"Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard." Jeremiah 50:2

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lessons from the Life of David

Introduction: Bible commentator John Phillips writes, "With the exception of the Lord Jesus, more Scripture is devoted to David than any other individual. He is mentioned in I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, I Chronicles, and seventy-five Psalms. He is the first person named in the New Testament after Christ, and he is the last person named in the New Testament except for Christ. Next to Joseph, David is the most Christ-like man in the Bible." (Exploring the People of the Old Testament, Vol. 2; Phillips, John; page 122.)

    If the Bible has this much to say about one individual, then there must be many examples from the life of David in which the person living in the 21st century may benefit. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Scriptures are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness." I believe we can see each of these aspects of Scripture's profitability in the life of David.

What lessons does God want you to learn from the life of David?

God wants you to learn that David was:

I. Fearless, vv. I Samuel 17:34-51.

    A. David fought with predators (representative of physical dangers), vv. 34 - 36.

        1. He went out aggressively, v 35.

        2. He went out alone, v. 35a, b.

            a. David was determined, v. 35c.

            b. David was delivered, v. 36-37.

    B. David fought with a Philistine (representative of spiritual dangers), vv. 38-51.

        1. David was confident, vv. 38-47.

        2. David was champion, vv. 48-51.

Illustration: The commercial begins with a young girl standing alone in a picturesque meadow. The camera then pans to another part of the field where it shows a gigantic African rhinoceros. The ominous beast begins a lethal charge towards the girl, whose serene and happy face remains unmoved. As the rhinoceros gets closer, the words appear on the screen, "Trust is not being afraid." A split second before the rhino tramples the helpless child, it stops, and the girl, her smile never wavering, reaches up and pets the animal on its massive horn. The final words then appear, "even when you are vulnerable."("Unwavering Trust"; Perfect Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion; Barrett, David P. ed.; pages 282-283.)

    We live in a world full of dangers, both physical and spiritual, but when we place our confidence in God we have no need to fear what life may throw at us. We have not been "given the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

II. Froward, vv. II Samuel 11 - II Samuel 12:12.

    A. David was complacent, vv. 11:1.

        1. Complacency leads to compromise, v. 11:2.

        2. Compromise leads to corruption, vv. 11:3-4

    Note: Bathsheba was not entirely innocent, either. She should have been more discreet and aware of her surroundings.

    B. David was conniving, vv. 11:5-27.

        1. He had a problem, v. 11:5.

        2. He had a plan, vv. 11:6-27.

            a. We see David and his masquerade, vv. 6-13.

            b. We see David and his murder, vv. 14-25.

            c. We see David and his marriage, vv. 26-27.

    C. David was condemned, vv. II Samuel 12:1-12.

        1. The prophetic one gives a speech, vv. 1-4.

        2. The pompous one gives a sentence, vv. 5-6.

        3. The provident One gives a scolding, vv. 7-    12.

III. Forgiven, vv. Psalm 51:1-12.

    A. David was convicted, vv. 1-3.

        1. He called out to God, v. 1.

        2. He confessed to God, vv. 2-3.

Illustration: The story is told of a governor who was leaving office and wanted to make a good last impression, so he went to the state prison to offer a pardon to a worthy inmate. As he went to each cell asking why he should grant them a pardon, each inmate tried to convince the governor that they were innocent of the charges they were convicted for. Exasperated, the governor was ready to give up when he asked another prisoner why he should be pardoned. The prisoner answered that he was not worthy to be pardoned, because he was guilty of all the charges brought against him and deserved the penalty handed down to him. The governor, moved by the man's honesty and sense of humility, granted this man a pardon of his sentence over all the others who pleaded their innocence. If we plead our innocence before God, He will not pardon us from the penalty of sin. It is when we confess our sins that God will forgive us of our sins.

    B. David was contrite, vv. 4-6.

        1. He was humble before God, v. 4.

        2. He was hopeless before God, v. 5.

        3. He was honest before God, v. 6.

    C. David was cleansed, vv. 7-12.

        1. He wanted to be purified, v. 7.

        2. He wanted to be passionate, v. 8.

        3. He wanted to be pardoned, v. 9-12.

a. God heard his request, v. 1 John 1:9.

            b. God honored his request, v. II Samuel 12:13.


What lessons does God want you to learn from the life of David?

God wants you to learn that David was:

I. Fearless.

II. Froward.

III. Forgiven.

Application: The Bible gives David the distinct description as a man after God's own heart. No other person in Scripture is depicted in those words. We have seen that David faced his fears head on, relying only on the power of God. David knew he did not have the strength or ability to defeat Goliath, but he knew who did. Are there giants in your life that you have been afraid to face or have tried to defeat them in your own strength? Place your trust in God and He will give you the ability to be victorious.

    We also know that David was not perfect. As we have seen, David had flaws just like the rest of us. All of the so-called "giants of the faith" had their shares of shortcomings. Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jacob, and countless others were all great men of God, but they also were far from perfect. In the life of the greatest king Israel has ever known, we can see that God will use people whose heart is perfect towards Him and when, not if, they fall He will forgive them.

    A perfect heart is impossible, though, apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. It does not matter who you are or what you have done, God will forgive you if you will only confess your sins and ask for His forgiveness. Just as in the story of the prodigal son, God is waiting with open arms to receive you, but you must get up out of the mire and come to Him. The

Bible says that God will never leave or forsake us, only that He is waiting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Believer's Standard

    According to Webster's 1828 Dictionary, holiness means, "The state of being holy; purity or integrity of moral character; freedom from sin; sanctity." Furthermore, Webster states, "Applied to human beings, holiness is purity of heart or dispositions; sanctified affections; piety; moral goodness, but not perfect." The above definitions are in complete agreement with the use of the word holy or holiness throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

    In the Old Testament the Hebrew word most commonly translated as holiness or holy is qodesh, which means apartness, holiness, sacredness, or separateness. Qodesh comes from the root word qadash, which means to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, or be separate. Other English translations of qadash include sanctify, hallow, dedicate, and consecrate. Some derivative of these two Hebrew words is used in the Old Testament some 640 times.

    In the New Testament the Greek word most frequently translated as holiness or holy is hagios, which means most holy thing or a saint. This word is translated as holy 161 times and as saints 61 times. The root word from which hagios is derived and where it gets its meaning is hagnos, which is defined as pure from every fault, immaculate. Thus, hagnos is translated as pure, chaste, or clear throughout the New Testament. It is interesting to note that in the Septuagint the Greek word hagios stands for the Hebrew word qodosh. Other translations of this Greek word group include sanctification, godliness, sanctuary, and holy place.

    To fully comprehend and understand what holiness means, it is imperative to know what the Bible teaches regarding the holiness of God, because it is His standard of holiness by which all men shall be judged. While there is not space to fully develop the concept of the holiness of God, R.A. Torrey writes that the holiness of God is manifested in His hatred for sin, His delight in righteousness and holiness, His never doing wickedness or iniquity, the separation of the sinner from Himself, the punishment of the sinner, and His making an infinite sacrifice to save others from sin and unto holiness (Torrey 38-40).

There are numerous passages of Scripture that testify to the holiness of God. For instance, Exodus 15:11 states, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praise, doing wonders?'' Or consider Deuteronomy 32:4, where it is written, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." Perhaps Habakkuk 1:13 sums it up best, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?" This is the standard God has set for all men to live by.

When it comes to the human perspective of holiness there are two areas that must be dealt with. First, one must be deemed holy to enter into the presence of God. If a person is found to be unholy they are destined to an eternity in the lake of fire. In God's grace He has provided the means necessary by which to be declared holy. When a person places their faith in Jesus Christ as their savior they are immediately cleansed of all unrighteousness and are clothed with the righteousness of Christ Himself. This is instantaneous at salvation and cleanses a person forever of the guilt of sin.

However, there is a second area that must be considered. 1 Peter 1:15, 16 says, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." Elsewhere, Paul writes, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). It is this perfecting of holiness that must be dealt with after salvation.

W.E. Vine writes concerning holiness, "This sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in grace calls men; yet believers are called to sanctify themselves, cleansing themselves from all defilement, forsaking sin, living a 'holy' manner of life, and experiencing fellowship with God in His holiness" (Vine 308).

R.A. Torrey states it best when he writes, "We perfect holiness by cleansing ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit. To this end we are to come out from among unbelievers, refusing all alliances with them and touching no unclean thing" (346). This is attained through presenting the members of our bodies as slaves to righteousness and becoming willing servants to God. Holiness is something the Christian must pursue with all earnestness if they hope to attain it. Becoming a person of holiness is accomplished only by God, but requires the diligent effort of the believer. Charles Ryrie sums up,

"The holiness of God becomes the standard for the believer's life and conduct. This should put to end the often useless discussions over what is permitted and what is not in the Christian life. Proper conduct can be tested by the simple question, Is it holy? This is the believer's standard. Although he does not always measure up to it, he must never compromise it (Ryrie 43).

For the minister of the Word of God, this is not an option, but an absolute necessity. Paul commands Titus that a pastor is to be "a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate" (Titus 1:8). Furthermore, he instructed Timothy to be an "example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). Truly, if the pursuit of holiness was ever required it is required of those who shepherd the flock of God. He is to model a life of holiness to the congregation he is entrusted with. It involves hard work and it necessitates discipline, but it is to be sought after like a treasure to be gained. For the pastor, there is no alternative.


Works Cited

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Basic theology a popular systemic guide to understanding biblical truth. Chicago, Ill: Moody P, 1999.

Torrey, R. A. What the Bible teaches. New Kensington, Pa: Whitaker House, 1996.

Vine, W. E. Vine's complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words with topical index. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1996.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Biblical Case for an Unlimited Atonement

Oliver B. Greene writes regarding the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ, "It is the true foundation of Christianity, the richest treasure of the Christian faith. If the atonement were removed from the Word of God, the Bible would be like a body without a spirit, like a tree without a taproot; and the Gospel would be void of the message of salvation" (45). The atonement is at the heart and soul of the doctrine of salvation. Without a proper understanding of it, then all the other aspects of salvation are subject to distortion, as well. The purpose of this document is not to discuss the nature of the atonement, but will examine rather the extent of the atonement.

As Robert Lightner has stated, "Whether Christ died for all men or for only those who will believe has been an issue much debated since the days of the Reformation" (11). I believe that the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ extends to all of mankind throughout all time. I believe this for two very simple reasons. First, I believe there are adequate passages of Scripture that use universal terms when referring to the atonement. Second, the few

passages that seem to limit the atonement to distinct groups or persons are not grounds to nullify those universal passages. At the center of these two arguments lies the use of proper hermeneutics, because without proper exegesis one has the ability to make the Bible say anything they would like for it to say.

First, I must say that I believe that the very nature of the Scriptures are to reveal God to man. Therefore, a proper system of hermeneutics must be employed when studying the Bible. Furthermore, I believe we must base our doctrines on well-defined passages of Scripture, rather than on those passages which are not so clearly defined. In his book Protestant Biblical Interpretation, Bernard Ramm writes, "The theologian must basically rest his theology on those passages that are clear and not upon those that are obscure. . . . Everything essential to salvation and Christian living is clearly revealed in Scripture" (104-105). I rest my belief in an unlimited atonement on the above statements, because, if they are true, we can be sure that God has clearly communicated in His Word the truth about who Christ died for.

When describing the extent of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible uses several universal terms. Such terms employed in the Scriptures include the words 'world,' 'whosoever,' and 'all.' In the discussion to follow, I will examine particular passages which use these terms regarding the atonement. As it will be seen, these terms do not place any restrictions to whom the atonement pertains and is applicable to.

One of the most well-known passages found in the written Word of God

states, "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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16-17). The most prolific demonstration of love this earth has ever known was on a hill called Calvary nearly 2,000 years ago. Albert Barnes sums up this love so well:

This is the highest expression of love of which we can conceive. A parent who should give up his only son to die for others who are guilty if this could or might be done - would show higher love than could be manifested in any other way. So it shows the depth of the love of God, that he was willing. to give his only Son into the hands of sinful men that he might be slain, and thus redeem them from eternal sorrow. (207)

This love of God was not for a select few only, but for the entire world. According to A. T. Robertson, the phrase 'the world' is translated from the Greek phrase ton kosmon, which means, "The whole cosmos of men, including Gentiles, the whole human race" (Robertson). This text does not say that God gave His son for His own people, the Jews, exclusively. Nor was Christ given only for His friends, the disciples. God gave His Son to "the world." The only limitation placed upon the extent of this demonstration of the love of God is that it was for the human race. Lewis Sperry Chafer writes:

In this passage, as almost no other, a restricted use of the term cosmos is presented; not restricted, as the Limited Redemptionist demands, to the elect of this age, but restricted to humanity itself apart from its evil institutions, practices, and relationships. God loved the lost people who make up the cosmos and this love was great enough to move Him to give His only begotten Son, in providing a way of salvation through Him so complete that by believing on the Son as Savior the lost of this cosmos might not perish but have everlasting life. (Vol. 2, 78)

A second passage in which the universal term 'world' is used regarding the atonement of Christ is 1 John 2:2 which states, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world." This particular passage deals with the placating sacrifice of Jesus Christ in which God's wrath towards sinful humans was appeased. According to this verse, Jesus' sacrifice appeased God's righteous wrath toward the whole world, not the elect only. As has already been noted, the phrase 'world' refers to the entire human race as a whole. Vine states regarding this verse, "What is indicated is that provision is made for the whole world, so that no one is, by divine predetermination, excluded from the scope of God's mercy; the efficacy of the 'propitiation,' however, is made actual for those who believe" (494).

The Greek word that is translated as 'propitiation' in the King James Version is hilasmos. In non-Biblical usage this word was used when a human would offer a sacrifice to one of the many Greek gods in order to pacify the god's anger. Dr. Greg Christopher writes:

In biblical Greek, the meaning of the word has not changed. What is different is the character of God. While the Greek deities were unpredictable and arbitrary toward humans, God is consistent in that His expression of wrath is a consequence of His righteous character. Because humans are sinful, God does direct his wrath against His creation. But God is also gracious who sent His son to die in the place of sinful humans. In His death, Jesus died a propitious death averting God's wrath. (9)

The death suffered by the Lord Jesus Christ alone was the sacrifice that was acceptable to God to appease His wrath. There is no other way to avert the anger of God other than through His only Son. As stated in 1 John 2:2, the propitiation of Christ, and of Him alone, was for the sins of the whole world, not only for those who choose to accept His sacrifice on their behalf.

Other Scriptures which speak of an unlimited atonement using the term 'world' include John 1:29; John 4:42; 2 Corinthians 5:19; and 1 John 4:14.

Another word used in the Bible in reference to the extent of the atonement is 'whosoever.' According to theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer, "The word whosoever is used at least 110 times in the New Testament, and always with the unrestricted meaning" (Vol. 3, 204). In addition to John 3:16, passages such as Acts 2:21; Acts 10:43; Romans 10:13; and Revelation 22:17 use the term 'whosoever' when speaking of salvation and the extent of the atonement.

Romans 10:13 clearly states, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." As pointed out by Chafer previously, of all the many times the word 'whosoever' is used it is never used in a restricted manner. In his commentary Exploring Romans, John Phillips writes, "Anyone can call.

Jew or Gentile can call. The young and the old, the bond and the free, the rich and the poor, the cultured and the crude - anyone can call" (162). While certainly not all will call, the offer is made to anyone who will call. 'Whosoever' simply means "whosoever."

A final term used in describing the extent of the atonement is 'all.' As Dr. Terry Wallace says, "'All' means all and that is all 'all' means." In John 12:32 Jesus states, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." The cross upon which Jesus was lifted up opened the way so that all may come to God and be reconciled with Him. Not everyone will be reconciled, but the cross is the means by which all may restore their relationship with God. The cross of Christ is a dividing line and all people are drawn to it in the sense that everyone must decide on which side of the cross they will choose to stand. Upon Christ's death, the veil of the temple was torn in two, so that all may come freely to God.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says, "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." This passage clearly divides those for whom Christ died from those who have received eternal life. Robert Lightner sums up this verse as thus:

The verses under consideration (2 Cor. 5:14, 15) provide strong argument for the universality of the atonement. Making the word "all" in these verses refer to the elect only, which is what the limited redemptionist is forced to do, leads to a meaningless interpretation. What would happen to the elect in verse 15 who did not "live"? (65)

The only way this verse does not refer to an unlimited extent of the atonement of Christ is if one deliberately chooses to distort the clear meaning of it. The proper interpretation of this verse says that Christ died for all men, but those who are the recipients of eternal life through Him should live for Him and not themselves.

Another passage of Scripture that uses the term 'all' and distinctly distinguishes those whom Christ died for and those who are saved is 1 Timothy 4:10. Here, Paul writes, "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." In the 2 Corinthians passage noted above, the distinction between for whom the atonement was made potentially and for whom it was made effectually was eternal life. In this verse, the distinction is found in those who believe, or those who place their faith in Christ. Jesus is the Saviour of all men, because there is no other. He is Saviour especially, though, to those who have had His righteousness imputed unto them through faith alone.

John Phillips adequately comments on this verse in Exploring the Pastoral Epistles:

In other words, the sacrifice of Calvary is sufficient for all men; and all are brought provisionally under its umbrella until they reach the point of decision and accountability. . . . The sacrifice of Calvary becomes efficient to save fully and forever when people respond properly to it. (126)

Other passages which employ the term 'all' in reference to the atonement include 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:11; and 2 Peter 3:9.

It should be noted that there are certain passages found in the Word of God which, on the surface, appear to limit the atonement to certain people or groups of people. To overlook these passages and fail to discuss them would be remiss. In order to fully understand the atonement made by Jesus Christ we must look at both sides of the picture.

One such reference is found in John 10:15, in which Jesus states, "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." Also, Ephesians 5:25 says, ". . .Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." While both these verses go far in pointing out the special relationship Christ has with His Church, it does not necessarily limit the atonement He made to the Church only. To say that He gave His life for the sheep or for the Church, does not say that Christ gave His life only for them and them alone. To say that the atonement was strictly for this particular group requires one to make some unnecessary assumptions.

Matthew 20:28 and 26:28 both use the phrase "for many" when speaking of the atonement. To say that Christ gave His life as a ransom or that His blood was shed "for many" in no way disqualifies an unlimited atonement. One commentator translates Matthew 20:28 as, "a ransom instead of many,-one ransom, or atonement, instead of the many prescribed in the Jewish law" (Clarke). Even if this is not the case, "many" may be included in "all".

One final passage which appears to speak of a limited atonement is Matthew 1:21 which says, Jesus "shall save his people from their sins." While Jesus did come to specifically save His people, the Jews, His sacrifice was not limited to them alone. Lightner writes:

That Christ would relate His salvation to "his people" is very clear. It seems equally clear in the context that Christ was coming to save His own race - the Jewish race. . . . However, even the most ardent limited redemptionist surely would not want to extend the benefits of Christ's death to the Jews only. Even this "limited" passage must then be broadened to include at least some Gentiles. (60)

There are some other passages which also speak of an apparent limited atonement, but I believe they also fall into the same situations as discussed. To say that Christ died for some particular group or individuals does not in any way, shape, or form negate those clear passages that say that He died for all and that anyone may call out in belief.

Why do I believe in an unlimited atonement? Because, as previously stated, I believe there are adequate passages of Scripture that use universal terms when referring to the atonement, and the fact that these few passages that seem to limit the atonement to distinct groups or persons are not grounds to nullify those universal passages. In some of the very last verses recorded in the Bible the best evidence for an unlimited atonement is found:

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:16-17)

Works Cited

Barnes, Albert. "Luke and John." Notes on the New Testament. Ed. Robert Frew. London: Blackie & Son, 1847. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. 8 Vols. Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947-1948.

Christopher, Greg. "Unlimited Atonement and 1 John 2:2." The Baptist Preacher's Journal 15 (2005): 21-24.

Clarke, Adam. From Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc.

Greene, Oliver B. "The Heart of all Bible Doctrine." The Atonement of Christ. Greenville, SC: The Gospel Hour, 1968. 43-80.

Lightner, Robert P. The Death of Christ: A Biblical Case for Unlimited Atonement. 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1998.

Phillips, John. Exploring Romans. Chicago: Moody, 1969. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2002.

---. Exploring the Pastoral Epistles. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004.

Ramm, Bernard. Protestant Biblical Interpretation. 3rd Rev. Ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2003.

Robertson, Archibald Thomas. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. 1985. Broadman Press.

Vine, W E. "Propitiation." Def. 2. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. One Volume ed. 1 vols. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1952.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Accounting 101

Regarding John 1:29, which says, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," someone has asked the question that if sin is what sends people to hell and Jesus took away the sin as this verse says, then what sin do we have to pay for? Let me answer this by way of an illustration.

Suppose you have a mortgage for a house (a debt) and some benevolent rich person comes along and offers to pay your mortgage for you. So, he goes to the bank and out of his own checking account authorizes a cashier's check for the amount of your mortgage that you owe to the same bank. With check in hand this rich person comes and offers you the check, whose funds are guaranteed by the bank. Now, I ask, has the mortgage been paid off? Of course, the answer is a resounding "NO!" The reason the mortgage (debt) has not been paid is because the funds have not been transferred to your account. The payment is good, the check is good, and the money is guaranteed, but you still have a debt. It is not until you take the check, endorse it, and deposit the funds of the rich person's account to your account that your mortgage is paid. Even if you accept the check, but never deposit it to your own account, you still have a debt to be paid. In other words, the payment does not take effect until it is credited to your account. Likewise, the payment that Christ made at Calvary is of no effect to the person whose account it has not been applied. The funds are there, guaranteed, but until it is credited to a person by faith, there is still a debt to be paid. You can accept the payment offered by Christ or you can still choose to pay your own sin debt, which is eternity separated from God.

A vivid illustration of this taken from the Bible is that of the Passover Lamb. The Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb (the payment) and apply the blood to the door posts of their houses (the transfer of funds). Suppose a person sacrificed the lamb as they were instructed to do so, but did not apply the blood as they were told. Were they "passed over" or did they pay with the death of the first born? The sacrifice itself was acceptable, but without the effectual application they would still be held accountable. You see, the sacrifice of the the lamb (not a pig, dog, cow, horse, cat, etc.) was the payment that provided salvation from the destroyer, but the application of the blood to the door posts was the transfer of payment to that household's account.

Another illustration found in the Bible is that of the serpent being lifted up in the wilderness. Because of the Israelites rebellion, God sent serpents among the people to bite them. The only cure from these bites was to look upon the brazen serpent Moses fashioned to a pole. The brazen serpent was the cure, but the people still had to look at it to be healed. The payment was made and was also guaranteed, but until the snake-bitten Israelite looked at the brazen serpent he would still have to pay with his own life. Numbers 21:9 says, "And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." Notice this verse says it was when the person looked at the serpent that he lived. He did not live because Moses made a brass serpent and placed it on a pole. Just the same, Jesus, too, was lifted up as He said He would be in John 3. However, it was not the act of lifting Him up that saves a person from their sins. His death and shed blood was the payment that God accepted for the redemption of mankind, but until that payment is transferred to an individual's account it does not resolve their sin debt.

This idea of transference has a theological term called imputation. To impute simply means to apply, transfer, or credit an account. It is a bookkeeping or accounting term in which the funds of one account are carried over to another account. There are three distinct kinds of imputation mentioned in the Bible. Adam's sin is imputed upon mankind; man's sins were imputed to Christ on Calvary; and God's righteousness is imputed to man through Christ. To have the righteousness of God imputed to an individual is solely through faith in the sacrificial payment of Christ. Paul makes this abundantly clear in Romans chapter 4. In this entire chapter Paul argues that it was the faith of Abraham that made him righteous in God's sight. Verse 3 says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted (same Greek word for imputed) unto him for righteousness." In verses 24-25 Paul relates Abraham's righteousness by faith to the Christian. He writes that these things were not written about Abraham for his sake alone, "But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Did you catch the words "if we believe"? The ransom payment that Christ made at Calvary is not automatically credited to the debt of sin that we owe simply because He died on the cross. It is imputed, credited, applied, etc. only if and when we place our faith in Him.

Yes, He is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," but unless a person accepts the payment He has made and has His righteousness imputed to them they must pay their debt for themselves. There is no double payment. Either you trust in Christ alone or you pay for your sins by death and eternal damnation.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Please accept my apologies for comments not being posted for so long. I changed my e-mail address for my blogger account, but did not realize I had to change my settings to have comments sent to my new address, as well. I had not checked my old e-mail in several days and did not know there were comments waiting to be posted. I have gotten things straightened out with my blogger account and have posted any comments I have recieved. Sorry again, and thanks for reading.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"The Question" (part two)

Question: What is the question?
Answer: What does the Bible say?

In his book Protestant Biblical Interpretation Bernard Ramm writes, "obscure passages in Scripture must give way to clear passages." Later, he writes, "the theologian must basically rest his theology on those passages that are clear and not upon those that are obscure....Everything essential to salvation and Christian living is clearly revealed in Scripture" (pgs. 104-105).

Whenever we take the liberty of reading "between the lines" of Scripture we are allowing ourselves the dangerous opportunity to make the Bible say something that it does not say. Furthermore, we have the tendency to make it conform to some presupposition that we may have. So, I simply ask anyone reading this to clear your mind from any preconceived theological system you may adhere to and let the words of God speak loud and clearly.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:6

"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
Isaiah 55:6-7

"Say unto them, As I live, saith the LORD GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Ezekiel 33:11

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him , and saith, 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
John 3:16-17

"For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world....I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
John 6:33;51

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."
Acts 17:30-31

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
Romans 5:18-19

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Romans 10:13

"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
II Corinthians 5:14-15

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
I Timothy 2:1-5

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."
I Timothy 4:10

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
Hebrews 2:9

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
II Peter 3:9

"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
I John 2:2

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Revelation 22:17

If it is true (and I believe it is) that obscure passages must give way to clear passages, as Ramm has written, then the clear truth of the Bible is that Jesus bore the sins of all of mankind on the cross, so that all of mankind may repent of their sins and be reconciled to God. That does not mean that all men will repent of their sins and be reconciled to God, but that God has provided the means for it to happen.

Let me illustrate. Say a person has been convicted of a serious crime and they are truly guilty. If the governor decides to offer them a pardon, they still must accept the pardon to be free from their punishment. Whether or not they accept the pardon in no way whatsoever affects the effectiveness of the governor's decision. There is a personal decision that must be made. Likewise, the death of Christ is no less effective if everyone believes or if no one believes. Jesus' death provided the way of salvation, but each and every individual must make the personal decision to believe or reject. Just because we cannot fathom why a person in his right mind would do so, does not mean that it is not so.

Simply put, if the the nature of the Scriptures are to reveal God to man (and I believe it is) then anyone who simply reads the Words of God will come to the conclusion that anyone, not just a certain group, can be saved and that everyone has the opportunity to be saved, because Christ died for all. It is God's desire for all people to repent of their sins and the only atonement for their sin is through the blood of Jesus.

My goal is to expound the previous Scriptures over the next few posts I make to further explain what the Bible plainly teaches. It is not my intention to offend or belittle anyone else's theological position, but I make no apologies for simply believing the answer to "the question."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"The Question"

One of my professors at Bible college always asks, "What is the question?" From the very first day of class with him in your freshman year, this question is drilled into your way of thinking. The answer to "the question" is the basis for all that we do and believe as Christians. So, what is the question? It is, "What does the Bible say?" I know that that is not a very earth-shattering, mind-blowing revelation, but all we believe about the way we should live, the doctrines we teach, and the truths we preach must be supported by the plain teaching of what the Bible says.

I bring this up, because there are many people who call themselves Christians who fail to read and interpret the Bible for what it says. Instead of taking a passage of Scripture and simply believing what it says, they make up their own interpretation by either adding or taking away words and ideas in order to make it fit their own system of belief. Rather than letting the Bible shape their thinking and understanding, they twist the words of Holy Writ to try to make it conform to their preconceived notions and their own peculiar religious views.

Let me digress for a moment. I want to make it clear that I believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Yes, there are various forms of figurative language throughout the Scriptures, but its purpose is to impart some literal truth. I believe that the very nature of Scripture is for the purpose of revealing God to man. I believe that in the Bible God says exactly what He means and means exactly what He says. I do not believe that a person has to have a college-level education to be able to understand what is written in the Scriptures. I do believe that there are some things that cannot be understood apart from the guiding of the Holy Spirit, but I believe there are some things that a person can figure out for themselves. For example, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" is something that is self-explanatory. The most uneducated person can hear that and know what is being said. My four-year-old son can even figure that out. I also believe that there are some things we will never know in our finite minds this side of Heaven.

Without a proper system of hermeneutics (interpretation) anyone can make the Bible say anything. By way of illustration, I can prove that God is a female, because Psalm 48:3 says, "God is known in HER palaces for a refuge." Even without changing anything, I have totally misinterpreted this verse by ripping it right out of its context to make it fit a preconceived idea. (Please note: I do not truly believe that God is a woman.) The "her" in this passage actually refers to Mount Zion, but unless you read it in context you would not know that.

I say all of that to say this: Whenever we try to make the Bible say something that contradicts what is plainly written, there is something wrong with our interpretation, not the other way around. The very first rule of hermeneutics is that if the plain sense makes perfect sense, seek no other sense. If the Bible says one thing and it does not fit my predetermined theological system, I do not have the liberty to add anything to it or take anything from it, so that I can maintain what I believe, even if it goes against logic and reasoning. I am positive that God knew what He meant to say and the Holy Spirit recorded it precisely the way it was supposed to have been recorded.

This has turned into a longer introduction than I intended, but I feel that to say what I am going to say this foundation has to be laid. However, I will have to finish it in another post in the next couple of days. Think about what has been written so far and be sure that you believe what you believe because it is plainly written in the Scriptures. Remember, "What does the Bible say?"

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Busy Man

For those who may read this blog and do not know, I am a full-time student at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. August 31 was the first day of my fourth semester in class. This semester my course load totals 13 hours. I take my education seriously and try to do the best that I possibly can. If a person is going to serve God, I believe they should do it with all their might, including the training that goes into serving.

In addition to attending school full time, I also have the responsibility of supporting my wife and my four children, which requires that I work full time as well.

I say all that to say this, keeping up with this blog is the least of my priorities. If I do not post something it is not because I have fallen off the face of the earth. I will do my best to try to write something at least on a monthly basis, but I am making no promises or guarantees. If you have any comments on any posts I make or have made feel free to send them. I will publish all comments that do not contain vulgarities and that are written in good taste, even if they contradict something I may believe.

Thanks for reading the thoughts of an unashamed fundamental Baptist.

If you are interested, here is list of my classes this semester:

- Biblical Foundations of Ministry
(otherwise known as philosophy of ministry)
- Church Growth Strategies
- Cross-Cultural Communications
- Soteriology (the study of the doctrine of salvation)
- Eschatology (the study of prophecy)
- Principles of Christian Living
(developing a discipleship program)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Growing Up or Growing Cold

A thermometer is an interesting object. If the temperature is 70 degrees and it rises to 80 degrees a thermometer must pass through degrees 71 through 79 before it reaches its destination. It does not automatically jump from 70 to 80, even though it may seem like it sometimes. The same goes with a clock. If the clock reads 7 o'clock it must pass through every minute on the clock to get to 8 o'clock. Time may fly when you're having fun, but every minute must be counted for. The same goes with a compass and each of its degrees or an elevator and each floor of a building. There are no shortcuts to be had.

The life of a Christian is the same as a thermometer, clock, compass, or an elevator. If we are to grow and mature in our walk with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we must grow one step at a time. We do not automatically become a grown-up Christian. Isaiah 28:9-10 says, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." In this instance the people of Judah were mocking Isaiah, because he was teaching the same truths and lessons over and over like you do with a child until, hopefully, they will learn and grow. The image presented here is that of a brick layer who must build his building one row of bricks at a time. Even though Isaiah was being mocked there is an important truth here. You only grow step by step. Sometimes those steps may be longer than others, but you still must put one foot in front of the other. The Apostle Paul put it this way, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." God instructs us in His Word that we, too, are to move towards perfection. While that is not a reality in this sin-filled world, we are to strive for that. It is only done little by little, step by step.

I have to admit that I get frustrated in my own life. I want to grow up and be as mature of a Christian as possible, but there are times when I don't want to put forth the effort that is required to reach that goal. There are times when I don't want to read my Bible. There are times when I don't want to pray. There are times when I don't want to go to church. I know, though, that in order to grow in the Lord I must do those things. Sometimes it is a struggle and other times it is an all-out war raging between my flesh and my spirit. Each time that I win one of those battles I grow a little more Christ-like. Each time I overcome my flesh I am moving closer to perfection. It is hard at times, but it is worth it. I know that I must go through each stage of maturation, just like a thermometer must go through each degree and the clock must pass through each minute. Growing up comes in stages, not in leaps and bounds.

Likewise, growing cold towards the Lord is a process. It does not happen automatically for a saved person. Each time a Christian hardens his heart or quenches the leading of the Holy Spirit, he grows a little more colder towards God. Most Christians don't abruptly start missing church and quit reading their Bibles and praying. It usually happens over a course of time. When we lose those battles to the flesh it becomes easier to to give in the next time, and so on until we don't put forth any effort at all. Our hearts do not turn to granite overnight. Again, growing cold comes in stages, just like the thermometer, clock, or compass.

Each and every Christian is either growing up or growing cold. Are you pressing for the prize to be found in Christ Jesus, or are cooling off more and more each day. No one can say that they are at the point of full maturity in Christ, at least not in this life. We all must examine our hearts and determine what is taking place there. The hymnist wrote, "I'm pressing on the upward way, new heights I'm gaining every day." We must strive daily to gain those new heights. Are you gaining ground or are you losing it? Are you striving or skidding? Are you growing up or growing cold?

Monday, August 13, 2007


While trying to cut the top off of a pop bottle, my 9 year-old nephew recently cut one of his fingers nearly to the bone with a utility knife. He had been repeatedly told to put the knife away and to leave it alone. Ignoring the instructions of his father, he reaped the consequence of disobedience. He will most likely carry a scar on his finger as a result of his willful and deliberate act of rebellion.

A couple of weeks ago my 4 year-old son suffered second-degree burns to the back of his legs and to three fingers on one of his hands after falling into a campfire. Fortunately, and by the grace of God, the actual fire had burned down and only hot coals remained. Otherwise, he would have suffered more serious and more numerous burns.

My son's mishap was not the result of rebellion or disobedience, but was simply an accident. He had his shoes on the wrong feet and got tripped up and backed into the fire ring and landed in the hot coals. He, too, will most likely carry the scars of this event for the remainder of his earthly life.

Reflecting on these two incidents, I was reminded how sin will leave scars in a person's life. It does not matter if the sin was a willful, intentional, and deliberate rebellion against God just like the behavior of my nephew. It also does not matter if the devil causes us to stumble and we commit an act of sin out of ignorance or in a moment of weakness. Sin leaves scars no matter the reason we sinned in the first place. We must keep in mind that our adversary the devil "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Satan is not out to play cat-and-mouse games with us. He is compared to a "roaring lion" who is out to devour and destroy us. Anyone who thinks they can play around with sin and not pay the price is only fooling themselves. Yes, the pleasures of sin are for a season, but the consequences will last a lifetime. It only takes one "mistake" of sin to destroy a person's future. Even though we have been promised that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," does not mean that we are free from the physical consequences of sin. Webster defines a 'consequence' as "a condition or occurrence traceable to a cause."

Hopefully, my nephew will learn not to play with knives and to obey the instruction of his parents. Likewise, I hope my son will realize the dangers of fire and will be more cautious when he is near one. If not, then the scars these two young boys bear will be all for nought. They will have endured tremendous pain simply for the sake of suffering. Likewise, if we suffer from the effects of our sin and we do not take heed and learn from our mistakes we are the Bible's description of a fool. "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Me First" Christianity

"And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62

The two disciples that Jesus was speaking with in this passage share a lot in common with the majority of Christians, including myself at times, that I see in the world today. People say that they want to follow Jesus and be one of His disciples, but there is usually something that prohibits them from being fully surrendered to His calling. In both of these cases, family and friends came in the way of these disciples' walk with Christ. The typical Christian in our churches today are no different than these two men. In our present day and age, education, vocation, relaxation, and self-gratification are the usual culprits for hindering a person's walk with the Lord. You see, many people, past and present, want to do want they want to do, go where they want to go, be who they want to be, and serve how they want to serve without ever considering how or what God would have them do, go, be, and serve. It is apparent that today's Christian has no desire to live a holy life that is pleasing to God, especially if they must give up something that brings them pleasure in order to do so. Every where you turn you see Christians who love the world more than they love their Savior. The Bible makes it crystal clear that you cannot serve God and still hold on to the things of this sin-filled world. The Scriptures also make the unmistakable claim that you cannot follow the Lord and have your own way about things at the same time. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." It is impossible follow Christ until you have denied all right to your self and crucified your own fleshly desires. Jesus could not have made it more clear.

As an example, here is a link to a blog of a pastor in Georgia who wants to let people know how they can dress as cool as he dresses (http://yckg.wordpress.com/2007/07/09/how-to-dress-as-cool-as-me/). This guy is more concerned with a person's wardrobe than he is about the destiny of their soul. Instead of trying to encourage people how look and act like the world, why does this man not encourage people how to be more like Christ. I suppose if he did that, though, he would not be so "cool" anymore and no on would want to follow him. In effect, he is saying, "Jesus, I will follow you if you will allow me first to dress as hip as I can." Give me a break. God is not fooled or impressed by such immaturity.

If we are to lead others to the Savior of this world we must be dedicated to Him. The people of this world are not impressed with Christians who look, talk, think, dress, and imitate them in every possible way and then say that they are not of the world. The world wants to see something different and distinct. They want to see people who have convictions and are willing to abide by and stand up for those convictions. More importantly, though, God wants His children to be devoted entirely to Him and Him alone. He wants Christians to be "unspotted from the world." God said that "whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." He also said, "If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him."

There was another man in the Bible who said "me first," but his attitude was entirely different than that of the other two. Paul, writing to Timothy, said, "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." Oh, how we should all want our Lord and Savior to emanate from within us so that we, too, would be examples for the lost world! That will only happen, though, when we surrender every area of our life to follow and serve Him. Are you surrendered to Jesus, or in your heart are you saying "me first"?

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live

All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me Jesus, take me now

All to Jesus I surrender
Make me, Savior, wholly thine
Let me feel the Holy Spirit
Truly know that Thou art mine

All to Jesus I surrender
Lord, I give myself to Thee
Fill me with Thy love and power
Let Thy blessing fall on me

Friday, July 06, 2007

Christians and Smoked Brisket

After reading the title to this entry, you may be asking what do briskets and Christians have to do with each other. In this post I will attempt to link the two together to provide an interesting illustration.

First, let me say that I love smoked brisket. I have a smoker at home and try to smoke something at least once a month if financially able to do so. Nothing, according to my taste buds, is more palatable than a good heaping portion of brisket that has been cooked long and slow over hickory or mesquite smoke. A brisket, however, has not always been so favorable to those doing the cooking or the ones doing the consuming. In times past this hunk of meat was simply thrown out and was not used for anything, because the meat is very tough and stringy. The brisket comes from the area of the neck between the shoulders of a cow or steer. Cooked in a traditional manner, you would have to chew for a week to be able to swallow a piece of this meat. In most cases it is good for nothing and fit only for the garbage heap, not the table.

However, when you take this otherwise worthless piece of meat, and cook it at a low temperature (approx. 150 - 225 degrees) for an extended amount of time (12 - 16 hours) an amazing transformation takes place that is not seen by the human eye. A brisket literally changes its chemistry. It is transformed from something detestable to something delectable. It changes from something worthless to something exceptional. This piece of beef that was once thrown out with the entrails metamorphoses into one of the most tender, tastiest cuts of meat. A brisket is genuinely changed from the inside.

I am smoking a brisket for my son's birthday party tomorrow and, as I was preparing the meat with seasonings, it occurred to me how much a Christian and a smoked brisket share with one another. Before a person places their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are as worthless and vile as a brisket once was. In the fifth chapter of the book of Galatians the apostle Paul says, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like." When writing to the Corinthians Paul, giving the same basic list of the deeds of the flesh, says, "and such were some of you." Man is a corrupt, wretched, reprehensible creature.

However, like a brisket meeting smoke and time, when a person meets Jesus Christ and gives their life to Him, they, too, are changed from the inside. An amazing change takes place within their hearts. They are the ones whose chemistry is rewritten. They have now become something delectable to the Lord's taste rather than something detestable. They are the one's who are transformed from something worthless to something exceptional. Paul went on to say to the Galatatians that, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul said, "but ye are washed, but ye are sacntified, but ye are justified" to the same people he said "and such were some of you."

People want "proof" that Jesus is who He says He is. The only evidence they need is the change in the lives of the people who have made Him their Lord and Savior. The only way for someone to produce the fruit of the Spirit is to have their lives totally changed. Paul, in Second Corinthians, says that if a person has trusted in Jesus that he is a totally new creature and the old person he was has passed away. Only one person can make such a change in a person's life and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the next time you are savoring a piece of smoked brisket remember the change that that brisket under went and examine your own life to see if you have been transformed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No Regrets

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
The apostle Paul to his understudy Timothy

When all of life is over for you, will you be able to look back and say that you have no regrets. Will you be able to say, as Paul, I have finished my course? Or, will you look back from your death bed and lament the fact that there were things you were supposed to do, things you should have done, and things you could have done, but, for what ever reason, you did not accomplish them? Is there any thing that you left undone that will cause remorse?

I am not speaking of the nominal things in life, such as a place you would have liked to visit or an activity in which you would have liked to have participated. I am referring to the things that really matter in life. Was there someone in your life who you failed to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with? Did God call you to do something and you ran the other way like the prophet Jonah? Was your relationship with the family God gave you in good order? What kind of legacy will you leave for your children and grand children to remember you? When you pass into eternity will you be ushered into the presence of the Most High God, or will you perish in the everlasting fire with the devil and his angels? What are you building on your "salvation foundation" (see I Corinthians 3:11 KJV)? When your works are tried by God's holy fire will they burn or will they stand? I can go on with the questions, but, instead, I will progress. The reason I ask these questions is this: I don't want my life to be about what I could have, should have, or would have done. That should be your desire as well.

First, and foremost, above all else be sure of your salvation. Jesus has said that "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven." Jesus later tells us what the will of the Father is: "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." What would surprise you the most if you died and woke up in hell? Please, please, please be sure that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour.

Secondly, live your life in a way that will be well pleasing to God. I can say that I have not always done that. There were several years of my life that God was just an after thought. When I look back when I am old and gray, that is something that will haunt me. I would like to share a personal story here. God had called me to be a preacher when I was 17, but I let life get in the way. I let my own plans get in the way. I let my own personal sin get in the way. Just as he did to Jonah, God sent storms into my life to wake me up to my problems. However, the more storms He sent, the more I hardened my heart. Then one morning I went to church to see Adam (my oldest son) in his first Patch the Pirate program when God really got a hold of me. A missionary from Brazil was preaching that morning. He told the story of an old man in a church there who had surrendered to preach when he was a young man, but he never did any thing about it. Now, he was in his late 60's and all he could do was cry, because he had waited too long. Man, that hit me right in the heart. I knew God had orchestrated the events of that morning (the program, the missionary) to speak to me. I knew that my time was running out to get my life straight, for God has said that His Spirit will not always strive with man. Believe me, It had been striving for some time at that point. I had quenched the Spirit numerous times and had the feeling in my soul that I was getting close to the end of God's mercy and that He was about to deliver me to Satan for the destruction of my flesh. How close I really was I do not know, but I was very concerned about it. Anyway, I knew in my heart that I did not want to be that old man the missionary had spoken of. I could no longer ignore God's calling for my life. That is where I am now. I have been accepted to Baptist Bible College and will begin classes on January 23. That brings me full circle.

I am going about the course that God has set before me. When I am on my bed of death, I want to be able to say that "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, and I have kept the faith." Because God is merciful I am able to have another chance to do that. I will always have to wonder about the years I wandered from God. Is there someone in hell today, because I was not there to tell them about the love of God? Was there someone who could have used a word of encouragement from me, but I was not around to give it? I will not know until I get to Heaven and I will not dwell on it at this time. I have asked and received the forgiveness of God for my past failures and sins. He remembers them no more and I am working on forgetting them myself. I am sure there will be some lamenting for me as I prepare to pass into God's presence, but it is my goal from this point forward in my life that I will be able to say "I have no regrets." Will you be able to say that, as well?

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Crying Voice

Do you ever feel alone in this evil world? Do you ever feel like you are swimming upstream against the tide of complacency? Do you ever feel like you are peddling a bike up a steep hill and you keep looking back and you are not making much progress? I often wonder if that is the way John the Baptist felt in the days just before Jesus' public ministry began. To my knowledge, the Bible never says why John was living in the desert, dressed in camel's hair, and eating locusts. Could it be that he felt this way and had to get away from the religious leaders and the apostasy of his day? I think it is a very good possibility. John the Baptist was called to prepare the way of Jesus through the calling of repentance. Even the religious establishment at the time was included in that call to repentance.

I, too, feel very alone in this world and that I am fighting a losing battle. God has called me to be an evangelist; to preach salvation to sinners and to edify and exhort true believers in Jesus Christ to a life of holiness and separation from the world. I believe with all my heart, mind, and soul that God has gifted me with the spiritual gift of prophecy. That does not mean that I have the ability to foretell the future. Rather, it means that I am a "forthteller" or one who speaks forth the mind of God and the truth contained in His written word. Sometimes it may seem that I am lacking in compassion or that I am being judgmental. However, that is not my intention. My intention is to compel people to live a life that God is very well pleased with. Believe me, any act of righteousness that I commit is only by power of Christ living in me. As Isaiah says, "all my righteousnessess are as filthy rags." There is nothing "good" about David Oates apart from Jesus Christ. I am low down, dirty, rotten sinner the same as anyone else, but I have been made righteous through the saving grace of my saviour Jesus Christ. That is what compels me to "preach" the Word of God.

God sent His beloved Son into this world in order to redeem it from the curse of sin. John 3 says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but to give life everlasting. We are already condemned, but God sent a way of escape from the punishment of sin. For this to be accomplished, blood had to be shed. It was the blood of God Himself that was shed at Calvary for my sins and for yours. It was not the blood of some worthless animal. It was the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. When you are able to grasp that concept, you should be willing to live a life, by the power of God, that is without spot or blemish. You should want to remove yourself from the practices, customs, traditions, ways, etc. of this world. It should be reflected in the way we dress, the music we listen to, the places we go, the things we read, and every single aspect of our lives. There is a call for personal holiness through personal sacrifice. You cannot be a follower of Jesus without denial of self and personal sacrifice. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." To follow Christ will cost you something. It could cost you your physical life, and it should cost you your lifestyle. If your lifestyle is accpeted by the world, then there is something wrong with your commitment to Christ.

When you commit yourself to holy living, do not be surprised when others in religous circles classify you as a Pharisee or a legalist. There are other things you will be called, but these are their favorite two. I am not saying you have to live a life according to God's standards to be saved from your sins or to find acceptance from Him. That is what the Pharisees and legalists were saying in the early Church era. I am saying that righteous living is a direct result of a committed relationship with Jesus Christ. It should be our greatest desire to be as totally opposite from the world as possible. Does that mean we are to do as the Amish and form our own little community. By no means is that what I am implying. If you have a bowl of red and blue jelly beans and are told to separate the blue from the red, can you leave them in the same bowl and still separate them? Of course you can. However, you cannot keep them mixed together and still call them separated. In the same way, you cannot hold on to the ways of the world and be separated from it as well.

That brings me to why I titled this entry as "A Crying Voice". Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to think of name to call my ministry. I did not want to call it the David Oates Evangelistic Ministry. I don't want my ministry or its name to reflect on me personally. I wanted the name to show what my ministry is about. God has laid on my heart the name "A Crying Voice Ministries", because, just like John the Baptist in his day, I am a voice crying in the wilderness of sin in the 21st century. In no way do I classify myself in the same category as John the Baptist, but, in a sense, I, along with others, am preparing the way of Jesus' second coming. How? By the preaching of salvation to sinners and the edification and exhortation to holy living and separation from the world by true believers of Jesus Christ. Most of the time it is lonely and feels like a losing battle, but I will continue to cry.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oswald Chambers on Holiness

"The holiness which God demands is impossible unless a man can be re-made from within, and that is what Jesus Christ has undertaken to do. Jesus Christ does not merely save people from hell: "thou shalt call His name JESUS; for it is He that shall save His people from their sins", i.e., make totally new moral men. Jesus Christ came from a holy God to enable men, by the sheer might of His Redemption, to become holy. "Ye shall be holy. for I the Lord your God am holy."
from "Biblical Ethics" page 16
"Holiness is the characteristic of the man after God's own heart."
from "Biblical Ethics" page 16
"You can never make yourself holy by external acts, but, if you are holy, your external acts will be the natural expression of holiness."
from "Run Today's Race" page 23

Monday, January 09, 2006

Avoiding the Snare of Narnia

"I had some ado to prevent Joy and myself from relapsing into Paganism in Attica! At Daphni it was hard not to pray to Appollo the Healer. But somehow one didn't feel it would have been very wrong - would have only been addressing Christ sub specie Apollinius. We witnessed a beautiful Christian village ceremony in Rhodes and hardly felt a discrepancy."

“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place… certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side. That they stood thus in the mouth of Jesus himself and were not merely placed thus by the reporter, we surely need not doubt… The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so.”

"There are people in other religions who are being led by God's secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it ... For example a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ's birth may have been in this position"

Would a person who claims to be a born again Christian sit under the preaching of a man who said the above things? I would hope not. However, millions have no problem sitting for two hours watching a movie based upon a series of books written by this man. Who is this man? It is none other than C.S. Lewis. Lewis had a passion for the occult and was fascinated with mythology and paganism. To think that such a man's writings would not be influenced by his beliefs truly is fantasy. The Chronicles of Narnia, however, are not truly fantasy. Consider the following examples.

On the January 6, 2006 broadcast of Love Worth Finding (teaching/preaching ministry of the late Adrian Rogers) Rogers told of a god of the Greeks named Bacchus, who was the god of wine or drunkeness. In "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" one of the supposed good character's name is Bacchus. Did C.S. Lewis know this? For one so deeply invovled in pagan mythology it is most likely certain. The following is taken from Wikipedia: "Dionysus or Dionysos (also known as Bacchus in both Greek and Roman mythology and associated with the Italic Liber), the Thracian god of wine, represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficent influences." This is one example of Lewis's blending of error with the truth.

Another example is found in the last book of the Narnia series. One of the servants of Tash (Satan figure) is told by Aslan (supposed Jesus Christ figure) that all his service done unto Tash would be counted as service done to Aslan. In other words you can serve Satan and it will be counted as service to the Lord Jesus Christ if you are sincere in that service. As much as I wish I was, I am not making this up. I believe the book is titled "The Last Battle". Go to a bookstore and look it up for yourself if you do not believe me.

Furthermore, C.S. Lewis said in his own words "Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child-psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't even anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord" (Of Other Worlds, p. 36). If Lewis himself said that "The Chronicles of Narnia" were not written as allegories, then why do Christians today insist that they are? Since they are not allegories then we must take them for what they are, without the presupposition of what or who the characters supposedly represent. If the Narnia books can be claimed as allegory, then why can a person not claim any book as an allegory and base it upon their own beliefs? In short, these books are not "Christian", even though they may possess elements of Christianity.

So, should a person read the books or watch the movies? That is up for each person to seek guidance from God. Keep this in mind, however. God says that "A little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9). This means that even just a little error or sin mixed in with the truth makes it all in error or sinful. You see, a partial truth, even if it is 99% true, is not the truth. If I gave you a plate of food and told you that I put just a tiny bit of poison in it, would you eat any of it? If not, then why are we willing to eat of the spiritual food of Narnia when it contains more than just a tiny bit of spiritual poison? Ask God in prayer if it is okay for you to watch this movie or read the Narnia books, even though they go against His word and His truth.

Finally, let me share one more thing. When this movie was first released to the theatres, I did not seek to find the evils in it. Honestly, I did not know much about "The Chronicles of Narnia" or about C.S. Lewis. In fact, I gave my brother-in-law some books written by Lewis as a gift for being in my wedding back in 1999. (Josh, forgive me. I should have examined things more closely.) However, when "the world" praised these movies just as much as "Christians", I knew in my heart that something was not right, so I had to search for myself. As I John 4:1 says "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." Satan usually does not present things totally against God. By that I mean that he usually presents things as being good, but mixing error with them. Remember, he is an angel of light. He is very good at decieving people. Read Genesis 3 where he deceived Eve. He did it by mixing truth with error. I believe that this is what he has done with this movie. I wish everyone reading this could see inside my heart and how much I am pained that those who have put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot or will not see Satan's hand on this movie.

Please check the following links for documentation and other information regarding C.S. Lewis and "The Chronicles of Narnia".