Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Red Sea Crossing

Is there evidence that can show us today that this incredible event actually ever took place?

Oh I don't know... maybe ;)

Check out more information at archeology

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart Didn’t Start With God

Much is made of the fact that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in Calvinistic and Lordship Salvation circles. It’s said that this shows that God hardens the hearts of those who are not Elect. It’s used as a proof-text to show that God decides who goes to Heaven, and who goes to Hell. We read in Exodus 9:12
But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
But the first hardening of Pharaoh’s heart came from Pharaoh himself. The Lord had His plans and they were going to be accomplished, but God did not harden a soft heart. He did not take someone who would have been receptive to the Truth and change him to so that he would not believe. Exodus 8:15
But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said
Those who say such things are doing something that is at least akin to blaspheme because it is the Devil who takes the word of truth out of the hearts of people so that they won’t believe. Luke 8:32
Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
Brethren speak the Gospel with confidence. The one you are witnessing too IS able to hear and believe. Do not run from the Devil for the word of God says submit yourselves to God, resist the Devil and he will flee. So do as God has said and preach Salvation to the Lost, resist the Devil by having an answer for the hope that is within you and that same Devil will flee. You will have freedom to witness, and those who believe will be saved. James 4:7 Mark 16:15-16 1 Peter 3:15

We read this truth expressed to a the Prophet Ezekiel who was to be a sign to Israel in Ezekiel 12:1-6

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
"Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.

Therefore, son of man, prepare your belongings for captivity, and go into captivity by day in their sight. You shall go from your place into captivity to another place in their sight. It may be that they will consider, though they are a rebellious house.
By day you shall bring out your belongings in their sight, as though going into captivity; and at evening you shall go in their sight, like those who go into captivity. Dig through the wall in their sight, and carry your belongings out through it.

In their sight you shall bear them on your shoulders and carry them out at twilight; you shall cover your face, so that you cannot see the ground, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel."
And we read it expressed to the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 5:20-23
"Declare this in the house of Jacob And proclaim it in Judah, saying, 'Hear this now, O foolish people, Without understanding, Who have eyes and see not, And who have ears and hear not:

Do you not fear Me?' says the LORD. 'Will you not tremble at My presence, Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, Yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.
But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; They have revolted and departed.
Go at once in unshakeable confidence in the Word of God Dear Christian!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Gospel Delusion - Part 5

The Gospel Delusion

A review of John MacArthur's The Gospel According To Jesus 20th Anniversary Edition

Part 5: Well, if you have to ask...

Please begin reading this series at Part 1: The Obligatory Introduction

Dr. MacArthur opens the Introduction to The Gospel According To Jesus with the question: “What is the gospel?” (1) and says that this question has driven his ministry for years. I surely do not mean to for The Gospel Delusion series to be used to question the Doctor’s Eternal Salvation but I’m forced to question the integrity of one who is ministering without having what the Gospel is absolutely clear. The Apostle Paul declares that the Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation, and that it is by reception of the Gospel that we are Eternally Saved. Romans 1:16 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Ephesians 1:13 If one has not received the Gospel then they are not Eternally Saved. I feel compelled to echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:14-17
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?


But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?"

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Not to be crass but Dr. MacArthur explains in the opening paragraph of that same page how his question about what the Gospel is has “driven [him] all the years of [his] ministry.” (1) He closes that paragraph with two sentences “A particular theologian’s view of this or that doctrine is only of incidental interest to me. All that really matters is what God’s Word says.” (2). I will be noting the Doctor’s practice of being very interested in what men think and using that to interpret the Word of God in later installments of this series but this instance is most glaring. The man has written several revisions of an incredibly popular book supposing to explain what the Gospel truly is, and the introduction of the book indicates that he hasn’t known what it is for all the years of his ministry. He actually does seem to be more interested in what he (a particular theologian) thinks than what the Word of God says. For the Word of God declares what the Gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Not only can a person not be saved without having received this message, it is absolutely absurd to suppose the Word of God is not clear what the Gospel of Christ is. It is declared by the Apostle Paul who’s decreed-by-God mission was to spread this Gospel to the World. Galatians 1:1 & Galatians 1:11-12

I marvel that one could spend “all the years of [his] ministry” (1) searching for what the Gospel is because ministry could not rightly begin until one was first Eternally Saved through reception of that very same Gospel. A previous Pastor of mine once asked of a prospective Youth Pastor “You know you need to be Saved to fill this position right?”

The Doctor also writes “On a disturbing number of fronts, the message being proclaimed today is not the gospel according to Jesus.” (2) While I agree with him that this is true, we do not share agreement with what the error is. The Apostle Paul tells us in the first chapter of Galatians that he received the Gospel he preached directly from Christ. He tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that this same Gospel is what every Apostle preached and what every Christian believed.

He goes further by stating “…the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners. It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.” (1) The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ makes no demands on anyone as we can clearly read in the Apostle’s words. Truth makes no demand, it is simply something that can be relied on. It is either received or it is not. It is the Good News that the Law of Sin & Death (the soul that sins shall die Ezekiel 18) has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus through His death burial and resurrection. There is no call to submission in the Gospel. It is a statement of fact that one can put their trust in or not. One cannot believe in vain because the message is absolutely true, as explained by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.

Dr. MacArthur’s dilemma created by his delusional view of the Gospel is clearly stated when he writes “The promise of eternal life without surrender to divine authority feeds the wretchedness of the unregenerate heart. Enthusiastic converts to this new gospel believe their behavior has no relationship to their spiritual status – even if they continue wantonly in the grossest kinds of sin and expressions of human depravity.” (1)

We see in his statements the depths of his misunderstanding of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is not God’s power to change lives, it is the power of God unto Salvation. Romans 1:16 It is not the method by which God makes ungodly people godly, it is the method by which God justifies any ungodly person who will put their faith in Him. Romans 4:5

What the Lordship Salvation proponent does is load discipleship into the requirements for Salvation. One must be willing to change their life completely, if not actually accomplish such a lofty task in order to be saved. But nowhere in Scripture do we read that it is the Gospel that either demands, or causes people’s lives to be transformed. In fact we are told over and over again that it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that works the transformation of our minds and lives. This is stated ever so clearly in Galatians 5:16-18
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
It’s clear to me that Justification happens by faith, and that Sanctification happens by the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Born Again (regenerated) Christian. In fact, the example of the father of our faith Abraham is given many times over and over again in Scripture. It says “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” It does not say that Abraham obeyed God, but that he believed Him. It was his belief/faith/trust that brought about salvation for him, just like it is with us. That Abraham obeyed God was just him working out that faith when he obeyed. James says this was his faith being perfected, not established.

The Doctor continues “It follows logically, then, that someone’s one-time profession of faith is more valid than the evidence of that person’s ongoing lifestyle in determining whether to embrace him or her as a true believer. The character of the visible church reveals the detestable consequence of this theology.” (3) I argue that the Bible doesn’t speak of embracing fellowship with someone based on their profession of faith, or even on the fact of their salvation. We are taught by the Apostles to only have fellowship with orderly Christians. Loading the Gospel up with commitment doesn’t change how people will behave. Declaring that a disorderly person is not truly saved doesn’t help them become orderly.

I argue that loading the Gospel up with Discipleship actually results in a lack of Discipleship in fellowship. Since people are thought to either be saved if they seem holy or not saved if they don’t seem holy – everyone tries to look holy. The Lord Our God said that people like this were merely “whitewashed tombs.” Matthew 23:25-28

Dr. MacArthur talks about the “worst kinds” (4) of sin and names the most emotionally charged titles for sin most of us can think of over and over in his work and asks how people who do these things could be considered Christians. I don’t want the reader of this series to be confused, no Christian should ever commit any sin but it is not the severity of sin that should concern us, but its existence at all. There are no worse sinners, and there is only one payment for sin.

Thankfully if we sin we have an Advocate with the Father in Heaven, Christ Jesus the Righteous. 1 John 2:1 This is both true of the Saint who drives faster than the speed limit and the Saint who murders someone. If we find one of the Brethren caught in sin, they are out of fellowship and so must be restored. That is the purpose of Church discipline. As one is disciplined, or discipled they will be more and more recognizable as being conformed to the image of Christ.

The Gospel saves people, and then the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ.


All references (unless otherwise stated) are from The Gospel According To Jesus: What is authentic faith? Revised & Expanded Anniversary Edition By John MacArthur Copyright 2008

1. Pg 20
2. Pg 19

3. Pg 20-21

4. Pg 37

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Christian, what do you consider yourself to be?

I've got a question to ask Christians. It's intentionally closed. It's a one answer or another thing. Each carries baggage, and there will be "more to the story" than what your basic answer will convey.

Being aware of all that, Christian do you consider yourself to be either;

a. A sinner saved by Grace

b. A saint being conformed to the image of Christ

You can comment here or you can consider it on your own, but I hope some will comment. If you do comment please answer first. It's OK to explain your answer but commit to one or the other. Note to those who don't like either or questions - this is not a trap.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Lord's Provision

So this week has been about learning to operate in tangible ways in the trust that God will provide, and do that daily. We decided to purchase a vehicle, though we're still not sure how my employment is going to work out. We've really been in prayer about the coming year and it seems as though the Lord would have us just depend on Him. To be completely honest we don't really have much choice. We can trust Him, believing that He is exactly Who He says He is.. or we can worry ourselves silly. Frankly, He's never let me down. I have absolutely no experience of Him ever letting me or anyone else down. So I guess I should stop looking for reasons not to trust Him. My provision isn't based on my talent, ability or even my work. It's true He requires that I be willing to work but He tells us in His word that He provides even while His own sleep, because He gives them rest. Psalm 127 has been an interesting part of this week. Give it a read, it's short and beautiful.

Psalm 127

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Except Ye Repent!

Recently at a Crossless Gospel blog I saw a post that featured writing from HA Ironside with the title "Christ is not just necessary -- He is enough!" Of course I could find nothing to disagree with in that title, it is the rest of the message of the blog that I disagree with. They claim that some "add" repentance, and the facts of the Gospel to the Salvation Message. Of course when I saw this article I couldn't help but smile. A version of HA Ironside's "Except Ye Repent!" updated with modern English transformed my walk with Christ.

They may quote Ironside, but they can't change what the man really preached. Read the full book at Wholesome Words. Here's a sample of the introduction;

Fully convinced in my own mind that the doctrine of repentance is the missing note in many otherwise orthodox and fundamentally sound circles today, I have penned this volume out of a full heart. I hope and pray that God will be pleased to use it to awaken many of His servants to the importance of seeking so to present His truth as to bring men to the only place where He can meet them in blessing. That place is the recognition of their own demerit and absolute unworthiness of His least mercies and a new conception of His saving power for all who come to Christ as lost sinners, resting alone upon His redemptive work for salvation, and depending upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to make them victorious over sin's power in daily life.

The pages have been written during a busy summer, as I have gone from place to place trying to preach and teach the very truths herein emphasized. Most of the book was scribbled out in Pullman cars while speeding from one appointment to another. If there seems at times to be lack of continuity of thought, I hope the manifest defects of the treatise may not hinder the reader from getting the message I have endeavored to set forth as clearly as possible, under difficult circumstances.

I have not written for literary critics or for theological quibblers, but for earnest people who desire to know the will of God and to do it. And so I send forth this book, in dependence on Him who has said, "Cast thy bread upon the waters: and thou shalt find it after many days." If He be pleased to use it to arouse some at least to a deeper sense of the importance of reality in dealing with souls, I shall be grateful.

—Harry A. Ironside

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Two Question Salvation Exam!

Had some time to think today about assurance. How can we know we're really saved? The Apostle Paul says that salvation comes by reception of the Gospel as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

So how can we tell if we've "received" this message or not? Do we examine our works to see if we're good enough to be considered righteous? The Apostle also tells us that if one is found in Him then one has not their own righteousness but that of Christ. Philippians 3:8-9

Well then, I guess I don't want to check my salvation by how good I am after all. Enough playing here's the exam!

1. Is the Gospel absolutely true?

2. Is your own salvation secured by Christ's finished work alone?

If either is no, then so is the answer to the question of your salvation. If both are yes then the answer to if you are saved or not follows as well.

Two yeses makes for Salvation. Any No makes for Eternal Condemnation. So get believing and turn your noes into yeses.

Monday, January 05, 2009

My New Bible!

Well as per our tradition my lovely wife purchased a Bible for me for Christmas. This time she picked up Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, which just happens to be the one I asked for. I can't explain the translation very well at this point but in the simplest terms Rotherham sought to bring the emphasis seen in the original languages on words and phrases to light clearly in an English translation.

I've found this is very helpful with passages in Proverbs. There is some skill required to interpret his symbology but so far I'm finding it reasonably easy to pick up.