4:23; Gen 6:11-13; Gen 11:1-9; Num 14:21-23

2.) The Responsibility to Exercise Dominion
Gen 6:1-4 [According to one interpretation, this passage is speaking of mighty rulers who perverted their authority, engaged in unbridled polygamy, and bore children who ruled oppressively and unjustly in the earth.]; Exo 5:6-18; Jdg 1:7; Jdg 9:1-6; Jdg 17:6; Isa 10:1-2; Jer 23:1-2; Eze 34:1-10; Eze 45:8-9

3.) The Responsibility to Multiply
Gen 4:19; Gen 6:1-2; Gen 19:4-9; Gen 19:30-38; Gen 38:7-10; Gen 38:13-17; 2Sam 11:1-4; 2Sam 13:1-17; Lev 18:3-25; Rom 1:24-28

Creation-wide vanity
Gen 3:17-18; Gen 6:6-7; Gen 6:17; Ecc 1:2-8; Jer 9:10-13; Rom 8:19-23

Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12; 1Cor 15:21-22

1.) Physical Death
Gen 4:8; Gen 5:3-8; Eze 18:20; Heb 9:27

2.) Separation from God (Spiritual Death)
Gen 3:23-24; Psa 15:1-5; Isa 6:1-5; Hab 1:13; Luke 5:8; John 3:5-7; Eph 2:1-3; Col 2:13; 2The 1:9

Inherited Depravity
Psa 51:5; Psa 58:3; Rom 5:18-19

Distortion of God's Image
Gen 5:1-3; Rom 5:19; 1Cor 15:48-49

Man's Depravity
After Adam's fall, all mankind was plunged into a state of total depravity. Adam gained a sinful nature by his rebellion, so that he was no longer able to do good; and all of his offspring inherited that same evil nature. Even man's best acts, after the catastrophe in the Garden of Eden, are as filthy rags before God, for they are shot through with many imperfect and God-dishonoring motives. Every responsibility that man had in the Garden was perverted and corrupted by fallen humanity, and every individual came under God's death sentence. And man was hopeless to find a remedy: he was the slave of sin and of the Serpent who had first deceived him, and blinded and unable to understand God, let alone come to him in faith, or follow him. In short, man's fall brought utter catastrophe, and it would take a divine and sovereign act of mercy ever to restore him to his lost estate of righteousness and fellowship with God.

His Corruption
Gen 6:5; Job 15:14-16; Psa 130:3; Psa 143:2; Pro 20:9; Ecc 7:20; Isa 64:6; Jer 13:23; John 3:19; Rom 3:9-12; Jam 3:8; 1John 1:8

His blindness
John 3:19-21; Eph 4:17-19; Eph 5:8

His bondage to sin and Satan
John 8:34; John 8:44; Rom 6:20; 2Tim 2:25-26; Tit 3:3; 1John 5:19

His Evil Nature
Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Job 14:4; Ecc 9:3; Jer 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Mat 7:16-18; Mat 12:33; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 8:7-8; Jam 1:13-14

His Inability (to believe in God, come to him, seek him, etc.)
Isa 64:7; John 6:44; John 6:65; John 8:43-45; John 10:26; John 12:37-41; John 14:17; 1Cor 2:14; Rom 3:10-11

Man's Reward
So great a fall brought equally great consequences: God is utterly holy, and the sinful state into which man had plunged himself could not be overlooked by the righteous Judge of all the earth. God had promised that if Adam disobeyed he would be punished with death: this punishment came, and all men now die physically; but more horrible yet is the fact that all die spiritually, and are no longer able to be found in the presence of the Holy God, the knowledge of whom is eternal life. If no salvation is found from this desperate plight, then Adam's seed is justly doomed to spend eternity in hell, away from the presence of the Lord of Glory. The negative side of baptism is a fitting symbol of this final judgment: when God brought Noah through the waters of judgment in the ark (a type of Christ), the world was destroyed in that baptism; when God delivered his people from Egypt through the Red Sea, Pharaoh was destroyed in that baptism; and when John came proclaiming the baptism of repentance, he told the people that the Messiah would judge the world in a baptism of fire.

Hardening and Reprobation
Exo 4:21; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 9:13; Rom 9:17-18; Rom 9:21-22; 1Pet 2:8


Examples of God's Wrath
Gen 7:17-24; Gen 11:5-9; Gen 19:14-29; Exo 14:23-31; Jude 1:4-11

The Baptism of Judgment
Mat 3:7-12; Luke 12:49-51

[See also the examples of the flood and the destruction of Pharoah in the Red Sea, under “Examples of God's Wrath”]

Final Punishment in Hell
Isa 66:24; Mat 10:28; Mat 11:20-24; Mat 23:33-36; Mark 9:42-48; Luke 16:19-31; Rom 2:5-12; 2The 1:6-10; Rev 20:10-15

Summative description: Man depraved is not able not to sin.

Man Redeemed

When God purposed to redeem a people from the mass of fallen humanity, the sole and inexhaustible source of this surprising and undeserved grace was God's free, unconditional love. We were not lovable in any way; but God, who is love itself, chose to show his amazing love in the vessels which he had formed to showcase his mercy. God's love for his people is eternal, determined before the foundation of the earth. And it is special and individual. His redemptive love is not given to every person alike, but is prepared only for those whom he has chosen, not for any good in them, but to demonstrate the freeness of his favor.

Jer 31:3; Rom 1:7; Eph 2:4-7; 1The 1:2-5; 2The 2:16-17; 1John 4:7-12; 1John 4:16; 1John 4:19

Deu 4:35-38; Deu 7:7-8; Deu 10:14-15; Deu 23:3-6; Deu 33:1-3; 2Sam 12:24; Psa 78:67-68; Psa 89:20-33; Isa 38:17; Isa 43:3-4; Hos 11:1; Mal 1:2-3; John 16:26-27; John 17:22-26; Rom 5:7-8; Rom 9:13-15

God's eternal love for his people flows naturally into his eternal choice to redeem them. This unconditional, sovereign election is the product and proof of his eternal love. Although fallen men like to cling to the idea of some vestige of remaining good in themselves, and are ready to suppose that God saved them, and not others, because they were more willing to believe or more ready to seek, the bible is clear that election is all about God's glory: he saw nothing good in us, not even the slightest modicum of desire to return to him, but he chose us anyway, to glorify the freeness of his mercy and lovingkindness.

The fact of election
Exo 6:7; Deu 7:6; Deu 10:14-15; Psa 33:12; Isa 43:20-21; Psa 65:4; Mat 24:24; John 6:37; John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:10-24; Rom 11:5-7; Eph 1:3-6; Eph 1:11-12; 1The 1:4; 1The 5:9; 2The 2:13-14

The motivation of election

His own good pleasure
Eph 1:5; 2Tim 1:9

The display of his glory
Isa 43:6-7; Rom 9:22-24; Eph 2:4-7; 1Cor 1:27-31

His special love
Deu 7:6-8; 2The 2:13

[See the previous point,“Loved”]

His foreknowledge
Rom 8:29; 1Pet 1:1-2

Which means his relational love or causative purpose
Jer 1:5; Amos 3:2; Mat 7:22-23; 1Cor 8:3; 2Tim 2:19; 1Pet 1:20

But not any good [nobility, wisdom, power, choice, seeking] he foresees in anyone
Deu 7:7; Rom 9:11-13; Rom 9:16; Rom 10:20; 1Cor 1:27-29; 1Cor 4:7; 2Tim 1:9

In eternity, God loved us and chose to redeem us; and then, in time, he brought that eternal will to fruition, and called us into his kingdom. God calls sinners in two ways: outwardly, he proclaims the truth of his free grace to all alike, through his gospel messengers; free pardon is offered without exception, and all who desire to embrace it are invited to do so. However, no man in his natural, fallen condition is willing to accept so gracious a call, because his deeds are evil. Therefore, in those whom he has chosen, God joins the outward call of the gospel with an inward, effectual call of his Spirit, who overcomes native resistance, so that the one thus called will respond indeed.

Isa 55:1-3; Mat 22:2-14; John 3:14-17; John 7:37-38; Rom 10:11-18; Col 1:23; Rev 22:17

Luke 8:52-55; John 6:44-45; John 10:1-5; John 10:16; John 10:25-28; John 11:43-44; Rom 1:5-7; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:23-26; 1Cor 1:1-2; 1Cor 1:9; 1Cor 1:23-24; 1Cor 7:20-24; 2Cor 4:4-6; Gal 1:6; Gal 1:15-16; Eph 1:18; 2The 2:13-14; 1Tim 6:12; 2Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:15; Jam 2:7; 1Pet 2:9; 1Pet 5:10-11; 2Pet 1:3-4; Jude 1:1; Rev 17:14

When God first gave his commandment to man in the Garden, he warned him that disobedience would result in death. That promise in fact came true when Adam disobeyed; and since that first sin, all men have been born into a state of spiritual death. If they would regain what was lost, therefore, their first need is that they be given true life again. This is what regeneration is all about: it is a new birth, God's implantation of a spiritual life into a heart that had been dead, thereby causing it to beat again with love, obedience, faith, and repentance, realities to which it had before been insensible.

Its origin: divine choice
Eze 37:1-14; John 1:12-13; John 3:7-8

Its result:
A new nature
1John 2:29; 1John 3:1-3; 1John 3:9-10; 1John 5:1-4; 1John 5:18

A new heart
Deu 30:6; Eze 11:19-20; Eze 36:25-27

John 3:27; Phi 1:29; 2Pet 1:1; Acts 16:14; Acts 18:27; Eph 2:8-10

Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18; 2Tim 2:25-26; 1Cor 4:7

Ever since God established his gracious covenant with mankind, he was pleased to seal and signify his promise of favor with visible signs of confirmation. In the Abrahamic covenant, the sign and seal was circumcision, which looked ahead to when Christ would be cut off for the sins of the people, and signified the removal of the sinful flesh and the new life to which believers in him would be raised. But when Christ came and was actually cut off, the covenant sign changed to baptism, through which a believer symbolically passes through the waters of judgment and is washed clean from all sin, and preserved safe in Christ. The reality to which this sign points is the baptism with the Spirit, by which believers receive true, spiritual life indeed, by means of the Spirit of God poured out upon them.

The significance of circumcision
Deu 10:16; Deu 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 4:11-12

The correlation of circumcision and baptism
Col 2:11-12

Old Testament examples of baptism
Gen 7:17-24/1Pet 3:18-21; Exo 14:23-31/1Cor 10:1-2

Baptism with water

Mat 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; Acts 10:46-48; Acts 22:16; Rom 6:3-5; Eph 5:26

Baptism with the Spirit

Joel 2:28-29; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 11:15-17; 1Cor 12:13; Tit 3:4-6

There is no more precious term in the believer's vocabulary than “justification,” nor is there any other single word which conveys more of the truth of the gospel than this. The heart of the gospel is that man's fundamental problem is sin, and if the sickness, death, punishment, wrath, and despair which are its fruits will ever be overcome, then his sin problem must first be taken care of. If man would ever be happy again, ever enjoy the presence of the holy God, ever regain what he lost in the Garden, and so pass into the joy of eternal life, his sin must be traded for a spotless righteousness. Justification is the unalterable verdict of the righteous Judge that this has indeed happened: the sinner who had been stained by transgression is legally declared to be wholly righteous, by faith alone. Of course, the God who cannot lie would not pass a verdict that is not true; and so the principle by which justification thrives is that of imputation. Jesus was pleased to give (or impute) to me his flawless righteousness, and to take in its place my putrid mass of stinking iniquity. The Father then treated him, on the cross, as justice demanded that I be treated; but when he raised him from the dead, he confirmed before all that his wrath had been satisfied, and that the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son had been acceptable. In this way, God was able to be just in his verdict and still declare me just, although my past had been stained with immense sin, and his court demands impeccable righteousness.

Righteousness imputed
Jer 23:6; Zec 3:3-5; Rom 9:30-32; Rom 10:3-4; 1Cor 1:30-31; 2Cor 5:21; Phi 3:8-9

Righteousness declared
Gen 15:6; Psa 32:1-2; Isa 45:21-25; Isa 53:11; Hab 2:4; Rom 1:16-17; Rom 3:20-28; Rom 4:1-13; Rom 4:20-5:2; Rom 5:17-19; Rom 8:29-34; Gal 2:15-16; Gal 3:5-14; Gal 3:21-24; Gal 5:4-6

Our basic problem consists of this, first, that by our sin we have become indebted to the one we have wronged; and second, that since the one we have wronged is our Creator, the Almighty God of the universe, our sin debt is therefore infinite, and can never adequately be repaid. We are as dishonest employees who have embezzled and wasted millions of dollars from our employers; and now, although we have not the wherewithal to pay them back, we are still under the obligation of justice to do so. Being so helplessly burdened with a debt we could never repay, how sweet must the sound of our Savior's words fall upon our ears, “Your sins are forgiven; go in peace”?

Exo 34:6-7; Lev 4:25-26; Psa 103:12; Psa 130:3-4; Isa 1:18; Jer 31:33-34; Mic 7:18-19; Mat 6:12-15; Mat 9:2-7; Mat 18:21-35; Mat 26:27-28; Mark 11:25; Luke 23:33-34; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:37-38; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13; Heb 10:11-18; 1John 1:9

Before we could have been brought back to God, there was a price that had to be paid. The righteous law of God was hanging over our heads, with all its unfulfilled demands and broken regulations; and the payment that it required stood in the way of our pardon. So infinite was our debt and obligation, that the only redemption price that could ever have been valuable enough was the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb without spot and without blemish.

Types of Redemption
Exo 13:12-13; Num 3:40-51; Num 18:15-17; Ruth 4:1-10

The True Redemption of Christ
Psa 49:7-8, 15; Psa 130:7-8; Isa 35:10; Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28; 1Cor 6:19-20; Gal 3:13-14; Gal 4:1-5; Eph 1:7-8; Tit 2:13-14; Heb 9:11-15; 1Pet 1:17-19; Rev 5:9-10

The work of Christ in overturning the effects of sin and the curse was manifold: through Adam's fall we became legally guilty, and therefore needed both acquittal and a positive righteousness; this Christ gave us in justification. But we also became impure and defiled, and hence needed washing and sanctification, which he also bestowed upon us. The wound in Christ's side thus flowed with blood, for our absolution from guilt, and water, for our purification from sin – and the purification is just as necessary as the absolution, if we are ever to come before the righteous and holy God. Our sanctification is therefore as necessary as our justification. It is not just a means to an end, but an end in itself. This sanctification may be viewed in different ways: positionally, we have been perfectly and fully sanctified already, and endowed with a perfect holiness; progressively, we are being more sanctified every day – the holiness we have been given is being worked into our lives by the agency of the Triune persons, through the means of the Word of God, by which we are being conformed to the image of Christ; and finally, our practical sanctification will be fully accomplished in glory, when we see the Son of God as he truly is.

Old Testament Examples
Exo 13:2/Heb 12:22-23; Exo 19:6/1Pet 2:9; Exo 19:10-11/Rev 19:7-8; Exo 40:9-11; Lev 10:10-11; Lev 21:17-23

1Cor 1:2; 1Cor 1:30; 1Cor 3:16-17; 1Cor 6:11; Eph 5:25-7; Col 1:21-22; Heb 10:10; 1John 2:29

Isa 52:11; Rom 6:4-18; Rom 12:1-2; 1The 4:3-5; 2Tim 2:21-22; Tit 2:11-12; Heb 9:13-14; Heb 10:14; 1Pet 1:14-16; 2Pet 3:11-12; 1John 3:3

By the Father
Exo 31:13; Lev 20:7-8; Eze 37:27-28; 1The 5:23; Heb 12:10

By the Son
John 17:18-19; Heb 2:10-11; Heb 13:12

By the Holy Spirit
Rom 15:16; 2The 2:13; 1Pet 1:2

Through the Word of God
John 17:17; 2Tim 3:14-17; Jam 1:21-25

Toward the image of Christ
Rom 8:29; 2Cor 3:15-18; Eph 4:20-24; 1John 3:2; 1Cor 15:49

Of all the promised blessings connected with the coming of the Messiah, some of the greatest involved the pouring out of the Spirit upon all God's people, who would dwell within them, teach them God's law in their inner beings, intercede for them with unspeakable groanings, and guarantee their final salvation. What greater and more astonishing privilege could be imagined than that the very God of creation would dwell in our hearts through faith, in spite of all our remaining corruption?

Eze 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-32; John 14:16-17; Acts 2:14-21; Rom 8:8-9; Eph 3:14-19

Our Guarantee
Eph 1:13-14; Eph 4:30

Our Teacher
John 14:25-26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14; 2Cor 3:15-18; 1John 2:20-27

Our Empowerer
Rom 8:2-6; Rom 8:10-14; 1Cor 12:1-11; Gal 5:16-25

Our Intercessor
Rom 8:15-17; Rom 8:26-27

The first and great consequence of man's sin was that he was separated from his God; the last and great accomplishment of Jesus' work was to bring us back to God. The final goal of the mighty work of redemption, therefore, is reconciliation, the calling out of a people who would dwell in the very presence of God, with a restored and blessed relationship with him.

Gen 17:1-8; Isa 2:1-3; Isa 7:14; Jer 31:33-34; Mat 1:22-23; Rom 5:10-11; 2Cor 5:18-20; Eph 2:13-18; Col 1:19-23; 1Pet 2:24-25; 1Pet 3:18; Rev 21:1-4

The great goal of Christ's work of redemption is our reconciliation to the God from whom our sins had separated us; but we can only glimpse to what unspeakable degree of intimate love and fellowship with him we have now been brought in the doctrine of adoption. God is not just our God in a distant or unemotional way; he is our Father, and loves us as he loves his own eternal Son, Jesus Christ. The fullness of every blessing we have received flows from this personal relationship into which we have been brought. Oh, what unspeakable love this is, that we, who were alienated sinners, should be called the sons of God! But so we are indeed, thanks to the unfathomable depths of Christ's work of love.

Exo 4:22-23; Isa 43:5-7; Isa 63:16; Hos 1:10; Mat 5:44-45; Mat 6:8-9; John 1:11-13; John 17:20-23; John 20:17; Rom 8:14-17; Rom 8:22-23; Rom 8:29-30; 2Cor 6:17-18; Gal 3:25-26; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:2-6; 2The 2:16-17; Heb 2:9-14; Heb 12:5-11; 1John 3:1-2; Rev 21:6-7

The fact that Christ came to save us implies that we were in some desperate plight, and needed deliverance. Of course this is true: we were in a manifold and inescapable sin-caused calamity, and helpless to rescue ourselves. We needed to be saved first of all from our sins, and from the wrath of God which those sins were about to bring down upon our heads; but even after that, we remain hard-pressed by many ferocious enemies, such as the world system, the devil and his angels, and our own sinful nature; and we need a constant salvation from their snares, as we press on to our eternal reward. Ultimately, our salvation will come when Christ our Lord returns in glory to judge the world and bring us into his eternal kingdom.

John 3:16-17; Acts 2:16-21; Acts 4:11-12; Acts 16:30-31; Rom 10:9-13; 1Cor 1:18; Eph 2:4-9; Tit 3:4-7

From sin
Mat 1:20-21; Mat 9:2-7; Luke 7:44-50; 1Cor 15:1-4

From God's wrath
Psa 85:1-7; Isa 12:1-2; Rom 5:9-10; 1The 1:9-10

From our enemies
Exo 15:1-19; Psa 27:1-9; Psa 35:1-10; Isa 63:1-9; Luke 1:68-75; 2Cor 2:14-16; 1Pet 4:16-19; Rev 12:10-11

Unto the eternal kingdom
Mat 10:21-22; Mat 19:21-26; Rom 8:22-24; 2The 1:5-10; 2Tim 4:18

[The work of redemption is spoken of in other terms as well, which have not been included because of space. For example, the sins of redeemed man are atoned for, that is, covered by the blood of Christ; and they are propitiated, that is, God's wrath against them has been appeased.]

Summative description: man redeemed is able to sin and able not to sin, but with the guarantee of final victory.

Man Glorified

A Glorious Victory
The future that the hard-pressed and struggling saints have to look forward to is one characterized in every way by victory. On this earth, redeemed man is assaulted on every side: by persecution from without the Church, heresies springing up from within, the temptations and lies of the devil whispered in his ear, the remaining corruption in his own soul ever dragging him down; but at the end of the race, he will be vindicated against all his enemies; his triumph, through Christ, over sin, the world, the devil, and even death itself will be secured; he will be brought into a final and glorious rest from all his struggles, and will enjoy eternal rewards and unswayed dominion over the earth. Just as Christ suffered in his life on earth, but then ascended in victory to reign over all the universe, so Christians are following in his victory train, partaking of his sufferings now, so that they might be assured a share in his glory later.

Vindication from his Enemies
Psa 17:1-15; Psa 35:1-9; Psa 35:19-28; Isa 54:15-17; Jer 51:7-10; Rom 12:19; 2Tim 4:14; 2The 1:5-10; Rev 6:9-17; Rev 18:2-6; Rev 19:1-4

Isa 25:8-9; 1Cor 15:55-58; 2Cor 2:14; 1John 5:4-5

Gen 2:1-3; Exo 20:8-11; Lev 25:2-13; Isa 66:22-23; Mat 11:28-30; Heb 3:7-4:11; Rev 14:13

Isa 40:9-11; Mat 5:3-12; Mat 6:1-6; Mat 6:17-21; Mat 25:14-46; 1Cor 3:8-15; 1Cor 15:58; 2Cor 5:10; 2Tim 4:7-8; Heb 11:6; Heb 11:26; Rev 22:12-14

Isa 32:1; Mat 19:27-30; Luke 19:12-27; 2Tim 2:12; 1Pet 2:9; Rev 1:5-6; Rev 5:9-10

A Glorious Spirit
The final goal of redemption is nothing short of a recreation into the very image of Christ, the perfect man. When our redemption is complete, we will partake of Christ's glory, share in his righteousness, partake of his sinlessness, and reflect him perfectly.

Recreated in the Image of Christ
Rom 8:28-32; 2Cor 3:17-18; 1Cor 15:49; 2Cor 4:4-11; 2Cor 5:17; Eph 4:20-24; Col 3:9-10; 1John 3:2

Robed in the Righteousness of Christ
Psa 132:8-9; Isa 61:10; Zec 3:3-5; Rom 13:13-14; Gal 3:27; Col 3:12-14; Rev 3:5; Rev 6:11; Rev 7:9-10; Rev 19:7-8

Free from All Sin
Eph 5:25-27; Heb 12:22-23; 2Pet 1:2-4; Jude 1:24-25; Rev 14:1-5; Rev 21:7-8; Rev 21:27; Rev 22:14-15

A Glorious Body
The effects of redemption do not stop with the immaterial aspect of man. Man was created as a physical being, and the consequences of sin had a devastating effect on his body; but the glorious result of Christ's work will be a new, resurrection body that can never decay or grow old. The firstfruits and guarantee of this glorified body that we will one day possess is Jesus' own resurrection body. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so he will one day raise the bodies of all his saints, and clothe them with incorruptible flesh, that can never be oppressed by sickness or pain. In their glorified state, the saints will be like the angels in this respect, that they will no longer be marrying or reproducing, but will have all their deepest emotional and social needs satisfied by their marriage union with Christ.

Isa 26:19; John 5:25-29; John 11:23-27; Rom 8:23

Like Christ's Resurrection Body
Job 19:25-26; Psa 16:9-10; Acts 4:1-2; Rom 8:11; 1Cor 6:13-14; 1Cor 15:12-26; 2Cor 4:13-14; Phi 3:10-12; Col 1:18; 1The 4:13-18

Dan 12:2-3; 2Cor 5:1-4

1Cor 15:35-57

Mat 22:23-30

A Glorious Environment
When man first sinned, the consequences of his rebellion extended to his environment, and creation itself was put under a terrible curse; but Christ's work of redemption likewise extends to all of creation. Just as man himself will be recreated perfectly, in his spirit and his body, so all of creation will be created anew, and become a fitting environment for glorified mankind to dwell with Immanuel, God in the flesh, our Redeemer Jesus Christ. For all eternity, the saints will dwell in peace and unity, joyfully working in their perfect environment, feasting together with gladness, never again to experience pain, sickness, sorrow, or the toilsome travail that characterizes this life. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

A New Earth
Isa 35:1-10; Isa 65:17; Rom 8:18-25; 2Pet 3:5-14; Rev 21:1-2; Rev 21:10-21

Dwelling in the Presence of God
2Cor 5:6-8; Rev 21:3; Rev 21:22-23; Rev 22:1-5

Living in Peace and Unity
Isa 2:2-5; Isa 65:25

With no Tears or Sorrow
Isa 25:7-9; Isa 65:18-20; Rev 21:4-6

Joyfully Feasting
Isa 25:6; Joel 3:17-18; Mat 8:11; Mat 26:29; Rev 19:6-9

Joyfully Working
Isa 65:21-22; Rev 21:24-26

Summative Description: Man Glorified is not able to sin.

(HAT TIP: Reformation Theology)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I'll be taking a hiatus from blogging for the next couple of weeks.

God bless you and God willing I'll be back in January 2008.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Knowing God

Of all the possible pursuits, activities, or studies that are practically relevant and positively beneficial which we might spend our time pursuing, there is none, however profitable or necessary, that is as needful and uplifting and valuable as the subject matter of this study. As Christians, there is nothing more practical for us than to know our God. As created beings, there is nothing we need more than to understand our Creator. As desperate and wandering souls searching for significance, longing for something that is infinitely satisfying, seeking pleasure from finite things when God “has set eternity in [our] heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), there is nothing that can even begin to answer to the depths of our vast needs, desires, and longings, except for one thing. That one thing is knowing our God. And that one thing is what we are hoping by his grace to pursue in this study. I hope that all of us can resonate with the truth A. W. Pink once observed, that “a spiritual and saving knowledge of God is the greatest need of every human creature,” and furthermore, that “the foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture.” As we turn to the scriptures, it is with the hope and prayer that God will ” shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).

Continue reading here.

The Non-Offense of the Non-Gospel

Phil Johnson hits the nail on the head with a twelve pound sledgehammer:

The defining principle of historic evangelicalism was an unwavering devotion to the gospel. But the broad movement that calls itself "evangelical" today no longer stands for any clear point of view and can't seem to find consensus on even the most basic of gospel truths. How did that happen?

To find the answer continue reading here.

Quote of the Day

HAT TIP: Slice of Laodicea

“God has not called me to be original; He only calls me to be effective.”

–Rick Warren, Saddleback Sayings,

My response: No, Rick. We’re called to be faithful. The effectiveness is solely the responsibility of the Holy Spirit as we preach and teach the Gospel. When man tries to be the effective using unscriptural strategies, it causes man’s confidence to rest in flesh. The great evangelical disaster can be directly laid at the feet of men like Rick Warren, who for self-serving reasons, invent clever sayings that have absolutely no basis in Scripture.

Posted on December 2007 by Ingrid

Amen Ingrid, amen!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Home to Rome

Over the past number of years I have been writing articles and producing radio programs in an attempt to urge evangelical Christians to wake up and see the light. Many Bible-believing Christians who were once concerned about false teaching and apostasy seem to have lost their passion for the truth and have little discernment. Instead of standing firm against unbiblical ideas and experiences, they now are promoting them.

While we have been able to document that the Emerging Church Movement is clearly another road to the Roman Catholic Church, it seems fewer professing Christians are concerned. Darkness has crept over the church the same way an avalanche sweeps down a mountain. Every day more and more unsuspecting victims are being swept up and buried.

In an attempt to sound another alarm, I am going to present a number of statements taken from a book titled The Road to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church. The book is authored by sixteen different contributors who have converted to Roman Catholicism.The editor is Dwight Longenecker, a former evangelical Protestant. According to his biography:

Dwight Longenecker was brought up in an evangelical home in the USA and attended the fundamentalist Bob Jones University. He came to England in 1979 to study theology at Oxford and went on to be ordained into the Anglican ministry—serving as a curate, a chaplain at Cambridge and a country parson on the Isle of Wight. He and his wife were received into the Catholic Church in 1995 and he now works as a District Organizer for the St. Barnabas Society, and as a freelance writer and broadcaster.

On the back cover the following statement is made explaining what the book is about:

This collection of conversion stories relates how former Baptists, Presbyterians, Salvation Army officers, Plymouth Brethren, New Age believers and Evangelical Anglicans all made their way along the Path to Rome.

A second statement provides more information regarding the purpose for publishing the book. Quoting again from the back cover:

By introducing some of the new wave converts, The Path to Rome gives a glimpse of a possible future for the church. As we enter the third millennium, Catholicism, Evangelicalism and Orthodoxy will continue to converge. From this book a vision emerges in which old cultural, national and doctrinal controversies become increasingly irrelevant. Then as the age of Reform draws to a close and the millennium of division gives way to a “Second Spring,” the Church may once more speak with a united voice.

This idea that a “Second Spring” (or as some call it, a “Second Pentecost”) is about to dawn is fascinating in light of Bible prophecy. Is it a grand delusion that will overtake the world in the name of Christ? Why aren’t more people paying attention?

Continue reading Home to Rome here.

An Uncomfortable Christmas Card for Unbelievers Comfortable at Christmas

HAT TIP: Reformation Theology

Dear Friend or Loved One Who Loves Me, but Does Not Love Jesus Christ:

This Christmas, I eagerly and affectionately desire to write to you a different kind of Christmas message. I long to send you good tidings of great joy, and high hopes that your Christmas and New Year will be cheerful and full of good things, but I also want to write to make you as uncomfortable with the Christmas message as possible.

“Why would I do that?” you may ask. “Why would you want someone you love to be uncomfortable by the Christmas message?” Well, Christmas is about more than eating together, mustering up good feelings, enjoying a restful winter holiday, giving and getting presents, and singing songs around the Christmas tree (even when we don’t feel like singing). Christmas is much more than that! Now understand me, you can have a holiday anytime of the year if you want, and if you want to take a holiday at Christmas time, then that is your prerogative, but please don’t feel comfortable with Christmas and Christmas things.

The gospel message of Christmas should greatly frighten all who do not believe and love Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Great and Powerful God and Maker of the universe became flesh and dwelt among us; this is the message of Christmas. This great God who made us all, and to whom we will all be accountable, became one of us in order to make himself fully known. If you want to know God, you find him and understand him in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ; Jesus is the one who reveals God or makes him known in all of his attributes and righteousness (John 1:14-18).

This Christmas, I want you to consider three very special Christmas Bible verses, and I want you to feel very uncomfortable each time you read and hear them until by God’s grace you know the Lord Jesus Christ himself as your Lord and Savior.

These three verses will be found this season in great number on church signs, songs you hear sung, and in Christmas cards sent by others to you. In hoping to make you feel uncomfortable, I am not doing this to be mean, or to be angry, or to cause you to be unnecessarily upset with me. I am doing this because I believe your eternal destiny is at stake for not believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and I take it very seriously because I love you very much! The Bible says in John 3:18 and 3:36:

John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God….John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

There are only two kinds of people at Christmas: those who believe in the Christmas message, and those who do not believe the Christmas message.

Those who do not believe in Christ the Son, who was sent by God to save sinners, are already condemned. This means that if you are an unbeliever, or one who rejects Christ outright, or merely accepts Christ on your own terms as a good religious teacher, you abide under God’s wrath for your sins at this very moment (John 3:18, 36), and this is not something to take lightly- -but fearfully and uncomfortably until you find your sins forgiven and your rest in Jesus Christ alone.

My hope as you read further is that you would feel greatly uncomfortable and convicted by your sins against God and man, and that the powerful Holy Spirit of God would reveal your need, hope, and ultimate and eternal comfort to be found in Christ alone!

With that said, may you never think the same comfortable, mere sentimental “Christmas” thoughts about the following Biblical passages! I am taking three familiar passages, two from Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 40:1-5) and one from the Gospel of Luke. Let’s read together Isaiah 9:6-7:

“For Unto Us a Child Is Born…”
Isaiah 9:6-7: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

This prophecy of Isaiah that is quite familiar and quoted very comfortably during the Christmas season is about the manger ultimately. This prophecy is about a child being born and a son being given for sinners. Notice how this child, this son is described: 1) He shall be a great ruler over all governments (“the government shall be upon his shoulder”); 2) He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; and, 3) His great rule will increase so that peace will cover the face of the earth and his Kingdom will extend throughout the earth and throughout eternity. He will rule with justice and righteousness forever.

This should only comfort you if you believe upon Jesus Christ, the child, the son who is given for us. Otherwise, this prophecy should greatly threaten your comfortable existence. The first way he is described is a great ruler over all governments. Do you bow before him in service and worship as your king? Do you treat this Jesus Christ as a King, a great and mighty ruler? Do you understand that even though you might not recognize his sovereign rule, he does indeed rule? In fact, the risen ascended Christ has authority over heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:19-21). If you do not obey and serve Christ as King, you are guilty of cosmic treason against the King, and he will judge you for your unrighteous trespassing on property that has been claimed by him as his own, and over which he rules and reigns even now.

Secondly, Jesus is described as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Do you long for someone to guide you through this dark world of sin and misery, giving you a sense of purpose and understanding of who you are and who God is? HE is the Wonderful Counselor to guide and teach you. Do you listen to his counsel; or do you reject it; or are you disinterested in his counsel to you through the Bible?

Jesus came to make known the true God and he said that salvation was a knowledge of the True and Living God found in himself (John 17:1-3). Is he your wise and great Counselor, or do you live life on your terms, your way, according to your puny knowledge?

Jesus is called Mighty God. Do you recognize Jesus Christ, born in a manger of a virgin, from the little town of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem to be God himself for us? Jesus Christ was born as man to reveal God in all his greatness and power to us! Jesus called himself the Great “I AM”, making himself equal with Jehovah God. Jesus claimed to be very God of very God, that is, equal with God.

The Apostle John opens his gospel with these words (speaking of Christ as ‘The WORD’): “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Do you acknowledge him as God and Creator of all things? Think of how a Word describes and communicates something. John is saying that Jesus Christ was God’s communication of himself “The Word made flesh” to make his love and grace known (John 1:14).

I beg of you who think of Jesus as a merely another sentimental Christmas icon (along with Frosty and Santa), don’t come to the manger to peer in and fondle God’s Son unless you are coming humbly as a sinner to bow to him as Lord, to serve and worship him! Do not come to Jesus merely thinking of him as “baby Christmas Jesus”, or merely a good teacher, or a nice man who lived and made a bit of a difference in the world.

Jesus witnessed of himself, and other Scripture writers witnessed of him that he was the Mighty God; he is nothing less and will accept nothing less than your obedience and worship as God.

Jesus is called Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. As Everlasting Father he shows to us eternal love and care. No matter how much hardship we have endured, no matter how far we have gone from the love of God, and how much we have sinned again him, he receives the humble and repentant back as his children. He has come to save his own, not to condemn those who believe! Do you believe you have sinned against him as a naughty and sinful child of the Creator? Do you believe he is a forgiving Father (despite what kind of earthly father you had, or did not have)? Jesus says he came specifically for the sinners, not the righteous; he came to seek and save the lost! Are you lost? This “Everlasting Father” full of grace and truth has come to heal your wounds and forgive you your sins.

As Prince of Peace, Jesus has come to bring peace with God so that guilty consciences can be silenced by God’s grace and love. Do you long to know the peace with God that only Jesus can bring in reconciling you to the Father through his bloody death? Romans 5:1 says of believers that we receive reconciliation with the Father through Jesus Christ alone. Why? Because Jesus died as a sin offering, taking the wrath of God that sinners deserve upon himself, so that we could have peace with God.

Do you want this peace of God that passes all of your understanding? Not some fragile, temporal and idyllic peace of the world where everyone just “tries to get along” (the impossible!), but an eternal peace with God the Father and with those who are called by his name.

Do you understand that accepting this peace causes you to be at enmity with those who do not believe? Jesus brings peace with God for those who believe, but he also divides families in the process. Jesus said that father and son, mother and daughter, and other members of one family will be divided because of the peace he offers. Some will give their all to him, and some will despise him in the same family- -but he comes to bring the eternal peace with God that truly matters and makes us members of his own family.

Jesus’ Kingdom is spoken of as extending throughout the world and throughout eternity. Are you a member of that Kingdom through belief in Jesus Christ? If you do not believe, as part of the display of his righteousness and justice, he will punish eternally in hell those who deny him. The only way and hope for salvation is found in Jesus Christ. Since he is the Great God and King, he calls the shots! If he says that there is only one way to receive eternal life and it is found in him, then he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6).

If this great God and King says that those who oppose and deny him will be eternally punished and cut off from the grace and mercy of God, then this will occur because the mouth of the Lord has spoken. The Book of Revelation says when he returns it will be as a Mighty Warrior and as God Almighty to save and redeem his own of this world of sin and misery and to punish with fire those who do not believe (Revelation 19:11-16). This is not a picture of a baby in a manger, but of a warrior on a white horse full of the righteous and just wrath of Almighty God!

Repent now before it is too late. But please, stop merely thinking of Jesus as just another nice religious teacher, and baby Jesus as another American Christmas icon, and accept him as Lord and Savior. We shall now look at another popular text of Scripture from Isaiah 40:

“Comfort, Comfort My People…”
Isaiah 40:1-5: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

This is another famous portion of Scripture that has been made famous by Handel’s ‘Messiah’, but I beg you not to get too comfortable with it. Rather, heed and hear its message! It is good to be uncomfortable in God’s presence in order that perhaps through the work of the Holy Spirit and humility, you might seek after God in the face of Jesus Christ and find true and lasting comfort in his saving and loving arms- -but do not reject him!

Notice how this prophecy of Isaiah begins with words of comfort. This seems to be the opposite of what I am trying to do in my Christmas letter you might think. But notice something important: the comfort that God wants Isaiah to speak is addressed to his people. God says to comfort “my people” and to speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and from this Old Testament perspective, to speak to Jerusalem, meant to speak to those who were confessing to be God’s people.

The sad news is that Jesus came to his own in Jerusalem, but many did not receive him. Those who received him in Jerusalem and in other parts of the worlds were saved, and were called sons of the living God, and were those to whom words of comfort could be spoken (John 1:9-12).

God, the living God, Creator of Heaven and Earth speaks through his Scripture. There are no more prophets like Isaiah, but Isaiah’s words are still in the Bible for us, and when we speak or declare these words, it is God speaking to us (Heb. 4:1-11). Is God speaking tenderly to you through these words? Do you find comfort in these words?

For these words were written as preparatory for those who confessed faith in God to be eagerly awaiting and eagerly watching for a voice, one calling in the wilderness to prepare the way of the LORD, in order for the LORD to come and make his glory manifest all over the earth. The voice that was prophesied in Isaiah was John the Baptist (Matthew 3), and John testified and witnessed to Jesus, who was God come in the flesh. The words of comfort here were for those eagerly awaiting and anticipating the arrival of God in the flesh, who were those who believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who believe in God’s Christ can truly take comfort as his people.

Do you believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ who has come (“Joy to the world the Lord is come?!”)? Do you await the Lord Jesus’ coming? Then you should be uncomfortable in the presence of God and His Christ. This passage in Isaiah goes on to say that the glory of God shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it. The Apostle John writes in John 1:18 that we have “beheld his glory” that is, the glory of God was revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18).

Do you see God’s glory in the testimony of Jesus Christ found in the Scriptures? Jesus says that blessed are those who saw him and believed, but even greater blessings await those who do not see yet believe (John 20). In the Bible, we see the glory of God (that is all of who and what God is) in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is your only hope of comfort and source of joy in this present evil age, as well as in the world to come. Do not make this prophecy a prophecy that is just part of the make up and background music of Christmastime. Let this prophecy make you feel greatly uncomfortable, and seek comfort in God alone. God speaks comfort to HIS PEOPLE- -those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ—not those who reject him selfishly.

And for those who are part of the Christian Church, who confess Christianity as their religion. Do you hope in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Are you comforted by Christ and something you have done for him as the basis or source of your salvation? Only in Christ alone will you find the righteousness of God that God requires in order to be saved and redeemed from death, hell, and the devil.

Remember also for those who are outwardly Christian in name. This comfort was written for those in Jerusalem who confessed their belief in God. When Christ came however, many of them rejected him because he was not the Savior they desired. Do you long for Christ’s return as the Christ that is revealed in Scripture?

Do you believe in Christ alone not trusting merely in the fact that “Jesus is just alright with you” and that perhaps the Christian religion seems the best option or choice for you among many good religious out there? Or, is belief upon Jesus Christ your only hope of eternal life, the very revelation of God’s glory and righteousness, and the one you hope in daily in order to be saved from hell?

“Would Someone Tell Me What Christmas is All About?!”
Finally, we shall turn to Luke 2. Growing up as an unbeliever, I was thankful for the opportunity every year to hear Linus Van Pelt in Charles M. Schultz’s ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ broadcast on CBS, to hear the gospel good tidings of Jesus born in a manger. If you remember the cartoon, Charlie Brown the main character, while unsuccessfully trying to direct a Christmas play, yells out in great frustration: “Would someone please tell me what Christmas is all about!”

His friend Linus asks the lights to be dimmed, and steps forward into the spotlight, to declare the gospel of hope for all those who would believe. I remember believing sentimentally in what Linus was saying when I was a child, but it was not until later that I truly believed the truth of what Linus (and Luke) were saying in Luke 2! May you also come to understand this as more than a quotation from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and a sentimental Christmas wish- -and come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, the babe in the manger!

Luke 2:8-16: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Notice in this passage that when the angels appeared with this great and glorious news it caused sinful shepherds to quake in their boots at this vision in the dark night sky. The angel of the Lord tells them (and the entire world) not to fear because they bring glad tidings, or gospel good news from God himself! In order to find peace and hope they were to go to a manger, and in that manger they would find eternal hope in a baby. He was a Savior and was Christ the Lord.

What does this mean? It means that the little baby in Bethlehem’s stable was a Savior of sinners and an Anointed One full of God’s Spirit to save and renew those enslaved by sin and misery. A savior is one who can redeem, or purchase back from slavery, and Jesus said that he came to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Jesus as Savior came to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). As an Anointed One (which is the translation of ‘Christ’ from a Greek word; Christ is not his last name!), Jesus is one full of the Spirit of God, able to save the lost, able to renew them by His Spirit, able to lay down his life in order to take it up again for them in resurrection, and able to take away all the guilt and pollution in them because of their sins and unrighteousness.

This was great news but it was not for everyone, and so once again please stop merely sentimentalizing this passage, and remember to whom it is addressed specifically. Don’t get me wrong, this message should be proclaimed to the whole world; this message of this baby in the manger is God’s only hope for peace, hope, and love for mankind, and this is to be declared to as many as possible.

But the actual point of this message, that is, the message as a message that makes a difference for a weary world as far as the curse is found, is the message addressed to those with whom God is pleased (Luke 2:14). There have been other translations of this passage, but this is the best one. God is saying that there is peace on earth and goodwill toward men in Christ alone! Please do not lie to yourself (or God), and pretend to think that this message of good tidings and cheer, and peace on earth is for those who would deny and reject the Lord Jesus Christ!

God is saying through the angel here that there is true peace found among those whom he is pleased. God is pleased when men and women no matter how wicked their sins, or how hopeless their lives, believe upon the Son he sent to be Savior and Christ, who came to dwell with man, being born in a manger.

Jesus is the one who came to save us and deliver us from our sins. Do you know of the hope that only Christ can give? Do you long to know how to be right with God and the world? Are you tired of each Christmas getting a glimpse of what it is all about only to find yourself rejecting him once again?

This Christmas receive the Lord Jesus Christ. As Savior of sinners he does not require you to be righteous first (he will make you righteous later)! All that he requires is that you believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your only Savior and hope.

This is the message of good tidings of great joy that shall be to all people throughout the earth who believe! Jesus came to be born for you, to live the law of God perfectly for you; Jesus came to die a terrible death on a heinous cross for your sins, and he came to be raised for your justification (or your being declared righteous and no longer condemned before God!).

Do you believe?

If you do not believe, you have every right to be uncomfortable this Christmas! The wrath of God abides on you; you are in serious danger. You should not be comfortable at Christmas or any other time of the year! Repent of your sins! And believe the good news of Jesus!

Hear the words of Jesus (and I pray with every fiber of my being that you can hear):

“Come to me, all of you who are burdened by the commands of God, and of the uncomfortable feeling found in sermons about Jesus and sin, and who feel like a world of trouble and sin is on your shoulders and that it is killing you…

Come to me, and I will give you rest!
Come to me, and I will give you rest!
Come to me, and I will give you rest!

My burden is easy, and my yoke is light!” – Jesus says.

This means that belief upon the Lord Jesus Christ will give you the peace for which you so desperately long, and the good news and glad tidings of Christmas will be truly yours. But don’t seek comfort until you believe and bow before the babe in the manger in worship and obedience because you have recognized that he is God with us, and if God is with us, he is for us who believe!

Merry Christmas, and with great and affectionate love,

Friday, December 7, 2007

Justification and Forgiveness

We have now been justified by his blood (Romans 5:9)

[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24)

We hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28)

I suppose it's obvious, but being justified before God and being forgiven by God are not identical. God has a definite and perfect system of divine justice. Being forgiven implies that I'm guilty and my crime is simply not counted, but being justified means I'm tried and found innocent of all charges.

Justification in Christ is an instantaneous benefit of salvation. Justification isn't a process like sanctification, it's a divine declaration that happens in a moment. Upon trusting in Christ unto salvation the Infinite Creator and Judge of the universe declares a verdict upon the new creature in Christ: "Just! Righteous!"

This is particularly amazing given the fact that we have not kept the law and are therefore guilty before God and worthy of His wrath. Only God Himself could have purchased us from this miserable estate! Who else but God was worthy to take our place and make our atonement? None else!

The Bible even says "He who justifies the wicked [is] and abomination to the LORD" (Proverbs 17:15), yet God in Christ by his boundless grace, mercy, love and pity justifies the ungodly who trust in His grace (Romans 4:5)!

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33)

Let Us Not Grow Weary In Well Doing

I found the message written by A.W. Tozer below to be of no small comfort as it seems that a life devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ that endeavors to adhere to the lofty standards He sets forth often encounters conflict upon conflict with the very professing church which claims His Name!

In surveying the sad state of today's apostate evangelical church I'm reminded of the Pharisees of Jesus day which outwardly appeared righteous but who were in truth full of ravening and wickedness. The barren, desolate spiritual landscape of professing Christianity is a wretched reminder of the predictable result each time man perverts the Word of God. When the counsel of God Almighty is exchanged in whole or in part for utilitarian political agendas, false temporal "peace" - so called - or ecumenical unity you can rest assured that the judgment of God will quickly follow.

The Christian God, Creator and Judge of heaven and earth will not honor a man-centered false gospel, for His name is Jealous and He is jealous for His bride.

In today's climate of "anything goes" evangelical easy-believism unsuspecting millions have been fed a poisonous pseudo-gospel message that measures on how man feels as opposed to measuring upon the immutable, unchanging, absolute Word of God. The existential root of this evil tree can be traced back to the fountainhead of ecumenical deceit; the Roman Catholic Church. Rome's twisted theology is subjective and mysterious, complicated and contradictory, while the revealed Word of God is eminently objective and forthright. The wickedness of Mystery Babylon is clearly seen in her highly ritualized masses, vain repetition, idolatrous Eucharistic adoration and blasphemous worship of the created instead of the Creator.

The leaven of Rome has crept into the American evangelical church through heresy mongers such as Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Rob Bell and many, many others. Unfortunately the church is ripe for these ravening wolves who seek to rend the flock because of its weak-kneed effeminate leadership.

Where are the Davids who will oppose the spiritual Goliaths that threaten the Lord's little flock?

Where are the Elijas who will stand boldly before wicked Ahab and proclaim the Word of God?

Where are the watchmen upon the wall who will sound the alarm in Zion?

I for one say "Here am I, send me!" It's no longer a matter of being labeled as "divisive", or "contentious". It's time for men of God to stand up and earnestly contend for the faith.

Taking action will mean the loss of your comfort zone. Taking action may mean the loss of friendships, churches or even ministries for some, but God will honor those who honor Him, and He will utterly reject those who esteem the praise of men or worldly goods higher than they esteem the praise of God Almighty!

Choose this day whom you will serve.

Below is the excerpt from Tozer's foreword to Leonard Ravenhill’s book "Why Revival Tarries". I hope reading it brings you as much encouragement as it brought me:

Great industrial concerns have in their employ men who are needed only when there is a breakdown somewhere. When something goes wrong with the machinery, these men spring into action to locate and remove the trouble and get the machinery rolling again. For these men a smoothly operating system has no interest. They are specialists concerned with trouble and how to find and correct it.
In the Kingdom of God things are not too different. God had always had His specialists whose chief concern has been the moral breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the church. Such men were Elijah, Jeremiah, Malachi and others of their kind who appeared at critical moments in history to reprove, rebuke, and exhort in the name of God and righteousness.

A thousand or ten thousand ordinary Old Testament priests or New Testament pastors and teachers could labor quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of Israel or the Church was normal. But let the people of God go astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist appeared almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought him to the help of the Lord and of Israel.
Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense they were right. He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew Who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart.

Those who know Leonard Ravenhill will recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God not to carry on the conventional work of the Church, but to beard the priests of Baal on their own mountaintop, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet and warn the people who are being led astray by him.
Such a man as this is not an easy companion. The professional evangelist who leaves the wrought-up meeting as soon as it ends to hurry over to the most expensive restaurant to feast and crack jokes with his sponsors will find this man something of an embarrassment, for he cannot turn off the burden of the Holy Ghost as one would turn off a faucet. He insists upon being a Christian all the time, everywhere; and again, that marks him out as different.

Toward Leonard Ravenhill it is impossible to be neutral. His acquaintances are divided pretty neatly into two classes, those who love him out of all proportion and those who hate him with perfect hatred. And what is true of the man is sure to be true of his books, of this book. The reader will either close its pages to seek a place of prayer or he will toss it away in anger, his heart closed to its warnings and appeals.

Oh Lord God Almighty, call us forth who may serve you steadfastly, turning neither to the left hand nor the right, but who walk in the very center of Your perfect will! Teach us your ways Oh God! Write your statutes upon the tables of our hearts that we may always have a ready answer for the hope that is within us!

HAT TIP: Apprising Ministries

Refuting Dallas Willard (Repost)

I posted the following comment over at Joe Carter's evangelical outpost in response to a commenter named "George":


I did read both the article (Jesus the Logician) and Joe's brief missive regarding the nature of "The Project".

In both I was troubled to once again discover the nearly ubiquitous error of modern evangelicalism to which I pointed in my prior post.

Sadly upon review Dallas Willard is found to be firmly ensconced in the scripturally unsupported camp which purports that unregenerate man's reasoning yields perfectly acceptable, reliable and intelligible results, when in fact this position is roundly refuted by scripture.

See Dallas Willard's comments below, emphasis mine:

Jesus' aim in utilizing logic is not to win battles, but to achieve understanding or insight in his hearers. This understanding only comes from the inside, from the understandings one already has. It seems to "well up from within" one. Thus he does not follow the logical method one often sees in Plato's dialogues, or the method that characterizes most teaching and writing today. That is, he does not try to make everything so explicit that the conclusion is forced down the throat of the hearer. Rather, he presents matters in such a way that those who wish to know can find their way to, can come to, the appropriate conclusion as something they have discovered--whether or not it is something they particularly care for. Translation, "unregenerate man is capable of reasoning his way to ultimate truth."

Really? Is this supported by scripture? Indeed, it is not.

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." Yes, and no doubt Jesus understood that. And so he typically aims at real inward change of view that would enable his hearers to become significantly different as people through the workings of their own intellect. They will have, unless they are strongly resistant to the point of blindness, the famous "eureka" experience, not the experience of being outdone or beaten down.

Again, "(sinful) man's intellect" is sufficiently capable of apprehending Biblical truth. This defies philosophical example and revealed scripture, both of which refute this absurd contention.

In effect Mr. Willard claims that Jesus Christ, the eternal God, gave His appeal to the natural man's reasoning in an effort to invoke acceptance of His claims! At its core this is a statement that God Almighty subordinates Himself to the inspection and acceptance of sinful man's "reasoning"! Of course it is impossible and absurd to hold that both sinful man's reasoning (autonomous self) and the Creator God can be ultimate authorities!

No, sinful man's reasoning and God Almighty are not co-equal ultimate authorities. Sinful man must submit to the authority of God that he might reason properly. According to revealed scripture unregenerate man cannot reason properly apart from the revelation of the Christian theistic worldview. Man must abandon his wicked worldview in favor of "thinking God's thoughts after Him". This requires a radical departure from man's previous modus operandi, the "putting off of the old man" (repentance) and the assumption of an entirely new worldview (regeneration) or philosophy, namely Christian theism. This of course is not the work of men, but the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus well knew this since it was under divine inspiration that the Apostle Paul gave his Mars Hill discourse wherein he unequivocally proved that unregenerate man's reasoning is not merely defective needing some "supernatural additive" in order to be whole, but rather that their entire system of reasoning is bankrupt and downright sinful!

Mr. Willard's methods are deeply flawed and will result (as I've previously mentioned) in "common ground" - so called - gained at the expense of reinforcing the unbeliever's claim to ultimate authority and failing to intellectually challenge the alleged self-sufficiency of his reasoning. For the Christian apologist this is too high a price to pay.

I personally believe Mr. Willard's proposal is a pernicious and deeply defective apologetical method.

Cursed by Rome

It's important to realize in today's climate of ecumenicalism and unity by all means that the Church of Rome officially cursed all Protestant Christians during Vatican I. Vatican I lasted for 18 years and was convened as a response to Luther's 95 theses and the subsequent Protestant Reformation.

The result of the RCC's analysis of the Protestant's doctrine was to change absolutely nothing as touching Rome's doctrine, but rather to pronounce a papal curse upon those who held to faith by grace alone (as opposed to faith plus works as promulgated by the apostate RCC).

Regardless of what we may think of some of his other activities, before a worldwide audience on the The John Ankerberg Show, Dr. D. James Kennedy at least had the intestinal fortitude to be willing to put all this all into its proper perspective when he tells us:

The Council Of Trent [was a full] 18 years…spent examining the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation…[and] this has never been altered or denied by the [Roman] Catholic Church – “if anyone says that the faith which justifies is nothing else but trust in the divine mercy–which pardons sins because of Christ or that it is trust alone by which we are justified” – which is what every Evangelical Christian would say… “Let him be anathema.” Which means let him be accursed. Every Evangelical Christian in the world stands under the official–[and] never changed curse of the Roman [Catholic] Church. (Grace To You, Irreconcilable Differences, cassette tape GTY54, parts 1-3, side 1). (HAT TIP: Apprising Ministries)

So there you have it Christian. Can you embrace with open arms the apostate false-church that curses you and your faith in the Risen Lord of Glory? Can you simply shrug off the "minor doctrinal differences" between you and fellowship with your "Catholic brothers and sisters"?

Scripture answers with a resounding "NO!" in 2 Corinthians 6:14 - "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

Lord may we be bold to stand upon your unchanging and eternal Word! Empower us O' mighty King that we would not be deceived by the subtlety of the enemy who would ensnare us with his false doctrine and counterfeit unity; who would enter in secretly introducing destructive heresies! The enemy is as a wolf in sheep's clothing desiring to rend the flock! Give us eyes to see O' Lord and ears to hear your truth and your voice Lord, and let us not hearken unto another! Keep us Lord by Your power and strength and after having done all to stand, may we stand steadfastly upon the Rock of our Salvation and Your holy Word of Truth! Amen.

Rick Warren, False Prophets & the Remnant

"Pastor Rick" Warren is merely one of a cabal of modern-day false prophets whose message can be boiled down to "I'm okay, you're okay" when the clear message of scripture is "I'm not okay, and neither are you. But guess what? God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!"

While he is but one man, the global reach of his ecumenical church of deceit and of his Devil Driven machination gives "Pastor Rick" an unprecedented opportunity to rend the flock.

"Pastor Rick" is joined in his man-centered false gospel boy's club by the likes of Joel Osteen who preaches a sticky sweet "God loves you" bubble-gum theology utterly devoid of the offense of the cross and Brian McLaren whose version of the "McGospel" is being endlessly "reimagined" by the post-modern neo-liberal emergent church movement.

Notoriously missing from the message of these "Evangelicals" - a term I use advisedly - is the evangelium, i.e. the Gospel itself! Think about for a moment and ask yourself when is the last time any of these very prominent - supposedly Christian - pastors publicly called for repentance or spoke of sin, judgment or hell? I'm guessing those subjects would be quite unpalatable to their worldly followers and would serve to vaporize their fawning media coverage and alienate many of their most generous "prayer partners". Tsk, tsk...

The not-so-curious thing all of these "men of God" (so-called) have in common is the acceptance, adoration and love of the world. I seem to recall something in the scriptures about the love of the world; can anyone help me out with those pesky chapters and verses?

And though it's unfortunate and saddening to watch these ravening wolves rend the flock it is simultaneously heartening to see in the midst of this present darkness that there are still those willing to speak out against the spiritual adultery committed by these men and their kind. There remains a remnant of true believers within the Body who are empowered by the Holy Spirit with discernment and love of the true Gospel message of Christ crucified; the one and only Truth. These few stand as sentries in the darkness shining forth their candles of truth and light; the teachings of infallible scripture. While others question the validity and relevance of the Bible these few hold fast to their first love, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

This discerning remnant is constantly pilloried and ridiculed by the co-opted church for their failure to collectively bow their knees to the church growth Baal of Rick Warren and his ilk. They often are accused of being hateful, spiteful, legalistic and highly Pharisaical. The paradox is that these few bastions of Christian truth are relatively powerless when contrasted against the Devil, um...I mean Purpose Driven organizations surrounding the likes of Warren, Osteen, McLaren, et al. These "watchmen on the gate" don't have gigantic media relations teams, near limitless funds, book deals, powerful friends in high places or legions of hirelings at their beck and call. What they have instead is the inspiration of scripture and a simple boldness and love of the truth which they derive from the Holy Spirit. With those odds there's no reason for dismay on their part for as it's been rightly said, God is a majority.

At the end of the day Rick Warren is another fence riding charlatan who wants to have his cake and eat it too. He enjoys rubbing elbows with the world's elite and relishes in the perquisites of his worldly fame. In the private sector Rick Warren would be a great asset to any company, smart, savvy, and possessing natural leadership skills and enthusiasm. In the Church he's an abomination who has sold his spiritual birthright for a bowl of worldly porridge.

Sadly for "Pastor Rick" he and his type surround themselves by gutless yes-men, sycophants and hangers-on who will never tell him the truth he so desperately needs to hear; that he has strayed from the path of righteousness and become self seeking, self serving and man-centered and is in need of a contrite and repentant heart that the Lord might be merciful and restore him. But why would they? Why would these blind followers of the blind point out to Pastor Rick the error of his ways? He's their meal ticket, their golden goose if you will, and it's been proven time and again that men will go to great - even drastic - lengths to preserve their positions and material wealth.

But even more disheartening than Pastor Rick's self-sustaining delusions of grandeur is the fact that he has proven himself unwilling to use his visibility and fame to perform the very task to which he ostensibly was called: to preach the Gospel. This means that, not unlike Pastor Rick himself, his audiences are also not hearing the truth they so desperately need to hear; the truth of the cross.

The church doesn't need more P.E.A.C.E. plans, programs, AIDS summits or rallies, instead we need more men of God who will stand up and tell the world that it's going to hell except for repentance and salvation via the shed blood Jesus Christ alone made available through the everlasting mercies of the One True Living God.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Openly Challenged

Tim Brown of The Reformed Gadfly has posted An Open Challenge to Rick Warren in which he says:

To Rick Warren:

While you are working so hard on your friendship with Islam, do you think you could talk to them about what they are doing to your brothers and sisters in Christ? The details are as follows, from "":

"In April 2007, Evangelist Daniel and more than 40 Christian leaders in Indonesia were arrested after a video recording of them praying for Muslims and the Quran was leaked to Islamic organizations. Evangelist Daniel was sentenced to five years in prison for praying, “Father we pray for the leaders of the madrassa, so their hearts would be open for gospel..."

Thank you,

Tim Brown

I left the following comment in response to Tim Brown's calling out of the Purpose Driven Puppet Master Rick Warren:

The men-in-skirts spiritual sissies that pass for "Christian leaders" in these last days aren't interested in divisive things like taking a stand on scripture, doctrine, or a bunch of dusty old creeds!

"Why be divisive"? This was Rick Warren's actual response when asked about the fact that his pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women.

“I’m not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won’t try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?” he asks.

Egads man! Look, if the gospel itself is a non-essential to Rick Warren - and it is in both word and deed - then nothing else is left to debate.

Nothing else matters.

Elvis has left the building.

I can only give Rick Warren the benefit of the doubt that he actually is an apostate. But I must admit that I'm becoming increasingly convinced that he doesn't even qualify for that ignominious title because I'm not sure he was ever a true Christian believer/pastor/teacher in the first place.

He's providing more and more evidence that he may have always been a cultist.

I wonder how quickly his fawning media coverage would vaporize if he insisted on having rallies in favor of ending abortion at Saddleback instead of a warm and fuzzy conversation about A.I.D.S?

I wonder how suddenly his status as "America's Pastor" would evaporate if he were adamant about organizing every church and every church member to mobilize their resources to run the aborturaries out of their communities?

I wonder how immediately his invitations to appear on prime time television talk shows would disappear if he had dedicated as much time speaking out against the blood of millions of innocents flowing from their mother's wombs as he's spent shilling his social gospel of works righteousness?

May the Lord of Hosts open the eyes of Rick Warren and his itching ears followers, hirelings and hangers-on before it's too late!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Destructive Heresies in Today's Church

by Gil Rugh

The issues identified by Martin Lloyd-Jones in 1946 are the same issues of today. He said, "For I think you will agree that the prevailing tendency is not to talk about and write about the truth itself. The whole emphasis at the moment is that we should all be getting together and forming great organizations. The concern is not so much as to the truth of the message, but to gather ourselves together into one great community. The tendency today is to minimize truth in favor of organization, and men are telling us with unwearied iteration that the greatest tragedy of the world is the disunited church. But the tragedy, the greatest tragedy as I understand the New Testament, is not the disunity of the church, is not the fact that the church is divided into groups and denominations, is not that we are not all in one organization, but that all the sections are preaching a false message and that there has been a departure from the truth of God as it is in Jesus Christ."

I encourage you to continue reading Destructive Heresies in Today's Church here.