Today many people are clamoring (mostly religious leaders) that they regularly hear the voice of God, and that, through their special relationship, He speaks to them intimately. Not only do they claim to have an intimate relationship with God, but they also insist that He verbally instructs them both in difficult life decisions and in the most simple and mundane tasks; such as selecting a turkey for Thanksgiving. As a result, a tremendous amount of ink has been used in the printing of countless books on “how to hear the voice of God.” The vast majority of these books are an incredible waste of time and money, as they endeavor to instruct readers in various ways to listen for God’s voice outside of the pages of Scripture rather than encouraging them to inductively study the Word of God. Which is to say that they believe that God speaks quite regularly today just as He did to individuals like Abraham and Moses. But is this accurate?
Throughout God’s Word we see several individuals that experience God speaking to them. For instance, Adam and Eve heard the voice of God in the Garden of Eden, Cain heard the voice of God while he was allowing his bitterness to ruminate within him, Noah heard the voice of God instructing him to build the ark, Abraham and Moses both had the opportunity to hear the voice of God on multiple occasions, in which they received instruction to leave pagan environments and to trust in God through a series of trying events which enabled them to witness God’s faithfulness. A handful of others also had the blessed opportunity of hearing God verbally speak to them, and yet, there are far more individuals in Scripture that never heard the voice of God. Which is to say that these individuals (Adam, Cain, Noah, etc.) are the exception, not the standard. This is not to say that God does not lead and guide those that do not hear God’s audible voice, of course He does. But the question then becomes, how? The answer simply is through God’s special written revelation a.k.a. the Scriptures.
For instance, in neither of the books of Esther or Nehemiah do we witness God speaking at all. Not once does Esther claim to hear the word of the Lord come to her, in fact God’s name isn’t even mentioned in the book of Esther, and yet she is still guided along by Biblical truth to make God-honoring decisions. Furthermore, the prophet Nehemiah never claims to have heard the voice of God. That’s right, a prophet of God that never once mentions hearing God speak to him. Does that mean that God is not in these books? No, of course God is in these books. God wrote these books through the leading of His Holy Spirit. Does this mean that God does not love Esther, Nehemiah and the countless others that never heard God speak to them as much as those that did hear the voice of God? Does it mean that Esther and Nehemiah did not have the faith of Abraham and Moses? The answer to both of these questions is: absolutely not. The standard way for God’s people to hear His voice is not through His speaking audibly from Heaven, but through the Scriptures; the authoritative Word of God. This is especially true for today, as we have in our possession the complete revelation of the Bible. It is solely through the closed canon of Scripture that God speaks today. There simply is no need for God to verbally speak to anyone when He has given to us all that we need to know in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation God has spoken to His creation and He is presently illuminating the truths therein which serve to guide His people. Hebrews 4:12 states:
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Some will say that what God says today is still important just not as important as the Word of God. But here is the thing, God cannot speak less authoritatively on one matter than another. All of God’s words are equally authoritative. If God tells Moses to go demand that Pharaoh release His people from bondage, and then tells you to go to Walmart to buy a 24 pound turkey, both of those statements are as equally authoritative because God said them. Can you see how ridiculous it is to say that God spoke a word to you? If someone claims that God gave them a word, they are essentially adding to Scripture whether they see it that way or not. To say that God told you something is to claim that there is more to be added to the Word of God. Here’s the problem with that, Revelation 22:18–19 states of God’s Word:
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
Today numerous false teachers want you to believe that God is presently speaking to you things that are outside the Word of God. They want you to believe that God will give you direction for your life, not through the pages of Scripture, but some supernatural, extra-biblical (outside of the bible) revelation. And why? Because they want to fool you into believing that God speaks to them in ways which are contradictory to Scripture. For instance, the health and wealth prosperity preachers are notorious for claiming that God personally speaks to them. Wealth is their idol, and seeing as how there is not a single passage in Scripture which can justify their obsession with material gain, these gnostic self-proclaimed soothsayers have to say that God spoke to them to justify their sinful indulgences. 2 Peter 2:1-3 states:
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep."
The Apostle John also warns against false teachers which promote and propagate their false revelations from God in 1 John 4:1 which states:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."
How does one “test the spirits to see whether they are from God?” Through the clear authoritative Word of God. When the Apostle Paul was instructing Timothy, a young Pastor, to shepherd God’s sheep he tells him in 1 Timothy 6:20-21:
"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith."
Furthermore he states in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
In a sinful and fallen world, where people are starving for self-worth while battling with depression and anxiety it is easy to be led away from the hard but necessary truths of Scripture. The Word of God declares that the human race is sinfully rebellious, and that it is only through the power of the gospel that life is transformed. It is the gospel message of dying to self and living as Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in the believer that one can have the peace of God.
The desire of God’s people ought not to be to hear some special revelation from God so that we might feel significant, but our desire ought to be a devotion to bringing Him honor and glory and knowing that our significance is found in that very task.
The prophet Nehemiah did not plead with God to speak to him while he was mourning his captivity, rather he cried out to God in Nehemiah 1:5-11:
“O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Nehemiah was not looking for some “fresh revelation” from God, he was repenting of sin and standing on the authority of God’s Holy Word. The vast majority of those today that wish to “hear from God” are those that are not satisfied with the Word of God. For instance, one of the most popular Christian books today is a small devotional entitled Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. This book is the result of a woman who was dissatisfied with hearing from God through the Bible and wanted more. In this work Young claims to have received revelations from Jesus through dialogue journaling (something she learned from the authors of a book entitled God Calling). Young states in response to the authors of God Calling, “I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more…” If you have ever read Jesus Calling then you are well aware that Young writes her book as if Jesus is speaking messages directly to the reader. This is nothing short of blasphemy as she is essentially writing new scripture.
In closing, is God speaking today? Yes, He most certainly is speaking through the pages of His Holy Word. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, once said, “No one ever outgrows the Scriptures. The Book widens and deepens with our years.” If you want to hear the voice of God, read and study the Bible, for if it cannot be found in the 66 books of the Bible, you can rest assured that God did not say it. In the words of Justin Peters “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read it out loud.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
Last Tuesday began my favorite month of the year, October. A month that is often associated with things such as the season of autumn, football, doughnuts, apple cider, bonfires, corn mazes, and many other things that I thoroughly enjoy. However, what most often is associated with the month of October is the holiday Halloween. For anyone who is at all familiar with the origins of Halloween, it is not a God-honoring holiday, but much more of a demonic-inspired one. The origins of Halloween date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived roughly 2,000 years ago in the areas which we now know as Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day for them marked the end of the summer months which is associated with light and life, and it likewise marked the beginning of the dark and bitterly cold days of winter, a time that was often associated with death. The Celts believed that on the night before their new year (Halloween) the spirits of the dead returned to earth to cause chaos and torment. To supposedly ward off such spirits, the Celtic druids and priests would build large fires and dress in animal skins, wearing the faces of animals as masks, and attempt to predict the future. While Halloween in America has developed its unique traditions, it is still a night of darkness. Not only are thousands of people roaming the streets dressed in horrific and gruesome costumes, but it has been reported that crimes are up by 17% on Halloween night as opposed to other nights of the year. Needless to say, my wife and I do not celebrate Halloween with our children, instead, we take the opportunity to celebrate something we believe is far more glorifying to God, the Protestant Reformation.
On All Hallows Eve (Halloween) in 1517, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther shook the world of Christendom by taking a stand against the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther had no intention of rebelling and sparking a revolution but only sought to hold the church accountable for their deviations from the clear teaching of God’s Holy Word. Creating an uprising within the church was the last thing that Luther had on his mind, he simply believed that his 95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences would serve to course-correct the church back to fixing its eyes solely upon Jesus and its mission of discipling the nations. Seeing as how the Roman Catholic Church was not fond of being corrected, Luther’s 95 Theses was not well received. Standing on the authority of the Word of God, Luther was also unwilling to back down and as a result, the Protestant Reformation was born. As a result of the Holy Spirit of God working in the hearts of His people, the Five Solas (Sola is Latin for “only” or “alone”) of the Reformation were drafted to keep the focus of Christ’s bride upon Him and fulfilling the Great Commission. The Sola statements are as follows: Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Sola Christus (Christ Alone), Soli Deo Gloria (Glory of God Alone), and Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). In other words, mankind is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, according to the authority of Scripture alone.
Studying and celebrating the Reformation is important for the Church to be reminded that we are capable of erroring and that we ought to desire for the Church to be discerning and for God to be glorified. It could be argued that today the church is in even greater need of being reformed to the Holy Word of God than even those days when the Protestant Reformation began. When we look at the landscape of Christianity in America today, there are far more deviations from the truth, and a greater need to call for renewing our minds and reforming our hearts to the clear and authoritative teaching of God’s Holy Word.
Therefore, I would encourage you all with the words of the Apostle Paul when speaking to the Church in Rome,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2
And rather than spend the month celebrating a wicked holiday like Halloween, which embraces sin and the world, I would strongly encourage you to research the Protestant Reformation and begin a tradition of celebrating Reformation Day!
Soli Deo Gloria!
On Wednesday evenings here at Colonville Bible Church we have been walking through the book of James verse by verse. Last week, as we were continuing to make our way through chapter 5, we came upon verses 7 and 8 which read,
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Many within the apostle’s audience were experiencing great trials and hardships at the hands of wicked individuals, and as a result, James seeks to encourage them to remain steadfast. As I am sure you are well aware, enduring hardships and trials brought on by the sin-stained world in which we live is not always as easy as we would like it to be. However, the trials that we face ultimately serve to refine us and to make us more like Christ. James in these verses endeavors to strengthen his hearer’s faith by reminding them of the blessed hope, which is to say the imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His calling us home to be with Him. This blessed hope is the next event on God’s prophetic timetable and it is often referred to as the rapture of the church.
Sadly, today there seems to be a decreasing interest in the doctrine of the rapture. Many professing evangelical Christians have even gone so far as to declare that there is no such thing as the rapture of the Church. They insist that it was made up in the 19th century by a man named John Nelson Darby, and therefore, they declare, the church ought not to get caught up in such things. Along with worldly pursuits, an influx in variant eschatological point of views such as that of Amillennialism and Postmillennialism (which reject the snatching away of the Church) are to blame for much of the churches reluctance to cling to the blessed hope of the Lord’s soon return. But if there no such thing as Jesus returning to call home His bride (the Church), as many “Christians” seem to believe, then what is James referring to when he says “Be patient…until the coming of the Lord.”
Postmillennialist David Chilton (along with practically every postmillennialist) believes that James’ words were in reference to the eventual destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. Such an assumption would imply that Temple Judaism was the sole cause of his audience’s oppression and that after the temple was destroyed their trials and hardships would just fade away. What a nonsensical belief! Even if Temple Judaism somehow had something to do with his audiences present difficulties, what then would his listeners cling to when they faced abuse after the temple was destroyed? Is this what Jesus encouraged His disciples with just before He went to the cross, that they ought not to be troubled because one day He would destroy the temple? No! Instead, He encouraged them by saying:
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. – John 14:1-3
Does Jesus say, “I will come and destroy the temple?” Not at all. He says I will come again and will take you to myself.” The “coming” that James is encouraging his audience with is the rapture and the subsequent judgments to follow (the judgment is a discussion for another blog post). The rapture of the church that James speaks of is the very same event that Jesus Himself encouraged the disciples with just before the crucifixion. The apostles also sought to encourage the saints with such a glorious return of Christ for His Church. The apostle Paul states:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. - 1 Corinthians 15:50-55
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
What are the words that Paul is seeking to encourage the church with? Is it the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70? Not at all. But of the coming of Christ from heaven to gather His bride to be with Him always, the moment at which we will be transformed from perishable to imperishable. It is a sad reality that many professing Christians today have abandoned a belief in clear teaching of God’s Word regarding the blessed hope of our Lord’s soon return. And what is there justification for assuming such? Simply put…the arguments of skeptics. Unbelievers continue to attack Christianity by saying “Where is Jesus? I thought He said He would return soon.” Some Christians apparently believe this critique is valid, and so to defend their faith they have reinterpreted the Biblical view of Christ’s return. But what does the apostle Peter clearly state? He says:
…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” - 2 Peter 3:3-7
In other words, scoffers are going to continue to question the coming of Christ, but they are ignorant of the truth. Christians should not acquiesce to the complaints and arguments of unbelievers, we should not modify the clear teaching of Scripture because unbelievers like Bertrand Russel have not been able to understand the infallible words of Christ. Instead, we should take to heart the encouragements of James, Paul, and even Jesus to patiently endure and to establish our hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. -Titus 2:11-14
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
This month’s blog post is going to be a bit shorter, as it will be a bit more to the point. The mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Jesus Himself declared this just prior to ascending back into heaven to be seated at the right-hand of the Father.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a
testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. - Matthew 24:14
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, - Matthew 28:19
The apostle Paul declares in Romans 10:13-14 :
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on
him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have
never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
So the primary mandate and mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel, and yet, this hardly seems to be what the church in America is concerned with. Instead, it has preoccupied itself with matters of political bantering, so-called social injustices, catering to the felt-needs of sinners, not to mention compromising biblical truths while adopting worldly practices. The gospel message has become a taboo topic because it declares that people are in need of repentance and being born again into Christ Jesus, thus implying that people are inherently sinful and set against God. While the world touts the message that “all are inherently good” and that it is an awful thing to declare otherwise, the gospel then becomes incredibly offensive to those who are in desperate need of a savior.
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the
builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of
offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. -1 Peter
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it
is the power of God. -1 Corinthians 1:18
Because it is offensive and the world is only growing in its hostility towards the gospel message, many professing Christians, being driven by fear, have refrained from participating in sharing it with the lost. In other words, the church is not actively doing what Christ has commissioned it to do. That is a problem! As those bought by the precious blood of Christ, we are His and are to yield our whole being to Him. Christ is Lord, and we are to obey the commands of our Lord. Furthermore, by His grace and love we are capable of loving others, and what greater way is there to demonstrate that love for others than to share with them the gospel that saves and restores? There is no greater way! So let us be reminded of God’s great grace in redeeming us through Christ’s atoning blood, and may it spurn us on in our love and affection for Him and others. May we be filled with a new zeal to share the gospel with those around us!
For those who may be struggling with how to present the gospel, first it is always important to pray for guidance, that God would lead you in saying what you ought to say. Here is a simple acrostic (G.O.S.P.E.L.) with some relevant passages of Scripture to help you as prepare to share the gospel with those around you.
God created us to be with Him
Know that the Lord, He is God! It is he who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and
the sheep of His pasture. - Psalm 100:3
Our sins separate us from God
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Romans 3:23
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted
garment. - Isaiah 64:6
Paying the price for our sins, Jesus died on the cross and rose again
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Romans 5:8
Everyone who trusts in Him alone by faith alone has eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should
not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
Life with Jesus begins at the moment you are born again and it lasts forever.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my
hand. - John 10:28
If you have any questions about the gospel, how to know that you are redeemed, or anything else really, please feel free to contact me by email or phone. Soli Deo Gloria!
Today is July 4th, the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On this very day in 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer under subjugation nor in subordination to the oppressive monarch of Britain but were now united, free, and independent states. America was a nation forged through biblical convictions and a desire to be governed by the fundamental principles of Christianity. John Adams, our second U.S. president and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, once stated:
“The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young gentlemen could unite… And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were united—and the general principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence”
The Constitution of the United States of America was also drafted in accordance with these same general principles of Christianity. Sadly, however, our nation which once endeavored to honor God has since shifted its gaze from the Sovereign designer of the universe (the God of the Bible) and has placed its focus upon worshiping the creature rather than the creator. Romans 1:18-32 explains quite plainly that a nation which does not honor God will experience His judgment, and that which is expressed in those verses clearly demonstrates that America is experiencing such judgment.
Today, America touts a message of acceptance and tolerance, except the people of America, by and large, are no longer accepting of the general principles that this nation was founded upon. Christianity is perhaps the most unwelcome worldview in America, a land which now claims to affirm any and all worldviews. This is not surprising seeing as how all worldly worldviews are in opposition to the one true worldview, the biblical worldview. The Bible reveals that all people are inherently sinful and it calls out the acts of the world for what they are, rebellious actions derived from a wicked and wholly depraved heart. Jesus, when speaking to His then unredeemed brothers, stated:
“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” – John 7:7
We who are in Christ will also be hated by the world for we too boldly declare that the works of the world are evil. We carry with us the gospel of truth which asserts that while the world is evil there is restoration for sinners and freedom from the bonds of sin, through the precious blood of Jesus the Lamb of God.
One of the primary reasons that America is in its present predicament is due to the fact that the Church has been failing to boldly proclaim the gospel which it has been commissioned to herald. So the obvious question becomes, how do we turn this ship around? Some might even be asking the question, can it be turned around? To answer the second question first, such a task would not be impossible if God so willed it. God declares in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
If our land is to be healed then we must stand against the kingdom of darkness which is presently at work in the world. 1 John 5:19 states:
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
James, after having been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, goes on to write a wonderful epistle in which he seeks to call professing believers to action. In chapter 4 James gives ten commands which can be boiled down to three distinct directives for holiness. He states:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” - James 4:7-10
Essentially what James is communicating through the power of the Holy Spirit is: first, we need to be committed: to God, to holy living, and to proclaiming the gospel (v. 7), secondly, to be cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (v.8), and thirdly, through contrition or to repent of our sins including our lack of commitment to holiness (vs. 9-10).
Throughout the history of the church, many creeds, confessions, decrees, statements, and declarations have been made. Many are notable and commendable as they seek to stand upon the authority of the infallible and inerrant Word of God. As of late, another commendable statement has been drafted in light of the many advancements being made by the kingdom of darkness in America; that statement is known as the Othismos Declaration.
One of the goals of this month’s blog post is to inform you of this exceptional declaration. Born out of the hearts of men redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, “the Othismos Declaration is not a document that seeks collision, but rather signals a readiness for it. It bespeaks a collegial willingness among clergy, laity, and citizens, first, to secure the fields of religious liberty, traditional marriage, life, and natural law; and second, if required, to press against and break the lines of those seeking to impose systems of governance that would suppress Christian consciences or betray the original intent of America’s founding documents.” The heartbeat behind this document is that the church of Jesus Christ ought to be vocal and unmoving in regards to the gospel of our Lord and Savior. Just as Peter and John responded to those who commanded that they refrain from preaching the truth in the public square, we with a unified voice should declare:
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:19-20
Please click on the link below, read the declaration and prayerfully consider signing the document and standing with us!
Glory be to God!
It does not take one with a master’s degree in Biblical Studies to know that the world is totally depraved and that its outward manifestations of sinful debauchery are only increasing by the day. Slowly but surely America has taken its eyes off of the Holy and Sovereign God of the Universe and fixed its gaze upon mankind to solve all of life’s dilemmas. As a result of taking our eyes off of God America has willfully permitted and embraced what God declares as sinful acts. These sinful acts include such things as the murder of innocent children (though under the less-offensive title of abortion) and multiple acts of sexual immorality (a.k.a. LGBTQism) that God’s Word clearly label’s as detestable and an abomination. In fact in America, June is now openly celebrated as LGBT PRIDE month.
Even though many believe we who stand on God's Word hate those in the LGBTQ movement, that is not true. We love them as God does, but we do not accept the sin they choose to commit as “okay” for God clearly declares it is not. We who follow God's Word reject as “okay” many sins that are committed from greed, to premarital sex, to adultery, to gossip, to destructive anger, to the love of money, and the list goes on. (See Colossians 3:8-9 with the verses later in this blog.) To love those who reject God's truth is a command we must and do follow, otherwise we would be choosing to sin by rejecting the teachings of our Lord. How unfortunate it is when Christians act wrongly toward those who do not know Christ and harm the cause of Christ. After all Jesus rejected the sin of the woman at the well, Matthew the hated tax collector, and scores of others. Yet, He loved them and spent time with them until they saw Him as their personal Lord and Savior. We who love Jesus as imperfect as we are, still love those who choose not to follow Christ.
The conflict increases because no longer does our nation consider Christian living to be the standard for all its citizens nor the Bible the standard for governing our land. Oh how far our nation has fallen since its inception. Our founding fathers once boldly declared statements like these by John Adams:
-“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
- “Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell.”
-“The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity.”
-“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!”
-“I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world.”
Nowadays it is viewed as a normal and acceptable thing to have men dressed as women reading storybooks to children in public libraries, young children being taught that gender is fluid, parades of men and women flaunting their wicked and rebellious lust in same-sex attraction, and that is hardly even describing the wretched acts of the LGBTQ movement (a.k.a. the sexual perversion movement). The world has so praised and accepted the LGBTQ movement that even some so-called “Christian churches” have hopped on the sin-affirming bandwagon and fully embraced what God describes as gross immorality. All-the-while, true Christ-honoring churches are being attacked for holding fast to what the Word of God clearly teaches concerning homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and any other sexually debased lifestyle such as these.
So what does the Word of God say concerning these issues?
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
“A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
“just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
There simply is nothing vague or unclear about what God’s Word has to say about the unnatural act of homosexuality. He fully condemns it. Why does God condemn homosexuality? Because it is contrary to God's fundamental design for intimate human relationships—that which is between one man and one woman.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
“He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Any sexual act that takes place outside the marriage of one biological male and one biological female is sin and should be repented of and repudiated. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed to purify and redeem sinners. Those who are presently enslaved to such sins can find freedom and restoration from such lifestyles by pleading with God to restore them by grace and through faith in Christ Jesus.
“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Above I referenced a passage from 1 Corinthians 6 which states:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
But the passage does not end there, the apostle Paul goes on to state:
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
In other words, these Christian believers to whom Paul is speaking once lived lives like those listed above. Many were effeminate, which would include those who today identify as transgender, and many were homosexuals, and yet they were saved from those lifestyles and washed clean through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
It is not possible to be both a Christian and a homosexual, for one cannot both be in Christ and be living in habitual sin. 1 John 3:8 states:
“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
It is the task the of the Church, not to acquiesce to the world’s demands, but to herald the gospel so that those enslaved to their sins might believe by faith in Christ Jesus and repent of their sinful behavior. Jesus states in Luke 24:46-48:
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. “
Rather than celebrate Pride (which is a sin in and of itself) and the LGBTQ movement, we should proclaim the gospel to those enslaved to such sins in hopes that they might believe in Christ Jesus and be set free.
And while it is true that the world will hate us for taking such a stance, that is to be expected. For Jesus Himself stated,
“…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
It ought to be the Church’s sincere desire to love and glorify God as well as demonstrate genuine love for people. All who die in their sins will spend an eternity in hell for they will be righteously judged for the wicked acts they have committed. Only those who have been redeemed by faith in Christ will be saved. Therefore, the Church has no choice but to proclaim the gospel to all who will hear it in hopes that some might receive Christ by faith.
May God be glorified in all that we do and say!
For far too long the Christian Church has sat on the sidelines watching the world sink deeper and deeper into depravity and progressively becoming more accepting of heinous acts of debauchery. Many Christians say or do nothing because quite frankly…is not that what the Bible declares will happen over time?
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power." - 2 Timothy 3:1-5
As demonstrated by Paul’s statements to Timothy above, yes this will happen. Individuals will only become more and more rebellious, and sin will become more and more prevalent and accepted. However, we are still called to be the salt and life of the earth. Jesus states:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” - Matthew 5:13-16
In other words, if the church sits idly by and does nothing we render ourselves useless and guilty of ignoring the commands of God. We are told to shine the light of Christ boldly in the midst of the wickedly dark and sinful world. Today certain acts of debauchery (namely abortion and LGBTQism) are not only being conducted openly in the public square, but they are celebrated as though they are good and commendable acts. Furthermore, to speak out against such acts is readily seen as hate speech and will likely one day be considered a crime. But as Christians seeking to be light in the darkness, we must never forget who is King and whose Law we are to abide by. The prophet Isaiah declares:
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!" - Isaiah 5:20-21
The wicked will surely be judged, so we, in the love of Christ, ought to be exposing the works of the Kingdom of Darkness with the light of the gospel. We do this in hopes that many who are presently dead in their trespasses and slaves to their sin might receive life in Christ and repent of their wicked acts of rebellion. Jesus Christ came to restore that which had been lost and having done the work to restore it He commissioned us to herald the message of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins.
So with all of that being said, I would like to call all who by faith claim the name of Jesus Christ to action. Today, the law of the land (here in America) says it is legal and acceptable to murder innocent unborn children, but God's Law states otherwise! God’s Law declares that murder is sin! Exodus 20:13 states: “You shall not murder." And in regards to whether or not a fetus (which is Latin for “small child”) in a mother’s womb is a baby, Luke 1:44 declares that which is in the womb is a living human being and capable of displaying emotion. Furthermore, David declares:
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." - Psalm 139:13-16
When we say and do nothing to prevent the murderous act of abortion, which is daily taking place in America, we are guilty of choosing death. Deuteronomy 30:19 states:
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live”
We are called to fearlessly stand on the authority of the Word of God. Far too many professing believers in Christ (myself included) have not boldly stood up and taken the necessary steps to defend those who cannot stand up for themselves. Far too many are afraid of man and, at the same time, show no signs of fearing God. God is the only Judge we ought to fear. Jesus declares in Matthew 10:28:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
We, like Watchmen, are to call sinners out so that they might know and heed the warning of God to repent of their sins. We ought not to forget the words of God given to the prophet Ezekiel which state:
“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.”
While we are not responsible for the sins of mankind, we are, as Christ’s ambassadors, responsible for declaring the gospel. The apostle Paul states:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” - Romans 10:14
Make no mistake about it, we as Christians have a responsibility before God to declare the good news of Christ to those who are dead in their sins. Along with declaring the gospel to all people, there are other necessary steps that can and ought to be taken in order to protect the unborn. First, we can, and should be praying to the Sovereign and Triune God to end the heinous and deplorable act of abortion. Second, we ought to be doing our part to educate Americans of the facts. Babies in their mother’s wombs, at the moment of conception, are living human children and are no less deserving of life than we who have been birthed. Third, we ought to be developing, promoting, and voting on legislation which endeavors to protect unborn human life.
Regarding this last step, there have been several incremental attempts at reducing abortion, but we ought to fight for something that is far more substantial than small incremental changes. We ought to strive for nothing less than the full abolishment of abortion. However, at the same time, many lives are being taken even as you are reading these words, and thus we must take some course of action now. The best piece of legislation that I am aware of presently is what is known as the Heartbeat Bill. I have personally heard from Janet Porter, who spearheaded the drafting of this bill, and her love for Christ and children shows in her relentless pursuit to end abortion. The Heartbeat Bill has been introduced in 17 states and passed in Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa, and Ohio. We as believers in Christ would do well to champion this bill in our respective states as well.
I have heard critiques of the Heartbeat Bill from some who wish to see abortion abolished, stating that it doesn’t go far enough. I would like to speak to those critics for a moment. First, you are correct, this bill does not prevent all abortions from occurring, however, it certainly is a giant step in the right direction. This bill prevents any abortion from taking place (even in the instances of rape and incest) once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which may happen as soon as five and a half weeks gestation. It is incredibly rare for most women to know that they are pregnant prior to five weeks. So while this bill does not abolish abortion, it will greatly reduce them. Many pro-choice advocates are staunchly opposed to this piece of legislation as they believe it will ultimately eradicate abortion. While I too would love to see abortion become illegal at any stage, the Heartbeat Bill is surely a Christ-honoring advancement in a world which is shrouded in darkness and enslaved to sin.
For more information on the Heartbeat Bill please visit: http://www.f2a.org/
As we quickly approach Easter (Resurrection Sunday) Christians all over the globe are likely pondering more thoughtfully the implications of the resurrection of Christ. With that being said I felt it would be necessary for this month’s blog post to focus on that glorious event.
First and foremost to be a Christian or to call yourself a Christian is to claim to identify with Christ. That means the realization that we were once in opposition to God as selfish, self-centered, wicked and rebellious sinners, but by the grace of God we have been transformed by the redeeming sacrifice of Christ crucified.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
1 John 4:10
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
1 John 1:8-10
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
Many more passages of Scripture could be used here to solidify this fact that we are rebellious sinners. However, these are suitable to demonstrate that Christians are sinners saved by grace through faith in the atoning work of Christ crucified.
So it is clear that Christ died for us, but Christ did far more than die in our place. He conquered sin and death which held the human race in captivity and bondage to the kingdom of darkness. Christ set us free from our own depravity and He gave us new hearts which are capable of serving Him our Lord and King.
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’”
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Christ’s resurrection solidified the work He had come to do in restoring us to Himself. The power of the resurrection and the implications of the empty tomb dictate that we are no longer slaves to the kingdom of darkness for we are now free to walk in accordance with the Holy Spirit whom resides in the true believer in Christ. However, today many attacks have been perpetrated against the resurrection of Christ, and even professing believers are unsure about the validity of Christ rising from the tomb. But as the apostle Paul states to the Corinthian church:
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
In other words we have God’s guarantee of a future resurrection of which we have already begun to see the effects, because Christ Himself was literally raised from the dead. Even prior to Jesus’ resurrection He declared that this would take place:
“So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”
“But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
“As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.’”
While many claim to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, several struggle to believe that Christians, those redeemed by the blood of Christ, will be raised as well.
“’Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.’”
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’”
1 Corinthians 15:20-23
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
As followers of Christ we are not simply adherents to one of the world’s many religions, no! To the contrary we have been pulled out of the pit from which the world’s religions have derived (the kingdom of sin and death)! We have been set upon the firm foundation of the rock of Jesus Christ. We have, by faith in the risen Savior, received an inheritance with Christ our Lord. While the world continues to try and pull us from the hope we have been given in Christ we must realize we are eternally secure in that hope.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
While it is wonderful to remind ourselves each Easter of the implications of the empty tomb, we should remind ourselves of His resurrection every single day. As we battle against our own flesh, against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places we ought to constantly remind ourselves it is the resurrected Christ who will fight these battles through us.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
May we never cease to proclaim: CHRIST IS RISEN!
Biblical truths that seem to rally Christians together are ones like: “I am saved by grace through faith” and “I am eternally secure in Christ.” While these are both accurate and wonderful realities for the genuine Christ-follower, these same biblically derived statements also have been misused in a way that seems to justify one’s lack of spiritual growth. In other words, many have inappropriately made it seem as if our responsibility to obey Christ is not nearly as important as our ability to rest in the fact that God has done all the work of regenerating and justifying us. Too many Christians have been stunted in their growth as a result of a lackadaisical approach to Christian living. God demands that we live Holy lives and while it is true that our sins are completely washed away it is important for believers to know that we will still be judged for how we lived under the grace that God has extended to us. This is exactly why I have chosen to write this month’s blog post on, “The Judgement Seat of Christ: What No One Seems to be Discussing.”
As a means of adhering to a more universal understanding of the eschatological judgements mentioned in Scripture, most churches (based on website doctrinal statements) seem to affirm the general judgement theory. In other words, rather than see the Judgement Seat of Christ (the Bema seat) and the Great White Throne Judgments as separate events (one for believers and one for nonbelievers), most collapse them together into one final judgment for both the righteous and the wicked.
The goal of this short blog is not to give a thorough study of the Judgment seat of Christ, but to demonstrate quickly that there is such a judgement solely for Christ-followers and that it ought to motivate us to live out our salvation with fear and trembling. The purpose is to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
So the question before us is not simply will Christians be judged? The unequivocal answer to that is yes. However, it is not a pass or fail judgement by which we simply move along into glory due to the unmerited favor of God. As Christians our sins have already been punished and dealt with in Christ. With this biblical reality stated the question truly becomes: what is the purpose of a Christian judgement?
The answer is: to assess how we lived under the justifying grace of God. Under the new popular (not new historically) approach to the general judgement theory the final judgement would simply be the last assessment as to whether or not one is redeemed and will enter into the eternal state with God or be cast into the lake of fire. However, the judgement seat of Christ is a specific judgement for New Testament Saints that have been washed clean by the precious blood of Christ and have been placed on mission to advance the gospel and live according to God’s law which is written on our hearts.
Again, just to be clear, the judgement seat of Christ is not to assess whether or not we are saved, but how we will be rewarded for our commitment to gospel-centered living. For example:
Romans 14:10–12 states:
“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 states:
“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
It is clear that each of the passages above are referring to Christians, not unbelievers. The “us” in Romans, contextually is referring to the Church, likewise, Paul states to the Church of Corinth that we all must appear before the judgement (Bema) seat of Christ to be judged according to what we did “while in the body.” The Judgment Seat of Christ involves believers giving an account of their regenerated lives to Christ.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will be rewarded based on how faithfully we served Christ. Did we commit ourselves to proclaiming the gospel as fervently as we ought? Were we dedicated to overcoming sin in our lives? Did we diligently study and hold fast to the truths revealed in Scripture? These are the types of things that Christians will be held accountable for at Christ’s “Bema” seat. Sadly, many professing Christians today seem to ignore or are ignorant to the fact that we will one day be judged for how we utilized the grace of God.
Paul stated the importance of working diligently under the grace of God in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15:
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
In other words, while we (who are in Christ) are saved by grace alone through faith alone, we still may suffer loss at the Judgement Seat of Christ if our work for the Kingdom proves to be lacking. Such a judgement is meant to motivate Christians to keep pressing on toward the prize of an eternity with our Lord. Seeing as how the rewards given for faithfulness to Christ will ultimately be a means by which we are able to offer up praise to Him (Revelation 4:10) we ought to desire to live as Christ with every fiber of our being. This does not mean however, that if we make mistakes that we will have nothing to offer God, we all sin and make mistakes. The overarching question that Christ will evaluate in us is how faithful and sincere were we in our devotion to Him and the Kingdom of God. As children of God it should be our deepest desire to please our Lord. It is as John states in 1 John 2:28
“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”
May the imminent coming of our Lord and the soon-to-follow “Bema” seat judgement motivate us to be good stewards of God’s grace. May we live by the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12-13:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Soli Deo Gloria!
***For a fuller teaching on the Judgement Seat of Christ and a refutation of the General Judgement Theory, I highly recommend the book The Judgement Seat of Christ: A Biblical and Theological Study by Samuel L. Hoyt.
With every second that passes by God’s divine plan to redeem and restore His fallen creation is being played out in history. As a result of Adam and Eve’s failure to obey God’s command in the garden of Eden mankind was plunged into a wicked rebellion. The consequence of this rebellion is that every one of us is bound and shackled in the chains of sinful depravity for God’s righteousness could not allow for anything less.
God’s Word declares His Holiness:
“You who are of purer eyes than to see evil … cannot look at wrong” - Habakkuk 1:13
It is because God’s very nature of holiness demands that sin be punished that He placed a curse on his disobedient creation:
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” - Romans 8:20-21
Therefore we must conclude that the wickedness we presently experience in the world is a result of mankind’s selfishly diseased heart. God, however, was not content to destroy His fallen creation for He had determined before He ever formed it, to restore it:
“but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” - 1 Peter 1:19-21
God willingly sent His Son to redeem and restore sinners to Himself:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” - John 3:16-18
This loving reality of redemption was thoroughly presented in the Old Testament though at the same time it was concealed and perceived to be a mystery:
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.” - Romans 16:25-26
In the present age the Church (sinners purchased by the blood of Christ) by faith in the risen Messiah are to seek to live holy lives with biblical values, declare the gospel and make further disciples of Christ:
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” - Matthew 28:18-20
However, the questions that many ask is how long does this age last and how will it end? Well, there are many professing Christians that come to different conclusions when seeking to answer these important questions. These questions are considered eschatological questions. Simply put, eschatology is the study of last things and seeing how these questions pertain to how the present age will end they are eschatological in nature. Sadly, there are numerous conflicting approaches to understanding biblical eschatology and for the most part, the Church has agreed to disagree on these matters. For the sake of unity the Church has diluted the importance of biblical eschatology resulting in tremendous confusion and biblical illiteracy. For example, there is a growing trend in Western Christianity today to focus on forms of social and political activism, in an attempt to “redeem the culture.” As a result, more time and energy is wasted on endless debates and frivolous protests than on proclaiming the gospel. So why has the Church largely shifted its focus from the Great Commission to matters of Social Justice? While there are several reasons for this, one in particular is a misunderstanding of biblical eschatology. Some believe that the Church is to transform the world into a Christian utopia in preparation for Christ’s “postmillennial” return. In other words, the Church’s goal in the present age is to transform the world and its institutions, while at the same time righting all the social wrongs. But is this what the Bible teaches concerning the culmination of the present age? It is for this very reason that I have chosen to write this blog post and entitle it “Eschatology Matters: Why one’s Understanding of the End Makes a Difference.”
The Bible absolutely has something to say concerning how the present age will end and how God’s plan for the world will play out. Thus, as students of God’s Word it is important for us to know what the Bible says concerning such things. Quite frankly, it is not as confusing as many would like to make it out to be. To the contrary God’s Word is pretty clear regarding these matters. The disciples themselves where concerned with these same questions and Jesus prior to going to the cross sought to relieve their worries. He stated:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” - John 14:1-3
Jesus here instructs His church to believe in God (the Father) and also in who He is, namely the Christ. Furthermore, he assures His church that when He has completed His work for the present age He will return for His bride (the Church) and take us to heaven where He has prepared a place for us. The apostle Paul affirms this teaching by stating:
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Again, the present Church age will end with Christ returning for His bride. We will most certainly face trying and difficult times, however we are to encourage one another with these words regarding the imminent return of Christ. In the meantime we are to be living holy lives, advancing the gospel, making disciples and awaiting Christ’s return. Paul again states:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” – Titus 2:11-14
While the gospel goes forth and God continues to draw sinners to Himself through the atoning work of Christ crucified it is noteworthy that the world itself will continue to grow darker and darker. The Word of God reveals this in such passages that follow:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” -2 Timothy 3:1-5
“Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” -2 Peter 3:3
“And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” –Matthew 24:12
Sadly, there are some who reject what the Bible has to say concerning the culmination of the present age and as a result many are distracted with futile efforts to restore the fallen state of the world. While it is important to stand for what is true and for what is right, believing that the culture of fallen man can be redeemed results in the displacement of ones efforts to evangelize the lost. Rather than seeking to redeem sin-stained institutions, Christians must be focused on the gospel which will bring about the transformation necessary to redeem the souls of unbelievers. Of the present world God’s Word declares:
“…the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” - 2 Peter 3:7-10
While it would be a gross misunderstanding on the part of the Church to simply do nothing but wait for Christ to return, the mandate given to the Church is to proclaim the gospel to every nation and to make disciples of those whom believe by faith that Christ Jesus is both savior and Lord. At the coming of Christ to implement the promised millennial kingdom the fallen institutions of man will no longer be an issue for all will submit to the authority of Christ. The greatest danger the false views of eschatology (such as postmillennialism) pose to the Church is not a misplaced hope in redeeming the culture, but that an effort to do so will enviably shift its gaze from 1. the mission of redeeming sinners and 2. from the blessed hope of Christ’s imminent return. Jesus and His disciples did not endeavor to transform the fallen world and its systems, but to call sinners to be set apart from the world with the hope that Christ would one day return to take us to be with Him. The question we all must answer is this far reaching one, “In this matter are we willing to do as Christ taught?”
Pastor Justin Myers is an avid student of God's Holy Word and received his M.Div. in biblical studies from Liberty University School of Divinity. Pastor Justin considers himself a family man who loves his wife and children dearly. He has been married for over eight years and has three children.