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The Works-Salvation Delusion

Author: T.A. McMahon
Source: The Berean Call

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come[s] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. -Galatians2:21

When we compare biblical Christianity with the religions of the world, using the Scriptures to guide us, we see that the gap between them is unbridgeable. In fact, one is forced to the conclusion that there are really only two religions in the world: biblical Christianity–and all other religions. (Note: I refer to biblical Christianity as a “religion” only for comparative purposes: a religion is a manmade belief system, whereas biblical Christianity is what God has revealed to mankind.)

These two “religions” are set apart primarily by what they teach about salvation–how one can get to heaven or paradise or Valhalla or Nirvana or the abode of God, or whatever else people believe about the afterlife. Each of the two can be placed under one of two categories: Human Achievement and Divine Accomplishment–or, to put it simply, the religions of “Do” and “Done.” I’m referring to the fact that either there are things you must do (Human Achievement) or there is nothing you can do because it has already been done (Divine Accomplishment) to earn entrance to heaven.

agape_love

Biblical Christianity alone comes under the heading of Divine Accomplishment. All the other religions of the world must be placed under the label of Human Achievement. Let’s first consider some of the major religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and certain denominations or cults that profess to be Christian.

Hinduism has about 330 million gods who must be appeased through some type of ritual. A couple of years ago I was given a tour of a massive Hindu temple just outside Chicago. The parking lot was filled with luxury cars. There was imported stonework from Italy. No expense was spared. Inside, doctors, lawyers, and engineers, among others, according to my guide, were serving meals to the idols, Hanuman, the monkey god, and Ganesha, the elephant god.

Hinduism is a system of works–things that one must do to reach moksha, the Hindu heaven. It involves the practice of yoga, which, contrary to what many have heard, has never been for improvement of one’s health but is rather a means of dying to one’s body in the hope of delivering oneself from the physical realm. This is supposed to yoke one to Brahman, the Supreme Deity of Hinduism. Reincarnation, a system that supposedly enables one to work one’s way to heaven through many births, deaths, and rebirths, is one of the teachings of this religion.

Buddhism is also all about works. Buddha believed that the key to reaching Nirvana, which is allegedly the state of perfect peace and happiness, is through an understanding of the Four Noble Truths and by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path.

In essence, the Four Noble Truths declare that we endure suffering because of our desires or cravings. These “Truths” claim that suffering will stop when we cease trying to fulfill those desires. According to Buddhism, we can achieve this by following the Noble Eightfold Path, which has the elements of “right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.” This is all done by man’s achievement, i.e., “doing things right” in order to reach Nirvana.

In Islam, paradise is attained when Allah weighs a follower’s good works against his bad deeds on a scale at Judgment Day. The Qur’an declares: “For those things that are good remove those that are evil” (Surah 11:114). It’s a quantitative process. Good deeds need to outweigh or blot out evil deeds. From the Qur’an again: “The balance that day will be true: Those whose scale [of good works] will be heavy, will prosper: Those whose scale will be light will find their souls in perdition” (Surah 7:8,9).

Here’s an interesting example of what a Muslim faces to get into paradise: On April 3, 1991, the Egyptian magazine, Akher Saa, recorded a heated debate between four female journalists and Sheik Doctor Abdu-Almonim Al-Nimr, who holds a high position at Al-Azher Islamic University. One of the journalists asked him: “Is the hijab [veil or head covering] obligatory for women in Islam? If I do not wear the hijab, shall I go to hell in spite of my other good deeds? I am talking about the decent woman who does not wear the hijab.”

Dr. Al-Nimr replied, “The ordinances in Islam are many, my daughter, Allah made us accountable to each. It means if you do that ordinance you earn a point. If you neglect one, you lose a point. If you pray, you earn a point; if you do not fast you lose a point, and so on.” He continued, “I did not invent a new theory…for every man there is a book in which all his good and evil deeds are recorded…even how do we treat our children.”

The journalist said: “That means, if I do not wear the hijab, I will not enter the hell fire without taking into account the rest of my good deeds.” Dr. Al-Nimr replied: “My daughter, no one knows who will enter the hell fire…I might be the first one to enter it. Caliph Abu-Bakr Al-Sadik said: ‘I have no trust concerning Allah’s schemes, even if one of my feet is inside of paradise who can determine which deed is acceptable and which is not.’ [See TBC, 10/91] You do all that you can do …and the accountability is with Allah. You ask him for acceptance [Italics added for emphasis].”

In Judaism, heaven is attained by keeping the Law and its ceremonies. Obviously, that isn’t consistent with what the Tanakh (the Old Testament) teaches, yet that has been the practice of Judaism for millennia. As Jesus said, “In vain they do worship [God], teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew:15:9).

His words also apply to a number of “Christian” denominations and cults that stress works as necessary for salvation. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, the Church of Christ adherents, Roman Catholics, Eastern and Russian Orthodox members, Lutherans, and many others all include something that needs to be accomplished or is necessary for salvation, whether it’s baptism, the sacraments, or joining their particular organization and fulfilling their requirements.

working_hard

Here is an example from the first 30 years of my own life as a Roman Catholic. I lived by a religious system of laws, many of which a Catholic is obligated to keep. It began with baptism. If one is not baptized, the Church says he can’t enter heaven. It also says that although baptism is required, it is no guarantee. There are many other such rules that a Catholic must keep.

I have a book in my office called the Code of Canon Law. It contains 1,752 laws, many of which affect one’s eternal destiny. Sins recognized by the Roman Catholic Church are classified as either mortal or venial. A mortal sin is one that damns a person to hell, should he or she die without having had it absolved by a priest. A venial sin doesn’t need to be confessed to a priest, but whether confessed or not, all sin adds to one’s temporal punishment, which must be expiated either here on earth through suffering or good works or else be purged in the flames of purgatory after one’s death.

There are obligations that a Catholic must fulfill regarding both beliefs and deeds. For example, one is required to believe that Mary was conceived without sin (an event called the Immaculate Conception). If a Catholic doesn’t believe that, he commits a mortal sin, which carries the penalty of eternal damnation. The feast day of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day of obligation, a day on which all Catholics are required to attend Mass. Failure to do so could result in commission of a mortal sin.

men_at_work

All the belief systems that I’ve mentioned, and many others as well, consist of doing or not doing certain things to reach “heaven.” All are based upon human achievement. But what about biblical Christianity? How is that different?

Ephesians:2:8-9 spells it out for us: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [salvation is] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast [emphasis added].” That’s pretty straightforward. Our salvation doesn’t have anything to do with our achievements.

Verse 8 tells us that it is by grace that we are saved. Grace is unmerited favor. If any merit is involved, it cannot be by grace. It’s the gift of God. So if it’s a gift, it can’t be of works. That should be obvious. Someone puts in a tough month of work and his employer comes to him with his paycheck and declares, “Good job, Joe, here’s your gift!” No–Joe worked for what he was paid. No gift was involved.

Regarding a person who works, Romans:4:4 tells us that his wages are a payment for the debt his employer owes him, and his paycheck has nothing to do with grace or a gift. A worker who has done a good job can boast or feel a sense of pride in the work he has accomplished. Yet all of that is contrary to grace or a gift. Grace rules out any sense of merit, and a gift does away with any sense of something earned or paid for.

Paul’s teaching in Ephesians is affirmed in his epistle to Titus, chapter 3, verse 4:

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [Emphasis added]

We can see that this is consistent with Ephesians:2:8-9 It’s not by our works that we are saved–not by works of righteousness that we have done –but it’s by His mercy that we are saved.

You may well imagine that, as a Roman Catholic conditioned by a life of Church rules and rituals, I had great difficulty believing that faith was the only basis by which I could enter heaven. It didn’t make sense to me.

Well, not only does it make sense–it’s the only possible way anyone can be saved. It is miraculously sensible!

First of all, what keeps anyone from heaven or eternal life with God? We know that the answer is “sin.” Here is a small sampling of the applicable verses: All have sinned (Romans:3:23); the wages of sin is death (Romans:6:23); sin separates us from God (Isaiah:59:2); the soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel:18:20); sin brings forth death (James:1:15).

In Genesis 2, God explains to Adam the consequences of disobeying Him. Adam was told not to eat from a certain fruit in the Garden of Eden. It was a commandment that was related to obedience and love–not of God’s withholding something from Adam, as the Serpent implied. Remember, Jesus said “If a man love me, he will keep my words,” that is, His teachings (John:14:23). Our love for God is demonstrated by our obedience.

What was God’s penalty for disobedience? Genesis:2:17: “…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Adam and Eve loved themselves more than they loved God, because they didn’t “keep [His] words.” They disobeyed Him, and the consequence was death. “The day you eat of it you will surely die.” In the Scriptures, death always involves separation, and in God’s judgment upon them, two applications are found:
1) physical death (the degeneration of the body, leading ultimately to its separation from the soul and spirit), and
2) eternal separation from God.

salvation_chart1

Adam and Eve did not die instantly, but the death process began at that point for them and for all creation. However, their spiritual relationship with God changed immediately and forever. God’s judgment for sin is eternal: separation from God forever. It’s an infinite penalty. And God, who is perfect in all of His attributes, including justice, had to carry out the punishment. He couldn’t let them slide by and just give them another chance. That would have meant that He was not perfectly true to His Word. The penalty had to be paid.

So what could Adam and Eve do? Nothing, except die physically and spiritually, which is to be separated from God forever. And what can the rest of mankind do, seeing that all have sinned? Nothing. Well, one might ask, what if we do all sorts of good deeds that might outweigh our sins, or if we go to church a lot, or get baptized, do religious things, receive the sacraments, and so forth? None of those things will help us. Why? Because they don’t pay the penalty. So what can we do? There is nothing that we can do-except to pay the penalty ourselves by being separated from God forever.

salvation_chart2

Our situation would be absolutely hopeless except that God has some other attributes in addition to being perfectly just. He is also perfect in love and mercy! “For God so loved the world” that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the penalty for us (John:3:16).

And that is exactly what Jesus did on the Cross. It is incomprehensible to us that during those three hours of darkness (when He cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”) He took on the sins of the world and suffered the wrath of His Father-for us. On the Cross He “tasted death for every man” (Hebrews:2:9), that is, He experienced and paid the infinite penalty for everyone’s sins.

When that divine accomplishment ended, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” meaning that the penalty had been paid in full. It was a divine accomplishment because it was something that only God could do! God became a man and died physically, because physical death was part of the penalty. Yet, as the God-Man, he was able to experience fully the penalty that every sinner would experience–being spiritually separated from God forever.

salvation_chart3

God’s justice demands payment. Either we pay the penalty ourselves or we turn to Jesus by faith and receive the benefits of His sacrificial atonement. What does Roman 6:23 say? “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Bible could not be more clear that salvation can only be “the gift of God” and that we can only appropriate that gift by faith.

romans_3_22

Any attempt to merit salvation by our works is not just futile–it is impossible: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James:2:10). Worse yet, it is a denial of the infinite penalty that God imposed, a rejection of God’s “unspeakable gift,” and a repudiation of what Christ accomplished for us.

It used to be that most evangelicals would agree. This is no longer the case as the apostasy gathers momentum in these Last Days. Recently, a Pew Forum survey of more than 40,000 Americans found that 57 percent of those who said they were evangelicals believed that Jesus is not the exclusive way to heaven. Since Jesus is the only one who provides divine accomplishment, all that remains is the futile delusion of human achievement for salvation. TBC

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Salvation (for Richmond VA) (ONE WAY)
Is One Way the Only Way? (Orble.com)

 

Reblogged from http://pilgrimpassing.com/2013/01/20/are-we-saved-by-works-or-faith/

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GOD’S WONDERFUL PLAN OF SALVATION

Salvation, Atonement, and Redemption (It’s not that complicated!)

Author: Vlad Petrusevich

Source: BibleViews.com

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

The Bible is the word of God, the everlasting Truth. It contains the account of creation, man’s disobedience to God, and the agony which came upon man because of sin. It also tells us of God’s love for man in making a plan to redeem him. It tells of a Savior who was born, who died for man’s sin, and was raised from death for his [man’s] justification. Whosoever believes its message may have forgiveness of sins, peace of mind, love for all men, power over sin, and a living hope of eternal life. SALVATION IS GOD’S FREE GIFT TO MAN.

The Word of God

GOD’S WONDERFUL CREATION

Long, long ago there was no world at all. But God has always been. God, the Creator, is everywhere, is almighty, and all wise. By His spoken word all things were created in perfection. God said, “Let the dry land appear,” and it was so. He created the hills and valleys covered with grass, beautiful flowers, and trees of every kind. He created the fowl, and the birds which sing so many different songs. God created all the animals, great and small, who roam the lands, as well as the small insects and reptiles that live on and in the ground. He created the lakes and oceans for the dwelling place of the fish and all water creatures. He made the continents on which the people of every nation could live. God made the moon to give light at night, and He decked the sky with thousands of beautiful, twinkling stars. last of all God formed man from the dust of the earth. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul. God called him Adam.

Seeing that Adam needed a helper, He caused him to fall into a deep sleep. Then taking a rib from him, God formed a woman with it, and brought her to Adam. Adam knew that Eve was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and he loved her. Eve loved Adam too. They had sweet fellowship with each other. This is God’s plan for a family unit. God created everything in six days, and on the seventh day He rested. He looked upon everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. So God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it as a day of rest for man. God wanted Adam and Eve and all of their descendants to have a day of rest every week, that they might think and talk about God and all His wonderful creation. This would help them to love and obey Him.

The Bible also tells us of a fallen angel called Satan, or the devil. He was cast out of Heaven upon the earth and he is the source of all evil. Because of him sorrow, suffering, sickness, and death came into the world.

THE TRAGIC BEGINNING OF SIN

God loved Adam and Eve. He made a beautiful garden for them to live in. It was called the garden of Eden. Adam was to take care of it. In this garden were many kinds of vegetables and fruit trees for them to eat from. There was one tree called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam that he should not eat of this tree, for in the day that he would eat thereof, he would surely die. One day Satan came to Eve and told her a lie. He said, “Ye shall not surely die . . . ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

garden_of_eden

As she looked upon the tree with it’s beautiful fruit, she thought it must be good for food, and eating of it would bring wisdom. So she took some fruit and gave also to Adam, they both did eat of it. Immediately they felt very strange in their hearts. They had never felt this way before. They knew now that they had done something very wrong. They were both ashamed of themselves as they thought of their disobedience. Fear came into their hearts as they thought of meeting God. So they hid themselves among the trees of the garden.

In the cool of the day God called Adam and said, “Where art thou?” They could not be hid from God, so they came into His presence and acknowledged their wrongdoing. God caused them to understand what a great sin it was to disobey His command. He told them that both must be punished according to their evil deeds. They would now have to suffer pain and trouble all the days of their lives. They would now have to work hard for their living. Their bodies would become old and worn out. They would die and return to dust again.

As they were driven from this beautiful garden, God placed Cherubims at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life. They began to understand what it meant to sin and what great sorrow it brings.

THE SAD RESULT OF SINNING

Adam and Eve were very sorry for their sin of disobeying God. God still loved them, and made them coats of skins, and clothed them. He gave them the promise of a Savior who would come some day to bruise the serpent’s head.

The first two sons born to Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel. They brought an offering unto the Lord. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground. Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock. This lamb’s blood was shed, and was a type of the promised Redeemer who, many years later, came as the lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus died as an innocent lamb on the cross for our sins. Abel’s sacrifice pleased God, but God was not pleased with Cain nor his offering.

We must not neglect to do what God wants us to do. We now have His Spirit and Word which teach us how to live and what His will is for us.

cain_and_abel

When Cain noticed that God was pleased with Abel and with his offering, but not with his, envy and hatred toward Abel entered his heart. Then one day as they were together in the field, Cain rose up and killed his brother Abel. God spoke to Cain and said, “Where is Abel thy brother?” Cain did not like to tell the truth, so he said, “I know not: Am I my brothers keeper?” Cain had not been obedient in following the Lord’s instructions. God had warned him before he killed Abel. He told Cain that if he would do well he would be accepted, but if not, sin was lying at the door. How much better it would have been had he corrected his attitude and loved his brother. Now his brother’s blood was calling to God from the ground. Cain was cast out from the presence of the lord and society. He became a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth.

GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS SON

“For unto you is born this day… a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

After Abel was dead and Cain had gone away from home, Adam and Eve had another son. His name was Seth. He grew up to be a good man. God blessed his descendants with many godly leaders, kings, and prophets, who heard and believed God’s wonderful promises of a Savior who would someday be born. Abraham, especially, believed God; for which he was called the friend of God. He was told that through him and his descendants all the families of the earth would be blessed.

birth_of_Christ

Many hundreds of years later God fulfilled the promise He had made of sending a Savior to the world. It happened, in a supernatural way, in the little town of Bethlehem of Judea. There In a stable, a babe was born to Mary; who was a virgin. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. (Read Luke 2:1-7). An angel told Mary that the baby’s name was to be called Jesus (meaning Savior). He was to become a great leader who would teach the people many things about God. Jesus grew up much like other children. He was loved and favored by many. At the age of twelve He was wiser in the word of God than many doctors and lawyers of Jerusalem. He seemed to know all about the law and prophets. No one could ask Him a question that He could not answer. He had great interest in the religious activities of His people. When He was about thirty years old, He took part in religious services. Once He read an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah. When He had finished reading, He said to the people, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” He taught the people as one having authority. He preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand, and that repentance was necessary for entrance into the Kingdom. He taught people to worship God in humility and sincerity–from the heart. He rebuked the proud and unbelieving people of their sins, and preached the Gospel of love to the poor and needy.

JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEATH

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and life: He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall live” (John 11:25).

Jesus did many miracles, proving to the people that He was the promised Savior sent from God. He healed the sick, made the blind to see, caused the deaf to hear, cast out devils and raised the dead to life. Once He walked on the water and calmed the stormy sea by His words. His words spoken to a fig tree were so powerful, that it was found dried up from the roots the next day. At one time He fed more than five thousand hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fishes. when all had enough to eat, there remained twelve baskets full. Fishermen caught large numbers of fish when nets were cast at His command. One day Jesus met ten lepers who had heard of His fame. They cried, “Master have mercy on us.” At His command they were cleansed.

Large crowds followed Jesus daily, whether He was in town, traveling in the roads, or in the hilly country. The people felt blessed who heard “the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” Some said, “Never man spake like this man”. Others were amazed and glorified God saying “We never saw it on this fashion.”

He began to tell the people that He was the Son of God, and that God was His Father. All who believed His words were made happy. He told those who believed, that they were children of God. Jesus said to His disciples, ““I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also“. (John 14:2-3). (This place in Heaven is for all true Christians).

“Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS

“When they were come to Calvary, there they crucified him” (Luke 23:33).

The scribes and Pharisees were greatly annoyed at Jesus and His teaching. He had often reproved them for their honor seeking in religion and unlawful money-making practices. They were very jealous and envious of Jesus, because so many people believed in Him, followed Him, and praised Him. They feared that the people might make Jesus their king.

They tried to make Jesus say or do things that would cause the people to lose faith in Him, but Jesus was too wise for them. They were not able to find occasion to accuse Jesus to the common people. Their hatred and anger grew as Jesus’ popularity continued to increase. Their ill will and hatred toward Jesus became so great that they made plans to put Him to death.

They took Jesus to court and charged Him as an evildoer and trouble maker in the community. They brought many false charges against Jesus. Then they took Him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea. Pilate could find no fault in Him, so Pilate was going to release Jesus and set Him free. But the accusers of Jesus turned into a mad mob and cried, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” When Pilate heard their angry cries and threats, he gave in to their demands and turned Jesus over to them. They took Jesus and put a crown of thorns on His head and a rod in His hand. In mockery they called Him king. They spit in His face and beat Him cruelly. They finally nailed Him to the cross and left Him there to die.

Calvary

 

Jesus was put to death just as the innocent lamb that Abel offered on an altar hundreds of years before. Abel had offered his lamb as a type of the lamb of God who would die for the sin of the world. Many prophets of old had likewise foretold of Jesus’ suffering and death. John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”, (John 1:29). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Salvation

JESUS AROSE FROM THE DEAD TO SET US FREE

“He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:6).

The third day after the death and burial of Jesus, very early, upon the first day of the week, several women came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. They were surprised to find the tomb empty. The body of Jesus was not there. Their hearts were troubled. Then, suddenly, two angels stood by them in shining garments. They said, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen”. (Luke 24:5,6) Upon this they quickly went back to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. The disciples could not believe their story. So Peter and John went to investigate for themselves. They, too, found the tomb empty and as they entered they saw the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that had been wrapped about Jesus’ head neatly folded as if by gentle hands, placed separately. When they saw these things they believed the story of the women. In the evening of the same day the disciples were together behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Then Jesus suddenly stood in the midst of them and said, “Peace be unto you“. He showed them His pierced hands and side that they might believe. When they saw the lord they were glad and believed that He was the same Jesus who had been crucified and that He had risen from the dead. After this Jesus showed Himself to many people as full proof of His resurrection.

He_is_alive!

This bright morning when Jesus arose from the dead is still the most glorious day in all history. For on this day, God’s wonderful plan of Salvation was completed. Now all who receive Jesus into their hearts, even though they die and are buried, shall resurrect and live forever in Heaven. Jesus said, “Because I live, ye shall live also“(John14:19).
This wonderful plan of salvation is made effective by faith alone, to all who believe that Jesus Christ is God, in His sin-atoning death, and in His literal, physical resurrection.

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead. thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Dear Reader: Have you enjoyed reading this absolutely truthful and impressive account of life and death? God is speaking to your heart. What is your response? Will you repent and believe the Gospel? If you surrender to God you will receive a love for righteousness and power over your sin. You will also want to witness to others of what the Lord has done for you. The Scriptures tell us in Romans 10:11 that no one who believes in Jesus Christ shall be ashamed.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Do not delay. Come to Jesus today.

Repent

The text of this tract is Vlad Petrusevich’s adoption of Leland M. Haines’ writings.

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May God’s grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.

 REBLOGGED FROM:http://pilgrimpassing.com/2013/01/22/salvation-atonement-and-redemption-its-not-that-complicated/#comment-825

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ARE YOU ASLEEP?

Author: J.C. Ryle
Source: SermonIndex.net

“Awake thou that sleepest.”-Eph. 5:14

Sleeping Soldier

I put before you now a simple question. Look through the pages of this paper and you will soon see why I ask it. “Are you asleep about your soul?”
There are many who have the name of Christians, but not the character which should go with the name. God is not King of their hearts. They mind earthly things.
Such persons are often quick and clever about the affairs of this life. They are, many of them, good men of business, good at their daily work, good masters, good servants, good neighbors, good subjects of the Queen: all this I fully allow. But it is the eternal part of them that I speak of; it is their never dying souls. And about that, if a man may judge by the little they do for it, they are careless, thoughtless, reckless, and unconcerned. They are asleep.
I do not say that God and salvation are subjects that never come across their minds: but this I say,—they have not the uppermost place there. Neither do I say that they are all alike in their lives; some of them doubtless go further in sin than others: but this I say,—they have all turned every one to his own way, and that way is not God’s. I know no rule by which to judge of a man’s estate but the Bible. Now when I look at the Bible I can come to only one conclusion about these people: they are asleep about their souls.

These people do not see the sinfulness of sin, and their own lost condition by nature. They appear to make light of breaking God’s commandments, and to care little whether they live according to His law or not. Yet God says that sin is the transgression of the law,—that His commandment is exceeding broad,—that every imagination of the natural heart is evil,—that sin is the thing He cannot bear, He hates it,—that the wages of sin is death, and the soul that sinneth shall die. Surely they are asleep.
Is this the state of your soul? Remember my question.

ARE YOU ASLEEP?

These people do not see their need of a Saviour. They appear to think it an easy matter to get to heaven, and that God will of course be merciful to them at last, some way or other, though they do not exactly know how. Yet God says that He is just and holy, and never changes,—that Christ is the only way, and none can come unto the Father but by Him,—that without His blood there can be no forgiveness of sin,—that a man without Christ is a man without hope,—that those who would be saved must believe on Jesus and come to Him, and that he who believeth not shall he damned. Surely they are asleep!
Once more I say, is this the state of your soul?
Remember my question.

ARE YOU ASLEEP?

These people do not see the necessity of holiness. They appear to think it quite enough to go on as others do, and live like their neighbors. And as for praying and Bible-reading, making conscience of words and actions, studying truthfulness and gentleness, humility and charity, and keeping separate from the world, they are things they do not seem to value at all. Yet God says that without holiness no man shall see the Lord,—that there shall enter into heaven nothing that defileth,—that His people must be a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Surely they are asleep!
Once more I say, is this the state of your soul? Remember my question.

ARE YOU ASLEEP?

Worst of all, these people do not appear to feel their danger. They walk on with their eyes shut, and seem not to know that the end of their path is hell. Some dreamers fancy that they are rich when they are poor, or full when they are hungry, or well when they are sick, and awake to find it all a mistake. And this is the way that many dream about their souls. They flatter themselves they will have peace, and there will be no peace; they fancy that they are all right, and in truth they will find that they are all wrong. Surely they are asleep!
Once more I say, is this the state of your soul? Remember my question.

Sleeping Guard

ARE YOU ASLEEP?

If conscience pricks you, and tells you you are yet asleep, what can I say to arouse you? Your soul is in awful peril. Without a mighty change it will be lost. When shall that change once be?
You are dying, and not ready to depart,—you are going to be judged, and not prepared to meet God,—your sins are not forgiven,—your person is not justified,—your heart is not renewed. Heaven itself would be no happiness to you if you got there, for the Lord of heaven is not your friend: what pleases Him does not please you; what He dislikes gives you no pain. His word is not your counsellor; His day is not your delight; His law is not your guide. You care little for hearing of Him: you know nothing of speaking with Him. To be forever in His company would be a thing you could not endure; and the society of saints and angels would he a weariness, and not a joy. At the rate you live at, the Bible might never have been written, and Christ might never have died, the Apostles were foolish, the New Testament Christians madmen, and the salvation of the Gospel a needless thing. Oh, awake! and sleep no more.
Think not to say you cannot believe your case is so bad, or the danger so great, or God so particular. I answer,—the devil has been putting this lying delusion into people’s hearts for nearly six thousand years. It has been his grand snare ever since the day he said to Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” Do not be so weak as to be taken in by it. God never failed yet to punish sin, and He never will: He never failed to make His word good, and you will find this to your cost, one day, except you repent. Reader, awake: awake!
Think not to say you are a member of Christ’s Church, and therefore feel no doubt you are as good a Christian as others. I answer,—this will only make your case worse, if you have nothing else to plead. You may he written down and registered among God’s people: you may be reckoned in the number of saints; you may sit for years under the sound of the Gospel; you may use holy forms and even come to the Lord’s table at regular seasons; and still, with all this, unless sin be hateful, and Christ precious, and your heart a temple of the Holy Ghost, you will prove in the end no better than a lost soul. A holy calling will never save an unholy man. Reader, awake: awake!
Think not to say you have been baptized, and so feel confident you are born of God, and have His grace within you. I answer,—you have none of the marks which St. John has told me, in his first epistle, distinguish such a person. I do not see you confessing that Jesus is the Christ, overcoming the world,—not committing sin,—loving your brother,—doing righteousness,—keeping yourself from the wicked one. How then can I believe that you are born of God? If God were your Father, you would love Christ: if you were God’s son, you would be led by His Spirit. I want stronger evidences. Show me some repentance and faith; show me a life hid with Christ in God; show me a spiritual and sanctified conversation: these are the fruits I want to see, if I am to believe you have the root of the matter in you, and are a living branch of the true vine. But without these your baptism will only add to your condemnation. Reader, awake: awake!
I speak strongly, because I feel deeply. Time is too short, life is too uncertain, to allow of standing on ceremony. At the risk of offending, I use great plainness of speech. I cannot bear the thought of hearing you condemned in the great day of assize; of seeing your face in the crowd on God’s left hand, among those who are helpless, hopeless, and beyond the reach of mercy. I cannot bear such thoughts,—they grieve me to the heart. Before the day of grace is past, and the day of vengeance begins, I call upon you to open your eyes and repent. Oh, consider your ways and be wise. Awake: awake! Why will ye die?
This day, as the ambassador of Christ, I pray you to be reconciled to God. The Lord Jesus who came into the world to save sinners,—Jesus the appointed Mediator between God and man,—Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us,—Jesus sends you a message of peace: He says, “Come unto Me.”
“Come is a precious word indeed, and ought to draw you. You have sinned against heaven: heaven has not sinned against you. Yet see how the first step towards peace is on heaven’s side. It is the Lord’s message: “Come unto Me.”
“Come” is a word of merciful invitation. Does not the Lord Jesus seem to say, “Sinner, I am waiting for you: I am not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth. I would have all men saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Judgment is my strange work,—l delight in mercy. I offer the water of life to every one who will take it. I stand at the door of your heart and knock. For long time I have spread out my hands to you. I wait to be gracious. There is yet room in my Father’s house. My long-suffering waits for more of the children of men to come to the mercy-seat before the last trumpet is blown,—for more wanderers to return before the door is closed for ever. Oh, sinner, come to Me!”
Come” is a word of promise and encouragement. Does not the Lord Jesus seem to say, “Sinner, I have gifts ready for you: I have something of everlasting importance to bestow upon your soul. I have received gifts for men, even for the rebellious. I have a free pardon for the most ungodly,—a full fountain for the most unclean,—a white garment for the most defiled,—a new heart for the most hardened,—healing for the broken-hearted,—rest for the heavy-laden, joy for those that mourn. Oh, sinner, it is not for nothing that I invite you! All things are ready. Come: come unto Me.”
Hear the voice of the Son of God. See that you refuse not Him that speaketh. Come away from sin, which can never give you real pleasure, and will be bitter at the last; come out from a world which will never satisfy you: come unto Christ! Come, with all your sins, however many and however great,—however far you may have gone from God, and however provoking your conduct may have been. Come as you are: unfit, unmeet, unprepared as you may think yourself,—you will gain no fitness by delay. Come at once: come to the Lord Jesus Christ!
How indeed shall you escape if you neglect so great salvation? Where will you appear if you make light of the blood of Christ, and do despite to the Spirit of grace? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, but never so fearful as when men fall from under the Gospel. The saddest road to hell is that which runs under the pulpit, past the Bible, and through the midst of warnings and invitations. Oh, beware, lest like Israel at Kadesh, you mourn over your mistake when it is too late; or, like Judas Iscariot, find out your sin when there is no space for repentance.
Arise, and call upon the Lord. Be not like Esau: sell not eternal blessings for the things of today. Surely the time past may suffice you to have been careless and prayerless, Godless and Christless, worldly and earthly-minded. Surely the time to come may be given to your soul.
Pray, I beseech you, that you may be enabled to put off the old ways and the old habits, and that you may become a new man. I yield to none in wishes for your happiness, and my best wish is that you may be made a new creature in Christ Jesus. This is a better thing than riches, or health, or honour, or learning. A man may get to heaven without these, but he cannot get there without conversion. Verily if you die without having been born again you had far better never have been born at all. No man really lives till he lives unto God.
I leave my question with you. The Lord grant that it may prove a word in season to your soul. My heart’s desire and prayer to God is that you may be saved. Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Arise, O sleeper and call upon God. There is yet hope. Forsake not thy mercies. Do not lose thine own soul.


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When I was young….

“When I was young I was sure of many things; Now there are only two things of which I am sure: One is, I am a miserable sinner; and the other, that Christ is an all sufficient Savior. He is well taught who learns these two lessons”- John Newton-TWO THINGS , former 18th century slave trader and the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”

 

Reblogged fromhttp://chiefofleast.com/2012/11/27/when-i-was-young/

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RELIGION OR FAITH

Religie sau credinta?

Video in limba engleza cu traducere,

vizionat de milioane de oameni

http://youtu.be/1d1GS4CJk1w

Published on Sep 29, 2012 by

http://parereataconteaza1.wordpress.com

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How to Discern – Part 1

by Anton Bosch

How to Smell a Rat

A toddler will eat anything. It does not matter if it is nutritious or poison, it has no ability to discern between food and poison.

As Christians mature in the faith they should learn to discern between spiritual poison and spiritual food. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). The problem is that the vast majority of modern-day “Christians” are either not born again or have been kept in a perpetual state of babyhood, and are thus unable to discern the difference between truth and error. Because of this, and because we have a new generation of church-goers who do not know the Bible, false teachers have multiplied, and millions believe anything these preachers say.

Discriminating between truth and error is really not that difficult as long as we abide by a few basic principles. The first of these is that truth is absolute. I use the term “absolute” as the opposite of “relative.” For most people – Christian and non-Christian – truth is relative. We hear:

“Truth is relative to one’s own experience, background, culture and environment.”

“What is true for one person may not be true for someone else.”

“What was true in Jesus’ day or a hundred years ago, is not necessarily true today.”

“What is true in the jungles of Africa is not true in the concrete jungles of America.”

But truth is absolute. It is unchanging and it is equally true in every time, culture, or environment. God’s truth does not change or have a different meaning in a different environment.

What is truth? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6). The Truth is first a person – Jesus Christ. His Word is Truth. Jesus said: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17). Truth, the Person, never changes: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Truth, the Word, never changes. “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19).

The second principle is that the Bible is complete. Many people think that God continues to give new revelation through prophets, preachers and visions. But that is a lie from Hell to move people away from the foundation of the Word. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son….” Note that God has spoken. The Greek is very specific, this is past and complete. God does not continue to speak. Yes, we refer to “God speaking to us,” but what we actually mean is that God is reminding us of what He had already said in His Word. Jude 3 says: “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” This translation is accurate in that the faith was delivered once and for all (eternity). It is not continually being delivered.

Theologians speak of “progressive revelation.” Unfortunately some preachers do not understand what the term means and assume that it means that God is continually revealing more and more of Himself. No. He gave us the whole revelation in Jesus Christ which has been written down in the form of the New Testament, and that’s it. The next time we will get any more information is when we see Him face to face. We can be absolutely sure that there is no further revelation between the Revelation given to John and the revelation of Jesus at His return.

Anyone who claims to have additional information that is not contained in the 66 books is a charlatan and a heretic. In fact, the Bible several times pronounces a curse on any who add to, or subtract from God’s Word. (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Matthew 15:6-13, Revelation 22:18). If a preacher is willing to subtract or change the smallest part of the Bible (a jot or tittle), then you need to be careful. If he will subtract in one area, he is capable of subtracting or adding in other areas. Once you undermine the smallest part of the Bible, then you may as well throw the whole thing out.

The third principle is that God does not change His mind. What God has said is forever established and will never be altered in any way. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). (Settled means established, firm and unchanging.) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good” (Numbers 23:19). So, to suggest that God has a different plan for people today to what He described in His Word, or that He changed His mind, or that He is making up His plans as He goes along makes God a liar and a man. He is neither. His plans were established from before the foundation of the earth. He knew all the twists and turns that man and history would take from the beginning. He does not adjust or tweak his purpose as time unfolds.

If we can accept that God has no other plan, purpose or will for us than which is revealed in the Bible, and that any deviation from it in deed, word or principle is heresy, we will easily be able to recognize most of the error that goes around.

Don’t be fooled when men tell you that only the educated can understand the Bible. We can all understand it. It does not matter how clever the argument is presented. If its conclusion is contrary to the plain teaching of the Bible, it is error. BUT there are a few simple rules that we must apply when we interpret the Scriptures. It is often these rules that are broken in order to arrive at a teaching which is erroneous. I know that not everybody knows these rules or how to apply them. But every believer who faithfully reads his Bible will know enough to smell a rat and to be on guard.

I believe that no one can get into error by simply believing and practicing the Bible. God gives us enough information for each stage of our growth to protect us. Eve did not know the whole counsel of God, but she knew that God had forbidden eating of the tree. But, she got into trouble when she listened to the Devil’s version of what God had said. If only she had stuck to the simple truth God had given her, she would have been safe.

Every believer can ask this easy question: “Show me where it says so in the Bible.” If the teacher cannot do so, or has to contort your mind or the Scriptures to get a square verse to fit into a round hole, then run for your life – he is dangerous.

God’s word is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It enlightens and leads us. It does not bring us into darkness, confuse or mislead us. Trust His Word and if man contradicts His word “let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

How to Discern – Part 2

How to Understand the Bible

Many people will agree that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. The problem however is often how it is interpreted. How can we be sure that our understanding is the right one?

In discerning truth from error, we must begin by understanding Truth for ourselves. Many people try to discover the Truth by analyzing and dissecting error. You simply cannot do that. It is like someone trying to drive a car by looking only in the rearview mirror while trying to move forward. You cannot see where you are going by looking where others have gone wrong. So before we try to judge error or someone else’s doctrine, we need to be sure about what we believe. I agree, that many are prompted by the rise of some error to study truth. But, if you want to learn the truth on some matter, you will only learn it by studying the Bible, not by studying the mistakes of others. So what must I do to understand?

First I must ask God for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). The same Spirit Who inspired the men to write the Bible (2Timothy 3:16, 1Peter 1:21), is available to help us understand what is written. The Bible is not an academic book which can be studied in an intellectual way only. Yes, the Bible is logically sound and intellectually deep, but it is primarily a spiritual book in which God speaks to His people. And His Spirit will lead, guide and counsel us so we may come “into all truth” (John 16:13). Studying the Bible is both an academic and spiritual exercise. Read it in a “spiritual” way without applying sound reasoning and you will not discover the Truth. But study it as academic literature without the Spirit’s help and you will most certainly end in error. Pray David’s prayer: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).

Second, the reader must be in a right relationship with the Lord. When we are disobedient, in habitual sin or rebellion, we will always read into the Bible what we want it to say. This is the most dangerous way of handling the Word of God. Countless errors have been “discovered” when the reader looked into the Bible for justification for his disobedience or sin. If the Lord has been convicting you about something, you must be obedient to Him first else your reading will always be distorted and you will not see clearly. David was able to say “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (Psalm 119:100). Obedience leads to understanding, disobedience leads to error.

Third, we must be open and willing to change our views if they are proven to be wrong. When our prejudice or preconceived ideas overwhelm sound thinking, we will inevitably end with a distorted view of Scripture. We grossly underestimate the power of tradition and preconceived ideas to keep us from discovering the truth. Our traditions invariably are a filter through which we read and which colors the teaching of the Bible. Just think about the word “church.” Every person who reads has an established view of what that word means, even before they begin to read and so when one reads, he sees the Roman Church, or one of a thousand denominations. Others see a building of a particular shape while others see two or three believers agreed and in the name of Jesus. The same word – many different meanings – but only one can be right!

Paul says: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2Corinthians 3:18). By “unveiled face” he was referring to the veil which Israel put over Moses’ face to filter the glory of God’s revelation and to deliver it in a form with which they were comfortable. But we must come to the Word without a veil or filter. We need to be willing to be open-faced in order to absorb the full impact of God’s revelation. The same revelation transformed Moses and blinded Israel. Come to the Word with an open face and it will transform you. Try to veil, limit or modify it and it will blind you (2Corinthinas 3:14).

Sometimes we actually need to suspend what we believe on a particular subject while we do an in-depth study of God’s Word on it. If we don’t do so, we may continue to build on bad foundations. I have found it invaluable, at different times in my life, to actively put all my experience, training and tradition on hold while I seek to understand some aspect afresh. Only the fool keeps going down the wrong road without checking from time-to-time if he is indeed on the right way. Even Paul felt the need to check (Galatians 2:2).

Fourth, we must turn to the Bible first. Many people will turn to their pastor, guru, commentary or Internet before going to the Bible. (Some will only go to these sources and never get to the Bible). If we go to any source outside the Bible first, it will invariably color and bias or thinking, more than it already is. In order to understand a particular subject, you need to enlist the aid of a concordance (preferably computerized) and search for every part of the Bible that speaks to that subject. Then you need to read those sections – not just the verses, but the entire passages. Note down the ones that make a specific point. Only once you have read the whole Bible (Old and New Testaments) on a particular subject, and have collated all the information, can you begin to come to some conclusions. Only after having searched the Scriptures, and have come to some conclusion, should you to turn to other sources. (More about that next week.)

“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1Peter 2:2). It is the pure milk that causes us to grow. If it is diluted with the words, thoughts and traditions of men, it is no longer pure. If it is sugar coated by the eloquence and stories of the preacher, it is also no longer pure. What I am writing here is not the pure milk of the Word – they are my ideas based on the Word. And while my thoughts may help some to understand a few things, it can never have the same effect as when you read, study and understand the Bible yourself.

Finally, we must study the Scriptures with a specific goal in mind. This goal is not to increase our knowledge, or to prove that someone else is wrong, or to justify your own actions. The only valid attitude is to allow God to speak to us through His Word. The reading and study of the Bible is first, foremost and primarily a personal issue. The Lord does not use the Bible to speak to others through us, unless, we have heard Him speak to ourselves first. We can only approach it with trembling hands and with the prayer of Samuel: “Speak, for Your servant hears” (1Samuel 3:10). Only if we truly want to hear and obey, will its truths begin to unfold.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8)

How to Discern – Part 3

Orthodoxy

The Roman church has for a long time believed that only the “clergy” may interpret the Bible. In fact, until recently, they did not even allow translations of the Bible into the common language of the people because they did not believe that ordinary people were equipped to read the Bible, let alone interpret it.

Since the Reformation, the Bible has been made available to ordinary people and now anyone in the free world is able to read, study and own Bibles. But the pendulum has swung to the other extreme so that today every Tom, Dick and Harry feels he has the right to interpret the Bible as he feels fit. This is an equal but opposite error to that of the Roman clerical system.

It is therefore important that we understand that while each of us has the privilege of reading the Bible for ourselves, no individual has the right to interpret the Scriptures as he wishes. We can all understand the Bible, and the Spirit will lead us into all Truth, but it is not up to us to formulate our own “new” doctrine. There is a body of truth that is not open for reinterpretation. We refer to this as “orthodox” teaching. “Orthodox” means “conforming to established and traditional doctrine”. (Not to be confused with Eastern Orthodox churches.)

Over the last 2,000 years of Christianity the church has endured countless errors, counter-errors, over-corrections, church councils, remarkably gifted teachers and heretics. Through all these processes the basic tenets of our faith have been established, tested and proven. We have the advantage of learning from 2,000 years of experience. Yet, many fools have risen in these days who feel they are wiser than all the great men who came before and have the right to attack or add to orthodox and established doctrine. Anyone who feels they have a “revelation” that goes against orthodox teaching needs to be very sure of his facts.

Is there Biblical proof for the statement that no individual has the right to interpret the Bible without reference to orthodox doctrine? Yes indeed.

Paul quoted a principle established in the Law that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (2Corinthians 13:1). This principle applied to every area of Jewish life and is carried forward into the life of the church. Even Jesus applied this principle to Himself. Jesus Himself said: “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true” (John 5:31). He then named four witnesses who testify to His claims. These are John the Baptist, Jesus’ works, His Father, and the Scriptures (John 5:33-39). Thus Jesus honored the principle that no individual can make a claim that is not able to be substantiated by multiple witnesses.

There are two essential qualifications for witnesses. They must agree and they must be credible (Exodus 20:16). The Jewish council found two witnesses to testify against Jesus, but they were false witnesses. So whose testimony should we believe concerning Jesus? Should we believe the testimony of John, Jesus’ works, His Father and the Scriptures or that of two rogues from the back streets of Jerusalem? Most false teachers may be able to quote others who believe like they do, but who are those witnesses? Are they people who have a reputation for correct theology or are they just as confused as the one who finds support in their false teaching?

The great Apostle Paul received his revelation and doctrine directly from Jesus Christ Himself (Galatians 1:12). In spite of the magnitude of this revelation, Paul felt the need to check his doctrine with Peter (Galatians 1:18). Then fourteen years later he again went to Jerusalem to check that he was indeed preaching the truth: “And I went up… and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain” (Galatians 2:2). Notice that he checked with “those who were of reputation”.

When building a wall it is no use checking the wall with a spirit level that is not correct. The level may indicate that the wall is plumb when it is not. Too many Christians check their doctrine with the wrong people and the wrong standards. Any doctrine has to be confirmed by those who have a reputation for Truth and correct doctrine. Far too many preachers are like King Ahab. Ahab gathered a team of 400 prophets who would tell him what he wanted to hear but he rejected the one man who he knew spoke truth (1Kings 22). Thus every heretic has a list of names of those who believe like he does, but will not listen to those who hold to orthodox doctrine.

When pilots bring ships into the harbor at Durban in South Africa, the channel through which they must pass is very narrow and disaster waits a few feet on either side. So to navigate safely they watch three lights on the distant shore. When these three lights line up, the ship is on the right course. The problem is that the shore is littered with thousands of lights. Only a fool will choose any three that line up. If it is imperative that a ship’s pilot has to make sure that he gets the right three lights to line up, then it is even more incumbent on us to make sure our teaching lines up with the right reference points.

Paul told Timothy “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Timothy 2:2). Notice how Paul reminds Timothy that there are witnesses to his teachings. Also, he does not instruct Timothy to formulate his own doctrine but to simply carry forward those truths that had already been established by Paul.

Jude says: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Jude does not instruct us to establish or formulate doctrine but rather to contend for what was once for all delivered. Jude’s reference to “the faith” refers to a body of established truth and doctrine.

Job said: “inquire, please, of the former age, and consider the things discovered by their fathers; For we were born yesterday, and know nothing, Because our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you, and utter words from their heart?” (Job 12:8-9).

In this generation, our doctrine should be the purest, the most accurate and the most orthodox because we have the benefit of 2,000 years of church history. But instead of learning from the mistakes and discoveries of those who have gone before, this generation seems hell-bent to disregard the benefits of accumulated wisdom and rather to invent their own peculiar brands of heresy. These are indeed the people Jeremiah prophesied about when he cried: “Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, `We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16).

How to Discern – Part 4

Check, Check and Check Again

This is a principle that holds true in most areas in life. Carpenters speak about measuring twice and cutting once. We teach our children that when they cross the street they must look left, look right and look left again. And when it comes to our faith we must be even more careful and check everything we hear.

1Thessalonians 5:21 says: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” In other words, not everything is good and can be trusted, so everything must be tested first. The noble-minded Bereans even subjected Paul’s teaching to scrutiny and they were commended for doing so (Acts 17:11).

We live in dangerous times and the world is filled with deceivers, false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing and heretics. Those who preach the Truth are a small minority while the false apostles wield massive budgets with which they dominate every form of media. No matter whether you listen to “Christian” radio, watch “Christian” television look at “Christian” websites or enter a “Christian” bookstore, the odds are stacked against the possibility that you will be exposed to truth. Yet every day thousands are deceived into believing anything that is sold under the banner of “Christian.”

It is thus imperative that we carefully check every word we hear or read. But how do we do that? Here are a few brief pointers:

First, listen to the voice of the Spirit: “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21). Let me make this very clear: You cannot judge a message or a man just based on that inner voice. But if you listen to the promptings of God’s Spirit, you will often feel uneasy about something which simply means that you need to stop and check. In the same way, a good feeling about someone or a teaching does not mean it is right – you must still check. Almost every week I get emails from people who question things because they “did not feel it was right.” In most cases they were correct. Error is presented so cleverly and so slickly that there are times that the problem will not be obvious. Yet an uncomfortable feeling about the message should lead to a check.

It is easy to overreact to the extremes of the mystical and touchy-feely religions and to reject anything that is not written in black and white. But Jesus promised that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). Paul writes “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). Listen to Him. He will often warn you of danger and alert you to the need to check further.

The second check is to ask the question: “Does this line up with Scripture.” Notice, the question is not whether the speaker / author quoted a verse. The question is “does it line up with the general teaching of the Bible.” It is easy to support error with isolated verses which are taken out of context.

Next ask the question: “Exactly what does the Bible teach on this matter”. You will be surprised how much you can learn by simply using a concordance. The fist time I heard that people were barking like dogs in churches, and that this was a “blessing from God,” I immediately looked at every verse that spoke about dogs and barking. That little study showed that every time dogs were referred to in the Bible they were symbolic of evil, demons and that which is defiled! So if the devil is presented as a dog in the Bible (Psalm 22:16,20), can the barking of a dog be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit?

The fourth question is whether the teaching is new or is representative of what the church has always believed? So when the televangelist says that God consists of nine parts, we should immediately recognize that as contradictory to the commonly held doctrine on the tri-unity of God. Some times new teachings aren’t quite as obvious as this, but the point is – they’re new.

Off course, this presupposes that you know the basic doctrines of the faith. That is just the problem. Most Christians do not know the fundamentals of the faith and “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). If you are not able to list and describe the fundamentals of the Christian faith, then you are in danger.

I am not asking you to be a theologian, just like you do not need to be a chemist to know that protein is food and arsenic is poison. You must know the basics else you will swallow the biggest lies and be deceived. When someone presents a teaching that contradicts the basic tenets of the faith you need to be very careful. Check again. Did you misunderstand him? Did he misspeak or does he really believe what you heard him say? We do not all agree on every detail of the faith but there are certain non-negotiable doctrines that are simply not up for discussion and you need to know what those are.

The fifth question is whether the message contains flaws in logic. Our faith is logical and rational and when preachers make irrational and unproven claims they must be challenged. There are many ways in which preachers and writers break simple rules of logic. Here is one example of a “technique” that is often used: If “A” equals “B” then “C” equals “D.” NO! The first part of the statement has nothing to do with the second. Don’t be fooled by a long list of things that are mentioned but that has nothing to do with the conclusion. Here is a real example. God made Abraham rich with material things; God made Isaac rich (materially); God made Jacob rich (materially); therefore God will make you rich with material things. Wrong. There is no direct link between the Patriarchs, material blessings and you – even though many like to say so.

The sixth question is whether there is evidence of dishonesty. Does the author deal with the material and evidence in an honest way or does he disregard all the verses that disproves his point and only quote those that support his idea? Does he blatantly change words or their meaning? Does he pick and choose translations to find one that will support his view? Or does he make obvious errors in fact. Remember, if he can lie to you in small things then he can lie to you in the major things – don’t trust him (Galatians 2:24). I just caught you. There is no Galatians 2:24! Yet you will be surprised how often writers and preachers will quote verses that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic. They do this since they know their audience is gullible and will not open the Bible to actually check.

Next week I will deal with questions you need to ask about the author / speaker. You must check both the message and the messenger. Sometimes good preachers can bring a flawed message. In that case you must reject the message but not the preacher. But sometimes a bad preacher can bring a good message. In this case both the message and the messenger must be rejected. The only way you will know the difference is to check, check and check again.

How to Discern – Part 5

Who’s Who?

It is important that we check every word we hear or read against the plumbline of the Bible. In addition, we need to check the source of the information as well. We must check two things: The message and the man.

Many times we will hear messages that sound spot-on, and may even be doctrinally correct, but the speaker is a deceiver. Remember, the Devil will present truth in order to get you on his hook. No Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness will knock on your door and begin the conversation by saying that they have come to present another Gospel and another Jesus. They all begin by affirming that they believe exactly what you believe. The problem is that by the time they get around to the lie it is often too late. Our only defense is not to listen to a single word from someone we have not checked out thoroughly first. Mormons and JWs are easy to recognize by their outward appearance. But how do we recognize someone who appears to be an evangelical, Bible believing preacher? Here are a few hints:

First,who is he and where does he come from? In other words who does he relate to and who has influenced his thinking? This can easily be established from his bio, personal history or curriculum vitae. Where did he train? Where does he fellowship? Who is he in relationship with? Who does he quote? Who quotes him? If he has a website, look at the other sites he provides links to. These questions will often reveal a lot about the messenger. Obviously, he may have had bad connections in the past and may have repented. If he has repented from former evil associations, has he publicly repudiated those links and doctrines and broken fellowship with them? If he has, his past should not be held against him; but, at the same time, some of those influences may continue to taint his thinking and one should be on the alert for signs thereof. “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1Corinthians 15:33) and a man can be known by the friends he keeps.

Second,and closely related to the first: What qualifies him to be a teacher? By this I don’t mean whether he is ordained or has papers, but what gives him the right to teach you anything? You need to ask questions about how long he has been a believer, how old he is, does he have a proven track record of serving the churches, or is he just a maverick who has set himself as a “prophet”? Is he in submission to others? Since the advent of the Internet and self-publishing any misfit who cannot work with others, and who has no desire to be a servant to the churches, can set himself up as a “ministry”. Does he exhibit skill and integrity in the way he handles the Word, or is he a workman who needs to be ashamed? (2Timothy 2:15). Does he faithfully teach and preach the Word, or is his message based on stories, testimonies and jokes? Finally, does he challenge as well as encourage, or does he only speak those things that will not offend the hearers? (2Timothy 4:2).

Probably the most important qualification is his life! How many times has he been married? Does he have a testimony of integrity, uprightness and holiness? How does he relate to money and material things? These are but a few of dozens of questions that need to be asked about the fruit of his life. Jesus said: “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16). By their “fruit” Jesus did not mean the fruit of his ministry (how many converts, books etc) but the fruits of his life. What does his life produce? Do you really think that if he produces thistles at home he will produce grapes in your life? (2Timothy 3 and Titus 1 contain additional questions you may need to ask.)

Fourth, what does he believe? This gets a bit harder since he will very likely hide the real truth under language that appears to be sound. Sometimes error can be discerned by carefully scrutinizing his statement of faith. But mostly you will have to read and listen carefully. The internet may contain hints at what may be wrong, but don’t accept anything you find on the internet without thoroughly investigating that information and its source. Anyone can publish anything on the internet and many work very hard to discredit legitimate ministries through this means. But read carefully what is said about the individual and use that information as a cue what to look out for in his teaching. But allow me to emphasize: information from unknown sources on the internet can only serve as red flags; it cannot be trusted to approve or disqualify anyone. Whoever… does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him (2John 1:9).

Fifth, we must ask the question; what do the witnesses say? In the third article in this series (Orthodoxy) we established that we need to look at the credibility of the witness as well as the testimony of the witness. Who approves of this man? If known false teachers give him a good testimonial, or he appears on the same platform as they, then you know he has to be a false teacher himself. Likewise, if those who are proven to be ministers of light condemn him, you better take note

This is why it is important that we surround ourselves with those whom we can trust to advise and counsel. Many “discernment type” ministries have an axe to grind, but there are a few that can be trusted to give a balanced assessment of a particular ministry. These people who have been gifted to be watchmen to the church can save us a lot of time and research. (Next week we will examine the qualifications of a good discernment type ministry.) Check their websites and blogs for warnings about specific ministries, speakers and authors. The Lord says about watchmen that: “whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head” (Ezekiel 33:4).

Sixth, what is his agenda? Sometimes a speaker or author can pass all the tests and still have the wrong agenda. It is therefore important to ask what it is that drives him. Is it money, ego or power? Does he bear a grudge or bitterness? Is he trying to prove that he is right and everyone else is wrong? Watch and listen carefully and his motive will shine through. If he is not driven by a love for the Lord, a love for God’s Word and a love for God’s people – then he probably has nothing to say. When Jesus commissioned Peter, there was one question that mattered: “do you love me?” (John 21:15-17). If the speaker does not exhibit a love for Jesus then he is disqualified no matter how much he knows (1Corinthians 13:1-3).

Unless you are able to verify the bona fides of a speaker or writer, you should never receive from them. Very few would knowingly invite the devil to preach in their church, yet many are willing to have his messengers speak in his place.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1John 4:1).

How to Discern – Part 6

What of the Watchman?

Each believer has responsibility for himself to be on the lookout for error and deception (Revelation 3:11). The Lord has also set the elders in the local church with the duty to watch for wolves who would seek to attack the flock (Acts 20:28-30).

In these last days error is multiplying and spreading faster than the average believer or shepherd can track. Every day brings some new heresy, and modern electronic media and world travel has resulted in new heresies spreading across the globe within hours of being hatched. Often these teachings are so cleverly disguised that it literally takes a specialist to recognize them and to formulate a defense against them.

As a result the Lord has raised up a special group of people who have been uniquely gifted and prepared to act as watchmen to the churches. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, the attacks were so incessant that in addition to every man carrying his sword whilst building (Nehemiah 4:17-18), a select group was tasked with looking out for the enemy (Nehemiah 4:9, 16). As a shepherd in a local church, it would be impossible for me to fulfill my duties and keep track of the many new errors that arise almost daily. I am therefore very grateful for those who have dedicated themselves to the work of monitoring, researching, warning and formulating answers to the many winds of false doctrine of our time.

But, as in every area of the Lord’s work, there is the good, the bad and the ugly. Just the fact that someone points out error does not necessarily make them devoid of error themselves. Some err in doctrine, and others in their attitude or lifestyle. It is therefore important that we establish what the difference is between the good and the bad amongst discernment ministries. (I use “discernment ministries” [lower case] as a generic term distinct from “Discernment Ministries” which refers to a specific organization).

In one sense, this is the easiest ministry that anyone can get into these days. This is true simply because it is much easier to point out mistakes in others than to correct those mistakes. Some who could not write or preach a single word to edify the church get involved in throwing stones. Pulling down is easier than building up and finding fault is easier than teaching truth. Many are involved in these ministries because they want revenge for past hurt, or because they want to be involved in ministry but do not have the gifts to do so, or even because they have a problem with pride.

Here are some important questions to ask about discernment ministries:

What attitude do they display? Is it one of arrogance and pride and do they feel that they are better than those poor heretics over there? Or do they genuinely mourn and weep over the state of the church? Do they speak with humility and grace, recognizing that it is only the grace of God that has kept them? Do they feel that they are superior to everyone else and God’s only remnant? (The series “Contentiously Contending” deal with this in more detail.)

Who are the faces behind that particular ministry? What are their personal lives like? Do they have a history of serving the churches and standing for truth? Are they in fellowship with other believers and ministries and do they serve a local church or are they loose cannons?

What is their motive? Is it revenge, profit, fame and importance? Or is it love for the Lord, His Word and His People? (The previous article “Who’s Who?” applies as much to discernment ministries as to preachers.)

Are their accusations based on thoroughly documented research supported by credible witnesses and empirical proof? Or is it based on second-hand rumor and guilt by association? Many of these ministries could discredit someone just because that person happened to pass through the same airport as a known heretic, even though there is no connection between them.

Do they rely on innuendo, rumor and quotes taken out of context to make their case? Or do they rely on facts, track-records, history and documents?

Are they credible? In other words how do you know you can trust them? Do they exaggerate or embellish to make a point? Have you ever noticed them lying or are they people of integrity? Is their assessment balanced, or are they biased? Do they ever have something good to say about anyone or can they only speak about what is evil and wrong?

Are they conspiracy theorists? One such man teaches that the Jews are to blame for every form of evil that plagues our world, that NASA found dinosaur bones on the moon but conspired to conceal the matter, but at another time claimed that man never went to the moon and that it was all a conspiracy! Yes, this man is one of the most prominent speakers, broadcasters and writers against “error”.

Do they teach the truth or only against error? Do they provide an antidote to the heresy, or can they only point out what is wrong? The Lord and the Word never reveal a problem without providing a solution to that problem. Yes, the Bible speaks against sin, but it also provides the antidote – the precious blood of Jesus. It reveals the wickedness of man’s heart but offers the righteousness of God to those who believe (Romans 3:22-23).

Just the fact that they are a discernment or apologetic ministry does not exempt them from all the checks and balances we have spoken about in this series. They need to be checked. The bad need to be rejected and the good need to be valued. I would urge you to know which of these ministries can be trusted and to read their material regularly. If you are a pastor or preacher, you need to attend a good discernment conference every year in order that you may be warned of the new devices of the evil one.

If you do use their services you need to support them by your prayers, encouragement and gifts. The good ones will never speak of their needs, yet it costs a lot of stamina and finances to keep those ministries going – help them so they can better serve you. Above all, pray for them. It takes a lot of courage and they pay a very high personal price for their stand as they are constantly being attacked. They need your prayers and encouragement.

The fact that Nehemiah set a watch and dedicated some to bear arms, did not absolve the rest of the people from being on guard:

“Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me. Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us” (Nehemiah 4:17-20).

Anton Bosch

anton@ifcb.net

3310 W Magnolia Blvd

Burbank, CA, 91505

Tel 818 846 5520

http://www.antonbosch.org

http://www.burbankchurch.org

http://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/how-to-discern/comment-page-1/#comment-7280

DiscernIt

How to Discern – Part 1

by Anton Bosch

How to Smell a Rat

A toddler will eat anything. It does not matter if it is nutritious or poison, it has no ability to discern between food and poison.

As Christians mature in the faith they should learn to discern between spiritual poison and spiritual food. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). The problem is that the vast majority of modern-day “Christians” are either not born again or have been kept in a perpetual state of babyhood, and are thus unable to discern the difference between truth and error. Because of this, and because we have a new generation of church-goers who do not know the Bible, false teachers have multiplied, and millions believe anything…

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Passover Seder 010

Passover Seder 010 (Photo credit: roger_mommaerts)

HE WAS QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB

 

Passover Seder 013

Passover Seder 013 (Photo credit: roger_mommaerts)

There are two things in God’s Word that represent the body of Jesus Christ: the Passover Lamb, and the Unleavened Bread. The Passover Lamb was selected on the tenth day of the first month, and it was to be observed until the fourteenth day, when it was to be killed and eaten (Ex. 12:1-10). It was to be without blemish, that is, without any imperfection (v. 5). A diseased or less than perfect lamb was not acceptable.

Just as the Passover Lamb had to be without blemish, the bread of the feast had to be unleavened. Leaven in the Scriptures always represents sin (Ex. 12:15-19; Matt. 13:33; 16:6-12; 1 Cor. 5:1-6; Gal. 5:9). When you think about it, the results of leaven in bread literally makes it appear to be something that it is not. Leaven simply adds to the bread dough, giving one the false impression that they are getting more sustenance; however, the more leaven, the more “empty space” in the loaf. The Apostle Paul wrote that of Jesus: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).

Jesus, declaring Himself to be the “Bread of Life,” proclaimed that “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” (Jn. 6:48-58). The Apostle Paul had this to say about believers partaking of the Lord’s Supper:
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

There are several verses that describe Jesus as being perfect; that is, without sin: Isaiah 53:9 says “And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.” Luke 23:41 says, “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man hath don nothing amiss.” John 8:46 reads, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “And He became sin for us Who knew no sin, that we might become the

Bread

Bread (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

in Him.” Hebrews 4:15 ends by stating that Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” 1 Peter 2:22 says, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” The Apostle John wrote, “And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin” (1 Jn. 3:5).

Jesus, our Passover, is the only Man qualified to reconcile man to God;
That is why He said, “no man cometh unto the Father but by Me!”

Reblogged from http://skipslighthouse.blogspot.com/2012/04/he-was-qualified-for-job.html?showComment=1334360398466#c832816346926061216

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