What Does it mean to Come to Christ?


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Before we take a closer look at it really means to “come” to Christ, we need to realize that the term “come” must be understood spiritually and not carnally. We know this because the Bible tells us that our natural mind is actually hostile to God:

Rom 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Rom 8:7)

The Bible also tells us that the natural man is unable to understand spiritual matters:

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14)

Our coming to Christ not merely a matter of obeying God’s commandments, attending a Church service, going to a Bible study, listening to Christian music, or even reading the Bible. Anyone can do all of those things. Genuine coming to Christ is a spiritual matter.

With that understanding, we, can now try and describe our “coming” to Christ. To paraphrase John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress author John Bunyan described it as a “moving of the mind towards him”, from “a sound sense of the absolute want that a man has of him (Christ) for his justification and salvation.”

In simpler terms, when a person realizes his/her spiritually lost condition in sin, and that justification and salvation are only to be found in Christ, that person willingly comes to Christ. Coming to Christ involves both the will and the heart. So how can we describe those who genuinely come to Christ? Consider these evidences:

· They come with prayers, supplications and tears, demonstrating their heartfelt need for mercy.

“With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” (Jeremiah 31:9)

  • They ‘run’ to Christ, fleeing the wrath to come. Realizing their desperate condition in sin and that Christ is the only way of escape, they fly to safety as fast as they can. (Matt 3:7; Psa 143:9).
  • A genuine coming to Christ is marked by a clear sense of an absolute need of Jesus Christ to save and evident from the outcries of those even as they are coming to him. Consider the following examples:

PETER WALKING ON WATER

“But when he (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” . (Matthew 14:30)

PETER PREACHING AT PENTECOST

“Now when they (the crowd) heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

THE PHILIPPIAN JAILER

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)

  • A genuine coming to Christ is accompanied by an honest and sincere forsaking everything to follow him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

The above evidences describe all those who have, or are coming to Christ. Anyone genuinely coming to Christ for salvation casts leaves everything behind and forsaking all to follow Christ. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer so eloquently said in his book The Cost of Discipleship:

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”

When we glance at today’s evangelical environment, we can see example after example of invitations to come to Christ for a multitude of reasons focused on what we mortals desire most in this life (our best lives now), rather than what God has done for us in sending his Son do die for our sins. Some have called them “adventures in missing the gospel.”

Anyone who truly comes to Christ comes because of being spiritually awakened to the reality of their sin, the dire consequences of it, and the reality that Jesus Christ is the only escape from the just wrath of God.

My desire is that everyone who reads this has truly come to Christ and is faithfully serving him in whatever vocation they find themselves. If not……..

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Prevailing Views of the Atonement of Christ

This is one of those articles this writer has put together in order to have a clear and logical understanding of the two principal views of Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of men. Such an endeavor helps me to maintain a consistent understanding of the topic at hand, not only in my own mind, but it also helps me greatly in communicating what I believe to others. As Christians, being able to articulate why we believe what we believe is spiritually enriching, while at the same time extremely helpful when discussing biblical topics with other believers and unbelievers alike. On to the topic at hand – the two prevailing views of the Atonement!

There is very little doubt among Christians that, In his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ became the atonement, or sacrifice for the sins of mortal men. The Bible tells us that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood, in both the Old and New Testaments (Leviticus 16 & Hebrews 9). In the OT, atonement for sin was accomplished by the Jewish High Priests through the periodic sacrificing of ceremonially clean animals. In the New Testament, we are presented with the once for all atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the pure Lamb of God who lived a perfect life on behalf of all who repent of sin and believe the gospel.

Having established that belief in Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of men, we can ask the crucial question: Did Christ die to merely make the salvation possible for those who repent and believe, or to actually guarantee their salvation? To try and answer that question, let us turn to what has been referred to as The Golden Chain of Salvation recorded in Romans 8:29-30:

29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

If you are asking “How do those two verses answer our question?”, you are asking the right question! Those two verses didn’t come to be called The Golden Chain of Salvation on a whim or by accident. The actually present to us the logical flow of the process of salvation, or how God saves men. We are told that those who are saved are those God first of all “foreknew”, followed by their “predestination”, calling”, justification”, and glorification.”

The key to answering our question concerning the prevailing views of the Atonement lies in the definition of the phrase “those whom he (God) foreknew”. It goes without saying that those who are “foreknown” by God are ultimately “glorified” in their salvation. It is also significant that everything that God does in these passages is expressed in the past tense – just something for you to ponder. What does it mean that God “foreknew”? There are two distinct possibilities, and possibly only two.

By itself, the term “foreknew” means literally “knew beforehand”. In our context, that seems to indicate that God either knew personally those who would be saved, or he knew something that would do at some point in time.

By far, the prevailing view in modern evangelicalism is that God, who knows the beginning from the end, knows all of the future actions of all men, and decided to save those who he knew would, at some point in time, hear the gospel message and come to believe in Christ as Savior of their own natural free will.

The other, less popular view, is that God knew beforehand those He would save in a personal way, not because they were somehow ‘better’ than others, or because he knew what they would do at some future point in time. We see a beautiful example of this view in God’s choosing of Israel for deliverance from bondage in Egypt:

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

God didn’t choose Israel because of how great a nation it was or anything they might accomplish in the future. He had made a covenant with Abraham to eventually become a great nation out of which would come His Messiah that would impact all the nations of the world. In like manner, God, also in eternity past, set his love upon and chose all those he would deliver from the bondage of sin through His Messiah.

The last question we can ask is “What exactly does Romans passage actually say?” The text says “for those whom he (God) foreknew”, a personal pronoun. God knew specific individuals he would bring to salvation. The term “knew” used in the text is the same word God used when he called the Prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

As a final check, I examined over 15 different translations. All but three used the same phrase “I knew you. Two used the phrase “I chose you” and one used the phrase “I selected you”. As a matter of curiosity, I also checked the The Message (MSG) Bible, which claims to be a translation but is, at best, an ‘interesting’ paraphrase. The MSG used the phrase “I knew all about you”, which could support the most popular view of the Atonement, described earlier in this article.

To summarize, there are two main views of the Atonement of Christ. The most popular of the two is that God knew the future decisions of all men and chose for salvation those he knew would choose him of their own free will. The less popular view is that God knew personally, and set his love upon those he would save, and as a matter of sovereign grace, determined to bring them to salvation.

So what?

First of all, both views cannot be correct. Which is most faithful to the text of Scripture? Which do you believe and why? Does one’s view of the Atonement affect how we evangelize – how we share the gospel? Should it?

I won’t share my answers to those questions. After all, my intention in trying to make sense of it all was not to convince anyone of my opinion of the matter. Perhaps another article will address how views of the Atonement impact our evangelistic efforts.

Feel free to comment and let me know if you think I did what I set out to do – properly present the two main views of Christ’s Atonement.

“He Will Save His People from their Sins”

It’s a familiar story. When Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father discovered that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant and he was not the father, he considered divorcing her quietly. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and spoke these words:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” ( Matthew 1:20-21)

But I digress. The question that has most frequently occupied my mind of late is “Who exactly are his people? Glaringly obvious, from the very words of the angel who spoke to Joseph, is the term “his”, a possessive pronoun meaning that those whom Jesus will save are his possessions – they belong to him. What else do we know from Scripture about those whom Jesus saves – his people? The rest of this post will highlight , drawing primarily from John’s gospel.

        • All whom Jesus saves were chosen by the Father for salvation.
        • Jesus saves those given to him by the Father.
        • Jesus calls those the Father gives him my sheep.’
        • Jesus will save all those whom the Father has given him – each and every one of his sheep.
        • Jesus continually intercedes before the Father on behalf of his people, those whom the Father has given him, but not for the whole world.

First of all, we are all quite familiar with God’s choosing a special people as his own, for his own glory, beginning with the Old Testament account and the Jewish nation of Israel. The Apostle Paul, called by God to bring the gospel message to the Gentile nations, mentions God’s choosing in at least two of his letters to churches in his time:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)

13But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, . 14To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

Second, we know that those Jesus saves were given to him by the Father because of Jesus’ own words:

37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”( John 6:37-39)

Third, note that it is also in Jesus own words that we find out that those he saves are his ‘sheep’. Speaking to unbelieving Jews in the Temple at Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication, Jesus refers to those the Father has given him as his ‘sheep’

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

Fourth, if we look at portions of the above passages one more time, we can see that all of those given to the Son – his sheep – come savingly to the Son and are granted everlasting life.

37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”( John 6:37-39)

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

Lastly, in High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus interceded specifically for his people, those the Father has given him, but not for the whole world:

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. . . .

6 I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

In summary, we have stated that the purpose for Jesus birth, death and resurrection was “to save his people from their sins.” We then discussed just a few of the attributes, or characteristics of “his people”. The people whom Jesus saves are:

  • chosen by the Father for salvation,
  • given to Jesus by the Father,
  • those that Jesus calls his sheep, and
  • are those for whom Jesus continually intercedes before the Father.

We also stated, from Scripture, that ALL who are chosen for salvation, given by the Father to the Son as his sheep, and who are the object of Jesus’ intercession before the Father WILL be saved from their sins. and live eternally in His presence.

So What? Here’s some food for thought/questions for consideration:

  1. Is salvation limited to “His people”, as defined in this article, or are there some who are not “His people” who can be saved? Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and explain your answer.
  2. If Jesus will only save “His people”, what would that mean concerning the extent of Christ’s atonement?
  3. What does this article tell you about the sovereignty of God in salvation?

For a biblical summary of HOW God saves someone, read Romans 8:28-31.

May God bless your study of His Word!

A Review of Jesus: His Life (Part 1)

March 27, 2019 – Pastor Gabe Hughes

This is a Review of the first episode of Jesus: His Life by Pastor Gabe Hughes of Junction City Kansas, which he posted on his blog here. I read the article and then watched it myself. I found that this to be a highly credible article concerning the production. There is one thing he did not mention that I noticed at the end of his article. Without further comment, here is Pastor Gabe’s review.

Each Monday leading up to holy week, the History Channel is airing a docu-series called Jesus: His Life. The show awkwardly mixes in dramatic reenactments of the story of Jesus with commentary from an assemblage of (mostly liberal) Bible scholars.

The trailer to the show says that this is the life of Christ “told through the eyes of those who knew Him best.” History has never done very well with the story of Jesus. Their mini-series The Bible (more accurately termed The Bobble) was terrible. In addition to biblical inaccuracies, it just wasn’t entertaining. Jesus: His Life is equally dull. The mix of drama with commentary doesn’t work. The thematic scenes fail to be captivating, and the theotwits do not add any life to the program.

Given that the show is flat and fallacious, I don’t know why you’d want to bother with it enough to even read my review. But I offer this up anyway! The following is a play-by-play of the first episode, examining the life of Jesus though the eyes of Joseph. The time stamps are according to the video stream I watched on History’s website, sans commercial breaks. And away we go!

1:00 — Oh, hello Joel. Yup, Joel Osteen is the executive producer of this little number, so he’s one of the “experts” who will be popping up every now and then.

2:00 — The introduction is very “This is the story of how Jesus changed the world.” This is not going to be about how Jesus was sent by God and died as an atoning sacrifice for those who will believe in Him. This is going to be about how Jesus bucked the status quo and brought about a revolution of social change. This show will not present the gospel. Phrases like “Savior of the world” might come up, but they’ll never be explained. They’ll be framed in a social context, not a gospel one.

6:30 — Aside from some questionable theotwits, the information so far has been factual for the most part.

7:45 — (Edit) There’s a line I totally missed and someone pointed it out to me. When Gabriel appears to Mary, he says, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. If you choose to accept His plan, you will conceive in your womb and give birth a son.” Not only does this make the announcement to Mary staunchly Arminian, it’s also pro-choice! Mary got to choose to have a baby. In Luke 1:31-32, Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”

9:00 — Mary asks Gabriel, “Why has He chosen me?” Gabriel replies, “You are pure of heart and soul.” According to the story in Luke 1, Mary did not ask that question, nor was Mary told that the reason she was chosen. Gabriel said to her, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” When Mary was troubled, Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” She was favored because God chose her, not because she merited worthiness.

9:30 — James Martin says, “Notice that when she says yes to the angel, she doesn’t ask her husband or her father. She says it on her own. So this is a very strong woman.” The feminism is strong with this one.

11:00 — Dr. Otis Moss III says, “When Mary says, ‘I’m pregnant, and you’re not the father,’ Joseph probably reacted in a typical male fashion. That’s why I love the story because it does not sugar-coat it as making Joseph holier than thou.” That’s why you love the story? Because of your own conjecture? Not because it’s about the birth of the Savior of the world? The show then portrays Joseph losing his temper, breaking stuff apart and throwing it around the house he had been building for him and Mary.

13:00 — Several teachers are cited as saying that if Joseph outs Mary publicly as having sex outside of wedlock, she could be killed under Jewish law. “Adultery is a crime punishable by death,” according to Dr. Robert Cargill. That’s true (Deuteronomy 22:20-24), but it’s unlikely Mary would have been put to death. The Jews couldn’t exercise capital punishment without permission from Rome. The Bible gives us no sense that Mary’s life was in danger. The only people being stoned to death at that period of time were those who would preach the gospel (Acts 7:59).

13:30 — Ah, Michael Curry, the Love Bishop.

14:30 — Joseph is seen cleaning up the house he trashed after his rage fit. I’ve been waiting to see if anyone will actually quote the Scripture itself. No one has. Matthew 1:18-19 says:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

Being a “just man,” he knew what the law said concerning unfaithfulness. Being “unwilling to put her to shame,” he was not going to make a public spectacle of Mary. He knew the law was on his side. Rage-trashing his house is not divorcing her quietly.

16:30 — An angel speaks to Joseph in a dream and tells him the child in Mary’s womb is from the Holy Spirit. When Joseph goes back to Mary, I have to admit, I found the interaction between them rather touching. But then it was interrupted by commentary…

I covered this in my book 25 Christmas Myths and What the Bible Says. There are no problems with the census in Luke. The explanation is simple. Luke does not give an exact time reference to when the census took place. He said, “In those days,” which is an unspecific period of time, and “this was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” All Luke is pointing to is that these events were part of the same drama, not that they all happened at exactly the same time. There was no reason to use “a device to get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.” Matthew didn’t use such an explanation in his gospel.

The dates often used by historians for the Christmas story are based on the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. But sometimes Josephus was off by as much as a decade. Why are scholars so quick to villify Luke but justify Josephus? Luke under the appointment of the Holy Spirit is spotless in the telling of the gospel. Oh, and contrary to Dr. Cargill’s claims, people did return to their lands when a census was taken.

21:45 — Ben Witherington III says, “[Joseph and Mary] barely got [to Bethlehem] before it was time for Mary to give birth.” Not true, but that’s a minor point. I appreciate that the show does correct the myth that Jesus was born in a barn. He wasn’t. He was born in a house filled with family.

23:30 — Professor Nicola Denzey Lewis says, “Millions of women died in childbirth.” Millions of women in Judea died in childbirth?

25:00 — Shut up, Joel.

25:30 — Whenever an angel appears to someone in this show and says, “Do not be afraid,” they’re just kind of like, “Who are you?” No one is actually afraid.

27:30 — The show continues the myth that there were only three wise men. Except they made the black wise man the lead guy now instead of the token sidekick.

28:00 — Right before the commercial break, Dr. Cargill says of the magi, “Meeting Herod the Great must have been terrifying.” They probably had no idea who he was. But gotta keep the viewers in suspense!

29:00 — The show has the magi arriving at night. There’s no commotion in the city. Yet the Bible says they came to Jerusalem asking, “‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:2-3). The number of magi and the size of their caravan were enough to alert all of Jerusalem and earn the magi an audience before Herod. This was a big deal. In fact the question they asked, “Where is the King of the Jews,” was asked of Jesus by Pontius Pilate over 30 years later.

30:30 — The magi say, “We followed a star. Our charts tell us it heralds the birth of a messiah.” No, they knew the star was leading them to the Messiah because they had the Jewish Scriptures.

32:30 — Joseph tries to refuse the gifts of the magi. That was weird.

33:00 — The Love Bishop says love things.

34:00 — Right before the commercial break, Joseph rebukes the magi for coming because they’ve put Jesus’s life at risk. Oh, good grief.

35:30 — The Love Bishop says, “Joseph keeps getting these dreams in Matthew’s gospel. He gets the dream that tells him the child is a miracle of God. Then he gets the dream telling him to flee Palestine and go to Egypt.” Joseph wasn’t listening to dreams. He was obeying God. Matthew 2:13 says, “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him.'” The show doesn’t depict that. Instead, the show portrays Joseph having a vision of Herod giving the order to kill baby boys in Bethlehem.

39:30 — Joseph and Mary barely elude the guards and get Jesus out of Bethlehem during the massacre of the innocents. Oh, the drama. (I really thought I’d done a WWUTT video on the massacre of the innocents. Apparently not. I’ll get on that for next Christmas.)

40:30 — Joshua Dubois, Faith Advisor to President Obama, says, “The holy family become refugees.” These comments are always more politically loaded than they are biblically accurate. A refugee is someone forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or have been displaced because of a natural disaster. Yes, Joseph and Mary fled Judea to escape the wrath of Herod, but they never left the Roman empire. They would have gone to the Jewish settlement in Alexandria, Egypt. There they were quite secure among their own people, and they had the gifts from the magi to pay for their stay. This was not like we would consider a modern-day refugee.

41:00 — Dr. Moss points out that Joseph protected his wife and a child who was not his own. “Joseph becomes a beautiful model for fatherhood today. Where would we be if we had more men who operated like Joseph?” I appreciate the sentiment. But the question is better asked, “Where would we be if more men obeyed God?”

Part 2 examining the life of Jesus through the eyes of John the Baptist coming at a later time… Maybe.

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Dan’s Note:

Missing in the angel/Joseph dialogue was the statement by the angel that “you shall call his name ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins.”, which was the main purpose in Jesus coming – to save his people from their sins! Will this series fail in presenting a clear and concise message that Christ died for the sins of men, as Pastor Gabe suggests in his critique?

What’s in YOUR Eternity?

In a recent Sunday School lesson in 1 Peter, the question was asked “When you hear someone say “The end of the world is near” how do you respond, and why?”

I could say, “Why do you ask?” Knowing why the comment was made just might help guide the conversation along it’s path, especially if your desire is to steer it toward the message of the gospel.

Given that the topic is the end of the world, I could get straight to the point and ask, “What’s in YOUR eternity?”

First, phrasing it more like a credit card commercial might elicit a more positive response than just asking “Where’s your soul going when you die?” like the sidewalk Christian evangelist downtown handing out tracts to young soldiers out for a good time in Junction City, Kansas, outside of Fort Riley Kansas  (deja vu). I could claim just about any religion and ask my question. Without being overly blunt, my question assumes that, like a credit card, everyone has an ‘eternity’. Every major religion believes we will eventually spend eternity somewhere. You can check it out. We have the technology.

My goal is to present the Christian view of eternity in a loving manner, using the Bible as my source document.

The Bible tells us that there is something about ‘eternity’ in each and every one of us:

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) (Emphasis mine)

John MacArthur says of this passage:

“God. put eternity into man’s heart. God made men for his eternal purpose, and nothing in post-fall time can bring them complete satisfaction.”

Our innate sense of eternity comes from knowing something of God, the eternal creator. Concerning this knowledge of God, there is perhaps no clearer verse in all of scripture than Romans 1:19, in which the Apostle Paul tells us:

“For what can be known about God is plain to them (men), because God has shown it to them.”

We all know something about God and eternity, although what we know is limited. I believe this knowledge is part of the ‘imago dei’, the image of God, in which we were created. God IS eternal, and although our bodies will one day die, we have an innate interest in life after death.

Here’s where the conversation can get a bit more challenging. You see, along with being told that we all know that God IS, we are also told something about those who try and deny the existence of God. Immediately before Romans 1:19 we are told:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)

So what’s this about “The wrath of God”? We can turn to Matthew, Chapter 25 and Jesus’ teaching about His second coming and the final judgment of all men.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

. . . .

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Matthew 25:31-34 & 41-46)

In the above verses, there are two groups of people, the ones on Jesus’ right, and the ones on Jesus’ left. The ones on Jesus’ right represent those who knew and loved Him in this life and those on Jesus’ left represent those who denied Him in this life. Those on the right will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the world’s beginning. Those on the left will experience eternal fire reserved for the devil and his angels.

SO WHAT?

1. There are two groups of people inhabiting this world; those who have received the truth of God and the ones who suppress the truth of God; the ones who have repented of their sin and believed the gospel and the ones who have rejected Christ.

2. There is an eternal destiny for every human being who ever lived or is living today; eternal life or eternal death.

3. What’s in YOUR eternity, my friend?

Salvation Can only be Found in Christ

by Martin Luther

“…The devil does not intend to allow this testimony about Christ.  He devotes all his energy to opposing it and will not desist until he has struck it down and suppressed it.  In this respect, we humans are weak and stubbornly perverse and are more likely to become attached to saints than to Christ.  Within the papacy they have preached about the service rendered by these beloved saints, that one ought to rely on their merit.

And I, too, believed and preached thus.  St. Ann was my idol, and St. Thomas my apostle.  I patterned myself substantially after them.  Others ran to St. James and strongly believed and firmly trusted that, if they conformed, they would received all they wished and hoped for.  Prayers were said to St. Barbara and St. Christopher in order to avert an early and sudden death, and there was no uncertainty here.  So completely is man by nature bent on renouncing this testimony of John the Baptist.

For this reason it is necessary constantly to persevere and adhere to John’s testimony concerning Christ.  For it requires toil and effort to continue with word and testimony, for a person at death to be able to say, I must die, but I have a Savior concerning whom John the Baptist testifies; on him and on no other creature, either in heaven or on earth, do I rely.  However, that a person can die as cheerfully by believing in St. Barbara, in an indulgence, or in a pilgrimage to Rome, as in the man to whom alone John the Baptist points, is out of the question.  Also, that a person can build as strongly on monkery or monastery life as on holy baptism is a forlorn hope.

“What I am telling you is that it is easier for us humans to believe and trust in everything else than in the name of Christ, who alone is all in all, and more difficult for us for us to rely on him in whom and through whom we possess all things.”

Quotes are excerpted from volume five of Luther’s 7-volume set of sermons (page 79).

USA Divers Acknowledge Christ at the Olympics

As reported by Townhall.com,

“A golden moment took place alongside the Rio Olympic diving boards Monday night. The Chinese team of Chen Aisen and Lin Yue may have taken first place, but U.S. divers David Boudia and Steele Johnson stole the spotlight in their NBC interview by giving all the glory to God after their silver medal-winning performance.”

I watched the Olympic event, listened to the interview, and I think it’s great that these athletes spoke of their identities in Christ when interviewed after winning their silver medal! At the same time, the headline at the Townhall article could have been more accurately written. Here’s the headline:

“USA Divers Tell NBC Reporter They Won Silver Medals Thanks to Their ‘Identity in Christ’”

That title seems to say that they won because of their identity in Christ, which is a different issue than what I actually heard. David Boudia, in a recently released book, expressed the pair’s sentiment during the interview:

“It’s totally freeing when I stay in tune with scripture,” Boudia said. “I don’t have to worry if I miss a dive. I go into competition and it’s like, ‘Praise God no matter what.’ If I do well, that’s awesome. I praise Him. If I don’t do well, praise Him even more. Competition looks way different now.”

The pair’s prevailing sentiment wasn’t that they won because they are Christians, which the article’s title can be interpreted to say. Rather, they said that self-identity ‘in Christ’, is more significant for them than their identities as Olympic medal winners. Ultimate significance is tied to our identity in Christ, not in being world class athletes or any other great achievement in this life. That’s the truth of the matter, as I see it.

Sometimes the ‘demonstrations’ of star athletes gives the impression that God somehow ‘made sure’ one of His kid’s took the medal, made the great play or touchdown, etc. I don’t think that we as Christians should be communicating that sort of message. There are plenty of ‘wolves in sheep suits’ out there that preach exactly that, that if you are a believer, you ought to be the best of the best at whatever you do.

The point I am making is that David Boudia and Steele Johnson communicated something of far greater significance than the title of a Townhall article suggested, and that’s important.

Food for thought.

ALL Lives Matter!

America is burning and the fires have many names I won’t discuss. We all can probably name them and each one of us probably has a ‘hot button’ or two; I know I have. What I will say is that ALL lives matter, black ones, white ones and every color in between. Soldiers serving our country and police serving our citizens (even the ones who want to kill them). Unborn babies matter, as do the mothers who don’t want them and the abortionists who carry out their murders. Self-serving politicians who care more about their careers and/or legacies than our country. ALL lives matter! Skin color just seems to be the #1 issue at the moment.

ALL lives matter because, as human beings, we were created as ‘image bearers’ of God (Genesis 1:26-31). At the same time, we are greatly flawed human beings; image bearers of God yet tragically flawed – by SIN. We have ALL sinned ‘in Adam’ (Romans 5:12), and we are ALL sinners in our conduct (Romans 3:23). In other words, we ALL sin because we’re sinners, and we’re ALL sinners because we sin.

My friends, SIN is still the problem and Jesus Christ is STILL the answer. It’s really that simple, although many will disagree. I’m talking about the Christ who died for our SIN (1 Cor 15:1-5), not for the many other reasons we like to talk about, like ‘our best lives now’.

Fellow believers, I guarantee you that those who perpetrate evil (of any kind) won’t address the sin problem – they love their sin (John 3:19). Sadly, there are a whole lot of professing Christians and alleged evangelical churches, who have the answer but won’t talk about sin.

What can we do about it? That’s easy. It’s up to us to join the conversation and ‘take it to the gospel’ – the gospel that has the subject of sin at the center and Jesus Christ as the only answer. Brothers and sisters, what an opportunity we have to do just that! America is burning and people are screaming for answers!

I’ll say it again. SIN is the problem and Jesus Christ is the answer!

Do we want racial reconciliation? Christ is the answer!

Do we want an honest government that cares for the Constitution and the people it serves? Christ is the answer!

Do we want stop all the crime and violence? Christ is the answer!

Do we want to see mothers stop killing their babies and abortion doctors put out of business? Christ is the answer!

Yes, America might be burning and yes, everyone has an opinion about what’s wrong. Most of the opinions miss the point and fail to get to the ‘root cause’. It’s time for us to join the conversation and ‘take it to the gospel’.

Are you with me?

“The Bible is NOT the WORD OF GOD: A Polemic Against Christendom”

That’s the title of a blog post, in two parts, that was published in the ‘Emergent Village’ subsection of the Progressive Christianity section at Patheos.com. You can read it here.

If you are unfamiliar with what is called emergent/progressive Christianity it’s basically a movement dedicated to destroying orthodox Christianity. The above title, ‘A Polemic Against Christendom’ should be a clue. Here are two small portions of the original article:

Is the bible the Word of God?

What are we saying when we make this statement (the Bible is the Word of God)? Two things really: first, God’s word is limited to the text itself and nothing else. . . Second, it places the writer’s intentions secondary to “God’s intentions” (I have also heard it said “God’s intentions trumps the authors intentions”) – though it’s not entirely clear how one has the ability to know “God’s intentions”.

As to the first contention, that in saying that the Bible is the Word of God we are limiting God’s word to words on a page is patently absurd. I know of no Christian, past or present that would make that claim. As to the second contention, I really have not figured out what he is trying to say, other than we cannot know God’s intentions. While we cannot know everything God has planned, we can know quite a bit of it. It’s in the Bible, the written word of God.

A major objective of the Emergent cause is to destroy the credibility of the Bible, much like the Serpent in the Garden. The author of the article says:

“The bible is not the WORD OF GOD. The WORD OF GOD is Jesus Christ.”

He also says:

The WORD OF GOD is a moment that a human being encounters. It is Jesus Christ in his full glory and revelation. The WORD OF GOD occurs through a compilation of acts that bring forth the WORD OF GOD within the individual– prayer, reading and meditating on sacred scripture, fellowship, and worship.

If Jesus is the Word of God (and he is) how is it that the Word of God is also a ‘moment’? Is Jesus a ‘moment’ or is he the Son of God? Is he both? If the author’s Jesus a ‘moment’ is his Jesus the Jesus of the Bible?

There is nothing I could find in the article that recognized Jesus Christ as the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is reduced to a ‘moment that ‘occurs’ when we ‘do’ certain things. Of course no self-respecting Emergent would say Christ died for our sins. God sending his son to die was cosmic child abuse, according to some of the major players in the movement. That, my friends is not the gospel message of the Bible and not true Christianity. But then again, the Bible is not the word of God and Paul was just a man who wrote a good book, so Paul’s definition if the gospel could be flawed, so maintains the author.

That’s all I have time for at the moment. I mentioned the referenced article to a friend of our and she asked me to post it. Rather than posting the entire article and cause your brains to explode, I just posted a small portion and the link to the original, here.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/emergentvillage/2013/04/the-bible-is-not-the-word-of-god-a-polemic-against-christendom/

What ABOUT Jesus Christ?

If we say ‘evangelism’ is “…to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him”, what about Jesus Christ are we to share? After all, there is much to share, is there not?

I’m glad you asked – it’s a great question! Given everything we are told in the Bible about Jesus, from Old Testament prophecy to New Testament fulfillment, from Jesus’ birth to his ascension, from the stories of his life, from his parables and teachings, from miracles he performed, what’s the most important fact about Jesus we need to share with others? In terms of evangelism, is there something more important than everything else we know about Jesus that we need to proclaim? I believe there is, and we are given a clue even before Jesus was born!

There’s a short passage in the 1st Chapter in Matthew in which we are told that Jesus’ earthly father Joseph was pondering the fact that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant with a child not his and the cultural/social implications thereof:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:18-21)

Our ‘evangelistic’ hint is this: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Emphasis mine). Those few words, spoken by an ‘angel of the lord’ to a troubled Joseph, defined Jesus’ mission before he was born. So given that salvation from sin was Jesus’ mission for coming to Earth; shouldn’t the issue of ‘sin’ be central to our evangelism?

I hope that’s somewhat of a rhetorical question to you. It should be. If you are not yet convinced, let me tell you what the Apostle Paul said was of utmost importance in evangelism – how Paul defined the gospel.

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:1-4 (Emphasis mine)

So What?

By now you might be asking that question. Maybe you are familiar with methods for sharing Christ that seem to be more about what Jesus offers in terms of abundant living, special purposes, or wonderful plans for your life. Perhaps you have never even sin talked about much from the pulpit in the church you attend. Well, regardless of what you might not have heard in your own Christian circle, the fact remains that Christ came to die for our sins. While there are great and wonderful promises for the child of God, they are all secondary to dealing with the issues of sin, repentance, and belief in Christ as our substitute on Calvary.

The purpose of this post is NOT to tell you to beat anyone over the head with a 25 pound Schofield reference Bible and scream “Repent or perish!” While “repent or perish” is an accurate statement, the purpose of this post is to remind us that in our ‘evangelistic’ encounters we need to take the ‘discussion’ to the issue of our sin. How that happens is up for grabs and subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we share Christ!

We just need to remember that we need to take the conversation to the “bad news” of sin that the “good news” of the gospel addresses.