Judgment Begins Here

In chapter 3, Isaiah brings God’s judgment and charges against His covenant people in national Israel. In the same fashion for His New Covenant people, judgment begins within the household of God.

Note his charges – a common one of abusing the poor and weak within their community. Note His judgment – lack of order and chaos as the community is set up-side down. AS was Israel, so it is in the USA.

Isaiah 3:4-5 (HCSB) “I will make youths their leaders, and the unstable will govern them.” The people will oppress one another, man against man, neighbor against neighbor; the youth will act arrogantly toward the elder, and the worthless toward the honorable.”

Isaiah 3:8-9 (HCSB) “For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen because they have spoken and acted against the LORD, defying His glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin. They do not conceal it. Woe to them, for they have brought evil on themselves.”

See who is responsible for this judgment? Those who rebelled against YHWH, spoken and acted against Him. They flaunt their sin and brought evil upon themselves.  Whenever you see “gay pride,” ANTIFA riots, or celebration of murdering babies you see those who flaunt their sin and bring evil upon themselves.

Isaiah 3:13-15 (HCSB) “The LORD rises to argue the case and stands to judge the people. The LORD brings ⌊this⌋ charge against the elders and leaders of His people: “You have devastated the vineyard. The plunder from the poor is in your houses. Why do you crush My people and grind the faces of the poor?” ⌊This is⌋ the declaration of the Lord GOD of Hosts.”

Again, we see that there is no escape from God’s view, His judgment. Our charge is to proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and plead with the nation to restore order for the sake of the poor and weak. We must walk as children of the light and be consistent in pointing saint and reprobate to Christ.

That Great and Terrible Day

Isaiah chapter 2 is full of warning and rebuke, foretelling of that great and terrible day when Christ returns to judge the nations. National Israel is warned that their long record of rebellion against YHWH and friendship with the world will bring judgment. God has turned His back on them.

Isaiah 2:6 (HCSB) “For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of ⌊divination⌋ from the East and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines. They are in league with foreigners.”

Here the prophet speaks of YHWH, how has abandoned the house of Jacob. They were in league with foreigners. Verses 7 & 8 describe these foreigners: rich, self-satisfied, idolaters. Verse 9 brings the first of three declarations that man will be brought low on that Day. Isaiah 2:9 (HCSB) “So humanity is brought low, and man is humbled. Do not forgive them!” There will be no forgiveness when the Lord makes His second advent (Heb 9:28).

Those who have not been reconciled to God will seek a hiding place: Isaiah 2:10 (HCSB) “Go into the rocks and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and from His majestic splendor.” But creation cannot hide creatures from the Creator!

Isaiah 2:11-12 (HCSB) “Human pride will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted on that day. For a day belonging to the LORD of Hosts is ⌊coming⌋ against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—it will be humbled” The second time we read of humanity being brought low. For when the Lord of glory returns, ALL will kneel before Him, some in worship and adoration; others in terror beyond human description.

Verses 14-16 describe the symbols and signs of the worldly riches that will crumble on that Day. And then the third time of man’s undoing. Isaiah 2:17-18 (HCSB) “So human pride will be brought low, and the loftiness of men will be humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted on that day. The idols will vanish completely.”

Those who have been reconciled to God will seek a hiding place: Isaiah 2:19 (HCSB) “People will go into caves in the rocks and holes in the ground, away from the terror of the LORD and from His majestic splendor, when He rises to terrify the earth.” But creation cannot hide creatures from the Creator!

Isaiah 2:21 (HCSB) “They will go into the caves of the rocks and the crevices in the cliffs, away from the terror of the LORD and from His majestic splendor, when He rises to terrify the earth.” This verse and verse 10, above, ought to bring to your mind the scene in Revelation 6, when the sixth seal is opened:

Revelation 6:12-17 (HCSB) “Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?””

Carnal man will not willingly surrender to Christ on that Day, for the day of salvation has passed. He will return when the last spiritual stone has been mined from the earth and placed in the celestial city of New Jerusalem.

What is the bottom line? Isaiah 2:22 (HCSB) “Put no more trust in man, who has only the breath in his nostrils. What is he really worth?”

There is only One in whom we can find safety on that great and terrible day. Christ Jesus is a strong tower of refuge, and advocate for all who are in Him. If you hear His voice, do not harden your heart, for the day of salvation will not last forever. He is coming back. To judge the nations, gather His people, and make all things new.

One Man’s Walk with God

This is one of the most intriguing books I’ve read. Jeremy Strang has delivered a book written in a most engaging fashion: a first person devotional that reveals the heart of humble man looking to walk obediently. It is full of phrases that ring with God’s truth, as the man in the book talks to his Creator, asking for help in various areas of life. This book has three sections with twelve chapters that each delve into the depths of God’s redemptive work for His own, plus a bonus (Bits of Gold) at the end.

Chapter 1 is How shall I come to you?, which begins with: “Oh Lord my God, for how shall I come to You? You are O holy, righteous, just and good; apart from You I am not. And yet for your namesake, the love of the world, and for my life and eternal spirit, You have reckoned and accounted to me through Christ alone, His righteousness – giving unto me new life and joy unspeakable.” This sets the tone for the entire book: a man raised up to new life in Christ should never lose the awe of being reconciled to Holy God. The reason for God saving sinners is not primarily for the redemption of His chosen ones; it is that He would be glorified by His creation. What a privilege and joy to be a trophy of His saving grace! “Oh what amazing and unfathomable grace You have powerfully worked and effectually given me. This new heart is feeling and pliable, regenerated and justified, nothing short of miraculous, and this without any works of my own. Oh Your grace! How great is Your love that I should be called Your child?” Do you get a sense of how the author approaches this work – Scripture drenched words that reveal a heart that beats with gratitude for the Lamb Who gave His life for wretched sinners.

The second chapter describes our greatest need, recognizing man’s desperate condition. “Prior to having You as my treasured joy and everlasting prince of peace, I was ignorant and dead, grasping firm the lies of Satan and steeped in my own narcissistic and deceptive heart. I believed, as all fallen men are born to think, that my nature was not that bad and that in some way, in some strength, or by some religious duties, I could be found favorable to attain some form of grand abyss when I die – what damnable foolishness was this prison of thought.” So marvelous is the work of God in redemption, yet so easily allowed to become accustomed to our new state. To guard against this deplorable condition, we read, “Lord, I pray that I will never forget how You have powerfully redeemed my soul and have patiently worked in me these last years. Oh that I would show patience towards those who have yet to experience and understand such freeing grace and freedom found in absolutely knowing that salvation is a work completely of You. Hallelujah, for You have shown me the foothills of such wonderful glory – oh, for what could I ever bring to You as a gift that you would exchange in pardon for my depraved nature, or what can I add to the unsearchable riches of Christ? Absolutely, ten thousand times over, nothing! Lord, I also ask of You, never let me become lax or lazy, or sleepy and dull regarding the faith You have given me.” This last sentence needs to be our daily prayer, recognizing our need of His mercy.

Each chapter is like this, examining an aspect of the life of the saint, using Scripture as the only foundation for what is right, seeing the child of God gloriously new in Christ, yet fragile and weak in this age.

Section 3 is entitled, When in Fear – Look to Jesus. This is the answer to all the Christian’s dilemmas, for there is not one single trial we encounter where the answer lies elsewhere. “When I think of Your truth given to me, I cannot help but wonder why I allow fear to creep in and arise in my heart. When I really start to investigate my situation, the answer seems always to come back the same – my vision is gazing somewhere else. And how often I find that the majority of the time the fear is not due to some close line of death nor due to severe persecution chasing me down, but rather it is my eyes have wandered onto secondary things.”

When Jesus was crucified, all of His disciples were afraid and discouraged. When the women went to the tomb to perform their religious rituals, they found it empty and an angel of God told them He was not there. He told them to remember His words, for He had told them what would take place. His words – remember them, think on the One Who spoke them. He is trustworthy and His promises are sure. When your world is crumbling, look to Jesus. When everything is going your way, look to Jesus. Poverty and riches, illness and health; all and each can distract us from the One Who has to prepare a place for us.

“Praise You God that You are faithful and powerful to redirect my paths, grant me repentance yet again, and daily give me new mercies; You get sweeter and sweeter as You rekindle my desires to walk earnestly, humbly, and powerfully with a contrite heart, oh how wonderful Your salvation and how amazing Your grace! Yet, Lord, if I say that I love Your grace and long for Jesus, then shall I not also be changed in my thinking, in my response, in my private life and my inner and outer strivings? – Oh, my yes!”

Chapter 10 warns about Satan’s deceptive ways; chapter 11 reminds us our hope is in Christ when we walk in darkness, which begins, “Father, You have been so very good and patient towards me, so much more than anyone could ever know or imagine. You know my struggles, my battles, and my weaknesses, and yet You have such patience and such tender care. Oh, how great is Your love and faithfulness! You hear me Lord, for truly You are a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

He goes on, “I must seek You and know You more so that I would always, especially in times of trials and fears, make You my sure trust. My lack, oh Lord, is always and only because of me and not You; for You do not change but I am the one prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. And when I feel a lack of sorts, a coldness or dryness of heart, or even a sort of deadness in my desires and emotions to set my face towards You – but You oh God! You again revive me demonstrating Your perfect love, divine grace and unfailing mercies. You answer my cry when I pray: “Help me and give me a desire, a clean desire, a desire to know You, to read Your word, to be godly and sanctified, to continue and to stand with You.” You are so very wonderful!”

The tender mercies of God towards His own sheep are new and never ending! As Strang reminds us, He is so very wonderful! How thankful I am that God stirred up this brother to write this book, full of truth about us and God, calling us to be faithful even as we recognize that faith as a gift from Him! And written in a style that ought to stir your soul as you consider how faithful Jesus is even when you and I are faithless.

“Lord, I never want to be tired of Your word; I never want to be too quick to pass by and move on; let me dwell here forever and ever as You know and see fit for me. There are just so many truths, so much help, so much victory and so much depth in Your word above. So when all ‘hell’ seems to be breaking out around me, help me Lord to remember, this is not the final hell that awaits the wicked, those who refuse to bow the knee, refuse to acknowledge You now and turn to You.”

Chapter 12 reminds us, “Lord please, I ask of You a thousand times over, and thus praise Your holy name, may I be marked by grace, bruised by love and matured in devotion, prayer and obedience. Lord grant this poor man that I might press in and on, and when Jesus comes, He will find in me a resolve in prayer and a faith persevering for Your glory. I am reminded today, and I cannot help but to agree, with what one preacher recently past often used to say: “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” Oh Lord, what an amazing miracle it is that Jesus Christ would shed His own blood for me.”

Saints – do you still see it as a miracle that Jesus reconciled you to God? Do you see a daily need to Him, by His Spirit, to continue to work in your soul while you travel about as a pilgrim seeking his homeland?

“Oh Lord, how true it is that I need You far above all else. You call me to obedience and to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, and although the duty, this being the responsibility to read, heed and obey Your word is mine, I know that all the power to do so is Yours. I know Lord, that should I become boastful in myself and sin, there is absolutely no way I could ever repent and truly obey apart from Jesus. So, I ask that you increase my singleness of eye, my knowledge and my desire to be attentive to my duties, and at the same time, increase Your conviction, Your strength and Your faith in me.” We are to be faithful stewards of what He’s given us, but even our faith is His – it’s alien to our nature to believe in the supernatural Creator and Lord of all.

Our brother finishes up with this: “Oh, that the secondaries and insignificant areas of my life would be put in their correct places, with all self-control and wisdom, so that You would be seen correctly as most magnificent above all else. Lord, to You be the glory, the power and the praise. Lord, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? In me and all who read, may the answer be an astounding – YES!”

“’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

This is an easy to read and easy to understand book. It is not an easy book to accept and see the truth of our own lazy, sinful, ways. But the One Who called us is faithful – He will do it!

1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 (HCSB) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. Brothers, pray for us also. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Is the Decalogue the rule of life for Christians?

The beloved Puritan, Thomas Watson, described the Decalogue as a golden chain hung around the necks of the saints, a rule of life for God’s children. And he called all who disagreed with him, antinomians.

One can search the Scriptures to see if YHWH describes these tablets in such terms, but that search will be in vain. He describes the Decalogue as the Tablets of Testimony of the Mosaic Covenant; as the ministry of death. His Word tells us the law was given to INCREASE sin.

Laws given to natural, carnal, unregenerate man are normally written against certain behaviors – do not murder, do not steal, etc. The Decalogue is MAINLY such law: do not make idols, do not worship idols, do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not covet what ain’t yours.  8 of the 10 words on the Decalogue are against something. The two positive words command people to rest in their homes and to obey their parents. Which of these commands require faith in God to perform? None of them. They are fit for the unregenerate community (yes, there were some believers therein, but only a few) to which they were given.

What instructions are given to the saints? We read that we are to worship God in spirit and truth; love one another as Christ has loved us; bear one another’s burdens; be humble; weep and rejoice with one another; etc. Against these things, Paul said, there is no law. Such commands CANNOT be kept by those without the Holy Spirit. New Covenant, new priesthood, new law.

The Spirit’s law of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8). The Law of Moses could not bring about obedience because it was limited by the flesh. The Spirit of God brings obedience, willing and equipping us to do what is pleasing to Him.

Contrary to Andy Stanley’s view, we do not throw away or “unhinge” the Hebrew Scriptures. All of what was written is for our benefit (Romans 15, 1 Cor 10). Contrary to Thomas Watson’s view, the apostles declared it was contrary to the faith to require the saints to keep the Law of Moses (Acts 15).

I do not understand why so many people claim we must go back to the Mosaic Law to know what morality is, to live by it as rule for life. Paul had perfect opportunity to make it clear, if living by Mosaic Law was our charge:

Titus 2 gives qualifications for elders, encouragement for godly living to young men, exhortation to slaves to be faithful, and finishes with this:

Titus 2:11-15 (HCSB) For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works. Say these things, and encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Not a smidgen of Moses. It’s all grace. All the work of the Spirit in our lives. No written code of death that was given to an unregenerate community.

The right path is to fix our eyes on Christ, trust Him, seek wisdom to walk as Children of the light, and take care not to fall into the ditch on either side of the road.

Four ‘Antinomians’ Tried and Vindicated

A book review by Stuart Brogden

Antinomian! It’s a charge levied at grace preachers in every generation – beginning with the Lord Jesus, who was accosted by the law-keepers of His day for not being as “diligent” as they were in keeping the law. Paul addressed this in Romans 5 & 6, wherein he was explaining the believer’s relationship to law:

Romans 5:20-6:2 (HCSB) The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Law does not provide nor guide life. Grace does not endorse nor permit lawlessness. These are ditches on either side of the path. On one side there are legalists, who think all who do not live according to the law (however they define that) are lawless (which is what antinomian means – without law). On the other side are those who are truly lawless, claiming all who endorse godly living are legalists! In the middle is the narrow way of God’s gospel truth. The believer’s response to temptation to sin is NOT to hide behind the law; it’s to flee to Christ!

And this is the theme brother David H.J. Gay brings out in his most excellent book, Four ‘Antinomians’ Tried and Vindicated. David examines the work of four men who were written off as antinomians in the 17th century by those who embraced the Westminster/Puritan view of “the Moral Law.” Tobias Crisp, William Dell, John Eaton, and John Saltmarsh were all what we would call Calvinists, yet they did not align with John Calvin’s view on the role of law in the life of the saint. Hence they were all called antinomians. Sigh,

In examining Dell’s perspective on the law and the believer, David tells us that Dell said “‘When a believer has in him the law of the Spirit, the law of the letter has no more power over him; that is, so far as he is taken up into that other law of the Spirit, but no further.’ This sort of talk, as Dell well knew, is a red rag to the Reformed. While they argue vehemently that the believer is still under the law of Moses (having, without biblical warrant, reduced this to the ten commandments, which they call ‘the moral law’), here we have Dell claiming that ‘the law of the letter has no more power over him’ since he is dead to the law, and that he is governed by the law of Christ. A more direct clash you could not wish to see! Dell knew how the Reformed would react.”

“More important, of the utmost importance, Dell was making a point of major significance. He was arguing that it is only by the law of Christ that the believer can fulfil the law of Moses – and that, by meeting the goal of the commandment, which is love. In the new covenant, the child of God is not merely free from the old law, he is under the law to Christ. And there is no danger in making such an assertion. In fact, it has to be preached, taught and believed, so that saints can fully appreciate the glorious liberty they have in Christ. The believer is under the law to Christ, not the law of Moses, and it is only because he has this new relationship that he can possibly be sanctified (Rom. 7:1-6). As I say, Dell was making a point of huge significance, showing, moreover, that he was no antinomian.

“But, of course, he was flying in the face of Reformed teaching. But not only Reformed! Dell knew he faced two opponents to what he was saying. First, he knew he would offend real antinomians. He did not shirk the battle!

“The presence of Christ, that is the living word of God, within us, is the killing and crucifying of the body to all sin… by the presence of the Spirit… by the baptism of the Spirit… So it is plain that the destruction of sin in our bodies, by the living word and Spirit of God, is our crucifying with Christ… The apostle would have those who are crucified with Christ to reckon themselves dead to sin… As far as the same word and Spirit of Christ prevail in us, they will make us dead to sin for the time past and present, and for the future will preserve us from sin.”

From Dell: “This, then, is the sum of this matter… A man, in union with Christ, has his own life destroyed out of him, and Christ’s own life communicated to him, so that, in the true believer, the soul and body of man live in the life of the Son of God… And thus the flesh lives a life that is not of the flesh; indeed, thus the creature lives in itself the life of God. For as that eternal life, that was with the Father, was manifested in the Son – that is, in his flesh or humanity – and all believers have seen and known it, so also that very life of the Father and the Son, is both communicated to the saints, and also manifest in them, as faith very well knows. And this is the great mystery of the gospel. Let them receive it that can receive it.”

As he turned to John Eaton’s work, brother David is swept up with the glories of the grace in Christ given to wretched sinners. “If I may answer that right at the beginning, by giving my own experience of Eaton’s work, I can only say that in reading it, and then preparing it for this publication, I have discovered that for over fifty years I have had too low a view of justification by faith, altogether too dry a view of it. Of course, I knew the doctrine. Yes, I could argue the texts. But the depth, the fullness, the sheer wonder of free justification simply had not penetrated my heart as it ought to have done. I had not realised how God sees me in Christ. Oh! I had sung about it, I had preached it, and I had written about it. But until I read John Eaton’s work – a true honeycomb indeed – I had far too academic a view of this most wonderful truth of free justification; namely, that the weakest believer, trusting Christ, is absolutely sinless in the sight of God, and sinless for ever. Far too often, I had taken marvellous New Testament statements about justification, and the effects and benefits of it, and shuffled them off to eternity to come. But those statements are true of me, NOW! That is what I have come to feel, and to feel in a way I have never felt before.”

From Eaton: “Before we are justified, and while we are in the state of nature, we are the children of the devil and of wrath (Eph. 2:3), but when we are justified with this internal and secret justification, and made thereby the children of God, then…

“None are made… perfectly holy and righteous, but such of the elect as are actually called, because although all the elect shall be justified in their time, and none but the elect shall be justified (for whom he justifies, these he glorifies – but he glorifies none but the elect), yet the very elect are not actually and really justified, but are darkness, and live in sin and darkness, until they are effectually called… (Rom. 8:30).”

The four men examined in this book were no antinomians, but men who saw the gospel clearly: justification is by grace through faith in Christ. The Spirit gives life – what need has He for law to prepare a sinner for salvation? The law condemns, incites sin – how can it work to make a man savable? These men denied antinomianism, exhorting the saints to walk as children of the light – as if the Scriptures told us such things!

David sums up, “As I will show, Eaton worked it out in detail: the glorious nature of justification; the two parts to justification – before God and before men; justification is received by faith, contrary to reason, sense and feeling; justification and sanctification are inseparably linked; justification always leads to sanctification, being its spur and motive; the law is not the motive of sanctification – in fact, preaching the law actually hinders sanctification; the nature of saving faith; the joy of the justified; and the way of assurance.

“Read Eaton himself, read him for yourself. Indeed, why worry about Eaton? Read the New Testament! What does the New Testament set out as the believer’s rule and way of sanctification? Whatever you find there, hold on to, and seek to put into practice. For my part, I have no doubt that Eaton got it right: the New Testament sets Christ before me, and sets him before me for all – for justification, for sanctification and for glorification.”

I will point out one repeated idea in this book where I disagree with David. He repeatedly talks about the offer of the gospel and the offering of Christ to sinners. I strongly disagree! The gospel is not an offer but a proclamation and command! You can find a short article on this topic written by me on the Pristine Grace web site.

As David did not write off these four men over some disagreements he had with them (such as Saltmarsh’s view that the elect are eternally justified, rather than being as Paul described us Ephesians 2), nor do I write David off because I disagree with him on this “gospel offer” idea.

This is an excellent book that will help every child of God grasp the free grace that Christ has bestowed upon us and God Himself might use this book to work in us a new awe of the work of our Savior on our behalf – but primarily for His glory

Justice Served in the Wrong Way

Due to what we are seeing in America today, I am republishing (with some edits) a post I wrote over 11 years ago. Almost 70 million babies have been murdered since 1973. These are just the numbers reported. This is equivalent to the population of Thailand or France or the United Kingdom!

*********

A little over eleven years ago, George Tiller was murdered in cold blood. Here are a few thoughts from a biblical perspective and a reflection on the devastation that I have seen stemming from abortion on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

George Tiller was the abortionist who bragged about being willing and having practiced even late-term (3rd trimester) abortions more than 60,000 times in his blood-filled career. 

Who is wrong and who is right in the current battle?

Is it the pro-choice or the pro-life camp? Each claim to have God on their side (especially the liberal religious pro-choice groups) even as evidenced by Tiller’s hypocritical service on Sundays as an usher in a Lutheran Church. On the other hand, even evangelicals in the pro-life camp do not always see the big picture and get sucked into the philosophy of the world in attempt to justify certain actions.

However, what does God say in His Holy Word? The principle in no uncertain terms is this - two wrongs never make a right! 

What and who was wrong? Let’s look at a few points to consider.

1. The Old Testament law made it clear that those who shed blood by man would their blood be shed. Yes, we recognize that this was given under a theocracy and referred to the matter of capital punishment.

2. This law was not given to individuals to take justice into their own hands. Vengeance belongs to God alone.

3. God instituted human government so that the sword might not be carried in vain. However, human government is often corrupted and does not seek to gain their wisdom from the Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth.

4. True believers are commanded to give honor to the government but only as far as it does not supercede the law of God for we ought to obey God rather than man.

5. To kill another and take their life in premeditated murder is contrary to the moral law of God which proclaims, “Thou shalt not kill.” Thus taking the life of Tiller belonged to nobody but God.

6. The government must take part of the blame for the murder of this doctor for it was they who allowed him to practice the murder of innocent babies including those who would have been viable had he delivered them alive at the moment he was murdering them.

7. The government is to blame in that they have openly and willfully defied the commands of God in regards to God being the giver of life and that life begins at conception. They have stated that in the depths of their human wisdom they are nothing but fools when compared to the wisdom of the Most High. Our justices and judges are to blame as they flaunt their foolishness over and over despite the will of the people and more importantly despite the law of God.

8. The church and leadership of where Tiller was a member must take their part of the blame for they allowed a mass murderer in their midst each Sunday while proclaiming that what they were doing was worship to God. Yet, all they were doing was thumbing their noses at God and daring Him to bring judgment.

9. The church was to blame for allowing one to call himself a “Christian” when what he did was diametrically opposed to the Word of God and for not bringing church discipline into the equation many years ago. Instead, they catered to many other factors probably to include the financial benefits that a rich man like Tiller brought into their coffers thus showing their the god they worshipped was the mammon of the world.

10. The man who pulled the trigger was to blame because it was a premeditated murder calculated to take the life of the man who had killed so many thousands. He probably justified in his head that he was to be the instrument of death.

11. America at large must take their part of the blame as well for her citizens have forgotten the principles upon which this great country was founded. They have forgotten that government is to be by the people and for the people. They have failed to use their votes to remove those who thumb their noses at God and flaunt His holy commands.

12. America is to blame for allowing the murder of millions to take place for the sake of a small vocal group of feminists who have been allowed to push their agenda on a gullible public.

13. America is to blame for the gross immorality and lack of morals which allow for men and women to have intimate relationships being driven by nothing but lust and hatred for the thought of commitment.

14. Many evangelicals are to blame because they think they have had the right to introduce situational ethics into the clear express teaching of Scripture. Many have decided that it is ok to punish the infant because of the sins of the father; therefore, abortion is murder UNLESS it is for the sake of rape or incest!

15. Evangelicals are to blame because they have not had a united front because many of them years ago decided that catering to man instead of preaching the infallible Word of God through faithful exposition of the Word is more favorable to large offerings. They took the passages they liked and left the ones they didn’t thus producing large congregations who have theology miles wide but 1/2 inch deep!!

16. Evangelicals are to blame because we have been a much larger moral voice than any other fringe group in America and yet we have not used our voices to take a stand for what is right. We have not expressed our disgust and rage at the senseless murder of millions! We have not followed in the footsteps of Nehemiah and fallen to our knees crying to God for forgiveness for our own sin, the sins of our families and the sins of our nation!

17. Many pastors are to blame because many fear man instead of God. They have become babysitters not shepherds. They fail to study the Scriptures and proclaim loudly, “THUS SAYS THE LORD.” Instead they choose to proclaim, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. This is your best life now. You can live anyway you wish to do so with no discipline from the church. You can do what you want to with your body and disregard the Scripture that says if you are a believer then your body belongs to God NOT TO YOU!”

Many are to blame for the events that led up to the killing of Tiller. Even though only one pulled the trigger, many more were just as wrong before God for their complacency or complicity in the occupation which Tiller chose to engage. God is and always will be the Sovereign of the universe. He will not be mocked and whatsoever a man sows that will he reap. While God is not the author of sin, He does control what He allows to happen and He obviously has allowed the life of this murderer to be taken. Judgment for Tiller will now commence for all of eternity at the hands of the Giver of Life.

To conclude, I did not mourn for the killing of a murderer. However, I did and still rejoice that the lives of thousands of infants were spared his weapons of mass destruction. 
However, I must have a sense of compassion though for his family who must grieve although they enjoyed the fruits of not allowing others to grieve and enjoyed the fruits of blatant murder on a weekly basis. 

As a true believer, I must grieve that America has come to the dismal state she has and that millions like Tiller are dying every day with no hope of eternal life, and no hope of anything but eternal judgment and condemnation from the righteous Lord of glory.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Mark Escalera

The Revelation of Christ Jesus

John’s Apocalypse contains many graphic word pictures that are interpreted in many ways, often leadingpeople to see this books as a puzzle which must be put together by finite analysis. I believe John’s Apocalypse is a picture book that reveals the glory and majesty and power and authority of the Christ that our study of this book ought to be aimed at seeing Him more clearly.
 
To that end, I draw your attention to the seven letters in chapters 2 & 3, focusing on how Jesus describes Himself and the rewards He will give to His people. Read these passages carefully, and be at awe of the revelation of Jesus Christ presented in this small portion of John’s Apocalypse.
 
Revelation 2:1 (HCSB) “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands”
Revelation 2:7 (HCSB) “I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.”
 
Revelation 2:8 (HCSB) “The First and the Last, the One who was dead and came to life”
Revelation 2:11 (HCSB) “The victor will never be harmed by the second death.”
 
Revelation 2:12 (HCSB) “The One who has the sharp, double-edged sword”
Revelation 2:17 (HCSB) “I will give the victor some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
 
Revelation 2:18 (HCSB) “The Son of God, the One whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like fine bronze”
Revelation 2:26 (HCSB) “The one who is victorious and keeps My works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations”
 
Revelation 3:1 (HCSB) “The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says”
Revelation 3:5 (HCSB) “the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels.”
 
Revelation 3:7 (HCSB) “The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens”
Revelation 3:12 (HCSB) “The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My new name. “
 
Revelation 3:14 (HCSB) “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation”
Revelation 3:21 (HCSB) “The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
 
Saints – who is the victor mentioned here these seven times? Is it the man who pulls himself by his own bootstraps? Is it the man who sees Jesus and himself rightly and throws himself at the mercy of the Lamb? What do we read?
 
In describing the end of the age, when final victory over death is ours, Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:57). God gives us victory through Christ. Same as our salvation – by grace through faith in Christ, which is a gift from God (Eph 2:7).
 
John agrees with Paul and I will end with this. “whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5). We have victory by faith in Christ.
 
When Jesus says, “to the victor …” He refers to those believers who continue to believe in the face of tribulation, sorrow, riches, and poverty; kept by the Spirit until the day of judgment. Jesus is the almighty creator, sustainer, savior, and judge.
 
If you are in Christ – you have victory! If you are not, while is it yet today, repent and believe on Him.

Danger Signs

Danger Signs

A book review by Stuart Brogden

One area in the life of the saints that gets too little attention in most fellowships is that of dating or courting; keeping the focus on finding a suitable mate, not merely entertaining ourselves. In his book Danger Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship, Lou Priolo examines signs of unhealthy dating relationships. All in all, this book is well written and sure to provoke the reader to think about some needful things that have been overlooked or swept aside.

Danger Signs is not divided into chapters, but is made up of about 20 sections describing cautions and indicators that may reveal a sinful heart; including a contentious spirit, increased physical intimacy, anger, impatience, and selfishness. Of pride, the author observes there “are many manifestations of pride that break the communication circuit and thereby hinder the resolution of conflict. They include: defensiveness, blame-shifting, and justifying one’s behavior.” (page 39) This is an important function Priolo serves, putting “flesh” on these danger signs so the reader cannot blithely read “pride” and assume he is free from it.

One of the least expected (for me) danger signs is Fear of Terminating the Relationship. The author’s observations have application for current events, as he rightly contrasts biblical love with the Roman-Greco “love” that permeates the culture. “Love is giving others what they need, not necessarily what they want. It is doing what is right rather than what you feel like doing. It is doing what is best for the other person, in light of eternity, according to the Bible and doing it whether or not the person being loved understands what you are doing. (Of course, many people today wouldn’t understand or even recognize biblical love if it {were} staring them in the face!)” (page 24)

Intolerance is contrasted with the biblical warrant to “””put up with” certain things – namely, those things (like foibles, quirks, and idiosyncrasies) in the lives of others that the Scriptures do not identify as being sinful. To be forbearing is “to have patience in regard to the errors or weaknesses of anyone.” … The tendency to uncharitably judge the actions and motives of others is a sure sign of intolerance. Another element of 1 Corinthian 13 love is that it “believes all things.’ This means that it looks for and places the best interpretation on what others do, say, and might be thinking unless there is real reason to believe otherwise. … God has not given us the ability to know what is on the heart of another person apart from what he choose to disclose to us.” (pages 51-52)  Within a marriage, being biblically tolerant of one another is critical for long term success as husband and wife. Thinking the best of one another unless CLEARLY shown otherwise – is the way of humility, in recognition that we are creatures, not Creator.

I wanted to provide a fairly detailed look into a couple of these danger signs to give you an idea of how the author writes. Priolo is engaging and tends to be biblical. I also want to mention that is seems to me that Priolo has the reader put more focus on identifying his partner’s faults than examining himself as the first priority. This is a sure plan to derail a relationship without regard to whether it ought to be a relationship. I do not think this was the author’s intent; it is my impression.

The opening section of the book, titled Persistent Doubts About the Relationship, includes a lengthy discussion of what Jay Adams calls “the holding principle.” Priolo refers to Romans 14, where we find, the last part of verse 5: “Each one must be convinced in his own mind.” And he appears to make a universal statement: “The Bible teaches that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you should not move forward until you are confident that what you are about to do is not sin.” (page 5) I agree that we ought to be diligent and proactive to avoid sin. I do not see Romans 14:5b as a universal doctrine – as if we must ponder and seek out biblical guidance on every decision. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, the Spirit will illuminate our understanding more and more; and we will know what honorable and what is not more and more. There will nothing we “feel” approval on that the Bible calls sin; but there are many things – like the topic of days and food in Romans 14 – that we need to carefully consider. Because it’s not sin to consider all days the same and it is not sin to eat pork. Yet some still want to observe days and some still want to try to eat according to the Mosaic Code. If they are in Christ, we should be very careful and not cause them to stumble because of our freedom. THIS is the context of the sentence Pirolo quoted. The larger point is good – work at being honorable in the sight of God in all your do! Especially in making plans to join with another person in marriage.

The book ends with very short section entitled, Now What? (pages 113-114) After 100 pages of danger signs, we get a page and half of encouraging, hopeful counsel to take a sober look at both sides of the relationship and consider whether or not you each have faith in Christ to make it work. I would have loved for this to be the longest section in the book.

Danger Signs is a needful book because so many professing Christians are asleep as they walk through life. It is engaging and, as long as you don’t forget the main focus is yourself – not the other person – you can benefit greatly from reading and applying it.

Do We Disobey?

We live in turbulent times. To say that life is “no longer normal” would probably be a gross understatement. This would be especially true for the overwhelming majority of those of us who live in the west.

Yet, for those who are true believers, we find ourselves in a quandary. Government officials give mandates but many wonder if we are called to obey God first or follow ALL the dictates of human government.

Romans 13 is often used as a blanket statement to make the decree that any and all opposition to government is ultimately a sin against God. If we stand for what is right, then some would seek to condemn such behavior as being ungodly. I have heard from more than one individual that “no matter what the government decrees, we are to obey with the exception of sharing the gospel.”

Recently, Todd Friel of Wretched Radio broadcasted a video in which he made his position very clear and that he believed there were no exceptions.

For the record, “Truth in Grace” does NOT agree with Friel. I do not agree with Friel. More importantly, the Bible does not line up with Friel’s interpretation.

Yes, this is about much more than the wearing of a facemask.

But, what is right? At what point do we take a stand against forms of tyranny?

Down through the centuries of church history, persecution for the sake of Jesus Christ has always been a part of the church. During times of intense persecution, the Church has always grown stronger.

However, the Church (even in the New Testament) never simply stood at the door of their houses and waiting for the soldiers of Caesar to take them to the Coliseum. Husbands NEVER just stood by while their wives and daughters were ravaged. They had a higher command from Christ to protect their families.

Believers around the world are constantly in violation of government mandates when they 1) refuse to accept an abortion under a one-child mandate, 2) continue to teach children of the Bible when the government says those under 18 are not permitted in worship services, 3) when they seek to protect the lives of others (think Christians protecting Jews under the Nazi regime), and 4) when they still meet for worship although the government mandates they cannot meet.

These are but a very small collection of times when we ought to obey God rather than man. Yes, we recognize that this world is not our home, but even the Lord Jesus Christ is recorded saying, in at least three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), that persecution is coming and that those who understand are to FLEE!

Some may have you believe that if the government becomes tyrannical and orders all Christians to show up for extermination in an interment camp that we are to willing, obediently, and without reservation simply turn ourselves in for the grand event.

This is NOT Biblical!! And absolutely no part of true church history shows such a thing taking place. Yes, Peter gives advice for when we go through suffering, but there is NOT one single mandate in Scripture that commands true believers to simply give up for the government to kill us.

All our brothers and sisters who have suffered persecution are suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ. They are living their lives in such a way as to bring honor and glory to the Lamb who was slain. If they live, they live as to the Lord. If they die, they die as to the Lord.

As an example, the wearing of a mask is not the real issue. The real issue is how far the government goes in taking away freedoms to worship and obey God.

What do we obey and what do we disobey?

The simple answer is found in Dr. John MacArthur’s message shared below.

“We disobey the government when the government tells you to do what God forbids you to do, or mandates that you stop doing what God commands you to do.”

If believers are commanded not to sing, praise, and worship – we disobey!

If pastors are told what they can and cannot preach – we disobey!

If believers are told that we cannot meet – we disobey!

If we are to undergo persecution, let it be for the sake of Jesus Christ and not for mere issues that do not matter in the light of eternity.

Firm Foundations – Lessons 6 & 7

The Lord has been gracious to allow me the privilege of teaching at Yellowstone Baptist Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. While I have taught through Firm Foundations before, my intent of going through it this time is to do so in conjunction with the truth of the New Testament. Each time I teach, I have been encouraged to see how people respond to things that they maybe have never heard before in their Christian walk.

These two lessons cover God creating woman as well as touching on the institution of marriage which was created by God.

Final Justice – Part 1

Many within evangelicalism have gone after the Baals of the world. The church has been seduced by the world. — These are some of the thoughts from Dr. John MacArthur’s first message on the subject of “Final Justice – The Return of Christ.”

Trusting in God or Commanding Him To Act?

psalm-91-1-2-protection-lg

I was asked the other day if I claimed Psalm 91 for protection over my family. You see, God has seen fit to put my family through the wringer more than once and it seems the pressure over us is increasing. I suppose one could say I have had many opportunities to trust in God and have faith that He will provide.

I do not believe in quoting scripture to force an effect or to force God to do something on my behalf. I believe this is occultic and disrespectful in His eyes.

I told the person that I proclaim the sovereignty of God over my family and trust He knows what He’s doing.

I think this sort of mentality comes from the thought process that anything bad comes from the devil and anything good comes from God. This is so not scriptural. God rains on the just and the unjust. God brings sickness and disease upon His saints and has never promised we would have an easy ride with life. Quite the contrary.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Acts 14. 22

It is our destiny to endure tribulation in order to be conformed into the image of our Savior. We are also told that we are to count it all joy when we experience trials and tests (James 1.2). Why because in enduring trials, we learn to act and respond and to live like Christ. We all lack patience. We all need more patience. How does one develop patience? Through being patient. That comes through enduring trials and tests. A sailor will not become better at his trade unless he gets his boat out on the sea and endures some rough sailing. An athlete won’t develop himself unless he continually tests his ability and trains his muscles. A Christian will not become more like Christ unless he is put to the test, hammered on the anvil of life, and purified of his sinful nature.

Or do we claim protection and success over our lives by taking scripture out of context and demanding God do something to fix our circumstances?

One respects God and gives Him the glory He deserves the other reduces Him to a cosmic bellhop placed in our lives to do our bidding.

When Christ Our Life Appears

Another beautiful hymn put out by Sovereign Grace Music and Bob Kauflin. In a day when the world is falling down around us, look up dear brothers and sisters to He who will one day appear and establish righteousness, justice, and His eternal kingdom.

Through Broken Vessels

“It has been well-said that before God uses a man greatly He must first break him breakly. God works best through broken vessels who have been crushed by the hammer blows of the devil. The more we desire to be used by God the greater must be our willingness to suffer for Him. There are no easy paths in ministry. Every assignment is a killing place.

This quote and brief sermon jam comes from Dr. Steve Lawson’s ministry during the 2010 Shepherds’ Conference in California at Dr. John MacArthur’s church.

During this time of trial and troubles, I would be remiss if I did not admit that I struggle with fears of my own. I fear for family, for friends, and for churches. Yet, down through the ages of church history, persecution has always given the church wings to grow and be refined as the Bride of Christ.

If you also have fears, look to Jesus and be a broken vessel fit for the Master’s use.

Christ Exalted is Our Song

The news today will not exalt Christ. It will not promote the kingdom of heaven. The news is only intent on reporting on the vile depravity that oozes out of the hearts of men and women around this world.

Today, I encourage you to turn off the news and focus on Jesus Christ. Do not keep your eyes on that which will not edify your soul and make you more like the Savior.

Missionary in Need

One of our contributors, Sony Elise, knows this missionary family (Mike and Pam Richardson) down in Mexico. Please click the picture below to go to a funding page that has been set up for them by their daughter, Misty Marr.

Pray for these folks, and if you are able to help with their financial need — I am sure that they would be very grateful.

If you would like to read more about their ministry, down in Mexico, you can CLICK HERE.