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.
I want to start off by defining the term gospel to give you an understanding of what is meant when the word gospel is used.
Gospel means good news but more specifically it is the teaching or revelation of Jesus Christ. Sometimes when we ask people if they have ever heard of the gospel they will answer by saying Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Which is the record of Jesus' life and teaching in the first four books of the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul gives us a summary of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4(1) Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, (2) and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. (3) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
So while the gospel means the good news of the teachings of Jesus Christ an overview of that is what Paul is saying that he received and then preached to those in Corinth that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and he was buried and rose the third day according to the scriptures.
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the good news which we call the gospel that Paul and the other Apostles went around proclaiming to the lost. And it is the very command that Christ has giving to the Church as well, to carry out in the great commission to go and proclaim this gospel or good news.
That is the overall summary of the gospel, but there is more to it, you see as I said in the definition it is the teachings and recording of the life of Jesus Christ. That is why it is important that we understand and rightly divide the Word of God.
Because we may say we believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but then have a faulty or unbiblical view of who Jesus Christ is or an unbiblical view of what the gospel message is which then leaves us with no gospel at all.
The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 1:6-9
(6) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Paul says he is astonished that they are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another gospel, there is only one true gospel but there are some who distort the gospel of Christ and preach a false gospel and Paul says warns them twice if anyone even if an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one I preached to you let them be accursed.
Such a strong warning against those who would come and distort the true gospel of Jesus Christ, yet so often in what is called the evangelical church in America today is doing just that by distorting the gospel of Christ and preaching either a false view of who Jesus Christ is or a false gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here are some examples of these false views and false gospels. First I want to start with the false view of who Jesus Christ is that is being taught by religious groups that claim to be Christian.
1) Jesus is created being, this is taught by false religions such as the Mormons, Jehovah Witness Organization
2) Jesus is just a man or a prophet, this is taught by some of the world religions that are out there like Islam
3) Jesus in not deity (God), this is taught by many of the religions I already mentioned like Mormons, Jehovah Witness, Islam, as well as Judaism, Hebrew Isrealites, and any other group that may teach this false view of Christ.
4) Jesus is not the second person of the Trinity, this is taught by those who hold to modalistic/oneness teachings, such as oneness Pentecostals and famous tv preachers such as TD Jakes. This teaching denies the Trinity and therefore has a false view of who Jesus Christ is, making this another false teaching that is out there.
Now some of the false gospels that are out there.
1) The most popular false gospel today is the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, which is taught by many false teachers today on tv many of which are very popular in our society, teachers like Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, John Hagee, Joel Osteen, Paula White and about 95% of the so called preachers on tv today. This false gospel says come to Jesus and you will receive prosperity, that your season of blessing is coming that all you have to do is believe and receive, if you just sow a seed of X amount of dollars you will receive a harvest in your finances.
2) Another false gospel today is that salvation is through Jesus plus anything else you want to add to that. Some say Jesus plus your good works, others say Jesus plus keeping the laws or the sacraments.
These are not the correct views of Jesus Christ and not the correct views of the Gospel. And as the Apostle Paul said anyone who comes preaching a different gospel let them be accursed.
God is triune, One God in three Persons, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity and if you preach any other Jesus then this one you are preaching a different Jesus, not the Jesus of scripture and not a Jesus who can save. Because you have a false view of Jesus. He is not just a man or a prophet, not a created being or an angel, Jesus is fully God and fully Man. As I said get that wrong and you have a false view of Christ, which means you are receiving a different Jesus that cannot save.
(Scriptural support that Jesus is God)
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
John 20:28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Titus 2:13 Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
John 8:28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,
Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
Romans 9:5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.
John 10:30-33 I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
Isaiah 43:11 I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Hebrews 1:1-3 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,
2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
John 5:22-23 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
Matthew 28:9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.
Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
Hebrews 1:3 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,
Philippians 2:10 So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
John 9:38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Jude 1:25 To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
John 14:9-11 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
John 5:17-18 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Matthew 14:33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Hosea 13:4 But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.
Isaiah 42:8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
Colossians 1:16-17 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Acts 3:14-15 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
Mark 2:7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
It's abundantly evident in scriptures that Jesus Christ is God the second person of the Trinity. We must get this right, we must understand who Jesus is because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, there is no other name by which man must be saved. So to not get the deity of Jesus Christ right is to not have eternal life.
And the gospel message is not to come to Christ for health, wealth and prosperity, not to come to Christ for what you can get out of it. Its not so you can be healthy or wealthy. The gospel message is also not believe in Jesus plus do this, that and any other thing you want to add to salvation.
The gospel message is this, you are a sinner, born in sin, born a hater of God. But God loved us that he sent His Son to die on the cross, demonstrating His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God commands all men and women to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Repentance is a change of mind or a turning from your sins and a turning to Jesus Christ. Which is a supernatural act that comes only by the grace of God. So if you have not placed you faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone to save you from your sins, to save you from the wrath to come then I plead with you to do so today.
By Ricky Gantz
Growing up in Church something I really never heard talked about until I truly became a Born again Christian who began to study and seek after knowing the Lord more and more through His Word, was that I never really heard about the cost of discipleship.
The Word of God tells us in Luke 14:25-33 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
This passage of scripture is teaching us and informing us about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. We know that salvation is a free gift and at the moment of conversion that person is then justified by the redeeming work of Christ. Not by anything they have done but in Christ alone!! However the walk of a disciple, one who is called to follow Jesus will cost you. It may perhaps cost you much or it may perhaps cost you little but it will cost you.
One of the biggest problems of being a Christian in America is that we don't really understand what this means to count the cost. A great majority of Americans have a life of ease and comfort, a culture in which we have become so accustomed to having the freedom that has been given to us by the Lord to worship freely, having free religious speech and practices. We haven't had to really experience any type of religious discrimination or persecution as Christians in this nation that we have become apathetic to what is going on around us, so apathetic that we are beginning to see more and more attacks on Christians right here in our very own country. Now let me clarify that many of these attacks are coming by laws that are being changed in this land to make it harder on Christians to stand by their convictions without it perhaps costing them something. We have not come to the point of being put to death just for being a Christian in America, at least it hasn't come to that point just yet, however it does appear we are heading down that path and one day will be able to look back and see how it all begin to unfold in America against believers in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes I feel that pastors and church members are blinded and not noticing what is going on around us to even see we are heading in a direction in which Christians will be forced to either compromise their beliefs or face fines, jail time and possibly even death. I guess what makes it so hard for me is the fact that because we go out on the streets to proclaim the gospel we have seen the hostility and anger towards Jesus Christ, something most pastors and church members don't see because they are not actively engaged in taking the gospel to the lost to even notice it. You would also hope it would be noticed when we turn on the news and see bakers losing their businesses or being fined for not baking cakes for homosexual marriages because it violates their convictions. We also see a wedding chapel in Idaho being told they have to marry homosexuals at their business and if they don't comply with these rulings they will also be fined and face jail time.
This is all just the beginning of the end of religious freedom in this country if we continue to go down this path. Someday in the near or distant future it may be illegal to speak out against certain types of sin without being labeled as hate speech. Churches possibly being forced to comply with new laws forcing them to compromise against their convictions.
We are already seeing many so called churches compromise and looking more like the culture around us and less and less like Jesus Christ. In those cases we can honestly say they compromise and become accepting of sins because they aren't true biblical Christian churches to begin with. There will always be a remnant the Lord has raised up and will stay faithful to His Word. But we must be aware of what is beginning to happen in our country and be willing to truly count the cost of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Have you stepped back and thought if I own a business am I willing to lose it for Christ if that is what it came down to? What if as a pastor I refuse to marry a same sex couple and faced fines or jail time, would I be willing to do so for the cause of Christ? What about speaking out on the issue of homosexual marriage and the fact you might be arrested for hate speech or discrimination. Have you counted the cost of that? What about when members of a Church begin to be arrested for sharing the gospel, will the church get behind them and support them posting the bail? We can say all of these are hypotheticals and I would agree they are, but it sure does seem to be the way we are headed.
So what can we as Christians do? Well first we need to pray! Consistently going to the Lord with our prayers asking Him for the grace to persevere, to be faithful and that if it be His will to change the direction in which we are heading and bring revival to our nation. Second, we can be actively involved in voting for the right candidates and not just at the national levels but at the local levels. Also we need to be more vocal as believers, lets not shy away from the hard discussions and "controversial" topics lets engage the culture and speak truth into it. Lets take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the culture and engage the lost with the good news and not keep it to ourselves only on a Sunday morning during a church service.
Lets be honest here if we aren't willing to go out into the world and engage those around us, from our families to our friends and then to the people out there we don't even know, either because of fear or whatever the reasons or excuses we come up with. Well if we aren't willing to do it now what makes you think you are so sure you will speak up and stand for the truth of the Word of God when the consequences for doing so are much greater.
We need to count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ and if we are not willing to say Lord whatever it cost me, regardless of what it may be, I will follow you! Then we really need to ask ourselves if im not willing now what makes me think I will be willing then, examine ourselves and pray God grants us the grace to be faithful if and or when that time comes.
by Ricky Gantz
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Ever since Genesis chapter three Satan has been on the attack of God's Word. Using the same tactics used in the garden, trying to get people to doubt God's Word by saying, did God really say that? We see the same compromise on the Word of God today in American Evangelicalism. In fact just the other day we went out to a festival in order to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ with those in attendance. As people walked by we were handing out gospel tracts to those who would take them. Some lead to conversations while some say no thank you and continue to move on. Sometimes you have those who will take them and then once they read it or realize it is about Jesus Christ they may come back to return the tract. That is what happened as a man came back, handed me the tract and said "I don't need it I am a pastor in town here", I responded with well just pass it along to someone else then fulfilling the great commission. But this pastor replied to me "I don't agree with your theology". That really stumped me, I mean it is not like I never had conversations with "pastors" who were preaching a false gospel. So I stood there for a second and after really processing what just happened there, I thought maybe I should read the back of this tract to make sure I didn't hand out a tract that was about a certain theological stance. The tracts we use are solid tracts with a true biblical message on the back and it talked about sin and the consequences of sin, along with God's judgment of sin in hell and forgiveness in Christ Jesus calling the reader to repent and believe. So later I looked up the church website where this man said he pastored to see their beliefs and it was very liberal and accepting of all beliefs. It is truly sad to see more and more churches compromising the Word of God for the acceptance of man.
What so many who profess to be Christians today do is pick and choose what they want to believe and accept from the bible and cut out or disregard the things they don't like. Thomas Jefferson did this very thing, going through the bible cutting out the parts he didn't believe were true and only keeping the parts he decided were acceptable. Is that not the very thing we see today with so many. People who shouldn't be but are standing in the pulpits throughout America compromising the very Word of God. Calling evil good and acceptable and calling good evil. Making themselves the final authority over God's Word by making the decision themselves to decide what is good and evil. God gives a warning to those who do this.
Isaiah 5:20-21 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
The Word of God says "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:14), yet the murder of unborn children in the womb is passed off as a woman's right to choose, even by many who profess to be Christians. The Word of God says marriage is the union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:23-24) while society has been trying to redefine marriage in its acceptance of homosexuality, which also the bible calls sin (Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9).
Jesus says in John 14:6 "I am the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the father except through me" but the lie from the father of lies says that all roads lead to Rome. That all religions will get you to the same place. There is only one name under heaven by which man must be saved and it is Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
I will leave you with the warnings giving to us by God in the book of Revelation to the Church that compromises.
To the Church in Pergamum
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. 13 “‘I know where you dwell, Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
To the Church in Thyatira
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Soli Deo Gloria
Years ago one of the most famous rap artists, 2Pac Shakur made the statement "Only God Can Judge Me" and many have followed in his footsteps. It has become so increasingly common for people to throw this statement around when someone disagrees with how they are living. Sometimes I think it has become more of a cliché for people to say rather than really think about what they are saying.
This statement however is true, Only GOD Can Judge Me and that reality should strike fear in our hearts, because if we start being honest with ourselves, we know we have sinned against a Holy God. We know it is wrong to lie, steal, cheat, blaspheme the name of the Lord, just to name a few of God's commandments. Yet somehow so many think they will be ok with God because even though they know these sins mentioned are wrong, many still think of themselves as not really that bad. Because many people measure wrong doings based more upon their own standards rather then the standards given to us by God Himself.
You see everyone has a standard by which they live, for many people their standards are based on themselves, for the Christian, the standard for which we stand upon is the Word of God. So when a Christian makes the statement that marriage is only between a man and woman or says that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life those truths are based on the Word of God and not subjective to our opinions or feelings based upon are experiences but on the absolute truth and unchanging Word of God. For someone who doesn't follow Christ their authority is based on their own experiences and feelings which we all know, those do change. So today you may think one way to be true and tomorrow change your mind. That's not the best way to base the truth on because then you live in a world of constantly changing truth, which truth is not subjective to how we feel about it today. Truth is based on God because God is truth!
Maybe you have heard this before what is true for you is true for you and what is true for me is true for me, think about that for a minute............ hopefully you see the foolishness in that statement. If not let me try to help you out, if the speed limit is posted as 25 MPH through the housing area and you do 125 MPH and a police officer pulled you over. When he comes up to the car and tells you that you are breaking the law going 100 MPH over the posted limit and that because of that he is going to arrest you, try telling him that his truth is his but for you the truth is 125 MPH is your posted speed limit. You wouldn't do that would you? Why not? If truth is subjective to the individual then why not? The reason you wouldn't do that is because even though many people may try to claim subjective truth they honestly don't really live that way, except when it comes to God. Which is inconsistent and hypocritical!
Judge not is another statement thrown around at Christians for standing on the truths according to God's Word. Often quoting scripture from Matthew chapter 7 verse 1. Yet they rarely are able to tell you what the context is. And if the next couple verses are sited as well they too are commonly taken out of context or misunderstood.
Usually this picture is how many see it, that we should not judge because we have a log sticking out of our own eye, so how can you tell someone about their sin when you have your own. Well that is the purpose of Matthew 7:1-6 Jesus is speaking about hypocritical, self-righteous judgment. That's what we should never do, in fact what he is telling us to do first is to remove the log from our own eye then we are clear to see and help another out.
So the argument that so many use to tell Christians they are wrong and not suppose to judge is not really what is being said. Christians are only being messengers of the Word of God. God has said in His Word and Christians are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who are not in Christ. For them to understand and appreciate the good news they must first understand the bad news that our sins separate us from God. Once we understand our sins against a Holy and Righteous God and the fact that we are cut off from fellowship with God. And that before the foundations of the earth God provided a way that we may be reconciled back to Him, through His Son Jesus Christ. Who humbled himself and took on flesh, the perfect lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Willfully went to the cross laying down his life. He who knew no sin yet became sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God through Jesus. And the wrath of God was satisfied by the obedience of Christ on the cross, shedding his innocent blood in order that all who believe will have everlasting life.
So remember next time you hear someone say only God can judge me, that is absolutely true and it should cause us to really think about it and examine ourselves. Because there will be no greater devastation then when someone stands before God on the day of judgment condemned in their sins.
If you haven't put your faith in Christ know this, God commands all men to repent. So repent and believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. You can be made clean washed in the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed from all unrighteousness and its only through Christ.
Grace and Peace
For over five years I as a Christian I have seen so many people who say one thing but live differently. The truth of the matters is that we are all sinful people and at times we can all be hypocrites. Because of our sinfulness towards a Holy and Righteous God is from the very beginning of our lives because sin came into the world through one man, therefore we are all born with a sin nature. However when you become a born again Christian you receive a new nature. The old has passed away and all things become new.
Yet even with the new nature being free from sin, not meaning we will never sin again but we are free to say no and turn from wickedness and cling to Jesus Christ. I know in my own life there are many times I fail the Lord, and I am so thankful that he gives us a promise that He is faithful to forgive us if we confess our sins, He will cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Now that doesn't mean we have a free pass to sin and sin. No the Bible is clear on the fact that if we continue in a sinful lifestyle then the truth is we were never truly saved to begin with.
So I want to be clear with what I am saying here, not that as Christian we always do what we hear because we don't. The truth is many Christians fail to do the things they know they should (which is called the sin of omission) and become more like hearers of the word only and not doers of the word.
As I said I know I am not perfect and will never claim to be.
Sometimes I hear Pastors, Elders or Deacons preach or talk about the need to share the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ with others. Some even come up with Ministries to help people share the gospel or write books on....HOW TO share the gospel. Although sometimes I feel like we are only being hearers of the Word and not DOERS.
When I was in the Army the leaders I had that I respected the most were always the ones who lead from the front. Leading by example, and I don't mean just because they did things that the privates did. I mean being a leader stepping up and leading his squad or platoon. I believe Pastors should be more like the good leaders in the military. Not afraid to lead by example.
To make this clear, I know there are many amazing men of God who Pastor and lead their flocks, this is mainly directed towards those who tend to be more hearers of the Word (or Preaching the Word) and not really doers.
This may sting a bit but sometimes we need to step outside the comfort of the four walls of the Church building to actually engage with the culture and see what is really going on.
Being a part of a ministry that goes out and open air preaches and engages with the culture on the streets, meeting them where they are, I have seen some amazing things happen in the lives of others Christians.
I have had four or five accounts of seeing Christians who I believe are truly believers but rarely shared the Gospel openly to people on the streets or witnessed open air preaching for the first time. Who have come out to join us because they have been growing in the walk with the Lord and realized they needed to be out sharing the Gospel with others. And after witnessing open air preaching for the first time, being there and watching the reactions of people as they walk by rejecting the gospel and angry towards God. This has really opened their eyes about how important it is to share the gospel because they witnessed first hand the reactions of people, even though we know unbelievers are born haters of God until you see just how much they are in person sometimes you just don't realize how much people do need the Lord Jesus.
So Pastors/Elders, and Deacons, just because you hold those positions in a Church doesn't excuse you from engaging the culture and being a witness for Christ outside the comfort of your Church building. Lead by example when your Church members see how important something is to you it will become important to them as well. I know there is much a Pastor must do each week, so not to take away from that, I understand time is valuable to them, but be sure to take some time out to lead your congregation in outreach. It will make a difference.
And Christian this doesn't exclude you either lets not only be hearers of the Word but lets be Doers as well. It is important to always be learning but what good is the learning if it is never applied.
I pray this will be an encouragement to many and bring conviction to those who need it. I am speaking to myself first, because it can become so easy to be a spectator and not actually engaged in leading people to Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace, Shalom!
by Ricky Gantz
Have you ever been to a Bible Study or Sunday School class where the teacher asks the question; What does this verse or passage of the Bible mean to you?
Maybe you get into a conversation with someone about the Bible and you explain a verse or passage to them and they say, "well that's what it means to you but to me it means this."
To often people want the Bible to say what they want it to say to fit their ideas rather then believing what it actually says.
Biblical hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible. Now I have never took a class on Biblical hermeneutics but I have listened to many teachings on it and the main thing to know is context is king (context, context, context). This is important in understanding what is being said in scripture.
Today I had a conversation with someone about the Mormon religion and I warned them not to get involved with the Mormon teaching because it was false and not Christian. So we began to talk about how do I know what is the right religion. My answer is by the Bible. Scripture is the final authority in a Christians life, if its not it should be! During the conversation I was told well maybe when you read the Bible that is what it means to you but maybe to me it means something different. We need to understand that when we read the Word of God we don't interpret the scriptures based on what we want it to say. The Bible says what it says and we interpret it by understanding what is the context of what is being said, so that we do not take it out of context. This we see happens a lot in verses like Matthew 7:1 which says Judge Not, so many people when you preach against sin will scream out judge not that's what the Bible teaches, when that verse is not talking about never making Judgments but about hypocritical judgment. But unless you understand the context of what is being said and who it is being said to there is the chance of misinterpreting the verse.
This is why it is important to read scriptures carefully and to sit under sound Biblical teaching and preaching.
Here is some links to sound Biblical teachings.
These are just a few, but a good place to start with some good solid Biblical teachings.
by Ricky Gantz
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