Recently on Facebook I posted on the local church, which there seems to be a growing number of individuals who have a disdain for the local church and/or no desire to be a member of a local church.
I am sure we have all heard at some point in our lives that individual who says, “You don’t need to be a member of a church to be a Christian”, to which I would say, I agree. Church membership doesn’t make you a believer but if you are a believer there should be no reason why you don’t desire to be.
Maybe you have heard other statements as to why an individual says they don’t need to be or want to be a member of or attend a local church. Statements like this one, “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites”, to which I would say of course there are hypocrites in churches, doesn’t change the fact that we are still told not to forsake the gathering together with the body of believers as the church in local bodies.
This idea that you don’t desire to go to church because of hypocrites, let me ask you, do you go to work, school, shopping, etc. because anywhere you go you will run into hypocrites. Not to mention that we are all sinners in need of Christ even after we become a believer we are still growing and the process in one person’s life may not be exactly like your experience in growth. Which is one reason why being a member of a local church is so important, to be able to minister to others, to come alongside a newer believer and disciple them, assist them in their growth.
Another argument is that the church is the people and not a building, which I also agree. However, we meet somewhere and when we gather together as the body of Christ in a local church guess what…. It’s usually in a building unless you are meeting outside or in a cave because where the saints are gathered together to sit under the preaching of the Word of God and to take part in the means of grace that is the church. While we understand and know it’s not the building let’s not lose focus or sight of what is important here. Church membership, belonging to a local body being committed to the local church and serving one another to the glory of God.
Here is an example of a post that I put on my Facebook wall about being a member.
If you preach on Facebook or on the streets and aren't a member of a local church or desire to be in one..... just repent!
Repent and believe in Christ and be saved!!!
Repent and believe Gods word about His church and be obedient!!!
Now let me speak on what I posted to be clear to those who may have misunderstood what I said and taken it as saying I was adding church membership as a requirement for salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Salvation is a gift of God not of works, we are not saved by baptism, by keeping the commandments, or by church membership. Those who are saved are saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus, who died on the cross, was buried and on the third day rose from the grave.
This post came about do to interactions with individuals some on Facebook and others whom I have ran into on the streets who call themselves “street preachers” but do not belong to a local church nor do they desire to be a part of a local church.
To which I will say as I have stated above if you are not a member nor do you desire to be one repent, some of those individuals whom I have interacted with need salvation and others just need to obey.
In another Facebook post I said this trying to be even more clear on the matter.
If you are not a member of a local Church or desire to be one. It's only a matter of time before you fall away from the faith (proving to not be a believer to begin with) or into damnable heresies (proving to be a false believer or teacher).
To disconnect yourself from a local body of Christ and have no desire whatsoever to get connected is to disconnect yourself from the one who gives eternal life which is Jesus Christ.
Which again I stand by this statement, time and time I have seen individuals who had no desire to connect with and be a member of a local church and they have fell away from the faith, no longer attending church anywhere and sadly many even walking away from the faith they once held on to. The other issue that myself and many others can attest to is how those who have no desire to be a member of a local church become a law unto themselves, they set themselves up as the authority and have no one to help them and keep them from doctrinal errors, and I am not talking about secondary doctrines like eschatology or of the like but on serious issues that if one continues to hold to are damnable heresies.
You see the dangers are there when you are not connected to a local church. Now don’t hear me wrongly, God is the one who saves and if anyone leaves the faith or begins to teach damnable heresies it is clear they never were a believer to begin with as stated in 1 John 2:19 which says, 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.
Christ is the head of the church and to separate yourself from the local church is have absolutely no desire to be connected is to only expose that you aren’t connected to Christ.
Finally, my last post on the local church.
Local Church Membership- What a joy, what a blessing to be a part of a local body of believers and to use the gifts for which God has given you to minister to others and to be ministered to.
Don't forsake the gathering together with a local church.
Remember there is no perfect church... but Christ died for His church so be committed be obedient and be a member of a local church.
Don't be like the guy or girl who wants to stay in a relationship but refuses to commit to one another in marriage.
To be a member of a local church where the Word of God is preached is a joy and a blessing, and to use the gifts that God has given us believers to minister to others and to be ministered to, what a picture of love and grace and compassion for the body of Christ displayed through the gathering together of local churches.
Some want to argue over the fact they don’t believe a church is doing everything the way they want it to be done. Maybe they don’t have a certain ministry that they believe the church should have or they don’t have every theological position that you do, regardless of the excuses used by people to disconnect themselves from being a member of a local church is just that, an excuse!
As with the analogy that I gave in the above Facebook post, don’t be like that person who wants to be in a relationship with someone but never wants to make the commitment to marry. Christ is married to the Church! The Church is the bride of Christ and when we have no desire to be connected through a local church essentially what we are saying is I want the benefits of a relationship without the commitment.
Now let’s look at the importance of the local church.
Hebrews 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Now this verse obviously comes up and is used to encourage believers to meet together and not to forsake it. And if we look at this verse which comes after verse 24 we might get some understanding.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Stir up one another to love and good works, this verse assumes that we would know one another. I am connected to the saints all over the world unity in Christ, but I don’t know their struggles personally or areas where they need to grow in love and good works. However, being a member of a local church, I will be able to serve alongside other believers and get to know them and be able to do exactly what this verse is saying to do.
1 Peter 5:1-2 (1) So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: (2) shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
How? That would be my question to you, how does one shepherd the flock of God that is among you and exercising oversight over the flock if there are no local churches?? If someone just comes in for a little while and then moves to another church and another church, or just comes and sits at a church but never becomes a member just attends, not making a commitment to the local church, the leaders or the others within the church. Personally, I don’t even see why this is something we should have to defend, as if it is not clear enough in scriptures.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Here is another scripture speaking about the elders but notice whose benefit it is for….YOURS! It is for your advantage to submit to your elders. Now I know, the first objection will be in everything submit, what if they are abusing their position. I understand that and the scripture speaks about that as well.
1 Peter 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
If someone is abusing the authority as an Elder that’s a problem and should be addressed because as stated above they are not to lord their position over the flock but to be an example to them.
Now if they are ruling well, here is what God’s Word has to say.
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
How are they to rule if they don’t have a local church gathering of committed saints, how are they to receive double honor, if there is no local church then how do you know if the preacher in the next town or city or state should receive double honor.
Its honestly pretty easy to see that God establishes local churches to which He gives gifts.
Ephesians 4:11-14 (11) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
For the purpose of equipping the saints so that we are not tossed to and fro carried away by every wind of doctrine, which was my point in the one above Facebook post, to disconnect yourself from the local church where you do not have an elder to lead you and other members evangelists and teachers and church members to help you grow to mature manhood or womanhood then you are setting yourself up to be carried away, either from the faith you claim to believe or into every wind of false teaching that is out there.
So, don’t be deceived by those who run around claiming to be believers but have no desire to be a member of a local church and spend more time arguing against local church membership rather than repenting becoming a member of a local church and submitting to the elders in order to be ministered to and to use their gifts to minister to other saints within the body of their local church.
To God be the Glory!
By Ricky Gantz
Ever been in the mood to listen to some good music? Music that is clean with a Christian message, something you can listen to while your children are in the car with you and not worry about hearing lyrics that are obscene or promoting ungodly values that you really don't want your children to be exposed to.
Well just turn it to the family friendly christian contemporary radio station, like K-Love or The Fish. Where you can listen to music that you don't have to worry what your children will hear, because it's good clean Christian music, or is it?
Discernment is something that many American Evangelicals seem to lack, we have thousands upon thousands of professing Christians who send in their money or follow many of the false teachers on Christian Television, such as TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, John Hagee, Kenneth Coepland, Paula White and Joel Osteen, just to name a few, believe me many more could be named. However, that is not the purpose of this article. I only stress this fact because so many individuals who claim the name of Christ lack discernment and follow false teachers. Calling out false teachers, especially those mentioned above is like picking at low hanging fruit on a tree, it is so easy to do because their teachings are so bad that you think how can anyone be so deceived.
When it comes to christian contemporary music that is promoted by these family friendly radio stations, we don't always know the theology of the ones behind the music.
The music also doesn't only stay on the radio, many songs find there way into many churches across the United States and abroad.
Hillsong is one of the most popular music groups out there today, with many of their songs being used by churches to sing worship to God on a Sunday morning, and even if the song you choose to sing by Hillsong or any other group like them has good words to the songs you choose to sing, many fail to realize the danger they are setting up for individuals in their own churches.
For example it would be like quoting Joel Osteen from your pulpit each week in your sermons without giving a qualifying message behind it that he is a false teacher. By quoting Osteen you are basically affirming his teaching and may just lead others in the church to start listening to and following his teaching. That would be a really bad idea!
The same thing happens with music except for some reason we seem to give it a pass, while many in the church who know Osteen is a false teacher wouldn't quote him week after week, those same people would use music by Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Matt Maher and others.
Because these groups along with many others, either have really bad theology or are heretical, and should not be promoted by family friendly radio and most certainly not promoted by churches.
Maybe you are thinking to yourself some of the songs these groups sing aren't necessarily worded with heretical teaching, and some songs aren't but I think by stating that we miss the point. The point is not so much whether or not a song they write is in error but rather the association with the one writing the song.
Let's take Matt Maher's song "Lord, I need you", the song is a beautiful song and there is nothing inherently wrong with the words of the song, yet many people don't realize that Matt Maher is a Roman Catholic. Why should that matter? It matters because in affirming Matt Maher and his music, whether you want to acknowledge it or not you are affirming Roman Catholicism by pointing your people to his music and blurring the lines for the very reason in why we are protestants, we are still protesting against Rome and their false teaching.
Jesus Culture another very popular music group out of Bethel Redding in California, that is entrenched with heresy and false teaching, has been using their music to introduce more and more people to that false teaching. The more popular the band gets the more people follow Bethel. Just like Hillsong they are using their music to draw more people to the teachings of their churches.
Now when I say churches I am not doing so in the sense that these are actual churches of God but only in identifying them by how they are represented in the world as being a church even though they go against the biblical teachings while promoting their heresies.
I've used this analogy before but consider this, these individuals have a different gospel and a different god, they do not follow the one true and living God, therefore when they write these songs they are speaking of the idol in which they are singing to, not praising and worshiping the King of Glory. So by that alone we should stop singing and promoting their songs in our churches.
Imagine writing a song for an ex-girlfriend, someone you had a long relationship with that many said was the love of your life, and sadly it didn't work out and now you are married to a lovely woman and your anniversary is coming up and you want to give her something special to let her know just how much she means to you, so you think I should write her a song, and you remember this amazing song you wrote long ago for your ex-girlfriend, and you think all I have to do is change the name to my wife and she'll love it.
Do you seriously think your wife would love a song given to her on your anniversary that was actually intended for another woman but just changing the name. I don't think that would cause your wife to love you more but most likely you will be sleeping on the couch for a week maybe longer. NO......that would be disrespectful to your wife to just change the name from your ex to hers.
Is that not what we are doing by singing songs to God that were written to false gods when we sings songs by these individuals who have a different gospel and different god.
We need to exercise discernment in many areas of are Christian life and this area is not an exception. Don't be deceived by these groups that promote there false churches and false beliefs by allowing them to deceive those around us in our churches.
We must have a discerning ear when it comes to what we listen to and what we allow our children to listen to and what we sing in our churches.
I am not saying if a church sings some songs by these groups that it automatically makes them a bad church or heretical, sadly some are just uninformed, which can be any of us. I for one do not always look up an artist and dig deep into what they believe by doing extensive research to find out and make sure before I turn on the radio, but maybe we should be, or at the least do a better job about what we allow to come into our churches.
Let's go back to the song by Matt Maher, 'Lord, I need you", if the song comes on in the car, I use it as a way to teach my family to be discerning, to inform them of who it is that is singing this song so that they are aware. The last thing I would want to do is mislead my family into thinking something is solid or okay. Some songs are catchy, and they are clean that you find on the family radio shows but at what cost.
Exercise wisdom, be cautious, and seek to be discerning in all areas of life, including the music we are listening to.
by Ricky Gantz
Sex outside the bounds of marriage is the sin of fornication. The Bible says all fornicators will have their part in the lake of fire.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Revelation 21:8 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.”
Just so we are clear here about fornication being sexual immorality, this is the dictionaries definition.
Fornication-sexual intercourse between people not married to each other.
If you profess Christ and are living in sin.... repent!! If you refuse to repent and rebel against Christ staying in your sin then the reality is you don't know Him and your profession is nothing more than lip service.
Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
Matthew 15:8-9 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
1 John 3:4-10 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 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. 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. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his
If this is you someone professing with your lips you know the LORD and yet continue in your practicing lifestyle of sin, REPENT and believe in Jesus Christ that your sins may be forgiving and that you would have new life in Him.
What if you are a Christian? Like I said above, if you profess Christ and are living in sin.... repent!!
So what does that mean?
Turn from your sin, flee sexual immorality as the bible tells us.
1 Corinthians 6:8 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
In fact God tells us in His word that this should not be even named among us as believers, this should not be the pattern of our lives to be engaged in sexual immorality but that we should put it to death. It is contrary to sound doctrine.
Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
1 Timothy 1:10 The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
So if you are a believer in Christ Jesus, flee from sexual immorality! Know that as a believer you can find forgiveness in Christ, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), not giving us a license to sin, as stated clearly in the scriptures above that we must put to death sexual immorality and that it shouldn't even be named among us as a practice in which believers take part in. God is gracious with us but as Paul wrote in Romans that doesn't mean that we can continue in sin because of God's grace (Romans 6:1-2).
What if you are living together? What if you have a lease together?
It may not be easy to get yourself out of a situation in which you may be in, however, that doesn't mean we can stay in a sinful situation, rather we must work towards being obedient to Christ and it may be costly. But neglecting God's word on account of your situation and allowing your situation of living together outside of marriage to dictate whether or not you obey God's word should not be the stance of a believer, who desire to please the Lord and glorify Him in all areas of life.
Find your strength in Christ, God tells us to flee sexual immorality and tells us that when we are tempted He provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If you are in a situation where you have come to faith in Christ and living with someone outside of marriage seek counsel from your Pastor, and if your Pastor gives you advice that contradicts the scriptures above flee the sexual immorality and also flee that Pastor and church.
Trust Christ and obey His word, for He knows what is best for us, sex is not a bad thing, in fact, it has been given to us by God, to enjoy and to procreate, however, He has also given us the guidelines of sex being within the marriage union.
Grace and Peace;
May 1st already..... where does the time go? When I was younger I don't remember time going as fast as it seems to be going now, I'm 40 years old and it seems like the days fly by. Feels like just yesterday but it's been years and they keep flying by.
The truth is life is but a vapor..... and we are blessed to have any amount of time here that the LORD allows us to have, whether we are a believer or not GOD is still the one who by HIS grace allows us the time we have here this side of eternity.
But once we step off into eternity there is no time just eternity which is never ending. If you are in Christ that eternity is with Him, what a joyous and wonderful thing to be with Christ, but if you step off into eternity apart from Christ... what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living GOD, because that eternity will be spent in torment, in the eternal judgment of GOD.
Jesus Christ came to save sinners, which we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of GOD, the wages of sin is death (physical and eternal), but Christ demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, if you repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone you can have salvation (eternal life in Jesus Christ), so why wait until it's to late.. today is the day of salvation, don't harden your heart to the gospel of Christ, Repent and Believe today and be saved!!
Grace and Peace
Why is theology so important?
Theology is the study of God through His Word, the scriptures is how God has revealed Himself to us that we may know Him and believe and believing in Christ Jesus (God- the second person of the Trinity) we may have eternal life. (John 6:29)
The only way anyone will see the Kingdom of God is that you must be born again (John 3:3) and being born again means a spiritual rebirth, and whoever is born again believes in Jesus and will not perish (John 3:16) but have eternal life.
Unfortunately, many people are deceived and on the broad road to destruction (Matthew 7:13) and many will stand before the LORD on that day that believe themselves right with God but are not and hear those horrifying words, depart from me you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23) and the Bible warns of false prophets who will deceive (Matthew 7:15) so it is so important that once you have been born again and placed faith in Jesus Christ that we study theology, studying the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).
Don't follow your heart because your heart will deceive you (Jeremiah 17:9) rather trust in Christ Jesus by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) which is a gift from God because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and the penalty for sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus (Romans 6:23).
So if you haven't trusted in Christ do so today, believe that Jesus Christ (God in the flesh, 2nd person of the Trinity) came down born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, and willfully went to the cross laying down His life for sinners, was buried and three days later was raised from the dead, that is the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Jesus is God (John 1:1-3; 1:18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20) believe in Christ today.
To God be the Glory
Grace & Peace
Definition of Legalism:
strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription,
especially to the letter rather than the spirit.
Alright, now that we have defined legalism, let me attempt to explain how it may look in the life of professing believers, whether they are false believers or true ones.
One of the ways in which we see legalism today is through the teaching that one must keep the law to be saved. Which is clearly not the biblical view of how a man can be saved, that's not the gospel of Jesus Christ, which says that a man can be saved by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus, teaching that one must keep the law to be saved is a salvation of works.
The scriptures are clear when it comes to how a man is saved.
>>>Romans 4:5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,<<<
>>>Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.<<<
Another way in which we can see legalism is through the keeping of the law after one is saved so that the individual can maintain salvation. In other words...another form of works righteousness, this time in order to stay saved. However, we know that this is also not the case because not only is a man not justified by the keeping of the law but also does not maintain salvation by the keeping of the law. Truth be told, no one in Christ who is being honest would say that they no longer sin and now keep the law perfectly, unless they are a sinless perfectionist who claims they no longer sin, except in the fact that they fail to see their dishonesty by making that claim.
>>>Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”<<<
STOP! HOLD ON! Before you go making the claim that I am saying something I am not let me be sure to make this point. What I am not saying is that because no one can keep the law perfectly and that Christians will still have sin to deal with in their lives does that give us the right to sin because we are covered by God's grace. Paul clearly warns us when he says, "shall we continue in sin that grace may abound....GOD FORBID." So please don't walk away from this thinking that it means we have a license to sin. Because that is not what I am saying.
Already quoted was Ephesians 2:8-9 which speaks of man being saved by grace through faith in Christ alone not of works so that we cannot boast in those works. However, so often is the case that people forget about verse 10.
>>>Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.<<<
So one who is truly born again will do good works but not as a means to earn salvation, nor a means by which to keep it.
Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments", and we who are in Christ know that it is not a burden to follow Christ but out of love for our Savior who gave Himself for us and who changed our hearts and minds towards Him. Therefore we desire to please the Lord, while we may fail, it is Christ who has justified us and it is Christ who sustains us, it is not by our works.
Now that we established the above stated forms of legalism, I now want to focus on another type of legalism for which I will spend the rest of the article dealing with.
Perhaps as we dive into this next form of legalism you may have experienced some of these first hand, either on the receiving end or possibly the one holding to them and expecting others to do so as well.
Here are some examples:
The way you dress, a man should be in a suit and tie and women in a dress or long skirt.
Women are not permitted to wear earrings, make-up or cut their hair.
Alcohol is a sin and smoking will send you straight to hell...I am not kidding I just seen that the other day posted on social media.
I am sure you have heard this before, "You don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't chew and you don't run with those who do"
Tattoos......BAD REALLY BAD! The Bible says not to get Tattoos. Does it really say that?
Dancing is sin, going to the movies is sin, playing cards, playing pool(billiards), watching TV, owning a TV, listening to any music that is not hymns, and I am sure we could keep going. But I think you probably get the point.
This form of legalism is nothing new, the pharisees and religious leaders of the day added new laws to the commandments in an attempt to keep themselves from breaking the commandments of God.
Pastors/Elders/Deacons/Teachers/Evangelists are giving by God to the Church as gifts to shepherd the flock and to lead them by teaching them the Word of God and how to apply it to their lives, they are not called to be dictators and require people to adhere to their own personal preferences.
This doesn't only apply to those in leadership positions. Christians at times are guilty of being legalistic in their approach with other Christians attempting to apply a standard upon others because of their own personal convictions.
We must be careful not to impose a standard on another believer who may have a different conviction on an area that is not clearly stated as sinful in the scriptures.
Christian rap music is something I enjoy listening to from time to time, it's not the only type of music I listen to but enjoy it. A few years back I remember posting a few Christian rap songs on social media and had this one guy (who turned out to be KJVO, which is another type of legalism and huge discussion that would be better for another time) who would comment every time that it was the devils music and no Christian should have anything to do with rap music and that rap music cannot be Christian. I was gracious with the man for some time but then had to just use the block button. He was trying to apply his personal preference and convictions about a certain type of music upon myself and others who enjoyed that genre of music.
A genre of music is not in and of itself evil and sinful. In fact, there are many great Christian rap artist who are theologically sound and their music is rich with biblical truth, but this man could not see past his own personal preferences in an attempt to bring everyone to the same views he had.
What about the clothes we wear to Church?
My wife used to attend a Church where the women who worked in the nursery or Sunday School ministry were not allowed to wear pants they had to wear a dress or skirt or they were unable to serve in those areas.
These days we are seeing more and more pastors preach without wearing a suit but rather in jeans and dress shirt. Some people won't even take these pastors serious because they don't wear a suit and tie when preaching. However, to be fair, we do see some hipsters in their skinny jeans and Jesus is my homeboy t-shirts, and the majority of the time they are not really preaching the full counsel of God, but more of what they call a relevant message for today. Nevertheless, you are not more spiritual based on the clothes you wear to Church. Exercise wisdom in that statement though, because that doesn't mean we should just dress however we feel like. The bible does speak about modesty.
Probably one of the most argued over areas of legalism and Christian liberty is alcohol. Some people have some really strong views that if you drink a glass of wine or have a beer you are not a Christian.
Years ago I attended my brothers wedding and they were serving and drinking wine along with other alcoholic beverages (I don't drink alcohol as a personal preference of my own) and I remember my Grandmother saying to me how disappointed she was in another grandchild who professed faith as a Christian, because he was drinking alcohol. She said she even asked him, "as a Christian why are you drinking alcohol?" Which he said, "well Jesus turned water into wine". While I personally would question my cousins faith but not for drinking alcohol but for some other issues concerning the gospel, this is an area where some individuals have some strong convictions.
Honestly we all have our own preferences and personal convictions. These aren't a bad thing to have it's when we attempt to force those convictions and preferences on others who may not have the same stance.
Is it a sin to drink alcohol? Well what do we know for sure from the scriptures. We know that the bible speaks clearly about drunkards and that no drunkard will enter into the kingdom of heaven. So it is clearly a sin to be drunk. But what about just having a glass of wine, or a beer, well for some it may very well be sin and for others it may not be. If a person struggles with alcohol and it has been an idol in their life it could be sin for that person to drink.
When it comes to anything mentioned above, while it may not be inherently sinful, a grey area in scripture, it could be sin for the individual based upon their own personal convictions. However, that doesn't mean that it may then be sinful for everyone.
As Christians we should strive for holiness, to be more Christ like. In that effort lets not confuse desiring to be holy for legalism, but let's not be legalistic and mistake it for holiness.
To God be the Glory!
If you are reading that title... Christian Celebrities, you might be thinking of someone like Tim Tebow, or Carrie Underwood, you know a celebrity that claims to be a Christian. Well whether or not they are or aren't is not what I am intending to discuss in this article.
What I want to touch on is the individuals who are looking to be a Christian Celebrity or ride the coat tails of someone they believe to be is one.
Sometimes you find them in the evangelism community, that seasoned evangelist or open air preacher who has videos and blog posts talking about evangelism and whether they intended to or not many others who find themselves wanting to evangelize in the open air look to these guys as somewhat of a celebrity.
Maybe it's the Christian blogger writing blogs or articles to post or the vlogger who posts videos on YouTube.
It could be the Christian radio show host.
Doesn't really matter if they are well known by many people or somewhat well known by a few. These individuals have either become Christian Celebrities whether by their own doing or the doing of others who look up to them.
Romans 12:3 says...For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
We are as believers to think rightly about ourselves and not think more highly than we ought to think, shouldn't be to hard...right? Well, honestly we must fight the pride that may dwell within us when someone is making much about you or when you seem to become somewhat influential among others.
If the ministry in which you engage in has become a platform to make a name for yourself rather than to exalt the name of Christ it just may be time to reevaluate why you are holding that platform to begin with.
Philippians 2:3 says... Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
So be sure that the very reason you have a platform is not to elevate yourself and your ministry but to exalt Christ and to use the gifts and talents you may have to help edify, encourage and build up fellow believers, those who are in your sphere of influences and any others in which the Lord may allow you to reach.
One thing I've noticed over the years on social media is how there are some who enjoy having a position or voice, whether it be radio, blogging, vlogging or evangelism and then there are those who latch onto someone they perceive to be a Christian Celebrity and they ride out the persons "celebrity" to either make a name for their own ministry or just to feel like they are close with someone who fits the Christian Celebrity title.
I've watched as people have changed because of the "Christian Celebrity" people they know and honestly I find it heartbreaking.
Don't be that guy or gal!
If you are in it for the sake to make something of yourself then you are in it for all the wrong reasons. As said above, the goal behind every born again believer in Christ is to exalt Him, not ourselves!
As John the baptist..Yes he was a baptist (just kidding) wrote in John 3:30...He must increase, but I must decrease.
We should have the same attitude here as John, as believers we shouldn't be so concerned with making much about ourselves but making much about Jesus. He must increase, but I(we) must decrease.
Regardless of who you are, if you are a Christian you have a platform, whether it be a podcast, blog, ministry or not. We all have people we can and should be discipling, so be about making disciples. If God gives you a successful blog...well then use it for His glory! If God gives you a successful radio show...well then use it for His glory! If God gives you a successful ministry...well then use it for His glory!
Grace be with you
So I just watched a video that some others shared by Bill Maher, the video was full of foul language and blasphemy so I wouldn't even consider sharing it due to the content.
Bill Maher stated (and I paraphrase) that it was nice to have an election where the two major party candidates were not asked questions about their faith. That we didn't see them talking about how they are guided by their faith, and how they spend their mornings in prayer and the Bible catering to the evangelical voters. Because even Bill Maher the atheist recognized neither of these two were truly religious.
However, the video was of Maher saying that the one thing Trump did do this election is expose the evangelicals for the hypocrites they are and how the voters who say they have values basically tossed them out the window to vote for Trump.
It also mentions that Mormons who will believe absolutely anything, and he goes through a short list of some of those things Mormonism believes that are strange and ridiculous, yet says they pulled away from supporting Trump and said no way can we vote for this man.
The overall take away from the this section of the video was that even the mormons who believe crazy things see trump for who he is but evangelicals have been exposed for the hypocrites they truly are. This from Bill Maher's own words who is opposed to religion and has been a voice against Christianity.
He stated 70% of white evangelicals were voting for Trump. This statistic is only contrasted by the large amount of black evangelicals who will vote for Clinton, which we will get to later in this article.
After seeing the above mentioned video I also seen on another brothers facebook post who has decided to abstain from voting, a Trump supporter called him a weaker brother for abstaining and he (the Trump supporter) being a stronger brother for voting for Trump....what nonsense! If anything the one not going against his values and principles regardless of the outcome is in my mind the stronger brother because he and those alike are not compromising for fear or buying into the same old political rhetoric that keeps people in the cycle of voting one of the two major parties which never brings any real change and has only lead to more and more wickedness and corruption.
Listening to Donald Trump in the debates and on his reality tv show do we honestly believe he will be a wise leader.
Proverbs 22:24: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”
Proverbs 13:20: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
Proverbs 14:7: “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”
Now don't think this kind of nonsense is not in the other side of this election as well because it is.
While driving down to the conference in Newark yesterday I turned it to the local "gospel" music station here in Lorain county and they were talking about the same things saying that not voting or third party voting was a vote for Trump....but wait I hear a no vote or vote for third party is a vote for Clinton by evangelicals (which is it), neither is true!! However, the disturbing thing is they were supporting Clinton and working to get their listening base out to vote for Clinton and saying this is how we help support Obama's legacy. Explaining to their listening audience how Trump was an immoral candidate and how we need to keep a man like that out of office. While I am not Trump supporter, the double standard angered me as my wife and I listened in disbelief as this is supposed to be a "Christian based" radio station which has a majority of African American listeners.
What nonsense! What foolishness! How wicked! To advocate for Clinton!
To support a candidate like Clinton/Obama and the democratic ticket as a whole is to support abortion fully which is the murder of babies in the womb and that blood is on your hands, also to support the homosexual agenda, the whole platform is anti- Christ and stands in direct opposition to godly principles, values and goes against a biblical worldview.
Proverbs 6:16-17: “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.”
Deuteronomy 27:25: “Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person.”
Deuteronomy 19:10: “That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.”
Why can't those who profess to be believers see clearly?
While the Bible does not give us a command to vote or not to vote the Bible does speak much about wisdom.
Hosea 4:6a: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge—"
We are to seek God in prayer and through the reading of His word to guide our decisions in life and there is no exception of this when it comes to choosing a President seeking wisdom from the Lord. Let us be wise in the decisions that we make in who we vote for should we decide to vote or not to vote.
Most importantly, let us trust in the Lord and be not afraid of the outcome of an election remembering that regardless of who the Lord places into the office of President, He is the LORD of lords and KING of kings, He is sovereign over all.
I leave you you with the words of the apostle Paul who said to Timothy;
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Timothy 2: 1-2
Neither candidate is a believer, so let us prayer first for their salvation and that God would change their hearts and desires toward Him. As for us as Christian let us be mindful to press on and preach the gospel because regardless of the outcome we have been commanded to make disciples to the glory of God.
To the Saints in Christ Jesus
by Ricky Gantz
Over the years I heard about an issue between AHA and some others within the street preaching community (those involved with the BAMH documentary). Although I didn't just take people's word for who was right or wrong or what one said about the other. I didn't know these people, and I didn't know the problem they had between them.
I had some friends who were doing the work of abolitionists and had the AHA gear and signs, etc. and I knew these brothers that were and some still are friends of mine until this day which I know are strong solid brothers in Christ who love their local church and are involved in their local churches.
While I didn't know everyone in the movement or ideology as many like to call it. I did a show on AHA, where I reached out to some friends I knew to join me to which they were not able to do they suggested another guy to be on the show. So I had a show about AHA, what thy are about and the evil of abortion.
After doing a show on AHA as well as standing outside of abortion centers myself and preaching the gospel I received many friend requests from people in AHA. And many requests to start a society in Cleveland to which I never responded and had no interest in doing.
More time passed and I seen more of the strong stance that some us between the two groups mentioned above and being one who tries to give the benefit of the doubt and tried to extend grace, so I attempted to have a show between the two groups (again mentioned above) to attempt some reconciliation or at least better understand the problem with a conversation rather then one side saying one thing another sign saying another thing. Some declined to be on and voiced some of their concerns about AHA and suggested I shouldn't even have that show. But again it really knowing these guys personally I don't just believe what someone says because they say it. So I had the show had a founding member of AHA on the show and we discussed some of the issue.
I wasn't on anyone's side when it came to picking and choosing a side. I was neutral, even though there were some things I didn't agree with I still graciously treated both parties like brothers and sisters in Christ.
But then from my own experience, not from the words of anyone else I began to see with my own eyes that a handful of not more AHA folks seemed to respond to my posts about the importance of a local church or when I was speaking highly of the local church or encouraging the local church. This group of individuals always seemed to comment in a aggressive way against my posts and it's not that people can't disagree with me I don't have all the answers or am always right but I began to see the same people always responding in the same ways with this anti- local church sentiment. And when you call them out on it they would try to turn it around and say you were the one anti- local church because you didn't affirm them and what they were doing.
After still attempting to be gracious with these people and not block or delete them, I began to push back more due to their relentless lack of love on any encouraging posts or comments about again the local church. When I did that I became an enemy of the state (that is AHA), and some of them deleted me and/blocked me because I would not agree with their ways of doing things.
I was never AHA and never had a desire to be but I never brushed them off or attempted to treat any of them the way they seem to treat others who are not abolitionists as hey say but really seem to mean AHA brand of abolitionist.
Many from our local church have been out to and go when we can to abortion centers to preach the gospel and also go to the streets and preach the gospel. Yet, none of us are AHA, and many of those who comment against my posts about the local church with their anti- local church comments know we are an active local church that goes out into the culture with the gospel and stands out at abortion centers aren't still satisfied and instead of commenting with encouraging remarks always comment with negativity towards those who affirm and have love for the local church. Could it be because we don't wear AHA gear when we do it.
Maybe if I would have listened to those who warned me I could of avoided all this but again I was given grace and the benefit of the doubt because I didn't personally know those who opposed AHA who warned me about them when I was doing the show.
However, even though I have done shows in the past and had guests on who were part of AHA. I do not support or agree with AHA. I stand by and affirm those who would call themselves abolitionists but I would also encourage them to not affiliate themselves with the AHA brand, not to wear their gear or buy their products. And call them out from their own who disagree with their practices and anti- local church sentiments.
As far as calling people to repent or a American evangelicalism to repent, or as far as us as individual Christians to repent. Of course we all need to repent and ask God to conform us more and more to the image of Christ. But to make the standard be about abortion and if they aren't doing it the way AHA seems to believe they should be doing it while wearing their shirts and using their products then in their eyes at least the way it appears to those who are watching and experiencing it first hand from these bullies is that you're wrong for that.
Abortion is evil no doubt it's a symptom of a much bigger issue --sin, to which the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer.
Abolitionism is not the gospel!
The social gospel is not the gospel!
Speaking out against and standing up against injustices may be an effect of the work of Christ in the life of a believer but it in and of itself is not the only effect. To make it the standard for all believers to do it as you deem fit is to become legalistic.
You don't need to be AHA to be an abolitionist, you don't need to be AHA to stand outside of an abortion center, you don't need to be AHA to stand up against the evil of abortion. I know there are good brothers and sisters who may be an abolitionist who is associated with AHA and might not agree with everything that the most vocal in the group do if so I would encourage you to come out from among them(AHA), do the work from a godly more effective way, with a love for the local church and a love for your brothers and sisters who may not do everything exactly the same way you might do it.
AHA and their bully tactics don't honor Christ, AHA and their anti- local church views and sentiments don't honor Christ.
So repent AHA!!!!
by Ricky Gantz
As anyone awake knows, Target stores have embraced a bathroom policy that allows transgender individuals to use whatever restroom that coincides with their “gender identification.” As a pastor and as a Christian, this is obviously, deeply disturbing - - In fact, so much so that I have decided to stop shopping there. But the title of this article isn’t, “It’s a sin to shop at Target and you can say so.” So let me explain; There are many things I choose not to do out of preference or conviction that I cannot say are sin. I may only say something is sinful, if the Scriptures designate it thusly. If the Scriptures don’t allow me to classify a given behavior or association as sinful, I can say, “I think it’s unwise” or “it could be a bad testimony” or “it could lead to sin”, but none of these reasons for my personal rejection of something allow me to tell someone else they are sinning by engaging in that practice.
According to the clear example of Scripture, shopping at a store that sells goods that do not directly require the purchaser to sin in the transaction of or consumption of, those goods cannot be sinful purely because of the outside affiliations of the seller.
In the book of Nehemiah, the nation of Israel is clearly seen trading with their pagan neighbors, (Nehemiah 13:16) “Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah”. The Israelites are reprimanded in this same context for trading on the Sabbath, not for trading with outsiders. In Genesis 42:1-3, “Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, “Why are you staring at one another?” He said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.” 3 Then ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain from Egypt.” What part of Egyptian culture or religion was consistent with a Judeo/Christian ethic? They were as idolatrous and immoral as pagan cultures get. Later Jacob and his sons (Gen. 46:6) “took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to Egypt.” Was Canaan a Jewish nation that reflected God’s law? Think of a patriarch - - Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Nehemiah, etc., they all traded goods with wicked nations. Yet at no point did God ever rebuke or judge them for this practice. He judged them for becoming like their neighbors, not for trading with them.
In Luke 7 Jesus praises the centurion for his great faith in believing Jesus could heal his servant from a distance (vs. 9), but the centurion is never rebuked for his service to Rome. The Roman Empire sanctioned the murder of all the male children that were two years old and younger (Matt. 2:16) for fear of the coming of the prophesied Messianic King. Rome also required imperial worship (worship of emperors) of most of its subjects (although Jew’s were excluded due to their influence). The Roman government was absolutely wicked and the centurion is never commanded by Jesus to cease his role in their military.
Lydia the “seller of purple” was “a worshipper of God” from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). One of the trade guilds in Thyatira manufactured dyed clothing (trade guilds are similar to the idea of industry specific, trade unions). Every trade guild in Thyatira had a pagan, patron, god or goddess associated with the production of their respective product. But, Lydia was both “a worshipper of God” and a “seller of purple”. Even with the well-known pagan association with her industry, what she sold for income and her worship of God were not in conflict.
So am I encouraging you to shop at Target? Not at all! As I said at the beginning I have stopped shopping at Target because of their restroom policy. Than why write this? Because my concern is not where you buy your groceries, it is how you use God’s Word. However noble you may think your cause is or however noble it may actually be, you cannot say something is sinful unless Scripture does. Who defines sin? Obviously God does in His Word. Than when you say something is sin, you do so with a “thus says the Lord” authority. If God defines the term and then you use it, your use of His term better match His definition. Sin is breaking God’s moral law. God’s moral law reflects His moral character. Therefore when you say something is sinful that He doesn’t, you are saying something untrue about His character. Be very, very, careful! As a pastor there may be certain things that I would prefer my congregation not do (pastor’s often have concerns about music styles, etc.), because it would make shepherding them simpler. But, I don’t get to impose my concerns upon their theology. It is a fearful thing to misrepresent God in order to prove a point. If you shop at Target you’re not sinning. If you choose not to shop at Target you are also not sinning, but if while speaking on God’s behalf you say things that contradict His Word, you are sinning.
by Austin Hetsler
Pastor of Christ the Rock Church
Sojourners has released a witty and sarcastic video entitled "7 Reasons Men Should Not Be Pastors." You should watch this one-minute collaboration of women giving their snarky comments before you read on:
As you can see, the total message of this particular video is “Support Women in the Church.” However, did you catch what was missing from the video? Scripture! But not just from the presentation, but also from the Pastors whom these women were mocking. Let me break it down for you like this.
1 Timothy 2:12, 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9 teaches clearly that the elders, pastors, overseers, bishops, or whatever each congregation may choose to call them, are to be male. In the formal gathering of a local assembly, regular biblical instruction, mentoring, spiritual oversight, shepherding, and the like, are to be accomplished by men. This does not mean that women do not have supporting roles to the Eldership or that women are incapable or forbidden to teach in the church at all. Although the previous sentence would need more clarification, and its practical application is often debated by even the most experienced men of God within complementarian and reformed circles, by and large, the most foundational agreement is that men are the leaders, pastors, and formal shepherds in the life of the local church. If Sojourners Magazine would depart from pragmatic and cultural paradigm shifts, and stick to the sufficiency of Scripture, such a video would not need to be published.
Having said all that, there is something all too familiar about the mockery these women are scripted to say. Here are the 7 reasons listed out:
1. Men can be involved in the church, they just don't need to be ordained. The children's ministry is always in need of male leadership.
2. Some men are handsome. They could be too distracting for us on Sunday.
3. They're too emotional to be priests or pastors. Go to a March Madness game and tell me I'm wrong.
4. Male pastors who have children might be distracted by the responsibility of being a parent.
5. Jesus was betrayed by a man, how can men be trusted to lead?
6. About once a month, male pastors get really cranky.
7. Men are still vitally important to the life of the church, I mean, they could sweep the sidewalks, or repair the church roof. they could even lead the worship on Father's Day.
And then the video ends with: "So yea, we hear stuff like this all the time." And sadly, I have to agree. I don't agree that it is "2016" therefore we must bow the knee to the ever changing god of cultural relativity. Nor do I agree that all these points provide sufficient conversation concerning the roles of women in the church. However, the totality of what is being said makes for a great point concerning preachers and their failure to uphold Sola Scripture and the sufficiency of Scripture.
I have personally heard some of the moronic things that preachers/Christians say concerning women's role in the local church, and sadly, they are not too far off from this video. Points 1, 3, and 7 are some of the satirical remarks that remind me of the subpar attempts to justify their correct complementarian view in an unbiblcal way. To say that women don't "need" to be ordained rather than just stating Scripture forbids it, is an attempt to soften the blow, yet on the contrary, may harden the hearer. What does it mean to "not need"? How does necessity overthrow plain application from prescriptive principles? Furthermore, so what if women can be too emotional. I can be pretty emotional myself. Keeping emotions in check is just a basic discipline within Christendom. Not saying emotional stability is not important, but it's not only applicable to women. Lastly, I also agree that women are vitally important to the life of the church. But we should never offer alternatives as to how they can serve without first laying out from Scripture what God says where their roles are indeed vital!
Pragmatism can go both ways. And I think we are not aware of it at times. Some can be pragmatic against those who disagree with the idea that women are not to be pastors or ordained ministers within the local church, and others can be equally as pragmatic, if not more so, against those who believe that women can and should be pastors.
The only way to stop this pragmatic wheel from spinning is by affirming the sufficiency of Scripture, and lifting up God's word to a level of prescriptive preeminence. In other words, saying, "It may offend you, but that is what God's word teaches" is enough. So even though I may have brought to light some of the terrible reasons that some preachers have used to prohibit women from being ordained, this most certainly doesn't excuse the women in this video and Sojourners Magazine from their responsibility to obey what the Bible teaches and to preach what it says faithfully. Each local church may have to discuss nuances and varying practices as to how they will implement differing roles within the church (no matter what the gender), but hands down, the eldership are men. And unless with begin and end with Scripture, we will find ourselves in a pragmatic/relativistic nightmare. May the light of Scripture awake us from our slumber.
- Until we go home
Often we are told by media or government officials after a terrorist attack carried out by Muslims, is that it does not represent Islam. Because as we are told regularly by these sources is that Islam is a religion of peace.
Why does the media and high ranking government officials want to portray Islam as a religion of peace? Is it just for political correctness? Afraid to offend? Could it be to not paint with such a broad brush in lumping all Muslims together? Maybe manipulation? Or could it just be ignorance of what Islam really teaches?
Regardless of what the reasoning behind it might be as to why there are those who suggest Islam is a religion of peace, they all fall short because there is only one true religion of peace. Christianity is the only religion that offers true peace! By that statement, I am aware that I am saying Islam is not a religion of peace, Hinduism is not a religion of peace, Buddhism is not a religion of peace, in fact in that statement I am making is that no other religion in all of the world and throughout all of history is a religion of peace.There is only one and that is Christianity!
Even if any of these religions call you to live out a peaceful life or at peace with others it still is not a religion of peace. Let me explain why that is, James 4:4 says "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." Being a friend of the world is being an enemy of God, and no one is born a friend of God because of sin we are all born enemies of God, in rebellion against the God of the Universe the Creator of all things, because there is only one true and living God, Jeremiah 10:10a But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.
Colossians 1:21 says "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds," so again we see that we are enemies of God, hostile against Him in our minds alienated from Him because of our sins. Which we know that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). That is how one has true peace with God, that is why there is only one religion of peace because Christianity is the only religion that deals with mans sin and offers reconciliation with God through Jesus.
Romans 5:1 says "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." So you see that the only way anyone can truly say that they are a religion of peace is if they are a religion that offers peace with God, that is the only peace that matters. Sure in this world we would love to see peace, nations getting along with other nations and people at peace with other people, but even if that were the case, even if even one was at peace with one another yet they still denied Jesus and continued in being at enmity with God there would still be no peace.
That is why if you want to be at peace with God, then you must repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Not just any Jesus and not just any idea of how you think that needs to happen but the Jesus of scripture who tells us in His word what it means to be redeemed and how one receives everlasting life. So repent today and put your faith in Jesus so that you to might have true peace, the only peace that comes from God Himself.
by Ricky Gantz
Matthew 7:21-23 21 “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. 22 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?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
My friends, I ask you for a moment of your time to stop and listen to this message. A message that should concern the “casual” Christian. “Matthew 7:13, Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” My friends, these are not my words, these are the words of God. Many, not a few, not a couple, but many are walking on the road to destruction, who confess and believe to be saved and going to heaven. I was once there.
When I was just a young child, I went downstairs and said a prayer with my pastor and he told me I was saved. So I was baptized and spent the next 15-17 years, believing I was saved, but I was not living like a Christian. Hate was huge in my life, disobedience was normal toward my parents, fornication was high, and pornography was second nature. I never really cared to do anything to help someone unless it in some way benefited me. If I could use that in the future as a bribe of sorts. I professed to be a Christian though. You ask me if I believed in God and my immediate response was, yes, of course I do. If I was asked am I going to heaven? But of course, I believe in God so yes.
This leads me to the next passage “Matthew 7:21, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” If you profess to believe in God that he sent His only begotten son to die on the Cross for our sins, that the reason needed for this was because only an unblemished, perfect sacrifice could be sacrificed to fulfill God’s wrath, that Jesus lived this perfect life, God’s son walked on earth with man, born as a baby, never sinning in His mind, never sinning by action or with His heart, but continually living a perfect life serving the Father, with the end goal to fulfill scripture, God’s Word which was a prophecy at the time, if you claim to profess this but never change in your own heart, never change as a person, you just professed, well, someone has to tell you something that I learned the hard way as well. Your profession of faith means absolutely nothing. Let’s refer back to the verse “Matthew 7:21, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” My friends do not be deceived. I’m not going to stand here and say that when you profess to truly believe that overnight your life will change in terms of how you act, think, live. You might, and glory to God for that. It might take you some time longer to continue learning, reading, understand God’s Word to have the change take effect, and even in that sense, Glory to God! But what I am saying, is if you profess to believe but you have no change of body, soul, or mind, you may be deceiving yourself.
Let me make something clear though, once you are truly in God’s family, you truly are saved, does that mean you will never sin? Absolutely not, you will. If you could live a perfect life it would mean you are God which is impossible, blasphemy. You will though, have an advocate in Jesus Christ in Heaven to the Father to forgive you for your sins. That is probably the biggest if not the biggest difference between a true convert compared to a false convert and everyone else who just doesn’t believe. They are not forgiven for their sins, they are going to hell, while the ones who truly are converted, are forgiven for their sins and are going to heaven.
Now does this give one an excuse to sin, no, let’s look at scripture, Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” We cannot think that just because we are forgiven that we “allowed” to sin. We are no longer slaves to sin my friends. We are slaves to righteousness which is God! But we will stumble, that is a fact. But now we have the Holy Spirit in us to fight off temptations, to help us from sinning.
Want to know what the scariest verse of the bible should be for a false convert, a person who truly is not saved? Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [n]miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” This is what I’m trying to say, just because you claim to know God, does not mean you do, for many claim they do, but truly don’t. And you will hear from God on the day of Judgement “Department from Me, you who practice Lawlessness” The question you need to ask yourself is does God know you? Because if He does, then you are saved, if He does not, then you’re in some trouble if you do not fix that. My friends, your soul is not something to play around with, it’s not a game. If you do not turn to Christ and have God know you, then you are going to hell that is a fact. Whether you believe in hell is irrelevant to the fact that hell exist. How do I know this, well the bible says so. Let’s take a look at scripture.
Matthew 25:46 “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Everlasting punishment is referring to hell and my friends please listen to me when I say this, it is everlasting. There will be no end to the torment. Our minds literally cannot comprehend eternity because of how huge that is. In hell, the torment is forever. The suffering is forever, there is no relief in hell.
Please do not be self-deceived. Do not just think saying a prayer but having no change of mind, soul, action means you are saved. It most likely means you are self-deceived. Your life on earth is temporary. Your souls life after we die is forever, it’s for eternity, the question is, will it be in heaven or will it be in hell and my friends I cannot answer that question for you, for only God truly knows your heart. But if what I say before you, is totally new to you, or you have not took your faith serious, you were just a casual believer, please, turn to The Holy Bible. Read the Word of God, turn to God, believe His word, and put your trust in Him before it is too late.
No matter what struggles of temptation you are facing, the sins you are committing, none of it is too big for the Lord to help you through. Any addiction you are facing, God can see you through, just put your trust in him. Please, heed these thing which I tell you and turn to God.
by Brad Valka
Why did God create the tree in the Garden?
I had never considered this question in depth until I recently read “The problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis. Lewis is by all accounts, both Christian and secular, brilliant and I am grateful for his contributions on many subjects pertaining to the Christian faith. However, Lewis’s logic seems tenuously propped upon a faulty foundation - - one of pseudo-reliance upon Scripture. It seems that whenever he is able to logically reconcile biblical doctrine he does so with brilliant eloquence. But when he isn’t he seems to defer to his own intellect. As articulate as the man is, this condition ultimately undermines all of his reasoning. If Scripture is inherent than it all is. If only portions are, than how do we determine which portions? And wouldn’t this uncertainty render reliance on any of the sacred text foolish?
Lewis’s chapter entitled “The fall of man” seems to place lesser importance on the historical accuracy of man’s fall in the garden as it does the moral lesson of obedience we are to garner from it. While I cannot speak with certainty to the reasons C.S. Lewis seams so willing to relegate man’s fall in the garden to one of the “myths in Holy Scripture…….which emphasizes the magic apple” (pg. 66) I can speak to the line of reasoning I encounter in unbeliever’s that is used to invalidate this account. The story as retold by the unbeliever goes something like this --
“Okay so….. there’s this all powerful being right? Who also knows all things and absolutely hates sin. He creates this utopia for man to live in. He also creates a tree and then tells man they can do anything except eat the fruit, although He knows full well what happens next. Uh oh, Adam and eve eat the apple! So now, this all powerful, all knowing, benevolent being, who hates sin just allowed the thing He supposedly hates more than anything to corrupt everything He just created including man (even though He totally could have stopped it from happening). So then later, because of this He has to send His perfect, sinless, Son to be crucified so everybody doesn’t go to hell. Am I missing something or could He just have not created the tree?”
Thus represented, this is indeed a fairy tale. Although honestly, this isn’t far off from the way this account is described by most Christians (although they know better than to ask that last question, at least out loud anyways).
The typical Christian response is “God created the tree because He wanted men to choose to worship Him”. Am I the only one who sees the obvious flaw in this? Which is that man didn’t choose to worship God either in the immediate or future tense. If your view of total depravity is such that as a result of Adam’s sin in the garden mankind forever forfeited his free will and cannot reason his way to faith in God without God directly interfering in every single convert after this point, than you must reject this explanation outright. If men are totally depraved as a result of man’s fall in the garden not only did the first people reject God, but because of them so did and does everyone else. As a result the only way a person can come to faith from this point on is if God through Christ imposes upon them a salvation which they do not want. In this case one seemingly cannot reconcile God’s sovereignty, omniscience, and holiness, with His decision to create the tree.
In the event that you do believe that man can choose his own salvation you don’t fare much better. You still must contend with the fact that as a result of the fall the overwhelming majority of mankind since then has not chosen God. In Gen. 6:6 the Lord says “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land”. God then, through Noah’s ark, spares only 8 individuals annihilating unknown throngs of people for their wickedness! In Matt. 7 Jesus declares that the majority of humanity will be judged in hell via the broad path (vs.13). Later in Matt. 24 Jesus cites Noah and the Genesis flood as an example stating “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah” (vs.37). Therefore if God’s intention was for men to worship Him without contrition, God failed on an epic scale. This scenario seems to leave the love of God intact but renders Him impotent to confer that love upon the majority of humanity.
So all this being said; what are we to do with the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s sin? Perhaps these issues contribute to great thinkers like C.S. Lewis classifying this as simply a metaphor designed to teach us about obedience. But if Christians deny the historicity of the Genesis account how do we defend the veracity of any of Scripture? Why is Genesis fair game to dismiss but the deity of Christ isn’t?
In general, whenever a discrepancy arises between the plain teaching of Scripture and our understanding of it, the first place we assign error to is the source. Perhaps the source (being an immortal, omniscient God) is intact and instead the conduits (being finite, sinful men) are to blame for the apparent error!
So then without sacrificing the foundation of all Christian reasoning (The Bible) lets attempt to answer the question in a manner consistent with Scripture, that recognizes God as the sole arbiter of truth and not as though man rightfully has partial claim to define God’s truth. In order to answer “Why did God create the tree in the garden” we must first understand why God created man in the garden. The first question in the west minster confession of faith is “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The answer is “….To Glorify God”. When God created all things, man alone was “created in His image” (Gen. 1:27). God made all things to be in subjection to man’s authority stating “fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). All things created were good but man was highly favored above them all.
Simply put – God created the tree because while man was highly favored over all creation God was and ever would be Lord over man.
Without the tree there would have been no prohibition from which man had to abstain and thus no sin. But without the tree man could not redeem his value in creation (either forced or free). The tree then was not some petty “You can look but you can’t touch” rule. The tree was a Divine declaration that man was not created for autonomy from God but for worship of Him. God’s worthiness to be worshipped was established before time was through Him and it was not diminished be the decision of Adam. Although God’s worthiness has not suffered loss; concerning man “All have turned aside together they have become useless” (Rom. 3:12). Useless for what? Useless for the purpose they were created and thus useless for any purpose. When the thing that is made does not fulfill the purpose of the one who made it that thing becomes useless. Handing a master violinist a violin which costs tens of thousands of dollars is an appropriate allocation of resources. I am by trade a carpenter. The best I can do with even the finest violin is to take it by the neck and use the body to pound nails into wood. Figuratively speaking, apart from Christ, humanity has taken the faculties provided to them to be wielded at the disposal of the divine conductor and are using them to pound nails into wood.
God then, has either created the majority of humanity for destruction or knowing they would be destroyed. Doesn’t this contradict a merciful or compassionate God? Define mercy, compassion, or anything else without the triune God of the Bible. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). When mankind gave up God in the garden he gave up knowledge with Him and now “Every man is stupid and without knowledge” (Jer. 10:14a). No one calls for expert testimony from a person who is deaf, blind and stupid. Yet such is the status of humanity and they not only testify against God they have become His judges and ultimately established themselves as gods.
All roads end with this statement - -“Our God is in the heavens He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “ What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:22-23). Here’s the hard to accept truth which results from the garden - - God is as glorified by His wrath in hell as He is by His mercy in heaven.
On the one hand I do not consider myself close the intellectual ascendency of C.S. Lewis. On the other hand even the smallest child is wiser that he if they can only grasp that “because the bible says so” is not the retreat of people who are too stupid to believe anything else, but the foundation of any and all wisdom. The story line that follows from the garden is totally consistent with its beginnings; God’s will either prevails through men or upon men, but His will always prevails. With respect to C.S. Lewis and the like, “There is a way which seems right to a man but the end thereof is death” (Prov. 14:12). Therefore the wisdom that began with man will end with man but the wisdom that began with God has no end.
Written by Austin Hetsler
Very shortly after coming to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, I had a strong desire to be a part of a local body of believers and wanted to serve in any area I could in the Church. As soon as a need arose I volunteered to fill that need. It started with needing someone to fill in to drive the Church van on Sunday mornings, the driver was having surgery and would be unable to drive for awhile, when I heard there was a need I quickly volunteered to serve, then as an usher, working with the youth, teaching and the Church treasurer. My heart longed to serve in any area where there was a need because I loved my brothers and sisters in Christ and had a strong desire to serve the Lord and the Saints in anyway possible.
One thing I could never understand though as a new Christian many years ago was that so many would pass through and have no desire to join the Church with a heart to serve where needed. Year after year I would watch as people would come and go with no sense of commitment to be a part of a local body of believers.
Every Christian is a member of the universal Church (Romans 12:5) once one believes in Jesus Christ they are part of the Body. What about being a member of a local body though? Is that not also important? Well absolutely it is important! Hebrews 10:25 says to not forsake assembling together, a verse used by many to show the importance of gathering together with like minded believers. Now some might argue and indeed some do argue that no where in scripture does it say you have to take membership at a Church. Well if your looking for a verse or verses that specifically say you must join the membership of a Church, then your probably not going to find that directly. However we have to keep in mind the context of the first century Church, there was no need for a membership roll because anyone who came to Christ would now face some form of persecution not to mention they would have been in close fellowship with those leading these first Churches being started and they would have known those who identified as part of that local body of believers. Also the importance of accountability comes into the picture here, if Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers were given as gifts to the body, how could they lead and teach those who were not submitted and committed to that local Church body.
Today it is very common to find many who profess to be believers yet they have not committed to being a part of a local body of Christ or submitted to the authority of that local body. By not being a member they can come and go as they please without any type of accountability and when someone needs Church discipline they can easy just leave without receiving any.
I do believe that we have a real problem when someone professes to be a believer in Jesus Christ yet has no desire to join a local Church membership.
Another importance in membership is showing others you identify with the beliefs of that local Church and that you stand committed to them. Again failing to be a member of a local Church says much about a person spiritually and is truly concerning.
Are you one who just passes through or are you committed to a local body of believers in Church membership.
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