Monday, January 14, 2008

God's Law And Our Relationship To It, A Personal Testimony

As a young boy of around 10 or 11 years of age, God scared me. The idea that a deity such as God was so powerful and knew everything I ever did or would do was a bit intimidating to a boy my age. I was concerned even more when I learned the 10 Commandments. I assume that most children did as I when they first learned and understood God’s laws and waited in earnest to see which ones they had broken.

1. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul. “Ok, I think I am doing that!”
2. Thou shalt not worship any graven image. “Well, I don’t bow down to an idol.”
3. Thou shalt not use the name of the Lord thy God in vain. “Oooops!...”
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. “This is not difficult for most children”
5. Honor thy father and thy mother. “UH-OH! I think every child has trembled at that one!
6. Thou shalt not murder. “no problem”
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. “Adulter-what?”
8. Thou shalt not steal. “Oh, wracking the brain on that one!”
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Or as we learned “thou shalt not lie “…Hmmm, definitely broken that one.”
10. thou shalt not covet. “I remember my friend Michael had a Nintendo that I wanted when they were brand new.”

And by the time we got to the end of the 10 Commandments, I was feeling pretty lousy because I knew I had broken at least five of the 10 commandments. I was thinking that God was pretty angry with me for having done those things. Then our Sunday school teacher asked us how many of God’s laws we thought we had broken. Hands went up all across the room. And then, God bless him, the teacher that day shared this next piece of information with us that nailed our coffins shut. “10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) And with that, my conscience seared with guilt and I began to tremble and see that there is no way I could live up to the lofty expectation of God’s laws and that I had already broken at least five, but since whoever offends at one point is guilty of all, I have really broken all 10 commandments!

What then could be done? My teacher was ready with the solution. “Whenever the Israelites sinned against God, God demanded a blood sacrifice to atone for the evil they had done. Usually a lamb, goat or doves were sacrificed. But God also has a son whom he loves very dearly. And God sent his own son to this earth to die in our place and pay the blood sacrifice once and for all to atone for the sin of those who believe.”When I heard this I was stunned that God would do such a thing and so I immediately wanted to believe this, but I didn’t yet know how to go about it.

And so the lesson went on. And my teacher said, “God requires two things of you so that you may be saved. He requires repentance and faith. You must repent of your sin which means that you tell God that you are sorry for what you have done and that you ask for his forgiveness. And then you must believe and live by faith, ever trusting in God’s promise that he has saved you and living a life that glorifies God.”I was hooked. The idea of Jesus saving was too sweet and too good for me to get out of my head. I repented of my sin that day and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart and prayed to receive the Holy Spirit of God.

As I grew in my faith, I later reflected and began to see that it was not I who had brought about my salvation by a free choice, it was God’s Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin and drawing me to Christ. It was no accident or pure luck that I had been saved; it was divine will and providence that God has thus called me unto salvation. Today, when I see how other churches approach salvation, I am disgusted by the weakness of the message. The message of modern evangelism centers round an “acceptance” of Christ. If you pray the prayer as led by the pastor and come down and talk, you will be saved.

There is no mention of the sinfulness and total depravity of humanity. There is no searing conviction for breaking every one of the 10 commandments. There is no sincere feeling of being dead in our trespasses and raised to life by the power of Jesus Christ. There is no explicit command that one must produce works as evidence of a changed heart. No, today’s gospel is so concerned about your conscience that they will not tell you the Lord’s truth regarding salvation.

They wish to be “seeker sensitive” and so they do not want to push anyone away with the offensive truth of the gospel. My friends, if we consider ourselves seeker friendly, we have drastically departed from the truth of God’s message. For Jesus Himself said…“34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)

And with respect to the “seeker sensitive” types, consider what the apostle Paul says in Romans 3:11 “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” So, my message for today’s Christians is to return to the truth of scripture and do not be afraid that others might be uncomfortable in their conscience. That is precisely what the unsaved need and that is how the Holy Spirit will work to convert a sinner. It is not by being flattering and sensitive to people’s consciences regarding sin. The conviction of the Holy Spirit brings a sinner to repentance and that repentance is accompanied by faith in Christ Jesus. Salvation cannot work any other way.

I know someone reading this will misunderstand completely what I am saying and so I will try to clear up one issue right now. I am not saying to beat people senseless with the gospel and try to destroy people by condemning them of sin and then not offering a remedy. You must not back down from sin, but must use your good judgment and do as you are led by the Holy Spirit.


The law of God is used as a tool to convict a sinner of his trespasses and lead him unto repentance. It also serves as a restraint against the wicked, who without the presence of the law, would feel free to commit all kinds of evil. The law is a guide to Christ. Salvation comes after conviction from the Holy Spirit where one is convinced of his own sinfulness and the need to repent becomes apparent. Repentance follows as the sinner confesses his sin to Christ and asks for forgiveness and asks to receive the Holy Spirit which, as the apostle says, “13… in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Too many people have the false notion that after one gets saved, then that is all that God requires of them. They feel that they can now go and do something else and rest in the fact that they are saved. But it is not that simple. One must produce good works in keeping with the Spirit that prove one is saved. In short, this means there must be evidence of a changed heart. If someone claims to be saved, yet still practices wickedness and shows no sign of change, are we to believe he has indeed been changed by the Holy Spirit?Some might say, “Well, he’s just a carnal Christian. He believes, but the spirit hasn’t moved in him yet to produce good works.’ What complete nonsense! A man who claims he is saved but does not prove himself to be changed, is a liar.

In the book of James, we learn…“14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:14-20)

Soli deo Gloria!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Christian's Joy and Carnal Man's Vain Endeavors

I think it’s fair to say that almost every person on earth desires to be what in his mind, he considers “happy”. I do not seek to imply a relative meaning for the term happiness, I just simply suggest it for the sake of expedient conversation. For a natural man, he is quite content to pursue his life of sin and debauchery completely unaware of the true joy and freedom in Christ. A natural man measures his “happiness” by his possessions, number of girls he’s slept with and number of parties he’s attended. If he considers himself to be an honorable man, he will seek his happiness from virtues which he mistakenly believes come from within.

Unfortunately for these lost souls, none of these things bring or represent true happiness. All of these things are temporal. And in the case of virtues, a man deceives himself if he believes he naturally contains any virtue. There is but one joy and one happiness to be found on this earth. And it is found in the sweet, indescribable regeneration and forgiveness that comes only by the new birth in Christ and infusion of the Holy Spirit.

I think too often we as Christians overlook this joy and pursue the pleasures that the world describes as “happiness”. We don’t feel good about our appearance, so we get plastic surgery to raise our self esteem. We don’t feel good about ourselves as a person, so we drink to escape from reality. We look at our spouse and then decide we aren’t attracted to them anymore, so we look for a relationship on the side. Your daughter gets pregnant and the family decides it’s an inconvenience, so you tell your daughter to get an abortion. You name it, the world has a “solution” to your problem. But every one of them gives a temporary fix and leaves us worse off than before. The world never addresses the problem itself and that is because it cannot see the problem. It has no idea what its own problem is because it sees only the visible things of this world.

This world and everybody in it, has a sin problem. And the worst part of this sin problem is that the world either cannot understand how sinful it is, or if it does understand, it does not care. This is because worldly people compare themselves to others around them. We Christians do this too. We compare ourselves to the morality of those around us so we can say, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as ________”. However, we never accept the wretchedness of our own selves and our own sin.

We also fall into the trap of sometimes thinking we are not or cannot be influenced by worldliness and that this message applies to those “sinners” who need to repent. I believe that too many Christians live under an umbrella of self-delusion that is robbing them of true sight of their sin and the total devastation of the thing. And it is a double blindfold. They are simultaneously deprived of the sweetness and beauty of Christ.

I don’t write this message to be hard or to declare anyone not a genuine Christian. I write it for those who have understood the truth of the gospel message. I write it for those who have experienced and known the joy of the Lord but, because of sin, they no longer feel it and they are no longer sure. They are no longer sure because they have spent far too long chasing the things of this world instead of pursuing God for their joy. If any man understands the value and sacrifice of Christ, he will do anything to have him. Jesus makes this point when he says,

44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46.

Let us analyze this parable for a moment. In the first example, the man has found the treasure and for safe keeping has buried it in a field. This represents his inheritance in heaven at a later time. So, because he knew he had that treasure in the field, he sold all his possessions to pursue his greater treasure. That is, he divorced himself from worldly pursuits and sold all he had. He did this because eternal life with Jesus Christ was more valuable than anything else. Note that this is not something the man did out of sorrow or of obligation. Instead the scripture says “and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field.” You see, this man had joy in his heart, the true joy which can only come from Christ Jesus and the assurance of eternal life. The same idea is explained in verses 45-46.

Therefore, it is only those who seek Jesus above all else, above all worldly pleasures, who will find true joy. All else is temporal and a deception. Might I suggest that an excellent description of a Christian’s joy is found in the hymn “Amazing Grace”. Although this song is commonly sung at funerals, it is perhaps one of the most powerful songs on earth and it describes perfectly the joy a Christian experiences. Consider the lyrics…

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,That saved a wretch like me....I once was lost but now am found,Was blind, but now, I see.T'was Grace that heart to fear.And Grace, my fears relieved.How precious did that Grace appear...the hour I first believed.Through many dangers, toils and snares...we have already come.T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...and Grace will lead us home.The Lord has promised good to me...His word my hope secures.He will my shield and portion long as life endures.When we've been here ten thousand years...bright shining as the sun.We've no less days to sing God's praise...then when we've first begun."Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me....I once was lost but now am found,Was blind, but now, I see. (end)

Let me suggest to you all that what we need today is a radical shift, another Great Awakening and return to the joy that only comes in Christ Jesus. I am tired of seeing such joylessness in our Christian brothers. We must no longer continue to “go through the motions” of worship if we do not believe and feel what we are saying. Our worship must not be empty words directed at an intellectual understanding of our great God. He is not fooled by such thoughtlessness and deceit. Our worship must be genuine. Jesus himself says “24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24.

Let us no more raise our hands to God and jump up and down and sing the songs if we are not worshipping from a truly redeemed and forgiven heart. If we are trying to impress our friends by our enthusiasm, we are shifting the focus from worship onto ourselves.


If your conscience condemns you for being worldly and not worshipping in spirit and in truth, that is a good sign that the Holy Spirit is working to chastise you and not harden and destroy you. God is patient with those whom he has called unto salvation. If I have describe you in the above, take this time right now in the privacy of your own home in front of your own computer and ask God to forgive you for worldliness and pursuing the pleasures of the world above pursuing Him. And if you have worshipped not in spirit and in truth, repent and ask for forgiveness and that God would declare you righteous in his eyes so that you may worship in spirit and in truth. If you pursue worldliness and do not worship in spirit and in truth and your conscience does not condemn you, I pray that God would open the eyes of your heart and that you may come to a place of repentance.

Soli deo Gloria!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Prince of Peace

(editor's note: this blog was written back around December 20th. Sorry it took so long to post!)

The Prince of Peace…

Since it’s the Christmas season, every church is performing its own version of a Christmas service. The choirs perform various classic Christmas songs and even some more contemporary numbers for good measure. And it seems that the overriding theme in these presentations is “peace, peace…Christ came to bring peace”. They all sing of Jesus bringing peace on all the earth, how all the earth is at peace because of Jesus etc. They even sing to Him as the prince of peace (which He is), but they misunderstand what it is they are saying.
It’s so easy from listening to those songs to fool oneself into thinking that by Jesus coming into the world, everything has been made right; it has not. The world we live in is a spiritual battlefield. And Jesus was incarnated into a very, very dangerous and evil world. Let’s consider for a minute, that from the very moment that Jesus was born, his own king, Herod, was out to kill Him.
Unfortunately for those singing the songs about Jesus bringing peace to all men, it seems the Messiah Himself has a few interesting words on that very subject…
49"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luke 12:49-53)
So, in light of Jesus’ own statement, how can we take seriously any song which seeks to say that Jesus came to bring peace on earth? We can’t. In fact, such a song is a lie. I can already hear the “but I thought Jesus is the prince of peace” coming from the simpletons in the church. Jesus most definitely is the prince of peace. But do you know what that means? Do you know what it is to be the prince of peace?
Jesus is the prince of peace for those who believe. He is the prince of peace for those who have repented and turned from their wicked ways. He is the prince of peace for those whose minds have been renewed by the Holy Spirit and whose sin will not be counted against them because they have received the imputed righteousness of Christ which covers their sin. That is what it means for Jesus to be the prince of peace. He has made peace between God and a specific sinner. He did not however, come to bring peace on the earth to end war or social injustice or anything like that. There is no peace on the earth because men are evil.

Jesus makes it very clear that there is no peace on this earth because it is a place of constant spiritual warfare. Any minister who is preaching peace and safety is a deceiver and you ought to be on the look out for such a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Such a man is ready to settle with the devil to avoid trial and tribulation from the Lord. We must understand that the Lord’s wrath is building against his enemies and, at the time of judgment, will rush forth like a flood from a dam that has burst. And all those who have practiced iniquity and rejected the savior will be destroyed. We must constantly be on the guard from those who, unintentionally or otherwise, lead us from the truth. When someone preaches peace and there is no peace, we may rightly judge that they are deceived and are deceiving others.
Our Lord’s wrath is building and burning against those who constantly reject His commands. Yet many of the very people for whom such destruction is ordained, are quite at ease in their person this very moment. They do not fear that it may be them who receive the unbearable wrath of God for they have preached and believed “peace, peace” . They are quite comfortable and prosperous in their endeavors. They wrongly interpret this as a sign of Providence from God. God looks down on their lives and they think to themselves, “God must approve, he has rewarded me financially. Therefore, God must not think my sins are all that bad if he keeps blessing me.” It is the folly of fools to believe such nonsense. What does the scripture say? “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Your prosperity on this planet is not an indication that you are in a right standing with God. If it were, I suppose the Pope would be the greatest Christian on earth or that Bill Gates would be God’s favorite vessel for spreading God’s glory and fame.
What does the Bible teach? God sends rain (blessings) on the just and the unjust. So, we should not look to the things we receive as necessarily indicating a right standing with God. If you want a clear example of how God views all of these issues, turn to Jeremiah chapter 6, verses 10-14...

"10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.
11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD, and I cannot hold it in. "Pour it out on the children in the street and on the young men gathered together; both husband and wife will be caught in it, and the old, those weighed down with years.
12 Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land," declares the LORD.
13 "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.
14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace."

Sounds very much like what we’re hearing in the modern church today…preaching peace when there is no peace. This is what we see in the emergent church movement that classifies itself as “seeker friendly” and “open-minded” . They are afraid of troubling your conscience with the truth of the gospel and so they preach on social justice and how to be successful and have your best life now. They are more concerned about numbers and dollars and show than seeing souls converted to Christ. These false teachers are numerous and they are everywhere. Beware of the lies they preach and rest assured they have received their own reward for their perversion in full.
These false teachers must repent and return to the true gospel of Christ. They must understand that this world is in a war between God and the devil. And whoever does not belong to the Lord belongs to the devil. There is no middle ground in this struggle and there is no peace. The only peace on this earth is to be had by those souls whom Christ has regenerated and brought to new life in Him. These souls enjoy peace while it evades all others.
We must understand our own peace from God with sober judgment and not go to extremes extolling Christ as bringing peace to everybody. It is clear from Jesus’ own mouth that bringing peace is not his goal. His goal is to obey the will of His Father by becoming a curse and paying the price for our sin. It is through this sacrifice and this sacrifice alone that we have peace with the Father. We are at peace because Christ has settled our account with God. We also receive the peace of God which transcends all understanding and will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Short Note on the Trinity

The Doctrine of our triune God
The Holy Trinity: What is it?
I think one of the least understood doctrines in all of Christianity is that of the Holy Trinity. And I must say that it is not meant to be fully understood by design; it is also a mystery that our finite minds cannot comprehend. To give some background on this topic, let’s loosely describe the trinity to develop a framework before we delve straight into it and potentially go off course. In short, the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is one God in three eternal and distinct persons. These persons are of course the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is an error to maintain that they are three gods, or that the one God alternates his contact with us among the three persons. They are three distinct individuals. That is they are separate from each other in person. The Holy Spirit is not the same as Jesus and Jesus is not the same as the Father in person. However, they are all of the essence of God. What does that mean? It means they are of the same stuff as God. They are all, in fact, God. So, what we see here is a paradox: God is one yet at the same time, he is three persons. This is not however, a contradiction as so many people believe today.
So many people have failed at this point. They have been unable to reconcile the three persons of God with the fact that God is one. For Muslims coming to Christ, this is nary impossible to understand and is one reason Muslims put forth for continuing to reject Christ as Messiah. In any event, to prove that the doctrine of the trinity is not a contradiction, we must look at what the definition of a contradiction is. Once we are secure in that knowledge, we will then be able to test the doctrine of the Trinity to determine whether it is in fact, a contradiction.
The law of non-contradiction states that “one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time”. That is, one cannot be “A” and not be “A” at the same time and in the same respect. For an example, a sheep cannot be both a sheep and not a sheep at the same time and in the same respect. The law of non-contradiction is a very powerful deductive tool for helping humans understand reality and truth. In any event, many fallaciously argue that God cannot be three and one at the same time and in the same respect. Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity violates the law of non-contradiction.
To understand better what a contradiction is, it’s helpful to break down the etymology of that word. Contradiction is a mix of the Latin word “contra” which means to be against or opposed to something and the Latin word “dictio” which means speaking. So, a contradiction literally means that which is opposed to speaking. In short, a contradictory statement makes no sense when spoken. But does this apply to the Holy Trinity? Does the Holy Trinity make no sense when spoken?
Let us apply what the doctrine says to the law of non-contradiction. God is one in essence, but three in persons. Let essence = A and persons = B. God is one in “A” but three in “B”. Note, we have not said that God is one in essence and three in essence in the same time and the same way. Nor have we said that God is one in person and three in person at the same time and in the same way. So, what can we conclude from this? The doctrine of the Trinity does not violate the law of non-contradiction.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Why is there so much nominalism and luke-warmness in the modern evangelical church? Why are our pews filled with life-less, cold and dead “Christians” instead of passionate, healthy and radiating Christians?
I believe it is because we have forgotten what it truly means to be saved. Do you ever think about that? What does it mean to be saved? Ask most people in a church, indeed, most people in America because over 70% of Americans believe they are saved and going to heaven…ask them what it means to be saved and here’s what you’ll most likely hear:

“I prayed the prayer one time at a revival and I accepted Jesus as my savior. In fact, look here, I have my decision card that I signed when I chose Jesus.”

Ladies and gentlemen, that kind of answer worries me like you cannot believe. Does it worry you? It should…Show me one place in the Bible where Jesus says “make this decision, pray this prayer and you’ll be saved”. You won’t find it because it’s not in there. And here is what is so terrible about what such a person believes…they have based their eternal security, that is, their inheritance in heaven, on THEIR DECISION to ‘accept’ Christ as their savior. They believe that because they said a prayer one time that they are now and forever saved. Friends, this kind of thinking is so dangerous to fall into, but unfortunately, most people believe something along those lines.
The problem with their thinking is that they have completely missed the whole truth of salvation and forfeited the doctrine of regeneration. By deciding one time to believe in Christ, they have in effect made themselves their own savior. Their salvation, in their opinion, lies completely and fully in their own hands. They believe they have chosen Christ wisely whereas they could have just as easily chosen to reject Christ and go about their own paths. They have made themselves “partners” with God in bringing about their salvation. This belief is called synergism, which comes from the Greek word synergos meaning “working together”. However, there is a problem with this view. Namely, the Bible doesn’t teach synergism. It teaches the polar opposite of synergism, monergism. Monergism is the word used to explain the Biblical process for how salvation occurs or comes about. The idea is that God, acting alone and of His own sovereign will, regenerates a particular sinner and brings Him to faith and repentance in Christ without the assistance of the sinner. That is, God does all the work and we contribute nothing; not even ‘deciding’ to accept Christ is done by us.
To see scriptural proof for this doctrine, let us turn to the Gospel of John, chapter six, verse 44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” So here we see that no one can come to Christ unless God draws him. And it further goes on to say that the one who is drawn by God the Father, Christ will raise him up at the last day.
So what does this mean? First, as stated, no one can come…that is, no one has the power or ability to come unless God the Father draws him. Why can those not drawn by the Father not come to Christ? Because they are still in bondage to sin! In fact, every person on earth is in bondage to sin before he/she comes to Christ…back on topic…So, what we see here first is a declaration that God is at least the first mover in the salvation process. That is, unless God draws a sinner, they cannot and indeed will not come to Christ. Those whom God has not drawn will never come to Christ. Then we see the next part of the verse “and I will raise him up at the last day”. So, from the first part of the verse, the one who is drawn can come, and in the second part of the verse we see that He does in fact come because Christ raises him up at the last day; the two “hims” are not separate people.
If you are like most synergists (assuming you are one), you will most likely not be convinced by this argument. You will probably think that God enables someone to come, but he must make the decision to come. So I will now offer a deeper proof of this doctrine. Let is now turn to the book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul, chapter eight, verses 29-30.
“29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
Ah yes, one of the famous “predestination” verses…it’s a shame that so many people do not even realize that the word predestination is in the Bible. It is a further shame that so many are turned off by such a word and are thus 1) deprived of a valuable doctrine and 2) seek to deny what the scripture teaches. But I digress…
When we read these verses and in particular verse 30, we see a chain being made of those who are predestined, called, justified and finally glorified. When we look at these, we see a logical order to the life of a Christian. First, a sinner has been predestined by God (“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world” : Eph 1:4). Then the sinner is called by God (John 6:44). Next the sinner is justified by Grace through faith (“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” : Eph 2:8) both of which come from God. And finally, the sinner is glorified with God, the completion of God‘s redemptive work.
So, what we see here is that the same people who are predestined, will ultimately and infallibly become glorified. Reading of the text does not allow for a breakage in the chain. One who is predestined cannot fail to be justified and glorified. Just like one who is justified, was predestined, called and will finally be glorified. However, my point here is that everything that happens in this chain is done by God for man and not “by man for God“. Man has done not a thing to contribute to his own salvation…not even accepting Jesus as lord and savior was done by the sinner! The point of all this is to show that it is not you who made a “decision” for Christ one time at a revival session. If you are truly saved, it was God who made the call and thank God for that, because you would have never made that decision on your own, ever.

The consequence of this understanding is to bring the sinner low before Christ, having exhausted any and all hope of salvation in another source. This doctrine humbles the proud and self-righteous spirit of one who believes he has made the right decision whereas other sinners are less than himself, because they have made the wrong decision even when they had the “free will” to do so. That pride and arrogance is utterly destroyed once we realize that it is God, acting alone, trumping our supposedly “free” will, raises us from death to life with Christ. People who think monergistically, understand that salvation is the supernatural power of God working in an individual to regenerate a soul that once hated God and sought to overthrow Him.
If you are still convinced it was you who decided to get saved and that your one time decision holds weight, let’s look at how one can know if he is a Christian. The Bible says to test yourself. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5) So, we are to test ourselves. What does the test look like and how am I supposed to test myself? In short, how do I know that I believe?
“Well, in my heart of hearts, I know that I am saved” says the typical person.
Well, what does the Bible say about the heart? “The heart is wicked and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9) So are you going to put your trust in your heart or are you going to follow the Biblical method for determining if you are really a Christian? I hope you would go with the true Biblical method.
When you sin, do you feel truly repentant for offending the Holy God? Does it cause you pain and anguish to know that you have sinned against the almighty Creator of heaven and earth and have profaned His very name by your actions? One of the signs of a true Christian, is that they are sensitive to the sins in their life and they will be led to repentance and confession of their sin. The truly saved sinner is heart-broken over what he has done to offend the God that knitted him in his own mother’s womb and he desperately wants to be forgiven.
Another way we have assurance is that we not only repented a long time ago, but we are continuing to repent today. We likewise did not simply at one time believe, but we continue to believe today. And it is not that we at one time walked with Him, but it is that we continue to walk with Him today.
And lastly, a true Christian is no longer enslaved and trapped to the things of this world. He is no longer a slave to his evil desires. We have made a turning from sin towards the righteousness and goodness of Christ. The Bible says we will know them by their fruit. “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” What this is saying is that a Christian brings forth good things (good fruit) as evidence of his salvation. If you claim to be a Christian, but still continuously indulge the pleasures of the flesh, does your fruit indicate that you are a Christian? It does not.
This is not the same as teaching works based salvation. That is not what I am saying at all. A man is justified by faith alone in Christ alone. However, the Bible does teach that good works in keeping with your professed faith indicate that you are saved. And in fact, if someone claims to be a Christian but has made no progress and has no good works to speak of, we can confidently conclude that the person is not a Christian.

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26)

I encourage you to take the test I have given you straight from the Bible, to examine yourself and see whether the Holy Spirit has worked in you to bring about a change. If you can truthfully see a real, radical change in your thoughts, desires, hatred towards sin and a love for God, then you can have confidence that you are saved. However, if you take that test and you see that you have fallen short, then Repent and Believe! Just remember this, you are not saved because you prayed a prayer one time or have decided at some point in your past to become a Christian. You are saved because God loved you enough to see that you would never come to Christ by yourself or of your “free will”. He has done the all the work in the life of a sinner including the work of bringing that very sinner to repentance. Realize this, and praise God for it everyday.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"On these two commandments depend the whole Law "...

I have recently been inspired to write on a concept that is central to Christianity; and that my brothers and sisters, is to "love they neighbor as thyself." We all know this saying. It is known as the "Golden Rule" and is observed even in some secular circles. However, do we all show that we love our neighbor? Do we treat our neighbor the way that we would like to be treated? Certainly we recognize it when others fail to keep this law.
How? It's blatanly obvious when someone treats another person badly, unjustly ot improperly. WE ALL KNOW IT. We even talk about it with our friends because it makes an impression on us. You see, the way you treat others makes an impression on those around you. Oh, but it goes further than that, your actions to other people DEFINE in the minds of others, WHO you ARE as a person. We all know that someone in the group who loves to pick apart someone else. They just can't stand that person and every opportunity they get, they just lambast that person until they have expunged every vulgar, vitriolic comment they can make. Let me ask you this then, did you laugh? Did you nod your head in silent agreement? Or did you just jump right in and bash the person too? We all know the answer: yes. Of course we did. But, did you ever stop and consider that your very words could be KILLING the person you dislike?

Follow me here. You are literally DESTROYING someone's character and someone's very being by making these comments. In effect, you are killing that person in the minds of those around you. And that is the desired effect of course. But, did you stop and think about how it feels when, all of a sudden, it's you they're talking about. It's you they're making fun of and it's you they're KILLING. No, I guess not. You see brothers, we are the same group of people who talked about someone else behind His back, made fun of someone when He wasn't there to defend Himself, murdered someone who DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE! You know who I'm talking about. Jesus Christ was crucified because of people like you! People who failed to stand for the truth and for what was right, "luke-warms" who just occupied space and nodded in agreement with everything that was said. And what's more, played both sides of the fence, agreeing with one person to his face, then denying and destroying him behind his back.
If this sounds like you, it is time for you to come to Jesus and confess your part in putting him on that cross. Tell him you're sorry for how badly you have treated other people. Repent of the way you have been living. Others, maybe you exude the golden rule. Maybe you treat others exactly how you like to be treated. But maybe, even you slip up every now and again. You too, do not consider yourself higher than you ought, lest you decieve yourself. In closing, I want to say that I have addressed something that God put on my heart. I hope that all who read this little seromn, take it to heart and heed its warning and follow Christs simple command to 1) Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind. and 2) LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.

"Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
ROMANS 13:10

Monday, December 24, 2007

Welcome all to Reformed Hall

After much pushing and prodding from some of my friends, I have broken down and created my own blog. Over the past year, I have written a number of notes and articles but did not have a really good way to publish them for others to view. I posted some on my face book profile, but never got the kind of traffic or responses, or in fact exposure I was looking for. With this blog, I hope to reach many more people than I have previously been able to.
First, I am a Christian. My passion is spreading the Word and Jesus’ fame for the glory of God. However, I believe that what constitutes American Christianity today has drifted dangerously far from its more “traditional” and theologically sound doctrine of one hundred to one hundred and fifty years ago. The truth of scripture has been exchanged for the lies of self-esteem, minimizing sin, universal atonement and universal salvation, the denial of eternal punishment and so on. This blog takes a decisive stance against all distorters of the true Christian faith, and they are numerous.
As you might expect by the name of this blog (reformed hall), I approach Christianity from the reformed or Calvinist perspective. While I lean more Presbyterian in my beliefs, I am not a Presbyterian. I actually attend a Baptist church currently. And I know that this seems to really only be a problem when we get down to the issue of paedo-baptism versus credo-baptism. However, my goal all along has been to unite Reformed Baptists and their Presbyterian brothers through understanding of each other’s doctrine and also moving towards tolerance between the two camps. I think it is entirely arrogant and repugnant for a Baptist to look down on a Presbyterian because of their baptismal practices. And I find it to be equally arrogant and repugnant when the situation is reversed.
In any event, this blog is dedicated to preaching the same Christ crucified as preached by the Bible, the apostle Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Mather, Edwards, Spurgeon and later J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur and John Piper. I hope you like what you read in the coming days/weeks!