The Real Issue in America

I have no intention of using this post to argue politically for what is going on right now across America.

But, here are some things that the world sees taking place and for Christians, it is time that we give due consideration to what is really happening. We also need to ask ourselves what we should be doing and how we can best respond to a terrible situation.

True Bible-believing Christians need to stop listening to the spin of the liberal media and the various movements that are only striving desperately to be involved in race-baiting.

Read these carefully:

1) The real issue is NOT about white privilege or black privilege.
2) The real issue is NOT about slavery.
3) The real issue is NOT about a black man who died at the hands of what appears to be corrupt policemen.
4) The real issue is NOT about corrupt policeman always picking on people who have a different color skin than themselves.
5) The real issue is NOT about the need for reparations for atrocities that took place 50-200 years ago.
6) The real issue is NOT about Republicans or Democrats.
7) The real issue is NOT about US citizens or illegal immigrants.
8) The real issue is NOT about the color of one’s skin.
9) The real issue is NOT about the freedom to protest.
10) The real issue is NOT about demanding white people get down on their knees and beg for forgiveness for things they never did.

Right now, riots and looting and mayhem and absolute carnage have caused millions and millions of dollars of damage across the US and even in England. Businesses will never rebuild because everything has been burned to the ground. While firefighters are tending fires, EMTs are tending to the injured police and protestors, and the police are trying to stand and protect, the general public are living scared. The general public is afraid that the riots may come to their town.

Some cities are now considering completely defunding police forces thus caving in to the demands of liberals. In those cities, the general public will live in fear from day to day when there is no longer a police presence to keep criminals at bay.

You may be asking, if these things are NOT the real issue, then what is the problem?

Are you ready for the truth?

The REAL ISSUE is sin. S-I-N!

The REAL ISSUE is pride, which is rooted in sin.

The REAL ISSUE is the total depravity of the heart of man. The Bible is clear that the heart of every single individual is corrupt and desperately wicked.

The REAL ISSUE is that some who call themselves Christian ministers are instructing their congregations with teaching that is contrary to the Scriptures.

The REAL ISSUE is that people hate God and they hate others. Blatant disregard for the two commands given by Christ is the reason why things like racism, prejudism, hatred, bitterness, animosity, riots, looting, murder, mayhem, etc. take place all across this world.

The REAL ISSUE is that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

The REAL ISSUE is that many churches no longer preach the truth. They want to preach a social gospel which only damns the souls of men and women.

The REAL ISSUE is that churches and pastors have failed to remember their calling is not about trying to make the world a better place, but their calling is to remember that this world is NOT our home and we are just passing through.

The REAL ISSUE is that we have failed to remember the Great Commission to go into ALL the world, preach the gospel to ALL people, and then to disciple ALL believers to become more like Jesus Christ.

The REAL ISSUE is that we have failed to remember that out of faith, hope, and love that the greatest of all of these is LOVE.

The REAL ISSUE is that the church has forgotten that people are lost and dying and on their way into eternity without Christ unless we tell them.

Now that you understand the REAL ISSUES, let’s talk about the matter of asking forgiveness. The Bible is clear in its teaching about seeking and extending forgiveness.

Christians, you will not find one Scripture that instructs us to get on our knees and ask the forgiveness of others for the things that our ancestors may or may not have done. The Bible tells us that we are responsible for our own sin. Every individual is responsible BEFORE God for our own sins, and not the sins of others.

Christians, you will not find one Bible verse that demands that white people get down on their knees and seek forgiveness for being white. God, the Creator of the Universe, made one human race. God alone is the creator of life and He alone creates us with different skin colors.

To demand something God does not require is to seek to make ourselves greater than God. To question who and how God made a person to be His image-bearer on earth is to say that we know better than God. Ultimately, to question God in the place we were born is to demand accountability from God toward His creation.

But God is sovereign. Ecclesiastes says that He has set eternity in the heart of man and Romans reminds us that even creation points to the majesty of God.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. If you are tired of what you find in your heart and you realize that the only way to change is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, then the Bible is clear.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Yes, my friend, there is hope but it is not found in politics or religion or culture or any aspect of society. The hope that racism, prejudism, and all the other ills of the world will end is only found in the knowledge that God made a way for a man or woman to be forgiven of his or her sin.

Christ became the sin-bearer of mankind so that fellowship could be restored between God and man. It cannot happen by good works or by trying to be a good, moral person for there is no such person.

In conclusion, your real issue and my real issue is not about somebody else. Our real issue is personal. Your real issue is about you. My real issue is about me. Our real issue is about our relationship with a holy and righteous God who cannot stand to look upon sin.

Plead to God for mercy if you have not done so already and before it is too late. Look to Him and seek forgiveness for the sin which separates you from His holiness. Stop blame-shifting and passing the buck for your own wickedness.

Come to Jesus and He will save you. The Bible says that all who come to Christ that He will not cast them away.

The love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.

Forgiveness is only true found in Christ alone. He is our hope in life and death.

How to Awaken a Dead & Unregenerate Church

In this brief video, Dr. Steve Lawson shares how to awaken a dead and unregenerate church. Church leaders need to be fully assured that they indeed have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and then they need to give consideration to the message they declare to every person who enters their places of worship.

The Cry of the Lost

Do you hear the cry of the lost

Who for eternity will pay the cost?

Suffering torments they cannot tell

In the everlasting fire called Hell.

There they dwell where the worm dieth not

And no relief can ever be sought.

Eternal flames around them ’bout

Such horrid screams can you hear them shout?

It’s too late.  It’s too late for me.

But please dear Jesus set my loved ones free.

Tell them of your saving grace

So they won’t come to this wicked place.

Send someone to warn with tears

Of this place worse than all their fears.

To point them to the Savior above

And tell them of your eternal love.

Prepare a man to be sent

And compel them to repent.

From all their guilt, sin, and strife

So they may have eternal life.

Jim Kelley

Testimony of Salvation

Brief introduction — I had the privilege of meeting Jim when he became a member of the church my father started at RAF Fairford, England back in 1984 or 1985. Jim served and grew in that mission work while serving in the US Air Force. He would later visit me at Northland Baptist Bible College while looking at schools where he could train for the ministry. Jim lives on the East Coast now with his dear wife, and he continues to be a faithful Bible teacher as he strives to become more like Jesus Christ. Here is his testimony. It has been a blessing getting back in contact with Jim and renewing our friendship.

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Having been born into a Catholic family my earliest years in life for church was the Catholic church.  After my dad divorced and remarried another woman the Catholic church “ex-communicated” our family.  After the ex-communication we no longer went to any church.

When I was nine years old my two sisters and I were playing in our front yard when a church bus driver pulled alongside the curb and asked us if we would like to start going to church on the bus.  After getting our parents approval we started going to a Baptist church.

Sunday School was fun for me because we played games and had snacks.  There was no such “monster” as children’s church in those days and we would sit together as “bus kids” with the bus captain in the adult service.  I didn’t pay much attention to the pastor except on occasion and I would go forward during the altar call telling the pastor that I do bad things and he would tell me that we all do bad things and he told be to back and sit down.

Eventually our parents began to attend the Sunday morning services and we sat with our parents rather than the bus kids.  At this point and time I was now ten years old and one particular Sunday morning during the adult service I was pestering my sisters.  My dad looked at me and told me to shut up, sit straight, and pay attention to the pastor.

My dad was a strict father and I knew that there would be serious consequences if I didn’t do what he told me to do.  I shut my mouth and sat up straight, and paid sincere attention to the pastor.  As he was faithfully preaching the gospel about sinners dying and going to hell and Jesus having died and shed His blood to save us the Holy Spirit of God convicted me as a lost sinner.

Now I didn’t want to go to church anymore because I was running from God and myself.  A few Sunday’s after my initial “conviction” as a lost sinner the Spirit of God was impressing upon me that I needed to get saved and what was I going to do about it?  I had this all happening inwardly and I started to question whether this was really God or just “all in my head.”  I decided to “test” God and find out if this was really happening or not.

As the Lord was impressing upon me as to what I would do I said, “I’m going to wait until I’m grown up, and God impressed upon me that if I wait until I am grown up that I’ll grow up hard-hearted and lost.  Again, the Lord was impressing upon me “what are you going to do?”  I still questioned the validity of what was occurring and I said within myself, “I’m going to wait.”  It was then that I sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence leaving from me and I knew that this was real.

At that moment as I was still sitting in the pew I surrendered myself to Jesus Christ and acknowledged myself as a sinner and with a true heart of repentance I placed my faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood to wash my sins away.  I didn’t understand at that moment that I had indeed been saved right then and there.  I thought that I had to go forward to the altar to get saved.

When the altar call was given I couldn’t get there fast enough and when the pastor asked me why I was there I told him that I needed to get saved.  He said, “excuse me?”  I cried, and told him that I needed to get saved and that I didn’t want to go to hell.  We knelt down at the altar and he did not tell me to repeat after him.  He prayed that God would saved me and as I was praying in agreement the Holy Spirit confirmed within me that I was already saved in the pew.

When the pastor and I stood up we faced the congregation and he announced that I had just gotten saved.  The pastor looked at me and asked me, “now that you’re saved what do you want to do with your life?”  I told him, “I’m only ten years old and I don’t know what I want to do with my life.”  The pastor encouraged me to tell the folks something since I now know Jesus.  My reply was:  “I just want to do what Jesus wants me to do.”

As a newborn babe in Christ at the physical age of ten I was telling everyone about Jesus.  When my mom would go to the grocery store with my two sisters and myself I would tell the clerk at the check-out about Jesus.  I went on and on to the point that I drove my dad crazy and one day he told me to stop talking about Jesus because he’s heard it over and over again.  I stopped talking about Jesus to my dad but I never stopped talking about Jesus to others.

To God be the glory to save a sinner such as me!

Jim Kelley

Stand in the Breach

“And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indigation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God” (Ezekiel 22:30-31).

I have met people who think there is no use in praying because God is going to do what He’s going to do so prayer won’t affect anything. This makes no sense to me, as there are instances in Scripture where God declared that He would perform a negative action but changed His mind when people repented, interceded, etc.

I think of the city of Nineveh which God said He would destroy. But He spared them when the people repented. (See the book of Jonah in the Bible.)

Or what about the woman in Matthew who asked Jesus to heal her daughter? Jesus acted as if he wasn’t interested until she humbly responded, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table” (Matthew 15:27). If she had walked away muttering or even resignedly saying, “You’re right, Lord. I’m sorry to have bothered you,” I don’t think her daughter would have received the healing that this mother yearned for.

My view is that we don’t see revival because we don’t cry out for it. We don’t see more healed because we don’t ask for it. We live apathetic, Spirit-less lives, and then we blame God for not doing anything when maybe He is just waiting for someone to stand in the breach and intercede for those who cannot or will not pray for themselves.

God is not obligated to do what we want. I am not promoting a “name it, claim it” doctrine. I am, however, calling for people to fall on their knees, to get the mind of God, and to intercede for our nation, our unbelieving loved ones, those who are sick–physically, mentally, and spiritually. God hasn’t changed; people have. The hearts of many have grown cold. How low do we have to get before we begin to seek Him again?

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 5 – Children & Church

Let us consider another inconsistency, but let me first warn the reader that it may cause some real heart searching, especially if you have children.

The scene is the same just about every week. Families struggle to get up on Sunday morning. Many have not bothered to prepare their hearts throughout the previous week, and especially the Saturday night before. This quickly becomes obvious as the rest of the morning progresses.

Breakfast is rushed and the parents are shouting at the kids to “Hurry or we will be late to church.” With a final flurry of activity, everybody runs out and jumps in the appropriate vehicle. On the way, the driver is pushing past the speed limit and hoping that a policeman is not sitting over the next hill with a radar gun. In the back, the children begin to bicker and then fight. The parents both threaten to stop the car to take care of the problem that does little to straighten out the children. The little ones are mostly immune to the threats because they have already figured out long ago that the parents don’t really mean what they say.

Every now and then, a word of wisdom may grace the conversation. One of the parents will remind their offspring that “we all need to settle down as we are going to worship the Lord.”

Arriving at their chosen place of worship a few minutes late, the parents send their children off to a little classroom. In the room, they only manage to get through 45 minutes due to the seemingly endless supply of snacks and juice. During the class, they may receive a pithy little lesson which may come complete with puppets and pages to color.

Stated otherwise, this means: Continue reading

What Happened to Revival?

It wasn’t long ago that Christians wished for revival, churches held “revival meetings,” pastors would open up the altar after services so that those who were being convicted could come forward and repent of their sins. Although there are churches that still do those things, I do not see it very much anymore. We have grown accustomed to our comfort, entertainment, a feel-good lifestyle, and we really don’t want anything to rock our boat. I get discouraged when I look around and feel like I will never see revival because the hearts of many have grown cold.

I just listened to the audio version of a book that I had read years ago titled Floods on Dry Ground. It focuses on the Hebrides Revival that took place in the late 19th and early 20th century. The stories are amazing. Often, revival began when just two or three people dedicated themselves to fervent prayer, asking God to come and save their cities. This wasn’t just, “And, Lord, if it’s Your will, would You save my neighbor?” This was crying out to God and staying on their knees until He answered. Because of their prayers, even the vilest sinners were changed by the power of God.

A while back, I could spend an hour or two with God no problem. I treasured the time and did not understand why everyone would not take that time each day. Now spending 20 minutes with Him is a chore as my mind is constantly on things I need to be doing, but I long to get back to being content to sit in His presence and hear from Him as well as presenting my petitions before His throne and knowing that He hears me.

Revival is not something that makes people feel good. It is a move of God that shows people what they are really like without Him and convicts them of their sins. They realize that no sin is small in the eyes of God and that they are worthy of judgment. They can’t think about their neighbor’s sin because their own sins are glaring. But they also know that God is faithful and just to forgive every sin so they confess them to Him and leave a different person than they were. When was the last time you have been in this kind of meeting?

If you attend a church that still focuses on holiness and repentance, thank God for it. If your church has lost that focus, intercede for the pastor and the church leaders, that they would have a greater hunger than ever before to walk with God and to challenge others to do so. Pray for a burden for your church, your community, lost souls, and then share that burden with others. You may find that you are not alone.

I think of the old song we used to sing that said, “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin with me.” That should be our continual prayer.

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 3 – Divorce

This next problem is one where way too many churches are consistently inconsistent, and I believe it is a shame for several reasons.

  1. This should NOT be a problem within the body of Christ, but it is.
  2. This should NOT be divisive between brothers and sisters, but it is.
  3. This should NOT be what defines congregations, but it is.

The problem I am speaking of is the matter of divorce.

It is imperative that we define marriage and what God commands regarding marriage. Biblical marriage can ONLY be defined as: One man and one woman united together before God in the bonds of matrimony for the rest of their natural lives. As God is the One Who created marriage, it is He and He alone who defines the rules for what makes a marriage. Government has NO RIGHT to try and define what they think marriage is or what it should be.

Stated otherwise, this means: Continue reading

Love Mercy

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless (Matthew 12:7).

A while back, I came to the conclusion that I would rather err on the side of mercy when relating to others. I’m not talking about being soft on sin. But I am talking about walking graciously toward others who may not be at the same place in their walk with the Lord as you or I may be. And, if a brother or sister is caught in sin, learning how to “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness” (Gal. 6:1).

When I look at others who are covered with the scars of bad decisions they have made, I do not lose sight of the fact that there but for the grace of God go I. God has spared me from a lot in life but that is a testimony to His goodness, not mine.

mercifulgod

Luke 6:36 tells us:

Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Matthew 5:7 says:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

I have received so much mercy in my life. How could I be so heartless as to not show mercy in return?

Dictionary.com defines “mercy” as:

1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence:
2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing:
3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty:
4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor:
5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing.
I want to be that person that doesn’t hesitate to put an arm around a struggling sinner who is broken instead of the one who says (even in the heart), “If you just hadn’t done that stupid thing, you wouldn’t be in this predicament.”
 
There are times when pious, religious people may need a firm rebuke but only if it can be done in humility with the purpose of the sinner coming to repentance and being restored. But there are other times that we must help to lift up the broken so they can find that hope that will lift them out of the pit they find themselves in.
Several times in the Gospels, we read that “Jesus had compassion.” We need to follow His example. Won’t you show mercy to someone today?

God Opposes the Supreme Court!

FOR THE RECORD — DEFCON STANDS OPPOSED TO THE SUPREME COURT!!!

No matter what the Supreme Court says, there is One Who is supreme above all men and governments, and He has stated that homosexuality is an abomination. It is a very sad day for America that the moral foundations upon which this nation were built has just been trashed and trampled underfoot. If there is no repentance and forgiveness sought from God, there will be no mercy.

Despite the horrendous news that our beloved nation has taken a huge leap toward the pit of being an amoral society, I am SO THANKFUL that there are some things that will never change.

Imed_gods-sovereignty-3_july-27

1. God is STILL sovereign.

2. God knew the Supreme Court would stand against His Word. He is NOT asleep and is not slumbering.

3. Psalm 2 reminds us that while the rulers and kings stand against the Lord and His Anointed One (Jesus Christ), He laughs at them and holds them in derision.

4. Jesus Christ is still Lord of all and one day EVERY knee will bow.

5. True believers will remain a minority because Matthew’s gospel reminds us that the gate to heaven is narrow and few find it.

6. Romans 8 reminds us that NOTHING will ever separate us from the love of God, not even persecution or death.

7. 2 Timothy 3:12-14, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.”

8. Romans 1:18 & 32 are still a sobering reminder that the wrath of God is coming, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

9. The apostles made it clear that they were going to obey God rather than man. DefCon also chooses to obey God rather than man.

10. Biblical marriage will ALWAYS be only between one man and one woman.

11. Homosexuality and lesbianism WILL ALWAYS be an abomination to God, and nobody who chooses such a lifestyle will ever be granted admission to heaven, nor will those who give approval to those who practice such deviant lifestyles.

12. So much more to say, but a last thing to remember is that there is forgiveness by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11,  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

What Price Revival?

Fathers, the best gift you could receive today would be the overwhelming desire to seek repentance from the thrice-holy Almighty, the One whom we have long forsaken for the pleasures of the world. Paul reminds us that we are to set our affections on things that are heavenly, not on the things of this world. We need revival in America and in England, but at what price will it come?

Is Suicide Ever an Option?

There is a great deal of words that have been written about the suicide of a recent celebrity. This blog does not intend to readdress this sad loss for his family and friends. The fact is that depression has seen another life go out into eternity. However, before I address the question at hand, I do want to make a few preliminary comments.

1) Eternity is real and each one of us will face that reality. The Scriptures remind us that “as it is appointed unto man once to die and after this will come the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). This means that no matter when we die or how we die, we will stand before God. He alone is the Judge of man.

While we can make judgment calls against another, the truth is that the Bible does give us the answer to what will happen next after death. It is our responsibility to tell others the dangers of what will come. There are only two choices. If our salvation is placed by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, then His Holy Spirit will have brought us to the point of repentance and we become a new creation in Christ Jesus. If not, then the price that will be paid is eternal damnation apart from Christ.

the end

2) It is a sad day when people get angry when a subject matter like suicide is spoken about. People tend to follow their emotions rather than the dictates of a clear conscience. What is worse is when Christians become so divisive that the world cannot clearly see Jesus Christ working in and through us. He alone is our hope and our guide, and it is to His Word that we must seek to find our answers.

3) This post is not intended to denigrate the reality of suicide, nor the causes of what brings a person to suicide. Further, it is not meant to belittle the pain of what a family goes through when suicide has been committed. Death is a tragic part of life but it is because of the fall in the Garden of Eden that death is a reality.

4) Suicide is a reality in just about every culture around the world. The church should be stepping up with help instead of hiding behind rocks and pretending it does not happen. Sadly, pastors are not prepared to offer help, guidance, and counsel because many do not have a solid view of Biblical principles. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that the Scriptures are good for all that pertains to life and godliness. Therefore, we must correctly believe that depression and suicide can be addressed from a biblical perspective.

Now, let me address suicide and it is our desire to do so from a Biblical perspective. Tragically, there is a great deal of misunderstanding among true believers about the matter of suicide. While I do not expect our readers to totally agree with me, it is my prayer that you will give my thoughts prayerful consideration. I do not want needless rants, but you are welcome to comment or share your thoughts. As always, we ask that if you do so that you follow our rules of engagement.

no hope

1) Suicide is mentioned in the Bible. We are told of seven different people who took their own lives (Judges 9:54; 16:29-31; 1 Sam. 31:3-6; 2 Sam. 17:23; 1 Kings 16:18; and Matt. 27:5). Of course, the two most famous were King Saul in the Old Testament and then Judas Iscariot in the New Testament. The why and how is not relevant to this blog post.

2) Any time that we act in a manner that is contrary to what God desires, it is sin. Therefore, we must conclude that suicide is sin. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and suicide is not a step of faith.

3) Because suicide is a sin, we must address what the Bible says about sin. Sin is a reality of the Fall. We are fallen creatures and our hearts and minds are totally set in contradiction to the holiness of God, unless we have been made a new creation in Christ.

4) Sadly, in the church, we have become very adept at classifying our sin according to our own perspectives instead of how God sees sin. It has become far too fashionable in Christendom to categorize sin into certain tiers. Lying on your tax return is not as bad as adultery. Lying to your kids about Santa Claus is not as bad as the couple who got divorced and remarried. Hating somebody who writes a blog is not as bad as the person who actually took their own life.

The biblical answer to life is that we must turn to Jesus Christ. We must see sin as He does and the penalty that must be endured for that sin. If He paid it all, then it is all to Him I owe because sin had left a crimson stain, but He washed it white as snow. The sobering alternative is that those who reject Christ will pay the ultimate penalty in everlasting punishment.

suicide-or-murder

5) Thus we must address another question. Can a murderer become a true believer in Christ? Further, can a true believer who takes his or her eyes off Christ respond in anger in such a way that murder is the result? Let’s go further. Christ said that if we even have hatred in our hearts, it is the same as murder.

If we had the opportunity to speak to somebody on death row, do we share with them the truth of God’s Word and His grace and forgiveness offered freely to all who will believe, or do we ask them first what type of murder they perpetrated and how they did it? Of course, any true bearer of good news would share the reality of grace and what Christ paid so we would not have to suffer the wrath of God the Father.

So, in order to share this truth we must ask another question. Is the sin of murder one of the sins that nailed Christ to the cross? The answer is unquestionably yes it was. Although, suicide is considered by many to be self-murder, it is still sin and it was still a sin nailed to the cross of Christ for all who believe.

6) Logically, we must then ask two more questions. 1) Can a person who is a Christian commit suicide? 2) Will a person who commits suicide go to heaven when they die?

The answer to both of these lay in what Christ did and not in what we have done, nor in what we deserve. Christ died for our sins almost 2,000 years ago and that means that all of our sins were in His future. Further, from before the foundations of the world, God set His love upon all who would believe and who would be brought to repent and confess their sin. This means that if you have ever truly come to Christ, every sin you have ever committed was PAID IN FULL on the cross of Calvary.

depresssed man

We have biblical injunction to assume that we can ever undo the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When He cried, “It is finished”, he meant that it was finished for all time. There would never be the need for another sacrifice for all who come by grace through faith alone to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This is important to correctly understand. A person who is TRULY a new creation in Christ cannot uncreate what God has created.

While I believe in eternal security of the believer, I do NOT believe that a person can do what they want, when they want, and remain in that sin if they are a true believer. If they are a brand new creation, they will be changed into the image of Jesus Christ. However, this does not mean that we cannot succumb to a particular sin with the exception of unbelief. I do not find any leeway in Scripture that shows a person who belongs to Christ can truly come to the point of unbelief in the saving work of Christ. This means that a person can be discouraged or in complete despair of their situation, but that never negates what Christ accomplished on Calvary.

7) The only sin that will ever take a person to hell is the sin of unbelief. God will not bring down the hammer of condemnation because a person is a drunkard, or a cheater, or a liar, or an adulterer, or even a murderer. Nobody will ever be able to say that God is unfair and He does not judge rightly, and the ultimate sin that brings that condemnation will be the rejection of Jesus Christ. Suicide is not a rejection of Jesus Christ, but a rejection of the life and circumstances that God has sovereignly placed in my path. Thus, if a person chooses to end their life, they have sinned but not a sin that I believe brings damnation to hell.

Let us consider a few more thoughts about suicide.

1) More times than not, suicide is the end result of depression. While we could address depression at length, let it be sufficient to say that one of the results of the fall is that our mind is not what God originally designed and created. DNA does not grow better, but it decreases with each person that is born.

This means there is a Biblical reason for mental illnesses no matter what kind it is. Our understanding of mental illness can often be skewed because we (the church) too often looks to worldly psychology instead of to the Word of God for appropriate answers.

2) Suicide is never to be an option. It is the ultimate act of selfishness against God and against those we love. Speak to a family who has gone through this and you will see the pain, grief, and shame that never goes away. Speak to the police officers, EMT workers, and funeral workers that grieve alone after the work of dealing with a suicide has been finished. Speak to the pastors and church members who struggle to know how to help a family pick up the pieces of the puzzle that have been irreversibly shattered.

3) The two greatest commandments given by Jesus Christ reiterate all that is found in the law and the prophets. First, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Second, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. There is not a third command that we must learn to love ourselves. It is automatically assumed and we do that very well.

By this simple understanding of the law, it is easy to follow that doing anything in our life that does not reflect these two commands must be sin and the result of sin. Therefore, because it does not reflect a love for God or for our neighbor, suicide is sin no matter why it is done.

So, what is the answer we can present to others or how do we help those who are weak in mind and body?

1) Suicidal thoughts can inhabit the mind, but Romans 12 reminds us that we are to renew our minds by being transformed. To be transformed, we cannot conform to the standards and precepts of the world. Further, in order to keep from conforming to the world, we must present our bodies a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to Jesus Christ.

2) The church needs to wake up to the reality that people’s mind are not being renewed. Thus, the church and pastors are failing to help provide care and love to those who are depressed or suffering from ailments that are the end result of the Fall. We must love those who are in our midst and recognize that it is not drugs that will give them freedom. It is not self-help or self-awareness classes that will bring ultimate relief. It is Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith and it is to Him that we must point others who are helpless and hopeless.

3) When tragedy strikes within the ranks of true believers, the true Church must be willing to render prayer and loving support. We must follow the dictates of Galatians 6 and help to bear one another’s burdens, for in so doing, we fulfill the law of Christ.

4) It is not up to us to second-guess what the state of a person’s mind may or may not have been when they took their own life. Only God knows both their heart and their mind. While we do not condone this or any other sin, we must use this to reinforce the reality of Christ and what He has done so that we will ultimately be free from the ravages of all sin.

5) In almost 8 years in the funeral industry, I also served as a chaplain in four different funeral homes. I conducted 272 funerals. I only knew two of these individuals. It was not my responsibility to preach people into hell who did not belong there, nor did I preach anybody into heaven who had not been forgiven for their sins. That was the responsibility of the Judge of the Universe. However, in times of grief, I was able to share the truths that I did here in this post. There is room at the cross for all who will but come and plead to God for mercy.

A passage to consider is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” On the surface, this paints a very bad picture for anybody who has practiced or indulged in such sins.

But Paul gives hope to the reader in the very next verse 11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is worth rejoicing over. Such people who committed such sins have been washed, sanctified, and justified. The power of salvation is not based on us or our reactions to emotions, feelings, or circumstances. As Jonah stated, Salvation belongs unto God. It is of Him, through Him, and because of Him alone.

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We want to make one thing abundantly clear. This blog post, nor my beliefs, are to be construed in any way that a person is free to take their own lives when God allows them to go through turmoil and discouragement. I am NOT, nor would I ever say that. Suicide is ALWAYS wrong and is always sin. The power of life and death must be left in the hands of God alone. Despair can bring a person to make decisions that are regrettable.

While I do believe a true believer may come to the point where they despair completely of life and choose to end that life, I also believe that such an action would bring loss of reward when standing before God. Ultimately, we must see our lives as Job did when his world crashed down around him in Job 23:10, “When he has tried me, I will come forth as gold.”

Suicide happens and will continue to happen because we are fallen creatures in a fallen world. Until Satan is completely destroyed and all things are made right, sin will reign in the hearts and lives of individuals all around the world. However, we are assured that by His death, burial, and resurrection that Christ is the ultimate victor over death, hell, sin, and the grave.

May our hearts be filled with love and understanding toward those who are hurting. May we not make assumptions about what the Scriptures give us no leeway to make. May we show Christ to a world that is in utter darkness. May we be a light to that dark world so that those in the world will see God in our lives and will ultimately glorify our Father who is in heaven.

May we have compassion and grace toward what we do not, may not, or cannot comprehend. And finally, may we be ever thankful for the forgiveness that is offered by Christ to all who will come by faith and realize that if it was not for grace – many of us would find ourselves doomed and lost in hell.

I want to conclude with one final thought. If you are considering taking your life, seek out somebody who knows and loves Christ. Don’t look to somebody who has no answers or wants to fill your head with the Oprah Winfrey or Joel Osteen type of drivel that sends people to hell. Let them share with you the joy that comes from being found in Christ alone. There is life after despair. There is hope after discouragement. There is love where you may only know hate.

The answer is found in Christ alone!

Part 2 – Complacency or Hypocritical?

***** – The title is a work in progress as the post actually deals with more than parents. For now, this is the second in the series started last week. – *****

ComplacenyToday, many who call themselves Christians have a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be a part of a church. Some within this demographic have merely relegated what church means to simply being part of a religious service an hour or so a week. Everything that needs to be done within that hour timeframe is what seems to have become church. We give a few dollars, sing a few hymns or praise songs, hear a prayer or two, and then listen to a message about God.

Rising from our comfortable seats, we mentally pat ourselves on the back and give God a high five for the privilege He gained in having our esteemed presence for another week. Going out the door, we collect our children and then wrongly assume that our week can finally begin now that the “God and church” thing has been checked off our weekly social calendar.

Sadly, the church-at-large has in recent decades done a very poor job of acting in a way that reflects to the world a commitment to sound Biblical doctrine and in a way that reflects to its members a foretaste of the glory and fellowship we will know in Heaven. Pastors and teachers have long failed in their calling and many even serve without a calling or an anointing from the King of kings. They are messengers in name only because it is certain that their message often bears little to no resemblance of the truth of Scripture.

While this article will not deal at length with the doctrine of ecclesiology (the church), it is important that we remember that the church is not the building where people congregate. The church is and can only be comprised of true born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. These believers are those whose faith is in Christ alone for their salvation and they have been brought to a point where they have confessed and repented of their sins which alienated them from the holy righteous God of the Universe.

If the church styles itself as being a place for the world, it will be required to do whatever is necessary to ingratiate itself to those who ultimately hate Christ due to the nature within them. The world will never love the true Church because Scripture is clear that it hates the Lord of the Church first.

The gathering of believers that wants to attract the world will soon be using plays, programs, ungodly music, more programs, skits, even more programs, and worst of all, preaching that is not preaching at all. It will be devoid of words like sin, hell, judgment, damnation, and the need for repentance. Instead, the average attender to a social club on Sunday morning will hear hip, cool, relevant sermonettes that will leave you feeling good about yourself but will not demand a change, nor will the sermonettes point you to the Sovereign God who demands our worship and praise be centered on Him.

So, leaving a service where God was not exalted and glorified, where worship was mostly absent, where true believers were not exhorted and built up in their faith, and where there has been practically no conviction of sin, parents leave to begin their next week. Nothing has changed from the week before, and the home front continues to look more and more like a battlefield than it does a home where the fruit of the Spirit reigns.

Many problems of a spiritual nature can often be traced to a lack of thorough Biblical instruction. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, “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 competent, equipped for every good work.” Thus, when the Scriptures are not adequately proclaimed from the pulpit as being from God then the results we currently see are to be expected. Poor orthodoxy (doctrine) will inevitably result in poor orthopraxy (Christian conduct).

It would be wrong though to leave the problems found in the home solely at the feet of the minister. He must proclaim the truth in love and with a great deal of mercy and compassion, but he cannot live out the necessities of the Christian life in all those who attend. As a minister, I am ultimately responsible for what I proclaim from the pulpit and also responsible for what is practiced in my home.

At the same time, parents who are true believers are responsible for what they allow to be taught to their children from the pulpit and also what they allow to be practiced in the home. True believers who desire the truth of God throughout every aspect of their life must learn to be a Berean Christian. These faithful men and women searched the Scriptures daily to make sure that what they were being taught truly was the inerrant and infallible Word of God.

While the breakdown between the pulpit and faithful exposition of the Scriptures is often too easily identified, what is not so easy to see is the breakdown in the home. The home is often a castle where we hide away from the world, and sadly, from other believers as well. Thus, there is a great lack of accountability and discipleship – until, that is, the wolf comes knocking on the door and parents wonder where it all went wrong. Divorce, rebellion, drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity outside of marriage is just as rampant inside the church as it is outside the church.

Yet, the problem is compounded when the church instead of acknowledging its sin and failure to be a true community of believers begins to shift the blame in every other direction. Therefore, when a person struggles through a particular sin in their life or in the lives of their family structure, the church is often nowhere to be seen. The individual or family often goes through their struggles alone and will normally fall away from the one place that should have been there for them all along.

The sad reality is that the church is often happy taking the offering and praise for one hour on a Sunday morning, but it remains conspicuously absent the remaining 167 hours of each week. How pathetic and tragic it is that this one hour is supposed to be a reflection of the joy of fellowship with Christ and His Bride that will be found in Heaven for all of eternity.

The true church of the living God has a very poor understanding of its role and responsibility towards one another, and outside of the church this has never been so evident than in the homes of those who claim the name of Christ. Our problems at home are often merely carried over to the church, and people wonder why they struggle to worship together more than one hour a week.

Believers must understand what is transpiring in the home in order to see why revival tarries and so many churches are operating as merely a business instead of a fellowship of believers that is a lighthouse to a dark, sin-filled world, and why there is no power or anointing from the Spirit of God.

If the connection between the true church and the home is this vital, then we need to consider why the church looks the way it does. If judgment is to begin in the church, then the warning must also include the truth that it is true believers who make up the church and therefore, by extension, judgment will surely hit us where we live, namely, in our homes.

(…to be continued.)

Important Article Regarding Mark Cahill

Recently, CARM published an article regarding evangelist Mark Cahill. This article was authored by my friend and mentor, Tony Miano, who has had direct interaction with Mr. Cahill. The article was written as a public rebuke of Mr. Cahill’s uncharitable and derogatory treatment of Christians who believe in the Doctrines of Grace. Mr. Cahill has been spoken to privately and publicly on several occasions regarding his unbiblical behavior, however, he continues to publicly decry those who believe in reformed doctrine, going so far as to even refer to them as worshipping a false god. Because of his continued unbiblical behavior, this article been written to caution Christians in their dealings with him.

The article was not written in an effort to be judgmental of Mr. Cahill, nor to decry his Arminian beliefs, rather it was written to caution the brethren in supporting him until such a time as he repents of his mistreatment of other Christians. Part of the article reads as follows:

“Throughout my conversation with Mark, I asserted that I do not believe Calvinists and Arminians worship different gods or believe different gospels. I assured him that so long as we agree we are saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (the Jesus of the Scriptures) we are brothers in Christ. I told Mark I would welcome the opportunity to evangelize the lost with him, and he was welcome atop my box to open-air preach, anytime. Sadly, by the end of our phone conversation, Mark would not affirm me as his brother in Christ. I repeatedly asked Mark if I was his brother in Christ. He refused to answer.

Sadly, Mark Cahill’s ongoing campaign to marginalize, vilify, and otherwise mistreat Calvinists has necessitated the writing of this article.

This article will document how, for more than two years, Mark Cahill has quietly and behind the scenes engaged in a campaign of misrepresentation, malignment, and malevolence toward Christians who ascribe to Calvinism and to those who associate with Calvinists. The timing of this article coincides with the recent publication of Mark Cahill’s new book, The Watchmen, in which he speaks disparagingly about Calvinism. It also coincides with the recent development of Mark speaking disparagingly about Calvinism during some of his recent public speaking engagements.”

I encourage the readers of this blog to go to the main article here and read it in it’s entirety.

I do wish to make the disclaimer now that this is not going to be an open forum to assault and argue the viewpoints of Calvinists and Arminians. This article is for the sole purpose of calling a Christian brother to repentance. Therefore, comments that are submitted which intend to do otherwise will not be allowed. Please read the CARM article and share it with others. And please be in prayer for Mark Cahill that he would repent of this behavior and be reconciled to his brethren. Thank you.

“Salvation MUST Be Evidenced by Works”–Who Said That??

You will be shocked–SHOCKED!!–at who was one of the earliest promoters of “Lordship Salvation”. That is, the fact that if one is a Christian, they will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and their lives will be marked by repentance and good works. Not works leading to salvation, but rather works springing from salvation.

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You must understand that there is only one door to salvation, and that is Christ; there is one way, and that is Christ; one truth, and that is Christ; one life, and that is Christ. Salvation lies in Jesus only; it does not lie in you, in your doings, or your feelings, or your knowings, or your resolutions. In Him all life and light for the sons of men are stored up by the mercy of God the Father. This may be one reason why you have not found the light; because you have sought it in the wrong place. Though the Lord has placed it on record in His Word, in the plainest language, that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16) yet most men in their hearts imagine that everlasting life is tied to duties and earned by service. You must abandon such vainglorious notions; you must come before God as a humble petitioner, pleading the promises of mercy, abhorring all idea of merit, confessing that if the Lord condemns you He has a right to do it, and if He saves you, it will be an act of pure gratuitous mercy, a deed of sovereign grace. Oh, too many of you hold your heads too high; to enter the lowly gate of light you must stoop. On the bended knee is the penitent’s true place. “God be merciful to me, a sinner’, is the penitent’s true place. If God should condemn you, you could never complain of injustice, for you could not accuse the Lord, for you have no right to be heard. He could righteously withhold an answer of peace if He so willed.

Confess that you are an undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinner and begin to pray as you have never prayed before. Cry out of the depth of self-abasement if you want to be heard. Come as a beggar, not as a creditor. Come to crave, not to demand. Use only this argument, “Lord, hear me, for you are gracious, and Jesus died; I cry to you as a condemned criminal. who seeks pardon. Deliver me from going down into the pit, that I may praise your name.” This harboring of a proud spirit, I fear, has been a great source of mischief with many, and if it has been so with you, amend it and go now with humble and contrite hearts, in lowliness and brokenness of spirit, to your Father whom you have offended, for he will surely accept you as his children. Your salvation does not depend upon what you do, but upon what Christ did when he offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin. All your salvation takes root in the death throes of Calvary; the great Substitute bore your sin and suffered its penalty. Your sin shall never destroy you if upon that bloody tree the Lord’s chosen High Priest made a full expiation for your sins; they shall not be laid against you any more forever. What you have to do is simply accept what Jesus has finished. I know your idea is that you are to bring something to him; but that vainglorious idea has ruined many, and will ruin many more. When you are brought empty-handed, made willing to accept a free and full salvation from the hand of the Crucified, then, and then only, will you will be saved.

-C.H. Spurgeon

1834-1892

John MacArthur on Mark Driscoll – Part 2

As a follow up to the original piece John MacArthur on Mark Driscoll there has been a flurry of recent activity on several fronts addressing what seems to be fast becoming a latter day Great Downgrade Controversy of sorts.

Recently Phil Johnson, director of Grace to You, editor of several of John MacArthur’s books, co-pastor of the Grace Life Pulpit at Grace Community Church, webmaster of The Spurgeon Archive, and blogmaster of Pyromaniacs preached a scathing Biblical indictment against the “pornification of the pulpit” entitled “Sound Doctrine, Sound Words” at the 2009 Shepherd’s Fellowship Conference.

Now Dr. John MacArthur has weighed in on this important and timely issue in a series of four articles entitled “THE RAPE OF SOLOMON’S SONG” which zeroes in on the gross, heinous, and wholly unbiblical perversion of scripture perpetrated by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

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