Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Romans:The Profoundest Book in Existence

The Epistle of Paul to the Romans

It is overwhelmingly accepted that the Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Roman believers that bears his name. Very few have honestly attempted to dispute the authorship of Paul. What is more important is that their arguments have proven to be spurious and without any valid grounds.

It seems that Paul did not write specifically to the church at Rome, but more than likely Paul wrote to the collection of Christian churches scattered through the city of Rome. Paul’s greeting toward the recipients of his letter is very general – “Paul…to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints…” (Romans 1:7, ESV)

From what we can gather and garner, Paul wrote this letter while on his third (3) missionary journey. According to a promise he made to the Corinthian Church Paul has spent some three (3) months on a visit to both the city and Church of Corinth. He is waiting to travel to Jerusalem to deliver the offering that the churches of Macedonia and Achaia had collected for the saints of the Jerusalem Church. This is around the spring of AD 55-57.

Paul seems to have completed this agenda for the eastern portion of the Roman Empire and wants to travel to Spain, “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.” (Romans 15:24, ESV)

This letter of course is Paul’s Magnus opus. This is his greatest piece of writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. The theme of this letter is almost overwhelming. Listen to what some have said about this epistle of Paul to the Roman believers:

Coleridge - “…the profoundest book in existence.”

Frank Godet - “…the Cathedral of the Christian faith.”

Chrysostom – had this letter read to him twice a week

Luther – “…this Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

Melanchthon – copied this letter twice by hand in order to know every word of this letter.

Unknown – “No one can accurately know Romans and be involved in cultic religion.”

Unknown – “…if the doctrines of the Bible find their root in Genesis, so they flower in Romans.”

What is the theme of this great letter? The theme is the revelation of God's condemning judgment of the human race as found in the Jews and the Gentiles and God’s saving righteousness in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in the cross of Jesus Christ that God judges sin in both the Jews and the Gentiles and manifests his saving mercy.

Take a breath, a deep breath and take it in through your nostrils. Do you smell it? Do you smell that sweet, sweet flavor of this magnificent letter from Paul? Savor it! Breathe deeply, breath often taking in the sweetness of the mercy and grace of God who delights in revealing both Himself and His glorious plan of redemption for those whom He claims for His own.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck: The Usurping of the Christian Agenda

Church – What is wrong with this picture?

“A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.”

--Russell Moore

Just how naive is evangelical Christianity today? In a great show of patriotic conservatism and the spirit of ecumenism “Christianity” and the "evangelical church" demonstrated its depth of nativity and foolishness this past weekend in Washington D. C.

I am not going to question Glenn Beck or the conservative “right’s” motives or patriotism. Beck and anyone else for that matter has the right to stand for their political party and agenda. My problem is not with Beck but with the so called “Christian” right.

Christianity has lost is moorings. It is adrift and being pushed around the seas of deception and disobedience. The main agenda of Christianity has been usurped.

First of all, as of yet, I have not read nor heard of an explanation that would biblically convince me that Beck is a Christian. He is a baptized Mormon in good standing with the theological position of that organization. Scripture is clear; we do not forge alliances with non-believers – even to facilitate noble causes such as political ones. This blurs the lines of godliness and true biblical Christianity. It takes the onus off of a non-biblical and non-Christian organization. Joining forces by “Christians” with such an organization gives credence to such an organization.

Second, it usurps the main agenda of Scripture and the church. That main agenda is the preaching of the gospel to every creature. When the church takes on a partnership with the forces of darkness and rallies around a single political agenda, no matter how noble, the gospel must be set aside. We as believers are called to preach the gospel to this world not politically change it. If you want to curb or cause the forces of sin and darkness to retreat, shine the light of the gospel on the deeds and workers of darkness. Change the hearts of sinners by sharing the life giving and changing gospel. Don’t attempt to gain political control of a party in order to attempt to legislate sin out of existence.

Thirdly, you cannot legislate righteousness. Forging political allies in order to achieve a political agenda of overturning hideous laws or legislating new ones will not change the spots on a leopard. You can certainly attempt to regulate and legislate morality. But what do you get when you do so? You may achieve a certain sense of morality but let me tell you; thousands of moral people die and enter hell every second of every day.

Fourth, when “Christians” forgo their main purpose of preaching the gospel, blur the lines by joining forces with non-Christian organizations, and attempt to legislate morality it is like the boy attempting to hold back the flood waters by sticking his fingers in the holes in the dyke. (Forgive the Pauline-like run-on sentence) Evil and evil men according to the apostle Paul (II Timothy 3) are going to grow worse and worse and more evil prior to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot stop the downward spiral of evil and wickedness by forging alliances and developing political agendas.

Fifth, the last two hundred (200) years of this “experiment” has shown that we cannot govern ourselves. If left to ourselves sans the gospel our true nature rises to the surface. We have demonstrated in this short period of time that man cannot govern himself. He needs the God of the bible, the Christ of salvation, and the Spirit of Holiness governing his life. We need Jesus Christ to return and establish righteousness, holiness, and justice on this earth.

Although America was founded by men of faith utilizing biblical principles and certainly by the grace of God, this country has been significantly blessed. There is no doubt about it. But there is no doubt that this nation was never a Christian nation and it never will be a Christian nation. We cannot legislate nor moralize it to be so.

Paul, Peter, John, nor Jesus ever called for a political process. Paul told us to pray for the government and leaders and to be in subjection to it. We are told not to resist government since they were put in place by God and that the heart of the "King" is in the hand of the Lord. The government of his day was filled with homosexuality, murder, graft, slavery, abortion, and utter darkness. The disciples and apostles did not form moral majorities, political parties, tea parties, or forge alliances with non-Christian cults to change government. Paul, Peter, and the rest simply preached the gospel, exhorted the believers to remember that they were citizens of a heavenly country, to live their lives in such a way that would make the character of God attractive to the non-believer. The hope was that the non-believers would be attracted to God and by God’s grace would become God-worshippers.

It is my prayer that men like Glenn Beck become true believers. I truly pray and hope that they will overcome the deception of darkness and sin and enjoy the benefits of the gospel. But I will not enter into a political alliance with such men or organizations. I refuse to blur the lines between light and darkness, righteousness and unrighteousness, God and the evil one.

My heart is broken with the naive actions of the so called evangelical church and Christianity today. Repent of your wickedness, refuse to be deceived by the philosophies of the world, turn back to the God of the bible and preach the gospel to every living creature before night comes and no man can work.

Remember, the fields are white unto harvest!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, His arm over us, His ear open to our prayer--His grace sufficient, His promises unchangeable.”

--John Newton

Saturday, August 28, 2010

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Bethlehem Ephrathah

“But you O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me on who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old from ancient of days.” (Micah 5:2, ESV)

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. (Philips Brooks, 1867)

What do you think of when you hear the name Bethlehem? Most think of the little town where Jesus and Mary traveled in order to register in accordance with the order of Caesar Augustus. Every Christ-mas season we hear this song played repeatedly in stores or on TV. Of course our church choirs and soloists stir wonderful memories within our breasts as we hear them sing the soul stirring words, "O little town of Bethlehem...

What do you know of Bethlehem?

Bet lehem in the Hebrew language means “house of bread.” It was a small town located on the edge of the Judean desert approximately five (5) miles from Jerusalem. It sits at about twenty five hundred (2500) feet elevation. Bethlehem actually sits on a rocky spur of a mountain side just off of the main road to either Hebron or Egypt.

Bethlehem has a mild Mediterranean climate. The average rainfall is approximately 18 inches per year. When you compare that to the average rainfall here in Longview, WA which is approximately 45 inches it seems like a desert. Bethlehem has a very mild climate; it averages 73 degrees in the summer and 57 in the winter. Compare that to an across the board temperature of 51 degrees, mid 80’s in the summer and mid 30’s in the winter here in Longview, this seems like a paradise. Due to the climate Bethlehem is surrounded by very fertile fields of fig and olive orchards and vineyards.

Old Testament Facts:

  • Salma, who was the son of Caleb is said to be the father of Bethlehem

  • Rachael was buried at Bethlehem

  • Boaz and Ruth play out their love story in Bethlehem

  • King Solomon, son of King David took time to fortify Bethlehem guarding the approach to Jerusalem

  • Jesse, the father of King David is listed as being from Bethlehem

  • Bethlehem was were the mighty men of David snuck through the defensive lines of the Philistines to get water from the well located there when they heard David muse how he would love to drink of that water

  • Christ, the Messiah was born in Bethlehem according to prophecy

New Testament Facts:

  • Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus

  • Location where Herod massacred the male children who were two (2) years or younger

  • Jerome lived in Bethlehem for thirty three (33) years and founded hospices, convents, and a monastery

  • Here that Jerome under the direction and auspices of Pope Damascus began his revision of the Latin New Testament with would lead to the compilation of the Latin Vulgate (which serves as the underlying text of the Roman Catholic Version of the Bible)

  • The angels appeared to the shepherds who were tending sheep in the desert giving them the glad tidings that the Messiah had been born

Bethlehem Today

  • Bethlehem has become a city of international flavor

  • It became a part of Jordan in 1949

  • Jews were prohibited from living in the city

  • June 1967 it was occupied by Jewish forces

  • Bethlehem’s modern name is now Beit Lahm (House of Meat)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Without Him and Yet In Him

Without Him and Yet In Him

Gregg Metcalf
August 25, 2010

Without Him, I stand far off, as a stranger, as an outcast;
Yet in Him I draw near and touch his kingly scepter fast.
Without Him, I dare not lift up my guilty eyes;
Yet in Him I gaze upon my Father-God and realize;
Without Him, I hid my lips in trembling shame
Yet in Him I open my mouth praising His name.
Without Him, all is wrath and consuming fire;
Yet in Him all is love as He forsakes His ire.
Without Him, reminds me of hell below with pain;
Yet in Him all heaven has been promised as my gain.
Without Him, darkness spreads its horrors to my view
Yet in Him, an eternity of glory awaits beyond the blue.
Without Him, everything within me is terror and dismay;
Yet in Him, I am promised peace and joy along my way.
Without Him, all things call for my condemnation;
Yet in Him is ministered all comfort and salvation.
Without Him there is nothing but death and pain to face;
Yet in Him all praise be lauded for the riches of his grace.

[based upon a prayer in The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Defining Fellowship

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, ESV)

This is one of my favorite verses, in the midst of one of my favorite paragraphs in all of the New Testament. This is what it takes to build a fellowship of believers where Christ is present in person and power. Here are the ingredients for the recipe of church growth.

You can throw out George Barna, Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven formula, the false premise of the emerging church, and any and all church growth programs. Since that is just what they are – programs. And not just programs, but man made programs.

John MacArthur in 1969 when he accepted the pastorate of the Grace Community Church of Sun Valley began a traditional response. This traditional response is now repeated by every honest and authentic shepherd charged with the responsibility of tending the flock of Jesus Christ. When asked what was his plan for church growth, Pastor MacArthur stated that he didn’t have one. Jesus Christ promised to build His church and MacArthur stated he wasn’t God and it wasn’t his church so he was going to stay out of the way and let Christ build His church.

If you were to call me today to a church pastorate and if I were asked this question my answer would be the same. I would direct the pastoral search committee to Acts 2: 42-47 – again, my favorite paragraph in the New Testament. Here you have Christ’s plan for building His church. Not very impressive is it? No worship teams, no light shows, no couches, no gimmicks, no “ministries”,  no indoor rodeos, and no glitz. This may not have anything to do with my post today but I have to slip it in. A commenter on part three of my series, Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing made this comment – “how offensive to God it is to promise glitter and glamour instead of grace!” This is what the majority of our man-made church programs consist.

Of the four items mentioned in verse 42, fellowship is probably the hardest to come by. Churches do not fellowship, they socialize. You say what a minute, just hold your horses! We have fellowship halls, we schedule fellowships, it is in our bulletin, and we encourage our people to come early to fellowship. OK, what normally happens? Conversations that revolve around children, jobs, vacations, trips, health, trials, tragedies, and grandma are what happens. (Now, settle down, I love grandma and I am not picking on her)

Here is why fellowship rarely happens. Fellowship is a spiritual activity not a social activity. Let me share with you five (5) elements of biblical and spiritual fellowship:

Intimacy - we must come to know one another in the body and develop a bond beyond casual friendship. We must bear one another's burdens. We are brothers and sisters. We must trust one another and develop intimate relationships governed by the Scripture.

Vulnerability - we must trust one another and be willing to honestly open ourselves up and share with one another our sins and our struggles. At some point we must "take a chance." We must use discretion and discernment but at some point we must become vulnerable. If not, we squelch honesty. We live behind masks and robes. How different are we when we do this than the Pharisees Christ condemned?

Humility - we must get past our own ego-centric pride and self preservation and open ourselves up to those who are mature in Christ. We have so many admonishments to become and be humble. A proud man will not learn nor will he grow. Only in humility can we confess our sins to one another or ask for help or prayer.

Accountability - we must realize that we are accountable to each other and for each other and will give an account to God. We can't look the other way and ignore our brothers and sisters who have fallen in this race of faith. We cannot be like the priest and the Levite who ignored the man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Yet, in many "churches" week after week we have our own brothers and sisters who have been robbed by Satan, beaten by his minions, and left for dead and we cross to the other side of the aisle.

Ministry - we must minister God's grace to one another. God mediates much of His grace toward us through the gifts of the other believers in our body. Paul said in Galatians that we who are spiritual must restore and bear burdens. Each one is gifted with at least one (1) spiritual gift to serve one another in humility, empathy, sacrificially, and in Christlike love.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Conversation With A Soul

The following devotional thoughts come from a conversation that an individual had with himself sometime in the 16th or 17th century. This is a conversation that every believer needs to have with him or herself regularly, if not daily. This man is talking to his soul. As he speaks with his soul, he is giving his soul specific advice and he is asking his soul very pointed questions. As you follow this conversation, my comments or questions will be in italics. This conversation is offered for your benefit and God’s glory.

Puritan: “Now, Soul of mine, I want you to remember what your duty is!

Soul: “Sir, what then is my duty?”

Puritan: “Soul, your duty, and this duty is a privilege, is to rejoice in God.

Soul: “Why, Sir, is it my duty to rejoice in God?”

Puritan: “Soul, God requires that I rejoice in Him due to all his favors of Grace that He bestows on you. Listen soul, rejoice in God as the giver of all grace and goodness, be happy in God, O my Soul, and be happy in God and in nothing but God.”

Soul: “Again, kind Sir, I ask, why should I be happy in God and in God alone, notwithstanding that God is the source of all goodness and has poured out grace unlimited upon me?”

Puritan: “I will tell you Soul listen close, do not miss what I say or you shall miss a truth that will lead you to seek happiness in so many useless places. Soul, whatever you trust in, whatever any man trusts in, from that a man expects happiness.”

Gregg: The question that must be asked at this point is what do you trust in? Search your heart carefully, for what you are trusting in you are seeking happiness from.

Is it profit? Is it power? Is it possessions? Is it position? Is it progeny? If you are looking to any or all of these things for happiness then you will be sadly disappointed because at one time or another each one of these things will disappoint you.

Puritan: “Soul, let me ask you, why are you unhappy at times? Why do you feel such dejection, such frustration, such unhappiness? How can you be so unhappy or depressed when God through His Spirit sown joy in you? How can you be unhappy when joy has been promised by the Father? Soul, are you seeking joy in yourself? Do you seek joy in evil motives of your heart that is fueled with pride and self-reputation?

Soul, do you not know that you having nothing in your except sin? That your heart is deceitful and desperately wicked? Soul, do you not know that there is nothing in you to cause God to be gracious to you or even to continue giving His grace to you? Oh, Soul, if you forget these things you will lose your joy!”

Soul: “At times I seem to have lost my joy! Is it because of these things you ask me? Alas, it is because of these things that I lose my joy. Good and kind Sir, what can I do? What must I do to restore the joy sown in me and promised to me by a kind and gracious God?”

Puritan: “Grieve under the sense of indwelling sin. Let godly sorrow work a work of repentance in your heart. This is what God’s Spirit desires to do and it is what creates the fullest of joy in you. Have sorrow for your sin of seeking joy apart from God and in vain things. Have a contrite heart O Soul, for this is what God delights in.

Gregg: Happiness comes from favorable circumstances. Joy comes from the Lord. The joy of the Lord is described as indescribable and unassailable. Joy is based upon God’s character which He revealed in both Christ Jesus and His Word.

Puritan: “Soul, I must ask you, have you sought happiness in some creature comfort? Be honest now. Stop, do not look for to the things of this earth and do not look below God for happiness. Soul, do not sleep in the lap of Delilah. Soul my God’s grace and through the enabling of His Holy Spirit, let God be everything to you. Let God fill your fountain continually with the joy that He gives from and due to His glorious character. What do you say, Soul?”

Soul: “O yes, kind sir, I will heed this wisdom. I will cease looking below God, apart from God for the joy that He has wrought in me through the working of His Holy Spirit. I want the joy that emanates from His character, not the temporary happiness of a favorable circumstance from family, friends, or foe. Thank you kind sir, and thank you gracious God.”

Gregg: What about you? Where do you trust for happiness? Remember, whatever a man trusts in, from that he expects happiness? Do you need to have a conversation with your soul?

[This conversation is based on “A Colloquy on Rejoicing", The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett, page 153]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Allow Me to Introduce...

I would like to share the latest addition to the Metcalf household. Last week, we were blessed to have acquired Fi Fi, a seven year old female miniature poodle. I had wanted a dog for quite some time that I could name Fiona.

My daughter happened to spot this little gem in the local newspaper. We were surprised she was still available. After passing a grueling examination by the wife of the former owner (her master had just died) we were able to take her home.

She was a Human Society Rescue from years gone by. She had been mauled (we don’t know the details) and has a steel rod in her left rear leg. She gets along fine as if it were the most naturally thing in the world. She is a man’s dog and is really my dog. She sleeps across my feet and spends the day in my office with me as we both look for work.

Theophilus has taken to her once he made the pecking order known. He is in charge and number one. Coco, in her kitten hood (9 months old) still runs when she spots Fi Fi. She will come around. Fi Fi is good with cats, kids, and my wife, phew!!

Hopefully more will be forthcoming in the future about Fi Fi, Theo, and Coco

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Defense of My Thought Process (Part II)

[This is the second part of a two part series entitled “In Defense of My Thought Process”]

Principles, Ponderings, and Propositions

I think what got me going was when one comment stated that Anne Rice was right in seeing the hypocrisy of Christianity and rejected it in order for her to have Christ. She thought that she could reject what belonged to Christ and yet keep Christ. Now, I am not opposed to having my faith and Christianity examined. Neither am I opposed to repenting or making changes when my faith or Christianity is found wanting and in error. I am not naïve myself in thinking that there isn’t errors, problems, and even hypocrisy in Christianity.

When I commented that Rice, based on her own testimony and beliefs was not a believer, many commenters didn’t realize that she might not be a believer. Yet, without that knowledge they had considered to be a believer. I am not trying to stifle comments in the least, I was just taken back that we can condone a decision like Rice’s and allow her to be a Christian when we don’t even know what she actually believes. This is the naivety I was speaking of.

Is it love? Is it tolerance? Is it lack of discernment? Is it fear of marking and avoiding those with false doctrine? Is it a rejection of inclusiveness? What is it? Why are we so swift to reckon someone a believer when we don’t even know what they believe?

Those who know me know that I don’t have a pair of horns growing out of my head. They know I don’t have a wanted poster of “witches” and the sort that I am hunting down to destroy. They know how much my heart grieves for those who are deceived by false doctrine. They know my commitment and passion for the correct teaching of the bible. I hope that in the last 18 months of reading this blog you know this also.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believes. The gospel transforms the unbelieving and condemned sinner into a believing child of God. The gospel is the gift of faith given by the Holy Spirit in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross alone. The gospel is God accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ by His death and God being fully propitiated or satisfied. God’s satisfaction is in Christ’s willing and obedient death alone. When the Holy Spirit gives life to an individual enabling that individual to repent and believe God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to that sinner and imputes that sinner’s sin to Jesus Christ. When that sinner repents and believes through the gift of faith, God declares that person to be just.

Salvation is by faith alone, by grace alone, by Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Salvation is exclusive, very exclusive. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father, but by me.” You can’t get any more exclusive. However, you become no more of a Christian by saying you believe in Jesus than I can become a member of the Senate by stating I believe I am a Senator and that I believe in Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader.

As a faithful reader from Tried by Fire commented on yesterday's blog, "Today's view of spirituality is highly personal and highly privatized. The attitude is 'If I say I am a Christian, how dare anyone hold me to an external standard like the Bible.' But if our "Christianity" is self-defined, it's not the true Biblical gospel. If this is not confronted in love, many will and do have false assurance. We aren't saved because of our fruit,we're saved by Christ alone. But if there's no fruit, we may not be saved if there's no evidence of His work in our lives. It's no wonder Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith."

When you add any works to the sacrifice of Christ you will be rejected by God. God does not infuse grace to you through your efforts or works thereby considering you just. Justification is a forensic declaration made by God through the vehicle of faith because of the trust in the atoning work of Christ as that which appeased God. Justification is not a means by which you secure redemption through your own efforts, works, or obedience. This is the defining difference between Christianity and false Christianity. Justification is the hallmark. Either God forensically declares one to be just via the vehicle of faith or one desires God to synergistically justify one by the efforts of both God and the sinner. There is no middle ground. It is either or, one or the other. God declares one to be just or one attempts to earn, or to cooperation obtains justification.

When you attempt to keep the law, work for penance or redemption, trust that grace will be infused through sacraments, add baptism, diet, ceremonies, washings, and or baptism to that great, sweet, marvelous, majestic, sacrifice of Christ in His death, you have fallen from grace (The Apostle Paul's argument to the Galatians) and made Christ void. If you continue to do so, Anne Rice, Mahatma Gandhi, those who subscribe to easy believeism, or desire God to infuse grace to your works, you will die in your sins.

The Council of Trent in Chapter 16, CANON IX.-"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema." This says that if any one says that faith alone is the vehicle for justification and that your efforts, obedience, and cooperation is not viable toward justification, then the one who says that is cursed by this Council.

There is an entire system that opposes justification by faith and faith alone. Not only does this system oppose that by faith alone one is justified but if one states nothing else is required then that one is cursed. Therefore, if one believes that they are justified with God because they have cooperated with God as God infuses grace through their works, they are deceived and not a believer.

We must get it right. Even though God is absolutely sovereign and His perfect decree will be worked out with not one thing thwarting His will, even though God will save His elect and not one will perish, in our presentation of the gospel and our commission is to be both a witness and an ambassador of Christ we must get it right. We must understand the biblical justification. When someone makes a public stand and claims to have received justification through a system of works, self-righteous efforts, or cooperation with God we must speak out and proclaim the truth. Thank God, He works through His Holy Spirit regenerating us ensuring that "we get it right."

These have been my thoughts the last few days. I am grieved for those who are deceived. I am grieved by those who state that they can reject the Words of the Savior and yet be a Christian. I am grieved by those who accept these statements "wholesale" without investigation.

I can believe God is sovereign, that God will perfectly redeem His elect, that those whom are lost are justly lost, I can rejoice in God's wisdom and yet grieve, as I stand against false teachers and false teaching. Thanks for allowing me share some principles, some ponderings, and some propositions.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Defense of My Thought Process (Part I)

Principles, Ponderings, and Propositions

Most believers probably found these last three posts somewhat redundant, even possibly unnecessary. Unnecessary in the sense that any mature and biblically discipled believer both biblically and instinctively knows that TBN and such are not Christian nor do they teach a Christian doctrine. I had not scheduled a blog or expose on TBN or such in my monthly blog topic planning calendar. I like to plan topics a month in advance and then write them a week in advance, allowing for God’s Spirit to interrupt the schedule.

These last three blogs were a response to two or three emails that I received concerning my post “I Quit” and “This is what he really meant…” I love the emails even the ones that go to great length challenging my thought process. I read them carefully and weigh them carefully lest I be a fool and fail to consider the possibility that I can be wrong or have made a mistake. These emails help me review my thoughts, my statements, my references, my perspective, and even my motives.

Much of the email and the comments that I saw on other blogs simply allowed Anne Rice to be a Christian and that she was doing the right thing in denouncing “Christianity” as something that was false. This troubled me causing me to write the blog “I Quit.” Some of the emails sent to me mentioned TBN and men who claim to be preachers and spokespeople for God which only “pushed” my button. I loved one lengthy email that equally and almost poetically denounced TBN and their ilk.

First I only want to say two things. I do not expect TBN or their ilk to repent, become believers, abandon their false doctrine or go away because of my three part article. Greater men than I have thoroughly exposed and denounced their false doctrines and personages in a far greater way than I ever could. It was never my purpose to do an expose on TBN.

Second, nor was it my purpose simply to rant against Anne Rice or Mahatma Gandhi. First of all, Gandhi is now dead and forever in his place of eternal existence and nothing I say can change that. Second, Anne Rice unless she is moved upon by the Holy Spirit and is given life in order to repent and believe will not welcome, accept, or receive the things that I wrote.

I wrote, I suppose because I grieve for the countless number of believers that are deceived by today’s “spirit” of tolerance and acceptance that willingly, yet incorrectly makes room for non-believers to be considered as believers. I grieve because in a spirit and age of inclusiveness many people who are not believers are being quoted, lauded, applauded, and promoted as true believers of God.

This is a major concern for me. First, because it demonstrates that many in the church do not know what the gospel is or how to define Christianity. Secondly, it blurs the line and confuses both believers and non-believers when unbelievers are incorrectly classified as believers. Third, this tolerance and acceptance of all who say they love Jesus lends itself to being lived out in the lives of those who may be believers in an unbiblical manner. We live out what we believe or in some cases what we don’t believe. Fourth, it gives false hope to a huge number of people who think they are right with God when in fact they are not.

So, the reason for the past 4 or 5 blogs is simply to awaken the church to the reality that not everyone who says that they are a believer is a believer. I wanted to stand against this age of questionable or even non-existent discernment. It gives me no pleasure in any sense to be so passionately opposed to certain people or ideologies.

Am I advocating doubting everyone who says they are a believer? Certainly not. I give, for lack of a better way of saying it, “the benefit of the doubt” to everyone who names the name of Christ. However, I don’t just accept the claim blindly. I examine the fruit of the claimant’s life, their doctrines and teachings and their claim. In other words, what is the reason that for believing that one is a Christian? I listen carefully as to what a person basis their redemption or salvation. For example, if you tell me you are a first rate automobile mechanic, oops sorry – old school, technician, I accept that but at the same time I would like to see the basis for your claim. Did you go a recognized technician’s school, are you certified by a particular manufacturer, do you have ASE certification? Or, do you learn from Uncle Buck and by practice on the Chevy sitting out in the pasture? I realize this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.

I once had a woman tell me that she was saved and on her way to heaven as a Christian and child of God. What was the basis or her confidence and her claim? She was asleep in bed one night when a bad angel came into her room and circled around her as she laid in bed. Then a good angel came in an chased the bad angel around the bed three times and then out of her room. She is confident that the good angel cleansed her of anything bad and that this good angel would ensure that she got into heaven when the time came.

This maybe a unique and unrelated example to Anne Rice’s understanding of Christianity. However, I could not let this women’s confidence to unchallenged no more than I can let Anne Rice’s understanding of Christianity go unchallenged. Unfortunately I could not persuade this first woman to renounce her "vision" and trust in Christ alone. Fortunately, it is not too late for Anne Rice to renounce her false ideologies and trust the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

[To be continued Lord willing in tomorrow’s blog]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing (Part III)

[This is part three of a three part article entitled Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing. For continuity be sure to read part one posted August 18 and 19, 2010.]

TBN = Treasure, Babes, and Nicole Miller

Paul Crouch and his ilk are quick to mark those who stand against them. They call their “opponents” heresy-hunters. Anyone who challenges their heresies that they pump into millions of homes everyday are quickly denounced as evil heresy-hunters. Crouch and his ilk react violently to any criticism of their ministries. They have even pronounced judgments of death on all persons who challenge their method or mission.

“God, we proclaim death to anything or anyone that will lift a hand against this network and this ministry that belongs to You, God. It is Your work, it is Your idea, it is Your property, it is Your airwaves, it is Your world, and we proclaim death to anything that would stand in the way of God's great voice of proclamation to the whole world. In the Name of Jesus, and all the people said Amen!' (Paul Crouch, Praise The Lord television program, November 7, 1997)

"To hell with you! Get out of my life! Get out of the way! I say get out of God's way! Quit blocking God's bridges or God's going to shoot you if I don't. I don't even want to even talk to you or hear you! I don't want to see your ugly face!" (Paul Crouch, Praise-a-Thon, April 2, 1991)

Yet, the church as a whole does not stand up and teach the children of God that they are the heretics. The church is hesitant in saying that they are teaching falsely. How do we know that they are false? Discernment. Compare their teaching with scripture and use biblical discernment. Scrutinize their prophecies, their pronouncements, and their polemics.

False teachers do not want to scrutinized with Scripture. Why don’t we have the discernment as a “church at large” to mark out the false teachers while we are discipling the new believers to reject these men and their ministries? Seems, in the spirit of cooperation, tolerance, love, and oh yes, refusing to be though as judgmental, men like these are accepted as Christians but perhaps with aberrant views. They are not Christians they are wolves, ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing preying on the lost, the naïve and the undiscerning.

Secondly, let me share something with you that may shock you. First, my heart goes out to those who are deceived by these ravenous wolves. My heart breaks for them because as II Cor 10:3-6 states they are captives in the stronghold of Satan. They are captives of satanically devised arguments by these ravenous wolves. They are captive to lofty opinions that have been lifted up against our great sovereign and holy God. Oh, that God would deliver them all!

Many who are giving their last nickel of their Social Security check are getting what they deserve and warrant. Why do you think many of those “widows” who are living on social security or disability send in their money? They send it because of their greed. They want more. They don’t send their money without the expectation of the promised return. Their greed is fueled by the greed of the ravenous false teacher’s greed.

Before you say it, I am not judging motives and yes I do allow for the fact that some of these dear and desperate widows maybe sending their offering or gift out of sincerity. There are probably a few who truly want to advance the kingdom of God but due to being spiritually dead or extremely spiritually naïve are deceived into thinking that their donation will matter. The majority want, covet, and are desperate for the promised 10 fold or 100 fold promise of return. These false teachers prey on desperate, broke, sick, and hurting people. Sometimes these desperate people hate their poverty and want financial wealth, not unlike anyone else, and therefore they give in order to get.

Deception is a judgment of God on those who reject His Word and His Son as given to us in the Scriptures. Everyone loves the Jesus they have manufactured in their own vain imagination. Christ answered the disciples one day when they asked Him why He spoke to the crowd in parables. Christ response may shock you; He stated He spoke in parables so that they would not understand.

We as believers must expose the false by presenting the truth of God. God reveals what is true to edify His children but also to expose what is false. God does send waves of deception to hardened hearts who reject the truth for a “revised” brand of the truth. See II Thessalonians 2:11; II Kings 22:22; Ezekiel 14:9.

When people like Gandhi or Anne Rice, who by their own “testimony” reveal that they are not believers, and decide to denounce Christianity, we should not be offended by that. We should not give them a pass as if they are “seeing through” the lies and distortion of what they define as Christianity, but we should shine the light of the Word of God in such a way that perhaps they will see the truth.

If the church cannot discern the real from the false, and is unwilling to mark, or name those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, in order to avoid them then the church is in real trouble. This is why so many so called churches have no influence or impact on the world around them. They have, in the name of love and tolerance compromised the truth to allow anyone who says they are a Christian to “be” a Christian.

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross. This is war, a spiritual war; not a game!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing (Part II)

[This is part two of a three part article entitled Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing. For continuity be sure to read part one posted August 18, 2010.]

TBN = Treasure, Babes, and Nicole Miller

Secondly, why do we tolerate and even watch networks like TBN? This is an ungodly, non-Christian network parading as an angel of light. These are Satan’s minions masquerading as spokespeople for God. THEY ARE NOT SPOKESPEOPLE FOR GOD!

Are you aware that one of the judgments of God on unbelief and rejection of His Word is false teachers and false teachings? Men are deceived many times because they choose to be deceived. The most horrific judgment that God can give to men on this earth in this life is to give men what they want. Even Garth Brooks seemed to understand that the best gifts of God were answered prayers. When God gives a man what his base and sinful nature desires it is a horrendous judgment, so great a judgment as to be unbearable. When God gives a man what he wants he gives him over to his base nature further condemning the man to the just sentence of damnation that he deserves. (Romans 1)

The unbeliever does not welcome, want, discern, or understand the things that belong to the realm of the Spirit of God (I Cor 2:14). The unbeliever is dead, unable to respond to anything spiritual, other than the irresistible quickening of the Holy Spirit should He choose to sovereignly give life and awake such person.

Listen, the trouble that we face is that the church does not understand and know God. The church does not understand the absolute sovereignty, sufficiency, and working of God. God’s word according to the prophet Isaiah (55:11) will not return to God without accomplishing exactly what God wants it to accomplish – never – at no time will it be rendered useless! God’s word always accomplishes its purpose, whether that purpose is to harden hearts, such as Pharaoh’s, or to smash and break a heart rendering it obedient and pliable to God.

The secular world, Gandhi, Anne Rice, the “children of our church” do not have the where-with-all to see through the likes of Crouch, Hinn, Jakes, Copeland, Myers, and any other false teacher causing them to refuse to partake in Christianity. If you believe that you fall short in understanding the heart of man. They certainly can and often do use the hypocrisy that they see in so called churches and Christians to remain in their own sin and deceit. They can and do use the failings and struggles of true children of God as a means to cling to their own idol and image of God which they have created in their own mind.

Gandhi or Rice have (had) a dead and depraved nature. They reject the God of the Bible, settling for one they have either made in their own imagination or have accepted from others who have fashioned and presented an acceptable God. Through accepting false teaching God continues to harden the heart toward the truth. God took the sin and rejection already present in Pharaoh’s heart and hardened it to further God’s purpose.

As far as people being deceived by false teachers, especially those false teachers of TBN, the Health and Wealth, the Name it Claim it (Blab it-grab it) deceiving people, yes they do deceive people. Undoubtedly millions are led further into darkness and deception by these ravenous wolves and their ilk. Do I think some spiritual babes are sucked in and deceived, yes, I allow for that possibility. That is the fault of the church. The church needs to be extremely vocal in marking false teachers and discipling new believers.

False teachers like Paul Crouch and those whom he has on his programs and networks need each other. They need each other in order to live the life they aspire to live. TBN needs false teachers in order to increase the number of viewers. The greater the number of viewers the more opportunity to peddle the false gospel of wealth, the books and tapes or CDs that propagate their false doctrine. Naturally the more listeners the more opportunity for those who greedily desire the same level of lifestyle to send in their offerings, even from their poverty. These false teachers and false doctrines are the vehicle by which these false teachers appeal to the base nature of human beings exploiting and extracting the wealth which furnishes their own base greed, lust, and fleshly appetites.

(To be continued Lord willing in Part III)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing (Part I)

[This is part one of a three part article. It was inspired; no it was born from the response to Anne Rice’s “dramatic announcement that she was quitting Christianity.” I was appalled and then became broken and grieved at the responses that I read in various places which made her out to be some type of “hero.” Some seemed to imply that she was being heroic in some sense as she wished to dissociate herself from the debacles’ of “Christianity gone wild” as she took the higher ground.

It wouldn’t have been so bad as to possibly in grace to think she might be misguided in her diatribe. But to then see the “pass” given to her and other patently false teachers as “Christian leaders” who are misleading the sheep with false doctrine was too much for me. I was grieved as those who first, made no research into what she actually believed, and second who found it easier or nobler to praise her than to denounce her foolish accusations and diatribe. It was too much to for me to see believers who accept someone as a believer merely because he or she says that they are. The naivety of the church as a whole troubles me]

Giving final instructions to the believers at Rome, Paul wrote in chapter 16:17-18:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught, avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.” (Emphasis is mine)

This quotation is from my beloved English Standard Version. It accurately translates the Greek Word σκοπεω. Primarily this word gives us the idea to “watch” or “to look at, observe, or contemplate.” Secondarily it can be translated as “mark.” Encapsulated in this word is the idea to watch out for yourself – hence the reference to the deception of the naïve. The KJV reads “…mark those which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them.”

First of all, we as believers, we who are the true children of God need to be wise and astute enough to differentiate between who and what is Christian and who and what is not. We need to take a stand and stop being so afraid to call a “spade” a spade. You have heard the expression if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, well, it must be a duck.

God expects us look at individuals, particularly those who claim to be teachers, leaders, or spokespeople and evaluate them. We are expected to match their fruit, their life, their doctrine, and their demeanor against the qualifications, description, and doctrines of the Scriptures in order to determine the false from the true.

I am grieved that “believers” are at time so biblically illiterate and spiritually anemic that they cannot recognize ravenous and destructive wolves in sheep’s clothing. Satan has been very successful in his campaign to prevent true scrutinization of a man’s claim of being a spokesperson for God. We need to patiently, slowly, and over time evaluate a man’s “credentials.” I am not referring to his degree or necessarily his pedigree.

Why does he think he has the right to speak for God? What is his life like? Does he meet the qualifications in the Scripture? Is his doctrine biblical? Does his life match that of the Master, His Message, and His Mission?

If it doesn’t match up then we need to shout it from the house top and avoid these people like the plague. The church needs backbone today. It needs courage to mark and avoid those who cause division and offenses contrary to sound biblical doctrine.

The common complaint is that the “secular world” lumps both believers and false teachers into one lump. So what? If we were faithful to Paul’s instruction, not to mention the numerous references in other scriptures to examine men and their doctrine, and we made known those who are false the world would get the idea that not everyone who says that they are a believer are actually believers. If we followed Peter’s exhortations and instructions of making Christ’s character attractive and desirable by how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis we would by contrast demonstrate to the world the false from the real.

God knew that false teachers, false prophets, and false doctrines would develop in the church. He gave a test and a remedy by which the saints of the Old Testament could determine a true prophet from a false one and a true prophecy from the false in Deuteronomy 18. The false teachers of today, especially those on TBN  will tell you not to touch the anointed of God. They tell you not to examine them nor their words. They don’t want you to see their appetites and the lusts of their flesh. They don’t want their life – their method, mission, and means scrutinized by the scriptures.

We don't have that same test and liberty today in the church. We must examine teachers and their teaching against scripture and then accept or reject truths on the basis of Scripture. The New Testament is replete with exhortations, instructions, admonishments, and commands to reject false teachers and false doctrines. What is the problem? I think it stems from one or a combination of the following - fear, naivety, ignorance, or rebellion. Any and all are sin and an affront to our Majestic, Soverign, Righteous, and Holy God!

(To be continued Lord willing in Part II of Wolves in Sheep's Clothing)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You are the Hallmarks of My Bog!

Thank you for the wonderful get well cards and the gracious well wishes you extended in the form of your comments. You were kind and your generosity means allot to me, I shall not forget it. So many of you said so many wonderful things, thank you, thank you, thank you!

I determined in December of 2009 that in 2010 I would like to post each day. I don't know why - my head still isn't clear and I can't remember back to December right now. I didn't want to miss yesterday and mess up my "perfect" record so I posted I was sick. I have always striven to never be guilty of merely "phoning it in" in regards to my daily post.

Today is Monday, I think. I slept all most all of Saturday and Sunday - they are a blur. My daughter fixed a plate of food for me late Sunday evening, I ate some it. I didn't even have my beloved coffee Saturday or Sunday. Irene discovered early on in our marriage, that one, I don't get sick often, two if I refuse coffee and food, it is serious!

I slept in this morning and had a series of the strangest of dreams I have ever had. I don't ever sleep in. I like to be up by 4:30 or 5:00 AM PST and begin my day with Christ and Coffee. I love the wee hours of the early morning hours. But I slept fitfully until about 11:00 AM when I tried a shower. Too soon, still to weak and dizzy.

But I did get some coffee down, took Fi Fi to do her business. Lord willing tomorrow I will begin a three part series concerning my thoughts on the churches failure to recognize and report false teachers. I am trying to keep my posts around 600 words - I don't want them to long and therefore ignored. This post will be about 2000 words, so I decided to split it up into three days. Hopefully that will let me do something of benefit and value and allow me to get back on track.

So, stay tuned for Wolves in Sheep's Clothing (Part I)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Due to Circumstances...

News Item

There is no post for today. Those responsible for the Gospel-driven Disciples sincerely apologize for this. Circumstances beyond our control have forced us to forgo today’s post.

I usually take Friday or Saturday mornings and right the weeks post and have them post automatically. This Friday we had company from California. My aunt and cousin came to visit their grandchildren and children. We ended up with my aunt, her two daughters, and her two grandchildren, three of my children along with their children, my cousin and her family. I grilled hamburgers and ‘dogs on the grill and we had a grand time.

Saturday I woke up sicker than a dog. Even though I have owned a number of dogs, I have never really inquired how sick a dog really is. I have slept off and on from Friday night until right now. I haven’t eaten since Friday night except for a little ice cream, for my throat of course. Thank God the bible study was cancelled... I can’t think let alone teach.

Lord willing the Gospel-driven disciples will be back in busy come tomorrow morning. Then I can write the weeks post in advance. I am working on an article concerning false teachers, TBN, and such.

For all of you who clicked to come here expecting to find something of value and benefit, I am truly humbled and sorry. I hope to make the rounds of your blogs tomorrow also and catch up. Love you all! May God bless you for your kindness towards me!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bees and Benjamins

Regarding riches and worldly wealth:

The bee may suck a little honey from the leaf, but put it in a barrel of honey and it dies. Christians must stave of the world so that it does not get into their heart (Psalm 62:10). Water is useful to the ship and helps it to sail better to the haven, but let the water get into the ship, if it is not pumped out, it drowns the ship. So riches are useful and convenient for our passage. We sail more comfortably with them through the troubles of this world; but if the water gets into the ship, if love of riches gets into the heart, then we are drowned by them (1 Timothy 6:9).

- The Puritan Pulpit - Thomas Watson

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Never Lack

"May the matter of my prayer be always wise, humble, submissive, obedient, scriptural, Christ-like. Give me unwavering faith that supplications are never in vain, that if I seem not to obtain my petitions I shall have larger, richer answers, surpassing all that I ask or think. Unsought, thou has given the greatest gift, the person of thy Son, and in him thou wilt give me all I need."

(From The Prayer of Love, The Valley of Vision, p. 149)

  • What are you praying for today that if God were to answer would enhance and deepen your walk with Him?

  • What should be changed in your prayer life to bring it in line with the tone of this prayer?

  • What does the last sentence in this foregoing paragraph say specifically to you?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Here is what he really meant...

I found this on the Apprising Ministries Blog today and I offer it up for your consideration:

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” – (Mahatma Gandhi)

I always thought this was a foolish statement. I never thought it was worth repeating nor did I like it when "Christians" used it to attack fundamental believers. I like the “interpretation” given on the aforementioned blog site:

“So, for your edification, I’ll take a quick moment and put this quote—from a man who never believed Who (sic) Jesus is and as a result died in his sins (see—John 8:24)—into a proper context and fix it, once and for all. Here’s what Ghandi really meant:”

“I like the Christ whom I have made up in my own mind; I do not like Christians who remind me of the doctrine, i.e. Christianity that He actually taught. Your Christians are so unlike the teachings of the imaginary Christ that I happen to like.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An Overview of Discipleship


What is a Disciple?

• A disciple is a student. A disciple listens to and adheres to the teaching of a person who is in authority. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) defines discipleship as:

The word disciple is found in the bible only in the Gospels and the Acts…and always means the pupil of someone, in contrast to the master or teacher (didaskalos). See Mathew 10:24; Luke 6:40. In all cases it implies that the person not only accepts the views of the teacher but the his is also in practice an adherent. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

• A disciple is a person that is committed to becoming like Christ. The disciple shapes his or her life in the same way as Christ’s life. ISBE also states:

The disciple of Christ today may be described in the words of Farrar, as “one who believes His doctrines, rests upon His sacrifice, imbibes His Spirit, and imitates His example.

• A disciple is a follower who strives to be like Jesus Christ and exhibits the fruits of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:222-25

1. A follower is a person that has made a decision to follow Christ and makes an active effort to become like Christ

2. Some people do not “follow” Christ by just attend “church.” They can be classed as casual or social Christians. They are not in the process of being disciple because they are not “following” Christ, nor are they “students” nor are they “committed” to Christ.

When Does Discipleship Begin?

• Discipleship begins the moment one places faith in Christ

• Discipleship is the main purpose of this blog – the process of discipleship from the “moment of being born again” through the process of becoming a mature follower of Jesus Christ with the ability to disciple others.

How Long is a Person a Disciple?

• Discipleship is a lifelong process – not a 6, 9, 12, or 16 week “course” Discipleship never ends since the believer is always maturing and moving toward completion in Christlikeness.

• A person is a disciple from the moment they are born again until they are taken out of this world and transported into the presence of Jesus Christ

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are You A Two-Souled Man?

Word Study: διψυχος

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8, ESV)

The context is trials. Believers are to reason through a divnely aided intellectual process that results in the believer joyfully embracing trials. This joyfully embracing is a result of understanding the end result or purpose of the trials – steadfastness. It is steadfastness through trials which serves as the agent that God uses to mature his children.

Due to the severity, complexity, and anxiety experienced during trials a believer may not know how to appropriate God’s grace and means by which to remain steadfast. The remedy prescribed is to ask God for the necessary wisdom. Rather than worry or react unbiblicaly a child of God may ask his heavenly father for necessary wisdom. The believer is promised that first, God will give the needed wisdom, and secondly that God will not rebuke or criticize the believer who needs to ask. The believer is simply told to ask in faith. Doubting will result in the believer not receiving the necessary wisdom.

James tells us that this person, the believer who asks not in faith, but from a perspective of doubt is unstable. James describes this person as like a wave in the ocean that is pushed around by the wind. Believers who do not exercise faith are subject to being tossed around by the winds of doubt. James calls this person a double-minded man.

Double-minded has been called the most expressive words in this letter. It is only used twice in the New Testament, here and in chapter four, verse eight. It is possible that James “coined” this word. There is no evidence of its use prior to James’s letter.

Dipsuchos literally means “two-souled.” The expression gives us the idea of “a man two-souled.” It is a vivid picture of the doubter’s mind-set. It is a picture of a man who has two personalities that are in on-going conflict with each other. One mind is turned to God and the things of God and the other mind is turned to the world and its attractions. A man who is two-souled or double-minded believes God will answer his prayer but also disbelieves that God will answer his prayer because he is influenced to think like the world thinks. Heibert called this man a “walking civil war.” This man is trying to do the impossible and what Christ said He would reject – a man trying to walk in two directions.

This type of a man James says is actually unstable in all of his ways. This man is unstable because he is not settled on one conviction; God isn’t quite good enough to warrant his full attention, but the world isn’t what he wants either. He is trying to have his cake and eat it at the same time. It is like who was like Israel when they had one eye on God and one eye on Egypt. This man cannot stand without wobbling or wavering.

A two-souled man lacks a solid foundation. He is not resolute in anything. He shifts back and forth depending on what message he is hearing is loudest. One moment God may be influencing him but he is influenced by the philosophy of the world. This man cannot fully trust God because he is not fully committed to God.

This is why this man receives nothing from God. God will not give the necessary wisdom and where-with-all to withstand the trial and remain steadfast. Our will must rest in God’s will. In order to rest in God we must trust God explicitly. We must constantly reject the thought process of this world. Prayer is where this division is discovered and maintained – we reject the world and trust God because in prayer we are committed to God.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Is Elena Kagan good for the Supreme Court?

A Newly Confirmed Supreme Court Justice

Elena Kagan was sworn in Saturday as the 112 justice and fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Kagan is a former Harvard Law School dean and a solicitor general.

She has been called a political liberal by members of the Republican Party. Kagan won’t be formally installed as a justice until the new term of the court this fall. She can however begin her duties now by reviewing cases and emergency appeals that have been filed to the Supreme Court.

Kagan joins Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor on the nine-member court, which is often, divided 5-4 on high-profile cases such as gun rights, discrimination and campaign finance.

The pundits and prognosticators do not expect Kagan to change the ideological balance of the court, where Justice Stevens was considered a leader of the liberals.

What do you think she adds to the Supreme Court? Where do you see the court headed? What do you think we can expect from this Obama appointment?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

God who is Truth

God Who is Truth

Gracious Father, who not only is truthful in all things but also is truth itself, enable us who are prone to disbelief, fear, and lies to overcome our lack of faith, the debilitating force of fear, and the deception of our own flesh. We would by your grace turn from our own frail and untrustworthy feelings and flee to you whom we may trust explicitly. We are able to trust you without fear because you do not, nor are you capable of any falsehood.


“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19, ESV)

God is a God of truth. God is truth. This is the basis for our ability to place not only ourselves but our absolute confidence in God at all times for all things. God cannot lie since God is not like us. Therefore there is no reason to fear regardless of the circumstances that face us each and every day.

There are three (3) sources of lies and deception that we face on a regular basis. These three sources would, if allowed, cause us to disbelieve the promises of God to us, fear he daily challenges of life, and to believe the lies of the enemy. These three (3) sources are the sinful nature that lives with each one of us; the godless and humanistic philosophy of this present world; and our arch-enemy, the Devil.

Since God never lies and is truth, he can be trusted. To those whom the benefits of the atoning work of Christ has been applied, the truth is you are forgiven and redeemed. Your redemption is not based on your feelings, merit, or power but because the God who is truth was fully and eternally satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. You who are facing extreme circumstances of poverty, illness, unemployment, family issues, and fear – take heart! All things are being worked out for your good and God’s glory. How do I know this? God said it and that settles it! God is not only truthful but truth is an attribute or characteristic that is part of the divine nature. 

Whether it be divine chastening, divine refining and renewing of your mind, persecution or antagonism from the enemy we can rejoice with great confidence. Nothing can beset you that God has not either permitted or decreed. Therefore, our confidence of our well-being is not in our feelings, circumstances, or human reasoning but in God who promised to save and keep us by his glorious power.

Here is where our confidence and even our joy lies: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (II Corinthians 13:14, ESV)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Eagle Has Died

Breaking News...

The American Bald eagle, full of the boundless spirit of freedom, living above the valleys, strong and powerful in his might, has been the national emblem of a country that had offered freedom in word and thought and opportunity  has been murdered!

The Bald Eagle has served as the emblem of the United States since 1782 when the great seal of the United States was adopted. This wonderful, vibrant and valiant creature has served well and proudly for some 228 years. Mere gazing at this proud magnificent creature can take one’s breath away.

As of late this magnificent bird has taken on a somewhat tattered appearance. This emblem has been harassed and hunted by weaker prey. These weaker prey have joined in masses to accomplish the damage that had not been effective unilaterally. These attacks have taken a toll on our dear national emblem. This magnificent eagle has become tired, worn and sullied, even bloodied.

Through the Civil War, both World Wars, Viet Nam, and the middle east conflicts this bold yet battered eagle has flown high and free. It has been picked at by the ACLU, civil unrest, Watergate, Clinton-gate, and Florida voting tampering – tattered and wearied it still flew high and proudly.

Tuesday, the eagle died. This great and magnificent bird was murdered by the judicial system of California. This great bird died August 4, 2010 at the hands of so called Judge Vaughan Walker. The details are frightening and almost beyond imagination. Single handedly this judge did what Germany, Japan, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and internal citizens crazed with civil disobedience could not do: kill our national freedom represented by this golden bird.

In a single decision by a homosexual judge the voting right of seven million Californian’s were immorally rejected. In a single act of judicial misconduct Californians were sent the message that they no longer had the right to utilize their constitutional rights to vote. They were also told that they could not by majority and due process of the electoral system define the institution of marriage.

This magnificent emblem of American liberty and justice died August 4, 2010 at the hands of another. This American symbol was 228 years old. The eagle was loved by the majority and hated by a small growing minority leaves no survivors. America is no longer free nor democratic. America is now ruled by non-elected activist judges who care not for the rights and voice of millions of now disenfranchised Americans.

Mr. Bald Eagle, our valiant and gallant symbol of American freedom and liberty may you now rest in peace.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Is God Irresistible?

Friday's Edition
What Does the Bible Say?

Gospel-driven Disciples
A-Z Bible Resource

Send your bible questions to askpastorgregg@gmail.com

This question was submitted to the
 Gospel-driven Disciples A-Z Bible Resource:

Can human beings or any entity
 for that matter resist God?

The answer is very simple. Yes, of course any human being or entity, such as Satan, fallen angels, etc. can resist God. One does not have to look very far or for very long to see people resisting God. For example we read in Romans 13:1-2:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (ESV – emphasis mine)

There is no doctrine or teaching in the bible that says that God cannot be resisted. God is resisted every day in innumerable ways by both non-believers and believers. The confusion comes when one tries to understand and reconcile the biblical teaching of irresistible grace. 

Irresistible grace is the understanding that once the Holy Spirit begins to pursue an individual whom the bible calls the “elect” the Holy Spirit will overcome the resistance in the sinner’s heart and will successfully apply the benefits of the atonement to said heart rendering the sinner willing to submit to God thus ending that sinner’s resistance.

What needs to be made very clear is though God permits resistance to Him and His Holy righteousness it is only for a limited time. God will permit you or any entity to resist Him until He determines to end the resistance. There will come a day, by judgment or chastisement, death, the overcoming by the Holy Spirit, or the end of this present age that any and all resistance will end. We can see an example of this in Genesis 6:3:

“My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (ESV)

God allowed sin, unrighteousness, and resistance to Him from Adam’s sin until He told Noah to build the ark. There was a limit to the resistance – man would have 120 years longer to resist God but then that resistance would be ended by a worldwide flood that would kill every living thing except those eight (8) souls whom God safely hid in the ark.

Resistance has been rampant since Noah came off the ark and he and his little family re-populated the earth. Sometimes God ends resistance with the death of the resister, sometimes God end the resistance with the conversion of the resister. Mark it down, God will not always be long-suffering and permit His will to be resisted. Judgment is coming and He will return to this earth to put down all resistance.

So, what is the biblical answer to the question can human beings, or any entity for that matter resist God? Yes, human beings and any entity can resist God for as long as God chooses to permit the resistance. Take warning, dear soul, when God determines according to His own purpose and good pleasure to end your resistance, He will definitely, conclusively, ultimately end your resistance.

[Be sure to read in tomorrow's post of the tragic murder of a national figure]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review: Trusting God

Jerry Bridges

In a very candid admission, Jerry Bridges states that he did not know how to turn to God in times of trouble. As a matter of fact he stated quite frankly that he was "alone" in his adversity.

Bridges observes wisely that all human beings experience adversity at different times in their lives and as he puts it in varying degrees.

Bridges makes this bold and candid statement, “Learning to trust God in adversity has been a slow and difficult process for me. It is a process that is still under way.” So, Bridges sets out to help us learn how to trust God in his book Trusting GodEven When Life Hurts. You will find this to be a very encouraging and edifying book that all will benefit from.

Bridges makes it clear that the purpose of his book is two-fold; to glorify God by acknowledging God’s absolute sovereignty and secondly, to encourage God’s people through the process of demonstrating from the bible that God is in control of their lives. As a matter of fact Bridges makes it very clear that God loves His children and as Paul stated in the eighth chapter of Romans,  God works all the circumstances in their lives for their ultimate good.

Trusting God opens in chapter one with a very penetrating, yet valid question, can you trust God? Using scripture, real life examples, and years of tried wisdom Bridges answers this question in the affirmative. He hopes that as you read this chapter and the rest of his book that you too are able to answer with a definite yes.

Bridges takes on the challenging task of demonstrating that God is in control regardless of the trial, tragedy, or tribulation that comes into your life. He makes it clear from the Word of God that these painful events that we all experience are not merely chance or blind fate. With years of pastoral wisdom and biblical knowledge he comforts and gives guidance to each individual regardless of the tragedy that you are facing.

One thing that I truly appreciated is the fact that Bridges cannot give an answer for every individual tragedy that takes place in our lives. He does differentiate between the times when we both sin and reap discipline from our heavenly Father, or we are foolish and violate rules of common sense. There are times each of us suffer as a result of our own sin or foolishness. However, there are times when we do not know why cancer strikes a loved one, or why we lost our job, or why we are cruelly and viciously slandered, or why a dear one is killed. Sometimes God does not reveal the purpose for these painful tragedies. For example, God never revealed to Job why he suffered the loss of property, possessions, reputation, health, and children.

Bridges makes it clear that we can go to God and seek wisdom and answers from God. He makes it clear God is under no obligation to explain himself to us. He also makes it clear that we are obligated to trust God. What makes this book a very comforting and practical handbook is that Bridges is careful to exegete the scriptures and show us that we should and that we are enabled to trust God with our lives in the most painful of times.

Bridges makes excellent explanation and application in all fourteen chapters in his book. Each chapter is very useful and needs to be read very carefully. However, the last three chapters are the meat and potatoes of this book. Growing through Adversity, Choosing to Trust God, and Giving Thanks Always are very down to earth and encouraging to the hurting saint.

Chapter Twelve, Growing through Adversity reminds us that we cannot develop the beautiful Christ like character without adversity. Bridges emphasizes the point that God works through adversity. He very deftly reminds us that though the pruning process is painful it is necessary to bear much fruit.

Chapter Thirteen, Choosing to Trust God comes from a real life experience with his first wife who died of cancer and the experiences of men and women of God in the scripture. We must choose to trust God and as we make the choice God’s peace with settle in our hearts. This is a must read chapter.

Chapter Fourteen, Giving Thanks Always contains a difficult proposition. If God is trustworthy and is in absolute control, then we must always be thankful to God. Why? We realize that God never makes a mistake and God uses these painful and tragic circumstances for our good and His glory.

Trusting God, like all of Jerry Bridges books is not only well written, it is very easy to read and understand. He writes with clarity that is rare. He not only uses Scripture but he explains it so that anyone can grasp its meaning and be comforted. This book needs to be next to your bible, concordance, dictionary, and study guides. You will want to reach for this book again and again. First, for your own help and comfort when tragedy strikes, and secondly, to help others. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially to every believer. Use it as a practical guide but use it as devotional tool.

I received a copy of this book for review through the NavPress Blogger Review Program and received no other compensation for this review.