John’s Prophecy Fred’s Dream and Marty’s Pen

FredericksDream2Now for the “rest of the story”, which is not widely known.

The executioners undressed Hus and tied his hands behind his back with ropes, and his neck with a chain to a stake around which wood and straw had been piled up so that it covered him to the neck. Still at the last moment, the imperial marshal, Von Pappenheim, in the presence of the Count Palatine, asked him to save his life by a recantation, but Hus declined with the words “God is my witness that I have never taught that of which I have been accused by false witnesses. In the truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached I will die to-day with gladness.”  There upon the fire was kindled with John Wycliffe’s own manuscripts used as kindling for the fire. With uplifted voice Hus sang, “Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me.” Among his dying words he proclaimed, “In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” His ashes were gathered and cast into the nearby Rhine River.

On the morning of 31 Oct 1517, the very day on which Luther would nail his 95 Theses to the church door, Frederick of Saxony had a dream.

He told it to his brother, and fortunately it was recorded by many of the chroniclers of the time.

Here it is in Frederick’s own words: Having gone to bed last night, fatigued and out of spirits, I fell asleep shortly after my prayer, and slept calmly for about two hours and a half; I then awoke, and continued awake to midnight, all sorts of thoughts passing through my mind. Among other things, I thought how I was to observe the Feast of All Saints. I prayed for the poor souls in purgatory; and supplicated God to guide me, my counsels, and my people according to truth.

I again fell asleep, and then dreamed that Almighty God sent me a monk, who was a true son of the Apostle Paul. All the saints accompanied him by order of God, in order to bear testimony before me, and to declare that he did not come to contrive any plot, but that all that he did was according to the will of God.

They asked me to have the goodness graciously to permit him to write something on the door of the church of the Castle of Wittenberg. This I granted through my chancellor. Thereupon the monk went to the church, and began to write in such large characters that I could read the writing at Schweinitz. The pen which he used was so large that its end reached as far as Rome, where it pierced the ears of a lion that was crouching there, and caused the triple crown upon the head of the pope to shake. All the cardinals and princes, running hastily up, tried to prevent it from falling. You and I, brother, wished also to assist, and I stretched out my arm; — but at this moment I awoke, with my arm in the air, quite amazed, and very much enraged at the monk, for not managing his pen better. I recollected myself a little; it was only a dream.

I was still half asleep, and once more closed my eyes. The dream returned. The lion, still annoyed by the pen, began to roar with all his might, so much so that the whole city of Rome, and all the States of the Holy Empire, ran to see what the matter was. The pope requested them to oppose this monk, and applied particularly to me, on account of his being in my country. I again awoke, repeated the Lord’s prayer, entreated God to preserve his Holiness, and once more fell asleep.

Then I dreamed that all the princes of the Empire, and we among them, hastened to Rome, and strove, one after another, to break the pen; but the more we tried the stiffer it became, sounding as if it had been made of iron. We at length desisted.

I then asked the monk (for I was sometimes at Rome, and sometimes at Wittenberg) where he got this pen, and why it was so strong.

“The pen,” replied he, “belonged to an old goose of Bohemia, a hundred years old. I got it from one of my old schoolmasters.  As to its strength, it is owing to the impossibility of depriving it of its pith or marrow; and I am quite astonished at it myself.”  Suddenly I heard a loud noise — a large number of other pens had sprung out of the long pen of the monk. I awoke a third time; it was daylight.

That inspired dream was given to Prince Frederick before the 95 Theses were even tacked to the church door. At first he would have had no idea what it meant, but the meaning would become clear soon enough. It must have had a profound influence on him to help defend Luther against the pope and the emperor. Note the amazingly clever reference to John Huss in the last paragraph of the dream (in bold face type).

What was a “pen” in those days? It was not a ball-point pen nor even a fountain pen. It referred to a goose-quill pen. So in the dream, when Frederick was told that the amazing pen came from an old goose, that would not be surprising. Of course it came from a goose, like all pens. But the “old goose of Bohemia, a hundred years old” is an unmistakable reference to John Huss. And the pen is an excellent way to symbolize the truth of Huss’s writings, for it was his writings that stirred Luther to action. Moreover, the dream ties directly to the “hundred year prophecy” of Huss, referring to Martin Luther, which also used the goose symbolism for Huss. It is not clear whether Frederick ever figured out that the goose was Huss, but he certainly would learn that the monk was Martin Luther. This dream may even reveal why Huss had the name “Goose” at all, for the pen is mightier than the sword.

From The History of Protestantism, I:263,265 , quoted in Ogden Kraut, 95 Theses (Genola, UT: Pioneer Publishers, 1975 ), pp. 154-156.

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GOD NEVER LOSES TRACK OF SIN

Technology can’t even keep up with sin and those that commit them.

The other day according to the news an electronic monitoring system run by BI Incorporated maxed out its storage capacity that tracked the location of 16,000 sex offenders, parolees, substance abusers and other offenders leaving law enforcement blind for 12 hours. They questionably detained 140 offenders as well.  This is amazing because apparently the technology can hold over 2 billion records and they are working on expanding the threshold to a monstrous one trillion records.

This is scary stuff.

We no longer have to imagine or limit it to a sci-fi tale about  people having the power to track information about anyone at anytime. It is obvious we have that technology as imperfect as it is.  The idea of locating the whereabouts of incorrigible criminals is not what bothers me-but I wonder what it would be like if the government expands that power to any citizen.  I do not know of Orwellian conspiracies as of yet, but in the name of security freedom can be  lost. The search and seizure of information and the fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution must remain a precious right to us in this country.

I chuckled at the company’s name “BI.” Some of you will remember when we used to say as kids: “Its none of your BI business!”  We used to purposely misspell the word business as “bizness”  to emphasize and intensify the “stay out of my business” idea.  It is not childish to have privacy and we should all be careful, very careful about who knows what about us. Something to think about. 

The BI information grid broke down with this company and the law enforcement with which it works were blind for 12 hours to any criminal activities. 

But God will never stay out your business. He is never blind. He keeps track of sin. There is no right to privacy with him.

The Bible says that, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:5).

Did I read that right?  People treasuring the wrath of God?

The archaic word treasurest is the Greek word thēsaurizō  and in Latin thesaurizas where we get the word thesaurus. This is not referring to the book we use that groups similar and differing words together. It comes from a  root word that means a place where valuables and riches are stored.  Paul teaches those that refuse to repent and  make an 180 degree turn from thinking about and doing those things that the All seeing and All knowing God hates  despite God’s tender goodness and kindness to them are actually accumulating wrath, adding to God’s anger that will be vented against them one day.  He never loses one byte of information.

I know we do not hear much about God’s anger against sin and there are those who actually teach he does not become angry today. But God witnesses and weighs out sin (Jer 32:10). God says of those who refuse to repent, “Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” (Deut 32:34-35).  He keeps in reserve and under lock and key the sins of men and women who refuse to repent.

In fact, Hosea the prophet said of Israel that,  “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.” (Hosea 13:12). This actually can be translated that his sin has been collected and kept in storage for punishment!  “Ephraim’s wickedness is on record. The record of the people’s sins is safely stored away.” (GWT).

John Calvin states that, “that the ungodly not only accumulate for themselves daily a heavier weight of God’s judgments, as long as they live here, but that the gifts of God also, which they continually enjoy, shall increase their condemnation; for an account of them all will be required: and it will then be found, that it will be justly imputed to them as an extreme wickedness, that they had been made worse through God’s bounty, by which they ought surely to have been improved. Let us then take heed, lest by unlawful use of blessings we lay up for ourselves this cursed treasure.”

Frightening information. But there is hope.

Only Christ can save you from God’s just, inflamed anger against you.  Divine Justice demanded a payment for sin and Christ made that payment on the behalf of his people. It can not be extorted by doing good works, it cannot be ignored by changing the rules.

One day you will stand before God for all you have done and there will be no escape unless you have run with all your might to the only place of safety and the person who can save you-Jesus Christ. He will expunge the record of sin that is against you. He made payment by pouring out his blood, the only one in the universe whose blood was untainted by sin. God only accepts that payment for sin.

He will not be bribed by how much good you do and weigh it against the bad you have done and let you off the hook. No. It cannot and will not happen. Every day he has been kind and merciful to you and you have spurned his love. Put your faith and trust in what Christ has done alone or face the horrible withdrawal of your sins and God’s unbearable justice one day soon.

Good Friday According to the Confessions of the Church

XIR16014THE 1563 HEIDELBERG CATECHISM ASKS AND ANSWERS:  What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?  That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice,  he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favour of God, righteousness and eternal life.

THE 1619 BELGIC CONFESSION STATES: We believe that God– who is perfectly merciful and also very just– sent his Son to assume the nature in which the disobedience had been committed, in order to bear in it the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death. So God made known his justice toward his Son, who was charged with our sin, and he poured out his goodness and mercy on us, who are guilty and worthy of damnation, giving to us his Son to die, by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him we might have immortality and eternal life.

THE 1646 WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH: This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which, that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and perfectly fulfilled it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified and died; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of his Father, making intercession; and shall return to judge men and angels, at the end of the world. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given unto him. 

THE 1560 SCOTS CONFESSION: [So we confess, and most undoubtedly believe] That our Lord Jesus Christ offered himself a voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us, that he suffered contradiction of sinners, that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressions, that he, the clean innocent Lamb of God, was condemned in the presence of an earthly judge, that we should be absolved before the judgment seat of our God; that he suffered not only the cruel death of the cross, which was accursed by the sentence of God, but also that he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father, which sinners had deserved. But yet we avow that he remained the only, well beloved, and blessed Son of his Father even in the midst of his anguish and torment which he suffered in body and soul to make full atonement for the sins of the people. From this we confess and avow that there remains no other sacrifice for sin; if any affirm so, we do not hesitate to say that they are blasphemers against Christ’s death and the everlasting atonement thereby purchased for us.

THE 1742 PHILADELPHIA CONFESSION OF FAITH SAYS: This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it, and underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered, being made sin and a curse for us; enduring most grievous sorrows in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, yet saw no corruption: on the third day he arose from the dead with the same body in which he suffered, with which he also ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.

Unity Through Truth

rated-rWhat is a creed? It is a testimony of the faith in God and the scriptures that defines “those things which are most surely believed among us.” as Christians. (Luke 1:1). It is simply says, “We believe” or, “I believe.” The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God and are the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). It is the only criterion of doctrine that has any power to insist people to believe and obey what it teaches. All other standards that a person subscribes to are of value or authority only as they teach what the Scriptures teach.

 

R.C. Sproul said that “creeds are distinguished from the Scripture in that Scripture is norma normans (“the rule that rules”) while the creeds are norma normata (“a rule that is ruled”).[i]  The wonderfully practical thing about creeds is that they summarize and give clarity to what we believe as Christians and they are important for the harmony of God’s people because they help us to unite around important issues. It is hard to have unity with others when you do not know what they believe. Creeds were intended to bring unity not division despite the fact that creedally challenged people today seem to think that they are divisive.  But men who made creeds and confessions studied the scriptures and considered it their duty to intellectually and logically construct a system of faith out of the materials presented in scriptures. When you can be specific and clear on what you and the church believe, unity becomes more cherished and unity must be based on truth, not the lowest common denominator. 

 

How can you fellowship with someone when you do not know what they believe? How can you ignore the teachings of the scripture for the sake of unity? Today the great sickness in the thought process of people is pluralism-the belief that all religious paths lead to acceptance with God. This is anti-Christ thinking and will only lead to religious slavery and eventually societal breakdown. Unity today is at best the setting aside of your beliefs for the “greater good” of soceity. But the Bible makes it clear that Jesus Christ and Christianity are the true religion and this cannot be compromised.

 

Many ministers egotistically teach that we have no creed but Christ. But the Bible asks, “What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only?” (1 Cor 14:34). The men of God who hammered out and forged the creeds of the church should not be ignored or set aside by those who question their teaching just because it is seen in a creed. This erroneous attitude of non-creedalists is nothing new. It goes back to the time where the church in Corinth was having terrible disunity, “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:12). I that group who do you think was the most problematic? Was it Paul’s group? Was it Peter’s denomination? I think not. It was that elitist congregation those who claimed that they exclusively belonged to Christ above their brethren that were the most dangerous.

 

I read somewhere that the real question is not about accepting the word of God over the creeds of men or placing the Creeds above the holy Scriptures but the issue is the tried and tested faith of the collective body of God’s people, versus the private opinion of the person or groups who object to creeds to make up or reinvent the church and their own beliefs. Creeds are an expression of beliefs that line up with scripture (orthodoxy) and are detailed in their phraseology to avoid beliefs that deviate from scripture (heresy).

 

The Article Seven of the Belgic Confession states this adamantly concerning scriptures and any other human writing, “For since it is forbidden to add to or subtract from the Word of God, this plainly demonstrates that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects. Therefore we must not consider human writings– no matter how holy their authors may have been– equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.

 

Creeds demonstrated how the church developed and became more sophisticated in their interpreting Scripture. It also serves to help discern pure doctrine and defend it from the distortion of heretics and the assault of unbelievers, and creates a unity of faith through teaching.  They also give us a syllabus in training our children and other Christians. They should manifest a convincing competent knowledge of the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith and live a life that glorifies and serves God.

 

Many people will say that they do not agree with the Greek and Roman forms of the church and that is why they do not accept Creeds. That is why we must test the Creeds in light of the scripture. I think the Second Helvetic Confession says it beautifully, “Wherefore we do not despise the interpretations of the holy Greek and Latin fathers, nor reject their disputations and treatises concerning sacred matters as far as they agree with the Scriptures; but we modestly dissent from them when they are found to set down things differing from, or altogether contrary to, the Scriptures. Neither do we think that we do them any wrong in this matter; seeing that they all, with one consent, will not have their writings equated with the canonical Scriptures, but command us to prove how far they agree or disagree with them, and to accept what is in agreement and to reject what is in disagreement.”

 

[i]Norma Normata A Rule that is Ruled Right Now Counts Forever By R.C. Sproul © 2008 Tabletalk Magazine

DID GOD KILL ADAM?

expulsion1Hamartiology is a theological term that refers to  the study of sin.  Yes, I said the word sin and the word theology. This article will be heavy theology to some by wade through the waters if you can. I am just a student attempting to learn more about our Lord. 

Sin means to miss the mark of God’s standard and perfection. I know it is an unfamiliar word in some circles but it is the most dangerous influence in the universe. The truth about sin is an acquired taste and it is definitely unpalatable to this generation and in times past. Sin is breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Bible calls it the plague of the heart (1 Kings 8:38). People do not, cannot and will not become conformed to the will of God because they are deformed in their nature because of sin. Sin is not just a habit or an illness it is the punishment that  has brought spiritual death. We need to study about the radical depravity of humans because unless we know about the  nature, origin and consequences of sin we can never genuinely worship God for his mighty power to save and free us from its penalty, power and presence. 

The book of Genesis records that God created our planet in six 24 hour periods or days (Gen. 1-2). God created human beings in his image and breathed life into them (Gen. 1:26; 2:27).  Adam was a man who had a body which served as an earthly exterior and he was given “the breath of  lives” and given a spirit and soul or heavenly insides. God made a garden paradise for them to live in (Gen 2:8).

Grace or Work in The Garden

Certain theologians insist that adhering to the belief that God and Adam had a covenant of works-based on the obedience of Adam to God’s command as a test of whether you really have pure doctrine.  But John Murray says,

“Towards the end of the 16th century the administration dispensed to Adam in Eden, focused in the prohibition to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, had come to be interpreted as a covenant, frequently called the Covenant of Works, sometimes a covenant of life, or the Legal Covenant. It is, however, significant that the early covenant theologians did not construe this Adamic administration as a covenant, far less as a covenant of works. Reformed creeds of the 16th century such as the French Confession (1559), the Scottish Confession (1560), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Thirty-Nine Articles (1562), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Second Helvetic (1566) do not exhibit any such construction of the Edenic institution. After the pattern of the theological thought prevailing at the time of their preparation, the term ‘covenant,’ insofar as it pertained to God’s relations with men, was interpreted as designating the relation constituted by redemptive provisions and as belonging, therefore, to the sphere of saving grace.”  (John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray: 4, Studies in Theology, “Covenant Theology,” (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), pp. 217-18).

But there is too much evidence of  grace and mercy in the Garden of Eden  as God condescended to the first couple.  Adam was not left to himself without help and and just because his decisions or his will were unfettered from evil desires does not mean he did not need God’s life and communion. He was made to fellowship with God.  Because Adam fell was he more dependant on God for mercy?  I do not think so. Adam needed God’s presence and life just in his glorious state of perfection as well.  God was the Creator and He was still the created. Eventually, we see the root of his sinful pride was that he did not want to depend on God alone. But Adam, holy and innocent as he was stood out as a specimen of the Sovereign grace of God. His wife was a gift by grace. His home, work and title were all gifts of grace.  He owed his very existence to God’s grace!   The biggest problem with the Covenant of Works is that it misconstrues God’s dealings with Adam. Does God legally deal with Adam on the basis of his works and obedience and then make another covenant of grace later that deals with us in mercy apart from our actions?   What did Adam fall from anyway? It was an awful apostasy and breakdown from the life, love and communion he had with God.  He fell from grace!

Wanted: Adam Dead or Alive

Adam was  promised life for obedience and threatened death for disobedience.  He has to obey God or he could not enjoy fellowship with God. As many preachers point out that he was free to eat from every tree except that one. The emphasis was on God’s grace and Adam’s status. Adam was a representative or federal head of all human beings (Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:22, 47).  There is a biblical implication that God made a covenant with Adam but it was because of grace and steadfast love (Hosea 6:6-7). Then our first parents disobeyed God (Gen 3).  When he disobeyed things changed. When Adam sinned he died spiritually (Ezek. 18:20; Eph. 2:5) and He became a slave to sin (Romans 6:16; 2 Peter 2:19) and the sin he sinned and the death he died was transmitted to all of humanity (Rom. 5:12). Simply put, total depravity means human beings are dead in sin and sold out to its power. Death and total depravity are synonymous.

The idea of God giving Adam the death penalty for his crime had somehow slipped our minds.  But it is clear as day. God’s justice and mercy are woven through the tapestry of scripture. God sentenced Adam to slavery to sin and spiritual death. Was God unrighteous to enforce this penalty as Creator and Lawgiver? His perfection, holiness and justice are limitless! He hates sin. All sin is against God (Psalm 51: 4).  This must never be forgotten. Adam countered God’s goodness, kindness and glory with violating his law! Adam was made for God’s glory and to serve him and Adam betrayed the God of heaven with what R.C. Sproul refers to as “cosmic treason.” Adam deliberately rebelled against God and defected to serve Satan and his lies. That is why God inflicted capital punishment upon him and sentenced him to death, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die!” (Gen 2:17).  God takes vengeance upon Adam and repays him to the face for his deed with spiritual and eventually physical death and also slavery to the sin Adam loved so much (Deut 7:10; Rom 12:19).

Arthur Pink comments that man, “is like a murderer in the condemned cell awaiting execution…he is dead vitally, without a single spark of spiritual life. Thus he is totally dead to God and holiness, cast out of His favor, without any power to recover it.”  That is total depravity in a nutshell. Adam was put to death by God.  He was executed for his crime. The day he ate he died inside and he sat on death row until he died physically. The payback of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Human beings are so entrenched in sin they cannot produce anything that is equal to God’s standard for heaven.  The heart and will are dead. This does not mean he cannot feel guilt or is unable to discern right and wrong. This does not mean they cannot make day to day decisions or feel affection for others. What this means is that men are incapable of loving God in and of themselves and in their mind hate the truth of God are defiant against it. In everything humans do is tainted with sin. This truth should humble us.

A Love-Hate Relationship

God was angry at Adam for what he did.  American Christianity will avoid talking about God’s wrath or deny God has anger at all.  They think  it portrays God having some fault or blemish in his character. But he detests, loathes and has an aversion to evil and hates sin. God does not separate that anger toward those who live in sin either. People will say that God’s wrath was an Old Covenant issue, not in the New Covenant. Ridiculous! Right now God’s wrath is revealed from heaven (Rom. 1:18).  There is a day of wrath coming (Mt 3:7; Luke 3:7; Rom 2:5). For people who do not believe in Christ God’s wrath is upon them (John 3:36), they are ominously called “the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

God does love righteousness and hate iniquity (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1: 9). Let us be clear: God’s hatred for sin and the God’s passion for justice  are divinely foreign and transcend human emotions and affections. He does not love as we love, he does not hate as we hate-He is perfect love and perfect holiness! Many people point out that God is love (1 John 4:8) but He is not all loving and all forgiving. He also is holy and just. There are scriptures that teach God hates the unrepentant reprobate (Hosea 9:15; Ps. 5:5; 11:5; Lev. 20:23; Prov. 6:16-19; Mal. 1:3; Rom. 9:13)!  Does this shock you? How could this be? I know it is a lot to think about. We have always been taught that God does not hate anyone.   The Bible teaches this in contradiction to much preaching today. This is the most difficult truth for anyone to swallow because the majority of people especially church goers under spin doctor preaching or pop theology want unconditional acceptance from God no matter what they do. God giving people over to their desires such as Romans 1:18-32 is another truth that sours in their spiritual stomachs.

They also think in humanistic terms because what they do is not as bad as others. Notice the comparison they use, “not as bad as others.”  We hate (tolerantly, politely and sometimes angrily) those who commit awful crimes. The molester, child abuser or murderer are an object of hostility, abhorrence and revulsion. Whereas we know we should not take the law in our hands but when justice is served upon awful criminals, molesters, murderers-we loathe them and want to see justice served.  Those who we appoint to represent us and to deal with crime, are called God’s servants,  “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Rom 13: 4). But God’s wrath is free from anything tainted by sin and what are the sinful actions of we human beings contrasted with the thrice Holy God of the universe? Where angels since eternity involuntarily past spill out and never grow weary of crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!” (Rev. 4:8).  What sin ticks God off? All sin  whether in thought, word or deed (James 2:10). Even taking a piece of fruit in the Garden angered him, because He commanded Adam not to do it.

Christ is the Only Hope For Sinners

In Genesis chapter three Adam and Eve were unable to clothe themselves, hide themselves, excuse themselves and unable to save themselves. The flimsy leaves of their self righteousness could not clear them of their deeds (Isaih 64:6). I believe that God acted in mercy toward the elect first parents by slaying the animal and clothing them with animal skins. Sin had to be punished and at the same time he wanted to save his creation! But how could he justify the ungodly without violating his own laws (Prov 17:15)? Only Jesus, the eternal Son of God was the only One who could save them.  His sacrifice was the only act that could save us. For Adam and Eve, Abel and others those who saw the shadow of the cross across their path were saved retroactively (Heb. 10:1).

Christ removes spiritual death and the last enemy to be destroyed has already been dealt a death blow (1 Cor 15:26).  The God-man was the perfect once-for-all sacrifice (Heb 10:10). King Jesus, the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8) left his throne above to come and die in the place of sinful men, to satisfy a God who was offended at the despicable acts of man. This was a type of what the predicted “seed of the woman” would do (Gen 3:15). He would be sacrificed to appease the anger of  God. That is the meaning of the word propitiation and atonement. Only in Christ can we be saved from God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10). 

Jesus Christ came into this world for lawbreakers and sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and they can only be saved by the power of the Spirit of God drawing them to foot of Calvary’s cross (John 6:44).  Jesus died saying, “Father forgive them!” (Luke 23:34) in making covenant in his blood (Heb 13:20). he not only made the covenant but he  was the Covenant (Isaiah 42:6)  and he sealed these people as he died for them to give them eternal life (Eph4:30).  Jesus could look at  the people given to him by the Father and say, “because I live ye shall live also.” (John 14:19).  The last Adam was a life giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45) who came and resurrected the lost souls of his elect people by his own resurrection.  He is the first of the harvest of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:23). Jesus will resurrect human beings from their graves notonly physically (John 5:28) but he gives new birth to those whom he breathes on and speaks life to (John 3:5; 20:22; Eph 2:1, 5). He will give life, eternal life to believers, those ordained to eternal life (Acts 13:48).  He sees people in their dead condition and he says, “Come forth!” (Luke 11:43). 

Notice what Jesus says, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” (John 16:27). “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph 5:25).  Jesus loves us, he comes as God’s answer not ours. He died in love for his church, “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1). He stooped down to wash their sins away and to remove the reason for God’s wrath against them!  He loves the justified sinner (John 14:21). The blood of Jesus Christ washed their sins away (Rev. 1:5). He lavishly, abundantly poured out the riches of his grace and forgiveness “in love” upon his own, those he has saved (Eph 1:4-7). We are rooted and grounded in that love (Eph3:17) and Christ is the sole hope of salvation.

Must God Kill Us?

Some of you bristle still at the fact that God executed Adam for his crimes and sentenced him to return to the dust. But there is a death we all must die that is not physical. It is through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that the Word of God must kill us (John 16:8; Heb 4:12).  God says to Israel, “I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.” (Hosea 6:5NIV). Real biblical preaching  puts to death the pride of humans and exalts God! That is where surrender to God comes in the form of repentance. Why?  Repentance is the death to self that we all must die so that we come alive in Christ clothed in his righteousness not the tattered rags of our self righteousness. We must take up our cross and follow Christ.  Adam’s flimsy leaves, and taking cover behind the tree of his sins could not cover his sin.  Like him we cannot hide. All the church of today offers with its self improvement, motivational psycho-gospel  leaves us red faced and ashamed in the presence of the God whose piercing gaze cannot be bribed with the good works of man.  Humans must take on the robe of Christ and hide behind or in the rugged wood of the cross of Christ! 

Let me finish with the words of Charles Spurgeon:

“This downcasting and slaying is good for us. We take a deal of killing, and it is by being killed that we live. Many a man will never live till his proud self is slain. O proud Pharisee, if you are to live among those whom God accepts, you will have to come to the slaughterhouse and be cut in pieces as well as killed. “This is dreadful work,” saith one, “this dividing of joints and marrow, this spiritual dismemberment and destruction.” Assuredly it is painful, and yet it were a grievous loss to be denied it.  Alas, how many are so good and excellent, and strong and wise, and clever, and all that, that they cannot agree to be saved by grace through faith. If they could be reduced to less than nothing it would be the finest thing that ever happened to them. Remember what Solomon said might be done with the fool, and yet it would not answer–he was to be brayed in a mortar among wheat with a pestle,-pretty hard dealing that, and yet his folly would not depart from him. Not by that process alone, but through some such method, the Holy Spirit brings men away from their folly. Under his killing operations this may be their comfort that, if Jesus Christ rose literally from the dead (not from sickness, but from death), and lives again, even so will his people. “

Exposing The Beast of Man’s Praise

to_chain_the_beast “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8KJV).  I want to focus on the word fearful or cowards. Are the fearful cowards those who retreat from war, those who abandon their homes and family, or civic responsibility? These may be included but it focuses mainly on those that apostasize or fall away from Christ on account of fear. A.T. Roberston says that it is an old word that refers to recanting or retracting your beliefs under persecution.

The Beast in the book of Revelation has many interpretations but I am using this as an analogy not eschatologically. I see Satan intimidating preachers by his growling Beast and the seductive woman that sits upon it. From Saddleback to Broken Back he will do anything to stop the preacher of the gospel of Christ! This Beast threatens them with the fear of the loss of  finances, congregation size, and reputation. On one hand Satan raises up external forces like militant homosexuals, violent Islamic extremists, liberal politicians in places of power to make the preacher back down. Internally, the Devil raises up recycled church hoppers full of rebellion and bitterness,  he strategically places unregenerate people on an elder board, or church goers who are into the latest and greatest spirutual fads.  He coerces them to downsize their doctrine, and be generously compromising in their orthodoxy- upgrading activities, programs and entertainment. Idolatry to say the least is entertaining. That is what makes the Beast come to life.

God help those who choose this path that serves the Beast called “the praise of man.”  This is a day and age where courage is needed the most, especially behind the pulpit. God has called men to preach the gospel and minister his Word despite the consequences without letting fear deter them from their calling (2 Tim 1:7). But many men have become ashamed of the gospel of Christ and ashamed of Christ himself! It is almost as if they have taken black highlighter and smeared it all over the Bible.

With that that being said, today there is a growing number of ecclesiastical Castrati.  We have men standing behind the pulpit today with absolutely no guts to speak the truth (if they know what truth is) especially, if they are part of the church growth cult. The church growth movement is anti-biblical because it rejects the purest teaching of scripture the Sovereignty of God in his purpose of election by grace. It is also a reinvention of the church. It is not supernatural and definitely unnatural. It is not “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47) but a religious factory that employs empirical, social, scientific principles to build worship centers with entertainment, magic shows, and carnivals and a party like atmosphere that gives life to the image of their Beast so all will wonder (Rev. 13:15). 

Oh preacher friend take not the mark of such a delusive Beast! The Beast uses the fear of man to entrap many pastors. Your church must be built on the unique foundation of Christ! Appeal to people so you fill the building, building ideas and agendas on people make seem like there is spiritual life there but it is not. It is only the Beast becoming animated! It will make you  the lowest slave, subservient to the whims of people that change like the wind. But how seductive the praise of man remains batting its eyelashes, forcefully kissing and leading him away to the slaughter. Yet they love the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43).  That is why all you hear is emaciated cheer-leading, unsubstantial motivational speaking and diet Bible sermonettes. It does not rock the boat. I am sickened by this limp wristed  “sharing.” Sure, every once in a great while they will preach something that touches the surface of truth and prick their congregation with a pin, or pinch them with a non specific message about sin but they are fearful to swing the sword of the spirit unless they gash of few of their large tithe payers. This is done at the cost of souls. How such preachers will spend eternity in hell for such cowardice.

You can see the fear of man in the content of preaching. They will say that they cannot preach about certain truths in the Bible. God did not call them to pick and choose!  They are to preach the whole counsel of God.  Then preachers play the psychologist. They concentrate on the many hurts and wounds of  church people. But God has not called them to invent medicine to heal them. Only God Word can help them. Only truths balm heals as its wine hurts.  Instead of exposing sin as the real culprit to save people from its power to hurt, they paint a pretty picture of their lives and fill them with false hopes and dreams (Lam 2:14).  Thus they breed and hatch a new kind of proselyte, manufactured of the flesh and not born of the spirit. It may seem shocking but Satan censors their preaching. How? Because they operate in fear and they engage in man centered, humanistic  pulpiteering .

American church structures  are so much like corporations they need motivational speaking the keep people working hard so they do not have time to be troubled about their souls. They make people feel as though they have  godlike potential and fill them the idea that their destiny is in their hands. It is despicable. They savour the things of men like Peter who for a moment rejected the idea of a crucified Savior (Mt 16:23). They set aside  the power of God for the attributes of man. They savour this christened humanism, they relish and enjoy it slowly! The message of the cross of Jesus Christ has been footnoted or made a deeper truth.  They have forgotten that all we preach is foolishness to the heart of an unregenerate person (1 Cor. 2:14) and it must be spiritually revealed. This is a heart condition that rejects the idea of a Supreme Deity!  The idea of an omnipotent God has no place in their hearts practically and eventually biblically. The God who decides in mercy who he will save and who in justice he condemns is seen as legalistic. They would rather pander to the felt needs of people rather than God’s glory. They have forgotten that every sermon should be holy and an act of worship not another commercial for agendas or new programs.

Truth is always subversive and shocking and pastors must not let the consequences that may come deter them  from their God given calling to walk uprightly according to the truth of the  gospel (Gal 2:14). While pastors must shepherd their flocks with love, compassion and understanding we still must speak the truth in love to a generation unwilling to receive the love of the truth (Eph. 4: 15; 2 Thess 2:10).  Oh that our fellowship was based on what John the apostle taught as we see our brethren as those we love in the truth! (2 John 1:1).  That preaching the truth would be seen as honorable, dignified and praiseworthy for men to blaze the truth of God from their pulpits and everyday lives that threaten the Beast of man worship. It is a frightening animal that tests the faith of every man or woman of God everyday. But it has been defeated in the lives of those who seek to do all things for the glory of God.

Shot Down By Christ!

sword_spirit“Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the kings enemies whereby the people fall under thee.”  (Psalm 45:5).

Why does the Psalmist employ the metaphor of arrows and war?  It is because Christ is the ultimate conqueror!  Does that startle you about Jesus Christ?  How can he be the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and at the same time be “a man of war” (Exodus 15:3). Christ “is Faithful and True and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” (Rev. 19:11).  This is not war like we see in the world today. He does not use man made weapons, nor is he interested in real estate since he has a rightful claim to own all the earth (Ps. 24:1; Isaiah 66:1-2).  But he chooses on conquering the human heart and he uses spiritual arrows.

The scriptures use the picture of warfare because the bloodiest fighting  in all history was waged upon Mount Calvary where Jesus died for sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)!   The Bible says, “His “robe is dipped in blood and his name is the Word of God” (Rev. 19:13)! The living personified Word of God proclaims his sacrifice for sin, in the symbol of “his robe dipped in blood.” In war the enemies blood is spilled, but in this war Christ spilled his blood and became victor. The blood stained banner of the Cross is the flag of victory.  There is not a day that goes by where The Son of God whose  does not engage the human heart and mind to win it to himself and save them from destruction. No one comes to Christ easily! 

The Lord Jesus Christ fights in a sitting position (Ps. 110:1)  to save those inwtj_throne_ls_1 danger of losing their eternal souls  and he exacts justice upon those who stubbornly refuse to change (Isa. 42:13). In the time in which we live, Christ redemptively subdues the hearts of the men and women of this world. He will overthrow sin through the message of gospel. The Bible states that he waits expectantly until his foes become his footstool and his worst, his most hated enemy will be saved for the final coupe de grâce –death (1 Cor 15:25-26; Heb 10:13). 

The Bible says that these arrows “are sharp.  They are not blunt but exact, precise and intentional. They are able to cut through the excuses of people by razor sharp grace and power.  Through the teaching of the scripture the Spirit of Christ shoots down the root issues of argumentation, twisted thinking and barriers to the truth of God. The minister of the gospel acts like a  “crossbow” preaching the cross of Christ and he  launches the message of the gospel out of the quiver (the case that holds arrows) of the scripture. 

How important it is that the preacher must have weight in his message and force in his words! He has an incredible arsenal at his disposal-in the word of truth, the scriptures. The pastor must be like Jonathan and shoot arrows that send a precise message (1 Sam 20:18-42)! When someone begins to understand the Cross they will be cut to the heart with its truth.

When a courageous man preaches the message of the cross it is a gospel arrow that is shot into the deepest part of a person as the only means to awaken and regenerate that dead soul. You will know when a man is preaching the scripture by its character and disposition. It is a two edged sword (Heb 4:12) and God asks,“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”   If it is not like that, it is not the Word! Look, the human heart is not a soft target. The heart is so hard before it comes to Christ it must be struck hard by a gospel hammer in order to be broken. The heart is so rigid it must be melted by fiery preaching.  The gospel is an act of compassionate aggression to fight for those who are “against themselves” and oppose their own spiritual welfare and salvation (2 Tim 2:25). Oh,  I pray that if you do not know Christ as Savior and Lord that the Spirit of God would slay the bondage of sin in your life by the power of his word!

christ1The problem with many preachers today is that they want to do not want to cause any pain in the hearts of people by the scalpel of the word so they medicate them with messages that numb their symptoms. Let us weep in prayer before God and ask his mercy that the Holy Spirit would not only operate in our church gatherings but perform operations on the hearts of those who hear the man behind the pulpit and the remove the malignant sin that has killed them and regenerate their souls that they might repent of sin and turn to God. “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” (Hosea 6:1NIV).

They are also shot “in the heart of the King’s enemies.”  Who are these targeted enemies?  People who do not know Christ are called the enemies of God and are hostile to God and prove it by their thinking and actions (Col 1:21).  The worldly mind hates God (Rom 8: 7). Christ loves these enemies, like Saul of Tarsus, who was rushing headlong to destruction (Acts 9),  he must stop them by Sovereign Grace and this involves the launching of these Divine arrows!  He shoots at close range and the arrow strikes with force that is point blank and they enter into the very core of the human being.  Sinner interrupted! He aims a spined arrow that cannot be easily removed! Oh how people need to be convicted of sin, struck through with the sharp arrow of the accurate gospel as Charles Spurgeon says, “Whether for love or vengeance, Christ never misses aim, and cause{s}… a wound which only he can heal.” 

Whereby the people fall under thee.   Christ causes people to fall. His message brings fallout. There are those, how sad, of whom the Bible says, that Christ is “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Pet. 2:8).  Oh, how fearful it is to fall into the hands of the living God! And there are those who will fall in line with Christ, who will be enlisted by his call to follow him as disciples of Christ.

But Christ’s arrows will cause people to fall. He is Lord of heaven and earth and how ominous are his words in the Gospel of Luke, “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Luke 20:18). Those who come must be broken of all their ideas, all their rebellion, they must be regenerated and given new life and God will be near to them as they repent and are contrite in spirit. But others will have the stone fall upon them and will be crushed! Oh I am sorry for you if you do not repent of your sins! Christ can by no means clear the clear the guilt of those who refuse to embrace Him as Lord of everything! They will be crushed to dust and blown away by the wind like stubble! Eternity is a moment away, will you not turn to Christ for salvation?  Is the arrow he has launched into you, stinging with pain enough to make you turn to him for healing?

cornerstone02 Christ comes into the human heart and exposes the real enemy: sin and then he shoots at it by the message of the cross! The arrow causes the human soul to seek the forgiveness and deliverance of Christ from a life dominated by sin as if it were a lethal disease that he needs to be cured from.  They must go to Jesus by whose wounds they can be healed (Isa. 53:5).

“For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.” (Isaiah 66:16).  There is the fire of God for condemnation and the fire of the Spirit for sanctification. There is a sword that brings salvation and there is a sword that brings damnation. No matter, in the end God will get the glory! Either your old life will be slain and you will be given a new life or you will be slain in the “second death” of the Lake of fire! Christ never misses those he aims at whether for salvation or damnation.

The message of the cross of Christ is the most sharp instrument that demonstrates the love and justice of God (Rom. 3:25-26; 5:10).  When Christ and his accomplishments are lifted up he draws with irresistible grace all those he effectually calls!  Obviously, it is threatening when we see Christ shooting at people!  It may be seen by some in an negative light because Christ shoots in justice against sin, but if we understand it  in terms of God bringing back to life the human spirit and saving their soul from eternal hell it is good news!  Whether people seem near to coming to Christ or far from God as they can it does not matter! Be encouraged and warned! No one is out of his range and you are never far from his reaching, saving hand! But sin no more unless a worse thing comes upon you and you fall unable to recover.

The Mud and Water of the Gospel

healing_of_the_blind_man_jekelNotice that beautiful phrase: “And Jesus passed by.” Did you see it? Oh how I long for you to see him passing by you right now. Jesus the Messiah, God in the flesh, the same one Moses saw when, “the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Ex 34:6). Jesus passed by this man, stopped what he was doing and stooped down to help him. 

 

There were many beggars, many blind people but he did not stop for them. But he stopped for this man! Why? Grace! The Sovereign grace of God! He says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Rom 9: 15-16ESV). Will Jesus pass by you? Will he see you  and where you are at and help you with his presence and power? There are those in the church who wonder why they do not experience more of the presence of God.  Like Jeremiah we feel like God is a visiting guest staying only for a night (Jer. 14:8). I think we need the mud and water of the gospel!

 

Oh, I would like to pray like Elisha, “O LORD, please open the eyes of these people that they may see the son of Man, Jesus Christ walking in the midst of his church” (see 2 Kings 6:15-17; Rev. 1: 12, 13). There are people that do not realize that Jesus is passing your way! Throughout your life he lifted you to his cheek. Like a doting parent he taught you how to walk, leading you gently by the hand but you did not know or even care he led you through life with gentle cords of kindness and love (Hosea 11:1-4). Ah we are truly God chosen frozen! We need a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit! In our services have we forgotten that Jesus is walking down the aisle moving through every seat, touching people at the altar who are praying!  He says he desires the works of God to be seen in our lives! All it takes is some gospel mud and water!

 

Ah, but we want Jesus Christ to come to us on our terms! We want something that will blow us up, shake us up, and fire us up! At one time God told Elijah, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12).  The Lord was not in the show! He was in a whisper, a gentle sound of quiet stillness! Ah, that is where we miss it! The man in our story was not deaf! He could hear the words of the still, small calming voice of the Savior! This man was not blown up, shaken up, or fired up! But after some spittle, a little mud, and washing his face in a pool he could see!  But the voice of Jesus is so powerful a whisper can make all the difference. Do you hear his whispers?  By God’s grace you may not see everything that is being told you tonight but you can hear it. All it takes is some mud and water of the gospel!

 

“He saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus saw this man and he sees those who are lost in darkness. The blind man did not once ask Jesus for sight! This shows again salvation is not finding God or knowing God but God finding us and knowing us (Gal 4:9)! You have not been looking for him because you have no eyes to see! How helpless people are without Christ! The Bible says they are “without strength” (Rom 5:6) to repent (Prov. 5:22), have faith (Mt. 13:58) and pray (Isa. 64:7),  it is like they are curled up in a fetal position unable even to help themselves! They cannot even purse their lips to whisper a prayer for what they really need! But Jesus saw him!  He sees you are the very person he has been looking for to put his forgiving love on display. Dr. Jesus only comes for the sick, not the healthy!  But just one look from Jesus, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” (Isa. 35:5).

 

We are clear that the context of the story is that this man or his family’s sin did not bring this blindness upon him, but this scripture is a case and point for those who are spiritually blind. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Eph 4:18). This man was born into a world of darkness and those who do not know Christ are living in complete spiritual blindness.  Many of you have taken the life God has given you and live a life of blindly sinning against him. You cannot even find him because you have no eyes. But the Alpha and Omega, The beginning and the End, the First and the Last, he who is “Everything” has passed your way tonight, and he is looking for you. He has eyes that penetrate the thickest darkness and can restore sight in this simple place of prayer by the simple mud and water of the gospel.

 

The most brilliant light cannot be seen by a corpse. You cannot see the beautiful shadow of the Son of God if you are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). The Bible says that there is a darkness that is so dark it can be felt (Ex 10:21-23).  It is a gloomy thick darkness that chokes the atmosphere of your life. “A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.” (Job 10:22). Do you have a spiritual pulse? Oh it is the work of God to pass by you in this dead condition and he will say, “Live!” (Ezek 16:6). Even now if in your heart you are saying, “Let me live!” there is already a spiritual pulse in your life. Even now you are coming to life by the presence of Christ and the simple mud and water of the gospel!

 

Then it is amazing grace that God has shown you to hear Jesus whisper your name.  To hear the sweet voice of Jesus whisper in your ears as He says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world! I must work the works of him that sent me, night cometh when no man can work.”  Christ’s life and ministry were like the sunrise that blossoms into a noon time sun on the whole world and his death would be like the sunset and then night. The Father set a time for Jesus to come who arose like “the Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2).

 

Oh that is the mercy of God if you can hear his voice even now! I pray he will speak the word to your heart. You cannot run from his smiling face, His face full of pity and compassion for you. He can find you wherever you are at this very moment. The word of God, the Bible, is living and powerful and that is why God is talking this way to you at this moment. He can speak the word “Let there be light!” and that light can penetrate into the darkest life in less time than it takes to say those words! 

 

He whispers to you “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph 5:14). The word that he speaks is like, “a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts!” (2 Peter 1:19).  That dark place means, “A parched, squalid, dirty, dark, neglected murky” place (Vincent)! Oh like the first star in the morning he will rise into the darkest night of your life- that is the beginning of what we call illumination (Heb 10:32). It is a special work of God that imbues (soaks and make a soul rich) in the light of salvation (Thayer). In a moment that midnight darkness will see at first the glimmer of the bright and morning star Jesus Christ and as he comes closer your soul will be turn into a noonday of mercy and grace. Only then can you really say, “I was blind but now I see!” It is all because of the Mud and Water of the Gospel! 

 

The text goes on to say, “When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”  There are many interpretations about the clay and spittle. He created eyes in him like when God created Adam from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7). I especially like what ancient Christian father taught, “For he spat in a human fashion, yet his spittle was charged with deity, for therewith he caused the eyes of the man born blind…to receive sight” (Athanasius). 

I think if Jesus used some kind of medicine the religious people would have started selling it on their cable networks! But the simplicity of the spittle, clay and pool are found in the preaching of the gospel!  The gospel offers life from the dead and sight for those who will respond to his voice! All the motivational speaking, relevant preaching cannot give life like the ancient message of the Bible. It is never out of date.  Sometimes gospel spittle, smearing some gospel mud, and telling people to get to the gospel pool is what it takes! Because it shows that the power is not in the mud and the water but in Christ! God is the Savior not us! 

 

Jesus ordered that blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam, Shiloam or Shiloh. It was a mikvah or a ritual bath designed for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. Isaiah reproaches the men of his time, that they despise the softly flowing waters of Siloam and preferred the rapid and impetuous streams of the world (Isaiah 8:6). They want loud entertaining religious shows not quiet cleansing pools. What is the sense of being religious if you are stained or defiled with sin! Christ wants to cleanse you from sin!

 

The mikvah also points to the bridal bath.  Paul refers to the bride of Christ the church and that Christ died for he “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Eph 5:26). This is a type of going to that pool and washing yourself in the Word of God, you hear it and read it and it washes and cleanses you from sin (John 17:17). When Christ commanded him to go and wash when he washed he found out that, “The commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes!” (Ps 19:8). 

 

The meaning of Siloam is Sent. It refers not to a pool but the Sent One of which the Bible says, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen 49:10).  It is not where you are sent but who is sent to you. True Christian faith is not just being sent to something or somewhere but it is God sending Christ to us-it’s the theme of the entire Bible. At this moment, we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would come and make your life a new creation. He is simply coming to you using the mud and water of the gospel to open your eyes!

No Pajamas In Church, Please

pajamasI recently visited a church near where I live and sat down with my son in my normal Sunday suit. It actually fit this time of year. It was just around Christmas time and the church was practicing for worship service before Sunday, which I have understood is the worship leaders last resort because he works with people that do not even know how to spell s-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e in making out during the week and preparing. 

It is noisy and takes away from settling in, praying and reading your Bible so your mind is on God. It is like going to a wedding and the music is always too loud and you have to literally scream in your neighbors ear to say, “Can you pass me a tithing envelope, please?” I wonder if it could be said, “My house is a house of prayer but you have made it a den of noise.”

But I am just a visitor so I grin and bear it.

The first thing I beheld (which the pastors wife later explained to me was for a Christmas play later that day) was that the altar area. It was surrounded by cardboard candy canes, cut out gingerbread men and enough cotton balls to gag a wise man’s camel. In the middle of it was a communion table.

There they practiced, guffawed and one girl even gave the worship leader and nice shoulder massage.  With recent events, I began to think I am in hell (for you neo-evangelicals that is eternal hell not annihilation).  I had been pondering recently the lack of reverence for God and the picture preachers paint of Christ that he is giddy and fun loving. I know some people will think I am Pharisee, Sadducee etc. go right ahead call me whatever,  but I guess that is better than Heresy.

I manufactured an artificial smile and began to quote the love chapters in my mind and my teenage son was looking at me for some response but he saw it in my eyes and that was enough. I  prayed I could keep my mouth shut in such a situation which would be a modern day miracle, for sure.

Then, during service the Pastor walked in (a large man) wearing pajamas and a robe with the Yankee insignia. I was hoping it was an object lesson and I was praying, “Oh, Lord let this be an object lesson.”  But it was not, it was an advertisement for the Christmas play that night and they invited everyone to come with their pajamas on at 5pm. Then there were comments from the seats about baseball teams and other foolishness.

He showed a Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon for a introduction. Rats, he even preached, took the offering and served the Lord’s Supper in his pajamas and at last, the Pentecostal Pajama party was over.

After that service I could identify with Chuck Brown. I wonder if he were a professing Christian  looking for a church that actually preaches the Bible without all the shiny bows and pretty wrapping of religious commercialism. Where is that scripture toting Linus when you need him anyway.

So, here we have it.  Christ tells us, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning.” (Luke 12:35ESV).  Pajama clad sleepy Christians need not apply. The American Church has an empty, lifeless false advertisment  by offering people a pillow padded life full of positive self esteem as they ignore, delay or set aside repentance from actions that lead to a dangerous sleepy death. God says, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you  to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11).  Oh God ,wake your people who are asleep and save those who are wandering lost in sin! The visible American church needs to wake up and not hypnotized by the world and its bait of entertainment.

“Wherefore he saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’ ” (Eph 5:14).  How are we going to get  American Christianity out of its ecclesiastical sleeping bags  into a well armored unit ready to fight off the temptations of this evil age?  Sadly, it is not walking in the Spirit, it is sleep walking. This is the where great work of the Sovereign Lord of the church will be seen!

Nothing wakes up the church like the Word of the Lord being preached in power! He says, “Wake up!”  It takes the power to raise the dead and he says, “Rise From the dead!”  It takes drawing back the curtains of dullness, and let the blistering white hot light of Christ shine on them.  he says, “And Christ will give thee light!”  Preacher preach, Preach with all your might the word of Christ! Preach loud, preach hard but in the name of jesus Christ rise up and walki into that pulpit without the lameness of man’s methods and preach the Scripture and let all of its force weigh down on the consciences of the hearers. The power of his presence is still available to the obedient man who is not a captive slave to the opinion of men!

Reformation Now!

martin20lutherHappy Reformation Day! is not the usual greeting you expect on October 31st. But it is this day in history over 490 years ago that began a spark that turned into a blaze when Dr. Martin Luther challenged the existing form of Christianity with the Holy Scriptures. Sadly, the real meaning of this day in history has been ignored or forgotten by the evangelical church with its harvest festivals to substitute for the secular celebration of Halloween. In a day when the study of church history is either revised or ignored we are tempted to relegate the chronicles of the Christian church and things like the Protestant Reformation to the place of insignificance. 

 

In the days of the Holy Roman Empire, the church was living in a Babylonian Captivity or under a religious slavery for over a thousand years! The people of God could not even read the Bible or pray in their native tongue in those days. The scriptures, written in Latin, were chained to an altar for a thousand years and prayers prayed directly to God by ordinary people were forbidden. People were told that absolute unquestioning obedience was the only way to be saved from hell. People could not partake of the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. People lived in fear of a vengeful God and forgot the mercies and love of God.

 

But God heard the cries of his people groaning under this tyranny and began to light the torch of the Protestant Reformation. Through men like John Wycliffe, John Huss and William Tyndale who set the foundation for this movement, Martin Luther arose.

 

Through a simple, innocuous act on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a proposal on the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the erroneous doctrine and practice of indulgences or paying for the forgiveness of God as a tax to release people from a mythological place called purgatory a place where sinners went after they died to pay for their sins and be purified by a “temporary” punishment that could last from hundreds to thousands to millions of years!

 

People were taught that gazing at relics would shorten their time in purgatory like purchasing an indulgence or a payment for pardon for sin. A relic was some body part or clothes of a dead saint. A saint was a person who seen as having a superior holiness and virtue above other people in the eyes of the Roman Church. People were taught that the viewing of these relics promised to reduce their time in purgatory just like paying for an indulgence. This entire tradition that existed for hundreds of years, was based on the false doctrine of a metaphysical “treasure chest of the church,” which supposedly contained the merits of Christ and the extra spiritual credit of the super-saints. They were like leftovers of good works that these super saints did not need for their own salvation. The Roman church taught that this surplus could be used vicariously or used on the behalf of others. The Pope was entrusted with this surplus and could draw on it as if it were a bank account for the use of others.

 

The Pope at that time, Leo X, used this tradition for to raise funds for St. Peters Basilica and to fill the empty bank accounts of Rome. He appointed a Dominican monk name Johann Tetzel a fast talking religious salesman, who went through the cities and villages of Germany to promote the sale of indulgences. This monk produced live infomercials that manipulated people to buy indulgences to get forgiveness of personal sin and amnesty for a loved one or a relative who had died and whose soul was in suffering in the flames of purgatory. It was a fast growing Christian marketing technique that some people bought hook, line and sinker. Others were disgusted by it. It was confusing and was a major turn off to Germans and a blatant double-cross of true Christian faith and teaching! Pope Leo X approved as long as money kept rolling in.

 

Thus Dr. Luther was strategic in his choice to nail his 95 theses to the Castle Church doors. Since the Castle Church faced the city of Wittenberg’s Main Street, the church door operated as a public bulletin board and was the best place for posting important notices. It was All Saints Eve and indulgences and relics were particularly sanctioned. This one document exposed the rats hiding in the Church of Rome’s basement! Martin Luther’s life had been completely changed by the discovery that the scripture taught that being made right with God by grace alone, through faith alone and by Christ alone. He began to scrutinize other practices of the Roman church in light of scripture at that time and the more he investigated the practices of the church he saw this religious business as a symptom of an ever-growing deformation of the Church. We could say more but time does not permit. But let me ask you a few questions.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO INTRODUCE A NEW REFORMATION INTO THE CHURCH? Do you even think American Christianity needs to reform? This church needs an overhaul and restructuring! By this I do not mean peripheral issues of church government, styles of worship or denominational distinctiveness. But we should break down the idols of the new church growth movement and focus in on growing the people we pastor. What we need are men and women who are attentive to the illumination of the Holy Spirit upon Holy Scripture. God is calling us to respond to the words of Christ who said, “I will build my church!” (Mt. 16:18). Christ will build his church and he word of Christ should dwell in you richly (Col. 3:16). You must let God’s Word shape the church you have been called to pastor. God created the world by his Word (John 1:1) and he can build his church with it! You must read, preach and pray the scripture and let it by itself interpret itself and it will change lives. It should hurt you to see the preaching of the gospel substituted with motivational humanistic messages. Media and religious entertainment have replaced the spiritual gifts. The church is spiritually sick. People are wounded, hurt, and guilty and slaves to destructive, overwhelming sins. The church today focuses on behavior modification, psychology, marriage seminars, step programs, principles and keys for success instead of having the heart changed through an encounter with the one who turns the heart of stone into a soft heart! Where are those shepherds willing to pour in the stinging wine of truth and correction where there is disease? Where are the men and women who comfort not with false hope but with the application of the balm of mercy and forgiveness to heal them after their repentance?

 

THE CHURCH MUST BE VERY DIFFERENT IN ORDER TO REACH THE WORLD. Consider what God sees in the world and says that, “I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease.” (Zech 1:15MKJV). The people in your community are not terrified at their coming day in court for eternal sentencing in hell. They are rushing headlong into it! He is grieved with what is happening in the world. Today is much like the days of Noah, human wickedness is becoming more and more unrestrained and the earth has become a cesspool of sin. We live in the last days! Seven years have passed since 9-11 and even then after the short lived flood of souls into our buildings, it showed us that the church is not ready to bring the masses of hurting souls to Christ! Mobsters and madman control entire countries. Terrorists unafraid of killing others and themselves are brainwashed in thinking their eternity is secure if they will annihilate themselves for their religion. The global economic collapse around us is a wakeup call to the corruption that is rampant in the government and corporate America and smacks of a certain inclination to having the man of sin ushered into power. Christianity has become an object of scorn by those who do not know the Lord and we have lost our credibility. Oh that the church would return to the Lord their God with fasting and weeping in his presence! You must lead and be an example in that repentance.

 

LET GOD OPEN YOUR EYES TO THE WAY THINGS REALLY ARE. Like King Josiah who rediscovered the scriptures you may be shocked at what you see (2 Chr. 34:14-21)! How things change when the word of God is really understood! In certain periods of history the church’s beauty has gone to its head and made her vain and apathetic. But the people of God who think they are rich can be miserable, poor, blind and naked (Rev 3:17-18). Many churches and preachers are backslidden. The religious and societal pluralism and multiculturalism of our day has made the people of God in danger of unknowingly exchanging their God for other gods and ensnaring them in the trap of Satan. All the compromise with the world has left the church of America powerless and we sit outside begging for the blessings of God like Lazarus did for the crumbs of the rich man (Luke 16:21). Christianity has become an object of scorn by those who do not know the Lord. Hypocrisy is the worst enemy of the church, not atheism or liberalism. The children’s bread has been given over to the dogs, the pigs trample the pearls of biblical spiritual truth and we have forgotten the blueprints that scripture gives us for a simple pure love for Jesus Christ. Instead of being beside themselves for Christ, consumed by a love that breaks their heart for the lost people in the world (2 Cor. 5:11) people in church are selfish and cold. The people of God are living dangerously close to the world in these last days! No matter your beliefs about prophecy we are not to take this lying down. Can you handle the truth about yourself and the church? It is a special grace to love the truth! That is why,

 

YOU MUST BE WILLING TO REPENT OF PRAYERLESSNESS AND NEGLECT OF SCRIPTURE. This is the pastor’s greatest sin and a gravest error! A preacher must be a man of prayer. Do people see you as someone they would call for prayer? There are not many preachers that we would call for prayer but we know some mothers among us we would call first. Satan would rather you do anything other than pray. He will begin to see if can distract you by urgent issues and will even viciously oppose you and try to stop you by guilt, fear, loneliness, accusation and anxiety. The scripture is our food and sustenance and if we do not feast upon it we cannot feed others. We cannot give a drink of living water to anyone if we have not tasted of the powers of the age to come on a regular basis. You have not had a call on your life since you were born to throw it all away because you are unwilling to spend time with God in solitude and secret prayer. You will become cold, dull and lifeless and Satan will lull you into a stupor and a conceit where you won’t even know you are dead. Nothing can satisfy us like being in the presence of the God who loves you. We were set aside that we might be with him (Mk. 3:14). Without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5), but it is not what we have done that Christ looks for but if we knew him (Mt. 7: 21-23). Our greatest asset in the kingdom is that we know him (Jer. 9: 23-24). A person who knows the Lord is a vessel meet for the Master’s use. No matter how animated and skilled in speaking you are it does not matter. That is not the anointing only man fueled talent. On the other hand, your messages are not dull and ineffective because of your personality, but because they are not delivered with a burning heart ignited by the Spirit of God. Where have all the men of God gone? The Bible says, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.” (John 1:6). To be a man or woman of God you must come from his presence in prayer to be sent out to the world. When we pray with all our hearts we will find him (Jer. 29:13) that is how,

 

WE LET GOD REMOVE ALL OF OUR MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HIM. God says, “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.” (Jer. 4:22NIV). We cannot be valiant for the truth if we do not know the Lord ourselves (Jer. 9:3). This can only happen as we pursue to know the Lord intimately, personally and let him remove all our mistaken beliefs about him by the study of scripture and learning about our relationship to Christ (Hosea 6:3)! What we understand about God will impact our personal lives and the relationships around us. Job said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6). Men and women of God how we need to know the Lord! Dr. Luther had many issues but despite all his faults and sins he was the vessel God chose to use in his day! An unknown monk, the product of the religion of his day who shuts out all other counsel and turned to the Holy Scriptures for guidance about his guilt ridden soul, his misconceptions about God and found out that a merciful loving Christ was a man forsaken by God and crucified to make us right with God. We must do the same and that revelation will shake us to the core (Psalm 1:1-3). God tells us,

 

YOU ARE A SERVANT OF CHRIST AND MUST PREACH THE ENTIRE SCRIPTURE IN ORDER TO PLEASE GOD. You cannot pick and choose what you think will help people, or what you think will meet their needs. A man pleaser cannot be a servant of Christ (John 12: 43; Gal 1:10). You are first and foremost a messenger that gives what God says, not what you say. God can replace the preacher who refuses to preach his Word with someone who can do it much better. There is a homeless man drunk sleeping on a park bench somewhere that God can save and fill with his Spirit that can preach better than you. God speaks through his Word and Jesus Christ, the Lord of the church, is very interested in what is being taught in your church (Rev 2:14-15). We have been wrung out of truth by the tightening grip of men who refuse to preach the Word of God, the Bible (Rom 1:18), and let it loose to do its work despite the consequences. They are disappointing clouds that have no rain and that cannot quench spiritual thirst! These rebels are wandering planets who cannot be trusted for direction because they do not proclaim hearty, wholesome biblical truth. They have a look of godliness that denies the power of the Word and the power of the spiritual gifts (2 Tim 3:5)! No wonder the Bible says, “And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them.” (Jer. 5:13).  They seek to meet the felt needs of people but sell those souls religious products and principles rather than giving them Christ-God’s unspeakable gift! God says their need is the preached Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit at work among them! It is only the spoken Word and the Holy Spirit that can slay the spirit of antichrist that has run amuck in the United States with the sword of his mouth and the brightness of his coming among the people of God. How we need men like the prophet Elijah in the scripture who had a voice like a thunderclap and a heart like a raging inferno!

 

YOU MUST DETERMINE TO BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. What if men and women of God, pastors, and churches, decided this Sunday that enough is enough? The Bible is not just a sermon book but a book that is living a powerful to reveal the God who saves, heals and fills people with the Spirit of God (Heb. 4:12)! What if right now you developed a courage that is completely fueled by heaven? A courage that despite all your fears of what your people in your church or community will do or say or act that you will determine to preach what God gives you through your intense prayer and study of scripture every time you stand behind the pulpit. This decision you are about to consider has danger. It may cost you. Courage is not the absence of fear but right action in spite of fear. It is at times these that God has a man or woman to speak the heart of God to the Church and bring them back to him. You must determine to be that person. The religious spin doctors, powerful leaders in the community, even some positioned in your church are far more agile and powerful than you and they will oppose you. God will be with you, do not be discouraged and depressed or fearful (Josh 1:9). The Spirit of God will give you a mouth, or ability to speak and wisdom that your enemies will not be able to withstand or contradict (Luke 21:15).

 

YOU MUST RECOGNIZE THE CLEAR TRUTH THAT THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST IS WHAT SETS THE CHURCH APART FROM THE WORLD! The place of religious amusement and pretending end with this truth: Christ among us and in us and as us. The church is the body of “Christ members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”  (Eph 4:30). Should we not begin to ask, “Saw ye him whom my soul loves…My beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.” (Song 3:3; 5:6). Without the scripture being the center of our lives and preaching how can we say he is among us? Jesus among his people is the real acid test of the Christian faith. For he says, “there am I in the midst of them!” (Mt. 18:20). Is it unreasonable theology to believe that Christ walks among his churches (Rev. 2:1)? There is a unique, biblical experience other than omnipresence (Acts 17:28) that Christ actually manifests himself in the life of obedient Christian individuals and church gatherings (John 14:21-23). Where is the preaching that talks about Christ as the scripture portrays him? Where are those who preach about Jesus Christ and who he is? Where is the message that Jesus saves and Jesus heals and Jesus fills with the Holy Ghost! The beauty of Jesus among his people is our main message! The old chorus we used to sing was, “Jesus in the morning, Jesus in the noontime, Jesus when the sun goes down!” That was the secret of the apostles-it was a full diet of Jesus! We are poverty stricken without Christ’s abiding presence. It is time to seek the Lord! It is time to stop the wheels of religious machinery from turning and fill the altar of our churches with weeping! We must pray that God cleanses our hearts from sin, prayerlessness and disregard of his Word! The hammer of Martin Luther that tapped so long ago the Wittenberg Church is now drowned out by a louder knock of Him who seeks entrance to this lukewarm, tepid, church in America! How long will we leave him outside covered with the dew of the night as we live sterile lives, focused on self and success rather than on those who need the message of the scripture! We need a Reformation Day of our own.

 

God Bless you as you go to prayer and the Word to seek him!