Friday, December 30, 2011

Good News?

"Can you tell me about the 'Good News'?" "Come on, tell me. I've noticed your 'light shining', there's something different about you, you seem to have some sort of inner joy that I'm interested in."

This generally isn't going to happen, you're going to have to approach people and start the conversation. Are you prepared to give a reason for the hope within you (1 Pet 3:15)? How do you, as a Christian, share your faith (as you are commanded to in the Great Commission)?

There are those who would say that the Law is not applicable to us today. They might claim that it was only for the Jewish people, or they may say that it no longer applies since Jesus came with grace, as they cite "legalism" or "works-righteousness."

While it is true that no one is saved by the Law (Rom 3:20), the Law of God still has a prominent place in Christianity. It is based on His very nature, and is the standard He gives mankind to live by (Rom 8:7-8).

Scripture tells us that the Law is good if used lawfully (1 Tim 1:8), bringing knowledge of sin (Rom 7:7), and it acts as a tutor to lead people to Christ (Gal 3:24). Psalm 19:7 tells us that the Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Why have we forsaken the Law in the last 200 years or so (2 Tim 4:3-4)?

The Ten Commandments are all restated in the NT, except for the fourth one, which is opened up to worship on any day of the week, no longer limiting us to the Sabbath day (which is Saturday, btw).
Early believers started meeting on the first day of the week (Sunday), because that was the day that Jesus rose from the dead.

It is impossible to witness to someone Biblically without using the Law, you just need to learn how to use it properly, in an inoffensive way, by asking questions to allow a person to judge themselves by God's standard. This doesn't mean that no one will be offended - the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18), and some simply refuse to give up their sin.
But in order for the Gospel to make sense, people must understand their NEED for a Savior. Otherwise, why would they come? They consider themselves to be good people (Prov 20:6), looking around and seeing all the others that are far worse than they are - just watch the evening news - right?

We justify our own actions, and condemn the sins of others, which is what makes men such hypocrites. Hypocricy is not limited to church members, it's ramant throughout all mankind, it is a part of our sinful human nature.

But the question remains, are we good by God's standard? And the million dollar question: "Are we good enough to get into heaven?" The Bible says that there are none found good, not one, that we are all sinful and fall short of God's standard. But that's too general, God actually gives us specifics, let's look at His Law, summed up in outline form in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Have you kept them? Most people don't even know them, even though they are written on our heart (Rom 2:15).

We know it's wrong to murder (6th), to lie (9th), and steal (8th), don't we? We understand that adultery (7th) is wrong, that we should not covet other people's belongings (10th) and that we should not make idols for ourselves (2nd), right? We can comprehend the fact that we should honor our parents (5th), keep God first in our lives (1st), and not blaspheme His name (3rd). We know that God has given us every blessing we have, even our very life. Is it too much to ask for one day out of seven to give back in thanks and worship (4th), no longer limited to a Sabbath day, but any day of the week?

Examine yourselves to see if you're in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). Then go out and share the Good News with others, not waiting for them to come to you, but take the inititive (Mark 16:15), you have been commissioned by God to witness to others (Acts 10:42).

Don't be a hypocrite, crying, "judge not!" (John 7:24) while you yourself judge aperson as saved so that you can remain silent (Ezekiel 33:8-9). It's still judging, but a much more dangerous way of doing so. By simply assuming that a person is saved without digging a little deeper with questions so they can examine themselves by the standard of God could leave them in a false sense of security (Prov 16:25), only to be revealed when it is too late (Matt 7:21-23). You might as well just tell them to go to hell, because that's what you're saying by your silence (Acts 4:12).

"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you're not saved yourself, be sure of that!" - Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is Repentance Necessary?

The first recorded words of Jesus in ministry were the same as John the Baptist. They both started their ministry with "Repent."

We are accused of being judgmental, but we are simply asking people to judge themselves before they are judged by God.

We ask questions so people can compare themselves to God's standard and see where they stand before the Day of Judgment. People need to first be made aware of their NEED for a Savior in order for the Gospel to make sense.

Does that mean some people might be offended? How many are saved by this method of evangelism?

Both questions have the same answer. It simply doesn't matter, because it's Biblical. We are to be obedient to preach the Gospel, and anyone who preaches a different Gospel is to be accursed (Galatians 1:6-8). The Gospel is ALWAYS Law to the proud, grace to the humble. So often these days, the Gospel is watered down with love and grace preached, but no mention of God's holiness, His righteousness, and His wrath against disobedient sinners.

But, aren't we all children of God? That's not what the Bible says (1 John 3:10)

So, let's see if the message was sugar-coated in the Bible.

John the Baptist called the prideful Pharisees and Scribes "you brood of vipers" in Matt 3:7. He didn't say, "we're all God's children" or "Jesus loves you." He spoke the Truth and sometimes that was a hard truth. He was eventually beheaded.

Jesus said it in Matt 12:34, and also tells them "you who are evil." In verse 39 He called them a "wicked and adulterous generation" for seeking a miraculous sign.

In Matt 23, Jesus called people "hypocrites", "sons of hell", "blind", "full of greed and self-indulgence", "full of hypocrisy and wickedness", and asks them "how will you escape being condemned to hell?"

He also said there are none found good, and yet so many people, professed Christians and unbelievers alike claim that they are "good" people, just like the Bible says they will in Prov 20:6.

Paul was beaten and whipped with many attempts to kill him because of what he preached. I don't think it was the warm fuzzy "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."

Jesus said that if the world hated Him, they would also hate us. The world killed Him, and there have been many Christian martyrs since, and it continues to this day. But He rose from the dead, defeating death forever. We trust in Him alone, so preach His Gospel and no other, following His example. Law to the proud, grace to the humble (Prov 3:34, 1Pet 5:5, James 4:6).

How can you determine if someone is proud or humble? Simply ask them this question, whether they are a professed Christian or unbeliever: Would you consider yourself to be a good person? Then take them through the Good Person Test to see if they truly are good by God's standard.

Only then can one see their need for a Savior, and then repent and trust in Him alone for their salvation. There is no other way (John 14:6, Acts 4:12), and as a believer, you will be held accountable (Eze 33:8-9, Acts 20:26-27).

What Law?

What do we do with all those OT Laws? When some smug atheist asks you if, as a Christian you wear woolen blends (Deut 22:11 ), how do you answer?

What about eating pork, not working on the Sabbath, etc? What do we do with these Old Testament Laws that they like to quote out of Leviticus and Deuteronomy? Do we really just pick and choose what we like, as we're accused of?

Well, here are some answers to these ridiculous accusations, in order to answer the fool, lest they be wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 26:5)

The Law can be divided into three categories: Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial.

The Ceremonial Laws (animal sacrifices, the Sabbath, etc) were pointing us to a coming Messiah, and so this aspect of the Mosaic Law has been set aside, fulfilled in Christ.

Colossians 2:14-17
having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

The Civil Laws were written to a specific people at a specific time and specific place. The basic responsibility for the civil aspect, showing the application of the moral Law in a community, has been transferred to human government.

Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

This leaves us with the Moral Law. Here's how John MacArthur explains this aspect of it. He says that the Moral Law finds its basis in the character of God and is presented in outline form in the Ten Commandments. It still stands and applies to our lives now, having never been revoked or abolished, but finds its authority in the New Covenant.

MacArthur goes on to say that every unbeliever is still under its requirement of perfection and its condemnation, until he comes to Christ, and every believer still finds in it the standard for behavior.

Normally, unbelievers like to quote the most obscure Ceremonial or old Civil Laws, but the real problem they have concernes the Moral Law and submission to the Lord.

Besides the unbelievers, there are those who claim to know Christ, yet prefer to twist Scripture in order to allow for indulence in their own pet sins. They, like the unbeliever, claim that they don't have to follow God's Law. Yet they still consider themselves to be saved. These come to be known as "carnal Christians", but are they Christian at all? Or are these some who will hear those fearful words, "Away from Me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you" that Jesus says in Matt 7:23?

Revelation 14:12
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

What's that say? Saints (believers) who OBEY God's commandments? The carnal "Christian" would cry, "Legalist!" but how could a believer not obey the commandments of the Lord (Luke 6:46)? They're based on His very character, how can a true believer despise them and look for ways around them (John 14:15, John 14:21, John 15:10, 1 John 2:3)? Only because they are not true believers (John 3:36,1 John 5:2, 2 John 1:6), they are not a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), they do not love the Lord (1 John 2:4).
Beware of these (Matt 7:15), they will attempt to drag you down with them (Matt 23:13, 2 Pet 2:1-2).

Do you find His commandments to be too great a burden (1 John 5:3)? You're a slave either way, it's just a matter of whom you choose to serve (Rom 6:16).

If you choose the easy way of the world, the wide road (Matt 7:13-15), going with the flow, ignoring God's law - whether an outright unbeliever or one who believes (James 2:19) yet doesn't actually follow - you can expect some good times. Sin is pleasurable for a season (Heb 11:25), and you will avoid a lot of persecution and tribulation from this world (Matt 24:9, Mark 13:13, James 1:2), as well as the spiritual attacks during the end times (Rev 12:17). But eternity is a lot longer than the short time we are living in the world (James 4:14), and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31, Rev 14:11).

Take the narrow road, the way God lays it out in the Bible, and you are promised trial and tribulation, hatred from the world, sticking to rules and morals that others will mock you for, but hold fast until the end, and you are promised eternal life.
Repent of your sins, turn away from them, forsake them, and trust in Jesus Christ alone, submitting to Him as Lord and Savior. Read your Bible daily and obey His commands.

It couldn't be any more clear than it is stated right here:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. - Hebrews 10:26-27

Check out the Test of Salvation to find out if you are truly saved or not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I see Christians getting all uptight about using "X" in place of Christ during the Christmas season. I don't know how many times I've heard people getting all riled up about it.

It is true that the real meaning of the holiday has been getting lost in the commercialization these days. I actually saw Christmas decorations in the stores right next to Halloween stuff. It gets earlier every year - does anyone remember Thanksgiving? Oh yeah, that's the giant spending day when everyone is fighting over the hottest new items of the year. I don't even like the holiday season because of the crowded shopping, stress and craziness that it brings.

However, even though the true meaning seems to be getting pushed further and further away in all the frenzied shopping, the term Xmas is nothing to get all worked up about.

X is our equivalent to the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter in Christ, and has been a common abbreviation for Christ in Church history, possibly all the way back to the first century. There's not a lot of evidence for that far back, but it really came into common use in the fifteenth century, during the time that the Gutenberg press was invented, in order to save time and space in printing.

Now, I'm sure there are some agnostics who use the X thinking that they're removing Christ from the holiday. I find it quite humorous that they've failed miserably in their ignorance.

Some think that Happy Holidays is replacing Merry Christmas as well, but that doesn't really bother me a whole lot, either. The word "holiday" actually derives from "holy day," so the atheists who think they're by-passing religion by using this haven't escaped it yet.

So let's keep the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) this holiday season, and not get angry when someone wishes you a happy holiday or writes Xmas on your Christmas card. It's all the same, and it's not really the words that are changing the season, but the attitude that we have.

Let's just be sure, as Christians, we are providing an example that glorifies God. And remember how blessed we are in having the freedom to share our faith and tell others the Good News of the Gospel, as we are commanded in the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 10:42). As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, there is ample opportunity to bring up the Reason for the Season, and to explain why He came to earth to provide salvation (John 3:16-18, Rom 6:22-23, Acts 4:12, Acts 13:47, Jonah 2:9).
God bless, Happy Holy Day, and Merry Christmas!

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Free or Slave?

Is there such a thing as "free will"? And if so, what is it, and is it good? This is not about Calvinism and Arminianism, but a much broader subject. Let's look into it.

Mankind has the freedom to be enslaved to one thing or another, let's look at the two choices to be enslaved to, and follow each to it's logical conclusion.

On one side, we have "freedom", which has many levels. You can have Arminianism, Free Grace Theology, Free Will, Carnal Christians, Seeker Sensitive movements, etc. Some of them may be saved and others may not. But this same freedom dangerously extends even further outside of Christianity, to evolution, which is a religion without rules, humanism, different kinds of paganism, such as Wiccans, who say "An it harm none, do what ye will."

That quote appears to be a modification to "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" that Aleister Crowley promoted, and this seems to be the direction we are headed in today. This brings us to the far end of the "freedom" side, where mankind has no responsibility, and can do whatever they choose. Whether it's because we are just some cosmic accident as Darwinianism teaches, or more subtle versions such as "God made me this way so it's His fault anyway, He can't blame me." No responsibility and no accountability, so where does this lead? This sort of freedom brings anarchy, chaos and disorder.

As we see the family unit destroyed through premarital sex, adultery and divorce, as well as the re-defining of marriage from one man and one woman, the increased sexuality in advertisements and clothing lines, homosexuality openly displayed and condoned, even in the clergy of certain denominations.

People are too busy, too distracted to read their Bibles that our ancestors fought, bled and died for, in order to get God's Word into our hands, and many throughout the world still do not have that privilege. And for those who might actually make the time to read Scripture, you've got the History channel, Discovery, and others promoting heretics who attempt to discredit the Bible, distort the truth found within it's pages and ridicule those who take it as it's written, making them out as narrow minded bigots and irrelevant fanatics so that no one will listen to them.

Our history books are being rewritten to leave out the Christian heritage of our nation, and the founding fathers are villainized if all traces of Christianity cannot be purged from them. Our children are indoctrinated in the name of tolerance in our schools to the point that they cannot even comprehend how to make a moral judgment.

All of this in the name of freedom, the right to choose, and to live our lives any way we want. Tolerance of all things.... except Christianity. That alone should make one contemplate why one particular worldview is set apart against all others.

So, on the one side, we have "Do what thou wilt" - freedom to do anything you choose, although everyone else has the same freedom, and it is inevitable that there will be conflict as one's freedom infringes upon anothers.

This is not really the freedom that it is made out to be. It is actually slavery to sin, ending in death. It's the same lie from the serpent in the Garden, you can be like God, you are completely free, accountable to no one. Selfish pride is promoted, and that is the exact same sin that lead to Satan's fall.

On the other end, we have Biblical Christianity, where Scripture is taken literally, in it's grammatical historical context. Here we find, not only the origins of creation (Gen 1), the meaning of life (Ecc 12:13), and explanation of the standard from which we get our laws of science and our moral values (from the very character of our Creator), but it also warns us of the dangers of the other side of the argument (mentioned in Judges 17:6, when Israel had no king, and everyone did as he saw fit).

Now, the Bible goes completely against living in chaotic freedom, and warns us of the dangers, even if it seems pleasurable for a time (Heb 11:25). Prov 14:12 and 16:25 tells us: There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

This idea of total freedom to do anything you want is acceptable to mankind's heart because our hearts are deceitfully wicked (Jer 17:9).

But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. - James 1:14-16

Every one of us will be judged one day, held accountable for how we've lived our lives (Heb 9:27) - are you ready for that day? Or will you listen to the lies of the world?

For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. - 2 Peter 2:18-19

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? - Romans 6:16

So, choose which path you will follow - they may all lead to the same place (the Judgment Seat of Christ), but they don't all end in the same place (Heaven or Hell). One seems to be freedom, going with the pleasures of the world, but ending in death - it is the wide road to destruction. While the other contains God's unchanging moral standards, the way of salvation only through Jesus Christ, and leads to eternal life - the narrow path, which few will find.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. - Joshua 24:15

Monday, December 5, 2011

Saturday 11-26-11

I haven't updated in a couple of weeks - it's been kinda busy lately, lots of stuff going on. Still, we went out evangelizing on Mill a couple of weeks ago. Here's a brief account:

Two young women, Azurelle and Megan, went through the Good Person Test (GPT) after checking out the Illusion board. They didn't seem to have a lot of knowledge of the Bible, having no idea how many of each animal was brought onto the ark. They didn't really seem all that convicted, either, but I took them through the Gospel and left them with a few tracts.

A woman was looking for a homeless artist named Herman, who she was looking for to help. She had stopped to check out the illusion board, but didn't want to go through the GPT. I was able to give her an "Are You Good Enough to get into Heaven?" tract to take with her, though.

Marcus and I talked with a girl named Heather who was handing out some bar coupons on the corner. She said she didn't really have any kind of Church background at all, and Marcus took her through the GPT. She had no idea what God had done for us to keep us from ending up in hell, so we explained the Gospel and left her with a tract.

Fox 10 News was out there, just around the corner from us. I'm not sure what they were doing, maybe a follow up to the parade that had been out there earlier.

Tom, Marcus, Alex and I stopped at Taco Bell afterwards for some food and fellowship afterwards. As we were getting ready to leave, Tom handed a guy a million dollar bill tract. He and his two friends were Muslims, so Tom talked with them for a while. I don't think it was a real productive conversation, but I think they did take a couple of tracts with them to read later.

Please pray for more opportunities to reach out to lost people, more divine encounters, and, as always, pray for more workers in the harvest field (Luke 10:2).

Soli Deo Gloria