CAN IT HAPPEN TO ME? (What can we learn from the fall of Ravi Zacharias?)

The fall of Ravi Zacharias has been a devastating blow to many in the Christian world. The details of an independent report into the sexual abuse and immorality this man engaged in, are egregious. Over the course of more than a few decades toward the end of his life, he literally ran his own private world of pleasure. The one question we need to answer is how does this happen? And can it happen to us?

In the first place, “it” happens because it is not an “it” but begins with a gradual breakdown in a man’s personal passion and seeking of God. Perhaps, because of “commitments” or “ministerial responsibilities”, so called. I could be dead wrong, but Ravi Zacharias most likely did not begin wanting to manipulate woman for his own depraved sexual pleasure. He most likely began desiring to serve God in some way, if not fully wanting to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as an act of thanksgiving and love. I had heard him enough to know he knew the precepts of the doctrine of Christ better than most. Assuming this was the case, let us consider that our past, unhealed, and untouched by grace, will sneak up on us.

For the sake of time, let us consider that Ravi Zacharias, had a difficult upbringing to say the least. Growing up Anglican in Madras India, he was not a believer and at 17 attempted suicide by swallowing poison. This may come as a shock to you, but suicide is not a product of mental illness. It is a product of demonic suggest, to destroy the image of God. Living in a nation, 98 percent giving to idol worship and demonic ritualism, has an effect. We must also understand, his relationship to his father was not affirming. This led to his perfectionism and being driven to succeed, for the purpose of patriarchal affirmation. Remember, that even after a person finds salvation in Christ, these issues must be reconciled with our relationship to Abba Father, or they remain hidden.

These are unexploded bombs, still armed. It is our Father’s intention to disarm them practically, but only good discipleship, which is not academic but Holy Spirit led and executed, will surface these for removal (I Peter 1:6-7).

It is important that I state clearly, we are not using these elements to excuse this man’s behavior but making clear that Satan will exploit the unsanctified and unhealed areas of our lives. In Zacharias, a man who professed salvation in Christ and had years of what is considered fruitful ministry, we must see where he potentially came off the tracks. We must remember that we can begin to love God with all our heart yet fall away as an entire church was characterized.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NKJV) “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Although Ephesus was commended for being a solid biblical church, their loving devotion for Christ had been left behind. Jesus did not admonish them for their sin, but rebuked them and warned them of loss, should they not repent. It is clear to me, that the bulk of the Ephesian Church, left loving Jesus, without even knowing it as they loved the ministry and what is brought to them. In essence, their purpose was no longer loving Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind, but professing to love Jesus through serving him, while actually ministering (and expressing loving devotion to ministry) to serve themselves.

To be clear, therefore many pastors move on after short stints and why many pastors move on, when it appears, they have large and growing ministries. Enough is never enough, because their soul is not being filled with God’s presence, power and desire. They need more affirmation, numbers, programs, effectiveness or their lives and feelings disassociate. They begin to look for satisfaction, relief from their gnawing emptiness and pain, in outside areas. This is when the Devil begins his campaign of suggested compromise.

As you can already tell, I am not only speaking of Ravi Zacharias, but all of us. Yes, this can happen to us, in many varied areas of sin. Did he have success, sure enough. Was that success monumental and exponential, absolutely. Did it give him access and authority? Yes! Did that authority isolate him from fellowship with other’s who could have held him in check? Yes.

I spent time in the denomination Zacharias held ordination in and can report that most of the ministers referred to him as if he was a cut above others. It is not too much to say, Ravi was revered and wrongly so. The Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, where he was ordained (as was I), began with its only emphasis being Christ our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and soon Coming King. This denomination’s founding, under A.B. Simpson, was full gospel and filled with Acts of the apostles preaching, transformation and miracles. Sometime in the late 1950’s there was a shift, which pushed the Holy Spirit out, especially in the way of manifestation gifts and divine healing.

They became very intellectual and continued to have solid teaching on the Holy Spirit and sanctification, even concerning the return of the King, but the power and presence of God made too many uncomfortable. Into these circumstances Ravi Zacharias flourished. His stellar intellect opened doors and gave him affirmation. But his fall, most likely not until the last 30 to 40 years of his life, began with a compromise based on his deteriorating physical health.

At some point, a man who should have sought divine healing, decided to take massage. At some point a man who seeks divine healing, who does not get healed, needs to hold to the words of  God in Paul the apostle…

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Let us be clear, Abba Father did not give Paul relief through healing, only power in His weakness to love and glorify God. Paul accepted what western Christian’s seldom do, which is do only what the LORD commands or allows.  Let us also be honest, we Americans hate that, because we are socialized in getting what we want and if we want relief, no matter the cost we should get it. We believe that God affirms that. He does not.

How did this lead to Zacharias compromise? He would get massages for his back from women. Women who would spend more time touching him, intimately and for his benefit than his wife. Before you label me a prude, a massage, even not one sought for sexual gratification, is sensual and intimate. It really does not matter whether it is a woman or a man giving it (look up Ted Haggard for context).

It was most likely this compromise, which opened Pandora’s box for the man. This is what led to his opening up a massage parlor business, which his denomination should have discerned as a bad and unbiblical idea, with tremendous opportunity for disaster. Again, lets be honest, do massage parlors have a good connotation in our vernacular? With the potential for sin and entanglements, did anyone counsel the man to… 

1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV) Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Precipitous falls from the Lord can happen because.

  1. We never deal with painful wounds from our life before Christ, which become the very inner weakness that drives us away from loving Christ with all our heart.
  2. Because, rather than hold to God’s promise of His fullness, transformation, healing and presence with us (to satisfy our souls), we begin to feel disassociated, as our minds are being pulled from God’s word.
  3. We consider and engage in compromise that is not expressly forbidden with a “Thou shalt not…”. In this we have pleased our flesh and the hook is set.
  4. Having isolated ourselves from accountability (or having none in place), we get picked off and begin to sin, as if we deserve to.

So yes, we can fall away from Christ into sin, as Ravi Zacharias did, for these same reasons, because Satan is the one looking to exploit the unsanctified areas of our practical life—Satan is tempting us daily to water down what God’s word clearly declares for our practical life, by focusing on what the world has to offer that is good, and not specifically to be avoided with a “Thou shalt not…”—Satan then easily leads us to devise ways to be undetected and avoid accountability.

The word of God clearly states this…

1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV) Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

James 1:13-15 (NKJV) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

As we can see, pride does come before the fall, as does a person’s life controlling frustration, despondency, fear, and entitlement. Most do not have the wide birth granted a man of Zacharias’ supposed intellectual astuteness or supposed spirituality. That said it happens over and again to ministers and laity, everyday as we slip into compromise, with no conviction of the Holy Spirit.

This should not be the case as we are commanded to cleanse ourselves from every filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 7:1). This should not be the case when the Lord has provided what we need for this task in His word and the presence of His Holy Spirit.

How do we fall?  It is as easy as being distracted and wasting time.

Ephesians 5:15-18 (NKJV) See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit

What are the schemes of Satan in your life, to drag you off, where a fall brings shame on the Lord Jesus Christ, and potentially undermines the faith of others? Let us consider Ravi Zacharias’ fall as a wake up, to the apostacy waiting to pounce, as the Devil is looking to devour.

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Another Unnecessary LAME UNBIBLICAL Apology from and Celebrity Christian!

Image result for Max Lucado apologizes for nothing

In a recent Christian Post article, it was reported that popular Christian writer and pastor, Max Lucado had come under fire for his position on gay marriage and attitudes toward LBGTQ, in general. This occurred after he had been invited to preach at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

It seems that the National Cathedral has more than a few “liberal” members, who criticized the author and speaker’s viewpoint on gay marriage. In a subsequent article one day later, Lucado apologized for his pastor comments, which had engendered such harsh criticism. Click the link to go to the Christian Post article… https://www.christianpost.com/news/max-lucado-apologizes-for-past-sermon-on-homosexuality.html)

Lucado wrote.

“In 2004 I preached a sermon on the topic of same-sex marriage. I now see that, in that sermon, I was disrespectful. I was hurtful,” wrote Lucado, pastor of Oak Hills Church, a nondenominational Christian church in San Antonio, Texas…”

“I wounded people in ways that were devastating,” Lucado, who spoke at the National Cathedral on Feb. 7, continued. “I should have done better. It grieves me that my words have hurt or been used to hurt the LGBTQ community. I apologize to you and I ask forgiveness of Christ.”

“To be clear, I believe in the traditional biblical understanding of marriage, but I also believe in a God of unbounded grace and love,” he said in his letter. “LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ families must be respected and treated with love. They are beloved children of God because they are made in the image and likeness of God.

In Max Lucado’s response we see another “Christian Super-Star” preacher capitulate to the world the flesh and the devil. Really a sermon on marriage being defined in God’s word as being between a man and a woman, was hurtful? To whom?

Out 64 million married America couples that fit the biblical definition of marriage (132 million of 330 million population), there are only 543,000 same sex married couples, with a vast majority of homosexuals choosing couple relationships without marriage (8 million). In the first place it seems, statistically, that LGBT do not care to live in marriage but co-habitate. The reason is that any and all LGBT deal with sexual sin against God. Since it is rebellion, those who choose it, know a government marriage certificate won’t solemnize it in the site of God, so why bother?

Statistically, less than 1% of all marriages are LBGT, so who was he offending? The answer is, he was offending sinners who hate God’s word and hate God’s children, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

In Lucado’s response, he gives the same mush mouthed and unbiblical response, we often hear when accused by a bent-on raging against the LORD and His Anointed (Psalm 2); and that answer is we ought to respect LBGTQ because they too are children of God, being made in God’s image.

Let us further examine this claim.

Although Adam was created in the image of God, that image was marred and tainted, through Adam’s sin. Adam’s first son killed his second Abel, as we see Cain, ignoring the commands of the Lord (Genesis 4:6-7). We then find in Genesis 5:3, that Adam brought for a son, in his own image and after his own likeness. Let us understand, both Cain and Abel were brought forth the same way, yet one desired to be like the father and trust YHWH for atonement (Abel), through appropriate sacrifice in faith; the other wanted to have atonement his way.

This is transgression, comes from Cain being brought forth in Adam’s sinful image and after his sinful likeness (Adam’s passed-on iniquity). Genesis 5:3 reveals that Seth, was more like Abel and Adam, after the fall; Cain more like his father, before the fall.

The point is that Adam’s stain taints every human being born and makes us all other than God’s children, even from before birth.

Psalms 51:5 (NKJV) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.

Yet the scripture goes further to declare what we are by birth and it is not remotely close to being children of God.

Romans 8:7-8 (NKJV) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Simply stated, by birth we are all born enemies of God, sinful and unable to please Him, being carnal; sold under sin. To advance this m point, consider with me that sexually immorality (which includes pornography, adultery, fornication and yes LBGT) is carnal behavior. So, are Christians are supposed to respect those who are sexually immoral?

No, we are not! We are not to be respecter of person’s period. We are to love our enemies, but this is not through tolerating or elevating sin, to sanctioned status before God, regardless of what that sin is.

Let us consider an even clearer passage from the word of God.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV) And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

In this passage the word of God declares all apart from Christ to be “children of wrath“. The only way to become a child of God is through the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12). In this our relationship to God is restored and only those who have received the promise of God, in Jesus finished work of redemption, are children of God.

With this truth, what does Max Lucado do with I Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8, and 22:15, where sexual immorality and homosexuality are listed as sin practices, which will keep humanity out of the kingdom of God? So why did Max Lucado apologize or even take a speaking engagement as the National Cathedral, when it is notoriously liberal? He did both for the almighty dollar.

If Lucado’s position on marriage has not changed (as he says being traditional or biblical), as he stated, the only reason to apologize is to fear diminishment in his lucrative book sales, being rejected by the growing apostate church in America, and doing an uncomfortable tap dance as a mega church pastor. All those of solid faith in Christ, ought to boycott his writings, until he repents of grieving the Holy Spirit.

Truth told, some of his older works were beneficial to my understanding of God’s love, but he has had nothing to give in offering to God or the benefit of God’s church for decades. His work is simply, like drinking a juice glass of water half full of water and the bottom quarter sugar. You’ll get a rush if you get by the syrupy sweetness, but your belly will be sick in a few minutes.

How should treat effeminate, sodomites, cross dressers, those who abominably alter their God given sex?  Like any other person who is stuck in their sin, by speaking the truth in love, and avoiding ungodly and overly friendly ties to them (II Corinthians 6:14-18).

Speaking the truth in live is not respect for the individual, but is it God’s love and mercy, calling the sinner to repentance, for without repentance and faith in Christ, they will die in their sin and wind up in the second death, which is the lake of fire which burns forever.

What any militant sinner wants (those who have chosen to shut off God’s voice in word and Spirit) is not respect, but the bowing of the Christian’s conscience to their own unregenerate and debased mind set. May God convict Max Lucado of bowing to Satan’s plan of silencing men of God. May we continue to speak the truth in love, calling all to repentance and reaming humble before our God; for apart from Christ we’d be just as lost.

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Satan’s Plan against the Church (E.M. Bounds on Spiritual Warfare) #2

After reading the rest of chapter 5 (Satan’s Main target) in E.M. Bounds book “Guide to Spiritual Warfare” I had to quote it for our instruction. what you read is found on pages 45-50, from the kindle version of “Guide to Spiritual Warfare

The Material Deception

We have been taught to regard the principles of church prosperity as those items that can be seen only in a statistical column. We seek to impress an age geared to the objectivity of secular facts and figures. However, the most vital spiritual conditions and gains cannot be reduced to figures. For this reason, they are left out of the numerical column, and, after a while, they are neither noted nor observed. If we do not change our methods, our ideas concerning the strength of the local church will become worldly. No matter how imposing our material results may be, or how magnificent and prosperous the secular arm of the church appears, we must go deeper than these for its strength. We must proclaim and reiterate with increased emphasis that the strength of the church does not lie in these things.

These are the gilded delusions that we mistake for the true riches. While we are vainly saying, “[We are] rich, and increased with goods,” God has written that we are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Wealth and prosperity may be the costly spices and splendid decorations that embalm and entomb our spirituality. True strength lies in the godliness of the people. The personal holiness of the members of each church is the only true measure of strength. Any other test offends God, dishonors Christ, grieves the Holy Spirit, and degrades religion.

A church can often make the best showing of material strength when death in its deadliest form is feeding on its vital organs. There is hardly a more damaging delusion than to judge the conditions of a church by its material prosperity or church-related activity. Spiritual barrenness and rottenness in a church are generally hidden by a pleasant exterior and unusual growth. However, a spiritual church converts people from sin soundly, clearly, and fully. Then it puts them on the road to holiness, where they strive to walk in a way that is pleasing to God.

Edward McKendree Bounds (circa 1864)

This spirituality is not to be kept in a corner of the church but is to be its primary and only business. God’s church must continue to do this work of converting sinners and perfecting saints in holiness. Whenever this work becomes secondary, or other interests are held to be its equivalent, then the church becomes worldly. When material interests are emphasized, they come into prominence. Then the world comes to the throne and sways the scepter of Satan.

There is no surer way to make the church worldly than to put its material prosperity in the forefront. This is the surest way to put Satan in charge. It is easy for material assessments to become priority by emphasizing them until the opinion is created that these things are most important. When collecting money, building churches, and counting attendance become the evidence of church prosperity, then the world has a strong foothold, and Satan has achieved his purpose.

Creating a Human Institution

Another scheme of Satan is to eliminate from the church all the humble, self-denying ordinances that are offensive to unsanctified tastes and unregenerate hearts. He seeks to reduce the church to a mere human institution—popular, natural, fleshly, and pleasing.

Satan has no scheme that can more thoroughly thwart God’s high and holy purposes than transforming His church into a human institution according to man’s views. God’s right arm is thereby paralyzed, the body of Christ becomes the body of Satan, and light is turned into darkness and life into death. Men who have religious leadership positions are often blinded by a false attachment to what they think is truth and what they consider honors Christ. They are found trying to eliminate from the teaching of Christ those painful, offensive, unpopular, and self-denying features to which the Gospel owes all its saving beauty and power, and which stamp it as divine.

From the life of Peter we have a painful and most instructive warning:

“From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.(Matthew 16:21–27)”

Here is a lesson for all times and for all people. An apostle had become the mouthpiece of Satan! What an alarming, horrible, and revolting picture! An apostle, zealous for his Master’s glory, advocated with fire and force a scheme that would forever destroy that glory! The apostle Peter became Satan’s agent!

This is the same apostle who had just made the inspired confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” that placed him in highest honor with Christ and the church! Before the words of that divine and marvelous confession had died from his lips, this same apostle became the advocate of plans that would nullify his confession and destroy the eternal foundations of the church.

The Easy Way

Peter, a chief apostle, advocated schemes that would have discrowned Christ of His messiahship and brought heaven’s favorite plan to a disastrous and shameful end! What destructive impulse compelled Peter? Satan entered him and, for the time being, achieved his purposes. But Christ reproved Peter, and in the reproof struck a crushing blow at Satan. “

Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23) is a reminder and duplicate of Jesus’ response to Satan during the wilderness temptation. “Thou art an offence [“stumblingblock,” rv] unto me” (v. 23), He said. The temptation through Peter was the Devil’s trigger to catch Christ in his trap, but Jesus saw through it. “Thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those that be of men” (v. 23). The Devil was not in sight. Man appeared, but Satan’s views were pressed to the front.

The things that men savor in church planning and church life are against God’s plan. The high and holy principles of self-denial, godly living, and surrender to Christ are all against men’s view of Christianity. The Devil seeks to destroy the church indirectly. Men’s views eliminate all the unpopular principles of the Cross—self-denial, life surrender, and separation from the world. When this is done, the Devil runs the church. Then the church becomes popular, self-satisfying, modern, and progressive. But it is the Devil’s church, founded on principles pleasing in every way to flesh and blood.

If this occurs, Christ is no longer in the church. There is no crucifixion of self, no crucifixion of the world, no second coming of Christ, no eternal judgment, no everlasting hell, no eternal heaven. Nothing is left that reminds us of God, because everything reeks of man. Man makes it the Devil’s church by turning Christ’s church over to human leaders. The world is sought and gained in the Devil’s church, but the soul and heaven are lost to eternity.

The very heart of this disgraceful apostasy, this dethroning of Christ and enthroning of the Devil, is to remove the Holy Spirit from His leadership in the church. Satan’s plan is to put unspiritual men in leadership to direct the church. Men of great ability and men with the powers of leadership have often displaced God’s leadership. The ambition for leadership and the enthronement of human leaders is the doom and seal of apostasy. There is no leadership in God’s church except the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The man who has the most of God’s Spirit is God’s chosen leader. He is zealous for the Spirit’s sovereignty, ambitious to be the least, the slave of all.

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Satan’s Plan against the Church (E.M. Bounds on Spiritual Warfare)

In this post I have liberally quoted from one of the most influential Christian pastors and teachers of the last 150 years; though many have not heard of him. E.M. Bounds was contemporary to the likes of Moody, Spurgeon, Nettleton, Finney, Andrew Murray and A.B. Simpson. Not only was he read by some of theses men, his work was assimilated into their lives and teaching. This was also true in the lives of great men of God, closer to our world and culture, such as Oswald Chamber, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson.

Edward McKendree Bounds, was born in Missouri (1835). He became a pastor before the civil war, and although he opposed slavery, he was arrested as a confederate sympathizer and jailed. He was also charged a fine of $500 dollars. Feeling it immoral for the Federal government to treat its citizens as such, he joined the confederacy as a chaplain, hoping to assist those who needed Christ and would die in the war. After being wounded in a battle, He was captured by the Union and released; after which he would continue his pastor work and writing.

His Complete works on prayer is exhaustive, exhilarating and used to be standard reading for those absolutely surrendered to God and were filled by the Spirit. Perhaps the reason so few are reading him today, even among Pentecostals, reveals a lack in those claiming to be filled with God’s Spirit.

In the quotes below from chapter five of his work entitled “Guide to Spiritual Warfare”, Bounds diagnoses Satan’s scheme that has robbed the church in our day of its identity, power and purpose. May God cause us great reflection as we read, that we may right the ship, before apostacy drowns us all.

Satan’s Main Target

Satan is an expert in all the arts of deceit. He is an archangel in execution, and he often succeeds in seducing the nations most loyal to Christ. He leads them into plans that pervert all scriptural principles. When the church itself, the bride of Christ, is seduced from her purity, she degenerates into worldly ritualism. The “gates of hell shall not prevail” against the church. This promise of our Lord stands against every satanic device and assault. But this unchangeable word does not protect the church from the Devil’s strategies, which often pervert the aims of the church and postpone the day of its final triumph. The

Perverting of the Church

The Devil is a hydra-headed monster who is multifaceted in plans and wisdom as well as in atrocities. His supreme effort is to gain control of the church, not to destroy its organization, but to pervert its divine purpose. He does this in the most insidious way, so that there is no startling change and nothing to shock or alarm those whom he is trying to undermine.

Edward McKendree Bounds (circa 1864)

Sometimes revolutionary and destructive change is introduced under the disguise of a greater zeal for Christ’s glory. It is often introduced by someone who is held in high esteem by the local church, but who is totally ignorant of the fact that the measure he is advocating is subversive.

One of Satan’s most perverse schemes is to establish a wrong estimate of church strength. If he can create false assessments of local church power; if he can press the material things to the forefront; if he can make these forces powerful in commands and influence, he has accomplished his purpose.

The third temptation of our Lord was intended to subvert the purposes of His kingdom. Satan planned to do this by substituting material elements of strength for spiritual ones.

This is one of the Devil’s most insidious and successful methods to deceive, divert, and deprave. He parades the most attractive material results. He praises the power of human planning before church leaders until they are dazzled and ensnared. Then the church becomes thoroughly worldly while boasting of her spirituality. No deceiver is so artful in the diabolical trade of deception as Satan. As an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), he leads souls to death.

To mistake the true power of the church’s strength is to mistake the true character of the church. When its character is changed, then all its efforts and aims are also changed. The strength of the church lies in its devotion to God. All else is incidental and is not the source of its strength. But in worldly, popular language, a local church is called strong when its membership is large, and when it has social position and financial resources. A church is thought to be powerful when ability, learning, and eloquence fill the pulpit, and when the pews are filled by fashion, intelligence, money, and influence. An assumption of this kind is worldly to the fullest extent.

The Source of True Power

The local church that defines its strength in this way is on the highway to apostasy. The strength of that church does not consist in any or all of these things. The faith, holiness, and zeal of the church are the elements of its power. The church’s strength does not consist in its numbers and its money, but in the holiness of its members. The church’s strength is not found in these worldly attachments or endowments, but in the endowment of the Holy Spirit on its members.

The most deadly symptom that can be seen in a church is the transference of its strength from spiritual to material forces, from the Holy Spirit to the world. The power of God in the church is the measure of its strength. This is the quality God looks for in a church. The power of the Holy Spirit gives the church the ability to accomplish the purposes for which it was designed.

On the contrary, show us a church that is poor, illiterate, obscure, and unknown, but composed of praying people. They may not be men of power, wealth, or influence. Their families may not know one week where they are to get their bread for the next. But with them is “the hiding of [God’s] power” (Habakkuk 3:4), and their influence will be felt for eternity. Wherever they go there is a fountain of light, Christ in them is glorified, and His kingdom is advanced. They are His chosen vessels of salvation who reflect His light.

Within the church there are unmistakable signs that she has been blinded and caught by Satan’s dazzling glare. The church is being seriously affected by the material progress of the age. We have heard so much about prosperity and gazed on it for so long that spiritual views no longer appeal to us. Everything must take on the rich quality, luxuriant growth, and magnificent appearance of the material, or else it seems beggarly. This is the most perilous condition the church has to face. It happens when the meek and lowly fruits of holiness are discounted by the showy and worldly charms with which material success crowds the church.

We must not yield to the flood. We must not for a moment, not with the hundredth part of an inch, give place to the world. Holiness and devotion to God must be stressed in every way and at every point. The church must be made to see this delusion and snare. This transference of strength from God to the world, this rejection of the Holy Spirit’s endowment of might and power, must be recognized as yielding to Satan. The church, more and more, is inclined not only to disregard, but also to despise, the elements of spiritual strength and to set them aside for more impressive, worldly ideas.

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The GRAVITY of HELL (What happens to those who die outside of Christ) Part 2

In my last post we discussed what happens to those who die outside of Christ.; the are confined to hell. Hell is a word used for both the temporary holding place of the wicked dead, as well as the place of eternal punishment, which is the lake of fire.

In the Old Testament, the temporary place of the dead is labeled Sheol. When considering the New Testament equivalent, we discover the word Hades, which in some older translations is translated as “Hell”.

It is important to note Sheol/Hades/Hell is a real geography in the “lower parts of the earth”, where those who die outside of Christ are conscious and experience pain, fear, anxiety, regret and loss, as they wait their final judgment. If you have not read Part 1 of this series, click here for the scriptural background on Sheol/Hades/Hell.

Today we will examine the final judgment, which is most often translated “hell” in the New Testament, which is related to Hades, but a separate eternal location in God’s final judgment of humanity’s sin.

Let’s begin with an often missed passage of scripture in the gospel of John.

John 5:26-30 (NKJV) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forththose who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Interestingly, this passage reveals that all people will be resurrected, with bodies that will never die; those who received the grace of God in Christ Jesus to live forever with Christ and those who did not (receive God’s grace in Christ) will suffer everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (II Thessalonians 1:6-10). Lest we forget Jesus words mirror the Old Testament revelation of eternal life with the Messiah for those who follow Him and eternal punishment or condemnation, for those rejecting Him. 

Daniel 12:1-2 (NKJV) “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

It is now important to form our understanding of word of God basis for the second death, and why it is translated “hell: (Revelation 20:11-14).

GE-HENNA

When referring to God’s eternal punishment on those who reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must consider the Greek word ge-henna, which is translated as “hell” in most New Testament passages dealing with the fire of eternal punishment.

Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:29 (NKJV) If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Matthew 25:41-43 (NKJV) “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

Mark 9:47-48 (NKJV) And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

In dealing with our last passage, we get a full view of the real time illustration Jesus was using, when choosing the word ge-henna, which in the Jewish mind was seen in the “Valley of Hinnom” outside of Jerusalem. During the times of the wicked kings of Judah, they burned their children to death, in sacrifice to pagan deities and in rebellion against YHWH.

Because the Jews considered this valley “curse” (because of the prior abominable activities), the only thing they would use it for, was to burn the tons of trash produced by the city and surrounding area. This was practiced from after their return from Babylonian captivity, through the time of Christ.

The fire, in “the valley of Hinnom” was never quenched, because of the volume of trash, which needed to be incinerated. There were also always ample worms because of the garbage, so despite the heat, “die not”.

This was the illustrated message Jesus most often use in teaching the disciples about the eternal nature of the second death and it’s torments, which never end for those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Below are a few more passages describing eternal punishment.

OUTER DARKNESS SPACIAL REALTION RELATIONAL DISTANCE FROM CHRIST

Matthew 8:12-13 (NKJV) But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

The above passage is one of three referring to eternal punishment as outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. II Thessalonians will enable us to reconcile an assumed contradiction to “hell fire”, which is not normally thought- of as dark.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NKJV) since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

In these two passages reveal eternal punishment as being in lake of fire (the second death). We also discover that outer darkness reveals the spiritual/soul punishment of being relationally separated from Christ, who is the Light of the world, because of their sin. This hopelessness is outer darkness, which causes weeping and gnashing of teeth. This understanding carries with it a spatial distance “away from the presence of the Lord, for those who suffer eternal punishment. 

As we consider the nature of the second death, in the lake which burns with fire, we must confess its absolute awesome and overwhelming terribleness. Not only will those who wind up there, suffer pain in a body that will never die, but they will live forever in the knowledge that they can never get free, because they used their free will choice to reject Christ’s call to repentance and faith in His cross and resurrection.

let’s meditate for a moment on what Revelations says about the finality of eternal condemnation.

Revelation 20:11-15 (NKJV) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

In the above passage we see the temporary nature of Hades, as it will end in the lake of fire. We are also left with the sobering reality of those who are cast into the lake of fire.

Is there a danger to those who are truly in Christ. No, as our sin was judged at the cross; unless we begin to walk in unbelief (See John 15:1-8; Romans :17-23; Hebrews 6:4-6).

Let the reality of the second death, cause us to be sober in our faith for we live in the last days and apostasy is abounding. This apostacy was prophesied and it is not a pagan religion but a counterfeit Christianity, where there is a form of godliness, which denies the power of godliness (II Timothy 3:5).

As we consider our times, let us look to share the gospel and call the lost to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. May we never be those who do not live fully for Christ, who is the Truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (NKJV) The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

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The GRAVITY of HELL (What happens to those who die outside of Christ) Part 1

Lazarus and the rich man: parable or not? | Theo-sophical Ruminations

Over the years I have had many conversations and taught often of what occurs when a follower of Jesus Christ dies. Simply put, they find themselves immediately in the presence of Christ for, “absent from the body is present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

Scripture is clear that when the rapture takes place, those who have died in Christ will receive a glorified body first, then those who remain will be caught up, that for all eternity we will be in perfect form with Christ forever (I Thessalonians 3:13-18).

This truth ought to be a comfort to all who follow Christ, as it is central to our blessed hope, the great and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).

On the contrary, it has been my experience that most Christians and sadly many ministers, know or rarely consider, the next stop for those who die outside of Christ (before the final judgment). Not only is grasping this truth essential to our walking out the Great Commission, but also in understanding some controversial passages of the New Testament.

Recently, while thinking on the loss of a family member that my wife and I were very close too (a family member who was not a follower of Jesus Christ), I began to ponder again what the Bible says about hell.

Relatively speaking, the family member that passed away suddenly, was a good person in comparison to many others, but had rejected the gift of God’s grace in Christ. Being a fairly religious person, liked by many, and having raised a family, she was good enough, in her own eyes and the eyes of most people, many have said, I am sure, “She’s in a better place”.

The only problem is that there are none “good enough” to be righteous before God, sufficient to pay for their own sin. When a person trusts their good works are good enough to appease God’s holy justice, all their righteous works are as used menstrual rags; utterly useless (Psalm 14:1-3; Isaiah 64:6).

We understand, from the bible that, “by the deeds of the law will no flesh be justified in His sight”, “for all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God”; “that the wage of sin is death” or eternal separation from God. This end is ultimately in the lake which burns with fire, that is referred to as the second death (Romans 3:20-23; 6:23; Revelation 20:14-15).

My wife and I attempted to share the gospel with this family member several times, over the years, to no avail. She was always fine in her own eyes and a little ticked that our sharing the truth suggested she would wind up in hell. This is often the case with those who are lost in religiosity and self justification. I submit it is further rooted in the human sin nature we are born with, as Jesus revealed in John 3:18-21.

John 3:18-21 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

This condemnation is what came to mind, when I was reading the word of God over a month ago and I thought of my deceased family member. Out of nowhere, I imagined her in torment, totally conscience, fearful, suffering and awaiting the most dreadful day for all mankind… the Day of the final judgment of the wicked at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20).

My mind and heart were overwhelmed with grief at the finality of the terrible thought, but I could not excuse it, for Hell, scripturally, is seen in the Christian vernacular, as both the temporary place of holding for those awaiting the final judgment (who are apart from Christ), and as the final forever judgment itself. Though related, there is a difference.

HELL (SHEOL or HADES)

In the O.T. there are 23 occurrences of the word Sheol, and in each case it is referring to the temporary place of the dead. Perhaps the most important use of it is in Psalm 16:10, where we are told 700 to 900 years before Christ’s death and resurrection…

Psalms 16:10-11 (NKJV) For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

The reason for this passage’s importance is that it is quoted in Acts 2:27, 31 as a proof to the Jews on the day of Pentecost that Jesus Christ is the Messiah (LORD’s anointed), being He rose from the grave. In another passage, Ephesians 4:9, we see not only the place where Hades is located, but that Jesus visited it, in the three days He was in the grave.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV) Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Before we talk of why Jesus descended it is important to first understand the character and make up of Hell (Hades), as a temporary holding place of the dead, in the lower parts of the earth. For this we must look at the true account of Lazarus and the rich man.

In Luke16:19-31, Jesus speaks to us of two men. The first man is a rich man, for whom we are given no name. We understand that he lived very well off and did not regard the poor, very much if at all. This is not an assumption, for sickly beggar Lazarus, was daily lain outside the rich man’s gate and desired just the scraps and thrown out left overs from the rich man’s table. Lazarus’ plight was so dire, that the dogs were the the only one to take pity on him, as they licked his sores.

When Lazarus dies, angels carry him to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man dies and was carried to Hades, where he has consciousness, and feels hunger, thirst and pain as he is awaiting his final judgment. Lazarus was conscious and felt satisfied, as He awaited not judgment, but the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

Luke 16:22-26 (NKJV) So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

Here we see the character and nature of Hell/Hades; the temporary place of the dead. Yes it is in the lower parts of the earth. Hades has two parts, one is still filling up, while the other is empty. Abraham’s bosom, the portion that is empty, is where all who died placing their faith in God’s word, were kept until Christ’s death and resurrection. This area was called Abraham’s bosom because He is the father of the faithful; as “he believed the LORD and He accounted it as righteousness to Him” (Genesis 15:6).

It was faith in the coming Redeemer that was the cornerstone of the faith in the O.T. saint. Let us consider Job

Job 19:25-27 (NKJV) For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

So we see that until Christ’s resurrection, Abraham’s bosom was filled with the O.T. faithful, waiting the resurrection of Messiah. Yes, King David, Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, even John the Baptist. They were awaiting the resurrection of Messiah. After He died, He descended, then picked up those held captive to death, and led them captive by his grace and love on high.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV) Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Some dispute the above passage confusing the language, because of the second use of the word captive, but the word has a similar connotation to Paul’s use of the word “lay hold of… that which has laid hold of me” and “apprehended” in Philippians 3:11-13.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The above bolded terms give the idea that Paul was apprehended by Christ, arrested and captive to God’s love through the life of God’s Son. On the other hand, Paul was attempting to apprehend the one who apprehended Him. This is important in understanding that Jesus entered (first descended) into Sheol/Hades/Hell to free those in the faith, who were captive to death, until the Redeemer defeated death once and for all. Oh death where is your sting, Oh Hell (Hades) where is your victory!

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NKJV) Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Sadly, the place in Hades reserved for those who reject God’s grace in the cross and resurrection of Christ, who refuse to repent and walk in faith in the name of the only begotten son of God, is filled more and more daily. Those who die outside of Christ today and tomorrow, await their final judgement next to the rich man, and every other unrepentant human who has ever lived. What are they awaiting?

John 5:26-30 (NKJV) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

In our next blog, we will take a further look into the finality of the sentence for those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Silent SLAUGHTER… 42,000,000!

Dear New York, - Lisa M Griffith

2020 world-wide death toll for Covid-19… 1.8 million dead. Very sad indeed.

2020 world -wide death toll for ABORTION42,000,000 (that’s right 42 million) barbarically slaughtered in the womb! ABSOLUTELY ABOMINABLE!

In America we average around 1,700 abortions per day! around the world the world (which include the U.S. number of 1,700) 115,000 babies are slaughtered per day!

2020 has been sown with fear that Covid-19 could eradicate the human race, so much so, that world economies and governments shut down, and billions of people abandoned rationality and reason giving up personal liberty All because of the fear of a disease that killed 1.8 million. Name the politician or celebrity Christian or well-known pastor, that has panicked for ten seconds over the slaughter of FORTY-TWO MILLION MURDERED CHILDREN!

The reason for the ridiculous disparity…

Although social distancing could aid in reducing unwanted pregnancies, our world culture declares sex with whomever and whenever (even in a pandemic; we’ve made sex about the pleasure we derive from it, rather than it being about marital love, as seen in the conception of a blessed child, conceived in the similitude of God.

There is no mask to protect us from our sinful heart, bent on selfish pleasure and ignoring the precious God-given nature of each human life.

There is no vaccine to defeat the viral nature of sin deep in the heart of all humanity. This inborn sin virus is a 100% killer. All under its influence will suffer FOREVER, because they rejected the love of God in Christ Jesus.

But there is a complete Cure, in the cross and resurrection of Christ. There is cleansing from the stain and influence of sin upon the human frame, that transforms the character and mind of a person, to understand Truth, follow and live in God’s love. There is a Savior, the one and only Lord Jesus Christ, who died for all men, that they may be forgiven and walk in the light of His truth.

Repent America! Turn from your wickedness, your apathy, your indifference and receive Christ by faith.

WAKE UP CHURCH! 42,000,000 slaughtered children and a world using Covid-19, in an attempt to silence the church, ought to tell you Jesus words are coming to pass; we are living in the very last of days.

Matthew 24:9-13 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Who will speak up for the little ones? Who will stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and live out God’s love, regardless of consequence?

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Christian’s Wake Up… The Wolves are Among Us! #2

PictureMeDead's Profile at Vampire Rave.

In an article entitled “Chris Pratt tells far left and far right to quit the divisiveness: ‘Under God we’re indivisible'”, the actor lectures both sides of the political spectrum, concerning the divided nation of the United States of America. In so doing he propagates falsehoods, that I have heard repeated in the churches I have pastored in. 

Why the Christian Post continues to hold up Christ Pratt and what surrounds his life as worthy of Christian reporting in beyond me. The pledge of allegiance, no matter how much I like it (and I do), is not a divine doctrine, dogma, or creed.

When the pledge was first penned, by socialist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892, “one nation under god” was not include in the pledge. In fact, the phrase was not even in its second incarnation in 1923. It was not until President Eisenhower forced its insertion in 1954, that it began to be recited. In lieu of these facts, it’s not difficult to understand, why we are a divided nation. Not everyone in America believe or follows one true God.

Therefore, Pratt’s use of the Pledge coupled with the lie “we’re all children of God”, reiterates a false doctrine that cannot bring any real unity in or out the church. 

Do we understand that we are not all children of God?

Romans 8:7 reveals all humanity, apart from Christ to be “at enmity against God” in our practice and thought. Ephesians 2:3-5 delineates that “all men are born children of wrath”Colossians 3:6 that we are born “children of disobedience”.

The point is that we are not born children of God, by natural birth. Even our being created in His image is marred by sin, as Adam, brought forth children in “his own likeness (image)” as we discover in Genesis 5:3, after the fall in the Garden.

America, as with other nations, will never be united under the one true God, this side of Christ’s return, because all nations oppose Christ in the last days; and the United States will never be filled with only followers of Christ.

Pratt’s emotionalism, sounds nice, and is given in sincerity (I am assuming), but is a half-baked attempt to get democrats and republicans to get along, through religious appeal (not through truth). He would have done well to say to both sides, were not different, but all under sin, REPENT or PERISH.

That is definitely true, but would have fell on deaf ears, from a man who readily professes Christ, yet continues to lie for a living (as an actor), participating in and making films pushing life and behavior contrary to the word of God; all the while making millions of dollars.

The Christian Post, needs to stop propping this man up as a Christian, they are only hurting him and their readership. Let’s pray for Chris Pratt, who appears very sincere, that he might repent and escape the lies and false doctrine surrounding Him; that he would truly find satisfaction in Christ alone.

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Christian’s Wake Up… The Wolves are Among Us!

Why the Christians Post believes Chris Pratt’s social media is relevant to their readers lives is beyond my comprehension. In an article entitled “Chris Pratt grateful for online Christmas service, says Jesus died for everyone“, the news organization propped up the actor’s comments in a very positive light. 

The church needs to be wary of Christians in Hollywood and news organizations, which feel the need to write about them, when their words and actions are not reflective of the faith once delivered to the saints. There is zero compatibility between true biblical faith and anything attached to entertainment media in America.

Chris Pratt may have genuine belief, in Christ, but that does not mean he is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing or tare among the wheat; we know the real from the authentic by their fruit, not what they profess (Matthew 7:17-27). We know the real from the authentic by whether their doctrine and life practices fall into boundaries of God’s word.

Remember the demons believe Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:19-20). Profession and sincerity concerning the cross of Christ are meaningless without repentance and works revealing repentance and faith.

Pratt is right, in that Christ died for all sinners, but He rose that we would walk in a newness of life (Romans 6). That truth means we no longer walk in the behavior we once did. Our sinning is not to be into the old patterns or paths, but missing the mark, as we are attempting to walk in Christ’s righteous call (I John 1:7-9; 3:4-9).

Chris Pratt’s sincerity may be real, but without a life which is aligned with the scripture, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Consider that he has appeared in movies where he has had and still has simulated sex with woman he is not married too. He plays a character in Guardians of the Galaxy, which has used the middle finger, killed without conscience, used banal conversation, had sex with many female alien and human. The character he plays in continuing Marvel Comics story lines is explicitly bi-sexual.

That resume is problematic for a lost person, let alone one who garners the attention of the Christian world, as a model of the faith.

Someone may say, well that is his job, what is he to do? Walk away and live for Christ, plain and simple.

Why do we Christian’s need a “Christian Hero” in Hollywood? We are seeking to fill our time by please ourselves and entertaining ourselves into spiritual insensitivity; all the while funding smut and worthless endeavors.

We have lost two generations of Christina’s in this county, by teaching that if we profess belief with our mouth and “invite Jesus into my heart” (with no repentance or Christ ruling our lives as Lord), we have a ticket to ride to heaven. This error is what Christ Pratt, sadly has never herd, or refuses to surrender too. This falsehood is without any repentance or transformation commensurate to the N.T. call.

We ought to also be extremely uncomfortable with Pratt’s use of the Catholic mass as a viable form of Christian practice, as the article states.

Catholicism is not the faith once delivered to the saints, but a syncretism of Judaism, paganism, and Christianity. Its mass is blasphemy against Christ’s once for all sacrifice on our behalf (Romans 6:10; Hebrews 10:10). Yet the Christian Post refuses to delineate or discern between truth and error; and many Christians do not discern or delineate either.

We need to awake from our slumber, arise from the dead and let Christ give us light. Seen them that we walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time for the days are evil. Therefore, do not unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:14-17). 

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Is His Word, a Contemptuous Insult? God Forbid! PART II

Pin on christian spiritual quotes

(2 Timothy 3:4-7) …lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

(Jeremiah 6:10) To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.

(If you have not read Part I click here to read

How does the church arrive at a place, where when sin and its serious consequences are spoken of, and the message is heard, yet not heeded; where it irritates those hearing it, rather than drawing them to the Lord? Where that individual or church, rather than revealing Christ, operates in a “form of godliness, but denying its power” and is “loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”?

Make no mistake this was occurring in Timothy’s day, and in the times of Jeremiah; few were hearing the message as God intended, most took it as a reproach. Remember from our last time together, God’s word, His call and His loving correction, were a derogatory insult; a cruel sucker punch from the Lord and His minister. Why?

THAT WHICH LEADS TO GOD’S WORD BECOMING A VILE REPROACH

Verse 6 begins to peel back the layers to find the slowing rotting center. “Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hear”.

When dealing with circumcision, it deals with God’s conventional relationship to Israel and His church. Recall with me, that circumcision deals with the covenant of faith. To enter there needs to be a transaction, like when Abraham entered covenant with God.

 “And he believed the LORD and He accounted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). To enter covenant with God all that was needed was faith in God’s word and promise. In Genesis 17, we see that physical circumcision was a sign of that covenant of faith. After that initial transaction there is no need for further transaction, as the just shall live by faith. Abraham’s faith in God’s promise was essentially faith in Christ, who is the Pinnacle of the descendants of Abraham.

The problem with Israel, who were children of Abraham, is they wanted to live in a transactional relationship to God, rather than in covenant with God.

In covenant God makes promises because of His love and is faithful, out of His love for us, to keep His promises. God’s people out of love and gratitude, for His love and faithfulness, promise to obey Him out of a heart of love. Note there is no transaction needed anymore, only faithfulness from both parties.

Most of Israel mistook the sacrifices and commands of God, as gaining credit for good deeds done, rather than holy reminders of their sinful state and God’s mercy to them. His command to sacrifice was not only to temporarily cover their sin, but one day removed it completely through the Lamb of God.

In their error they believed they were righteous by profession and wanted prosperity and for God to bail them out of their troubles. To save them from their temporary troubles. Their good deeds, to them was credit, a transaction with God, by which He was to give them blessing in return.

Most cared little if at all for being with or led by God daily; for that demanded obedience to His word. He continued to call them in covenantal relationship, where they obeyed Him because of their gratitude and love; they only wanted to say their prayers, make their religious sacrifice, give their tithe, get His blessing, and live as kings and queens of their own lives.

Having uncircumcised ears, THEY COULD NOT HEAR. Let’s not believe in error, we are exempt.

Church, we have the same problem. Romans 2:29 declares that true believers have a circumcised heart. Praise God the sign of that covenant is not circumcision, but baptism. Not only is baptism and identification with Christ in his death and resurrection, but it is also a prophecy of our living a changed life, in righteousness, as we obey His word, because of love (Romans 6:1-14).

Note, our obedience is not transactional, but covenantal, because the transaction occurred prior to our faith.

As with the first covenant, it began with a transaction: Christ bled and died to pay the penalty of our sin, which makes the removal of sin and its penalty from our account—brings peace between us and God and overcomes the sting of death. Christ’s death and resurrection is the transaction needed.

We receive this blessed transaction of redemption by repentance and faith, in Christ’s finished work. The purpose of Christs propitiation, and redemptive work (transactional word), was that we may live in covenant with God.

Romans 6:12-14 (NKJV) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Why yield to Christ with and in us, to righteousness? In the first place, we can. Secondly, we understand the value of the cross and resurrection is that we can and want to love God through obeying His word (John 14:15-23). No transaction but covenant.

How ought this relationship be seen?

When we hear messages on a need to drop sinful or carnal behavior, we grieve and run to commit all to Christ, as an expression of loving surrender. When called to a holy life, we do not belly ache, but rejoice He has paid for it in full, and determine that for His glory and fame we will walk it out. When we find we have a hindrance to being able to glorify Him, with His love for us as our fuel, we let patience have its perfect work, in making us more like Him.

But why is this not the normal disposition of our churches? Because we have made salvation all about the transaction. Our faith is no longer about loving God with all our heart, but how much more He should love us, because we do this or that.

This has arisen over the last 70 years in the church in America and is called cheap grace. ABC (acknowledge, believe, and confess Him as Savior) and you are in; God loves you and nothing else matters. Rather than tell the truth, that there is no saving faith without repentance (or turning away and leaving your former life); we have made salvation about a transaction called,   “accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”.

Therefore, people get baptized, assume their ticket to heaven will get them blessed and happy in this life, only to be disappointed when trouble comes; and it will come. As trouble continues, they are often frustrated believing God does not love them. This mentality arises for the person never moved into covenantal relationship with God. I read my bible, pray, go to church, got baptized; you give me what I want, get me out of the trouble. More frustration arises as we begin to believe we deserve better from God, as we figure we have kept our end of the bargain.

What is it that we deserve from God, for goody good moralistic behavior, apart from Christ? Revelation 20:1-10 declares we deserve eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

That is the only transactional information we need, besides the benefit of Christ’s transaction in His own blood: we do not get what we deserve, but God’s love in covenantal relationship, as the children of God (Romans 8:14-17). Israel was destroyed for this wrong attitude and disposition to the LORD, so too shall we if we do not repent and understand His love, the transaction, and our call to love Him back unreservedly (Romans 5:8).

As individuals we are called to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith—to work our salvation with fear and trembling. I make no personal judgment on you, as I need this instruction as well, but the body of Christ in America, almost exclusively is ignoring God’s call to deeper conventional relationship to Him.

There are excuses and justifications, but it really comes down to the fact that we are not hearing God call us to Himself, because we do not delight in His word or His will.

(Jeremiah 6:10)…Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.

We ought not need a voice from heaven, His word is sufficient. In both Psalm 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 we are called to delight in his word for the purpose of being filled with His Spirit, fruitful, and at peace in troubled times. In these same passages we are called to meditate on His word day and night. Palm 119:9-12 reveals delight in His word is what keeps us from sin. This takes more than reading.

Psalm 40:8-11 was written by David, capturing the heart of Messiah 750 years before His birth. This is also describing the heart of those delighting in the word of God. Like Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, they “delight to do His will”, because that is the heart of covenant relationship with God.

In lieu of this, some may still stubbornly refuse to heed His call to your own detriment, believing, “I accepted Jesus, I am fine.” When you hear the challenge, it borders on reproach.

 How do we turn the tide? First acknowledge it today. Secondly, turn to His word with your whole heart. Receive the full benefit of Christ’s transaction on your part. IT IS FINISHED.

Now live in obedience, because you love Him with all your heart.

 

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