5 Vital Works of the Holy Spirit Neglected by Many Charismatics

From the outset, while I am not a Charismatic, neither am I a cessationist. I believe God still heals and uses various spiritual gifts according to His purposes. However, I must stress that I do not believe so much of what is promoted as moves of the Holy Spirit are necessarily such. Many Charismatics put undue emphases on what the Holy Spirit had done in Acts to fuel the early church that they disregard the very teachings about Him spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. While many Charismatics put unwarranted emphasis on the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and emotional experiences, Jesus explains the true purposes of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual experiences can be extremely deceptive, especially if one is not willing to let the Scriptures be the blueprint to understand the appropriate perimeters. While some will say, “You can’t put God in a box!” God, who is infinite, does have perimeters. He who is holy cannot go beyond into practices which violate His holiness. He who is Truth will not involve Himself in what is deceptive. And the God of order is not the author of confusion and chaos. Isaiah writes, “To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (8:20). The apostle John commands, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). And the apostle Paul warns, “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). 

While many churches are crediting the Holy Spirit for tongues, strange behaviors, wonders, and persons prostituting the Gospel, in these spiritually perilous times may we truly keep in mind the following teachings about the Holy Spirit from the lips of Jesus Christ the Lord.

  1. The Holy Spirit will be our Helper. Jesus teaches us that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. The New Testament reveals that the Holy Spirit comforts and encourages is in our trials and advocates for us. How shameful that in some circles persons give credit to the Holy Spirit for convulsions, seizures, behaving, literally, like animals, and chaos. How disgraceful to give credit to the Holy Spirit for inducing behaviors of which Jesus delivered persons from, ad is recorded in the Gospels. We do not even read of such madness in Acts. So where does such thinking come from?
  2. The Holy Spirit comes to convict the world of sin. Jesus says the Holy Spirit will come to convict the world concerning sin and righteousness (John 16:8). Does it not stand to reason if He convicts the world of sin, then He would certainly bring conviction to those within the church? Yet, many churches and movements claiming moves of the Holy Spirit are not being convicted of sin. Instead, there is a condoning of pride, sensationalism, homosexuality, greed, love for the praises of people, and various expressions of idolatry. Regardless of any signs or wonders happening, is it truly the Holy Spirit at work if people are not being convicted of sin and repenting of them?
  3. The Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance Christ’s teachings. An irony of so much said to be “moves of the Spirit” is much of it goes against the very teachings of Christ, and there seems to be a spiritual amnesia when it comes to such. Jesus says the Holy Spirit  “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). One chilling truth of Jesus that is cast aside is the truth that signs and wonders are not proof of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says plainly in the Sermon on the Mount, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:22-23). Elsewhere He warns, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24).
  4. Guiding Christ’s people in the truth. Similar to the previous point, Jesus says the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of truth (John 14:17)—“will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Later, while praying to the Father, Jesus says, “Sanctify them [His people] in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). The Holy Spirit guides the followers of Christ in accordance to the Scriptures. The Scriptures are our blueprint to Christian living and our map for spiritual wanderings. It is by the Scriptures we are to “test the spirits” and to discern between truth and error.
  5. The Holy Spirit bears witness about Christ. One of the chief works of the Holy Spirit is to direct people’s attention to Jesus Christ. Jesus states, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14). The Holy Spirit never seeks to draw attention to Himself, but to drive us to Jesus. Yet, in many Charismatic circles the focus is on the Holy Spirit and the supposed works of Him. This focus is unbiblical, for He seeks to direct us to the Cross and to the risen Savior. Even in Acts the purpose of the moving sand giftings of the Spirit were to direct people to Christ. If one’s attention is not being directed to Jesus, the works are certainly not of the Holy Spirit but some other spirit.

This post is not at all meant to criticize my Charismatic brethren. I know of some who are very godly individuals who strive to be anchored on God’s Word. Yet, I have also witnessed the abuse of spiritual gifts, persons separating believers as the “haves” and have nots.” Such prideful exhibitions are the very attitudes Paul condemns in his letters to the Corinthians. The gifts differ amongst believers and are always meant to build up one another, not to be showcased like children during show-and-tell. Furthermore, I’ve come across individuals who have outright denied the very Gospel message, saying that if a person does not manifest certain gifts then he is not filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus is not saved. But such heretical teachings go directly against the clear teachings of the New Testament—including Acts—that persons are saved by grace through faith and believing on Jesus Christ who died for our sins and was raised from the dead. The evidence of the Spirit are not in the gifts but the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-24).

Churches must return to the teachings of Scripture or else face dire consequences. While it is true we do not ever want to attribute true workings of the Holy Spirit to the devil; however, we must also beware of attributing works of the flesh and of devils to the Holy Spirit. Both errors are fatal.

8 Truths About Biblical Faith

Faith is a vital element in Christian life. In fact, without faith there is no salvation or pleasing God. The following are eight crucial elements  of biblical faith.

  1. Faith is the conviction of the unseen reality. Biblical Christian faith (belief) is neither abstract nor simply intellectual consent. The writer of Hebrews notes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). He then goes on to explain by using an example, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (11:3). Faith is like a mortar, binding and holding together what God reveals He has done, who He is, what He is like, what He is doing, and what He is going to do. Although our physical eyes cannot see the reality, faith has “eyes” that see what God reveals, and this becomes a conviction which leads action.
  2. Faith is not passive. God is not interested in people’s rumps sitting in pews, mindlessly and heartlessly singing songs and rushing about in religious activities. Genuine faith is vital, and it consists of pursuing and trusting God. The writer of Hebrews notes, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (11:6). Apart from genuine faith, it is impossible to please God, despite and religious or good works. Genuine faith is a response to God and His Word, and actively pursues Christ in trust and obedience.
  3. Faith trusts God and what He says. We are told that Abraham believed God and He “counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). God had told Abraham that he and his wife would have a biological son in their elderly age, and this son would be Abraham’s heir. The real test of his faith came later, after Isaac his son was born. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. Some people get stuck on God’s command, but He wasn’t going to allow Abraham to kill his son. However, Hebrews reveals the depth of Abraham’s faith: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb. 11:17-19). Genuine faith believes God, whatever He says. What He reveals in the Scriptures is who He is, what He is like, what He has done, and what He’s going to do—even when one does not fully comprehend (which shouldn’t surprise anyone, since we are finite and God is infinite. As God says to us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9).
  4. Faith responds approximately to God’s instructions and warnings. Genuine faith responds appropriately to God’s character and ways, to His love and holiness, His promises of blessings and warnings of judgment, to His words of comfort and His words of rebuke. The writer of Hebrews writes of Noah, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (11:7). Isaiah, when he got a glimpse of the glory of God, cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:5). And Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:23-24). 
  5. Faith is anchored on Jesus Christ. Faith is centered around, and anchored on, the person and work of Jesus Christ. One’s salvation and acceptance is because of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 5:9). The Christian’s identity is rooted in Him (Eph. 1 and 2). One’s good, acceptable works are wrought through Him (John 15:4-5). And His teachings are what give a person a solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-27). If one separates faith from Christ, he doesn’t have Christian faith. Jesus Christ is the very focal point of the Scriptures. Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23).
  6. Faith is accompanied by good works. A person is saved entirely by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), and not a single work or effort contributes to this. However, genuine faith will grow in love and kindness, which will result in good works that are both acceptable to, and wrought by, God. An unloving Christian is a contradiction in terms. When a person is truly by the grace of God, this grace will manifest itself in his life in various ways, albeit not perfectly. James writes explicitly, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:14-17). Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). And Jesus our Lord says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Good works, then, do not contribute to one’s salvation; however, the evidence of true salvation includes good works and acts of mercy.
  7. Faith looks and sees beyond the temporal. The writer of Hebrews observed that God called out men like Abraham, making wonderful promises. They did not witness all the promises come to fruition while on earth, for the promises were not for this temporal world only.  “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (11:8-10). Genuine faith holds loosely to this world and fixes its gaze on the kingdom of Heaven.
  8. Faith endures hardships. One of the great perversions in American Christendom is the popular teaching of faith being a means of attaining wealth, having a “good” life, and being free of problems. Such teachings are a gross departure from authentic Christianity. The prophets, apostles, and Jesus were persecuted. Many of them were not affluent. The writer of Hebrews notes that while many persons of faith witnessed mighty workings of God, some “were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earthAnd all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised” (11:35-38). Paul tells us, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12-13). And Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.10).

Faith is far more than a religious word. It is an anchored and active lifestyle fixed and founded entirely on Jesus Christ. To get this wrong is to have the whole structure collapse  (1 Cor. 15).

8 Truths About the Fear of the Lord

Rarely does one hear about the fear of the Lord nowadays. Even in most churches one will not hear of it much, let alone hear it taught about. Many view “fear” simply in a negative context; however, the fear of the Lord is actually a positive thing, if understood properly. I hope this article may shed some light on this neglected teaching, and that you will come to appreciate the fear of the Lord in a deeper way.

  1. It is more than mere reverence. It is a shame so many preachers and Bible commentators explain the fear of the Lord as simply as reverence for God. This might soften the word fear, but does it truly do the meaning of the phrase, as a whole, justice? If the fear of the Lord simply means reverence, then why wouldn’t the biblical writers plainly state, the reverence of the Lord? Jesus doesn’t mince words when He tells His disciples to not fear men but to fear God. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). God is not one to simply tip one’s hat to and call it good.  The writer of Hebrews warns, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31). This dreadfulness is a reality, and the writers of Scripture don’t pussyfoot around it the way we do today. Certainly, reverence does play a part in the fear of the Lord, but so does, well, a healthy fear of a good, righteous, and sovereign King who will one day punish evil. 
  2. It is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Our world has many intelligent people, but the truly wiseare hard to find. There are scientists who are smart enough to design weapons of mass destruction, but not wise enough to create peace. There are crafty politicians who know how to sway and manipulate, but they are not wise in how to bring about authentic hope. And we have educators holding doctorate degrees and writing papers with all kinds of big words, but they’re void of the wisdom as to how to promote genuine love and equity. Wisdom has a starting place and a specific foundation: the fear of the Lord. Mockers will mock, scoffers will scoff, and fools will hate correction, so folly will continue to be the norm. But it doesn’t have to be this way. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Pro. 1:7). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Pro. 9:10).
  3. It is to depart from evil. This is one of the major aspects of the fear of the Lord—to depart from evil and to draw near to God. It is to depart from deception, violence, and all the dangers which would pull persons away from the safety of God’s presence. People could be spared of a lot of heartache and regret if they understood this. “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil” (Pro. 16:6).
  4. It gives confidence. There are so many who lack confidence in who they are and of the future. In the fear of the Lord persons can begin to understand who they are—and Whose they are—and the security of the sovereignty of God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” (Pro. 14:26).
  5. It is a fountain of life. Our world is filled with poisoned waters, seemingly satisfying to the taste but destructive to the spirit. Immorality, unjust gain, debauchery, and the like are sweet to the taste, but sucks the life of those who partake of them. “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Pro. 14:27).
  6. It is better than great treasure. Ours is a world that has an unhealthy love for money, wealth, and treasures. People steal, kill, and destroy for these, not understanding that eventually this very love for money is a cord that will one day strangle them. Jesus warns, what profit is it to gain the world while forfeiting one’s soul in the process (see Matt. 16:26). The value of the fear of the Lord far surpasses that of all the treasures of the world. “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it” (Pro. 15:16).
  7. It comes with reward. The fear of the Lord is not simply a duty, of which you comply or else. To the ungodly, it seems as such; however, God promises reward for those who will walk in it. “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them” (Pro. 22:4-5). The satisfaction of wealth and fame is an illusion. The fear of the Lord, although not easy, will prove to be satisfying to those who accept it.
  8. It is to gain the knowledge of the Holy. The greatest reward of the fear of the Lord is the knowledge of God. Not simply head knowledge, but true experiential knowledge of Him. The fear of the Lord begins to open the spiritual eyes of persons to begin seeing His activities in the world and an understanding of His ways. God ceases to be questioned as a religious abstract, but understood as a concrete reality of those who are redeemed. The Bible ceases to be an archaic book of words, but is understood to be alive and life-transforming, because of the God who breathed them out (see Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16). Ultimately, in God, through Christ, one finds true life. “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Pro. 2:5).

For the one who is willing to receive it, the fear of the Lord is truly a wonderful blessing intended to richly bless those who will accept it and walk in it. Indeed, it does have the aspect of showing reverence to the Lord, but it is far more than this. Hopefully the Scripture passages on the subject has helped you understand the fear of the Lord better, and that you can see it in its positive light.

10 Truths When a Christian Experiences Depression

  1. Depression is not necessarily because of sin. There are some who think if a believer experiences depression, then it must be because of sin. However, there are various reasons for depression. Although sin can be a reason, so can hunger (physical or emotional), loneliness, loss, chronic pain, and tiredness.
  2. Depression is not a sign of faithlessness or unfaithfulness. In the Scriptures we read of faithful persons of God who had bouts of depression, including Jeremiah, Job, Hannah, Elijah, and Paul. Throughout church history, Christians such as Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, and A. W. Pink likewise experienced depression.
  3. God’s promises are truth, not one’s feelings. Rarely are feelings honest—especially when one is struggling with depression. Feelings will say one is unimportant, worthless, or unloved. One must be anchored on the truth of God’s Word. As Luther wrote: “Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving; My warrant is the Word of God, naught else is worth believing.”
  4. We have an adversary who seeks to take advantage of one’s depression. The devil is able to plant negative thoughts in people’s minds. Not every thought is one’s own. Sometimes, in fact, it can be difficult to tell the difference. Yet, when thoughts encourage despair or harm, these are certainly from the evil one. Still, there can seem to be such a diabolical logic—but the adversary’s intentions are always to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10).
  5. Your family and friends would not be better off without you. One of the most ruthless and deceptive lies told by the evil one to the depressed is that their loved ones would be better off without them. However, the loss and anguish family and friends would experience is unfathomable. 
  6. God has neither forgotten nor forsaken you. One of the areas where feelings can become very misleading is when God “feels” a million miles away. God promises to never forget, leave, or forsake those who are His (see Isa. 49:15; Heb. 13:5).
  7. Your life is not worthless. With depression, thoughts and feelings both feed off the other. Negative thoughts continue to drive negative feelings, and those feelings trigger continuous negative thoughts. One’s thoughts can influence a person to come to the conclusion his life is worthless; however, the fact God gave His Son, and Jesus shed His own blood, to redeem you shows your incredible worth. 
  8. Your failures do not define you. Memories, like continuous devastating waves of a tsunami, can come rushing into the mind of the depressed. Memories of failures in school, in work, in sports, as a friend, as a parent, as a son or daughter, as a Christian, and as a human being. Sanctification is a lifelong process of changing from glory to glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18). Still, your identity, as a whole, is in Christ (see Eph. 2).
  9. Light and joy will eventually return. The deep blackness and joylessness of the pit of depression can seem to be perpetual, like a never ending nightmare. As long as a night might seem, dawn eventually comes. Similarly, a dawn will eventually come. The night of depression is not forever (see Mic. 7:8).
  10. It’s alright to get help. Needing the help of others is not a sign of weakness, but part of being human. While God created us for Himself, it is He who said it’s not good for man to be alone. It is He who created the institutions of marriage, family, friendship, community, and the church. Each of us need these. Even Jesus surrounded Himself with His closest disciples just prior to His crucifixion. When one is dealing with depression, although he wants to isolate himself, he needs his family and friends. He needs his pastor or professional counselor. God gives us one another to help one another. It’s not only alright to get help, but it can be detrimental to refuse the help and resources God provides.

Depression can be debilitating to a person. These truths will not take one’s depression away, but may they be of help to keep running the race, and as grace to persevere when everything inside wants to give up.

What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian? So much of what passes in American Christendom is not Christianity, but a hodgepodge of sensationalism, tradition, reconstructionalism, and in some cases, even paganism. Is it not strange that one can practice nearly any lifestyle or hold to nearly any ideology—regardless how antichrist these might be in nature—and still pass as “being Christian?

“Who are you to judge?” I’m asked. “Judge not, lest you be judged,” I’m told. Yet, the One whom they quote is also the One who warns of false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and weeds planted among the wheat. The One they quote is also the One who says we can know them by their fruit (this requires examining and judging between good and bad). And the One they quote is the One who says, Not everyone who calls me, “Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven … but those who do the will of my Father.”

People can throw out the “grace card” all they want, but grace is never extended just so we can continue living in sin and according to our own preferences and desires, just read Romans 6, Titus 2, 1 John, and Jude. No, none of us is perfect—but we are to grow in sanctification.

So, what does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to say Jesus is One’s Savior (He came to save us from our sins, not to continue in them). What does it mean to say He’s Lord? Does it mean we have an option to live however we want, when He tells us to take up our cross and follow Him? Does it mean we have a choice in what we will obey and what not? What does it mean to say, “I love Jesus”? When He says that the one who loves Him will keep His commands, but the one who does not love Him will not keep His commands.

A Pastoral Note

My blogs are not always well received by some. There are those who think I’m harsh, judgmental, and who accuse me of thinking I’m better than others. But I write with a purpose. See, I have not always been a Christian. When I was younger, I was far from God. Entrenched in death metal music, addicted to my immoral lusts, filled with anger and cynicism, while void of compassion. Life, for me, was completely meaningless and joyless. Then one night, after some amazing divinely arranged events, God drew me to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, letting me know He loved me—despite myself. He delivered me from the realm of darkness I dwelled in. I love Him for all this. No, I’m not perfect, and I’m not better than anyone. And I live with a lot of heartache and regrets.

Yes, I’m still tempted by sin, and I still struggle with my sinful nature, but I don’t want to go back to where I was—or who I was. I desire to know Christ, even if it means for Him to hurt my feelings by a rebuke or conviction.

Over the years a lot of water has passed under the bridge. So much of what is going on in churches and denominations are not truly to the glory of God and His Son Jesus Christ. So many are dismissing what the Bible says, pursuing their own agendas, and holding to ideologies and living lifestyles that our contrary to the very character of God.

Although the New Testament clearly teaches the life-transforming and moral aspects of the Gospel (see Jude 4; Titus 2:11-12), so many don’t want to hear it. The New Testament repeatedly warns of false teachers who will lead people astray—and this will grow worse as Jesus’ return draws closer, no one wants to hear this. It’s considered “judgmental.” 

Paul warns the time will come when people will no longer put up with sound doctrine:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Friends, the Bible is either true or it isn’t. Truth does not “evolve” nor is it “relative.” To dismiss the Scriptures is to jettison Christianity altogether, and to simply construct a religion of one’s own making.

Persons can accuse me of being harsh, judgmental, even hypocritical, but none of this makes the warnings of the Scriptures less valid or less true. I might remain unpopular, even unliked by many, but the Bible’s warnings are still sounding out. What people’s opinions of me is irrelevant. However, what each person does with the warnings is extremely relevant.

Neither to the Left Nor the Right

Hello friends, dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

The modern church is grossly guilty of politicizing Christianity, and labeling is quite deceptive. We hear about “liberal” Christians and “conservative” Christians. Some describe themselves as “moderate” Christians. Such labels are very misleading, because the real issue is whether a person is a biblical Christian; is one’s life marked by biblical holiness, love, and purity—as God prescribes? 

The “liberal” claims to do things in love, but has he disregarded God’s holiness? The conservative says he holds to God’s holiness, but has he set aside God’s love? Often, in both camps, God’s mercy, justice, and righteousness are neglected. Again, the issue is not whether one is liberal or conservative, but is he biblical?

Let’s be clear, God’s ways do not always make sense to us. But we have brains about the size of a softball. The Creator of the heavens and the earth is perfect in wisdom. What He calls right or wrong goes. Our thoughts and feelings on the matter is completely irrelevant.

Friends, we need to return to biblical Christianity. For if what we call Christianity is not biblical, then it is not Christianity at all. “To the teaching and to the testimony!” (Isa. 8:20).

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:7

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” ~ John 14:23-24

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

Ichabod—Has the Glory of the Lord Departed from the SBC?

Hello, my friends. I write this with a heavy heart. I grew up attending Southern Baptist churches, my undergrad and graduate studies were at Southern Baptist schools (except my senior year), and I presently attend an SBC church. There was a time, I believe, when this denomination was a beacon of light; however, for the last several years there has been a growing darkness within it. There have been weeds, planted by the evil one, growing to choke out the truth, as ministers of darkness have crept in teaching doctrines that are contrary to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us not dismiss stern warnings in Scripture. Jesus warned,

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 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. ~ Matthew 13:36-42

Jude warns of an ever present danger:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 3-4

Understand, my loyalties are not to the SBC, as much as I care about it. For the SBC is not my Savior or Redeemer. I have an issue with those leaders who are drifting to the left and further away from sound teachings of Scripture. Let’s be clear, the Scriptures are not silent about issues like abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, or even godless philosophies underlying the whole “woke” nonsense (these will be discussed later). But I also have an issue with those drifting to the right who minimize the seriousness of sexual allegations and abuse, as well as racial tension. The Scriptures, likewise, are clear about moral and pure conduct, discipline for the immoral, and the value God places on His people of every ethnicity.

I read articles of so much bias, half-truths, outright lies, slander, arrogance, and deliberate stirring of division. Churches and individuals can pay lip service of doing “all for the glory of God” until the return of Christ, but is Jesus truly honored by any of this? Is He pleased or glorified by people behaving in their flesh and sin? Is He honored by persons casually setting aside His statutes? Indeed, He is a God of grace, but He is just as much a God of truth. We must strive to not separate the two.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17

For example, I read and article in which Beth Moore, as well as the author, accuse the “Trump cult” conservatives of criticizing her for her verbal attacks on Trump (Note: Trump was not who I initially desired to see become president). No, for many of us, our criticism has little to do with that as much as her hypocrisy. In her open condemnation of Trump for sexual allegations, she openly gave full endorsement of Hillary Clinton, whose DNC platform was nothing short of a celebration of death of the unborn. Not only that, Clinton’s position on nearly everything is anti-Christ and clearly in opposition to biblical teachings and values. Furthermore, while Trump was condemned for his injustice toward women, nothing was ever said about Hillary and Bill’s friendship with Epstein, or about their visits to his island in which human trafficking was taking place. As a former boss of mine had said so well of Hillary supporters, “They condemn Trump for being a sinner, but give their support to a devil.” And this is my issue with Beth, she condemns Trump as an evil man, yet endorsed a person three times the child of hell as him.

Before I continue, what we are seeing is nothing new. If one reads the Prophets, often some of the persons and practices cried out against were corrupt priests and false prophets who permitted sin; child sacrifice; immorality (including temple prostitution/homosexuality); greed; presumption; and idolatry. For modern deceivers who dismiss the Law and Old Testament as irrelevant, Jesus states that He did not come to abolish the Law but fulfill it (see Matt. 5:18-20). Also, the people and the judgements in the OT serve as examples for us (see 1 Cor. 10:1-11; 2 Pet. 2:5-6; Jude 6-7).

We are living in a time when many are either too afraid, or simply refuse, to call sin sin. Many who call themselves Christians have made an unholy alliance with the woke culture, which the very philosophical foundation of this movement is Marxist and anti-Christ. Let us ask such a question along with the apostle Paul,

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Elsewhere, he 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. ~ Colossians 2:8

The “woke” movement, claiming to want to eradicate racism, promotes Critical Race Theory, which portrays whites as being bad on the basis of being white. Such foolishness not only disregard the fact that all people are made in the image of God, but it simply breeds more racism and tension. Furthermore, “wokeness” promotes, breeds, and applauds lifestyles the Bible condemns. It breeds covetousness and discontentment, disregarding solid work ethic, as persons believe we should all have all things in common. Where is this told in Scripture? Rather, we are taught to work, be productive, and to be content with what we have.

As for homosexuality and transgenderism, and the sanctity of marriage, there are those who try to pit the teachings of the apostles against those of Jesus, but there is no conflict. And ultimately, all of Scripture is breathed out by God, and each writer was carried along by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21-22). But as for Jesus, He can get no more explicit than when He declares the very institution of marriage God has ordained:

[Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” ~ Matthew 9:4-6

Such behavior is clearly condemned in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Understand, this does not mean we are to mistreat such individuals; however, churches sin whenever they refuse to call such behavior what God calls it—sin. This is no more hateful than calling out heterosexual couples who are committing adultery or fornication. 

Note also, Jesus declares two genders of which God created—male and female. There are no other genders. Then from whence does such confusion come from? Paul says that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33), so we know such confusion within individuals does not come from God. And we can learn further from biblical principles when the apostle writes,

Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:14-16

Let me now switch gears. What about the various sexual allegations which are being swept under the rug? This is serious error of some of those on the right. It angers me when I hear of churches not only silencing women or children who have told of sexual abuse, but of some who have turned a blind eye to known pedophiles. Does God turn a blind eye to any of this? Check out what Jesus, the King of love, declares:

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. ~ Matthew 18:5-6

Or what about racism? While, indeed, CRT is certainly wrong, so is dismissing the concerns of non-white Southern Baptists. I believe, if the denomination as a whole was honest, there is a measure of inequality and segregation. There are some rock solid preachers who are not white, but why are they in the background? Let us be very clear on this matter, Heaven is multicultural by God’s design. We read in Revelation,

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God. ~ Revelation 5:9-10

I could go on, but the question remains, has the glory of the Lord departed from the SBC? This is an important question for churches to be asking. Persons can boast of what the denomination has accomplished, but let us take heed to Jesus’ warnings when He says,

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?”And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23

If the glory of the Lord were to depart, sinful religious persons will continue to perform religious duties. However, such churches would be nothing but whitewashed tombs, attractive on the outside but death within.

Brothers and sisters, we have sinned greatly as a people and a denomination. May God grant us repentance, broken hearts, and contrite spirits. May we repent of all sin, and may the glory of the Lord return. And may we cease to glory in our denomination but glory only in the Lord.

Are You Astonished By His Grace?

“O Lord, I am astonished at the difference between my receivings and my deservings, between the state I am now in and my past gracelessness, between the heaven I am bound for and the hell I merit,” prays on of the Puritans. [1]  Who prays like this anymore? What a time we live in, that despite our selfishness and love for sin (one loves lust, another greed, another pride, another idolatry, but each is rebellion against God), persons like to think humanity is “basically good.”  Many act as though God owes us something, as if salvation is a given. 

I am not so much talking about the non-religious, but I am talking about many church goers who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. People declaring they are such and such, condoning whatever behaviors suit them, then acting as though God is obliged to look upon them with favor.

Is any of us really like sweet Georgia peaches, just a little bruised? But what do the Scriptures say?

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” … For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ~ Romans 3:10-18, 22-23

Elsewhere, in an epistle written to Christians, the apostle writes,

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ~ Ephesians 2:1-3

Apart from Jesus Christ, none of us is deserving of God’s affection. Each of us was walking dead men, followers of the devil, walking in the passions of our own lusts, and children of wrath. No, we are not sweet peaches but poisonous mushrooms. What presumptuous arrogance that is so predominant in many American churches, as persons live however they want to live, disregarding the authority of the Scriptures, the teachings of Christ and His apostles, and thinking God is pleased just because persons gather “in His name.” This is no different than the rebellious and idolatrous Israelites, false prophets, and the corrupt priests God rejected in the Old Testament.

Where is humility? What has happened to mourning over one’s sins? What has happened to persons acknowledging God’s perception as being correct and that it is the individual’s perception which is wrong?

My friend, if there is no evident change in your life and no conformity to the likeness of Christ (including His love, humility, purity, holiness, and the like), then it is highly unlikely that you are genuinely a Christian. 

The apostle writes concerning the grace of God,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation [i.e., making it available] for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. ~ Titus 2:11-12

Again, he writes,

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant. ~ Philippians 2:3-7

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. ~ Galatians 5:13

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. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

If you are saved—born again—it is only by grace. The Scriptures tell us that even our righteousness—our supposed good deeds—are but “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6, KJV). Look up the Hebrew term for “filthy rags,” it’s quite disgusting—which is the point.

Each of us should be astonished at the mercies God grants us. We shouldn’t ever lose the wonder of His undeserving grace. If you do not at all see glimpses of the wretch and scoundrel you really are (as am I), then how do you understand your need for a Savior? And if such glimpses of your depravity don’t  cause you to realize your desperate need for repentance and forgiveness, it is highly doubtful you really understand anything about grace, let alone experienced it.

That God would bother to look upon us with pity and snatch us from the flames, which was our destination, should create such unending humble gratitude. But how much of this do we truly see within American churches?

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[1] Arthur Bennet, ed., “The Mover,” in The Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1975), 12.

Unbelief Will Always Make a Reason to Not Believe

Hello my friends, I hope you have had a great week.

Have you ever studied Christian apologetics (the defense for the Christian faith)? Perhaps you have read C. S. Lewis’, Mere Christianity, Lee Strobel’s, The Case for Christ, or Josh McDowell’s, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Each of these books are quite beneficial, and I would encourage anyone who is having honest questions to read them. However, over the years I have found that most people do not wrestle so much with honest doubts as they do with stubborn unbelief. Generally the problem is not an intellectual one as much as it is a moral one.

Doubts and “timid faith” alike are accompanied with questions. One can observe these in Nicodemus’ dialogue with Jesus in John 3, or in John the Baptist’s questions for Jesus, as he sat in a cell awaiting execution (see Matt. 11:2-6), or the father who requested his son’s healing (see Mark 9:16-27). Stubborn unbelief is an altogether different beast. Unbelief rejects Christ, no matter the evidence, logic, or consequence. Unbelief holds tightly to its pride, position, power, or whatever else, so long as it does not bow itself to the authority of God. Unbelief will always make an excuse to reject Christ and the need for Him. Jesus rebukes the unbelief of the people of the day:

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds. ~ Matthew 11:16-19

There are those who view Christians as being absurd for believing in an Almighty Creator, yet have no problem believing the universe mysteriously came into existence by chance. There are those who say they “will follow science where so ever it will lead,” yet ostracize scientists who, observing the amazing structure and order from the cosmos to the molecular, dare mention Intelligent Design (understand, ID is not the same thing as theism or Christianity); yet, those who reject even the notion of ID hold up evolution as fact, even though there isn’t any scientific evidence whatsoever to support it. Perhaps no one admits the reason for their unbelief any better than Aldous Huxley:

“I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” [1]

Is this not the real reason for the majority of people’s rejection of God? Oh sure, most people, on the one hand, have asked honest questions about evil and such. The irony is most people also justify their own acts of evil. This is one of the great evils and hypocrisy of Communist regimes, they accuse religion as being the source of wars, all the while Communism is guilty of all kinds of unjust afflictions and killings of millions of people through starvation, sheer brutality, demented experiments, and social engineering. 

Many of Hollywood’s elites like to accuse Christian’s as being “stupid” and “dangerous.” Now, there are religious nut jobs out there, and there are hypocrites in churches. However, for those who have parents, grandparents, or siblings who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, are these persons really stupid or dangerous? Do they get F’s in everything and are never successful? Are they the ones in the neighborhood everyone is afraid of, for fear of their lives? No, Hollywood‘s resentment towards God and Christianity has nothing to do with an intellectual issue. No, Hollywood’s is completely a moral one. And the same goes for godless politics. 

Unbelief desires autonomy, and will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Honest doubts and timid faith will listen to answers to their questions and consider them, and are willing to change. Unbelief declares along with Woody Allen, “The heart wants what the heart wants,” despite how despicable the affections.

God does not hide from people as much as people close their eyes to Him. We are given this promise:

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. ~ Jeremiah 29:13

Elsewhere we are told,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. ~ Hebrews 1:1-3

God is not silent, but people just don’t want to hear. To many, the temporary pleasures of sin are not worth the life to be found in Christ. Jesus could stand before them, as He did the people of old, but unbelief will always make a reason to reject Him. There is nothing new under the sun.

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[1] Huxley, A., Ends and Means, 1937, pp. 270 ff. Retrieved from:

https://creation.com/aldous-huxley-admits-motive-for-anti-theistic-bias (accessed May 27, 2021).