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Question: "Should Christians celebrate Christmas?"

Answer: The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?

First, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism. Searching for reliable information on this topic is difficult because the origins of many of our traditions are so obscure that sources often contradict one another. Bells, candles, holly, and yuletide decorations are mentioned in the history of pagan worship, but the use of such in one’s home certainly does not indicate a return to paganism. While there are definitely pagan roots to some traditions, there are many more traditions associated with the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Savior of the world in Bethlehem. Bells are played to ring out the joyous news, candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4-9), a star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem, and gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, the greatest gift of God to mankind.

Another argument against Christmas, especially having a Christmas tree, is that the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them. The passage often cited is Jeremiah 10:1-16, but this passage refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it (see also Isaiah 44:9-18). The passage in Jeremiah cannot be taken out of its context and used to make a legitimate argument against Christmas trees.

Christians who choose to ignore Christmas point to the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the date of Christ’s birth, which is certainly true. December 25 may not be even close to the time Jesus was born, and arguments on both sides are legion, some relating to climate in Israel, the practices of shepherds in winter, and the dates of Roman census-taking. None of these points are without a certain amount of conjecture, which brings us back to the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born. Some see this as proof positive that God didn’t want us to celebrate the birth, while others see the Bible’s silence on the issue as tacit approval.

Some Christians say that since the world celebrates Christmas—although it is becoming more and more politically correct to refer to it as “the holidays”—Christians should avoid it. But that is the same argument made by false religions that deny Christ altogether, as well as cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny His deity. Those Christians who do celebrate Christmas often see the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim Christ as “the reason for the season” among the nations and to those trapped in false religions.

As we have seen, there is no legitimate scriptural reason not to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, there is no biblical mandate to celebrate it, either. In the end, of course, whether or not to celebrate Christmas is a personal decision. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5) and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.

taken from gotquestions.org
 
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13/11/11
Question: "What happens to those who have never heard about Jesus?"

Answer: All people are accountable to God whether or not they have “heard about Him.” The Bible tells us that God has clearly revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1:20) and in the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The problem is that the human race is sinful; we all reject this knowledge of God and rebel against Him (Romans 1:21-23). If it were not for God's grace, we would be given over to the sinful desires of our hearts, allowing us to discover how useless and miserable life is apart from Him. He does this for those who continually reject Him (Romans 1:24-32).

In reality, it is not that some people have not heard about God. Rather, the problem is that they have rejected what they have heard and what is readily seen in nature. Deuteronomy 4:29 proclaims, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” This verse teaches an important principle—everyone who truly seeks after God will find Him. If a person truly desires to know God, God will make Himself known.

The problem is “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:11). People reject the knowledge of God that is present in nature and in their own hearts, and instead decide to worship a “god” of their own creation. It is foolish to debate the fairness of God sending someone to hell who never had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ. People are responsible to God for what God has already revealed to them. The Bible says that people reject this knowledge, and therefore God is just in condemning them to hell.

Instead of debating the fate of those who have never heard, we, as Christians, should be doing our best to make sure they do hear. We are called to spread the gospel throughout the nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). We know people reject the knowledge of God revealed in nature, and that must motivate us to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Only by accepting God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ can people be saved from their sins and rescued from an eternity apart from God.

If we assume that those who never hear the gospel are granted mercy from God, we will run into a terrible problem. If people who never hear the gospel are saved, it is logical that we should make sure no one ever hears the gospel. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. People who do not hear the gospel must be condemned, or else there is no motivation for evangelism. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the gospel and condemning themselves when they were previously saved because they had never heard the gospel?

Taken from gotquestions.org
 
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Salvation is all by Grace from begining to end.

by David McKivett

 

 

I once read a statement by a certain denomination that said, ‘saved by Grace kept by works.’  To me it sounded like those promotion schemes you see in shops that say, ‘Take now and pay later’.   Either way you are paying for it.  Salvation is NOT a take now pay later by works religion.  For none of us could ever work hard enough to be saved or to stay saved.   The bible makes it clear in Ephesians 2:8-9 ‘For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast’.  Rom 4:2  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

 

It is not saved by grace and kept by our works but rather it is Saved by grace and kept by grace.  It is not us that keeps us saved but almighty God.  The bible says in Jude 1:24  Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

 

Now some may ask am I saying that Christian don’t do any work?    No I am not saying that because we are called to work.  The bible makes this clear in many places.

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Tit 3:8  This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

 

James makes it clear that genuine grace and genuine faith leads to works.  Jas 2:18  Yea, 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.

 

We do not work to be saved or to stay saved but we work because we are saved.  This is the natural consequences of true salvation, this shows the world that we are saved, and causes people to glorify God.

Mat 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

 

Salvation is a free gift.  You do not pay for to get it and there is no pay later for it.  Salvation is grace from the beginning to the end. As the verse from that well known hymn says:

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

 

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Question: "Why does God allow evil?"
 
Answer: With people thinking about the September 11 terrorist attacks on the tenth anniversary of the horrific event, many are again asking the age-old question: "Why does God allow evil?" The Bible describes God as holy (Isaiah 6:3), righteous (Psalm 7:11), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), and sovereign (Daniel 4:17-25). These attributes tell us the following about God: (1) God is capable of preventing evil, and (2) God desires to rid the universe of evil. So, if both of these are true, why does God allow evil? If God has the power to prevent evil and desires to prevent evil, why does He still allow evil? Perhaps a practical way to look at this question would be to consider some alternative ways people might have God run the world:
 
1) God could change everyone’s personality so that they cannot sin. This would also mean that we would not have a free will. We would not be able to choose right or wrong because we would be “programmed” to only do right. Had God chosen to do this, there would be no meaningful relationships between Him and His creation.
 
Instead, God made Adam and Eve innocent but with the ability to choose good or evil. Because of this, they could respond to His love and trust Him or choose to disobey. They chose to disobey. Because we live in a real world where we can choose our actions but not their consequences, their sin affected those who came after them (us). Similarly, our decisions to sin have an impact on us and those around us and those who will come after us.
 
2) God could compensate for people’s evil actions through supernatural intervention 100 percent of the time. God would stop a drunk driver from causing an automobile accident. God would stop a lazy construction worker from doing a substandard job on a house that would later cause grief to the homeowners. God would stop a father who is addicted to drugs or alcohol from doing any harm to his wife, children, or extended family. God would stop gunmen from robbing convenience stores. God would stop high school bullies from tormenting the brainy kids. God would stop thieves from shoplifting. And, yes, God would stop terrorists from flying airplanes into buildings.
 
While this solution sounds attractive, it would lose its attractiveness as soon as God’s intervention infringed on something we wanted to do. We want God to prevent horribly evil actions, but we are willing to let “lesser-evil” actions slide—not realizing that those “lesser-evil” actions are what usually lead to the “greater-evil” actions. Should God only stop actual sexual affairs, or should He also block our access to pornography or end any inappropriate, but not yet sexual, relationships? Should God stop “true” thieves, or should He also stop us from cheating on our taxes? Should God only stop murder, or should He also stop the “lesser-evil” actions done to people that lead them to commit murder? Should God only stop acts of terrorism, or should He also stop the indoctrination that transformed a person into a terrorist?
 
3) Another choice would be for God to judge and remove those who choose to commit evil acts. The problem with this possibility is that there would be no one left, for God would have to remove us all. We all sin and commit evil acts (Romans 3:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). While some people are more evil than others, where would God draw the line? Ultimately, all evil causes harm to others.
 
Instead of these options, God has chosen to create a “real” world in which real choices have real consequences. In this real world of ours, our actions affect others. Because of Adam’s choice to sin, the world now lives under the curse, and we are all born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12). There will one day come a time when God will judge the sin in this world and make all things new, but He is purposely “delaying” in order to allow more time for people to repent so that He will not need to condemn them (2 Peter 3:9). Until then, He IS concerned about evil. When He created the Old Testament laws, the goal was to discourage and punish evil. He judges nations and rulers who disregard justice and pursue evil. Likewise, in the New Testament, God states that it is the government’s responsibility to provide justice in order to protect the innocent from evil (Romans 13). He also promises severe consequences for those who commit evil acts, especially against the "innocent" (Mark 9:36-42).
 
In summary, we live in a real world where our good and evil actions have direct consequences and indirect consequences upon us and those around us. God’s desire is that for all of our sakes we would obey Him that it might be well with us (Deuteronomy 5:29). Instead, what happens is that we choose our own way, and then we blame God for not doing anything about it. Such is the heart of sinful man. But Jesus came to change men’s hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He does this for those who will turn from evil and call on Him to save them from their sin and its consequences (2 Corinthians 5:17). God does prevent and restrain some acts of evil. This world would be MUCH WORSE were not God restraining evil. At the same time, God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, and when we choose evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences of evil. Rather than blaming God and questioning God on why He does not prevent all evil, we should be about the business of proclaiming the cure for evil and its consequences—Jesus Christ!
 
 
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Question: "What does the Bible teach about the Trinity?"

Answer: The most difficult thing about the Christian concept of the Trinity is that there is no way to perfectly and completely understand it. The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain. God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we should not expect to be able to fully understand Him. The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. Though we can understand some facts about the relationship of the different Persons of the Trinity to one another, ultimately, it is incomprehensible to the human mind. However, this does not mean the Trinity is not true or that it is not based on the teachings of the Bible.

The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods. Keep in mind when studying this subject that the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. This is a term that is used to attempt to describe the triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal Persons who make up God. Of real importance is that the concept represented by the word “Trinity” does exist in Scripture. The following is what God’s Word says about the Trinity:

1) There is one God (
Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).

2) The Trinity consists of three Persons (
Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew plural noun "Elohim" is used. In Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, the plural pronoun for “us” is used. The word "Elohim" and the pronoun “us” are plural forms, definitely referring in the Hebrew language to more than two. While this is not an explicit argument for the Trinity, it does denote the aspect of plurality in God. The Hebrew word for "God," "Elohim," definitely allows for the Trinity.

In
Isaiah 48:16 and 61:1, the Son is speaking while making reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Compare Isaiah 61:1 to Luke 4:14-19 to see that it is the Son speaking. Matthew 3:16-17 describes the event of Jesus' baptism. Seen in this passage is God the Holy Spirit descending on God the Son while God the Father proclaims His pleasure in the Son. Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 are examples of three distinct Persons in the Trinity.

3) The members of the Trinity are distinguished one from another in various passages. In the Old Testament, “LORD” is distinguished from “Lord” (
Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4). The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4). The Spirit is distinguished from the “LORD” (Numbers 27:18) and from “God” (Psalm 51:10-12). God the Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9). In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to the Father about sending a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). This shows that Jesus did not consider Himself to be the Father or the Holy Spirit. Consider also all the other times in the Gospels where Jesus speaks to the Father. Was He speaking to Himself? No. He spoke to another Person in the Trinity—the Father.

4) Each member of the Trinity is God. The Father is God (
John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).

5) There is subordination within the Trinity. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, and the Son is subordinate to the Father. This is an internal relationship and does not deny the deity of any Person of the Trinity. This is simply an area which our finite minds cannot understand concerning the infinite God. Concerning the Son see
Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, and 1 John 4:14. Concerning the Holy Spirit see John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, and especially John 16:13-14.

6) The individual members of the Trinity have different tasks. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (
1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus' human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.

The Son is the agent through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (
1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through the Son, who functions as His agent.

The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (
Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus' works (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 10:38). Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There have been many attempts to develop illustrations of the Trinity. However, none of the popular illustrations are completely accurate. The egg (or apple) fails in that the shell, white, and yolk are parts of the egg, not the egg in themselves, just as the skin, flesh, and seeds of the apple are parts of it, not the apple itself. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not parts of God; each of them is God. The water illustration is somewhat better, but it still fails to adequately describe the Trinity. Liquid, vapor, and ice are forms of water. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not forms of God, each of them is God. So, while these illustrations may give us a picture of the Trinity, the picture is not entirely accurate. An infinite God cannot be fully described by a finite illustration.

The doctrine of the Trinity has been a divisive issue throughout the entire history of the Christian church. While the core aspects of the Trinity are clearly presented in God’s Word, some of the side issues are not as explicitly clear. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—but there is only one God. That is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Beyond that, the issues are, to a certain extent, debatable and non-essential. Rather than attempting to fully define the Trinity with our finite human minds, we would be better served by focusing on the fact of God's greatness and His infinitely higher nature. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (
Romans 11:33-34).

Recommended Resource: Making Sense of the Trinity: Three Crucial Questions by Millard Erickson and The Forgotten Trinity by James White.
 
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What should I do if I know or think a brother or sister is wrong?

The first thing to do is go and talk to him or her. Not broadcast it to the world.
Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother

In most cases this will settle the matter and bring repentance and reconciliation, and no further action need be taken. However, if he or she will not listen to you when you have spoken to them alone then the bible says what needs to be done.

Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Notice this step should only be done if they refuse to listen to you. Again it does not tell us to tell the world. It says two or three this is for the purpose of settling the matter with the least people knowing about it

If the following steps fail and the brother and sister refuse to repent then the final step is to be taken.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Remember as Christians our aim should be to restore not drive away.
Gal 6:1 Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Next time a person tells you about someone’s sin. Ask them this question have you spoken to them yourself or are you just reporting what others have said?

 

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How a prophet is known to be authentic according to the principles taught in the Old Testament

 

 

 

The penalty for being a false prophet was punishable by death.  This may sound harsh, however, we must bear in mind that a prophet was to represent God and be an oracle of God.  False prophets did not point people to God, they only used Him to draw attention to themselves, and in some cases led people to into idolatry.

 

What is a prophet?

A prophet was a man that heard from God and spoke His words to the people that he was sent to communicate too. He was not to deviate from the words spoken to him by Yahweh and not to add to them.  

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

Deut. 18:18

 

 

Why false prophets?

Prophets were highly esteemed in the Bible days.  People from the common people to kings would come to them in order to hear from God.  It is therefore of no surprise that there would be false prophets that were using God’s name for their own purposes.

There was much importance to being a prophet; hence it is not surprising that imposters attempt to play the role of prophets.[1]

 

A false prophet speaks his own words but claims they are the words God gave him.

 

The penalty for false prophets

Because of the nature of the ministry of the prophet the penalty was severe.  It is always dangerous to step into a ministry that one is not called of God to do.   Saul was anointed to be king but when he stepped into to the ministry of a priest his kingship was removed.  Uzziah later did the same thing and was struck with leprosy.   However, the most sever punishment came on the false prophets, because such people showed no fear of God and were presumptuous enough to claim that Yahweh had spoken to them, knowing it was a lie.

    But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Deat 18:20

 

    And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Deut. 13:5

 

This should be a warning to those Christian that are always saying ‘God said’ or ‘God told me’ every time they want their own way.

 

The test of a prophet

A prophet that claims to speak for God has to be right all the time. It does not matter how many times he has been right in the past, if he gives one prophesy that fails to come to pass, God had not spoken to him and the man was to be declared a false prophet. 

 

I remember once being told by a Nigerian woman that a prophetess had told her that in a year she would have a baby.   Because she desired a baby she was pleased and told everyone.  However after a year there was no baby.  She went back to the prophetess and asked why she had not had the baby.  The prophetess informed her that God had changed His mind.   NO! God did not change His mind.  The woman was a false prophetess.  Whatever God says he will do, he does.

    God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

 

God made it clear how to test a prophet.  The test of true prophets is when what they say comes to pass.

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Deut. 18:21-22

 

There is another way to know a true prophet from a false one, and that is a true prophet will never say anything contrary to the written Word.  God warned about false prophets that would come and try to lead people away from the Law.

    If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

Deut. 13:1-4

 

Christians and prophets

 Christians do not seek prophets like they did in the old covenant because we have the Bible to instruct us.

    All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Tim. 3:16

 

God speaks to us today be a better method than the prophets.

    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Hebrews 1:1-2

 



[1] Noel Weeks: Gateway to The Old Testament page 286

 

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What is the Gospel?

 by David McKivett

Many years ago I was in a discussion with someone who had graduated from a leading Bible college in London and had gained his BA.  He was not in favour of my ministry and told me that I was not preaching the gospel.   I asked him what is the gospel, and he was unable to tell me.  

    This is not unusual many Christians have no idea what the gospel is.  I have watched Christian television and discovered that many that claim to be preaching the gospel have no idea what it is either.

    In order to understand the essential of the New Birth is we will have to examine the fall of man, the nature of man, the purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus and why the New Birth is so important.

 

The fall of man

Man was created sinless. We know, this, for God declared in Genesis 1:31,  ‘And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.’  However, some have suggested that man was created with no positive moral inclination but this goes against scripture, which declares man was created upright.

 

    Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions

 Eccles.7: 29.

 

Emery H Bancroft points out that man was not created with moral deficiency.

 

Others suggest that man had some moral deficiency when created but this cannot be reconciled with the statements of creation (Gen. 1:26,31).  God did not put inclination in man which led him to sin, nor did God remove from man His sustaining power.

Man was originally created as a morally responsible being.  (Gen 1:26, 27, 31; 2:27; Eccl 7:29)[1]

 

Many believe that man did not have to sin. However, not all hold this view.  Some teach the necessity of the fall.  This argument has divided those from the Calvinist position. One view is called ‘Supralapsarianism’ and the other is ‘infralapsarianism’ both views are held by Calvinists.  I am not going to discuss this in detail but it is helpful to be aware of the position held by reformers concerning the fall.

 

 Supralapsarianism (also antelapsarianism) is the view that God's decrees of election and reprobation logically preceded the decree of the fall while infralapsarianism (with a minor variant, sublapsarianism) asserts that God's decrees of election and reprobation logically succeeded the decree of the fall.

Many prominent early Protestants were supralapsarian, such as (some argue) Martin Luther, John Knox, Theodore Beza, Huldrych Zwingli, Jerome Zanchius, Franciscus Gomarus, William Twisse, and William Perkins. John Calvin's own position is often disputed, and subsequent Calvinism was frequently infralapsarian, although supralapsarianism has been revived recently by theologians such as Geerhardus Vos and Gordon Clark. According to Loraine Boettner, very few modern Calvinists are supralapsarian.[2]

 

Historically, infralapsarianism won out at the Synod of Dordt in 1618. In the Canons of Dordt, First Point of Doctrine, Article 7, it states:

Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, [God] chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. (Translation from Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, page 124)

 

The Westminster Assembly leaned in favor of infralapsarianism, although there were supralapsarians in the Assembly as well, and the documents that resulted from the Assembly, the Westminster Standards, also imply infralapsarianism, though not as strongly as Dordt's position.[2]

 

Some in their theology have blamed God for sin.  However this goes against scripture as Wayne Grudem points out in His Systematic Theology.

 

Where did sin come from? How did it come into the universe? First, we must clearly affirm that God himself did not sin, and God is not to be blamed for sin. It was man, who sinned, and it was angels who sinned, and in both cases they did so by willful, voluntary choice. To blame God for sin would be blasphemy against the character of God. “His work is perfect; for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4). Abraham asks with truth and force in his words, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). And Elihu rightly says, “Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong” (Job 34:10). In fact, it is impossible for God even to desire to do wrong: “God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).

Yet, on the other hand, we must guard against an opposite error: it would be wrong for us to say there is an eternally existing evil power in the universe similar to or equal to God himself in power. To say this would be to affirm what is called an ultimate “dualism” in the universe, the existence of two equally ultimate powers, one good and the other evil. Also, we must never think that sin surprised God or challenged or overcame his omnipotence or his providential control over the universe. Therefore, even though we must never say that God himself sinned or he is to be blamed for sin, yet we must also affirm that the God who “accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11), the God who “does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What are you doing?”’ (Dan. 4:35) did ordain that sin would come into the world, even though he does not delight in it and even though he ordained that it would come about through the voluntary choices of moral creatures.[3]

 

The manner of the fall.

 

God had given man intelligence. It was Adam that gave the names to every living thing.

 

    And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:19-20

 

God told Adam that he could eat of all except from one tree (Gen 2:17).  Adam as we have said was intelligent he would have understood the command and the penalty

 

Gen 2:17 -

thou shalt not eat of it ... thou shalt surely die — no reason assigned for the prohibition, but death was to be the punishment of disobedience. A positive command like this was not only the simplest and easiest, but the only trial to which their fidelity could be exposed.[4]

 

Eve also was fully aware of the prohibition and the consequences of disobeying.  However, whereby Adam wilfully disobeyed, Eve was deceived (1 Tim 2:14).   The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary gave some interesting thoughts on why Eve may have been deceived.

 

Gen 3:2 -

the woman said, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden — In her answer, Eve extolled the large extent of liberty they enjoyed in ranging at will amongst all the trees - one only excepted, with respect to which, she declared there was no doubt, either of the prohibition or the penalty. But there is reason to think that she had already received an injurious impression; for in using the words “lest ye die,” instead of “ye shall surely die” [Gen_2:17], she spoke as if the tree had been forbidden because of some poisonous quality of its fruit. The tempter, perceiving this, became bolder in his assertions.[5]

 

Both Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit.  Instantly they died spiritually and later physically.   They were dead in trespasses and sin from the moment they ate of the fruit, and physical death followed later. 

 

The Consequences of the Adam’s sin

 

Emery H. Bancroft points out there was instant effects Adam’s sin. 

The immediate effects of the first sin.  These were six in number (Gen 3:7-13)

1.                       A sense of shame.  This was due to the awakening of conscience.

2.                       The covering of fig leaves.  This was a bloodless covering (see Gen 3:21; Phil 3:9)

3.                       A feeling of fear.  This arose from their guilty conscience.

4.                       An attempt of concealment.  Foolishly Adam and Eve supposed that they could hide from the presence of God

5.                       An effort at self-vindication.  Though guilty, yet Adam and Eve tried to justify themselves.

6.                       The shifting of blame.  Adam laid the blame for his sin upon Eve, and laid the blame for her sin upon the serpent, i.e., the serpent[6]

 

The consequences of Adam’s sin affected the whole human race.  Adam is the federal head of the human race and what he became the human race that would proceed from him also became.  R. Sproul’s comments on this point are helpful.

 

For the most part, the federal view of the Fall has been the most popular among advocates of the Reformed view of predestination. This view teaches that Adam acted as a representative of the entire human race. With the test that God set before Adam and Eve, he was testing the whole of mankind. Adam’s name means “man” or “mankind.” Adam was the first human being created. He stands at the head of the human race. He was placed in the garden to act not only for himself but for all of his future descendents. Just as a federal government has a chief spokesman who is the head of the nation, so Adam was the federal head of mankind.

The chief idea of federalism is that, when Adam sinned, he sinned for all of us. His fall was our fall. When God punished Adam by taking away his original righteousness, we were all likewise punished. The curse of the Fall affects us all. Not only was Adam destined to make his living by the sweat of his brow, but that is true for us as well. Not only was Eve consigned to have pain in childbirth, but that has been true for women of all human generations. The offending serpent in the garden was not the only member of his species who was cursed to crawl on his belly.[7]

 

Every person that comes into the world is born with a sinful nature. Some teach that babies are born sinless however, the Bible teaches the opposite.

 

    Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

 

Psalm 58:3

    The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

 

 If babies were born sinless there would have been no need for the virgin birth, and no baby would ever die.    Babies are born with a sinful nature and will manifest that nature as they grow.  A person does not become a sinner when they sin; they sin because they are a sinner.

Without exception every unregenerated person (not reborn spiritually and not repentant[8]) is dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1).  Theologians refer to this a total depravity.

 

When we speak of man's depravity we mean man's natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man.

There is no doubt that man could perform more evil acts toward his fellow man than he does. But if he is restrained from performing more evil acts by motives that are not owing to his glad submission to God, then even his "virtue" is evil in the sight of God.

Romans 14:23 says, "Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." This is a radical indictment of all natural "virtue" that does not flow from a heart humbly relying on God's grace.

The terrible condition of man's heart will never be recognized by people who assess it only in relation to other men. Romans 14:23 makes plain that depravity is our condition in relation to God primarily, and only secondarily in relation to man. Unless we start here we will never grasp the totality of our natural depravity.[9]

Total depravity affects the mental capacity of every person.  They are dead in sin and are unable to please God, they will not choose God and are unable to do so.   The unregenerated person can still make choices but will only choose according to his nature.  The sinner does not seek God (Rom 3:11).  It is in fact Jesus that seeks His elect for salvation (Luke 19:10).

 

Man's depravity is total in at least four senses.

(1)        Our rebellion against God is total. Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.

Of course totally depraved men can be very religious and very philanthropic. They can pray and give alms and fast, as Jesus said (Matthew 6:1-18). But their very religion is rebellion against the rights of their Creator, if it does not come from a childlike heart of trust in the free grace of God. Religion is one of the chief ways that man conceals his unwillingness to forsake self-reliance and bank all his hopes on the unmerited mercy of God (Luke 18:9-14; Colossians 2:20-23).

The totality of our rebellion is seen in Romans 3:9-10 and 18. "I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no not one; no one seeks for God.... There is no fear of God before their eyes."

2) In his total rebellion everything man does is sin.

In Romans 14:23 Paul says, "Whatever is not from faith is sin." Therefore, if all men are in total rebellion, everything they do is the product of rebellion and cannot be an honour to God, but only part of their sinful rebellion. If a king teaches his subjects how to fight well and then those subjects rebel against their king and use the very skill he taught them to resist him, then even those skills become evil.

3) Man's inability to submit to God and do good is total.

Picking up on the term "flesh" above (man apart from the grace of God) we find Paul declaring it to be totally enslaved to rebellion. Romans 8:7-8 says, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

(4) Our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.

Ephesians 2:3 goes on to say that in our deadness we were "children of wrath." That is, we were under God's wrath because of the corruption of our hearts that made us as good as dead before God.[10]

I have spent a lot of time on this because the way a person sees the condition of the lost will determine the way he/she presents the gospel.   A person that believes that a lost person is able to choose Christ by an act of his or her own freewill will usually resort to decisional salvation.  Entertainment will be brought into the church, and gimmicks used to entice the sinner to make the right decision.

Many today teach that salvation is a two-way thing, you do your bit and God does His.  This teaching is not biblical for in salvation it is God doing all.   Salvation is not 50% God and 50% man.  Salvation is in fact 100% of God and 0% of man.   The Bible clearly teaches mankind is dead in sin, and dead men do not make decision.   Salvation is not in what we do but what God does.

 

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephes. 2:8-9

 

One preacher gives an illustration that is a common but mistaken belief in our day.

 

Dr. Patterson also gave an illustration of a sailor damaged by an explosion, and cast into the sea. An admiral sees the sailor knocked into the sea and sends a helicopter to save the sailor. The sailor can barely hear, but faintly hears the whir of the helicopter blades, and he signals the helicopter, which saves him. Dr. Patterson says that we are like the sailor in the sea, God is like the admiral, and the whirring of the helicopter blades is the preaching of the gospel. We can barely hear the gospel due to our depraved condition, but if we respond to what we hear, we will be saved.[11]

 

However, R.C Sproul responds with a more biblical illustration.

 

[Sinful man] is not merely drowning, he has already sunk to the bottom of the sea. It is futile to throw a life preserver to a man who has already drowned. If I understand Paul, I hear him saying that God dives into the water [without being signaled, presumably, by the drowned man] and pulls the dead man from the bottom of the sea and then performs a divine act of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He breathed into the dead man new life.[12]

 

If God waited for man to make a decision no one would be saved because sinful man is dead in sin (Eph 2:10).  When Jesus finds the sinner, he or she is spiritually dead.  He gives them life (John 10:10).   It is then they respond.  The Bible makes it clear that the unregenate man cannot understand the things of God and cannot recieves them.

 

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14

 

 

The necessity of the New Birth

 

For the reasons we have mentioned above we see that the New Birth is essential.  This was made clear to Nicodemus.

 

    There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: [2] The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. [3] Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:1-3

 

The record of Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus is very significant to this study.  For here we have a man that was dedicated and faithful to the religious observances of the Jews.   He kept the Sabbath and was a faithful participator in all the Jewish feasts.  Interestingly, he was an exception to the other rabbis because he believed Jesus to be the messiah.  

 

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, and a prominent member of the Sanhedrin. However, unlike nearly all, if not all, of his peers at the time, he recognized Jesus Christ as The Messiah. He was the recipient of Jesus' "born again" teaching, and John 3:16, one of the most famous and widely-quoted verses of The Bible ("For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life"), was spoken by Jesus Christ to Nicodemus. [13]

 

Jesus reply to Nicodemus must have astonished him.  Instead of telling Nicodemus what he must do to get to heaven, he told him what must happen.  Many miss it when they teach the New Birth is something we do or is achieved by making the right decision.   Jesus was not giving him another religious observance.  He was not leading in him into to some kind of evangelical ritual, and nether did He lead him into a “sinners prayer”.

 

The New birth is not achieved by what we do.  It is not the result of some religious observance or ceremony.  The new birth is not even the result of a decision based on our so-called

free will.  We are born again not by our choice but God’s.   Not by what we do but by what God does.

 

    Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:13

 

Natural birth and New Birth

 

No one is born into this world by there own choosing.  No person decides today will be a good day to be born.  Our birth was not the result of our faithfulness.  It was not the result of merit.   It was not the result of anything we did.   We are born into this world not by what we did but what our parents did.   This is exactly the same with the New Birth. A sinner does not seek God, and cannot seek after God because the sinner is dead in trespasses and sins.

 

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

 Eph 2:1  (ESV)

 

    There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Romans 3:11

 

Humanity is dead in sin, alienated from God. There is none that is capable of doing any good that is acceptable to God, and even the righteousness of humanity is but filthy rags in the eyes of the holy sovereign God.   If man had to earn is salvation there would be no one saved.

 

    Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

Ephes. 4:18

 

    And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

Col. 1:21

 

    As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: [11] There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. [12] They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Romans 3:10-12

 

 

Regeneration precedes Faith.

I have already said that new birth is not the result of anything we do or believe.  In fact the unregenerate person is incapable of receiving or understanding the things of God. 

 

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Cor. 2:14

 

It is for this reason that many in the reformed camp have long argued that regeneration must precede faith.

 

It is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith. However, when we say that it comes “before” saving faith, it is important to remember that they usually come so close together that it will ordinarily seem to us that they are happening at the same time. As God addresses the effective call of the gospel to us, he regenerates us and we respond in faith and repentance to this call. So from our perspective it is hard to tell any difference in time, especially because regeneration is a spiritual work that we cannot perceive with our eyes or even understand with our minds.[14]

 

R. C. Sproul also teaches that faith is excised after regeneration.

After a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step is the work of God and of God alone.[15]

 

Some may ask is it not faith in Christ is that saves us (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8). If regeneration (being born again) precedes faith, doesn't that mean that when we first become born again we are still unsaved until we have "saving faith"?  I found a good answer to this question on a reformed website.

 

When we say that regeneration precedes faith, we are speaking of "logical precedence" rather than "temporal precedence." That is, logically speaking, an unregenerate heart cannot have faith (Rom. 8:5-9). Therefore, if anyone is to have faith, he must first be regenerated. But this does not mean that a person may be regenerated and not yet have faith. On the contrary, faith and regeneration are simultaneous.

The drawing that Jesus mentions in John 6:44 should not be confused with the interest Nicodemus had in Jesus as a result of Jesus' miracles. In John 6:44, Jesus was teaching that fallen human beings are incapable of turning to Jesus for salvation. His point was that until God does something miraculous in and to a person, that person cannot come to faith. This powerful drawing is an expression of faith in response to what we call "irresistible grace." It takes place simultaneously with and as a logical consequence of regeneration. Those who are regenerated have new natures that love God, and their immediate response is to cling to Christ in faith.
[16]

 

Wayne Crudem makes some interesting comments about regeneration (born again) that proves regeneration must precede faith.

 

Yet there are several passages that tell us that this secret, hidden work of God in our spirits does in fact come before we respond to God in saving faith (though often it may be only seconds before we respond). When talking about regeneration with Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Now we enter the kingdom of God when we become Christians at conversion. But Jesus says that we have to be born “of the Spirit” before we can do that.7 Our inability to come to Christ on our own, without an initial work of God within us, is also emphasized when Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), and “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65). This inward act of regeneration is described beautifully when Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). First the Lord opened her heart, then she was able to give heed to Paul’s preaching and to respond in faith.[17]

 

A person can take part in religious observances without being born again, and there are many that do.  However, everything to do with our salvation comes from God.  He takes a man dead in sin, and gives him life.    A dead man does not choose to live anymore than Lazarus chose to live. 

 

There is nothing wrong with some of the ordinances we have in the church, in fact a few like baptism and the Lord’s Supper are commanded in the Bible.  However, many of the religious observances in the Roman Catholic Church are contrary to scripture.   The danger lies when we trust in religious observances as a means to achieve salvation. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that salvation cannot be earned.  A sinner cannot work is way into heaven.  

 

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephes. 2:8-9

 

Once we realise that regeneration in not the result of being smarter than others and making the right decision, or a reward for religious service, then all pride goes, and God gets all the glory.

 

    Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

 

 

Death and Resurrection

There would be no gospel, no salvation and no New Birth if it were not for the death and resurrection of Christ.   Believing this fact is essential to our salvation.

 

    That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:9

 

When Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus about the importance of the New Birth, also revealed the importance of His death revealing that there can be no New Birth without the Atonement.

 

    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: [15] That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:14-15

 

What happened at the cross

1.    A substitute was made

The word substitute means to put somebody or something in place of another, or to take the place of another.   This is what the Bible declared would happen.

 

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5

 

  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

1 Peter 2:24

 

2.            Salvation was purchased

 

    Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:28

 

Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephes. 1:14

 

Souls are not won but purchased.  We often refer to soul winning but in reality souls are not won, they are paid for. 

 

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

1 Peter 1:18-20

 

    For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

1 Cor. 6:20

 

    Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

1 Cor. 7:23

 

3.            Reconciliation was achieved

Reconciliation means 1.  The ending of conflict or renewing of a friendly relationship between disputing people or groups.  2. The making of two or more apparently conflicting things consistent or compatible.

 

    For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 Romans 5:10

 

    To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2 Cor. 5:19

 

 

Unbiblical teachings of the purpose of Calvary

 

The Bible tell us in 1 Corinthians 1:21 … the world by wisdom knew not God…. It also tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

   So it should be of no surprised to us that man using his own wisdom to understand the Bible as come up with false concepts surrounding the most important event in history, that of the death and physical resurrection of Jesus. Let us a look at some of the theories that man has come up with concerning the purpose of the Cross

 

2.                  The Ransom Theory

Origaen and Justin Martyr held this doctrine. This theory holds that God and Satan are in eternal conflict over man.  This view advocated that Satan had captured man and had a right to his spoils. So Satan could only be bought off by a ransom.   The ransom was Christ in the guise of sinful humanity deceiving Satan into believing he was just another sinful man, and was overcame him by the resurrection.  This view though modified is also taught by some word of faith teachers such as Kenneth Copeland.


 

2.         The example theory

This theory holds that Jesus death on the cross was no more than just an example for us all.  This view denies that man is spiritually dead and all that was needed was for man to have a good example to follow.  According to this theory Jesus gave us such an example by which man is able to follow.  It is true that Jesus did give us an example to follow, however this view does not take into account the spiritual condition of man, and that God’s justice requires a payment for sin.   Pelegius, Socinus, and Abelard held this view.

 

 

3.            Moral Influence Theory:

This view is similar to the above only it holds that some how God’s love demonstrated in Christ death softens the hearts of man and causes them to repent and seeks God.  Once again this view denies that man is dead in sin.  It denies the total depravity of man.  It denies that the atonement was a payment for sin.  It was just God showing how much he loves us in order that we might love him. Some that hold this view also hold to example theory.  Abelard, Bushnell, and Rashdall taught this doctrine.

 

4.             The Universal atonement

   The general atonement doctrine is the very popular in our day.  It promotes the idea that Jesus did not save anyone on the cross but gave man the opportunity to be saved.  God is said to cooperate with man to bring about salvation.  This is known as synergism.  This doctrine teaches that God did all he could to save people but is unable to do so unless man avails himself of it.

    The logical conclusion is that if God really did want to save everyone and sent his son to save everyone, then he would be a failure since everyone is not and will not be saved.  Though claiming to believe in an atonement they in reality do not believe in any atonement since an atonement that does not atone, is not atonement.  

  Someone once said that General atonement is like a great, wide, bridge with only half an arch: it does no go across the stream; it only professes to go half way: it does not secure salvation for anyone.

  This view like all false views denies the condition of man.  It denies the total depravity of man. It denies that sinners do not seek the lord (Romans 3:11) or that they are unable to understand the things of God (1 Cor 2:14). God only makes the way for man to be saved, and man must give God permission to save them.  The logical conclusion to this view is that man elects God and not vice versa 

 

Biblical atonement

Having looked at the various theories of the atonement we will now look at the biblical view.   The death and resurrection of Christ was for a specific purpose.  We are saved through the atonement.  The atonement from a biblical viewpoint was not just to give sinners a chance to be saved; it was in fact to save as Romans 5:9 declares, ‘Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.’  The Biblical view, which has been taught by all reformers, is the Penal Substitution Theory.

 

This view sees the atonement of Christ as being a vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice that satisfied the demands of God’s justice upon sin. In His death Christ paid the penalty of man’s sin bringing forgiveness, imputing righteousness and reconciling man to God. Those that hold this view believe that every aspect of man, his mind, will and emotions have been corrupted by sin and that man is totally depraved and spiritually dead. This view holds that Christ’s death paid the penalty of sin for those whom God elects to save and that through repentance man can accept Christ’s substitution as payment for sin. This view of the atonement aligns most accurately with Scripture in its view of sin, the nature of man, and the results of the death of Christ on the cross.[18]

 

The Death and resurrection is the Gospel

The apostle makes it very clear that the death and resurrection of Christ is the gospel.  

 

    Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

1 Cor. 15:1-4

 

Without the death and resurrection there would be no forgiveness of sins.

 

    And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

1 Cor. 15:17

 

Everything that we have as Christians, which includes salvation, healing, deliverance, miracles, and the future hope of the resurrection, is based on the fact that Jesus died for our sins and rose the third day. 

If a preacher does not teach the depravity of man and the purpose of the cross and why it was essential for the salvation of God’s elect that Jesus died and rose again, then the Gospel has not been preached for that is the Gospel.

 

Famous quotes on the resurrection

 

I will end this essay with quotes from great men of God on the importance of the death and resurrection

 

R. A. Torrey:

"Gospel preachers nowadays preach the gospel of the Crucifixion, the Apostles preached the gospel of the Resurrection as well. (2 Tim. 2:8-Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead, according to my gospel.") The Crucifixion loses its meaning without the Resurrection. Without the Resurrection the death of Christ was only the heroic death of a noble martyr; with the Resurrection it is the atoning death the Son of God. It shows that death to be of sufficient value to cover our sins, for it was the sacrifice of the Son of God."[19]

 

John MacArthur:

If Christ was not raised, His death was in vain, your faith in Him would be pointless, and your sins would still be counted against you with no hope of spiritual life."[20]

 

H.A. Ironside:

The Apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Savior, says, "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God's right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised. So the apostle says, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17).[21]

 

Sir Robert Anderson:

Apart from it, the incarnation and the ministry would lose all their significance, the crucifixion would be but a martyrdom, and the cross a symbol of the victory of death over life. By the Resurrection it was that the Crucified One was "declared to be the Son of God with power," the great truth on which the Christian's faith is founded, and to which his hope is anchored. That Christ died for our sins is the Gospel of the Christian religion regarded as a human cult. The Gospel of Christianity goes on to declare "That He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:4). And to show the immeasurable importance of the added words, the Holy Spirit testifies that if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins...The empty tomb, and not the manger of Bethlehem, is the earthly symbol of the great birth upon which Christianity is founded. Were it not for Bethlehem there could be no Calvary; but, apart from the Resurrection, Calvary were but a stupendous disaster, of which the Cross would be for all time the emblem.[22]


BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Emery H Bancroft.  Christian Theology (Zondervan Publishing House 1982)

 

Lapsarianism avalaible fom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supralapsarianism_and_infralapsarianism accessed 29th December 2008.

 

Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994

 

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible (Zondervan Pub. House 1982

 

Dr. R.C. Sproul. Adam’s fall and mine.  Available from http://www.the-highway.com/fall_Sproul.html accessed on the 29th December 2008

Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

 

John Piper. Total Depravity.  Available from http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/depravity.html Accessed on the 29th December 2008

 

A Response to Dr. Paige Patterson’s Presentation on Total Depravity. avalable from http://strangebaptistfire.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/a-response-to-dr-paige-pattersons-presentation-on-total-depravity/ accessed 29th December 2008

 

R.C. Sproul, Chosen By God (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1986),

 

Wayne Bank, Nicodemus available from  http://www.keyway.ca/htm2000/20000216.htm accessed on 30th December 2008

 

Regeneration, Faith and Drawing available from http://www.thirdmill.org/answers/answer.asp/file/99686.qna/category/th/page/questions/site/iiim accessed 30th December 2008

 

What are the various theories on the atonement? Available from http://www.gotquestions.org/atonement-theories.html accessed on the 30 December 2008

 

Torrey, R. A. What The Bible Teaches (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898-1993)

 

The Resurrection Of The Lord Jesus Christ available from http://www.geocities.com/cobblestoneministries/2005_CRM/TheResurrection_QuotesbyChristianLeaders accessed 31st December 2008

 

 



[1] Emery H Bancroft.  Christian Theology (Zondervan Publishing House 1982) P198

[2] Lapsarianism avalaible fom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supralapsarianism_and_infralapsarianism accessed 29th December 2008.

[3]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 492

[4] Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible (Zondervan Pub. House 1982)  Page 19

[5] Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible (Zondervan Pub. House 1982)  Page 19

[6] Emery H Bancroft.  Christian Theology (Zondervan Publishing House 1982) P204

[7] Dr. R.C. Sproul. Adam’s fall and mine.  Available from http://www.the-highway.com/fall_Sproul.html accesses on the 29th December 2008

[8]Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

[9] John Piper. Total Depravity.  Available from http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/depravity.html Accessed on the 29th December 2008

[10] John Piper. Total Depravity.  Available from http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/depravity.html Accessed on the 29th December 2008

[11] A Response to Dr. Paige Patterson’s Presentation on Total Depravity. avalable from http://strangebaptistfire.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/a-response-to-dr-paige-pattersons-presentation-on-total-depravity/ accessed 29th December 2008

[12] R.C. Sproul, Chosen By God (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1986), 116.][12]

[13] Wayne Bank, Nicodemus available from  http://www.keyway.ca/htm2000/20000216.htm accessed on 30th December 2008

[14]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 702

[15] Regeneration Precedes Faith By R. C. Sproul available from http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/sproul01.html accessed 30th December 2008

[16] Regeneration, Faith and Drawing available from http://www.thirdmill.org/answers/answer.asp/file/99686.qna/category/th/page/questions/site/iiim accessed 30th December 2008

 

[17]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 702

[18] What are the various theories on the atonement? Available from http://www.gotquestions.org/atonement-theories.html accesed on the 30 December 2008

[19] (Torrey, R. A. What The Bible Teaches (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898-1993) p. 177

[20] The Resurrection Of The Lord Jesus Christ available from http://www.geocities.com/cobblestoneministries/2005_CRM/TheResurrection_QuotesbyChristianLeaders accessed 31st December 2008

[21] The Resurrection Of The Lord Jesus Christ available from http://www.geocities.com/cobblestoneministries/2005_CRM/TheResurrection_QuotesbyChristianLeaders accessed 31st December 2008

[22] The Resurrection Of The Lord Jesus Christ available from http://www.geocities.com/cobblestoneministries/2005_CRM/TheResurrection_QuotesbyChristianLeaders accessed 31st December 2008

 

Yearning after God

by David McKivett

 

Psalm 42:1-2

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

 

This message is a message for the church.  The unregenerate man does not seek after God neither does he desire Him.

Romans 3:11-12    ‘There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. [12] They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’

 

Only those that have understanding will seek the lord

Proverbs 28:5 ‘Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.’(Underlining mine)

 

We see then that only God’s people can seek because they are the only ones that understand. The natural man does not understand for we read in 1Co 2:14 ‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’

 

The only way a sinner can understand the gospel is by the Holy Spirit regenerating the person so he or she can understand.  As Wayne Crudem wrote

“It is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith. However, when we say that it comes “before” saving faith, it is important to remember that they usually come so close together that it will ordinarily seem to us that they are happening at the same time. As God addresses the effective call of the gospel to us, he regenerates us and we respond in faith and repentance to this call. So from our perspective it is hard to tell any difference in time, especially because regeneration is a spiritual work that we cannot perceive with our eyes or even understand with our mind”’.[1]

 

Wayne Crudem makes some more interesting comments about regeneration (born again) that proves regeneration must precede faith.

“Yet there are several passages that tell us that this secret, hidden work of God in our spirits does in fact come before we respond to God in saving faith (though often it may be only seconds before we respond). When talking about regeneration with Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Now we enter the kingdom of God when we become Christians at conversion. But Jesus says that we have to be born “of the Spirit” before we can do that.7 Our inability to come to Christ on our own, without an initial work of God within us, is also emphasized when Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), and “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65). This inward act of regeneration is described beautifully when Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). First the Lord opened her heart, then she was able to give heed to Paul’s preaching and to respond in faith”.[2]

 

Jesus did not come that the lost may seek Him but that He may seek after them. Luke 19:10

    ‘For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’   The sinners are not the ones that call after Jesus but Jesus that calls the sinners. ‘for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Matthew 9:13)   

 

Man is dead in sin and unable to seek or respond to God.   It is Jesus that calls us to life.  We see this in the case of Lazarus.  It was not the dead Lazarus that called unto Jesus or sought him.  It is Christ that went to the tomb where Lazarus was and called Him to life.

 

The reason that you are a Christian is not because you sought the Lord but because He sought you.  Not because you called out to Him but because He drew you unto Him.  It was not because of your decision or your choosing but because you were chosen by Him.  Jesus made it clear that it was Him alone that does the choosing.

John 15:16     ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.’

 

John 15:19   ‘If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.’

 

God chose us long before we were able to make a decision. Ephes. 1:4    ‘According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:’

 

The only reason you chose him was because He first chose you.  The only reason we love him is because he loved us first.

1 John 4:19 ‘We love him, because he first loved us.’

 

 

It is the Christian that yearns for God.

Seeking, and the desire for God is the result of the new birth.  A true Christian will have a hunger for God, a desire for righteousness and a pursuit for holiness.

 

The sad thing is that many do not desire God like David did when He wrote in Psalm 42:1-2 ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?’

 

Some commentaries suggest that David wrote this psalm while on the run from Absalom.  David’s third son Absalom had turned the hearts of the people away from His father and led a rebellion that caused David to flee from Jerusalem, he then appointed himself King.

 

While on the run David was not able to participate in the worship or the feasts for he could no go to the tabernacle.   We see in this Psalm what David longed for, while on the run, was God.  He craved the worship; he longed to participate in the sacrifices.   To David, God was more important to him than the office of a king, or the kingdom he was forced to flee from.  He held no hatred towards his rebellious son and even wept for him on learning of his death.    David wanted to be in the presence of God.

 

I would to God that more pastors where more concerned about God than their ministry, would seek Him rather than fame, and desire His approval rather than the praise of men.  

 

Even When David sinned he was more concerned about his relationship with God than how the people thought about him. He takes responsibility for his sin and makes no excuse for it.

Psalm 51:1-4     ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. [3] For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest’

 

In his confession we see a man that so hungered after God and loved him more than anything else that he did not want to be rejected by Him.

Psalm 51:12-15     ‘Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. [13] Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. [14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. [15] O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.’

 

Religious service but no desire for God

We live in a day when so-called Christians desire everything except God himself.  Many just use God and the Bible to exhort themselves.  Many hide under a cloak of false humility but their ego and pride is clearly seen.  Pastor seeks a mega church not for the glory of God but to be honoured of men. They seek prosperity not to help the poor but to squander on flamboyant lifestyles.   There are many that yearn not for God but for celebrity status.

 

Jesus warned the disciples about following the example of the Pharisees that used religion as a show.  

Matthew 23:1-4     ‘Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, [2] Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: [3] All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. [4] For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.’

Jesus told His disciple that these religious leaders’ works was just a show.  They loved the praise of men, and position it gave them in society.

 Matthew 23:5-7     ‘But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, [6] And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, [7] And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. ‘

 

Their very prayers they made were just a show.

Matthew 6:5   ‘And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. ‘

 

Like many Christians today the Pharisees had an outward show of piety but their hearts were far from God.  They appeared clean and holy on the outside but inside was filthy.

Matthew 23:27-28  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. [28] Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

 

The Church of Laodicea  (Rev 2:

The church of Laodicea seems spiritual, they were prosperous, and from the natural view point they seemed to lack nothing.  The church was so full of themselves, what they had achieved and the finances they had gathered, they never even knew that the One that is supposed to be the head of the church, the One who is supposed to be the centre of our worship was missing, because Jesus was not in the church but outside knocking.  

Rev. 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’

 

I just wonder how many Christians are so busy in their religious activities, so centred on their own desires that they have not noticed the absence of Christ in their lives.

 

 

Mary and Martha

Luke 10:38-42    ‘Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. [39] And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. [40] But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. [41] And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: [42] But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her..

 

Martha like so many Christians was busy with external things.  There was nothing wrong with what Martha was doing.  She was cooking, trying to make everything nice so that Jesus and his disciples were looked after.   The problem was that Martha was so busy she had no time to listen to what Jesus was saying.  Mary was more concerned with hearing Jesus that she laid aside everything and just listened and received His word.

 

Martha wanted Jesus to tell her to go away and help her But ‘ Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: [42] But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’

 

Jesus was not teaching that it is wrong to work, or that laziness is acceptable.  Christians are expected to work, and we should be active in the every day running of the church.   I thank God for the Christians that cook at church functions, help keep the church tidy, decorate the church when required, the ushers that help the service to run smoothly, and make visitors feel welcome. However, we should not allow our religious work to stop us from hearing from God.

 

There comes a time when we just have to be like Mary put aside everything and wait upon God.

Isaiah 40:31     But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

The Church of Ephesus

Rev. 2:1-4

    Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; [2] I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: [3] And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. [4] Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

 

The church of Ephesus had many good qualities.  They had good works, they laboured hard they hated evil, they steadfastly contended for the faith.  However, despite all the wonderful things they were doing they had lost their first love.

 

We know from scripture that God has to be our first love.

 Matthew 22:37    Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

 

God will not take second place even to things that are acceptable.  We need to ask the question do we love the house of God more than the God of the house?  Do we love the Bible more than we love the author?    I have met many that love to study doctrine but have no relationship with the one they are studying.   There are many preachers that love to preach, but have no love for the one they are preaching about.

 

Yearning for blessings but not for the Blesser

 

There are those that want healing but not the Healer; they seek deliverance but not the Deliverer.  There are those that want salvation but do not want Jesus to be Lord over their life.   They want everything God as to give but they do not want to surrender themselves to Him.

 

 

What it means to yearn after God

 

To yearn after God means to have a strong desire to come closer to him and know him more. It means a life of pursuing God and using every means to draw near to him.   This will include prayer, bible study, and gathering with God’s people whenever we can.  It will mean a life of Holy living and communication.  It will mean turning away from sin and even separating from friends that hinder us in our pursuit of God.

 

I am not talking about earning our salvation, I am talking to those that are saved but have a desire to know their heavenly father more.  I am talking to those that want more than just surface religion, desire more than just to warm a pew on Sunday, more than just hearing about God. This is for those that have a hunger to know Him.  

 

How   do we know God?

   There is an ancient tale from India about a young man who was seeking God. He went to a wise old sage for help. "How can I find God?" he asked the old man. The old man took him to a nearby river. Out they waded into the deep water. Soon the water was up just under their chins. Suddenly the old man seized the young man by the neck and pushed him under the water. He held the young man down until the young man was flailing the water in desperation. Another minute and he may well have drowned. Up out of the water the two of them came. The young man was coughing water from his lungs and still gasping for air. Reaching the bank he asked the man indignantly, "What did that have to do with my finding God?" The old man asked him quietly, "While you were under the water, what did you want more than anything else?" The young man thought for a minute and then answered, "I wanted air. I wanted air more than anything else?" The old man replied, "When you want God as much as you wanted air, you will find him."

 

There has to be a hunger For God

Matthew 5:6    Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 

When Christians desires God more than a drug addict desires drugs, or an alcoholic desire a drink we will see true revival break out.   I am not talking about desiring blessings.  I am not talking about desiring God to meet a need we may have.  I am talking about desiring God Himself, longing for His presence, craving fellowship with Him, and loving Him for whom He is, and not just for what He can do.  The word of this chorus sums up what I am saying:

 

I just want to be where you are
Dwelling in your      Presence,
Feasting at your table,
Surrounded by your glory
In your Presence
That’s where I always want to be,
I just want to be,
I just want to be with You

 

Paul had a hunger after God

 

Look at the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10  ‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.’

These words are remarkable when we consider that Paul saw the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8), was caught up into heaven (2 Cor 12:15), saw the miracle power of God in His ministery (Acts 13:11, 28:5, 14:3, 19:11). 

 

Yet despite all the revelation and miracles Paul had seen he still had a hunger to know him.  I would that every Christian had this yearning after God.

 

Moses had a yearning for God.

 

Moses had received more revelation; saw more miracles than any man alive but still desired more of God.  Here was a man that heard the voice of God by the burning bush (Ex 3:1-7),  He heard the voice of God on Sinai when God gave him the Law and the instructions for the tabernacle ( Exodus 19).  Moses had seen outstanding miracles.   Many today would have been satisfied with just 10% of what Moses received, but Moses wanted more, he never lost his desire for God, he always yeaned after God.  Look at the words of the man that heard the voice of God, saw Israel delivered from slavery, saw the Red Sea open, saw water come from a rock. 

    ‘Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.’

Exodus 33:13

 

Moses so desired God that he would not want to go anywhere unless God’s presence was there.

   ‘And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.’

Exodus 33:15

 

Better to be in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and have Jesus with you, than to be in a mansion without God.   I would rather be in a small church where God is, than a mega church where He is not.  As one song write wrote:

 

  1. I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
    I'd rather be His than have riches untold;
    I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
    I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

 

  1. . I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause;
    I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause;
    I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame.
    I'd rather be true to His holy name.

 

Refrain:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin's dread sway.
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
this world affords today.

 

 

Revival will come when men crave after God more than television.  Revival will come when the church desires the Presence of God more than celebrity status.  Revival will come when Christians long for God more than they do blessings. 

 

Would to God that we had more Christians that could say from the heart not just the mouth what the psalmist wrote.

 

Psalm 42:1-2 ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. [2] My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?’

 

Psalm 63:1     ‘O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;’

 

Psalm 143:6     ‘I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.’



[1]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 702

 

[2]Grudem, Wayne A.: Systematic Theology : An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich. : Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 1994, S. 702

 

_____________________________________________________________

           It is finished

by David McKivett

 

 

    When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said,: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

John 19:30

 

Jesus final words on the cross were ‘It is finished’.    The question has to be asked what was finished and how was it finished?  To understand the real meaning behind this statement is to understand the whole plan of salvation.   The doctrine of soteriology can be summed up in these three words ‘it is finished.’  AW Pink wrote:

 "It is finished." What was "finished?" The sacrificial types were accomplished, the prophecies, of His sufferings were fulfilled, the work given Him by the Father had been perfectly done, a sure foundation had been laid on which a righteous God could pardon the vilest transgressor of the law who threw down the weapons of his warfare against Him. Christ had now performed all that was necessary in order for the Holy Spirit to come and work in the hearts of His people; convincing them of their rebellion, slaying their enmity against God, and producing in them a loving and obedient heart.[1]

 

It is impossible to have a real appreciation of these three words without a clear understanding of the fall of man, and the sacrificial atonement.  For this reason we need to go back to the book of beginnings that is the book of Genesis.   I will not go into detail of how the fall happened, as I am sure all know the story.   Briefly God gave Adam a command not to eat of a certain tree.  Eve was aware of the command but ate of it anyway after being tempted to do so by the serpent.  Eve then gave the forbidden fruit to her husband and he ate of it.    As a result sin came into the word.  The results of which were separation from God, sickness, death, and ultimately eternal suffering in hell.   Not only for Adam and Eve but also for their children and all generations to come.  The Bible makes this clear.

    Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Romans 5:14

    For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Cor. 15:22

 

What proceeded the fall will give understanding of Jesus’ words ‘it is finished.’  After pronouncing judgement on Adam, God gave a messianic prophecy.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:15    

 

Most Scholars agree that this is a messianic prophecy is referring to Jesus who would bruised the serpent by His victory on the cross.   Mathew Henry sees this as a prophecy referring to the work of Christ.

His incarnation, that he should be the seed of the woman, the seed of that woman; therefore his genealogy (Lu. 3) goes so high as to show him to be the son of Adam, but God does the woman the honour to call him rather her seed, because she it was whom the devil had beguiled, and on whom Adam had laid the blame; herein God magnifies his grace, in that, though the woman was first in the transgression, yet she shall be saved by child-bearing (as some read it), that is, by the promised seed who shall descend from her, 1Ti_2:15. He was likewise to be the seed of a woman only, of a virgin, that he might not be tainted with the corruption of our nature; he was sent forth, made of a woman (Gal_4:4),[2]


 

The first covering (atonement)

 

When Adam sinned he tried to cover himself with fig leafs.   Here we have the bases of all false religion.  Adam and Eve are, now as a result of disobedience, totally depraved.  There are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephes 2:1). In there lost condition they try to cover themselves. Sewing fig leaves together must have taken time and hard work.  When the fig leaf garments was completes they looked good to each other but still is left then naked before the holy God.

 

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:10

   

The religious garments of man’s good works will always leave us naked before a Holy God who sees the righteousness of man as filthy rags.

    But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Isaiah 64:6

 

    Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

 

Most commentaries agree that this covering was the first sacrifice made for sin. 

God made coats of skins — taught them to make these for themselves. This implies the institution of animal sacrifice, which was undoubtedly of divine appointment, and instruction in the only acceptable mode of worship for sinful creatures, through faith in a Redeemer (Heb_9:22).[3]

 

 

The Sacrifice of Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-24)

 

From the account of Cain and Abel we can conclude that God when covering Adam and Even with the blood stained skins (Gen 3:21) taught Adam and Eve the way to approach Him and the kind of substitutionary sacrifice that was required.  We can assume that that Adam passed this information on to his children.   If Abel knew the right way he must have got the information for his parents, and if Abel knew the right way then Cain must have known also.

 

Cain sacrifice was no better than the fig leaf covering of Adam and Eve.   He decided that he by his own efforts and works could make himself acceptable to God.   He offered a bloodless sacrifice.  Such sacrifices were not and never will be acceptable to God.

 

Abel’s sacrifice showed that He was going God’s way.   He was not trusting in himself but in the shed blood of the lamb.   He knew that he could never make himself acceptable to God but the lamb would make him acceptable.  

 

    The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29

 

 

The Tabernacle and the sacrifices

 

There is no teaching in the Bible that better explains the way of salvation than that of the tabernacle. As DeHaan M.D. said:

There is no portion of Scripture richer in meaning, or more perfect in teaching of the plan of redemption, than this divinely designed building.[4]

  

Every Part of the tabernacle speaks of Christ and His redemptive word.   As the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds we can see God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit revealed in the tabernacle, we understand the plan of redemption unfolded through the typology

 

There are many lessons that can be learned from the tabernacle but cannot go into it in full now.  However it is essential to understand the tabernacle and the sacrifices in order to understand Jesus’ last words on the cross.

 

The clearest lesson taught in the tabernacle is that there is no forgiveness of sin without a sacrifice.  There is no atonement without blood.

    And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Hebrews 9:22

 

Salvation in the Old Testament was never by works.   The only way a person could receive forgiveness was by offering a substitutionary sacrifice of a lamb, goat, or a bullock.   The person received forgiveness because blood of an animal was shed for his sins.  No amount of good works could forgive the sinner.  It was only on the bases of the blood of the perfect animal that was slain.

Yet the writer of Hebrews made it clear that blood of animals could not take away sin.

    For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

All the sacrifices of the Old Testament were but types and shadow of the ultimate sacrifice that was to come.  That Sacrifice would be the very Son of God.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10

   


 

Isaiah unique prophesy (Isaiah 53)

 

From the time of fall all substitutionary sacrifices were animals.  No human sacrifice were required are taught under the Law.    Yet Isaiah refers not to animal but to a human sacrifice.    He is prophesying about a man that would be a substitutionary sacrifice.

 

    Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? [2] For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. [3] He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    [4] Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. [5] But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. [6] All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. [7] He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. [8] He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. [9] And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

    [10] Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:1-10

 

The sacrificial animal that was slain under the law had to be spotless, If a human being was going to be a substitutionary sacrifice then he to would have to be spotless, sinless and perfect.  Certainly there was no man that was a descendant of Adam could do that because all are sinners from conception.

 

    Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

 

    The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Psalm 58:3

 

Romans 3:23

    For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

 

Romans 5:12

    Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

 

 

No man alive at that time and no descendent of Adam could have fulfilled Isaiah prophecy.  The question is then, how could Isaiah’s prophecy ever be fulfilled?    It would seem impossible, however, earlier in the book of Isaiah we get a clue to how this was going to happen.

 

    Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. [Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Isaiah 7:14-16

 

In theses verses we see that there would be a person born of a virgin that would be perfect, spotless and sinless.  Isaiah gives us even more information about the Son that was to be born.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

 

   The man who would be the lamb that would bear the sins of humanity would be no other than God himself manifest in flesh.    Hundreds of Years later John the Baptist would identify the person spoken of in Isaiah chapter 53.

John 1:29

No one else but Jesus could be the human substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.  Only Jesus was born of a virgin.  Jesus Was God manifest in flesh. 

    Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:18

 

    But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. [21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. [22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, [23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. [24] Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: [25] And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:20-25

 

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1 Tim. 3:16

 

Jesus’ sinless perfect nature is revealed in the New Testament.  God the father testified that He was well pleased with His Son.  Pilate found no fault in Him.  The very thief on the cross-said Jesus had done no wrong.    Judas Iscariot said he had betrayed an innocent man.

Luke 23:4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no fault in this Man."

Matt 27:4 Judas said, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!"

Matt 27:24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it."

Luke 23:39-41 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."

Luke 23:47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!"

1 Peter 2:22    Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

John 8:29 "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."

Matt 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

When Jesus went on the cross he never had any sin on him that He Himself had committed.  He was spotless, sinless and perfect.  The only one that could have fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy.  Jesus did not suffer for His sins for he had none but it was for the sins of humanity that He died.

    For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2 Cor. 5:21

 

Jesus had fulfilled all the prophecies foretold in the Old Testament.  He fulfilled all the types and shadows of the Old covenant.    He had made the ultimate final sacrifice.  There would be no other.  Under the old Covenant there were no chairs in the Tabernacle.  The priest never sat down because their work was never finished.    However Jesus after His death, resurrection and ascension sat down at the right hand of the father.  The work of redemption, and substitution was fulfilled, and salvation was achieved.

    Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 1:3

 

Hebrews 10:11-12

    And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

 

Jesus came born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and bore the sins of world.  It was finished the price of sins had been paid for.   Interestingly the vale of separation in the temple was rent from top to bottom.  Access to God was now available though the shed blood of the sinless son of the living God.

    And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27:51

 

Truly there is only one way of salvation and that is though Christ alone.

    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6


 

    Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

 

 

    For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. [13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:12-13

 



[1] "It Is Finished" by Arthur W. Pink http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Miscellaneous/it_is_finished.htm

[2] Mathew Henry commentary

[3] Jamieson Fausset and Brown

[4] The Tabernacle P 13 M.R. DeHaan, MD

 

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How do I handle opposition?

by Mr Goodman9

Psalm 18:3   I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

Most Christians and even none Christians have faced times when it seems the world is against them.   The ones they liked and considered friends have turned their backs on them.   They now seem to be spending every minute searching for negative things to say about them, and passing it on to others.

To a Christian this can happen for several reasons such as:  

1.            Because you stand for the truth and will not compromise.   

John 6:66-68     From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. [67] Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? [68] Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

It is not unusual in the ministry for some who cannot argue with what you have said or what you are doing to look for other things to attack you.  They become united against you and live for the purpose of destroying you.  They make you the focal point of every conversation, and every article they write.  They cannot and will not rest until they have destroyed you. Isaiah 57:20     but the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

They will attempt to undermine you and turn people against you.   Many pastors have, are or will in the future face this kind of opposition. 

2.            Jealousy

Proverbs 6:34     For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

I am not talking about righteous jealousy.  Being jealous is not necessarily a sin. God himself is a jealous God. Deut. 4:24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.  However jealousy can lead to sin.  The Encarta World dictionary defines the word ‘jealous’ as:

 1.   envious: feeling bitter and unhappy because of another’s advantages, possessions, or luck

2.  suspicious of rivals: feeling suspicious about a rival’s or competitor’s influence, especially in regard to a loved one

3.    watchful: possessively watchful of something • keeps a jealous guard on his research

4.            demanding loyalty: demanding exclusive loyalty or adherence (archaic) • a jealous god.

I have seen Christians get jealous because someone else was getting more praise than them.  This is what happened to king Saul.

1 Samuel 18:6-8    And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. [7] And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. [8] And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?

Saul’s Jealousy almost led him to murder.  Saul spent many years trying to kill David.  We should learn to rejoice when people do more than us and go higher in the Lord.  Instead of trying to bring them down it should motivate us to do more.  We should be happy not jealous of the success of a brother or sister in Christ.

4.            Because of some wrong you have done

Opposition may come because we are walking with God but it can also come because of something we have done.  People may feel let down, betrayed and angry because of our actions.  Remember David suffered when he was walking with God.  He had to face the wrath of Saul.   However, David also suffered when he was not walking with God and then he had to face God.

It maybe the case that we have received forgiveness of God, but that does not mean we will ever be forgiven of man.  I have known preachers that sinned.  They confessed their sin, and God forgave them.  They are now back in the ministry and God is using them.  However that is not good enough for some people that know nothing of forgiveness and will not be happy until they have totally destroyed them.  Pretending to be righteous they become self-righteous, and judgemental.  Where as God forgives and forgets, these so called Christians will make sure the sins of others are never forgotten.   I need to add that even though God does forgive, He may also chastise.  Hebrews 12:8   But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

The opposition you are facing may well be the chastisement from God.   If that is the case you will just have to accept it and ride the storm.   

Christians should also be careful how we deal with people that may have hurt them or feel they have betrayed them.  Bear in mind that the day will come when they also will sin.  The bible says in 1 John 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

With that in mind we should meditate of the following verse.

Galatians 6:1    Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

How do we then handle the opposition?

We all make enemies when we stand for truth and live the Christian life.  The question that needs to be asked is not if we will face trials or persecution, we certainly will.  Jesus said in John 16:33    These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The question is not will some people hate us because they will. Matthew 10:22   And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  The big question is, how do we then handle the opposition? I want now to give some practical steps to handling your enemies that want to destroy you, or friends that have turned against you, and want to turn as many against you as they can.

Step 1 Leave it in the hands of God. 

This is more easily said than done.   The flesh wants to rise up and attack those that are attacking us. The temptation is to destroy those that want to destroy us.  However, if we do to our enemies what they are doing to us then we are no better than them.  Certainly that is not the Christian way.  Jesus told us to do the very opposite. Matthew 5:44     But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

David had two chances to kill Saul but refused to do so.   Choosing rather to leave it in the hands of God   David’s words to Saul should be an example to us all. 1 Samuel 24:12-13   The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.  As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.

I have seen pastors make the mistake of attacking those that have left the church and done evil.  However, no good ever comes of it, and can turn even more people against them and drive even more out of the church.

Yes pastors must deal with error; there are times when we need to call names.  That is biblical.  However it should not be done in hatred or to get our revenge.  Ephes. 4:15     But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  often it is not what we say or do that is wrong but our motives behind it.

Step 2 do not be too quick to attack or defend

When under attack it is a good idea not reacts to quickly.   Christians need to learn to act but not react.   We may feel angry, however, I have learned that the more anger I express the angrier I get.  And all I end up doing is tormenting myself.  I have learned to wait until the anger goes, get before God in prayer, before deciding what action to take

Defending yourself can be a big mistake because your enemies will continue to twist your words, and misquote you.   The truth is the more you try to defend yourself the guiltier you may look.   Sometimes the best cause of action is to keep quiet and ride the storm.  Just live for Jesus and obey His words.  Instead of looking at your enemies, keep you eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2    Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If the reason for your opposition is because of wrong you have done.  Repent of it, and live for Christ.  Some Christians may carry on condemning you.  But forget about them.  It does not matter if people condemn you.  The important thing is, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’. (Romans 8:1)

Step 3 Stop trying to find out what people are saying about you.

I once knew a man that left a church because of some problems.  He then phoned up everyone to find out what people in the church were saying about him.   The more he tried to stop people speaking against him, the more people spoke about him and the more miserable he became.  People that try to find out what people are saying about them will seldom hear anything good. We should not worry about what man says about us.  We need only be concerned with where we stand before God.

I once heard of a Baptist minister that was being attacked from the press.   The pastor had his secretary cut out all references to him in the newspaper before he read it.  He also did not watch the news for several weeks until the press moved on to something else.   This pastor had no interest in knowing what his enemies thought of him or what they were saying about him.   He just continued to read his bible, preach the word and obey God.

I have gone through trials, and had Christians come to me saying you want to hear what this person said about you or read what he/she wrote in an article.   My answer is no I do not.  I do not care what they say or what they wrote.   The fact is these people want us to hear their negative remarks, and read their articles.  It upsets them when we ignore them.  I will not give them the satisfaction of hearing what they say or reading what they wrote.  I have sixty-six books in my bible.  I want to hear what God said and what he wrote.   If I read what my enemies wrote or listened to what they have to say it may upset me and make me angry, so it is best I do not know.  I want to read things that bless me and bring me joy.  

Step 5 do not believe the devil’s exaggeration

The devil may want you to believe that everyone in the world is against you.  However, the truth is most people in the world have never even heard of you.  Everyone is not against it is just a small number of people.  Most people are not concerned with what they have to say anyway.  So if some people do not talk to you anymore forget about them and find people that will.

If your friends have turned against you, then make new friends.   If some have left the church go out and evangelise and bring new people in. over the years I have known one or two pastors that have told me they will never let me preach in their church again.   I do not worry about them, and I do not go around criticising them.  I just find other pastors that want me, or hire a hall myself and preach there

Your enemies cannot destroy you unless you let them. 

When opposition comes be like Nehemiah forget about your enemies and carry on building.   Keeps your eyes on God’s word and not the words of your enemies.  Keep focused on God.  Stay positive.  Never give up.  See opposition and trials as steps to success.   Read only that which edifies you, listen to people that will build you up.  

You may have enemies but never let your enemies have you

__________________________________________________________________________

The Militant Christian

by David McKivett

1 Tim. 6:12    Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Today, as I look at my nation, over the last several years the government of this country has pass more anti Christian legalisation than any time in history.  Television programmes are being produced that promote homosexual lifestyles, ridicule the Christian faith and blaspheme the true and living God.

Schools show more respect for Islam and Hinduism than they do for Christianity.  Books promoting gay lifestyles have become government recommended material.  Labels are branded on people that stand for biblical truth such as: Homophobic, sexist, racist, and bigots.   I have a few labels for these that attack and try to outlaw Christianity.   They are hetrophophic, Christ haters, and anti morality.  

Why all this is happening the church for most part hides its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich.  Many churches have become liberal, docile, and apathetic.   Many of our mega churches are more interested in how much money they can get from their congregation than they are in contending for the faith.

The rise of liberalism in traditional churches, ecumenicalism, and false teaching that are taught in many Charismatic churches, have allowed the country to fall into moral decay, homosexuality is being accepted in the church and even ordaining them as pastors, priests etc. 

There is a need today for militant Christians.  We need men and women that will not compromise what they believe.  If people of a false religion are willing to lay down their lives as suicide bombers for what they believe, then Christian should be able to stand up and speak up for what they believe, regardless of the consequences.

We need people like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who are militant enough to lay down their lives if need be rather than compromise.  People like Daniel who would rather be thrown into the lion’s den than obey the law of his day.   The apostles were militant every one of them except John died a martyrs death because they refused to compromise.  John was the only one that died of old age but he was excelled to Patmos because he was militant enough to stand up and speak up for what he believed.

 

Prayer has become the great excuse for doing nothing

I believe in prayer and fasting.  I also believe that many Christians do not pray enough.  However much of what is taught about prayer in many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches has led to Christians shutting themselves away while the devil moves virtually unhindered in our society.  Prayer without action leads to a decline in Christianity.   Rather than speaking up like Lord Wilberforce did in Parliament and around the country in his fight against slavery, and Martin Luther King did as he fought for the right of black people in America, the charismatic churches shut themselves away and scream at the devil, bind demons, try to cast down so called strong holds of the devil.  While they are doing these things Satan just laughs and has is way in our country, in our schools and yes in our churches too.

If Christians are going to make a difference, if we are ever going to get the victory then we are going to have to do more than pray.  Yes! We must pray but we must be prepared to act as well.  Moses did more than pray, he made is voice known to pharaoh.  The children of Israel did not possess the Promised Land by prayer alone they fought for it.  

 

The facts should speak for themselves.

The churches have prayed, fasted, bound demons, cast down strongholds, held prayer marches, pleaded the blood, spoken in tongues, but has it stopped the rise of Islam in our country?  No it has not.   Has it stopped anti Christian laws being past by parliament? No it has not.  Has it stopped sexual immorality?  No it has not.   Has is led to more people in the country turning to Christ? No it has not. 

The reason is prayer without action leads to nothing.  God wants us to pray, then stand up and speak up. Some may argue with me and say some churches have grown.  However most so-called church growth is simply people that have transferred their membership from one church to another. 

 

The lie of tolerance <o:p></o:p>

The devil working through fake pastors and false teachers have lied to Christians.   Someone once said, ‘tell a lie long enough and people will believe it is the truth’.   The tolerant gospel is the biggest lie that is believed by many.   We are told that as Christians, we must tolerate Islam, Hinduism and other faiths.  We are told we must tolerate the homosexuals and other reprobates.  Some may get upset because I call them reprobates but that is what the Bible calls them. 

Romans 1:25-29  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

I say no we must not be tolerant of sin.   Nowhere in my bible do I find the tolerant God spoken of by these compromisers that stand behind many pulpits in our nation.  In my bible I find that God did not tolerate sin but sent a flood to destroy the world in Noah’s day.   God did not tolerate homosexuality but destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that practiced these abominations.

The schools, the television, the government, and the gay lobby groups will never attack Islam because they stand up for what they believe.   However, most Christians remain silent due to the fact that they either could not care, or they go to a church that believes in tolerating everything or they attend a charismatic church that teaches all we have to do is pray and bind demons.

There is a need today for Christians to become militants.  The word militant as defined by the Encarta® World English Dictionary means:

1.  aggressive: extremely active in the defence or support of a cause, often in ways that other people find unacceptable.

I am not talking about killing those we disagree with, or verbally abusing people that have a different lifestyle.  We should remember that if it were not for Christ, we would be just like them.   Sinners need the gospel not abuse.  

I am talking about standing up for what we believe, and making our position clear.  This can be refusing to listen to dirty jokes at the work place.  Controlling what is watched on our television.  Going to parents meetings at schools and making sure that our children are not being taught things that are contrary to our Christian beliefs.   Taking an active part in local and national government.

The last census taken showed that 70% of Great Brittan considered themselves Christians.  They do not want their children being taught homosexual lifestyles; they do not want the filth that is shown on television.   The problem is the small percent that do make the most noise.   The reason why these ungodly laws have been past, schools are teaching kids about the sodomite lifestyle, and the Christian faith is undermined, is because good people do nothing.

It is time to stand up, and speak up.  It is time for Christian's to be militant.

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Full Gospel Evangelism, C/O Immanuel Christian Centre, 89 Vallentin Road, London, England E17 3JJ
Tel: +442032891747