Who Do You Say I Am?

The absolute necessity of correct doctrine

By Bishop David A Church

Matthew 16:13-17

“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

In an interview with Napp Nazworth, a Christian Post Reporter, Dr. Scot McKnight, the professor of religious studies at Northern Seminary states “The fundamental job of the evangelist is not to get people to feel guilty about sins, or to feel terrorized by an angry God. The central question of evangelism is, ‘who do you think Jesus is?'” “Evangelical pastors,” McKnight explained in his interview, “are more concerned about precipitating decisions than making disciples.” Looking at the state of the Church I must agree wholeheartedly, seen in the spectrum ranging from small Fundamentalist Baptist Churches to the giant megachurches ruled over by Bill Hybels and Rick Warren that are seeking quantity over quality in their flocks. Dr. Jack Hyles used to boast of having the largest Sunday School in the nation. The lack of true discipleship training and teaching the whole counsel of God has resulted in the very weak and  biblically illiterate nominal “Christian” filling the pews today. The command of Christ is to make disciples, not just converts. The crusading evangelists of the last hundred years only judge their effectiveness by the number of people answering the altar call and filling out the obligatory contact cards, never again to be seen darkening the door of a church. These are the ones spoken of by Christ in the Parable of the Sower.

 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” Matthew 13:20-21

I have sat through many evangelism events and “revivals”, and in many I have never heard the Gospel, only a heartfelt plea to make a decision to receive Christ as the answer to all the problems in life. People were told to “repeat this prayer after me” which contained no Gospel in itself, only saying “Jesus, I know you loved me and died for my sins. I’m sorry for my sins and I ask you to come into my heart and be my Savior. Amen.” The Gospel is Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to Scripture.” It is not contained in the drivel of the “the Love Gospel” seen above. Not once is true biblical repentance required of the so called “seeker”, nor is required a proper understanding of the Gospel as received by Paul from Christ and delivered unto us for our justification.

Dr. McKnight further states “Pastors … preach revivalistic sermons that precipitate decisions, that precipitate experience, and the result is, if I’ve had the experience, I’m in; if I haven’t had the experience, I’m not in. But more importantly, if I’ve had the experience, I’m in and I know who else is in — those who’ve had my experience. So all other people are basically off the map unless they’ve had the same experience. That’s revivalism and that has created what I call a salvation culture.”

Unfortunately, we have grown so accustomed to hearing about making a “decision for Christ”, especially at the large crusades in which the Gospel itself has suffered, that many don’t recognize the true Gospel. Instead of preaching Law and Gospel, a large percentage of fundamentalist pastors have been infected with Charles Finney’s “New Measures” preaching without realizing that they are using the methodology of one who denied most of the doctrines considered to be in the pale of orthodoxy. Quotes below are taken from Charles G. Finney’s “Finney’s Systematic Theology” (Bethany, 1976).

First of all, Finney denies the doctrine of original sin, following the doctrine of Pelagius, the heretic of the 4th century. Finney taught that all human beings have the total ability to choose either corruption or redemption by their own volition, and taught original sin was an “anti-scriptural and nonsensical dogma” (p. 179). Finney completely denied the doctrine that all human beings possess a sinful nature. He looked at each person as born with a “blank slate”, a “tabula rosa”, spiritually neutral. He rejects that which is taught in Scripture in 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”

According to Finney we do not inherit Adam’s sinful nature, we only follow his example. We are not born corrupt, we learn to be corrupt. To be saved Finney believed we ourselves must remove all sin from our life before we can be justified before God, for he asks “can he be pardoned and accepted, and justified, in the gospel sense, while sin, any degree of sin, remains in him? Certainly not!” (p. 57) His doctrine of justification is built upon this denial of original sin, and he continues to build his theology upon its foundation of sand. It is a salvation by works, justification by our own merit instead of Christ’s.

Finney also completely denied the substitutionary Atonement of Christ. “If he [Christ] had obeyed the Law as our substitute, then why should our own return to personal obedience be insisted upon as a sine qua non of our salvation?” (p. 206) In the first place, we never had a “personal obedience” to return to, therefore we needed to be regenerated because “the wages of sin is death” according to Romans 3:23. Finney redefined being born again of the Spirit as “Regeneration consists in the sinner changing his ultimate choice, intention, preference; or in changing from selfishness to love or benevolence,” (p. 224) which was demonstrated by Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of morality. “Original or constitutional sinfulness, physical regeneration, and all their kindred and resulting dogmas, are alike subversive of the gospel, and repulsive to the human intelligence.” (p. 236) Finney’s “gospel” is not the Gospel of Christ. It is but another gospel which cannot save.

Rejecting the doctrines of original sin, substitutionary atonement, and supernatural regeneration by the Holy Spirit, he next denied the foundational doctrine of the Bible fought for during the Reformation: our justification by grace alone through faith alone, by Christ alone. Finney rejected this as nonsense. “The doctrine of an imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was accounted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption.” After all, Christ’s righteousness “could do no more than justify himself. It can never be imputed to us…It was naturally impossible, then, for him to obey in our behalf.” This “representing of the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling to many.” (pp. 320-322)

“The view that faith is the sole condition of justification is “the antinomian view,” Finney asserts. “We shall see that perseverance in obedience to the end of life is also a condition of justification.” Furthermore, “present sanctification, in the sense of present full consecration to God, is another condition…of justification. Some theologians have made justification a condition of sanctification, instead of making sanctification a condition of justification. But this we shall see is an erroneous view of the subject” (pp. 326-327). Each act of sin requires “a fresh justification” (p. 331). Referring to “the framers of the Westminster Confession of faith,” and their view of an imputed righteousness, Finney writes “If this is not antinomianism, I know not what is” (p. 332). This legal business is unreasonable to Finney, so he concludes, “I regard these dogmas as fabulous, and better befitting a romance than a system of theology” (p. 333). Again, the arch heretic Finney has spit on the Cross and on the Son of God, trampling the True Gospel and denying the Word of God.

Finney’s theology when boiled down to its essence is a theology of works which is condemned in Scripture. To quote Michael Horton’s article “The Legacy of Charles Finney” (Modern Reformation Magazine, “Life Under the Big Top: When Evangelism Undermines the Evangel” (Jan./Feb. 1995 Vol. 4, No. 1, page numbers 5-9) “His “New Measures,” like today’s Church growth movement, made human choices and emotions the center of the church’s ministry, ridiculed theology, and replaced the preaching of Christ with the preaching of conversion.”

As I said previously, preaching the Gospel needs to ask individuals the ultimate question presented by Christ “Who do YOU say I am?” The incorrect answer to the evangelist’s incorrect question leads the person to another Christ and another gospel that does not result in the new birth. Only recognizing Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” as did Peter in Mark 8:29, results in salvation. We do not come to this conclusion by our senses or intellect and logic. To see Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” requires us to be first drawn to Jesus by the Father (John 6:44), and Jesus said “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” John 15:16. So it is not the hype, music and psychological pressure of the evangelist that brings us to a belief in Christ. It is God the Father, and we are already chosen in Christ. In respect to this I reject the Calvinistic doctrines of Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace which states that God in Eternity Past chose to create us for either Redemption (salvation) or Perdition, and that Jesus only bore the sins of the elect (those chosen for salvation by God), and that he did not bear the sins of every individual who has ever lived. If you were created for Perdition there is no remedy for you, no salvation whatsoever. This is counter to many Scriptures such as John 3:16 which states “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Also, 1John 2:2 “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world,” and Acts 2:21 (ESV) ”And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” According to Calvin’s teaching we cannot choose because we are dead spiritually, so we must be regenerated before we can have faith. This approach could, in theory, leave an unbelieving yet regenerate man if he died before believing but after being regenerated in order to believe. They convolute the issue by saying this is not a sequential order in time, but rather a necessary order logically because a spiritually dead person cannot believe. But the biblical definition of death is not an inherent inability to choose God unless we are first regenerated. Death is defined as a separation, physical death being separated from our physical body, and spiritual death being our soul’s separation from God in both the present and in eternity if found without Christ.The Calvinist must redefine words such as whoever, all, and everyone to mean “the chosen, or elect only.” In a sense they are correct, for we are “elect in Christ” from the foundation of the world, but notelect by decree from the eternal and secret counsels of God in Eternity Past. The “Calvinist’s God” doesn’t seem to have the power or ability to create a being with free will, nor is the Calvinist’s God omniscient enough to know how the person will choose when presented with the Gospel, whether he will choose to believe or reject it in unbelief. The “Calvinist’s God” also cannot seem to give us sufficient grace to allow us to believe prior to regeneration, as taught in Scripture by those of the Arminian and Biblicist schools of theology.

What we see then is that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the gospel. When we believe the Gospel we are saved. So where in the Bible is the “Decision for Christ” found that the crusading evangelist asks us to make? If we already have believed the Gospel why would we go forward at the invitation to “Receive Christ” which also is not found in Scripture in the way they interpret it? We are told by the Bible to “repent and believe the Gospel” by Jesus Christ Himself in Mark 1:5. Peter told the people in Acts 2:38 “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Acts 16:31 says “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Again, nowhere are we told in Scripture to make an altar call and to go forward to “receive Christ” or to “make a decision for Christ.” It is not our decision to make in the first place outside of God’s timing! The passage usually used in this type of evangelism is John 1:11-13:

11 He came to His own,and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

As shown in an earlier chapter receiving Him gives the right to become children of god, it does not make us so. It refers to the fact that Messiah Jesus was sent to the Jews, but His teachings were not accepted or received by the leadership, nor was He seen as the Messiah. This passage also is not a passage directly concerned with justification unto salvation. Only believing the Gospel makes it so. Also, this passage of Scripture crushes the idea of a person making a decision leading unto salvation. This “decision to receive Christ” is made of our own will, but the Scripture specifically states “…nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Our will is has no part in the equation leading to our salvation, it is God alone who saves. We hear the Gospel and we either believe it or not. If we believe it we are saved immediately. The theology which is called Decision Theology (or Decisionist Regeneration) says we must make a conscious decision in order to receive Christ. But this is false and is nowhere taught in Scripture. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone. To believe otherwise is relying on a works salvation as propagated by Charles Finney, the grandfather of this form of evangelism. The very act of having to make a decision is a work. The ultimate problem with “Decision Theology” is that it bestows upon us a power we do not biblically possess, and tells us we are saved because “we” made the decision for our salvation, which in turn would give us cause for boasting over those not making the decision for Christ. It clouds the reality of who initiates salvation, which is the Holy Spirit who calls us by the Gospel and regenerates whom He will, which are all that believe in Christ. “Decisionist” evangelists also use emotional manipulation and psychological pressure from friends and relatives in order to elicit the decision, resulting in many a false conversion that they count as a trophy soul, another jewel in their “soul winners” crown. This confirms Dr. McKnight statement “Evangelical pastors are more concerned about precipitating decisions than making disciples.” Obviously, this is a very broad and sweeping statement to make. But as a class a very large percentage of these preachers, especially those in the Fundamentalist camp which include many Baptists and Pentecostals, do preach and believe this “method” or “new measure” is the correct way of enlarging the Kingdom of God. The church growth programs at many major Bible schools and seminaries promote this. Pastors are taught to run a church like a corporation and to use the business model to increase attendance. Find out what the consumer wants and give it to them. It is not evangelism, but marketing that they are taught will bring growth. Church growth relying on converts who make the “decision to receive Christ” and by saying the “sinner’s prayer” is also not taken from Scripture. They are instructed to say “I am sorry for my sins”, which is not the same thing as biblical repentance. Judas was “sorry” for betraying the Son of God to the authorities, but he had no real repentance leading to confession and forgiveness by God because of unbelief about who Christ was. Instead, he committed suicide because of the blood-guilt weighing upon his soul. People go forward to “receive Christ” not because they believe the Gospel, but out of their fear of Hell after being told if they will follow the evangelist’s direction to come forward and pray they will be saved forever, and that there is nothing we do that can change that. This is a delusional “fire insurance policy,” not salvation and deliverance from the power of sin and death. Unfortunately, many souls are damned because of this wrong view of biblical salvation and who it is that initiates regeneration. They are instructed to believe a lie, a watered down “gospel” which is no gospel at all. And the lie is reinforced by telling the person that they are saved because they had walked forward at the invitation then prayed the prayer, when the truth is we are saved by grace alone through faith alone without any necessary action by us in order to cause our justification. Ultimately, the whole question of salvation is settled by answering for ourselves “Who do you say I am?” Is He only a man, a great teacher, or a prophet? Or do you believe His claim to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who gave His life for us and rose again? If the latter, salvation is ours as we have been justified by our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My personal answer is “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” because the Father by His Holy Spirit revealed this truth to me. This again is the central question of the Scriptures, “Who do you say I am?” Who do YOU say he is?

“But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” Matthew 13:20-21

While doing research on Decision Theology I found an interesting article by Tim Woods posted at www.steadfastlutherans.org, dated March 11, 2015. It was called “Polysyllabic Words Helped Carry Us to Missouri” and spoke of his experience with Decision Theology. His article caught my attention because his observations match mine that I’ve made over the years, having grown up in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church without ever being taught the Gospel because the pastor had no grasp of it himself. He was trained in the “pop evangelism” school of “easy believism and cheap grace” as taught in the tracts used for personal witnessing. Tim’s description of what he learned summed up a large percentage of the theological lessons I learned in Sunday School and in church. Small wonder that most of their “converts” never persevered. Also, these are basically identical with today’s evangelism methods which also leave few lasting converts. The decisions to follow Christ failed so often enough that I decided it (Christianity and the Bible) was not even true. Thank God He has taught me otherwise!

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IF YOU LOVE ME KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS

by Bishop Dr. David A Church

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23

            In the average Evangelical church today there is a grievous misunderstanding of the relationship between grace and the Law, partially because of incorrect exegesis and “wrongly dividing” the Word of God. According to the teaching of many Dispensationalist preachers (derived from the Scofield Bible) the Law has become only a footnote to Grace. Many teach that the Old Testament Jews were saved by keeping the Law, and that the Church is saved by Grace. Redemptive history is harshly divided into the dispensations of Law and Grace, without any intermingling of the two. But this is blatantly a false view. It also removes the necessity of keeping the commandments of Christ to “be holy as God is holy”, and “that those who practice such things (works of the flesh) will not inherit the kingdom of God.” “The wages of sin is death” according to the passage above. Salvation by grace is not a license to sin. The “carnal Christian” is a myth, a construct of those possessing an antinomian inclination in their lives and theology. If the Holy Spirit truly indwells a person, they will bear the fruit of repentance and be transformed. Christ and the Apostles all taught this.

            If the Jews were saved by the Law there would be absolutely no one saved because no one other than Jesus Christ ever kept the Law perfectly even though that is what God requires. Salvation has always been by grace through faith. “Abraham believed God, and it was credited (counted or imputed) to him as righteousness.”(Romans 4:3) The Law was given as a governing document to the Israelites by God through Moses. Although it listed the ordinances of God, He knew perfect adherence to the Law was unobtainable by Fallen Man. The Jews were to look past the written letter, past the shadows and types contained within it towards the sacrifice of the Lamb of God that actually removes sin and bestows upon all with faith in Him the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. For all are saved only through faith in Jesus Christ, whether looking forward to the Cross, or back to it as we do. But it has always only been “the Seed of the Woman” that crushes the head of the serpent Satan and destroys the sting of death which is sin, and ultimately Death itself which will be thrown into the Lake of Fire at the Great White Throne judgment, never again to rule over Man’s heart through guilt and fear.

Romans 3:21-26

”But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

            That the righteousness of God through faith in Christ was revealed in the Old Testament during the Mosaic (Law) dispensation until Christ is proven in Romans 3:21-22. Salvation was through faith, is through faith, and will always be through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Since the Garden of Eden we have been living in the Age of Grace. The idea of living under different dispensations is true, if dispensations are meant to mean the methods used by God to deal with sinners rebelling against His reign. And that includes every human (other than Christ) ever born or will be born. The Scripture is absolutely clear, without any wiggle room or loophole, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” All means all! As is taught in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” one receives death as payment for his or her sins, and all have sinned and fallen short of the absolute perfection demanded by God in His Law, and even though the penalty for sin has been born by Jesus Christ upon the Cross we do not have a license to indulge again in the works of the flesh without consequences for doing so. Again, “that those who practice such things (works of the flesh) will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The myth and soul damning heresy of “Once Saved Always Saved” was discussed in the first chapter, and warnings of damnation to those that engage in habitual sin abound in the New Testament, the so-called time of the beginning the Dispensation of Grace, the Church Age. Never is it stated unless you have believed at some time in the past,but one must believe and persevere to the end to be saved, and one believes what they obey. Does the blood of Jesus Christ save those who believe but obey no commands? I think not. Where is repentance? In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” he states “Only the believing obey, only the obedient believe.” In this statement Bonhoeffer breaks down the false distinction between the two. Faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin, if you will. He exposed the “cheap grace” and “easy believism” so rampant in modern evangelicalism today. We no longer tell those inquiring about salvation to count the cost of following the Lord. Jesus is portrayed as “the solution to all your needs” and “He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Christ becomes something to add to your life to make it better, like a gym membership. No one is told they may be called by Christ to die a gruesome death, or to be subjected to torture for their faith. They only want to hear how God will bless them and prosper them in all that they do, as seen on TV. What happened to the will of the Father in this equation? Many seek to follow their own will but want God to bless it as though He is the “cosmic genie” that must acquiesce to all the demands of his children if asked whenever the “word of faith” is spoken. The Bible says in John 14:13-14 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it”. But many fail to recognize that what the Father does for us is done that He may be glorified in the Son. We are not asking for ourselves for our own gratification in this verse, but it is for God’s glory alone.

But the warning by James in chapter 4 says “Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” The Lord promised to supply our needs, not to make us wealthy and comfortable. Where is our heart? Are we striving for material and financial wealth here on earth with no thought of the fact that we can’t take it with us? Do we bother to ask the Lord what He would like us to do with the life He has given us? Do we stop to consider that we are only stewards of all He places into our care? Are we laying treasures for Heaven, or only trying to have more toys than those around us? Where are our hearts? In the “heavenlies with Christ”, or on the things of this world serving mammon instead of Christ? Are we obeying Christ, His will and the commandments He has given us through Scripture? Or do we believe we can live as we like as “Christians” since we are “under grace”, not the Law. After all, we still love the Lord and He loves us, right?

The problem is, Jesus died to free us from these sins we still apparently love more than Christ. We try to justify our inability to refrain from things in our past by excusing ourselves as “Carnal Christians.” We tend to forget that in Christ we are given the ability to obey, though we aren’t to rely on our own strength, but in His by the Holy Spirit. The chains which bound us as slaves to sin are broken asunder if we are in Christ as a true, faithful, and believing child of God born from above. But again, faith and obedience are not to be separated. Grace is still unmerited favor upon us which saves us through faith in Christ. We will never be worthy of salvation apart from God’s grace towards us. Neither can we serve Him properly apart from this same grace, though we are called to live in holiness and righteousness.

In John 14:15 Jesus said “If you love Me, keepMy commandments.” He would not have said it if He did not give us as Christians the ability to choose to do as He commands. The Holy Spirit empowers us to stand against the wiles of the Devil by giving us the whole Armor of God, but we must decide to wear it by faith and to use it when engaging in warfare with the Kingdom of Darkness. We must take the initiative to arm ourselves with Scripture, the Sword of the Spirit. Without studying the Bible we stifle our growth as Christians, remaining babes in need of spiritual milk instead of the meat that matures us and readies us for the mortal combat with our enemy and his forces of darkness. It is for the souls of the lost that we wage this war, dismantling his kingdom by rescuing one soul at a time from an eternity in Hell, separated forever from the goodness and grace of God. If we do not carry out the commands of our King we will be ineffective soldiers on the battlefield, possibly to the point of desertion and disqualifying ourselves. Considering that in Christ’s parable about Jesus being the True Vine with us being the branches, we are warned that the unfruitful branches will be broken off and cast into the fire. In the parable of the unfaithful servant all he was given was taken from him and given to someone else, then the unfaithful servant was thrown into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is the same description as that of Hell. A servant would have been one already serving his Lord previously, so I am compelled to interpret this story at face value. Instead of saying the unfaithful servant never really believed in Christ I believe this is a story of an apostate, one who walked away from his faith in the Lord and service to Him. I don’t believe that when the Master called His servants to Him an unbeliever would have been among them, nor be expected to be fruitful and gain an increase on the Masters talents. One has to remain in Christ, attached as a branch to the Vine in order to bear fruit, for he can do nothing alone. Jesus said apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:15

The necessity of obeying the commandments of Christ is seen in many of the epistles in the New Testament, as well as in the Gospels. Obedience is equated as being “in the Light” as opposed to still “walking in darkness.” Here are passages from 1 John discussing those that do not keep the commandments of God.

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” 1 John 1:6

 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  1 John 2:3-4

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.”  1 John 3:4-6 

Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” 1 John 3:24

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”  1 John 5:1-3

            Knowing Christ is equated with obedience to Him, which results in our walking in the light which is Truth. Knowing Christ does not mean just knowing facts about Him, like being able to quote sport statistics in a discussion. Knowing Christ implies an intimate relationship with Him, in the Word and in in prayer on a regular basis and also in regular fellowship with His people. Christianity isn’t something just added to your life, it is your life. All is done for His honor and glory. All is done for the Kingdom of God, not for our own gain. We all realize living for Him alone isn’t done perfectly, but our trajectory on the path He has marked for us is evident by our walk and remains true as we walk by the Spirit.

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In Christ, or not?

IN CHRIST, OR NOT?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
As we walk through life, many times we wish we had a second chance to do something right, a “do over” similar to restarting a computer game. We did something wrong or just plain stupid without consideration of the consequences involved. We almost never realize at the time that we still will be required to “pay the Piper.” We reap what we sow, no exceptions. A loosely lived life has consequences, all causes have an effect, and all actions have a reaction in life. Plant corn, reap corn. Sow wheat, you reap wheat. Plant weeds, we get weeds.
This is a Law of all Creation. The things that most concern me are our actions, or our inactions, that have an eternal consequence upon our souls. It is about the choices we make as we walk through this short life that we will stand before God one day and have to give an account. Those that know Him will receive recompense for what they did while in the body and hear from Jesus “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Continue reading

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Critical Reading of the Word

Not to be in the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, every Christmas season I am reminded of the lack of knowledge of the Bible with people instead believing in the traditions they have heard all of their lives.

There are many examples in the “Christmas” carols and stories we grew up with. My question is “If we believe what the Scriptures say, should we not make the truth known and dispel the myths that endure?” As an apologist believing in the inerrant and infallible Word of God I believe that the traditions should be set aside regardless of the sentimental memories held.

We hear that three wise men came to see the baby Lord Jesus in the manger. Actually, no number was given, and by the time they arrived the family was living in a house. Also, the wise men or Magi were not named in the Bible, but tradition names them as Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. Continue reading

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God’s Land to do as He Will

Its been a while since my last post. Signed up for some classes at LBU for an MA in Biblical Studies. While following news about ISIS, Al Qaida and the madness surrounding Israel’s right to exist I have been delving into the question most needing answered. That question is “Who does the land belong too?” The presupposition of the existence of God and Biblical inerrancy is the foundation the question is analyzed upon and answered.

(Genesis 15:13-21 ESV)

“Then the LORD said to Abram, Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Continue reading

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The Graciousness of Grace

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9

Grace has been defined as the unmerited favor of God towards the rebellious and undeserving pinnacle of His creation: MAN. What is grace, and why do we need it? Genesis 1:26 states “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness …” No one knows how long we walked in the Garden of Eden in perfect fellowship with the Lord, but it all disintegrated when God’s will was rejected by mankind in a single act of disobedience: the eating of the forbidden fruit. On that day we were separated by our sin from the Holy One, separation meaning spiritual death. We were lost without any means for us to be reconcile ourselves to God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 3:23 Continue reading

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Warning for the End Times: Revelation 3:14-22

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Revelation 3:14-22 ESV)

One of the scariest, yet hopeful, letters to Christians was the letter dictated to John for the Church of Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3. It is the Church of the great majority of Christians today, thinking they are safe and blessed because of their material prosperity and in need of nothing, but spiritually being bankrupt and weak. Instead of the inerrant Word these folks listen to peoples opinions which many times contradict the Bible. Programs are followed instead of the eternal Word of God, always seeking new teachings and experiences that will only lead to perdition if not repented of. Yet Jesus Christ still reaches out, first with the rebuke describing their true condition and given instruction to correct their situation, and to open the door of their heart to Him. Continue reading

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From “The Cost of Discipleship”

One of my favorite theologians and writers is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor that stood up for righteousness during Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror. Here is quote from his book which inspired and still inspires my journey through life with the Saviour. Although the grace God bestows upon us is free it is not cheap! All grace and forgiveness always costs he who would forgive. If we would forgive someone a debt owed us we must absorb the cost and consequences ourselves. The same applies to God.

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Continue reading

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Being Equipped for Service

Being Equipped for Service

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3

We are living in a pluralistic society where opposing worldviews collide and vie to bring others into their way of thinking. We observe relativistic constructs of “truth” along with the rejection of absolutes even within our seminaries, with the rising Emergent Church deconstructing orthodox belief and the Scriptures. But if we cannot truly know what the author’s intended meaning is (according to Emergent teachers) the same would also apply to the books written by Emergent authors such as Brian McClaren, Rob Bell and Doug Pagitt. Their own writings cannot stand up to the tests of logic and the methodology they insist on applying to the Scriptures either. Insistence that the reader’s interpretation is what determines meaning is absurd and counter intuitive to any thinking person, and is relativism at its worst, totally removing the possibility of objective communication. It is little wonder that those following the teachings of the Seeker Friendly, Church Growth and Emergence movements are so biblically illiterate and have built on shifting sands instead of building on the Rock, who is Jesus Christ. Continue reading

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