I Wish I Was As Biblical As I Sound

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I don’t know about anyone else, so I am speaking entirely about myself. So I want to be as candid as I can possibly be. I am not nearly as biblically grounded as I sound. Those that have read this blog get a snapshot of my thoughts, when they are coherent enough to be strung into an article on the Christian faith. My friends get a little bit more of me, especially when I do little more than repost quotes of great preachers, or link to articles and books, or even scripture, that I have read about the Christian faith on Twitter and Facebook. Those that get to see me in the flesh get to hear me talking about various theological issues and how we need to keep everything focused on Christ. In the end, I can often appear as a very spiritual man. In fact, some have actually come to respect my opinion on matters. But the truth is, I am not nearly as spiritual as I sound. Permit me to give you a view into my heart and soul, and perhaps we can learn why it is we need the grace of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Everyday I tell myself I need to read scripture. I get up rather early, so most of the time it is a mad rush for me to get to work on time because I hit the snooze button too many times again. The 30 minute drive usually gives me time to listen to a portion of a Christian radio podcast or sermon. I get to work before most of my co-workers, so I always tell myself to start my day with a prayer and reading at least some scripture. Of course, by the time I start up my computer, check my messages, plug in my iPod to finish listening to my podcast, check Facebook and Twitter on my my phone and get going on work, I can completely neglect my scripture reading. Thus my day starts regularly. Many times I do actually accomplish what I set out too, but more often than not, this is how it starts.

Often I look at my wonderful family and see the blessing God has given me. I promise God to nurture them and bring them up according to His word. But when I get home, I find the kids have fought my wife all day doing their homeschool assignments. Their room is a disaster and the cat has thrown up on the couch. My poor wife is stressed to the max and needs a relief. This should be such a great time to teach the gospel right? Instead, I admonish my kids for not doing what they were told. I threaten to get the garbage bag and throw out the toys they won’t pick up. I holler at the cat and chase her out of the room and I set forth to clean up everything so my wife will not be stressed. Of course in accomplishing what she has fought all day to do, I simply make things harder for her by making her feel inadequate. Rather than bring the peace of Christ into my home, I bring the iron rod of the dictator. Now, believe it or not, not every day is this way. Many times I have come home and we have a wonderful meal and fellowship. But on the other days, no gospel was shared, not even a Bible verse. A rank heathen could have done it the same way.

In my ministerial life I have been a street preacher, Sunday school teacher, and a Christian blogger. I share with people how desperately they need Jesus Christ, that their sin has caused irreparable damage to their relationship with God which will end in judgment for them. Yet Christ took the punishment they deserve upon Himself and that, through repentance and faith, they can receive salvation. I have shared online the desperate need the church has for preaching an undiluted gospel message. I have tried to call Christians to a deeper walk with Christ. Yet all the while, my own studies have gone neglected. Sometimes, I have not even reviewed my Sunday School lessons until the night before church. In the last year, my evangelism efforts have trickled down as I try to be a good minister in my home (the above paragraph outlined how well that goes). So while I want to see the lost saved and the saved grow, I do little to improve my walk with the Lord.

This is a snapshot of my life. The life of a wretched sinner who should, after 11 1/2 years of his Christian walk, have a much greater appreciation for the mercy I was shown. One whose walk so be so much further down the road. One who should speak with kindness and mercy, rather than the biting sarcasm and snarkiness that have come from my lips so many times. One who should value eternal things than the things of this world (such as the iPad that I write this on, or my Kindle I just had to have, or my phone that gives me access to Facebook, Twitter, etc, or…you get the idea). One who should get up everyday weeping with joy that I did not wake up in the bowels of Hell as I deserve.

The reason I write this is that, while I do not know if or even how you might struggle, this is my daily walk. This is the person I am, the one who desperately needed saving because, of my own accord, I am not even close to being a good person. This is the person who many have, for some strange reason, come to respect and believe I have something valuable to offer. A person who often thinks he does have something valuable to offer. I have nothing to offer the world, saved or unsaved. I am a wretched, stinking sinner who is good for nothing save the fires of Hell. But my Savior, now that is something different.

My Savior took a stinking sinner and died for his sins. He cleaned him up and made him into a new creation. My Savior gave him a desire to read the Word of God. My Savior gave him a heart to worship. My Savior gave him the desire to share the word with anyone who would listen, including his own family. My Savior did all this, I did none of it. My Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ, the maker of Heaven and Earth, the eternal God who became Man to take the sins of the world upon Himself. He did this all, and does it every single day of my life, and of the lives for those who repent and believe.

All those wretched things I described of myself have been paid for at the foot of the cross. Now I am no longer held in account for my sins, for they have been put upon my Savior’s account. Now I am free to worship and serve my Lord, even when I blow it every single day. Now I can see my sins for what they are, know that I am no longer judged by them, and repent so that I may serve God freely. If ever you look at me and think you appreciate something I have said or done, if ever you, perish the thought, think I am somehow holy or more spiritual than anyone else, please ditch those thoughts right into the garbage. Know that anything good that I have accomplished comes directly from my Savior. Know that I still struggle in my flesh and desperately need prayer. Know that I desire to see my self changed daily so that I am more like my Savior. And know that it is the Savior to whom I desire you to look to most of all.

I wish I was as spiritual and biblical as I sound, I really do. But I have come to see myself more and more in the light of the gospel. I realize I never can be. But I realize that is why I need Christ, and why you do too. Our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags to our Lord. But the righteousness of Christ, that is what we need to rely on most of all. So trust not in your own abilities. Don’t think your daily reading, prayers, worship, etc. make you a better Christian. They will help you grow immeasurably and cause you to appreciate the Savior more, but they will not add one iota to the righteousness you receive in Jesus Christ. Nor does someone’s lack in these areas tarnish the righteousness of Christ. Seek not to be a “better Christian” but seek more to love the Savior who made you righteous to begin with.

What’s our Problem?

“I’m too busy. My schedule doesn’t work. I don’t like to read. I’m bored with it. I don’t understand it. I’ve read it before. I don’t know…I’m not drawn to it.I just struggle getting into it.”

Have you ever heard these excuses before regarding reading our Bibles? Have you ever felt that way or even heard yourself say these things or other similar excuses? Jim Elliff lays out a brief but convicting article here regarding WHY you (we) don’t read our Bibles.

Read Jim’s article “Why You Don’t Read Your Bible” HERE

To follow onto Jim’s article, I want to add the following thoughts from a blog post I wrote in 2009 on the same topic:

I spent 7 years in engineering school and have been working as an engineer in the industry for 17 years now, which means my brain thrives on numbers. I think numbers. It drives people crazy, but you can pretty much break any issue down to pure numbers and quantify the results to make a point. Often, the output of one of these data calculations makes a strong impact. Let me show you what I mean.

Recently I had a conversation with a couple of my friends regarding how often we read our Bibles. The answer all of us commonly give is, “I don’t read enough.” Or, “I wish I could read more.” Or, the worst of all, “I’m just too busy to read the Bible. I can’t find time to fit it in.”

So, we’ve all been there and we all have friends that have been there. Maybe we haven’t just been there, but maybe we are stuck in that rut now! Maybe this blog post is a little painful and these numbers will make it worse. It hurts, but we are in it together, right? Brothers and sisters keeping each other accountable.

Let’s take the schedule of a typical week: 7 days full of working, sleeping, eating, driving, etc.

A 7 day week consists of 168 hours, which expands out to 10,080 minutes. Yes, 10,080 minutes…I think you can see where we are going with this.

Let’s now remove the minutes for sleeping, working, and driving since it is pretty hard to read while doing these tasks. Even though we could listen to an audio Bible while driving…if we really wanted to. Typically the average person sleeps 8 hours a day, works 8 hours a day (5 days a week) and drives 1 hour a day. (8*7+8*5+1*7) = 103 hours, this now expands out to 6,180 minutes.

10,080 – 6,180 = 3,900 (65 hours) left over.

So, what are you going to do with your spare 3,900 minutes a week? I’m asking my self the same question. 65 hours. 65 hours left over.

Can we spend a measly 15 minutes a day (105 minutes a week) reading the Bible and still have over 3700 minutes leftover? Can we spare 15 minutes a day reading the “word” of the glorious, all powerful, omnipotent creator of the universe who is our savior and our refuge who sacrificed himself for our sins and paid the price forever and ever and he who blesses us continually and he who we will spend all eternity worshiping in Heaven? Will we spend a few minutes a day with Him and reading what He has said to us? Can we spend 30 minutes? More? Or is our extra 3900 minutes to important and filled with self-satisfying tasks and activities to share it with God?

We would if we want to. We would if we loved Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

1 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV) – “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Quotes (933)

Why don’t our works work? . . . God simply won’t allow anyone to make Him a debtor. . . . In other words, God will  not permit a man to believe that He owes him salvation in exchange for his rule-keeping. Salvation must be by grace alone–the free gift of God. No matter what kind of rule-keeping you involve yourself in, whether religious ceremonies and rites, or deeds of charity and sacrifice, God cannot be made to owe you salvation in return. Salvation is not God’s obligation; it is His gift. . . . God will never reward the effort you exert to save yourself. He will not let you make the cross a meaningless act. He will not obligate Himself to save you because you do what you believe are good works.

– Jim Elliff

Jesus IS Lord in Colossians, and 1st & 2nd Thessalonians

Colossians 1:1-3—Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.

Colossians 2:6—As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

Colossians 3:16-24—Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord…And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 4:7—Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.

Colossians 4:17—And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

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1st Thessalonians 1-8—Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father…And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction…from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.

1st Thessalonians 2:14-15—You also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men.

1st Thessalonians 2:19—For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

1st Thessalonians 3:8-13—For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God…Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

1st Thessalonians 4:1-6—Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification…that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.

1st Thessalonians 4:15-17—For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

1st Thessalonians 5:2—You yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

1st Thessalonians 5:9-12—For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you

1st Thessalonians 5:23-28—Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

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2nd Thessalonians 1:1-2—Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2nd Thessalonians 1:7-12—…and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling…that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2nd Thessalonians 2:1-2—Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

2nd Thessalonians 2:8—And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17—But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ…Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

2nd Thessalonians 3:1-6—Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

2nd Thessalonians 3:12—Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

2nd Thessalonians 3:16-18—Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

The Church – Why Bother?

I was privileged to be able to read this book before it went to print. My short review is below, but first – here is a short promotional video from the author, for the book which can be purchased here: http://www.freegracepress.org/?p=1050

Review of Jeffery D. Johnson’s THE CHURCH: WHY BOTHER?

By Stuart L. Brogden, Jan 2012

The table of contents highlights key areas of ecclesiology that gives the reader high hopes from the beginning. In his Introduction, Johnson rightly begins with a contrast between “easy-believism” and “Lordship salvation”, describing the link between one’s view of soteriology and ecclesiology. A low view of God brings about easy-believism and a hatred for the sovereignty of God. In his discussion of Lordship salvation, the author explains the biblical view of this transaction – such that no one reading would be able to keep their straw-man view of Lordship salvation (professing it is works-based) in hand. Grace alone accompanied by repentance – a stark contrast to the normal process of decisional regeneration. The Introduction comes to a satisfying close by telling us the reason for the book: to “show how a high view of God and a low view of man should shape our understanding of the nature, purpose and functions of the local church.” To that end, Johnson has review questions at the end of each chapter, for group discussions. Furthermore, each chapter has a sub-title, providing insight to what lies ahead.

Chapter 1 (“Wow, What Nice Facilities You Have”) focuses on the nature of the church; Johnson provides a solid, biblical portrayal of the New Testament church, as a Truth bearer comprised of justified, sanctified believers who are united for the life of the brotherhood and proclamation of God’s Word. Frank Viola should read this book 🙂 Chapter 2 (“Church, Why Are We Here?”) is all about the purpose of the church – to glorify God by upholding the Truth, bringing the saints to maturity, and to evangelize the lost. This is accomplished by standing firm on the whole counsel of God’s Word, fostering holiness in its members. Chapter 3 (“Culturally Acceptable, I Mean ‘Relevant’”) then tells us the nature of the church. Johnson draws a clear line between God’s prescription and description of the church and natural man’s view with this piercing analysis: “When the line between a holy church and secular world is blurred, undoubtedly the church will become anthropocentric (man-centered) rather than Christocentric (Christ-centered).” The chapter is a fine description of both sides of this issue, leaving no doubt where Truth lies – the church must reflect Christ if it to bring glory to God or be any good to man.

Next, in chapter 4 (“Programs, Programs, Programs”), the author reviews the activities of the church. Rather than embracing myriad programs of all stripes to reach the culture, the church has 5 basic activities for use in fulfilling the first and most important part of its two-fold mission(to glorify God): to worship God 1) by preaching the Word; 2) through prayer; 3) through fellowship; 4) through the ordinances; and 5) through song. There may be other activities in a church, but they must not be permitted to overshadow these 5 or push them aside. This leads to the next chapter (#5 – “Hey God, Look at Me Worship”), which covers worship. Johnson provides 6 aspects of right worship – all of which are from, through, and to God and Christ. He then defends “Biblical Regulated Worship” with 6 principles, including a detailed examination of the need for holiness and demand that it not be sensual. His 5th principle is one that would benefit many in the home-church movement – worship must be orderly. Lastly, he re-emphasizes the reality that any worship of God that does not come from His Holy Word is the product of man’s imagination and not fit for use in His body; the church does not have the authority to be creative in worship.

Chapter 6 (“Drive-thru Membership”) is about membership, emphasizing the importance of belonging – in contrast to the cultural concept of association by convenience. Johnson describes the terrible impact of post-modern, self-absorbed thinking which reduces membership to a social experiment. He moves on to describe the spiritual union enjoyed by those in the local church, which is the result of the Holy Spirit working therein. This chapter has a rather long and beneficial description of the necessity, seriousness, responsibilities and privileges, and terms of church membership. The section on responsibilities and privileges details responsibilities toward God, one another, church leadership and those outside the church. This leads naturally to the discussion in chapter 7 (“Church Discipline, What’s That?”) on church discipline, starting with this: “The church must deal with the leaven before it contaminates the spiritual integrity of the whole church (1 Cor 5:7-8).” The author provides 5 steps of church discipline; describes the attitude of church discipline; the purpose, authority, and efficacy of church discipline. All of this is founded on Scripture and reasoned faithfully.

Authority within the church is the subject of chapter 8 (“The Survey, ‘Says’”), in which Johnson begins by summarizing the nature of the church (covered in chapter 1) and quickly moves to a short examination of cultural influences that undermine the authority God has given each church; summing it thusly: “The church abrogates its authority by putting the potential visitor in charge.” He then provides a concise review of the biblical authority in each church followed by a good review of the basic government thereof. The chart comparing qualifications for elders and deacons is very helpful to anyone studying the two offices of the church. A large bit of this chapter is devoted to describing the pastor – he is called by God, called to be shepherds, called to serve, called to preach, called to counsel, and called to live an exemplary life. Our author then provides a short summary the responsibilities of elders and of church members (using the unfortunate term “laity”). This chapter is packed with much good information not found nor discussed in many churches, as so many are allergic to spiritual authority.

Chapter 9 (“We Need Concession, Not Confessions”) – the last chapter of the book – discusses doctrinal standards within the church. Johnson begins by examining how many churches have abandoned confessions in favor of vague, ambiguous statements motivated by (1.) indifference, (2.) ignorance, (3.) pragmatism, and (4.) mysticism. This chapter is focused on mysticism, as the author believes it to be the root of the others. He gives short reviews of the first 3 rationales and moves to a somewhat longer review of mysticism, describing its nature, its influence, and the corrective action. Johnson admits some parallels between Christianity and mysticism, acknowledging the saving knowledge one has of Christ cannot be communicated to others; knowing Christ is a gift from God to each one called. Yet God is – within limits He established – knowable by man in general and in a saving way by the elect. This is the conflict with mysticism, which is founded on the presumption of the ultimate unknown being that which is sought. The fact that man cannot know God completely does not make mysticism correct, as God is known by many and can be known. Johnson uses this confusion in the ranks as a platform to encourage the use of confessions – to equip the saints with biblical truth upon which their experiences and emotions are rooted. That of God which is knowable is summed up in a good confession and this provides a useful tool to defend against mindless chatter about “just being biblical” or “all I need is Jesus”. We do need to be biblical and Christians do need Jesus – but we must be equipped by the biblical revelation, not led astray by human ignorance.

Not to be overlooked is the appendix, which provides excellent tools helpful in generating a church membership agreement, outlining responsibilities of church and members.

Those churches which have neglected the serious aspect of membership would benefit greatly from a close study of this entire book, including the appendix. For a short book, this book is a great resource for any pastor or church member who wants to better understand what the Word of God says about His church. It is easy to grasp the author’s message and short enough for even the post-modern ADHD adult to get through. It will benefit the soul of anyone who reads it. May God use this book for His glory and the good of His people.

Behold, the Lamb of God!

The Lamb of God foreshadowed:

Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.

Exodus 12:21-23

The Lamb of God foretold:

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

The Lamb of God arrives:

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! . . . and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

John 1:29 & John 1:36

The Lamb of God purchases His people:

Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.

1 Peter 1:18

The Lamb of God on His throne:

I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Revelation 5:1-14

Atheist hypocrisy (Part 2)

I frequently hear anti-theists lament the hypocrisy they see in the lives of professing Christians, oftentimes citing such hypocrisies as part of their reason for rejecting Christianity. But there is a glaring hypocrisy that frequently comes from the anti-theist camp that seems to escape their own notice. Although this hypocrisy is abundantly present in many of the anti-theist rants against Christianity, I have yet to see anyone bring attention to it. So allow me to point it out.

Anti-theists spend an inordinate amount of time devoted to expressing a hatred toward, and the mocking of a God they claim doesn’t exist (chew on the rationality of that for a while). They also spend a lot of time mocking Christians who actually live according to the principles set forth in Scripture; those Christians who strive to follow the commands of Christ.

So many times when an atheist sees a Christian being obedient to the commands of Christ (i.e. practice what they preach), they get mocked as “fuddy duddies,” “prudes,” and “fundies” by pretentious anti-theists.

Now the hypocrisy comes:

As soon as some anti-theists observe legitimate (or perceived) hypocrisy in the lives of pseudo-Christians, they wail that this somehow not only “proves” that God doesn’t exist, but that the behavior of these professing Christians justifies these anti-theists’ continued willful enmity toward God and Christianity.

“You Christians are hypocrites; you don’t practice what you preach, and that’ just another reason why I reject the existence of your God.”

So which is it, dear atheist? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t on the one hand accuse Christians of hypocrisy for not practicing what they preach, and then, on the other hand, mock them when they do.

To be consistent, if the professing Christian not practicing what the Bible teaches is one reason to reject Christianity, then wouldn’t the Christian practicing what the Bible teaches be one reason to embrace Christianity?

So I ask you this day, which would you rather see, Christians following their Lord’s commands, or those shallow, Sunday-only Christians who claim to follow Christ but who live just like you?

Choose this day who you’ll mock . . . then remain consistent.

See: Atheist Hypocrisy (Part 1) here.

Book recommendation: “Primetime Propaganda” by Ben Shapiro.

I grew up on a steady diet of TV and have fond memories of such shows as CHiPs, the A-Team, Miami Vice, Facts of Life, Dukes of Hazzard, Diff’rent Strokes, Family Ties, Silver Spoons, Punky Brewster, Alf, the Cosby Show, BJ and the Bear, and Sheriff Lobo.

As I grew older my TV watching waned considerably, but it wasn’t until 2007 that my family and I completely cut TV out of our life and I haven’t regretted it one iota.

So since my TV watching days were long over, I would never have expected to be interested in or actually read a book about television, let alone one that was over 300 pages in length. But when Ben Shapiro’s book Primetime Propaganda was on sale at last year’s Border’s going out of business sale for a ridiculously low price, I couldn’t pass it up.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at what an engaging and thoroughly researched book it turned out to be. Shaprio has written a definitive work on the history, politics, and propaganda of television. He meticulously examples how so much of what has been broadcast on television leans left–far left–and how that came to be.

Here is Amazon.com’s description of the book:

The inside story of how the most powerful medium of mass communication in human history has become a propaganda tool for the Left

Primetime Propaganda is the story—told in their own words—of how television has been used over the past sixty years by Hollywood writers, producers, actors, and executives to promote their liberal ideals, to push the envelope on social and political issues, and to shape America in their own leftist image.

In this thoroughly researched and detailed history of the television industry, conservative columnist and author Ben Shapiro argues that left-leaning entertainment kingpins in Los Angeles and New York have leveraged—and continue to use—their positions and power to push liberal messages and promote the Democratic Party while actively discriminating against their opponents on the right. According to Shapiro, television isn’t just about entertainment—it’s an attempt to convince Americans that the social, economic, and foreign policy shaped by leftism is morally righteous.

But don’t take his word for it. Shapiro interviewed more than one hundred of the industry’s biggest players, including Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H), Fred Silverman (former president of ABC Entertainment, NBC, and vice president of programming at CBS), Marta Kauffman (Friends), David Shore (House), and Mark Burnett (Survivor). Many of these insiders boast that not only is Hollywood biased against conservatives, but that many of the shows being broadcast have secret political messages. With this groundbreaking exposÉ, readers will never watch television the same way again.

Reading this book solidified for me what I already knew: That programs on television are intentionally liberal with the purpose of changing the hearts and minds of its viewers.

This book also furthered my bewilderment regarding Christians who use this medium as a form of entertainment. It simply boggles my mind at just how many Christians will not only willingly digest the steady stream of messages from television that are deliberately antithetical and hostile to their faith (and allow their children to do so as well), but also how so many Christians will defend and justify their consumption of this trash.

It’s amazing to me that they wouldn’t dare step foot in (and take their kids to) many places in this world because of the sin present there, yet they’re perfectly fine with allowing just about anything and everything the world has to offer to be piped into their home via a television set. What they shun in real life is happily digested as “entertainment” in the comfort of their living room.

I cannot recommend this book enough to those Christians who see little to no problem with regularly setting the images, messages, and “wisdom” of the world before their eyes, ears, heart, and soul through the medium of television. And the author of this book simply can’t be dismissed as a Legalist because he has no affiliation with the Christian faith and did not write the book from a theological point of view.

Shapiro reveals the covert and overt liberal, socialist messages in everything from All in the Family to Sesame Street and will cause you to never watch television the same way again.

See also:

The Stranger

The Stranger (Sermon)

The Marketing of Evil

Family Worship and the Use of TV (Sermon)

Sermon of the Week: “The Bible’s View on Missions – Part 6” by Akash Sant Singh

We are pleased to offer the sixth of a series of messages on biblical missions from Pastor Akash Sant Singh, pastor of Community Bible Church in Reno, Nevada. As a missionary to West Africa, this sermon has spoken to my heart and it will be a blessing to you as well.

It is important to remember that every true believer is actually called to be on a mission for the Most High Sovereign Creator of heaven and earth. May Christ be exalted through the proclamation of His word and to each listening ear.

Church description – “The Bible’s view on missions – part 6 a Sunday school message by Pastor Akash.”

The Bible’s View of Missions – Part 6

Quotes (932)

Anyone who is involved in personal evangelism can share countless examples of persons who, though presently living in gross sin, will nonetheless tell the evangelist that they are fine because they “made a decision for Christ” a certain number of years ago. They have never had any change in their life; they have no interest in church, the Bible, or even God. But they have made their “decision.” Can we not see how dangerous such a system is to the souls of men?

Jim Ehrhard

The first vision.

Two brief videos on Joseph Smith’s varied first vision accounts by LDSvideo.org.

See also:

The various first visions of Joseph Smith

and

Dear Mormon: Which version of the first vision do you believe?

But What About…?

“Jesus didn’t really exist.” “The Bible was written by a bunch of illiterate goat herders.” “Christianity just borrowed from other religions.” Have you ever heard any of these objections from people when you are attempting to explain the gospel to them? I have. These and several others tend to be the standard roadblocks that people will use to shield themselves from the truth of God’s word. In most cases, the person who is asking these questions really is not all that concerned with the actual answer. If you establish that Jesus really did exist, or that the Bible has the single greatest number of manuscript copies in antiquity, or that 80% of people, locations and events described in the Bible have been archaeologically proven, then they will move to “Well, what about slavery?” Or, “you’re supposed to stone your disobedient child, why aren’t you doing that??” Quite simply, these questions are not to elicit an actual response, they are actually roadblocks to get you off course and so tied up, the asker can then feel he has taken the intellectual high ground by asking you questions you did not have an answer for.

So what is the Christian supposed to do with these questions? Well, first off, attempt to recognize whether they are asking genuine questions or not. Believe it or not, there are some folks who are genuinely trying to understand how we Christians can believe such stuff. They are being raised up in a culture that has told them religion is nothing but a personal experience, so truth really is not a consideration. When they hear the name Jesus, they think along the lines of “Zeus” or “Thor”. It’s just mythology. So when they are presented with the belief that Jesus existed and the Bible records what He said, they can’t believe we believe this. So allow them the opportunity to ask questions. In time, either by the rapid fire nature of the questions, or by the fact they simply ignore the answer, the sincerity of the questions can be determined.

But I would encourage my fellow Christians to start learning some basic apologetics knowledge. While proving Jesus really walked the earth, or knowing the number of manuscripts in existence cannot convert the wicked rebellious heart, it can demonstrate that our faith is not blind or unreasonable. It can demonstrate to the unbeliever we take what we believe seriously. We aren’t just “ignorant goat herders” following a myth like blind lemmings. Such evidence can provide structural support to the overall understanding of the gospel message.

Now, as I mentioned before, most questions and objections brought up really will have little to do with gaining actual understanding of the Christian faith. Rather, they are like the infamous smoke screen released by James Bond’s Aston Martin to blind his pursuers as he made his getaway. Just like the smokescreen would cause the pursuers to lose sight of the road and likely drive off of it, these questions are designed to side track you into secondary issues. Discussions regarding who actually approved of what books in the Bible, evolution vs. creation, and that somehow today we are far smarter than those poor souls 2000 years ago, really aren’t about raising genuine concerns they have so much as they do not want to discuss the core issue of Christianity, that they are sinners in the hands of a righteous, holy God.
The heart of the unregenerate is bound up in sin. It’s daily appetite is for the things of this world. It can be a full dive into hedonistic pleasures or it can be the simple life where white lies and coveting are a daily occurrence. Yet, the heart of a lost person cannot see these actions and thoughts as the sins that they are. Just as we once did, they will compare themselves to each other and think, “I’m not so bad.” Or they might feel the sting of regret when the consequences of such actions bear fruit. But in the end, there is no real sense of conviction for sin being sin. Yet, when the law of God, His righteous standard, is brought upon them, they cannot but feel the weight of His judgment upon themselves. The unregenerate man must find a way out from under this or be crushed by it. Thus, the peppering of questions is but one method a person may employ to achieve this.

So how does one handle this situation. I suggest that there are a few ways that you can address it. First off, you can politely suggest that those questions be tabled for a short time. This is not a means of avoiding the questions mind you. We should be willing to go back to them if needed. However, in doing this, we can continue in the addressing their core problem, which is their sin against God. Once they understand the nature of sin and the need for grace, if they truly wish to discuss those matters, we can return to them.

Another way was once demonstrated to me by Tony Miano, a member of the Living Waters evangelism ministry and an open air preacher. He asked the person he was talking to a simple question. “If I answer every one of your questions, will you then be willing to bend the knee and worship Jesus as your Lord?” That person indicated they would not. Most likely, the questioner you are talking to will likewise confess that the questions were not really all that important, allowing us to once again address where they stand before the Lord.

A final means is, if a person is simply unwilling to engage in a intelligent discussion without lobbing loaded accusations and questions, is to break off the witnessing encounter. The simple fact is that there are some hearts so hardened that they simply will not listen. You could have all the answers, you could take them to every single scripture and prove it to be true, you could overcome every obstacle, but this person may have only one goal in mind. To tie you up and keep you from doing your God given duty to share the gospel. While I cannot tell you at what time you have to make this decision, because each one is different, there has to come a point when you determine that there are a lot of lost souls out there that need to hear the gospel as much as this person. If they are not willing to hear, then graciously move on. Remember, we are but the messengers, it is God who does the converting.

So as Christians who are commanded to evangelize the lost, remember this: there are questions out there that you have to deal with. Some are genuine, others are smoke screens. Develop a basic knowledge of apologetics, not so we can win people through them, but to strengthen our witness encounters. Be prepared for those who are attempting to obfuscate the issue and stay central to the matter at hand. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, learn to to witness biblically. The Bible makes it clear, the law of God brings conviction to the heart of the sinner, the grace of Christ is what converts him. Show the person the nature of their sin, that it is an offense to God that must be judged. When he feels the heat of judgment upon him, bring him to the foot of the blood stained cross, showing him this is where his sin was paid for. Lead him to the empty tomb, to show him his Savior’s power of death. And show him the gates of heaven that are open if he would but repent and place his faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Conrad Mbewe: “Africa’s rural areas are in desperate need of the true gospel.”

An excerpt from Conrad Mbewe’s article, Africa’s rural areas are in desperate need of the true gospel.

“What struck me the most, however, was that while in Lusaka we are falling over each other to plant more and more Reformed Baptist churches, our trip in rural Zambia showed an almost complete absence of any evangelical witness, let alone any Reformed Baptist witness. Apart from one Pentecostal Assemblies of God church, the only “churches” we found in the whole area were Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, and New Apostolic churches. Inevitably, therefore, in all our conversations with the people in the villages the universal answer to the question of salvation was law and works. This was a very sad state of affairs. How could we be so negligent of the souls of our brothers and sisters in rural areas like this? Whole regions believe in a salvation by works. . . . I have said before that the price tag we place on a cause can best be seen by the price we are willing to pay for it. Missionaries sailed bloody seas in order to bring the gospel to Africa at a time when there were no modern conveniences at all on the continent. Many of them died soon after arriving due to the malaria parasite. That is how convinced they were of the value of our souls and the value of the gospel. Even today, missionaries such as the Reeces, are still willing to leave the comforts of the West to spend and be spent for the cause of the gospel in the villages of Western Province. What about us? Is the gospel not precious enough for us to relinquish the comforts of our towns and cities to take the gospel into rural Zambia and rural Africa?”

Sermon of the Week: “The Bible’s View on Missions – Part 5” by Akash Sant Singh

We are pleased to offer the fifth of a series of messages on biblical missions from Pastor Akash Sant Singh, pastor of Community Bible Church in Reno, Nevada. As a missionary to West Africa, this sermon has spoken to my heart and it will be a blessing to you as well.

It is important to remember that every true believer is actually called to be on a mission for the Most High Sovereign Creator of heaven and earth. May Christ be exalted through the proclamation of His word and to each listening ear.

Church description – “The Bible’s view on missions – part 5 a Sunday school message by Pastor Akash.”

The Bible’s View of Missions – Part 5

Here I Stand…

I want to make something clear. I am a born again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. This means I believe I was born a sinner and that my actions put me at war with God. Because of that, God will judge me for my sins and condemn me to Hell. Yet, in His mercy, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live the perfect life I could not live and to die the death I deserve. Jesus rose from the grave three days later, giving me a promise of eternal life. By turning from my sin and trusting in Jesus, He takes on my sins and I receive His perfect righteousness. I have been granted eternal life and will one day be with Him forever in Heaven.

As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. That means it is the direct revelation of God to man. This means I believe everything it says. Everything. When it says something is a sin, it’s a sin. What culture says about it today is irrelevant. No matter how we try re-work or re-word what God has already said, His truth remains. I will not bend, I will not yield, I will stand. I will proclaim God’s word, all of it. I may be called arrogant. I may be called ignorant. I may even be called a hateful bigot. But no matter what the world thinks of me, I care more of how I am viewed by my Savior than by anyone else. Jesus paid my fine with His life’s blood. I owe Him nothing less than my total love and obedience.

Because I trust in Christ for my salvation, and because I believe God’s word is true, I will proclaim to the world that it is in sin against God. I will proclaim that through Christ and Christ alone is their salvation. I will do this because I love people far too much to leave them in the delusion that they are “OK” with God. I love them enough to warn them of the judgment that is coming. I love them enough to risk being hated by them, and even have them turn against me. If I am willing to risk my life to save a drowning man, or a child trapped in a fire, how much more must I be willing to risk my standing in people’s minds to try and rescue them from the fires of Hell. It matters not if a blind man does not believe in the cliff he is walking toward. Thus, I cannot and will not stop my warnings because people do not believe as I do. I love them too much to stop.

I make this declaration today because I believe the world is beginning to openly war against Jesus Christ and those who follow Him. I make this stand today to make it known I will stand for Him no matter how tough the opposition may be, and no matter what it may cost me personally. I declare this to let you all know that I believe the greatest love I can possibly show is to point to the way of salvation, not to allow people to remain comfortable in their sins.

In the words of the Reformation preacher Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no more.”

It’s NOT official!

Too true . . . too funny. A classic.

Once More – with Feeling! “Government Education is Evil!”

I know – our (unregenerate) children are to be sent into the world’s system of “education” to be salt and light; ignoring the context which tells us it is Christians – not unsaved children of Christians – who are to be godly influences in the culture.

EDIT – for clarification: I think that if children are converted and have a credible witness of saving faith, AND a desire to contend for the faith in a government school, that’s a fine decision for parents and the child to make. At some point, every Christian will enter into the world and must know how to live for the glory of God while participating in a worldly system that is hateful toward God. The MAIN point of this article and book and video is to warn parents that the government school system IS evil and not to be deceived nor ignorant about that. Our children are more valuable than saving money and their spiritual welfare is our highest priority in their lives.

I know – we all pay taxes for the government school and it would be dumb to not get any return on that money; ignoring the fact that government schools are moral agents that indoctrinate all children into a worldly, humanistic worldview that is hateful towards God.

All the while, we sit in silent defiance of God’s commands that we who are His train up our children in godliness, in the fear and admonition of our Lord – praying that they might be saved and that, regardless of anything else, He would be glorified by and in our service.

To help Christians understand what it as stake, here’s an 8 minute video and free 600 page ebook. May God have mercy on us!

The Patriarchs Were People Like Us

How often have we looked at the patriarchs of the Old Testament with great reverence and maybe even wished we had just a modicum of the faith that they had? The Bible describes the great faith these men and women had and the great accomplishments they achieved because of it. The “Hall of Faith” passage of Hebrews points us to these men and women as examples of what true faith in God looks looks like. If you are anything like me, it is not uncommon to wish we were more like them when we see the struggles we deal with in our own walks. But, are the patriarchs really that special? Were they so much holier than you or I? Or do they have more in common with ourselves than we think? I’d like for us to look at a few of those patriarchs to answer this question. In fact, one family in particular, the one through which the Messiah would one day come. I believe we will learn a lot from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the God whom the served.

Abraham is considered the father of the Jews. He was so esteemed by the Jews in Jesus’ day that they often cited their lineage from him in their debates with Jesus. But what was it about him they were so proud of? True, he had great faith when he believed the promise of God that he and Sarah would one day have a child through which the nations would be blessed. But as time went by, Abraham and Sarah apparently figured God had forgotten his promise, because Sarah offers her handmaiden to her husband through which to conceive the child. Abraham doesn’t even feign an objection, he just does it. This is also the same Abraham that, not once, but twice, failed to believe God’s promise to keep him around long enough to produce this nation that he convinces his wife to say “I’m his sister” to keep from getting killed. Is he really so faithful and holy after all?

Continue reading

Book recommendation: “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” by Andy Andrews.

So exactly how did the Nazis get so many people to cooperate with them in marching toward their deaths without resistance?

This book tells you.

This was an eye-opening read and my only criticism is that its extremely short in length. I felt the author could have gone on and provided more examples and more insight, but even for its short length (you can read it in less than an hour), I was still hit by the truths presented in it. 

Watching current events unfold, this book may not only be about history, but it may very well be a warning for what’s about to come to America; and the author does not hold back from suggesting that grave possibility.