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Category Archives: Articles from Bible Truth for Africa

Meditation in Preparation for the Lord’s Table: Luke 24:13-27

Occasion Sunday Worship 8th March 2015

Text: Luke 24:13-27

Purpose: Luke recorded this event from the end of Christ’s earthly ministry so that we can see that Christ’s ministry is the center of Bible.

Proposition: God wants us to worship Him for His wonderful plan of redemption!

Interrogative: How can we properly do that this morning?

Three truths

  • Christ is the center of the whole Bible:
  • The Old Testament points forward to the coming Messiah Luke 24:25-27 He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?   And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
  • The New Testament points back at the Messiah who purchased our redemption: Ephesians 1:3, 16-20  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…I pray that God may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead. Ephesians 3:15-21 I bow my knees…That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God…Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

A brief survey:

  • Seed of the woman: Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
  • The Seed of Abraham: Genesis 12:3; 15:6 In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
  • The Lamb of God: Exodus 12:11-14 It is the LORD’S Passover…And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt…this day shall be unto you for a memorial…ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
  • The Seed of David: Psalm 89:34-37 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips…I will not lie unto David.  His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
  • The Atonement: Exodus 29:36-46 Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it…two lambs of the first year day by day continually…And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory…And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
  • The Scapegoat: Leviticus 16:21-22 Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away…the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities.
  • The suffering servant: Isaiah 53:4-12 He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  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…he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken…Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities…he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
  • God with Us: Isaiah 7:14 The Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. Isaiah 9:6 Unto us a child is born…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom…The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
  • Yahweh pierced: Zechariah 12:8-10 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem…I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.

Application:

  • Let’s worship God for His grace shown to us in Christ
  • Let’s worship God for His power to providentially accomplish what He said He would accomplish
  • Let’s worship God for His faithfulness to do what He said He would do no matter the unfaithfulness of His people.
  • Let’s worship God for His personal work of redemption that brought you to conversion.
  • Let’s worship God by responding to this work in humble trust and holy living.

Conclusion:

  • How will you come to the Lord’s Table this morning?
  • Will you come in pride lightly considering the work of Christ for you?
  • Have you placed your faith alone in this Christ, the center of the Bible?
 

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Eternal Security Summarized by J. C. Dillow The Reign of the Servant Kings:

The Partaker view of eternal security may be summarized as follows:

1. Those who have been born again will always31 give some evidence of growth in grace and spiritual interest and commitment. A man who claims he is a Christian and yet never manifests any change at all has no reason to believe he is justified (Mk. 4:5, 16–17).

2. The assurance of salvation is found only by looking outward to Christ and not by looking inward to the evidences of regeneration in the life. As the gospel promise and the beauty of the Redeemer are held before the believer’s gaze, assurance is the result of such contemplation. The fruits of faith are helpful as secondary confirmations of one’s regenerate state, but their absence does not necessarily invalidate a man’s salvation. If a believer is looking biblically and dependently to Christ, a lifestyle of sin will be psychologically, spiritually, and biblically impossible (Rom. 6:1, 11; 8:35–39; Heb. 11:1–2).

3. It is possible for true Christians to fail to persevere in faith and, in remote cases, even to deny the faith altogether (Heb. 10:26, 35). While initial growth is taught in the New Testament, it is possible for a true Christian to lapse into carnality and finish his course walking as a mere man. The automatic unity between justification and sanctification maintained by the Experimental Predestinarians is not taught in Scripture.

4. The warning passages of the New Testament are intended by the New Testament writers to address regenerate people, not merely professing people, and to express real dangers to the regenerate. The danger, however, is not loss of salvation but severe divine discipline (physical death or worse) in the present time and loss of reward, and even rebuke, at the judgment seat of Christ.

5. A life of good works is the obligatory outcome of justification but is not the inevitable outcome (Rom. 8:12).

6. Those whom God has chosen before the foundations of the world and efficaciously called into saving faith and regenerated by His Holy Spirit can never fall away from salvation, but they shall be preserved in a state of salvation to the final hour and be eternally saved. This preservation is guaranteed regardless of the amount of works or lack thereof in the believer’s life (Jn. 6:38–40).

7. The motive for godly living is not to be found in either fear of losing salvation (Arminian) or wondering if one is saved (Experimental Predestinarian). Rather, it is to be found, negatively, in the fear of disapproval, and, positively, in gratitude for a salvation already assured and in anticipation of hearing the Master say, “Well done!” The doctrine of eternal rewards usually has a more prominent place in spiritual inspiration toward a life of good works in the Partaker view than in that of the Arminian or Experimental Predestinarian (1 Cor. 9:24–27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Jn. 8).32[1]

 


31 This is true because (1) at conversion a person has repented, changed his perspective about sin and Christ and is therefore predisposed to allow Christ to change him; (2) he has been flooded with the new motivations toward godliness accompanied by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; and (3) the parable of the soil says of the second man there was growth, a kind of fruit. But he may soon after quench the Spirit, walk by means of the flesh, and thus fail to give visible evidences of these initial inner workings. A life of sanctification will not inevitably and necessarily follow justification.

32 John MacArthur, for example, has only one sentence devoted to the subject in his entire book on discipleship, p. 145.

[1] Dillow, J. C. (2011). The Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man (21–22). Monument, CO: Paniym Group.

 

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The Primary Distinction between Pastors and Apostles: A Summary of Thoughts from Last Night’s Broadcast

The Primary Distinction between Pastors and Apostles: A Summary of Thoughts from Last Night’s Broadcast

As you drive from my home into Cape Coast town, there are a number of interesting things you will likely see along the way.  One of the most intriguing things you will notice is the unbelievable volume of banners and posters advertising various church crusades and revival meetings.  These bright, glossy finished posters typically have a catchy title, usually having something to do with securing a year of material prosperity, and then the list and pictures of key note speakers and dignitaries.  Men and women claiming to be apostles, pastors, bishops, prophets, seers, and prophetesses prompt us to contemplate a series of troubling questions.  Do we still have apostles today?  What about seers and prophets?  Is there really any difference between the apostles of Christ, and modern day pastor?  Are women Biblically qualified to hold these church offices?  Allow us a few minutes to contemplate some important distinctions between apostles and pastors.

God used the apostles, a group of men who were hand picked eye witnesses of His ministry and resurrection, to establish the foundation of the Christian faith, in His physical absence.   In their lifetime, Christ’s apostles penned the Scriptures which established these doctrines and practices, while pastors were commanded by these apostles to study, guard, and teach the foundation that they were laying and have since completed in their lifetime.  Notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11.  As a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ…no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is already laid.  He then says in Ephesians 2:20 that the church has been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.  I will have more to say about this in a few moments. But these prophets and apostles had the distinct role of giving us God’s word as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Another distinction is that while these apostles demonstrated authority in many churches, like the churches in Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Asia Minor, pastors only had authority in one local assembly.  There offices were clearly unique.

Sadly, Paul an apostle, warned Timothy, a pastor, that there would be many who would seek to establish new doctrines and practices that are both foreign and contrary to Scripture.  1 Timothy 6:3-4 says that if anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words.  Not only did Paul warn Timothy that there would be many false teachers creeping into the church, but he also warned him that their message would become quite popular.  In 2 Timothy 4:3 he said that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  As Paul predicted, look around and see the modern explosion of cults and false doctrines perpetrated by popular televangelists and “Christian” personalities.  Many today in every culture, as those who cannot endure sound doctrine, are looking for teachers who will present them something new and more palatable than the faith once delivered to the saints by the hands of the prophets and apostles of old

So again what is the foundation?  Succinctly put it is Christ, and can be divided into four truths about Christ.  First, Christ is a one of a kind Savior.  Conceived in a virgin, both fully God and fully man, sinless, the express image of the Father, one in substance, co-equal and co-eternal with God.  He is God very God, yet distinct in person and function from the Father and Spirit.  John 1:1 says, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Those who teach a new Christ teach a false Christ, and Jesus said in John 5:24 that whoever hears my words, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  Salvation is bound in our willingness to depend solely upon the revelation of Christ’s person as revealed by God through His prophets, apostles, and Son.  Secondly, Christ came to do a work that in His sinless life provided the only righteousness acceptable to God, and in His sacrificial death on the cross, the only sacrifice acceptable to satisfy the wrath of God making forgiveness possible.  Three days after Christ’s death on the cross, He demonstrated His power over the grave being the first-fruits of those raised from the dead, and the fact that His sacrifice was fully accepted by the Father. Because of the cross, God can be both just and the justifier of the sinner who places his faith solely in the person and work of Christ.  Third, the instrument through which the benefits of this sacrifice are applied is faith alone in Christ and His work on the cross.  Christ will not share His glory with another, and this is why we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Our salvation is not a reward but a gift so that we have no room to boast. Fourthly, as head of the church, it is Christ’s instruction alone through His apostles that should be the basis for our faith and practice.  Why should the church function as Christ commands?  Why should Christians govern their homes as Christ commands?  Why should Christians do their daily labors as Christ commands?  It is simple.  Christ is the head, Lord, and Savior of the church, and therefore He demands our complete obedience, beginning with abandonment of all hope and dependence in the works of the flesh in order to depend solely upon the person and work of Christ for our justification.  If Christ is the foundation and the apostles have completed their work, then there is no need for more apostles, nor is anyone living today qualified to call himself an apostle of Jesus Christ.

While it is clear that the foundation has been completely established, have there ever been imposters in the church as Paul predicted?  The answer is of course.  Look around.  There are plenty of people claiming the authority of apostles today.  Plenty of people have introduced doctrines and practices into the church that are foreign to the instruction of Christ and the apostles in the New Testament.  Many today have as those in the churches of Galatia, substituted a saving gospel of grace for a false gospel of performance and adherence to the law.  We still have functional Judiazers in the church today.  Many today have placed their own opinions and practices above the authority of scripture acting as a functional Sanhedrin for the church.  Others have substituted the One of a kind Christ of the Bible for an idol of the heart “Christ” who is powerless to save.  This is no small matter, for the church today.

I think of Joseph Smith who claimed to be an apostle of Christ in North America.  He wrote his own book of Mormon, created his own Christ, established his own practices in the Mormon Church, and preached his own gospel.  There are others today to a lesser degree, following in his footsteps.  These men do not preach the word, but rather present their doctrines as the doctrines of God.  They do not present the Jesus of the Bible, but rather make him palatable to the modern man, they do not preach a pure gospel of grace apart from all human merit, but rather present the work of Christ as the means through which we get what we want.  These doctrines are the doctrines of devils and these doctrines and teachers must be rejected.  I urge you to consider the word of Paul to Timothy and Titus as he sent them to Crete and Ephesus to set in order what was lacking in the local churches in those cities.  2 Timothy 3:10 I commend you because you have carefully followed my doctrine.  Titus 2:1 You must speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine.  Titus 1:9 You must ordain pastors who will hold fast the faithful word as they has been taught, that they may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict these doctrines.  2 Timothy 2:15 You must rightly dividing the word of truth.  And in  2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully mature and  thoroughly equipped for every good work.  Paul’s message to them is the same to us today.  The apostles completed their work, leaving us an inerrant book, breathed by God as the fully sufficient standard for the doctrines and practices of the church.  Do not be deceived by imposters who desire to amend or add to the truth.  Study this book, love this book, rightly understand this book, teach this book, and defend this book.  It is sufficient to thoroughly equip the believer for every good work.  This is perhaps the most important distinction between pastors and apostles.  May God give us the grace to hold fast to the foundation once delivered to the saints by Christ’s prophets and apostles of old, so that we will become complete, fully mature in the faith.

 

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Evaluating the Prosperity Movement

You’ve heard of the Prosperity Gospel, haven’t you? Essentially, it is the “good news” that Jesus came to deliver people like you and me from poverty, problems, financial ruin… to “save” us to a life of success, blessing, and prosperity. This is the “gospel” preached by people like Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, and many (but certainly not all) preachers in more extreme versions of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements.

Theopedia remarks: “Prosperity gospel supporters ‘believe that faith works as a mighty power or force. That it is through their faith that they can obtain anything they want such as health, wealth, or any form of personal success. However, this force is only released through their faith.’[1] Adherents of the Prosperity Gospel, almost always also part of the word of faith movement, usually hold to the tenet that God never grants suffering or poverty, and that both always should be attributed to sin and Satan in every way, and in no way attributed to God. For example, Kenneth Copeland writes,

‘Tradition has taught that God uses sicknesses, trials, and tribulation to teach us. This idea, however, is not based on the Bible. God has never used sickness to discipline His children and keep them in line. Sickness is of Satan, and God doesn’t need Satan to straight us out! “Kenneth, I see Christians that are sick all the time. Why does God allow it?” God allows it because we do. Why? Because He’s given us the right to make our own choices, along with authority over the kingdom of darkness. According to Deuteronomy 30:19, He has put life and death before us. Then He instructed us to choose life. It’s up to us to make that decision. You have the power to live after God’s ways and resist sickness, or not to. You have the choice to let Satan run over you, or use the authority you have been given. Good gifts come from God. No matter what tradition has taught, sickness and disease simply don’t fall into the category of good gifts—ever.’[2]

Sadly, this is the version of Christianity that many third world countries have bought into hook-line-and-sinker. Missionary Seth Meyers of South Africa, on his blog, points out the following errors of this interpretation of the gospel message:

  1. The prosperity gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. The prosperity gospel urges sinners to commit idolatry.
  3. The prosperity gospel denies God’s sovereign purposes for pain as revealed in Scripture.
  4. The prosperity gospel ignores Biblical teaching on wealth.
  5. The prosperity gospel discourages logical thought about the Bible, a work ethic, sickness, economics, and politics.
  6. The prosperity gospel requires other heresies to support it such as deification and positive confession.
  7. The prosperity gospel inoculates people from hearing the truth because they think they already know Gospel.
  8. The prosperity gospel has never been accepted in the Christian church until the 1980’s.
  9. The prosperity gospel contradicts the lives of the many godly but poor believers in the Bible and history.

Theopedia also offers the following points in evaluation of this movement:

God himself is the chief blessing

While it is true that God often shows his goodness by granting health and wealth, we must see these as secondary blessings. The primary blessing is knowing God himself (Psalm 27:4John 17:3), and all secondary blessing is meant to point to him. We will enjoy health and material blessing to a degree unfathomable at the resurrection, but while on this fallen earth, preparing in a spiritual battle for either heaven or hell, we must remember the words of Proverbs:

“Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)

Jesus warned of the danger of wealth

Jesus frequently warned against the allure of wealth. In Matthew 19, after Jesus told the rich young man, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (v. 21), he said:

“Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24) And in Matthew 6:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) And in Luke 6:

“But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” (Luke 6:24-25)

Suffering is a blessed means of producing endurance and testing genuineness

When we define (either implicitly or explicitly) blessedness chiefly as having material things and good health, and obligate God to bless us with these things, we ignore scripture which speaks of the sufferings of the followers of Christ as a badge of honor, and a means of producing endurance and testing genuineness. Paul wrote,

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29, emphasis added). “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, emphasis added) Peter wrote,

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7, emphasis added) And we have David saying,

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71) And lastly, James writes a sober warning to those who have “lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence”:

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” (James 5:1-5)

God’s goodness is not bound by our exacting demands

The theology of the Prosperity Gospel also distrusts God’s higher prerogative and wisdom and sovereignty–God has the final, supreme right to answer our prayers how and when he pleases. His wise goodness is not bound by our exacting demands.

Pastor Micah Colbert at gospelcenteronline.org

 

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Evangelizing the Christianized Culture: What is repentance and how is it evidenced?

Evangelizing the Christianized Culture: What is repentance and how is it evidenced?

Repentance is a willful turning of the heart and the mind to God in light of specific truths.  When we discuss repentance, we must consider context as we consider its nature.  Repentance may or may not involve sin.  God’s repentance obviously is not a turning from sin.  Ironically, twenty one out of the twenty five AV examples of “repent” or its cognate in the Old Testament are referring to God.  Repentance for an unbeliever and a believer is different, depending on context, though this repentance will always result in a changed direction, since it is impossible from one’s heart, thinking, and will to change without a significant change of direction.  Consider these Old Testament text that reveal the nature of repentance. In each passage, notice how various English translations express metonoeo the Greek word for repent, from the LXX.   Proverbs 20:25 “It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows.” “Reconsider” is the English translation of metanoeo.  Proverbs 24:32 “When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction.”  “Considered it well” is the English translation of metanoeo.  1 Samuel 15:29 NAS “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”  “Change His mind” is the English translation of metanoeo.  And Amos 7:3 NAS “The LORD changed His mind about this. ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.” “The LORD changed his mind about this” is the English translation of metanoeo.  The remaining Old Testament text referring to repentance, reveal the same.  Repentance is a willful turning of the heart and mind in light of specific truths.  It involves deliberation in the heart through processing information.  Ultimately one repents, when he turns from one contextually understood view to another.  Response to the gospel is a unique context, with the following truths at stake.  How does one view himself, his sin, his righteousness, the person of Christ, and the work of Christ.

Unconverted men generally view themselves as good, their sins as occasional shortcomings, their righteousness as pleasing to God, Christ as simply a man, and his work as a martyr’s death.  For every sinner, the sticking point may be different.  For the Muslim, it is impossible to embrace Christ’s deity.  For the Moralist, it is impossible to embrace his self-righteous attempts to merit eternal life us unacceptable, arrogant means of rebellion against God’s gracious salvation through Christ alone.  To the Hedonist, there is no desire to embrace the light; it exposes him as a miserable rebel reveling in lawless rebellion.  To the atheist, it is impossible to embrace a risen Savior and the grotesque figure of Christ on a cross.  Apart from the grace of God, no man can turn from these various rebellions, but praise God for His grace in the gospel.  Saving repentance is a willful turning of the heart and mind to God in light of the specific truths of the gospel in order to depend upon the person, work, and righteousness of Christ alone.  Repentance means you cannot add Christ to what you already believe.  You must see yourself as spiritually bankrupt, having no acceptable righteousness before God, condemned and under God’s wrath, without hope apart from the Jesus of the Bible, the Lord God.  You must embrace the redemptive work of God in its entirety, including the horrors of the cross and the triumph of the resurrection.  There is no true faith, without true repentance.  So here are a few questions that help us to discern if there has been a genuine repentance toward God:

  • Have they sensed the seriousness and implications of their rebellion against a holy God?
  • Do they view their current situation as grave?
  • Do they view their current belief system as wrong?
  • Do they embrace a Biblical Jesus?
  • Do they embrace a resurrected Jesus?
  • Do they recognize this is the only way?
  • Do they desire deliverance from their sin?

One final word of caution, the way we read people is not infallible.  The longer we work with people, the more we will misjudge.  Some people seem to understand and actually do not.  Others appear mildly moved by the truth, yet time reveals the miracle of a radically changed life by the power of the gospel in conversion.  Let us not answer the matter in our minds before we see the whole picture.  May God grant us grace as we labor to clearly present the precious gospel of Christ!

 

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Evangelism in a Christianized Culture: Articulating the Gospel

Evangelism in a Christianized Culture: Articulating the Gospel

Being a Christian is not about a list of standards, emotional or mental ascent to an orthodox Christian Confession, or an emotional experience.  It is not about a changed life, new commitments, a new church, or religious slogans.  Though some of these elements will be evident in all true believers, I fear that in the “Christianized” world, has degraded “Christianity” to a show of formal, external religion.  If we will reach this “Christianized” world view, we must faithfully articulate the following fundamental questions: What is the gospel, what must we understand to embrace this gospel, and what response does it demand?  The “Christianized” culture has a general knowledge of gospel facts, yet the application and significance of these facts has been lost.  Articulation must precede communication.

So then what gospel, justifies the sinner and sanctifies and glorifies the saint?  What message is foolishness to those perishing and the power of God to those being sanctified, that reconciles sinners to God, and makes rebels, saints?  Is it the good news that God has a wonderful plan for my life, wants me to be happy and successful, as I become healthy, and rich?  Is it deliverance from some mystical, spiritual bondage brought upon me by my ancestors, or that I will get married and have a large family?  Paul clearly defines it in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 he says, “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”  The gospel contains four fundamental components.  First, it is good news, because it saves.  He says that it provides our standing before God, and saves us.  In this context, he refers to two of the three primary ways that the gospel saves us.  It is not physical; focusing on health, riches, or prosperity, rather on our relationship to sin and God.  It delivers us from sin’s wage, eternal death, and God’s wrath, vindication of His holiness.  Secondly, the gospel is for sinners.  Paul says, “Christ died for our sins.”  It is for sinners, and all men are sinners.  Thirdly, the gospel is about a unique person, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is not simply a good man and a prophet.  He is the sinless, eternal Son of God, in human flesh.  Every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will one day confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  Fourthly, the gospel is about a great exchange.  Both Old and New Testament reveal Christ, as our sin bearing substitute.  “He who knew no sin became sin for, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”  “Christ died for our sins, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”  The gospel emphasizes the agony of the cross and the triumph of an empty tomb.  It emphasizes Christ satisfying God’s wrath and righteousness credited to the sinner.  Think about it. Christ the one of a kind, Son of God, died for my sins, taking my guilt upon Himself and satisfying God’s judicial wrath, that through His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection I can be forgiven of all my sins, declared righteous as I receive a righteousness that come from God through faith, apart from the law, God begins changing me into Christ-likeness through the process of sanctification, and I have full standing before God, as a son anticipating an eternal inheritance.

Let us carefully articulate each aspect of the gospel, because a deficient message is no gospel at all.  If we “glamorize” the gospel by presenting a physical deliverance it is a powerless gospel.  If we soften man’s rebellion and the offense of sin to remove the sting of the gospel, then we lose it.  If Christ is made anything less than Lord of all who is both God and man, we pervert the gospel.  If the offense of the cross of the glory of the resurrection are not unashamedly articulated, we preach a worthless message.  We must not soften or domestic the gospel by taking the sting and offense from it.  A gospel that does not offend is a gospel that does not save.  As we continue our study, we will see the importance of articulating the content of the gospel, because this message will become the object of the faith of those we seek to evangelize.

 

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Does John 5:24 Teach eternal Security of True Believers?

Does John 5:24 Teach eternal Security of True Believers?

In John 5:24, Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  Does this passage teach the doctrine of eternal security?  First, consider the context.  Jesus is speaking to an unconverted Jewish audience who has just witnessed an undeniable miracle at the Pool of Bethesda.  Their problem was multifaceted: first, their view of self was severely unbiblical.  These men were full of religious pride and wanted nothing of a salvation that exposed their religion as arrogant rebellion against God and His righteousness.  They were not poor in spirit recognizing their spiritually bankrupt condition.  Secondly, they failed to understand the nature of Old Testament prophecy.  Isaiah 53 had been in the Old Testament cannon for over 400 years, and they should have been familiar with that text.  The Messiah was going to suffer and die as the sin bearer of all men.  Thirdly, and connected to the first two problems was their view of the Messiah.  He was standing before them, performing undeniable signs which authenticated His person and work, yet they wanted to kill Him.  His way was prepared by the prophet John as the Old Testament predicted, yet they refused to receive His message.  This is the scene set for Christ’s statement in John 5:24.

Secondly, notice the content of Christ’s statement.  Consider the statement of truth.  Christ emphasizes the reliability of His statement by saying truly, truly.  Christ is say that His statement is emphatically true and should not be doubted.  Secondly, He says, “I say unto you,” emphasizing the source of the statement is Christ and is as good as His perfect character and absolute sovereign authority. Thirdly, notice the condition of the statement Christ is about to make.  A man must “hear His word” and “believe in Him that sent Him.”  What does this mean, in light of the context of this passage?  To hear the word meant there was information, the people had to know, and information that demanded a genuine response of the heart based upon what was heard.  Jesus was speaking about the statements He had just made about His relationship to the Father.  He was the second person of the Godhead physically standing in their midst.  He was clear about this truth, and they need to hear and receive it.  Secondly, there was a call to believe on Him who sent Christ.  Jesus claimed that the things He did to authenticate His person were done by the power and authority of the Father, and that these signs were undeniable acts by the Father to demonstrate His person.  Christ said you must hear what I and the Father are saying about my identity, and you must receive them with a humble dependence upon that revelation.  If these men were to receive the things they had heard, it would have taken a definitive repentance toward God, turning from their self-deception in order to embrace whole heartedly the person and soon to be work of Christ as revealed in John’s gospel.  We call this conversion, or a turning of the heart to God in repentance, and a whole hearted trust in the revealed person and work of Christ.  Christ is saying that this is the only condition that makes the statement apply to a man.  Only converted men meet the condition of the statement.

To put it our present context, Christ is saying that a man who humbly embraces the revealed truths in the word of God about Himself meet the conditions of this passage.  This is the response that Paul and Peter called for in the book of Acts when they called men to repent, believe the gospel, or to repent toward God and place their faith in Christ.  Today, a man must hear the message of the Gospel, or it is impossible to receive it and depend upon it.  He must see himself as spiritually bankrupt and under the judicial wrath of God.  He must hear of the finished work of Christ who died as his sin bearing substitute totally satisfying the judicial wrath of the Father and providing both righteousness that God can impute to his account and a means of complete and final forgiveness for his sins past, present, and future.  He must hear of the resurrection of Christ that demonstrated finally the person of Christ and conquered the grave.  And he must be called to act in repentant faith in Christ alone, counting his righteousness as dung for the excellency of Christ as Paul described in Philippians 3.

So that leads us to our final thought.  If the condition is met, what is true of the person who has met the condition?  Jesus says it two ways.  Negatively, this man will not come into condemnation.  This means that for the man who has met the condition, He will never bear the judicial wrath of the Father.  God’s wrath was totally satisfied as it was poured out in Christ, and God has forgiven him of all his sins past, present, and future at the point of his conversion.  Galatians 3:13 states it beautifully, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us:” Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  And Romans 5:9 says we are “saved from wrath through Christ.”  The believer is delivered from condemnation, and that statement is true the very moment he is converted.  Positively, Christ says that he believer is passed from death to life.  Obviously Christ is not speaking of a physical death, because he is referring to the unbeliever as dead while he is yet alive.  He is speaking of a change of positions.  The unbeliever is spiritual dead and awaiting wrath, while the believer is made alive in Christ at the point of conversion and walking as a new creature according to 2 Corinthians 5:17.  Ephesians 1:1 states this concept well: “You he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins, and you were by nature children of wrath.  He then says that God who is “rich in mercy has made you alive with Christ.”  This passages show that not only is the believer told he will never face the judicial wrath of God, but he is passed from a position of spiritual death to spiritual life.

So does this passage teach that the genuine believer is eternally secure?  I believe it is clear, conversion not only brings a new nature, new life, and forgiveness of sins, but it brings a position that is eternally secure in Christ.

 

 
 
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