The Church’s Need to Press Into God

This is not intended to slam the church, but the time has come for Christians to stop “playing” church and start being the church. It’s time to jettison the numbers game and to start getting serious about authentic discipleship. It’s far past time for treating churches like businesses and trend-setters, and to start getting serious about Jesus Christ and His Great Commission—adhering to Jesus’ instructions instead of sinful men’s ingenuity.

For the past several decades the church has pressed more into the world, learning from its practices, ways, and examples to try to woo persons to Jesus, instead of pressing into God in prayer, proclaiming the true gospel, and trusting the work of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin and drawing them to Christ in truth. However, what has happened instead is the church has become, by and large, impotent, ineffective, and irrelevant. In the meantime, the world is rapidly changing—and not for the better. Spiritual deception is running rampant, the world’s powerful elitists (including the Pope—who is not an ambassador of Christ) are pushing for a one world governance, which the Bible says will be demonically orchestrated and will give rise to the evil-to-the-core Antichrist. A secular, godless world is already being conditioned to embrace such a horrific leader to be its pseudo-savior.

Sadly, many preachers are more concerned with building megachurches, and many who profess to be Christians are more interested in feeling warm fuzzies, playing religious games, and slithering in and out of services without any commitment, rather than becoming genuine disciples and ambassadors of Christ, and being ready at any time for His return.

It’s high time for Christians to get serious about sin and repentance, and for so-called “backsliders” to stop feigning an empty faith and get right with God. We are entering a time when we can’t afford to play and mess around. Governments around the world are becoming increasingly corrupt, and it seems godless Marxism is is increasingly taking root. These, and the globalist elites do view Christianity with hostility. There is a strong storm brewing, and those who are not truly building their faith on the solid foundation of Christ and His teachings are in for a terribly rude awakening.

It’s timed or the church to press into the holy God, and to stop trying to appease the world. It’s time to return to proclaiming the true gospel and to warn of the wrath to come (1 Thes. 2:16). Indeed, we must speak the truth in love, but it’s high time to stop cuddling people in their sins. It’s true, they might choose to walk away forever from the grace offered them, but it’s their choice to make (Matt. 19:21-22). But this is better than cradling them in their sins and lying to them, giving them a false hope—which is exactly what it is when we try to say God accepts us and our sins or to simply deny something is sin that the Bible does call sin.

I wonder, when the storm comes, how many persons have genuine faith in Christ and His gospel that they’re not going to be swept away by the tides of deception and persecution? I’m both saddened and angered by how many are called pastors, but who are nothing but mongrels who have no business being behind the pulpit. They do not preach the whole counsel of God, they do not truly disciple and equip believers for kingdom living, but simply spin sermon lullabies, keeping persons lackadaisical. Many of them offer “gospels” which are not gospels at all, worthless teachings of temporal prosperity and a sense of belonging, but void of the true Spirit of Christ.

I’m not simply being unnecessarily critical. The Bible warns that in the last days deception and lawlessness will abound, and there will be a great apostasy (i.e., a falling away from the faith). Furthermore, we are warned: “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:12). This dragon’s rage against the people of God is going to intensify, and he is going to give his authority to a man someday who is going to deceive many. This time might be closer than we think, if our world succumbs to a global governance. Eventually this is going to happen, but church, must it be now? Are we really to be like drunken or sleeping sentries who are oblivious to the forces of evil standing at the gates and ready for battle? Are the faithful to be left defenseless simply because so-called pastors are afraid of people leaving their churches because of truth or simply trying to make a name for themselves, rather than exalting them name of Jesus? Understand, every one of us will one day give account, and not everyone who says of Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21-23).

The church can no longer afford to “do business as usual.” We must begin pressing into God. First, we need to confess and repent of our religious games, idolatry, and apathy. Second, we need to plead for God’s protection from the storm to come, which might be closer than we think. Third, we need to plead for  divine discernment in these times, for lies and deception are all around us and are growing increasingly worse. Our nation and world have entered a downward spiral of which there is no recovering from except for the mercy of God in response to the prayers of His people. But the question remains, will we cast off our obstinance and pride to press into God for healing and restoration?

The Necessity of Prayer

Do we believe in the absolute importance of prayer, and do we truly desire revival in the lives of Christians and for great awakening in the lives of unbelievers? No we don’t, for these will not come apart from fervent prayer. Yet, by and large, most churches no longer have regular prayer meetings. Many churches no longer have altar calls. And hardly will you hear the stressing of prayer or the need for revival from pulpits. There was a time when, in many Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal churches, altar calls were filled with persons crying out to God for lost family members and friends. But that is now a bygone era. Advertise that Chris Tomlin will be playing at a certain time of the week and you’d have people coming from miles around. Have a prayer meeting any time of the week and the average church would be lucky to have even a tenth of its members attend.

Do we believe in the vitality of prayer? No, we put more stock in formal theological education, good preaching, conferences, and good ol’ know-how, despite the fact Jesus tells us plainly, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). 

So important is prayer to the very One we call our Sovereign Savior and Lord, He says, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?” (Luke 19:46)

Greg Frizzell rightly notes, “If a restaurant is called a ‘House of Fish,’ that implies … that the prominent practice of that establishment is the cooking and eating of fish. When you call a place a ‘house of something,’ you certainly expect that ‘something’ to be the predominant practice of the establishment. In the exact same way, if the church is to be the ‘house of prayer,’ God expects prayer to be its predominant ongoing practice. When a church chooses to become a house of prayer, the practice of prayer literally saturates all it does.”

Are churches today known as “houses of prayer”? No, they’re called either houses of God or houses of worship. An average church service will have about 20 minutes of worship time, 30-45 minutes of preaching, and maybe five minutes of prayer. We like to think God is honored by all of this because we do it all in His name, but is He honored when we deliberately disregard what He has told us what He desires for the emphasis of His house to be? And is it any wonder why churches and denominations are in such poor shape? Understand, sound biblical teaching and genuine worship are, indeed, important as well. But it is through prayer and the moving of God which fuels these with power. A pastor is not a savior. If churches are not being the church, and a house of prayer filled with the Holy Spirit, a pastor will not be able to fix what’s broken, regardless how talented he might be. He might preach well, and organize well, but he is completely helpless in doing what only God can do in response to the prayers of His people. 

Furthermore, (and I believe this wholeheartedly) a church will only value and emphasize prayer as much as the leadership will. If leadership puts stock in various credentials, those are what the church will put stock in. If the leadership will not stress prayer, neither will the church. The emphases on prayer and its necessity must be a priority of those in leadership, for only then will the church begin to recognize its importance. Only as God’s people humbly and sincerely cry out to Him in faith, will we witness mighty moves of God. I’m not talking about ridiculous sensationalism, as one might see on TBN, but genuine moves of God when people are convicted of sin, the chains of vices and addictions are broken, and people becoming genuinely inflamed with passion for Christ. 

We are told in Matthew 9:36-38, “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”

Why does Jesus command us to pray earnestly on this matter? If God is sovereign and has no need of us, then why must we pray? Yet, although God is sovereign, the Scriptures teach us that many things either happen or not—depending on whether God’s people pray. But let me ask, does Jesus contradict His own sovereignty? He certainly does not, yet He commands us to pray earnestly for laborers in God’s harvest. And by laborers, does he simply mean those who are formally trained in a theological institution? This is highly doubtful, since in Acts 4, we are told of two of Jesus’s disciples who stood before the Jewish Council, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (v. 13). Then later, when a controversy arose between the Jewish and Greek believers, the apostles commanded, “Brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Notice the lack of worldly credentials in both accounts. Instead, the emphases are company with Jesus, good reputation, fullness of the Spirit and of wisdom, and prayer. 

Now, consider what some of the great saints have said about prayer:

Oswald Chambers observes, “Prayer seems like such a small thing to do—next to nothing at all in fact. But that’s not what Jesus said. To Him, prayer is everything…. We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but Jesus wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but Jesus wants us to pray before we do anything at all…. He wants us to talk to Him, not aboutHim. He wants us to talk to Him about unbelievers before we talk to unbelievers about Him. Prayer is not just an exercise routine God has us on; it’s our business, our only business. Prayer is our holy occupation. Plain and simple.”

John Calvin rocognizes our desperate need for prayer, as he notes, “we are plagued with such poverty and destitution that even the best of us must sigh and groan continually, and call on the Lord with all humility.”

Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, declared, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

Thomas Watson, the great Puritan, notes, “The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel.” Watson also notes, “That prayer is most likely to pierce heaven which first pierces one’s own heart.”  

The Puritan, William Gurnall, says of the importance of corporate prayer, “There is a wonderful prevalency in the joint prayers of [God’s] people. When Peter was in prison, the church met and prayed him out of his enemies’ hands. A prince will grant a petition subscribed by the hands of the whole city, which, may be, he would not at the request of a private subject, and yet love him well too. There is an especial promise to public prayer: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” 

Jonathan Edwards says, “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.” He also notes, “When God is about to do a mighty new thing He always sets His people praying.”

And lastly, Henry Blackaby observes, “Studying revivals throughout history will reveal that they are not identical. Revivals in Wales, New England, Kentucky, Korea, India, Ruanda, and South Africa had characteristics unique to the people and the social environment in which they occurred. However, in every revival the consistent common denominator is fervent, faithful, persistent, righteous prayer.”

So, I ask again, do we believe in the utmost vitality of prayer? Is it not strange that in churches one is more prone to hear quotes on Calvin’s teachings on God’s sovereignty, Billy Graham’s thoughts on evangelism, or even some hogwash from persons of questionable theology and character, rather than on the very words of the incarnate Son of God when He stresses the importance of prayer? And why are many of us negligent in prayer? Does it not boil down to a mixture of pride (thinking we can accomplish great things—which is very contrary to the Scriptures, as well as to reformed theology), lack of fervor for Christ and His glory, laziness, unbelief, and really, straight-up apathy for the lost? Men, we give so many lousy excuses for our lack of praying, but these five reasons are truly why we do not give more attention to prayer. Yet, if one reads some of the Puritan prayers in books like, The Valley of Vision or Piercing Heaven, he will read passionate prayers exemplifying genuine humility and the awareness of personal sinfulness, a burning passion for the glory of Christ and the furtherance of His kingdom, confidence in the mercies, providence, and wisdom of God, and pleadings for God to pour out His mercies on others as He has done so to them.

Charles Spurgeon, who was a staunch Calvinist, understood the dual, non-contradictory truths of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility better than any preacher I know of. In one of his sermons on these very things, in the first part of his message he stresses the biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty in salvation. Later, he argues against the hyper-Calvinists of his day, saying, “When God sent the prophets to Israel and stretched forth His hands, what was it for? What did He wish them to come to Him for? Why, to be saved. 

            ‘No,’ says one, ‘it was for temporal mercies.’ Not so, my friend; the verse before is concerning spiritual mercies, and so is this one, for they refer to the same thing. Now, was God sincere in His offer? God forgive the man that dares to say He was not.”

It is true, God is sovereign over our salvation. Not a single one of us, comes to God apart from Him making the first move toward us. Yet, let not our lofty views of Calvinism blind our minds and hearts to the equal truth of God’s love and desire for the lost to come to know Him and so be saved. Just as definite God will one day thoroughly judge the wicked in His wrath, so just as definite are His tender mercies for them, as He told the angry prophet, Jonah, concerning the ruthless, idolatrous Ninevites, “Should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Just as surely as God’s sovereignty over our salvation are His words spoken through Ezekiel, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (33:11). Just as certain as the apostle who stressed in Romans that God “has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (9:18), is also the same apostle who emphasized to his protégé, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:1-6).

But how will people come to this saving knowledge of Christ? Simply by God’s sovereignty? We are not granted any more authority than the liberal to pick and choose what Scriptures we like or prefer. As Spurgeon notes, ‘The system of truth is not one straight line but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once.” What he is talking about is the truth of God’s sovereignty as being one line, and God’s sincere invitation to all people to repent. But how will men come to saving faith in Christ? Simply by solid biblical preaching? Someone might say, “Yes, for so Paul says in Romans 10.” But does one think, really, that the power comes from a preacher apart from prayer?

But what does Jesus say? He tells us to pray. He tells us to pray that God will send laborers into His harvest. He tells us to ask, seek, and knock. And what does Paul say? Does he say to simply preach and let the chips fall wherever they are sovereignly destined? No, he tells us to pray.

How can the fire of revival sweep through our churches or a great awakening resound throughout the nations? Indeed, these must come by God’s sovereign power, there’s no doubt about that. But does not God invite us to ask and plead for these? James tells us we have not because we ask not. Is it not true that we do not earnestly pray for these? When was the last time you pleaded for revival in private prayer? Or when has the church gathered to plead for revival? Churches will only do so when they truly recognize they need revival. How many of us genuinely believe we ourselves need to be revived? Those of us who are fathers, do we just give everything to our children, or do we not often give things only when they sincerely ask?

Did the Holy Spirit fall on His disciples during Pentecost sovereignly, while they were sleeping, or when they were together in the upper room praying, utterly dependent on God’s direction and moving? Was Peter released from prison simply by the sovereign hand of God or was it in connection with a gathering of believers pleading fervently on his behalf? When Moses was on top of a hill with Aaron and Hur, watching Joshua and his army fighting the Amalekites, did God simply help Joshua prevail or was it only as Moses raised His hands to God? Prayer was vital in each of these events.

We often view Paul as some spiritual powerhouse, but when we read his letters, we see he was a man devoted to prayer, as well as dependent on the fervent prayers of God’s people. In the thirteen letters of Paul, he mentions prayer in some form nearly fifty times. To the Ephesians, he asks that they pray for him, “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (6:19). To the Colossian believers, he writes, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (4:3). He says in his letter to Philemon, “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective” (1:6).

And as I was preparing for this study, I was reminded of a dear brother’s message recently, from the prophet Ezekiel, when God said, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none” (22:30). As this brother pointed out, is God not looking for men to stand in the breach today, when our country and world are standing on the brink of destruction? Are we to be content with God’s judgment on the wicked? Such an attitude reveals the wickedness of our own hearts and is no reflection of the tender heart of God. God wants us to pray.

As Southern Baptists, we might pride ourselves for our dedication to the Great Commission, but what are we that we can accomplish anything? Can we truly fulfill it by our own strength and ingenuity? The common underlying attitude is that we can. No, of course we don’t say this outrightly, but our lack of prayer declares this as much. But how’s this going for us so far? The Great Commission was never intended to be fulfilled apart from true commitment to Christ’s teachings, an absolute dependence on Him through prayer, and the filling of His Holy Spirit.

Men, should we not feel ashamed when the ladies of many of our churches have taken it upon themselves to make time to get together for times of prayer, when God has called us to be the spiritual leaders? This is not a criticism of the women, but of us, for it is we who should have taken the lead.

Leaders, whether you are pastors, deacons, or on committees, don’t expect great things for our churches if prayer is not of utmost priority. Jesus states plainly that apart from Him, we can do nothing. This fact remains true whether we accept it or not. 

If we genuinely desire to see revival take place in our churches, and to see people experience true life in Christ as they are delivered from the bondage of sin and the devil, then we must become a people and houses of prayer. Otherwise we will simply remain a people who do churchystuff. If we truly desire revival, then we must actively plead for it. We might blame the lack of revival or awakening on men’s wickedness or God’s just sovereignty, but we are just as much to blame when we are unwilling to acknowledge our own sins and stand in the gap on behalf of the people.

I think I have made it clear that we do not truly see prayer as being absolutely vital, despite what we might say with our mouths. However, what are we going to do with the charge presented here? Like the church in Ephesus, we might have impeccably sound theology, but this does not guarantee fervency of spirit and passionate love for Christ. May churches truly become a houses of prayer to the nations and devoted to our first love. To not do so means to both remain powerless and to dwell in sin because of choosing to not become a house of prayer. Brethren, we must repent. Let us not think that God shares in our apathy for a lost and dying world around us, nor think that somehow our concern and burden for them is greater than His. Our hills of love in which He creates within us will never compare to the mountains of love which are an eternal part of Him.

In closing, may we truly begin to understand the necessity of prayer. Jesus says this place is to be a house of prayer. And as Chambers says, prayer is to be our holy occupation. 

Let us pray.

When Night Is at Its Darkest

On one of my trips to Uganda, our mission team stayed at a place where the electricity was rationed. There were days and nights we did not have electricity. At night, because there was no streetlights or lamps, it was unbelievably—even unnervingly—dark. I was glad someone in the village was able to give me a couple of candles. They were small, but they were comforting enough to help me fall asleep. I woke up to be greeted by sunlight. The sun had not abandoned Earth.

There are times the “dark nights of the soul” can be extremely—despairingly—dark. There are nights of depression when the blackness can seem to swallow up the light, and like water fills every corner and gap. A person can feel as though he is literally drowning in his loneliness and despair.

In life, when night is at its darkest, when loneliness is at its most painful, when sadness is at its deepest, when despondency comes rushing in waves like a devastating tsunami, then one can find himself in an extremely vulnerable position.

That ancient serpent, the devil, comes with malicious deceit, whispering lies into the mind that seem to have impeccable logic. “If God is faithful, where is He? Nobody loves or wants you, why else is your mailbox void of letters and invitations? Why else does your phone remain silent? Those around you are successful, but what have you done? You haven’t accomplished anything! You’re just a blemish, a failure! If you were dead, your family would be better off and the world wouldn’t be at any loss. There are some razor blades in the garage or some pill bottles in the medicine cabinet.” The darkness  becomes seemingly unbearable.

Many have not experienced such a dark night of the soul or suffered such mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish. Give glory to God! But many know full well what I am talking about. Sadly, many get to the point where they can no longer endure the inner torment.

The promises of God can be like little candles in such darkness, but they can give a soft glow bringing some comfort to allow you to get some rest before the coming dawn—the dawn will come. The darkness will not extinguish the light:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:5

For he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?… What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:1, 23-24, 31-39

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

The lies of the evil one come like the fury of a hurricane, trying to blow out the flames of God’s promises, but one needs not fear, though hopeless he might feel. In the midst of the raging waters and violent winds, we are told:

It is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. ~ Hebrews 6:18-20

When night is at its darkest, keep close to you the light of God’s promises. Although you might feel despondent, God is faithful. Look to Christ, pray to Christ, cry out to Christ, cling to Christ, and trust in Christ. He will bring you safely to the coming dawn.

12 Deceptions Christians Are Succumbing To

Each of us is deceivable and have fallen for lies of one kind or other, whether we were conned out of money, wooed and trusted sweet nothings, suckered by political rhetoric, etc. The trail of deception is littered with broken hearts, shattered dreams, oppression, vice, and emptied wallets and bank accounts. Deception is never innocent, and it always leaves behind tears, pain, and sometimes even death.

The Bible repeatedly warns persons against various deceptions. The proud and arrogant declare God simply wants to withhold freedom from us (God could easily bind us and cast us into hell if He wanted to, we are no threat to Him whatsoever), but God gives us boundaries and warnings for our protection. To dismiss these can result in dire consequences. Much like the accounts we hear of occasionally about those ignoring the posted signs at the Grand Canyon or on beaches. 

God has posted numerous signs warning us of danger. Sadly, many who profess to be Christians dismiss these signs, thinking their wisdom and goodness is somehow superior to God’s. My friend, this is an impossibly on both accounts. But let each of us be warned, to dismiss these can have severe ramifications. 

  1. Claiming to have no sin. One can become very susceptible to this deception when either he thinks a sin he is committing is not sin or if he thinks he is so spiritual that he thinks he is so severed with his sinful nature he is now above being tempted with sin. Note, the sinful nature (Gk. sarx) is not redeemed and it will neverstop loving and craving sin. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We must also beware of this deception when dealing with the sins of others. As one points out the specks in another’s eye, the log in one’s own eye must not be ignored (Matt. 7:1-5). The goal of confrontation is always to be for repentance and reconciliation, not for shaming and condemning.
  2. Being hearers of the Word but not doers. This is the grave danger of nominal Christians especially. We are told, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). God is not simply interested in church attendance, religious activities, or “good deeds.” He desires obedience from a pure heart. God spoke through Samuel to King Saul, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:22-23). Think of it this way, a boss or a parent is not pleased when an employee or child simply hears instructions, but when the instructions are carried out and fulfilled.
  3. Empty words. Today, as in the days of the apostles, false teachers infiltrated churches promoting such things as vulgarity, immorality, and covetousness (greed). These dismiss the warnings of judgment and hell as they continue to speak empty words of flattery and desensitization. Paul writes, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience…. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible” (Eph. 5:5-6, 11-13).
  4. Thinking the unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God. This deception runs rampant solely because of teachings of cheap grace apart from the necessity of repentance, and sin being minimized, trivialized, or denied. Nevertheless, Paul sternly warns, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Certainly such sins can be forgiven of, and persons might still feel stirrings of temptation. However, to indulge in such practices as though God is indifferent, or even condoning, is a great deception, indeed. Such persons will not inherit the kingdom of God, nor are they citizens thereof.
  5. Thinking bad company doesn’t corrupt good morals. One of the unpleasant principles in this fallen world is that it is easier to pollute than to purify, to defile than to sanctify. It is unwise to think one can continuously keep company with persons who are immoral, vulgar, and the like and not be affected. We are warned, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33). This doesn’t mean we are to cut ties with everyone who doesn’t believe, but it does mean we need to beware of our own vulnerabilities. If one desires to grow in Christ, wisdom, and purity, he must keep company with Christ, His Word, and His people. 
  6. Having one’s thoughts led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. The church today is just as susceptible to the cunning of deceitful liars promoting false Christs and false gospels. Paul writes, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Cor. 11:3-4). Many today are being led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ for “health and wealth,” warm fuzzies, a false gospel demanding no cost or repentance.
  7. Thinking one is something when he is nothing. In context, this is more than just mere pride, but the thinking one is above showing gentleness and understanding towards one who has fallen in a transgression, thinking himself to be above succumbing to such temptation. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load” (Gal. 6:1-5). Each of us is in desperate need of grace, and none of us is above temptation or giving into it. One deceives himself to think he is somehow superior to  another who has fallen, be it another believer or otherwise. Each of us has fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Even among the righteous, there’s not one who never sins (Ecc. 7:20).
  8. Philosophy and empty deceit. A godless world and its philosophies/ideologies will always conflict and seek to undermine the teachings of the Scriptures. We can see this clearly in Darwinism, Marxism, Planned Parenthood, etc. Paul warns, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). The world and the kingdom of God—and the teachings of both—are like oil and water. Many attempt to make these compatible (but they are not) and wind up having their faith shipwrecked in the end. We must guard our hearts from any and all teachings which would draw us away from the truth of Christ and the Scriptures.
  9. Thinking sin doesn’t have repercussions. Moses warned the people of his day, and this warning echoes through the corridor of time to us, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). This warning is not empty. All sin has consequences and is injurious. One might feel its negative effects immediately or years later, but let us be sure that our sins will eventually find us out. In the New Testament, we are further warned, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:7-9). If one sows to his flesh (i.e., for his own selfish pleasures), he will eventually reap a harvest of corruption and death. It is the one who sows to the Spirit who reaps eternal life. God is not mocked, persons will reap what they sow. The seeds of sin being forth poisonous fruit, regardless how sweet and pleasant the taste might be, and poison is always harmful, if not fatal.
  10. Doubting God’s good character and motives. There are many mysteries which escape our understanding. For example, why were we born in our particular time, place, and circumstances? Some are born surrounded with love and security, while others are born in the midst of turmoil and hostility. Still, in a fallen world not everything is as it seems. Affluence often hinders persons from true blessings. Pain and heartache can develop character and compassion. Regardless, each of us grow in different circumstances in which we must make choices. Yet we are told, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27-28). Still, our environments present various temptations and vices. One can travel a dark, dangerous path if he begins blaming God for his temptations and failures, for this brings into question God’s benevolence. But we are told, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:13-17). When one begins to question God’s goodness, such a person falls for the same lie that led to the Fall.
  11. Thinking one is religious but not bridling his tongue. Here, “religious” is used in a positive sense, such as devoted, pious, and faithful. James says a lot about the misuse of one’s tongue, and declares that it is a world of evil. With the tongue persons boast, blame God, speak falsehood, and curse people who are made in God’s image. He writes, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:26-27). The great boasts of the tongue, even in the things of faith, are quite deceitful if one’s heart and life are contrary to God’s character and Word.
  12. Thinking one can practice unrighteousness and be of God. One of the grave deceptions of our day is the teaching that, because Jesus died for our sins and we are saved by grace, we can therefore live however we want, believe how we want. But the apostle John writes explicitly, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 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” (1 John 3:5-8). Many who profess to be Christ’s are carrying on the works of the devil, practicing unrighteousness all in the name of Christ. The darkness of this deception is deep, indeed. “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!” (Isa. 5:20). The apostle Peter says this of those who genuinely belong to Christ, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

Many will dismiss the warnings and continue on in deception, but the further one goes the more entangled he becomes. God gives us warnings for our good but will not force our hand. The signs warn of danger, and those who disregard them do so to their own—and other’s—harm. If you realize you’ve passed a warning sign, stop and turn around (repent). Let the Lord guide you back onto safe paths.

Is Something Being Evil Dependent on Who’s Doing It?

For the past several years there has been a deep, growing agitation in my spirit, and it has to do with when professing Christians cry out against wickedness and when they don’t. The intensity and volume of the evil doesn’t seem to be the issue, but whom is committing it. Mind you, all wickedness should be detested and called out, whether in the world or in the church. However, what has become problematic is not that wickedness is called out against certain individuals, but that greater acts of evil are often casually dismissed. 

Before I continue (because I’m about to talk about President Trump), I’ve never been offended by people not liking him. What does upset me is the complete hatred and hostility some reserve only for him. I know of an individual who was very vocal in declaring Trump as evil, even going so far as to say he’s the Antichrist. Yet, this same person boasted Obama as “the greatest president ever,” despite the fact that he promoted and applauded nearly everything that goes against the Scriptures. I know of another who also was very condemning of Trump, calling him a liar, immoral, and evil. Yet, Obama, the Clinton’s, Elizabeth Warren, and the like have whole careers build upon lies, and the immorality of the Clinton’s is no secret, but he would only justify them. “But Bill repented,” he said. Really? There was nothing going on when he and Hillary visited a pedophile’s island? Give me a break. 

Mind you, I’m not condoning any of Trump’s faults, Lord knows he has some. Yes, he’s arrogant, but so is Obama (he just masks it better with his charisma). Yes, he’s lied, but he’s also kept many of his promises. Evil? Hmm, as opposed to whom?

Beth Moore, and others, claiming to take a “moral stand” outspokenly condemned Trump for certain sexual allegations (if true, he has a right to be criticized). Yet, in their supposed “moral high ground,” they supported Hillary during her campaign. The hypocrisy of this just baffles me. Hillary, no doubt, is a wicked Jezebel of our day, whose platform was nothing less than a celebration of death, as a crowd of thousands cheered and applauded the mutilation of the unborn. Trump, on the other hand, was a staunch supporter of protecting the lives of the helpless innocent. Hillary and Bill were good friends with Epstein, visiting his island numerous times. Apparently, Beth has no issue with this. Trump took a stand against human trafficking, but no one seems to care about this. Why? Is human trafficking evil? Or only if Trump had supported it?

I know a lady who was very vocal against Trump, thinking he should have been impeached. Strangely, I’ve never heard her criticize Obama or the mess that’s going on in the current administration. When Trump was president, boy, was she ever vocal about the border crisis and such. But she’s mysteriously quiet now, even though the situation is worse, and kids are being trafficked and raped. She mentions how awful the situation in Afghanistan is now, but no mentioning how Biden simply forsook the people there, leaving women to be raped, men to be killed, and Christians to be slaughtered. So desperate is the situation is many were willing to try to hang on to a plane as it took off, only to fall to their deaths.

None of this is to minimize any wickedness Trump is guilty of. However, it is intended to criticize the hypocrisy of many who so magnified every wickedness of one, while dismissing the brazen evil of others. Is evil simply dependent on who’s committing it, or is something evil inherently, simply because it is evil? Are the lines really so blurry no one can tell the difference?

A King and His Kingdom (Part 3)

As mentioned previously, every kingdom has its own unique culture and ways. The kingdom of God is no exception. In His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus describes the culture and customs of His kingdom. The foundational aspect of the kingdom is repentance and surrender to God. Jesus says, “Blessed are: 

  • the poor in spirit,
  • those who mourn, 
  •  the meek, 
  • those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
  • the merciful,
  • the pure in heart, 
  • the peacemakers, 
  • those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, 
  • are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account (Matt. 5:3-11).

The first four Beatitudes represent recognition and sorrow for sin, and the desire for God’s mercy. The remainder of the Beatitudes show the inner work of sanctification, which results in the scorn and persecution of non-citizens. 

In the remainder of the Sermon Jesus explains further customs of His kingdom: the upholding of God’s Word, purity/fidelity, peace, truth, integrity, mercy/compassion, and the like. Towards the end of His Sermon, Jesus notes that very few will truly become citizens of His kingdom (7:13-14). Furthermore, many will give pretense of being citizens, but their words and behaviors will betray them. The issue isn’t the imperfection, but the very lawlessness and the refusal to surrender to God of the unregenerate (7:18-23). Many want the delicacies of the kingdom but not its ways or it’s King, but to scorn the latter is to be deprived of the former. 

A synopsis of the Sermon on the Mount can be seen in one of Paul’s letters:

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…. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:1-2, 9-21

The kingdom of God is established upon absolute righteousness. In this world, it is true, no one is perfect. No one measures up to the King’s high standards. However, persons are permitted to become citizens of His Kingdom by coming through the only entrance:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber…. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~ John 10:1, 9-10

To enter through the Door, one must come humbly, repentant, and a willingness to be changed by the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. There are many who profess to be of the kingdom but they are not its citizens, for they refuse the King’s terms. They want a treaty with a world that is hostile towards Him and His holiness. They want a duel citizenship, not understanding neither kingdom accepts this. Jesus tells a parable describing such individuals who will be utterly shocked when they are called out for their refusal of His terms.

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen. ~ Matthew 22:11-14

The expectation of the citizens of the kingdom of God is to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, which is provided by Him. To refuse His providence is to reveal one’s contempt, like that of Cain (Gen. 4).

The King reveals His kingdom in further detail, as we receive glimpses of the splendor of Heaven—the New Jerusalem. Yet, let us be very mindful of what we are told within the descriptions:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death…. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~ Revelation 21:8, 27

There are many who bulk at such revelation, but this does not reveal any injustice or malignity within God. Rather, this reveals the truthfulness of God’s Word when it reveals humanity’s corrupt and unrighteous nature because of sin. When persons are shut out of the kingdom of God, it is not because of hostility within God. He has long offered peace and reconciliation. No, but the fault lies within people, for:

The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. ~ John 3:19-20

A King and His Kingdom (Part 2)

We have lost much of the concept and truth of kings and kingdoms of old. These were not democracies or republic. A king’s edict was not to be trifled with or trivialized. His commands were not a smorgasbord to choose from. The power of life and death were in their pronouncements. Consider Esther and Nehemiah. Living in different times and places, yet both were understandably afraid of entering the presence of their kings. They knew such an action could be their death sentence.

Jesus is known as King of the Jews. His kingdom is not a democracy or republic. Neither is it run by arrogant aristocrats or corrupt bureaucrats. His is an absolute and eternal monarchy established on righteousness. Paul declares that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).

The common misperception—and misrepresentation, I will add—is the portrayal of Jesus being meek, mild, and timid. Indeed, Jesus is marvelously gentle with those who are repentant and incredibly patient with those being sanctified by His truth and grace; however, all one has to do is read through His teachings and parables to know He is a King not to be dismissed or disregarded.

The psalmist writes,

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” … The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. ~ Psalm 2:1-3, 7-12

Jesus, in one of His parables, commends those whom He finds faithful when He returns. But He continues by saying, 

But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 24:48-51

Elsewhere, Jesus says the wicked and righteous will be separated like goats and sheep. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46).

Again, Jesus teaches about the separation of the wicked and righteous, the hypocrites and the true:

The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. ~ Matthew 13:38-43

In Revelation, we are told of events to come:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. ~ Revelation 19:11-16

Notice, in righteousness He judges and makes war. There are many who scorn His judgment, feeling they are unjust. However, King Jesus came into our world with grace and truth  (John 1:14). Displaying His coming in peace He rode a donkey (Matt. 21:5), but when He returns He will be displaying His sovereignty and victory, for He will be riding a white stallion (Rev. 19:11). Although He came in peace, the world mocked, spat on, tortured, and crucified Him. After being raised from the dead, He continues to send His messengers and ambassadors for the sake of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19-21), yet the world still shows itself to be cruel and unworthy.

The King reveals explicitly the reason the world is so hostile towards Him. In John, after explaining that He came into the world not to condemn it but to save all who put their trust in Him, He goes on to explain the condemnation:

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. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. ~ John 3:18-19

Later, He again declares the reason for the world’s hatred toward Him, saying, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).

The King continues to extend His offer of peace and reconciliation to all who repent and believe on Him. Yet, many will scorn His invitation and reveal the wickedness in their hearts through the vile things they say and do. The judgment to come is completely just, because the unrepentant reveal they love darkness rather than light, evil rather than good, and enmity rather than reconciliation.

A King and His Kingdom (Part 1)

Imagine a powerful and just king in history, of Babylon, Persia, or England, let’s say (although such kings as we know were not always just, but simply imagine). During His reign he sends out an edict listing certain behaviors and requirements of his citizens. These citizens consist of persons who were either conquered or rescued, but each are treated honorably. Fifteen years or so pass and there is division among the people. Some of the people profess allegiance to the king, but disregard his edict, casting doubt as to whether he issued it. Others, professing allegiance to the king, declare that certain parts of the edict are either outdated or need to be properly deciphered. Still, others professing allegiance to the king refuse to break ties with their old country. They claim to not miss it, but they still keep its flag neatly folded and kept in a drawer.

Some who profess to be citizens and loyalists join the ranks of groups outside the kingdom who are openly opposed to the king. They align themselves with customs and thoughts going directly against the king’s edict. Claiming to be devoted followers of the king, they stand in unison and raise the banners of those who despise the king and who would assassinate him if they could. 

What would have happened to such individuals? Would such a king honor such subjects, throwing for them a feast for their bravery and loyalty? Would he not instead have sent his army for such betrayers, and upon finding them have them executed for treason? If truly a good and just king, would he not have been justified?

The kingdom of God is , indeed, a kingdom. This kingdom has a powerful and just King. The true subjects of this King have been rescued from the tyranny of sin and the devil, and His citizens have been conquered by His love and grace. Although this King is humble in heart, He is true to Himself and will not share His glory with another (Isa. 42:8). This King is fiercely loyal to truth and righteousness. The King is just, and the time will come when He will punish the wicked and all who oppose Him (Matt. 13:36-43).

This King has, indeed, issued an edict. The citizens of His country are not warranted to select and choose according to their tastes and opinions. And the opinions and ideologies of non-citizens aren’t to bend the loyalties of the kingdom’s citizens. The King has laws and standards which are not to be trifled with. 

There are many who profess that He is their Lord, Savior, and King.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” ~ Luke 6:36

“If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear?” ~ Mal. 1:6

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. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. ~ 1 John 3:8-9

Today, there are many who profess to be citizens of the kingdom, claiming to be loyal to the King, yet they either cast doubt on the King’s edict or else disregard parts they disagree with or find distasteful to them. Many join the ranks of groups and align themselves with movements that are antithetical—even hostile to the kingdom. Although such persons profess loyalty to the King, they see no contradiction in raising rainbow flags beside the banners of the King. They see no distinction between the foundation of Black Lives Matter or Critical Race Theory with the Gospel, when there is an irreconcilable gap, indeed. One cannot be loyal to Black Lives Matter and to the Kingdom of Christ. The two are antithetical. To disregard BLM does not make one racist, but to reject a godless, Marxist ideology. One cannot be loyal to CRT and to the Gospel of Christ, for these stand in opposition to the other. CRT simply redirects racism, continuing to devalue persons based on color. The Gospel recognizes all people, regardless of color, as sinful persons although made in the image of God. The Gospel offers redemption to all people. CRT continues to divide person groups, putting value on some more than others.

There are some who profess to be of the kingdom, but they critique and scorn the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, even penning it as “divine child abuse,” but this doctrine is the very heart of the Gospel and Christianity. For if Christ did not die in our stead, substituting His life for our, bearing the wrath for our sins, then why did He die? Why would we need a Savior at all! 

There are others who defy the King’s edict of purity, urging others to cast off any and all sexual restraints. Such persons, although supposedly proclaiming “grace,” they seek to shatter into pieces the true meaning of grace. Jude says of them, “Ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (v. 4). Biblical grace is not license to do whatever we want, fulfilling our base lusts; rather, it teaches and helps is learn self-control and lifestyles that are honoring and pleasing to the King. Yet these supposed citizens of the kingdom betray the King by joining the rebellion of the kings of the earth, who speak of the Lord and His anointed (the Son), saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:3).

The Giver of Life who commands to let the children come to Him, for the kingdom belongs to such as these—what treachery that some see no problem with the ruthless mutilating of children unborn or leaving one who is born to starve alone in a corner.

Still, there is a would-be king of many. Although lifeless and powerless, yet like a hex—an enchantment—gaining control over them, many trade their hearts and devotion to it. Claiming to be citizens of the kingdom, they serve another. But Jesus says,

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” ~ Matt. 6:24

And Paul wrote of some, 

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. ~ 1 Tim. 6:9-10

Such persons profess allegiance to the King, but like the rich young ruler, they would soon rather part with the King than the wealth they obtained and the little empires they built.

Oh yes, and all this which has been written is true of those who see a president, whether Republican or Democrat, as a savior of a people. 

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. ~ Isa. 43:11

There, indeed, is a King and He has a kingdom. He is a King of truth and righteousness, and He will not compromise these for the sake of peaceful existence. He will not make treaties with the wicked and He will not shake hands with the treacherous. He knows who His true  subjects are, and He knows the hearts of those who hate Him.

No doubt, at the name of Jesus every knee will now and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, but not all will partake of His kingdom. He will separate the wicked from the righteous, the lost from the redeemed. Those who are not truly His subjects will be cast out into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

One is not a citizen of the kingdom just because he says he is. Someone will argue, stating the issue of grace. Yet Paul, the champion of the doctrine of grace, writes,

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. ~ Tit. 2:11-14

Elsewhere he writes,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ~ 1 Cor. 6:9-10

If we profess that Jesus is our King and we are citizens of the kingdom, where is our loyalty. If He is our King, is our loyalty divided? If He is our King, can we truly slice apart His edict, keeping only what appeals to us. What does it mean to call Him King? Are our lives filled with treason? If so, let us return to Him with single-mindedness, and repent of our treacherous double-mindedness.

All hail the King!

6 Warnings of Living in the Last Days

The Bible warns of a time of growing confusion and tribulation, as a chapter in human history comes to a close. Like a great novel or movie, evil will intensify and seem to have the victory; however, the final chapter will reveal that good will prevail. Nevertheless, the devastation (considered by the wicked mere collateral damage) evil will leave in its wake is, and shall be, real and horrible.

The Bible gives warning to believers to not be taken by surprise or swept away by the foretold events of the last days. We are exhorted to be alert, and given instructions to watch for certain happenings. While we don’t know the time of the Lord’s eventual return, we do know we are in the last hour (1 John 2:18). We are drawing ever closer to the hour when all hell will break loose throughput the world. As we consider the following things the Scriptures tell us to watch for, we might be closer to the hour than we realize.

  1. A world of mounting turmoil, lawlessness,and confusion. Jesus says to watch for a time when there are wars and rumors of war, famines, and various earthquakes—but these are only the beginning. John MacArthur notes that these “have always characterized life in a fallen world … Jesus indicated that things will get notably and remarkably worse at the end of the era.” [1] Persecution of Christians will increase to a global scale. Presently, around the world there is a growing hostility toward Christianity on all fronts, and many are abandoning the faith even within churches. Of natural consequence, since people’s hearts bend toward sin, false prophets arise to speak what people want to hear and people increasingly throw off restraints. Hollywood has always been a haven for sensuality of all kinds, but many politicians are nothing less than criminals, guilty of extortion, blackmail, prostitution/human trafficking, and all sorts of deception. Around the world we are seeing evil applauded as good and good condemned as evil. It is not surprising that love will grow cold where hearts cannot be warmed by genuine love’s flames.
  2. Perilous times. The apostle Paul, being guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “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. Avoid such people” (2 Tim. 3:1-5). Is this not descriptive of much of what we are seeing today? Can we deny the three great loves of the day is self, money, and pleasure? We see much arrogance and abusive speech, the resistance of any kind of authority. Even the natural affection of a mother for her child is cast off as persons literally celebrate after having abortions. Many persons of the cloth, having the pretense of servants of God, are nothing more than wolves gratifying themselves. Genuine Christians must beware of this and not turn a blind eye.
  3. Itching ears. Paul later writes, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] 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” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). The apostle urges pastors to preach the truth of God’s Word, although the time will come when people will refuse to listen to it. Many will continue to be “religious,” but they will find preachers who will condone their sinful behaviors and won’t offend them with sermons on the Cross, Christ’s exclusivity, God’s offense against sin, and the like. It is no exaggeration to say many seminaries are nothing more than breeding grounds for snakes and many churches are nothing more than a refuge for the vile, where the Lord and Christ of the Bible is not truly welcomed.
  4. The falling away. Paul, again guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thes. 2:3). Before the Antichrist comes onto the scene, there must be a preparation for his coming, a conditioning before people are willing to accept such evil incarnate. There are many today who unashamedly renounce Christianity. The last couple of years this has become in vogue.
  5. Scoffers. The apostle Peter, also guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). There was a time when theology was considered the loftiest of the sciences. Today, universities have become hostile towards true theology. Many scoff with such disdainful arrogance. William MacDonald notes that Christians “should not be bowled over by the arrogant and blasphemous denials of these men. Rather they should see in them a definite indication that the end of the age is nearing.” [2] Often it seems the most aggressive against Christianity are wicked men in defiance of God and the Christians’ warnings of hell. MacDonald writes, “What they really say is this: “You Christians have been threatening us with warnings about a terrible judgment upon the world. You tell us that God is going to intervene in history, punish the wicked, and destroy the earth. It’s all a pack of nonsense. We have nothing to fear. We can live as we please.” [3] An irony is many godless individuals who are adamant about there being no God—thus, no moral Law Giver—are ones who talk about evil in the world. Strangely, many of whom are indulgent in their own passions, be it in sexuality or cruelty. We witness much condescending scoffing in our day.
  6. Antichrist spirit. John, another apostle guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:18-19). John wrote this approximately two thousand years ago. If it was the last hour then, how much more now? There is an antichrist spirit that has taken hold of politics, education, ideologies, and entertainment all around the world. There is a growing acceptance of the most despicable behaviors, yet a louder outcry against the sacred and holy. This is no less true within modern Christendom. Every major mainline Christian denomination has been severed by those with itching ears wanting sins and ungodly behaviors to be condoned and treated on par with what is sacred. Let true believers stand true to the Scriptures which are “God-breathed.” John writes that we are in the last hour. Even today, many have gone “out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” 

The Scriptures are given to us for a reason. They’re not meant to confuse us but to guide us, as well as to help us discern between what is false and what is true. But the only way the Scriptures will benefit us is if we are first willing to yield to its authority. If not, then we greatly risk being swept away by the deception and wickedness of the last days.

[1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1172.

[2] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, 2nd ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 2399.

[3] Ibid., 2400.


For further reading:

A Threat to Those Previously Immortal?

I am neither critical of those who are vaccinated nor of those who are not. However, I am critical of hypocritical politicians who try to tell the public how deathly serious covid is, and try to set up mandates that do not apply to them and their social lives. I am critical of the administrators and the press that seek to propagate fear, yet are perfectly fine with (and silent about) opening borders and welcoming persons, even transporting some place to place, although some have covid and are not mandated to be quarantined. Understand, my point has nothing to do with immigration, but rather, there are questions every American, regardless of differing views, ought to be asking a corrupt government that speaks out of both sides of its mouth.

I am also critical of the way some have become irrationally fearful of this virus. Mind you, I’m not saying it isn’t serious. But I know of people who are so afraid that they are fearful to go out, who are critical of those who aren’t vaccinated—to the point those who aren’t vaccinated find no welcoming into their homes. “People are dying from this stuff,” they say. What? Were we a bunch of immortals before covid? Did covid somehow bring about death, something we knew nothing about previously? Yes, the virus is serious. Yes, people have died. But are people dying all around us like bugs who were just visited by the Orkin man?

“But man, covid kills people!” So do gangs in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, but these are still thriving cities. So does influenza, but it isn’t feared like covid. So does heart disease, but McDonald’s is still a thriving business. And so do drunk drivers, but there’s no outrage against others who choose to drink.

Indeed, if covid was like a virus that created raging, irrational zombies like we see in movies, by all means, get vaccinated and stock up on ammo. But this isn’t the reality of covid. No, don’t treat it lightly, but don’t lose your head or your freedoms because of it. 

Does covid kill people! Yes, in some cases. But I hate to break it to you, but we were never mortal before this. Whether we catch covid or not, we are going to die someday, somehow, so stop behaving stupidly over this. Whether you are vaccinated or not makes no difference to me. But if you know you have it, don’t be stupid, stay away from others. If you’re older and have enjoyed your life, stop being critical of your children and grandchildren if they refuse to be vaccinated. They have every right to be suspicious as to why a government is so eager to get everyone vaccinated, to the point of bribing and threatening. Are you so self-preoccupied with yourselves you don’t care about them? Will there prove to be detrimental effects ten or twenty years down the road? On the flip side, don’t criticize those who get vaccinated. This, too, is a right and privilege. 

More than anything, ask more questions. I do not have the answers to covid. All I know is over the last several years, more and more people are checking their brains at the door, mindlessly trusting a government filled with liars having a lust for money and power, bringing forth nothing but division and chaos to a people they’re supposed to represent and defend. There is so much conflicting information concerning covid and threats against some of our personal and Constitutional freedoms. How disgraceful, regardless of affiliations, to behave like stupid children following the tune of the Pied Piper.

[Note: Do not assume either I have or haven’t been vaccinated based on this article. The truth might or might not surprise you. I could disclose, but it isn’t anyone’s business, just as it’s none of mine if you have or haven’t.]