THE FIRST JOHN 1:9 CONTROVERSY 4: READING THE MAIL THE RIGHT WAY

1_john_title.jpgIn 1 John 1:9 who confesses their sin? Who is God faithful and just to forgive their sin?  Who is the “we” and “us” in 1 John 1: 9? This may seem a unusual question to ask but if a letter, email or text was sent to you from someone else and you read it thinking it was for you, when it was not, it could change everything. If you thought it was from one person and it was from another, that also would make a huge difference. That is why we should distinguish the author from the recipient. The Apostle John is the writer who represents Christ, his fellow apostles and the church that Jesus started. He is an original follower of Jesus, and his very close friend (John 13:22-24).  

He begins the first five verses of chapter one with the pronouns “we” and “us.” John the Apostle refers exclusively to the testimony of the life of Christ that he and the other Apostles had witnessed (v. 1-3). He speaks of Jesus Christ whom they have seen, heard and touched (v. 1-2). They were the people who knew Christ more personally than any of us because they saw him physically. They saw everything that Jesus did and heard everything that he said and he gave them the power of the Spirit so they could give perfect evidence to defend his claims (John 14:28; 15:26-27; 16:13-15).

John was one of those Apostles who was directly commissioned by Christ to carry the gospel message to the entire world (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15). The Apostles were made responsible by Christ to communicate their testimony about Him to the Christians of their day and now we read their writings.  Thus, the biblical Christ is the only real Christ. The purpose for his writings according to John was so that people in his day and in ours may have the joyful fellowship which they had with Christ and his Father (v. 3-4). Got it? We were those people that believed in Christ through their word (John 17:20) which are found in the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  

That is how we identify who Apostle John is talking to, those to whom the letter is addressed. It identifies the pronoun “you” as the people to whom the Apostle declared the true God. The word “you” has a double reference to those who are outsiders and need to come inside the circle of fellowship and the insiders of that circle of Christian fellowship who need to have their memories refreshed about the truth found in Christ (see 1 Cor 5:12). Clearly this shows that without the Bible, without the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New Testament you cannot know Christ who is the center and circumference of them all (Eph. 2:20). 

Now in verses five through ten we see the details of their message about God.  These are truths all Christians believe.  In these verses the “we” and “us” become a reference to the teachers and their students. It refers to “all of us.” So the whole circle of fellowship of insiders is made clear. While the application of truth regards insiders and outsiders the Apostles are addressing those who are already inside the circle of Christian fellowship.

Another case for the fact that John expected people who were already Christians to confess their sins to God.

See the next article in this series.

©2016 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

GOD’S UNSPEAKABLE GIFT 

“Thanks be unto God for his *unspeakable gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15).

People can only give when they see God as generous. If a preacher proclaims God as stingy with his time, mercy and grace people’s giving of themselves will dry up as well.

*Unspeakable (anekdiēgētō) is only used here in the whole New Testament and it means that the gift of Christ is incapable of being adequately expressed, unutterable and ineffable. Christ is the Gift who is so celestial and sacred he is beyond words. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

It is higher than the mind can conceive; higher than language can express…Man had no claim on God. He could not compel him to provide a plan of salvation; and the whole arrangement – the selection of the Savior, the sending him into the world, and all the benefits resulting from his work, are all an undeserved gift to man. (Barnes).

“Our thankfulness should be shown by highly prizing and valuing this gift; by laying the whole stress of our salvation on Christ…” (Gill)

Here is a short synopsis by Alexander MacLaren

There is one blazing sun which shines out in the midst all the galaxies which fill the heavens. There is one gift of God which is beyond all others and only deserves the designation of “unspeakable.” The gift of Christ attracts all other divine gifts after it. “How should He not with Him also freely give us all things.” The expression here “unspeakable” is what I wish chiefly to fix upon now. It means literally that which cannot be fully declared. Language fails because thought fails.

Unspeakable Love 

The love is the cause of the gift and the gift is the expression of the love. John’s Gospel says that the Son which is in the bosom of the Father has declared Him. Paul here uses a related word for “unspeakable” which might be rendered, “that which cannot be fully declared.”  The declaration of the Father is that He declared the undeclarable…language fails when it is applied to the expression of human emotion…with lowly condescension He uses all sweet images drawn from earthly relationships, to help us in understanding His love—the love of father, mother, husband, wife, brother, friend, and after…<yet> all are exhausted…

Unspeakable Sacrifice 

When Paul in the Epistle to the Romans says, “He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all” he is…quoting, the divine words to Abraham, “Seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me” <This> permits us to parallel what God did when He sent His Son with what Abraham did when, with wrung heart…he bound and laid Isaac on the altar and stretched forth his hand with the knife in it to slay him. Such a representation contradicts the vulgar conceptions of a passionless, self-sufficing, icy deity… All through His life Christ was in contact with evil, and for Him the contact was like that of a naked hand pressed upon hot iron. The sins and woes of the world made His path through it like that of bare feet on sharp rocks. If He had never died it would still have been true that, “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” On the Cross, He completed pouring out his love which had continued pouring throughout His life and “poured out His soul unto death” as He had been pouring it out all through His life. We have no measure by which we can estimate the inevitable sufferings in such a world as ours of such a spirit as Christ’s…Should it not call forth from us floods of praise and thanks to God for His unspeakable gift?

Unspeakable Results 

In Christ are hid, “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” When God gave us Him, He gave us a storehouse in which is contained treasures of truth which can never be fully comprehended, and which, even if comprehended, can never be exhausted. The mystery of the Divine Name revealed in Jesus, the mystery of His person, are themes on which the Christian world has been nourished ever since, and which are as full of food, not for the understanding only, but far more for the heart and the will, to-day as ever they were. The world may think that it has left the teaching of Jesus behind, but in reality the teaching is far ahead…and the Gospel is the guide of the race, and each generation gathers something more from it…each of Christ’s scholars finds about gift, and in the measure of his faithfulness to what he has found makes ever new discoveries in the unsearchable riches of Christ. After all have fed full there still remain abundant baskets full to be taken up.

Conclusion 

No single soul, and no multitude of souls, can exhaust Jesus; neither our individual experiences, nor the experiences of a believing world can fully realize the endless wealth laid up in Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega of all our speech, the first letter and the last of our alphabet, between which lie all the rest. Who has ever spoken adequately and in full correspondence with reality what it is to have God’s pardoning love flowing in upon the soul? Many singers have sung sweet psalms and hymns and spiritual songs on which generations of devout souls have fed, but none of them has spoken the deepest blessedness of a Christian life, or the calm raptures of communion with God. For us the only recompense that we can make for the unspeakable gift is to receive it with “thanks unto God” and the yielding up of our hearts to Him. God pours this love upon us freely…it is unspeakable in the depths of its source, in the manner of its manifestation, in the glory of its issues. It is like some great stream, rising in the trackless mountains, broad and deep, and leading on to a sunlit ocean…

 

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CLING TO THE CROSS

At 6 o’clock one Sunday morning Clare Gant was going to church and not even the torrential rain outside would stop her. But she never expected that her vehicle would be suddenly caught in floodwaters near a lake.

Her car stalled and then began to float away with the powerful force of rushing water. She knew she was in trouble. She called 911 and no one answered. She finally called her grandson who was on his way to rescue her.

Her car shifted and went backwards into a field and she thought, “Dear Lord are you taking me home right now?” But he was not.

By the time her grandson arrived her car had been washed off the road into a church yard. Her car had stopped besides a huge red cross. Her grandson, Travis, came with a deer harness off of a deer stand and some rope he says somehow he got the jammed door open despite the rushing waters and his grandmother out of the car and they both grabbed hold of that cross and held on for five hours until someone came and rescued them.

Gant said, “I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding onto the cross. I was clinging to the cross…Jesus is my savior. This story is not about me, this is about what he did to save me.”

I want to ask you dear friend are you clinging to the cross of Jesus? From the story you can tell that that was all they could hold on to. It was such a wonderful illustration of our own bankruptcy spiritually, or like the hymn says

Nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling.

Although we may be good people as far as culture is concerned. We have certain things that are admirable and we do many moral things that make us basically good people – but as far as God is concerned spiritually we have nothing to offer him but our sin. Not only our sin but even our good works disqualify us from heaven. That’s why Jesus came.

God bankrupt heaven for bankrupt sinners so that they could be saved. They could not hold on to their good works, that they are a giving and loving person or a good parent or a good son or daughter or a good provider – nothing of that matters with God when it comes to entering heaven. The only way that you can enter into heaven is completely embrace what Jesus did on the cross as payment for your sins.

He died to save you. He lives to love you.

This is the Jesus that we preach. Some of you today like that woman in our story have bumped into this article like her car bumped into that red Cross. Would you not consider that God is showing you that the only way you can be saved is through Jesus Christ? Receive God’s love gift today. Make a 180 degree turn from what you’re doing now and ask God to save you through what Jesus did on the cross. Believe that Jesus died for you, especially you.

It’s simple trust- just knowing what he did and basing your entire life on the fact that Christ died and rose again from the dead for you. Then you will truly know what it is to cling to the cross.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

FOR THOSE WHO WAIT

There’s a deep agony of heart, that is worse than pain in the body. It is a hope, a desire, a dream that is unfulfilled.

It can be nagging of the mind, a gnawing of heart, that refuses to be comforted. It is a scent of the spirit, a sound beyond what anyone can hear but me.

Lord, only you can say the word and I will be healed. Pound thy gavel, Righteous Judge let the courtroom hear. Like Samuel anoint me in the midst of thy brethren.

Feed me by angels hands, meet me in that cave that is so dark yet alive with your voice send me to the mountain that is shaken and rocked by your lightning so that all that is false is driven from my land and my heart.

You know that I desire to be what you want me to be. Do not withdraw thy hands from this frail clay vessel. Let thy skilled touch be evidence you are with me.

Let me be fashioned and formed into a vessel of honor and filled with thy glory and poured out in your sight and the voice of last drop utter thy will be done.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

HYPNOTIC

bigstock-Hypnosis-7337942-300x300“…Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? (Gal. 3:1). 

I am sure you have heard about the Florida school board who settled with three families for $600,000 dollars over the death of their children.  It is very sad. I grieve with them. But these teenagers were not shot by some madman, nor were they the victims of domestic terrorism. They died because of hypnotism. 

North Port High School Principal George Kenney was practicing hypnosis on students who were struggling with grades, anxieties due to tests and their athletic performance. He may have hypnotized over 70 students. His actions introduced an element into their lives for which they were not prepared-demonic activity.

Hypnosis causes a trance (an altered state of consciousness) in which the hypnotist can make suggestions to the subconscious of the person being hypnotized. Back in the 18th century occultist Franz Anton Mesmer from whose name we get the word word mesmerize—was a man who practised the occult in the name of alternative medicine. In fact, the above passage uses the word bewitched which means to mesmerize by magic arts, to fascinate, charm and take away the power of resistance. This stuff is demonic and you should stay away from it and warn your family and friends about it.

The hypnotic spirit of antichrist that has been attempting to lure people away from Christ for two millennia and hypnotize them to oppose the gospel (1 John 4:1-3) by all means possible. The real cure of the gospel message about Jesus Christ is seen as that dangerous by the Devil because it breaks the spell of the devil. That is why the Bible warns believers to be careful.

With the Christians at Galatia, Satan used teaching, yes teaching. It is called the teaching of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). Satan is actually speaking hypnotically through some teachers because they have abandoned the scripture for the philosophies of the world and apostate religion. The Galatians were hypnotized by legalism the idea that says you can get to heaven by doing good things. Instead of what the Bible teaches that human beings are sinners and only believing in Christ and what he did on the cross as the sole means to go to heaven. They gave up their liberty for the false security of doing religious things rooted in self righteousness instead of learning how to be empowered to live for Jesus by the Holy Spirit to obey God and love Jesus in any and all circumstances. They ended up hypnotized by a false gospel, an erroneous view of Christ and a different spirit (2 Cor. 11:3-4).

Many people don’t realize that some of the most popular “preachers” today could very well be the duped agents of Satan in deceiving millions (2 Tim. 3:13) because they do not preach the raw truth of the Gospel (Gal 2:14). Some of these so called ministers endorse “prayer practices” that are actually a form of hypnosis and they are dangerous. As far as I am concerned they need to be rebuked continually and repeatedly so they will repent.

Satan can hypnotize and introduce his thoughts as well through other means. You would never guess most of the time who is under his spell. You see them at work, at church even at home. He can use entertainment and media of all kinds. He has been using the Harry Potter saga, Twilight trilogy, movies about the Ouija Board even Annabelle the demon possessed doll.  As idiotic as some of these horror movies are they may introduce spiritual darkness into the thinking of unsaved people and Satan can even assault lukewarm Christians and have them spinning in circles.

Lately, the fascination with the occult, demon possession, vampires, humans changing into animals and zombies are all part of Satan’s last day strategy just to enslave the thoughts of people. The thoughts of sinful men in the media are communicated unknowingly to the mind and spirit of those who open themselves to them. Christians should think twice about going to movies, what they see on the internet, cable or satellite television. “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord.” (Prov. 15:26).

The devil can do this as well through drugs and alcohol. Sorcery (pharmakeia) is the abuse of drugs that can cause an altered state of consciousness (Gal. 5:23, Rev. 18:23). Alcoholism alters the personality and its no wonder people used to call it spirits. It is my belief that if enough alcohol is consumed not only does it create addiction but opens the persons spirit to demonic influence. The Bible overwhelmingly takes a negative tone concerning alcohol (Prov 20:1).

Satan, of course, can use our own weaknesses against us if we are not careful. He loves when we defeat ourselves before he can even get to us. If we get fixated upon worldly things and allow a carnal mind it will detract from the life and peace of the Spirit God wants us to have and brings death (Rom. 8:5-6). No Christian can be demonized or possessed by Satan. that is false doctrine.  But a believer in Jesus can leave their mind open to his hypnotic suggestions. But we should throw down thoughts against God (2 Cor. 10:3-6). Like Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” We need to put on the helmet of salvation to protect our thoughts and give us mental toughness during trials (Eph. 6:17).

Satan wants us to distract people from Christ and place their focus on self or circumstances. He wants to traumatize people, take away their sleep, steal their health or introduce addiction through sex, drugs, worldly entertainment and alcohol. He wants to hypnotize you with, “…craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” (1 John 2:16NLT). He wants you to be at peace with him and the world’s way of doing things. Did you not know there is a war going on? (Eph. 6:10-12). Have you forgotten? Are you going run away from the sounds of war (Psa. 78:9)? You cannot turn the evil days of battle on and off. Like it or not you are in a fight for your soul and the souls of your family and friends. Satan is fighting hard in these last days and it seems more and more Christians and their leaders are asleep at their posts, some are even changing sides joining Satan’s campaign (Gal. 1:6). It’s time to wake up!!! “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Rom. 13:12).

It is part of Satan’s plan to attack the mind’s of people and enslave them to his power. Satan wants to breakdown your resistance. He wants you to focus on financial hardship and sickness, personal attacks on your reputation, troubles at work and home all to make suggestions that God is lying to you, holding back from you. The Enemy wants you to be hypnotized with thoughts that God does not love you or he will not help you. The devil and his agents want you full of anger, fear, anxiety, self-pity, discouragement and loneliness. Satan wants you to ruin your testimony for Christ and keep you from helping others!

You can fight back and stand your ground against Satan and he will run away terrified (James 4:7). You must get your focus off your problems and on the wonderful love and strength of your Savior Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:1-3)! The victory has been ours since the days Christ washed away all our sins. God’s promises of victory in the scripture is to the one who believes in Jesus and they have already overcome the world (1 John 5:5). Christ who lives in us is greater than Satan and his emissaries in this world (1 John 4:4). Now we can go in Christ’s authority and reprimand Satan in the name of Jesus Christ and tell him you will not be hypnotized by his lies.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

The Return of The Older Minister

moses-19“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” (1 Tim. 5:17). 

Have you ever heard the term-respect your elders? “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:32).  Did you notice the motivation in respect of godly elders in that verse-the fear of God? God takes very seriously how we treat our elders and will punish those who do not respect them. We are to see them greatly honored and blessed by God because of the length of their life and the experience and wisdom which they have acquired. That is what the Bible teaches. That is God’s design for leadership in the church. Even outside of the church people realize the value of older workers.

Companies see the benefits of hiring older workers. They statistically exert a detail oriented, higher quality work. They are focused, punctual, organized, less rattled with problems and have pride in a job well done. They know how to train other workers and communicate better than those younger than them.

Surprised? I am not.

I wrote this article after hearing a district official of my former denomination say that they want younger men to pastor because older men are set in their ways. That is rubbish!  I say maybe older ministers are not recommended because they cannot be fooled by denominational politics. The middle aged man is the best candidate for being the Lead or Senior Pastor of a church today.  In a day when men are being dishonored or demeaned, needless the offensive manner in which seasoned citizens are being treated by society this is when a minister is at his best. In fact, it should be the biblical model for us to follow. The New Testament uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. It refers to an older, seasoned Christian who presides over a church as a pastor.  No wonder the church has more and more issues because of the sophomoric mistakes of younger preachers who are getting job experience in pulpits.

In the past few decades, men and women have been entering the ministry at older ages. Most had another career before going to seminary, and by the time they settled into the role of minister they tended to be middle-aged. In a recent study, the median age of senior or solo Protestant pastors was 51. The median age of senior or solo black pastors was 53.

A church would have a great advantage having the Senior pastor training and mentoring younger ministers, who assist him in his ministry and church work. By doing this they gain training and experience. But the bottom line (with some few exceptions) the man leading the church should be no younger than thirty five years old which would give him at least 20 years experience in ministry training. Some of you whippersnappers are rolling your eyes. But I am telling you that churches that look for younger pastors are setting themselves up for the many mistakes of inexperience and youth.  Now people will tell me that Paul told Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Tim. 4:12). But he was at least 35 years old, maybe forty when he pastored Ephesus. We also have to take life expectancy of the times in view-but I think wisdom and experience trump youth and idealism any day of the week.

The Bible teaches older men should lead the church. “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders…” (see 1 Peter 5:1-14). I cannot say it any clearer churches today should desire that their leaders be elders-those who have acquired wisdom with age. 

In this day when we have so many still droning on about the Paul-Timothy relationship it seems we have the Timothy’s trying to tell the Paul’s that they are old schooled albatrosses because the elder reflects the sound doctrine of the Bible from past years while many younger men pant like a teenagers with their hormones out of control for new ways of doing things. I am so taken back by the stupid wet behind the ears attitude of men who say the methods have to change but the message stays the same. The message is the cross, the method is preaching. If these young fools would read their Bible they would know that, but they are full of silly misunderstandings. 

I know many ministers feel useless in the fifty and above crowd. But this is just the devil. God wants to bless others through your life and do not forget it, Your time will come. You stay in the Word and prayer and walk with the Lord and you will grow in wisdom and be a blessing to many of those in need of a fatherly person who can help them grow in Christ.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

SAMSON: A WARNING TO THE CHURCH AND ITS LEADERS

maxresdefaultIn Samson we see an impersonation of Israel.

Like him, the nation was strong so long as it kept the covenant of its God.

Like him, it was ever prone to follow after strange loves. Its Delilahs were the gods of the heathen, in whose laps it laid its anointed head, and at whose hands it suffered the loss of its God-given strength; for, like Samson, Israel was weak when it forgot its consecration, and its punishment came from the objects of its infatuated desires.

Like him, it was blinded, bound, and reduced to slavery, for all its power was held, as was his, on condition of loyalty to God.

His life is as a mirror, in which the nation might see their own history reflected; and the lesson taught by the story of the captive hero, once so strong, and now so weak, is the lesson which Moses taught the nation: “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things: therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things, and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck” ( Deut. 28: 47, 48 ).

The blind Samson, chained, at the mill, has a warning for us, too. That is what God’s heroes come to, if once they prostitute the God-given strength to the base loves of self and the flattering world.

We are strong only as we keep our hearts clear of lower loves, and lean on God alone. Delilah is most dangerous when honeyed words drop from her lips.

The world’s praise is more harmful than its censure. Its favors are only meant to draw the secret of our strength from us, that we may be made weak; and nothing gives the Philistines so much pleasure as the sight of God’s warriors caught in their toils and robbed of power.”  

–Alexander MacLaren

HE COULD NOT LOOK HIS CHURCH IN THE EYES

1362883975_man with head down“He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.” (Isaiah 42:2-3).

began working in the vending business and started attending a church near my home a few months after my denomination closed down our church with apologies. A situation that was actually an ecclesiastical shell game. What I mean by that was they said they closed down the church but actually sold the building to another church in that denomination. But at least now, I had a good pastor and church to attend. Strange enough years before I met him after helping an older couple in a parking lot outside a hardware store who were having car problems. I told them I was a minister and gave them my card and they said they would tell their Pastor about me. He called me and we became friends.

While I was still at the Warehouse of Praise Church he invited me to come and preach one Sunday Night. I preached on The Divine Burning- a message on the fire of the Holy Spirit and God moved. Many of the elders said that they had not heard a message like that in years, it reminded them of old time preaching. By the way, what they call “old time preaching” is what they used to call biblical preaching.

Pastor was a good man, he built a beautiful church building and loved Jesus, but I noticed immediately when he preached he never made eye contact with the congregation. I encouraged him to look at people but he never could. I asked him why he was like this and he explained he had a horrible experience when he first arrived at this church and it beat him up so badly he never looked people in the eye when he preached.  Something had broken within him. I loved this man and believed in his ministry.

I remember one time that I began to prophesy (spontaneous scriptural exhortation) and called his congregation to repentance in the middle of the service. He was skeptical of my actions at first (for good reason) but people began to flood the altars to pray and God began to move and people began to cry out to God. He told me later that he did not know what to think at first but when he saw the Holy Spirit move like that he knew it was right. He was a good Pastor and he let me teach Sunday School and even preach a revival in his church. I will always be grateful to him.

Pastoring has got to be the hardest job in the world. That’s why a man has to do it through the power of the Holy Spirit and not in his own strength. That is why I will always be a Pentecostal. Pentecost to me means that I don’t have to do things in my own strength but the power of Christ that dwells in me. No matter how weak I may be, no matter what is going on there is a river of life flowing out of me.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

SATAN’S ISLAND IS IN DANGER

jonah_24“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown…These are the words of the One who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live, where the throne of Satan sits.” (Jonah 3:4; Rev. 2: 12-13)

YES I SAID IT. I called Staten Island, Satan’s Island. Now before you think I am just using a pejorative to describe a place known for having the world’s largest garbage dump, bear with me. Now I am not pretending to prophesy anything but this is more a general observation that no person, no place is safe without Christ. I am sure this message could be easily applied to other places. What I don’t want anyone to think is that some disgruntled person is bitterly spouting off in a blog. But calling some place Satan’s Island or a reference to a place being where Satan’s seat (as offensive as it is to your delicate ears) is not unprecedented. Hey, New Jersey is no better. Christ himself in the book of Revelation (Rev 2-3) also used the term Jezebel and Balaam in reference to the other churches or the people in them. Just like ancient Pergamum Christ points the sharp two edged sword at the churches and its pastors with a scathing reprimand-I know where you live is where Satan lives. Their compromise with the world has caused an unholy alliance and cease fire between them and Satan because when a preacher or church deviate from the scriptures they side with Satan. 

I see Staten Island as “Nineveh” most days because like Jonah. I don’t want to go there. I am just being honest. Jonah did not want to go to Assyria for many personal reasons. Staten Island is like my Ninevah, the only difference being I have more of a love hate relationship with it.  Although there are people I love there, and know there are good brethren, Staten Island is a place full of “know it all” rebels trying to pretend to be sophisticated using scripture and religious excuses to rationalize their spiritual ugliness and stupidity.

What is worse and frustrating is that churches are blind to the peril of compromise and sinners to the approaching eternal storm that no one can escape from without Christ.  

Staten Island IS in danger. Do you care? People are lost and churches are backslidden. Do you see it?  You say, “Not my church or Pastor! I say, “Yes, YOURS! You spiritual cheerleaders will not escape God’s rebuke for your “half gospel” church and pastor.

“For the time for judgment has come, and it is beginning with the household of God. If it is starting with us, what will happen to those who have rejected God’s good news? It is written in Proverbs, ‘If it is hard for the righteous ones to be saved, what will happen to the ungodly and the sinners? (1 Peter 4:17-18 Voice).

Notice that? God deals with the church first before the unbelievers! There are what we call temporal judgments on cities, nations and even continents ever since Christ died and they still happen despite the prevalent pseudo-grace theology. But what does the Apostle Peter warn us about? 

The severe trial which would determine character. It refers to such calamities as would settle the question whether there was any religion, or would test the value of that which was professed. ” (Barnes Notes)

The indictment I have against pastors on Staten Island is that they are supposed to be training their people to be ready to face not just the temptations of Satan but THE TESTS OF GOD! This article is a warning that God is coming in visitation to his church as he has done in history many times to test and try it. They are NOT ready.  An article like this as well, can test what is in your heart and your reaction will reveal much. 

I wonder why God would want me to address a people who don’t seem to care, or shun from having me preach in their pulpits. Why can’t God be like he was in Hosea’s day and just say, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Hosea 4:17). I am no prophet. I just am just a preacher the Word, a scripture man. But Staten Islander’s have allowed their souls to become such deserts they can’t even shed a tear over their spiritual condition. What a sloppy, fairly tale culture some Christians have developed as they chant in the dark with colored lights and unscriptural lyrics.

The misguided fundigelicals will praise the acidic politics of Donald Trump but Godhqdefault forbid if their pastor called them stupid, lazy and illegal aliens to the kingdom of God -that would not be entertaining at all for them. They would be insulted and outraged and would leave to fall in the arms of Pastor Lovemetenders church. This nonsense has gone on for years! They will have to stand before the Thrice Holy God one day and they will shiver in his presence and all their words and thoughts will exposed.  God help them. 

As I visit Staten Island I feel a great darkness. It is like walking over dry long bridge of dead body parts and bones everywhere. After yet another troubling dream recently, where the Island was about to be hit by some kind of wave that would destroy it I woke up with my heart racing, frustrated.  To be honest, I was thinking-enough is enough God. They don’t want me there and why should I have to say something to these churchians who go to a place where their Pastor coddles them right into eternal fire and they like it that way.

Yet, I feel sad, wondering the fate of the people of my hometown. Why do they refuse to listen. I am distressed about churches and pastors that I have cautioned face to face to abandon false doctrine, church growth sales tactics because they are Satan’s way of seducing the church away from the pure gospel. These Staten Island people are mutinous against their captain Christ and would rather float in the Bay with a religious flotation device rather than get on board and be committed to be obedient to the command of scripture and their commander, Christ.

I will never forget when I read that one night the great evangelist D.L. Moody asked his congregation to evaluate their relationships to Christ and return next week to make their decisions for Him. But that night the city fire bell began to ring. At first, no one thought much about it. But that crowd never regathered.  The Chicago fire destroyed that city.  Many of them died in their sins without Christ.  Moody was able to rescue and relocate his family but he was never the same. The fire forced him to reevaluate his ministry. 

After 9-11 and then Superstorm Sandy, one would think that most preachers and churches would have reevaluated their ministry to some degree. People died.  Worse, people went to hell. For a while we gave people, canned goods,  wet vacs, blankets and underwear but were people were too busy to consider Divine discipline. Would something like this storm change the spiritual atmosphere of the area. IT DID NOT! It became worse.  

Worship-lights-megachurch-facebookAh, I can see it, Staten Island has its so called Sunday expression, or worship celebration where people in worship centers sing in the dark, with a dance club atmosphere and loud religious pop music (the only thing missing is an open bar). Then a nerd trying to be cool guy gets up  to talk about God. Maybe some of these Staten Island preachers think they are preaching against sin because they speak about the acceptable evangelical hot topics of liberal politics, homosexuality and abortion but they cough and snort because they are allergic to topics such as, alcohol, listening to worldly music, immodest dress, fornication and adultery, going to R rated movies, and ugly tattoos that say John 3:16!  What about preaching about the rapture? They don’t believe that anymore. How about hell? Well, they have redefined it or excluded it not to hurt the feelings of their tithe payers. God’s wrath against sin? Nope. The Staten Island Church is in danger of losing their testimony and Christ threatens such people with removing their candlestick of gospel witness unless they repent. 

It is although they preach God loves everyone “as is” and act as if He never wrote a law against anything they do and everyone goes to heaven by default. 

Staten Islander, and wherever you live I have a question for you: “What if these things taking place today are a sign of God’s judgment?” They belittle or ridicule such a question coming from what they perceive to be legalistic old school thinking wondering, “How dare I ask that question!”  I can hear the protests of leaders on trying to appear theologically well bred, “Why this is the devil, or just the groans of creation or just a weather pattern!”  They are bluffing their people. They don’t know the signs of the times! Their silly, heartless, thoughtless preaching is a worse tragedy than any terrorist act or disaster.  They have lost their fire, their sense of urgency and market their vapid flavorless messages to souls who do not know any better. They do not preach in light of eternity and those that do are made to feel like they are fanatics or unbalanced.  

I realize the Northeast, especially Staten Island is one of the most difficult areas to be called to pastor a church. The evangelical churches on Staten Island are a hodge-podge of people who have been recycled from church to church and they either slow down the work or sometimes are just plain destructive. A growing number of the church people of Staten Island are becoming more fickle, critical, jaded and stupidly rebellious to their own harm. When they become dissatisfied with the Pastor they begin to attempt to discredit him. They refuse to do the will of God and stay put and these wandering stars should repent of this nasty habit. 

These punks scamper to another church cry about how bad it was in their last church and are received into membership in yet another church by some witless pastor desperate for tithes.  Oh I pray Jesus Christ does not say of them, “Disregard them! They are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt. 15:14).

I have news for all of you Staten Islander’s: God will not send revival to Staten Island no matter how many time you quote 2 Chronicles 7:14. The block parties, carnivals and movies won’t do it. It is amazing at the selected scriptures they use without the ones that they should be using the convicted scriptures they show them their error. Since they are so good at quoting scripture to fit their own needs-here is God’s evaluation of the whole matter: “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.”  (Isa 63:10). I can hear all the people say but we live in a time of grace and they starting singing their favorite mantra chorus, “I am a friend of God.” NOT IF YOU DISOBEY HIM!  “If you love me” Jesus said, “you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). You are no friend of Christ if you throw his words out like you have the old hymn books. 

The drug problem, poverty, crime is seen by many pastors as still a social problem. They are too sophisticated to call it a sin problem.  There are some ministers who are like the godfather’s of their area and raise their legs and mark their church people and real estate like feral beasts. They bicker and argue like a bunch of old women fighting over a bench. All the while storms gather and they leave their people unprepared and hell yawns with delight and gathers in the damned souls who are left without Christ.  I never seen Christians with more opportunity to reach the lost, yet they sell out to religious marketing and like Jezebel paint their face to attract its new comers or act like prophets-for-hire like Balaam. Oh repent now! Turn from your sins back to the God of the Christian scriptures. 

Staten Island is in danger. Oh backslidden people return to God! if you don’t Peter says, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2 Peter 2:21). Who will seek to restore the reputation of God in the eyes of jonah-and-big-fishthe world? What about the unsaved? What about the lost? Oh dear God, multitudes descending into the fires of hell! Staten Island is like Death City! Satan is gaining ground wanting to bring souls to hell with him. The Island is like Nineveh unaware of the spiritual danger in which they are and Jonah has not yet been vomited out of the belly of some Staten Island Ferry to even walk the shores of Satan’s Island.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

A REALLY BAD SKETCH

tom bradyOn August 12, 2015 Tom Brady was in court faced with the infamous “Deflategate” charges and the media vultures have been hovering in circles picking off the carcase of this story until there is nothing but bones, leaving us all deflated and confused.

But today we are hearing about Jane Rosenberg. Who is she? She is court sketch artist who made an unusual rendition of the New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady that caught everybody’s attention…and scorn. It went viral! Obviously, when people look at the sketch it does not resemble Tom Brady in the slightest. His head seems almost distorted in the picture as he looked down at his phone the whole time in court. So the media and comedians have had a field day with it. On the news we have seen pictures have come out with the photoshopped image of the head on “ET” wrapped up in a blanket on a bike; the famous painting of the Munch’s Scream of Nature and even a picture of his head was placed on the late Michael Jackson in his Thriller song.

The poor artist even apologized to everyone-protesting that sketching is not an easy job, and she did could not capture how handsome he was, but we are not here to question her talent even though his head looks deflated. One has to wonder if something Freudian was revealed in her sketch or opinion.

BUT do we as Christians accept the modern day sketches of Christ without even a remark? With all the caricatures of Christ that are being presented behind the church pulpits and media ministries-I am wondering-maybe we should apologize because they are not even close to sketching a right picture of Jesus Christ. It does not seem like there is any apology for the really horrendous impersonations of the Jesus of today’s Christianity!

God demands that we do not worship false images-even images we are tempted to11709676_1141906685825663_8640431874398809008_n ascribe to him (Deut. 4:15-20). Paul warns us that there is a counterfeit Jesus, a “Jesus other than the Jesus we preached.” (2 Cor. 11:4). The Jesus sketch drawn today does not demand repentance from sin and does not preach the Cross! The modern parody of Jesus makes him one way among many ways, one religious choice among many religious choices-because its all good!  For some he is a drippy, soft spoken, wishy washy boyfriend. Others masquerade him as a heavenly politician with his own party and news network concerned with legal and social issues. Others present him as a rock star and superhero with loud music, colorful lights and lots of excitement. Other present him as the successful CEO of heaven who wants you to buy stock in his company and be a “disciple employee.”

But all of these sketches are not Jesus.  Instead He is the indescribable King of kings and Lord of Lords. He poured out his blood to pay for the crimes of despicable sinners like us. He is able to save, heal and deliver the worst people utterly and completely.  In the Bible he evicted powerful demons out of people’s bodies, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and speech to the mute! He touched and healed the contagious, set free the addict, forgave his enemies and rescued the exploited.  He is the only Savior, all powerful Lord and genuine Messiah who is feared among demons, loved by those he saves.

John 17.17Get the picture? No? You will only find the right picture of Jesus in the Christian Bible. Jesus taught,  “Search the scriptures, for in them you hope that you have eternal life, and they testify concerning Me.” (John 5:39).  When Jesus taught his disciples, “He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:47). Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of those that accept Jesus as their Savior (John 3:3-8).  The Holy Spirit gives a clear picture of Jesus Christ (John 15:26) and acts as our guide leading us to Jesus (John 16:13) as we see him as the Truth (John 14:6) in the truth of the scriptures (John 17: 17). Let the real picture of Jesus be seen today, so we do not need to make any apologies for a really bad sketch.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due.