Here is an update on Pastor James Coates of GraceLife church in Edmonton, Alberta. The church and the attorney representing Coates are not speaking to legacy media right now, but Attorney for Coates James Kitchen, accepted an interview request from Rebel Media reporter Sheila Gunn Reid. It’s at Rumble (a Youtube alternative) and it’s also on Rebel News website.
(Rebel News) – “Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church remains behind bars today. GraceLife, near Edmonton, Alberta, has been the site of Christian resistance to the medical tyranny of public health orders restricting public gatherings including religious services. In Alberta, religious services are limited to 15 per cent of a building’s fire code capacity. The restrictions on attendance are meant to mitigate COVID case counts, even though the numbers have plummeted and hospitalizations are down to less than half of what they were a month ago.”
The Province of Alberta has released many offenders due to a perceived threat from COVID-19, yet holds a Christian pastor whose church has not beent he source of one single COVID case and where cases inhte province are plummeting daily.
Pastor James Coates is being held at Edmonton Remand Centre, which holds the worst offenders. It’s maximum security. These are offenders who have been denied bail, they are murders, rapists, child molesters, gangsters, wife beaters- etc. “I suppose the people amongst us who need Jesus the most. Maybe he can help them,” said reporter Reid. Pray that if it’s not the Lord’s will to release Coates to preach to lost souls on the outside and to minister to members of his church, that that his jail ministry yields converted souls- and all for the glory of God.
A few days ago, Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton Canada, a province of Alberta, was jailed for refusal to comply with COVID-19 health orders because, in Coates’ view, it would have severely restricted his church from functioning in the way the Bible sets forth. This went against his conscience. He preached his sermon last Sunday, and the Royal Mounted Canadian Police (RCMP) asked Coates to turn himself in after the service was concluded. On Tuesday, Pastor Coates did. Here is a short summary of the situation with his church that began in earnest in December-
“Alberta Health Services [AHS] inspector Janine Hanrahan issued an order against GraceLife in December, ordering members of the church and staff wear masks on the property, maintain six feet distance and operate at 15% or less capacity. On January 21, the health department filed court documents to enforce the order through the court system. It specified AHS had the power to jail the minister if he did not comply. At the end of January, AHS issued another order demanding he close the church until it was brought into compliance. Royal Canadian Mounted Police visited Coates following church services twice in February, and told him he would be arrested.” (source). And then he was.
Two of my favorite people in the faith, Justin Peters and Phil Johnson, speak about the recent criticisms against another of my favorite man of the faith, John MacArthur. These criticisms have been asserted by self-professed reporter Julie Roys and others, (some anonymously) who persistently try to damage the reputation of the church of which MacArthur is leading and the people who work and minister there. In a particular case with one detractor, he crafts his vague accusations in the worst way possible and intimates darkly there may be more, without offering evidence. This is the downside of the internet. A craven underbelly of which we should all beware of/
For the people who have questioned this situation and wondered of the character of John MacArthur is really all that it seems, please refer to this interview which sheds light on and offers facts from a person knowledgeable of the situation. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
I am grateful for these three men, standing for the faith with such grace and patience and for such a long time.
The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)
Apostle Paul told the Corinthians to test themselves. Since Paul was inspired to write it, we should do this as well. It is important to always be mindful of our faith, test it, examine ourselves, and see if we are straying. First, let’s look at the verse to see what it says, then let’s look at the context to see what was happening then and why Paul said it, and last let’s see how to take this test, or make this examination. For some who make an examination, it will reveal a lack of salvation in the first place.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
A week ago, I wrote a piece on This is How a Church Resists Tyranny. I’d written, “GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta Canada is a normal, every day church. They have a couple of pastors, a medium sized congregation, earnestly teach and preach the word, and do this Sunday by Sunday, like any church. However, since December, they were told to limit attendance and comply with COVID health measures or face legal consequences.” The church issued a public statement outlining their stance, the whys and wherefores according to the Bible.
Those consequences came today. Their pastor, James Coates, was arrested and jailed. For what? The ‘crime’ of preaching. Mike Hovlund ( @MikeHovlund) was co-pastor with James Coates until Mike planted a church himself. He is up-to-date on the latest news (if you care to follow @MikeHovlund on Twitter) and said of the events of today:
I came to faith in Jesus at age 43. In my youth and in adult life I never was exposed much to church or Born Again believers or the things of Jesus. A few minimal run-ins, a lesson or two at a Bible night in some dank church basement here or there and that’s about it. As an adult in New England, which is rife with false religions, wiccans and atheists, I never bumped elbows with “Jesus freaks” as they are known up there.
That said, there is a vocabulary associated with Christianity that a person hears at some point in their lives just from listening to news clips or seeing movies or television. “You have to be born again,” or “He’s saved” are examples. I never knew what they meant. I do now. I’ll do my best to explain them.
Prayer is a privilege and a responsibility for every Christian. Why? It is the way Jesus taught us to communicate with Him.
Rather than the wrathful gods of the Aztec era of human sacrifice, or the ancient Middle East where child sacrifice was required, or the Muslim god who is demanding but mercurial and untrustworthy, the One True God creates us to have a love relationship with Him. He wants to redeem us from our sinful state to dwell with Him in heaven. His Holy Word tells us who He is and how to love Him back, and His promises never fold.
In His Bible, He explains how to communicate with Him. Unlike the gods of old, all other gods as a matter of fact, (who are no gods at all) we can speak with Him at any time. He has told us He listens. From Genesis to Isaiah to Philippians, we’re told to pray to God.
“And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8)
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” (Isaiah 55:6)
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
So what IS prayer, exactly? Why do we pray? How do we pray?
As Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry (CARM) explains, “Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian. Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope. Prayer is the privilege of touching the heart of the Father through the Son of God, Jesus our Lord.”
He has made Himself known in three Persons, God, Jesus the son, and Holy Spirit. We can pray to all three or to one or to two. He is all the same. Any or all are appropriate to pray to. However, the Triune God is the ONLY appropriate person to pray to. The first Commandment says that He is the one true God and we shall have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:2-3). We do not pray to angels. (Revelation 22:8-9). We do not pray to saints such as the Catholic Church worships. (1 Timothy 2:5) We do not pray to Mary the mother of Jesus. (Luke 11:27-28). We do not pray to the dead, whose final condition is fixed. (Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27). We pray to God only.
How, then, shall we pray? Jesus answered this exact question in Matthew 6:9-13.
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”
It is not to say that unconscious repetition of this exact phraseology is the way to pray. Jesus pray ‘in this way‘. He began with a statement to whom He was addressing. He led with a praise. It is always proper to praise the Lord at any time but especially in prayer because it sets our heart condition rightly and reminds us of our position as submissive supplicants. This reminder helps us when the prayers are answered in a way we do not expect or in a timing we are uncomfortable with.
Give us this day our daily bread is a statement from Jesus telling us it is all right to ask for things to sustain us while we are living on earth. (Matthew 6:32-33). But you notice the prayer doesn’t say pray in a way where you ask for surplus, He is asking for daily bread. Not weekly bread. The manna that was given to the Hebrews in the desert was given daily. Asking for daily bread helps us not become greedy hoarders, too self-reliant, and it also is a way for the Lord to bless us daily!
Asking the Lord to forgive our sins is a way to remind us that before any prayer can be answered we need to ensure we are on the right side of God and not accumulating sins, and also that if we forgive others we are also on the right side of God. (Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25). Why should He bless a bitter heart? He will not. (1 John 2:9).
“Lead us not into temptation” must be understood correctly. Barnes Notes: “God tempts no man. See James 1:13. This phrase, then, must be used in the sense of “permitting.” Do not “suffer” us, or “permit” us, to be tempted to sin. In this it is implied that God has such control over the tempter as to save us from his power if we call upon him.“
So don’t mindlessly repeat Jesus’ prayer exactly but let the power behind the concepts conform your heart to your own words. Know to Whom you are praying. Praise Him. Understand you position before Him as penitent, His kingdom within you and also your external destination someday. Ask for what earthly provision you need in humility, trusting Him to answer in faith. Ask for unearthly provision such as release from temptation or protection from temptation.
Is there a proper bodily position in which we pray? Some prefer head bowed, others prefer to look up. Some pray with eyes closed, others keep them open. Still others pray silently, some prefer aloud. Standing, sitting, kneeling, walking,…all these postures are in the Bible. Here is a very short answer to the question of whether there is a commanded posture for prayer, at Grace to You.
The most important thing about prayer is that in order to communicate this way with God, you must be saved he does not listen to nor answer the prayers of the unsaved. (John 9:31; 1 Peter 3:12). The entire Christian faith is based on the fact that Adam’s sin separated us from our holy and righteous God. That separation includes communication and intimacy, including prayer. The most important utterance you will ever emit is the confession to Jesus, plea, or prayer for forgiveness of your sins God WILL hear that one.
that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
If you are new to prayer, don’t worry about fancy words or proper phrases. That is the utter beauty of our God. He hears the heart cry, understands the motivation behind what we are asking. He listens to all words fancy or not, as long as they are sincere. Don’t worry, just pray! It is a way to talk with Him. He doesn’t change by your prayer, but you are changed by praying. So don’t put it off another minute!
Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett (Editor)
I’d mentioned that I had wanted to get back to basics and do some blog entries on the foundational things. The Holy Spirit is near and dear to me. But He is often overlooked in the Trinity, in favor of prayers to Almighty God and to Lord Jesus. But the Holy Spirit has an important ministry we’ll take a look at in this essay. We’ll also see how He is prophesied to minister in the last of the last days and in the Tribulation.
The last days are the entire Church Age. They began at Pentecost and they will end after the Rapture/Tribulation/Millennium Kingdom. So Paul was in the last days. Martin Luther was in the last days. Charles Spurgeon was in the last days. We are in the last days. But I believe we are in the last of the last days, the moments remaining perhaps but few. Well, we are 2000 years closer, anyhow!
However the ministry of the Holy Spirit has been with us since Genesis 1:2 where we’re told “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Don’t you visualize Him as a dove, his wings outstretched and fluttering over the waters almost hugging the world as it was being formed? He is referred to again in Genesis 1:26 when God said “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Therefore we can conclude the Holy Spirit is God.
He has a personality. In Genesis 1:2 and Job 33:4 we read that He creates life. He inspired the Bible writers. He comforts (Acts 9:31) and He teaches (John 14:26). He imparts the love of God to the saints and joy too. He maintains the church in edification (Acts 9:31). There is so much more I could write about the Spirit, books have been written, but turn to this one,
“Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” (Proverbs 1:23). He is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding! (Isaiah 11:2). And we need Him for that, desperately. Without Him we cannot understand the Word of God.
“But as it is written, no Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Without Him we cannot understand the Word.
God reveals the things God wants us to know and to have by His Spirit. That is huge. God revealed Himself to us in creation, then He revealed Himself to us in Jesus on earth as His Son, now He reveals Himself to us through His Spirit bringing understanding of the Word, which is Jesus. Kind of circular, you say? Yes, that is the Trinity. They are God but they each are a Person distinct from the other, with different ministries, which are harmonized perfectly and completely in holiness in One. If you don’t understand that, it’s OK, I don’t either! It is one of the mysteries of God that He can be three in one…
The Spirit’s ministry in some ways remains the same and some ways changes throughout the course of the covenants. In most cases in the Old Testament, the Spirit “came upon”, He did not indwell. John the Baptist is an exception. John the Baptist is considered an Old Testament prophet because he died before the cross. Nevertheless, John was filled with the Spirit in the womb. Another example of God filling someone with the Spirit prior to the cross is Exodus 31:1-2, filling Bezalel to know how to build the temple. But normally, the Spirit came upon them for the period necessary to fulfill the task set before them (2 Chronicles 24:20, Judges 3:24).
God could and did take away the Spirit. The Spirit came upon Saul as King (1 Sam 10:6) but God removed it when Saul rebelled (1 Sam 16:14). David begged God not to take away the Spirit in his rebellion with Bathsheba. (Psalm 51:11).
When Jesus told the Disciples that He was going away but He would send a Comforter, it was the Spirit He was referring to. The Spirit descended on the Apostles at Pentecost, filling them. (Acts 2). However that portion of the Spirit’s ministry changed, He now indwells us permanently. He is the deposit of guarantee of our inheritance and His seal of ownership on us. (Ephesians 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 1:22). If we confess our sins and believe by faith Jesus is Lord, He sends the Spirit into us and we can never lose Him (John 10:29). This doctrine is called “Once Saved, Always Saved” and I believe in it. If we could lose the Spirit as in OT days then there would be no guarantee, would there? If God sends the Spirit to indwell but takes it away, He breaks His own seal, doesn’t He? No, it cannot be so!
One ministry the Spirit inhabits is the restraining ministry, and it is that one that I’ll finish with. In Genesis 6 we read that God tell us that “My spirit will not strive with man forever…” This is the chapter of the conditions leading up to the worldwide judgment of the Flood. It seems to be telling us that at a certain point, He removes the restraining ministry from man when sin has reached a certain point, or that he removes Him prior to a worldwide judgment. However, He never removes His Spirit from the earth completely because how would we be drawn to the cross, otherwise? The verse goes on to say ‘nevertheness his days are 120 years’.
We know He is the restrainer of lawlessness because Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8.
“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
He restrains Lawlessness. The Greek word is defined “lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience, sin”. He restrains sin.
Doesn’t it seem like things are getting worse and worse in terms of morality, crime, greed, apostasy? I’m 60 years old and I look back and think on the formative images I saw on the news during the 1960s and 1970s. I saw the riots, the advance of the homosexual agenda, political upheaval, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Viet Nam war. Women’s rights and abortion and Planned Parenthood and the Pill came in too. When I saw the Democratic National Convention riots, I thought the world was coming to an end, literally. It seemed to my young eyes and heart that everything was crashing down. It looks to me now from the vantage point of half a century on earth, that each new generation was exponentially worse than the previous one, and that lawlessness is compounding.
Romans 1 describes a progression of sin and when it saturates a society enough it seems that God lifts His hand, because we read several times in Romans 1 “God gave them over.” When enough people have been given over in a society, sin reigns more and more and the society runs rampant with sin.
I have no clue if He is lifting His hand fast or slow. I do not know at what rate the restraint is being removed. But my opinion is that the sudden change in society in the 1960s, and with the lurch forward into sin in America this past year, is evidence that He had lifted it some, because such a flood of lawlessness came in all at once. In the last year, the cravenness of apostasy and false doctrine in the church is another indicator to me that His hand is going up, faster and faster now.
I think the worldwide judgment is very close, and one of the reasons I believe so is that the lawlessness (sin) has increased to such a degree, and that is because the Restrainer is restraining less and less until the moment in 2 Thessalonians He does not restrain at all. The Thessalonians verse says the antichrist will not be revealed until the Restrainer is removed, and that is in the middle of the Tribulation, and what a time that will be! No time in human history will be worse, because sin will be given free reign to do its worst.
You can avoid being on earth, and be purified and refreshed if you appeal to Jesus in repentance for sins and trusting in Him. It is the Spirit that brought you here to read this, He draws one and all to the cross, and then convicts you of your sins. Read Galatians 3:1-5, and this commentary says of it, “The two are linked: the cross opens the door for the Spirit, and the experience of the Spirit is the result of faith in the message of the cross of Christ.” Kind of circular you say? That’s the Trinity, of which the Spirit is a part!
If you are an unbeliever, appeal to Jesus for your sins to be forgiven. This is repentance. You’re sorry for your wrong things you do and you understand that they are crimes against Jesus. He will forgive you if you are sincere, and then He will send the Spirit to come inside you and help you resist more sinning. This is called regeneration, literally being born again as a new creation.
You can never escape sinning but when you do (and we all do, Christians too) appeal to the Spirit for help resisting them and repent to Jesus for them. We repent after we are saved, too. As you submit more deeply to the Holy Spirit’s ministry, though, you will find that you want to sin less and less. The Spirit is making you a new creation, in His likeness and in holiness. This is sanctification.
There are many resources online to help the Christian believer strengthen her faith. We live in times where we’re blessed with being able to access some of today’s best preaching and teaching, and also can become familiar with the Divines from the past. We have podcasts, sermons, blogs, videos. What a bounty!
I always try to connect you to the most solid ministries that I can. I came across Steve Kozar’s youtube podcast the other day. His channel covers many different topics in different ways, and I stumbled onto his “Hit the Bar” portion of the channel. He and his lovely wife Paulette present a video, allow the viewer to watch for a bit, then the ‘hit the space bar’ and pause it while dissecting it off the cuff.
I was familiar with Steve Kozar’s name from having read the Pirate Christian (Chris Rosebrough) for many years. The two do a lot of apologetics and discernment work together. But I never really delved into Kozar’s own website “The Messed Up Church” until I listened to his Hit the Bar youtube/podcast and he mentioned the website with all its resources.
He was doing Hit the Bar about Beth Moore. It was the more famous clip of her 2014 speech where she talked about receiving personal revelation about a coming ‘downpour’ and ‘awakening’, that people would scoff at, where she called any disbelievers in her pronouncement ‘bullies’, and used no scripture.
Though this was an older clip of Moore, the discussion between Kozar and his wife Paulette was new. I had never listened to Kozar or his wife. In my opinion, if you really want to get a sense of a person, watch a podcast of a husband – wife team discuss something together.
Kozar and Paulette were sweet together. I loved their calm and sweet interplay. It was kind. Steve’s insights on Moore were terrific. He raised many points I had never considered, even though I’m quite familiar with that clip and Moore in general.
He said in this speech Beth Moore was laying her Charismatic cards on the table. It was 2014 and she really came out of the Charismatic closet so to speak, with being bold in speaking FOR Jesus. Kozar said, “She has no fear of speaking prophetically,” and this is a problem. He hit the bar at the points where she shuts critical thinking down, and explains how. Kozar said she was a very good actress, the entire speech felt memorized and staged, and showed that. He demonstrated how she uses false dichotomies to divide rather than unify, and how that is the beginning of a cult. Moore uses vague terms so that people can individually interpret for themselves rather than unify around a clarifying scripture or doctrine she is presenting. He noted the points at which she basked in adoration of the audience, instead of pointing to Jesus. [As a side note, Steve also has an issue with her wild eyes, as I myself noted recently.]
The Hit The Bar discussion about Beth Moore is here.
All in all, it was wonderfully insightful. I recommend Steve Kozar’s website and his youtube channel with the various types of videos and discussions.
Kozar noted that at The Messed Up Church website, a plethora of resources await the reader. In “Cornucopias“, there are links to a myriad of resources about many different false teachers. There are definitions and explanations of what apologetics is, what discernment is, and more.
Our Purpose –Confronting & Exposing Apostasy. –Explaining Biblical Orthodoxy. –Rebuilding Shattered Faith by the Light of the Gospel from God’s Word. –Returning to the Reformation principle of: –Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura (Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone)
Please check out The Messed Up Church website and/or the Youtube channel. It’s helpful.
We worship an orderly God, whose prophecies, whose seasons, whose mankind progresses according to His will. What a blessing it is to know we submit to a God who is perfect, whose mighty hand is outstretched to make Himself known and His works are a wonder.