Posted in assurance, faith, john macarthur, salvation

The dreadful reality of the apostate Church

One of my most fervent prayers is that your church is not filled with comfortable unbelievers. Why? I dread this day:

Artist: Boris Sajtinac

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Today is the day we should…

...draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

Here is a resource for you to test your faith and find assurance

Is It Real?– 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation
1 John; 1 John 5:1; John 10: 10; 1 Peter 5:10

Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don’t pass these tests, you’ll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you’ll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.

Posted in faith, garden of eden, God, repentance

What does it mean to "Walk with God"?

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24).

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. (Genesis 6:9)

And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. (Zechariah and Elizabeth, Luke 1:6)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (Ephesians 4:1)

Our pastor gave this explanation and example last Sunday in his sermon,

What does it mean to walk with God? I’m sure it means many things. If you think of it this way, walking with each step, back and forth, the two footsteps that we use as we walk with God are the footsteps of repentance and faith. Repentance means that we own the fact that we sin. I’ve acted incorrectly, I’ve acted wrongly. And I put that forward, I confess who I am. And then, I put faith in what Christ has done. … Repentance and faith are the feet that we walk with as we walk with God. It means we continually admit who we are [sinners] and our need; and we continually admit that Christ has met that need.  

Walking with God does not mean perfection. Job is said to be blameless and yet we see Job make mistakes. In the New Testament in Luke we’re told Elizabeth and Zechariah the mother and father of John the Baptist, called “blameless and righteous walking in all the commandments of the Lord” and yet before the chapter is over, Zechariah sins. Does blameless and righteous mean that you’re sinless? No it does not. It means the general direction of your life is toward Jesus.

Pastor teaches High School Bible at a Christian Academy. In discussing being blameless and righteous, one of his students had asked, “Doesn’t blameless mean without blame? How can they not be perfect if they’re called blameless?” Pastor used the example of cross-country running, which is popular at his school.
The trails go through the woods, up muddy hills, over a creek, through fields. Some of the terrain is level and some is difficult. He said picture two runners who start out. However after a while one stumbles and falls down the embankment and into a ditch. The other runner also stumbles and falls in the woods. He said the runner who fell into a ditch got up and angry and frustrated, decided to quit the race and go back to the car. Angrily tearing off his number, he threw that into the ditch.
The second runner is also tired, angry and frustrated. The hills are hard and the race is long. However when he fell, he did not stay down. He did not stomp off the path. He said, “I’m tired but I’m going to keep running. I’m going to run the race.” And he does, finishing at last.
Is there a difference between the two runners? Yes. Did both of the stumble? Yes. We all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2). Did both of them get back up and keep going on the path? No. This is the difference between someone who is walking blamelessly in all the statutes and commandments of God and someone who is not. It is not describing a perfect person.
He gave a good example there and it’s comforting to hear the James verse. Isn’t God good to us in allowing our crazed and mournful hearts to be salved in knowing that He knows we stumble? And in many ways, at that? At least, I know it is true for me. I do stumble in many ways. Is the life trajectory of my walk with God persevering and upward and sanctifying? I believe so. I certainly hope so.
There are only two paths and there are only two guides, one for each path. Jesus guides us on our way on the narrow path. Satan leads us along our way on the broad path.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3, KJV)

Gill: And to a spiritual walk with God, and communion with him, agreement is requisite. 

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
The moment Adam and Eve were in disagreement with God, they did not walk with Him. 
Agreement with God…walking with Him in all His commands requires repentance and faith. May God bless your walk and my walk with Jesus as we traverse this wonderful, difficult, muddy, beautiful trail through life’s race, until we reach the Celestial City.
Posted in encouragement, entertainment, faith, raising izzie

Movie Review: Raising Izzie

I watched a movie last night that readers might enjoy as a family. (Not the younger kids). It is called “Raising Izzie

It is about two orphaned girls aged 14 and 10, who are struggling to live on their own in an apartment their dying mother set up for them. It was only a matter of time of course, before they were found out. A year later, a caring teacher of the older girl becomes suspicious when she compares parent signatures on a school paper.

The teacher’s back story is that she wants children, and she and her husband have been trying for a while and haven’t had the desired result. This causes stress on the relationship and their strong faith is tested.

What is obvious to the viewer is that God is building a family between the two parties.

Issues explored:

–The teacher and her husband are black and the two girls are white. Can they make a family? Can family include adopting older kids? Can it be interracial?

–God’s people helping the orphan, what is our responsibility? (There were discussions of what should they do, call DFACS? The Police? Take the girls in?)

–The father says he wants children but the wife worries that underneath he is more committed to their child-free lifestyle.

–The wife wants children but begins to resent God for the lack

–The older girl is resentful she has to raise Izzie and is angry at God for failing to answer her prayer to cure her mother of cancer. (It is stated that the girls’ father had died just before Izzie was born)

Pros:

I REALLY liked the faith seen throughout, not heavy handed or preachy but living it out. When the husband and wife begin to have an argument in the car, he pulls over and prays.

The husband prayed to Jesus, and in Jesus name. That was good.

He supports his wife, not in a doormat way but in a strong, head of the family way.

The dead mother is seen in flashbacks as a caring, involved mother.

Izzie is cute as a button and in a natural way, not a movie way.

Many mentions of God throughout the movie

Is God real? How can we know? Realistic discussions and people having normal thoughts/doubts.

Godly patience is seen throughout and kind words are exalted above bitter words.

The husband is the Godly leader of his home. He is seen to be honoring his wife in many ways.

They go to church. In one of the only arguments in the movie, the teenager and the wife decide on Sunday morning they refuse to go to church. The wife yells, “I’m tired of all this! I’m sick of God!” The husband replies “That’s when you need Him the most!”

Cons:

In a certain scene the teacher says she had seen and spoken with the girls’ dead mother. (ghost). I can’t say more or it will be a spoiler.

Faith is strengthened only when God performs a miracle. It is still a movie after all. Sigh. It has the climactic moment of “God I’m praying and this is your last chance to show me you’re real or I won’t believe any more”.

At least, during the movie there were several discussions about what we hope for from God and what faith is. The teenager was crumbling in her faith because God didn’t do what she expected…but on the plus side, the husband had several discussions with her (and his wife) that God has ways higher than our ways and His will be done- sometimes unexpectedly. The movie still ended with the concept of “miracle = God is real = faith”

But knowing this, discussions could be had with your kids, “How would you have felt if the ending had been different? How can faith be strengthened in cases where adversity tests it? Isn’t God always working? Do we rely on miracles to prove God is real? Why or why not? How does God work in our lives?”

———————————–

I didn’t hear any profanity…once the teacher was in a low cut garment, but it was her pajamas after all. … Her church dress showed a bit of cleavage. That’s it.

The movie is set in the Atlanta suburbs. Rockmond Dunbar, Vanessa Williams starring. It had good production values. It was released in 2012. It can be seen on Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and is free on Youtube. It is a good family movie.

In a personal opinion, I especially enjoyed Mr Dunbar’s acting. I would happily look for him in other films or television programs.

Oh, and get the tissues. You’ll need them.

Posted in faith, francesco spiera, francis spira, jesus, judas

What are the effects of final apostasy? The case of Judas, John Child, and Francis Spira part 2

Apostate church by Boris Sajtinac

In part 1 of “What are the effects of final apostasy? The case of Judas, John Child, and Francis Spira” I looked at the biblical effects of apostasy on aperson in three famous cases. I’d reviewed the case of Judas and of John Child. Francesco Spiera AKA Francis Spira’s is a longer treatise and I wanted to post it entirely, so I separated these two blog essays into two separate parts.

Last time I’d said that apostasy is hard to spot, happens openly or secretly, fast or slow, and its end is a biblically noted horror as these verses attest-

Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:45)

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” (2 Peter 2:20)

The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24)

Judas was tormented in the end and wound up one of two suicides in the bible (Saul is the other). Judas hung himself, and in the case of John Child (Called ‘The English Spira’) he hung himself too. Now here is the case of Apostate Francis Spira. Frank Luttmer introduces the piece and intersperses his explanations in between, in italics. Original text by Bacon in regular font.

————————–

The Fearefull Estate of Francis Spira, by Nathaniel Bacon
(London, 1638), Edited from the original text by Frank Luttmer.

Among English Puritans, the most common and the most feared of Satan’s temptations was the temptation to despair, the loss of hope in one’s own salvation. Perhaps the most widely-known example of despair in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was the case of an Italian lawyer Francis Spira. In 1548, Spira converted to Lutheranism and began to spread the Lutheran message to others. Under pressure from the Catholic Church, however, he renounced his Protestant faith. He then became convinced that he was a reprobate, destined for hell. The story of Spira spread throughout Europe, surfacing in sermons and treatises dealing with despair. In England, an account of Spira’s case by a first-hand witness, Matteo Gribalde, appeared in 1550. The most influential English account of Spira, however, was written by Nathaniel Bacon in 1638. Bacon’s Fearefull Estate of Francis Spira, based on the original Latin records, became an instant best-seller and was reissued ten times in England and eight times in the American colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For anti-Puritans, Spira’s case exemplified the dangers of the Calvinist teachings of predestination and human corruption. Puritans, however, empathized with Spira, seeing Spira’s condition as simply an extreme example of the experience of all godly Christians. William Perkins, the preeminent Puritan theologian wrote:

[O]ft it will fall out that the conscience of Gods child shall bee so exceedingly tormented in temptation, that hee shall cry out, he is forsaken of God, and shalbe damned; when as indeed he stil remains the deare child of God, as Christ our Saviour did Gods welbeloved in the deepest assaults of Satan. And therefore the relation published of Francis Spira his desperation, doth inconsiderately taxe him for a cast-away; considering that nothing befel him in the time of his desperation but that which may befall the child of God: yea our owne land can afford many examples which match Francis Spira, whether we regard the matter of his temptation, or the deepnesse of his desperation, who yet through the mercy of God have received comfort. And therefore in this case Christian charity must ever bind us to thinke and speake the best.

Francis Spira, a Civill Lawyer, an advocate of greate rank and esteeme being of knowne learning, & eloquence; of great experience; of carriage circumspect and severe; his speech grave & composed, his countenance sharpe and austere; every way befitting that authoritie whereunto hee was advanced; endowed with outward blessings, of wife, & eleven children, & wealth in abundance: what his worst parts were, I have no other warrant, then his owne words, which (if not tainted overmuch with the bitternesse of a desperate minde, and bearing the countenance rather of passion, then of sober confession) may seeme to adde a period to all further commendations. . . .

I was (said hee) excessively covetous of money, and accordingly I applied my selfe to get by injustice corrupting justice by deceit inventing tricks to delude justice: good causes I either defended deceitfully, or sold them to the adversary perfidiously; ill causes I maintained with all my might; I wittingly opposed the knowne truth; and the trust committed unto me, I either betrayed or perverted.

When he encountered Lutheran ideas, the self-described covetous man converted and proceeded to spread the Lutheran heresy to others.

[IN 1548, the] opinions of Luther coming into those parts . . . presented an object of noveltie unto him; who being as desirous to know as he was famous for knowledge . . . . he began to taste their nature so well, as he entertaines, loves, and ownes them at length . . . . [H]e became a professor; yea a teacher of them, first to his wife, children, and family, and after to his friends, and familiar acquaintance; & in comparison, seemed to neglect all other affaires; intending ever to presse this main point, that We must wholly, and onely depend on the free, and unchageable love of God in the death of Christ, as the onely sure way to salvation. [He] continued in this private way for about six years, but at length it brake forth into publique meetings; so as the whole Province of Padua dawned by the lustre thereof. The Clergie finding the trade of their pardons to decay . . . [began] striking at Spira with grievous accusations.

The Venetian Senate gave John Casa, the Papal Legatine in Venice, the authority to examine Spira. Because Spira had been so successful in spreading Lutheran ideas, Casa demanded that Spira publicly recant his Lutheranism. Spira must weigh the option of recanting (thus committing apostasy, accepting the fate due heretics, or “falling away” from the faith) or fleeing Italy.

[H]is enemies wanted (lacked) neither power nor occasion to call him to account in Publique, when he must either Apostatize, and shamefully give his former life, yea his own conscience the lye, or indure the utmost malice of his deadly enemies, or forsake his wife, children, friends, goods, authoritie, yea, his deare Country, and betake himselfe to a forraigne people, there to endure a thousand miseries.

Being thus distracted, and tossed in the restlesse waves of doubt, without guide to trust to, or haven to flye to for succour; on the sudden Gods Spirit assisting, he felt a calme, and began to discourse with himselfe in this manner: “Why wandrest thou thus in uncertainties, unhappy man; cast away feare, put on thy shield, the shield of faith” . . .Now was Spira in reasonable quiet, being resolved to yeeld to these weightie reasons; yet holding it wisedome to examine all things, hee consults also with flesh and bloud; thus the battaile doth renew, and the flesh beginnes in this manner: Bee well advised, fond man, consider reasons on both sides, and then judge . . .thou shalt lose thy substance . . . undergoe the most exquisite torments . . . die shamefully . . bring thy friends also into danger . . .Thus did the cares of this world, and the deceitfullnesse of riches, choke the good Seed that was formerly sowne . . .
Spira went to the Papal Legate, abjured Lutheranism, begged for forgiveness, and promised never to depart again from the Catholic faith. Casa, however, is determined to exact the most from Spira.
The Legate perceiving Spira to faint, he pursues him to the utmost; hee causeth a recitation of all his Errours to be drawne in writing, together with the Confession annexed to it, and commands Spira to suscribe his name there, which accordingly he did; then the Legate commands him to return to his own Towne; and there to declare this Confession of his, and to acknowledge the whole doctrine of the Church of Rome to be holy, and true; and to abjure the Opinions of Luther, and other such Teachers, as false, and hereticall.

On his journey home, Spira began to reconsider his decision to abjure his faith. In the midst of doubt, he believes that he hears the voice of Christ.

[He considered his] constancie in Christs cause; and to be plaine, how impiously hee had denyed Christ . . . and thus partly with fear, and partly with shame being confounded; he though he heard a voice speaking unto him in this manner.

Spira, What doest thou here . .. doest thou indeed thinke eternall life so meane, as that thou preferrest this present life before it . . .

Now was Spira in a wildernesse of doubtes . . [He] consults friends, who all confirm that he needs to go through with the second abjuration [and] not to betray his wife and children [especially since] already [the] greatest part [is] performed. . . .This was the last blow of the battell, and Spira utterly overcome, goes to the Praetor, and proffers to performe his foresaid promise.

Spira went through with his public recantation, as he had been instructed by the Papal Legate. On his way home, he again thought that he heard the voice of Christ.

No sooner was he departed, but he thought he heard a direfull voice, saying to him; Thou wicked wretch, thou hast denied me, thou hast renounced the covenant of thy obedience, thou hast broken thy vow; hence Apostate, bear with thee the sentence of thy eternall damnation: he trembling and quaking in body and minde; fell down in a swoun; reliefe was at hand for the body, but from that time forwards he never found any peace or ease of his minde; but continuing in uncessant torments, he professed that he was captived under the revenging hand of the great God: that he heard continually that fearfull sentence of Christ that just Judge: that he knew he was utterly undone: that he could neither hope for grace, nor Christs intercession with God the Father in his behalfe. . . .

Convinced that he was reprobate, Spira fell into a deep depression, refusing to eat or drink.

Now began his friends some of them to repent too late of their rash counsell; others not looking so high as the judgement of God, laid all the blame upon his Melancholicke constitution; that overshadowing his judgement, wrought in him a kinde of madnesse: everie one censured as his fancie led him, yet for remedie all agreed in this, to use both the wholesome helpe of Physicians, and the pious advise of Divines, and therefore thought it meet to convey him to Padua, an Universitie of note, where plenty of all maner of meanes was to be had. . . .

His friends took him to see three physicians at the University of Padua in search of a cure for his “Melancholicke constitution.”

[T]hey could not discern that his body was afflicted with any danger or distemper originally from it self, by reason of the over-ruling of any humour; but that this Maladie of his did arise from some griefe, some passion of his minde, which being overburthened, did so oppresse the spirits, as they wanting free passage, stirred up many ill humours, whereof the body of man is full, & these ascending up into the braine, troubled the fancie; shadowed the seat of the judgement, and so corrupted it: this was the state of his disease, and that outward part that was visible to the eye of nature, this they endeavoured to reforme by purgation, either to consume, or at least to divert the course of those humours from the braine; but all their skill effected nothing.

Spira continued in his depression. He told the physicians that his malady was not physical but spiritual, that he had been condemned by Christ. The physicians were finally convinced of Spira’s story and they urged him to consult with priests. By this time, Spira’s case was attracting a lot of attention. Priests and students of divinity began to flock to his bedside to have conversation with the convinced reprobate. Spira had almost daily conversations with two people, a Bishop, Paulo Vergerio (Paulus Vergerius), and a professor of law at the University of Padua, Matteo Gribalde (Mattheus Gribauldus).

[Gribauldus said to Spira], Sir, this is but an illusion of the devil, who doth what he can to vexe you.
[As Spira spoke] the violence of his passion and action sutable, did amaze many of the beholders; insomuch as some of them said with a whispering voice, that he was possessed; hee over-hearing it, said: Doe you doubt it? I have a whole Legion of devils that take up their dwellings within me, and possesse me as their owne; and justly too, for I have denyed Christ. . . .

Heere Gribauldus said, I do verily beleeve, Spira, that God having so severely chastised you in this life, correcteth you in mercie here, that he may spare you hereafter, and that he hath mercies sealed up for you in time to come.

Nay (said Spira) hence do I know that I am a reprobate, because hee afflicteth mee with hardnesse of heart: Oh that my body had suffered all my life long, so that hee would bee pleased to release my soul, and ease my Conscience, this burthened Conscience.

Gribauldus, asked Spira to say the Lord’s Prayer with those present.

Our Father which art in heaven,) then breaking forth into teares, he stopped; but they said, it is well, your griefe is a good signe: “I bewaile (said he) my miserie, for I perceive I am forsaken of God, and cannot call to him from my heart, as I was wont to do”‘ yet let us go on, said Vergerius. Thy Kingdome come;) “O Lord (said Spira) bring mee also into this Kingdome; I beseech thee shut mee not out.” Then coming to those words; Give us this day our daily bread; he added, “O Lord, I have enough and abundance to feed this carcasse of mine, but there is another bread, I humbly beg the bread of thy grace; without which, I know I am but a dead man.” Leade us not into temptation;) “seeing Lord that I am brought into temptation, helpe mee Lord that I may escape; the enemie hath overcome; helpe mee, I beseech thee to overcome this cruell Tyrant.” These things hee spake with a mournfull voice, the teares trickling down abundantly.

Gribauldus and Vergerius tell Spira that his calling upon the Lord, as he had in the prayer, was a sign of the Holy Spirit working within him. His prayer was proof that he was not bereft of the spirit. Spira, however, denies it. He compares himself to Judas.

Then he began to reckon up what fearefull dreames and visions, hee was continually troubled withall; that hee saw the devils come flocking into his Chamber, and about his bed, terrifying him with strange noises; that these were not fancies, but that hee saw them as really as the standers by, and that besides these outward terrors he felt continually a racking torture of his minde, and a continuall butchery of his conscience, being the very proper pangs of the damned nights in hell.

Cast off these fancies (said Gribauldus) these are but illusions, humble your selfe in the presence of God, and praise him. . . . You must not, O Spira, seeke out the secret counsels of Gods election and reprobation, for no man can know so long as hee lives, whether by his good or bad deeds, hee bee worthie of Gods love or anger.

[Spira said] my heart hates God, and seekes to get above him. . . .For as the Elect have the Spirit testifying that are the sonnes of God, so the Reprobates even while they live, do often feele a worme in their conscience, whereby they are condemned alreadie.

Unable to make progress in comforting Spira, Gribaldus and Vergerius decide to call for an exorcist.

Afterwards came in a Priest called Barnardinus Sardoneus: bringing with him a booke of Exorcismes, to conjure this devill: whom when Spira saw, shaking his head hee said: “I am verily perswaded indeed that God hath left mee to the power of the devills: but such they are, as are not to bee found in your Litanie: neither will they be cast our by spels.” The Priest proceeding in his intended purpose; with a strange uncouth gesture, and a loud voice, adjured the Spirit to come into Spira’s tongue, and to answer. Spira deriding his fruitlesse labour, with a sigh turned from him.

The exorcism failed. Spira remained convinced that he was damned.

[Spira said] that Faith that works not a holy and unblameable life, worthie of a beleever; credite mee, it will faile, I have tried it: I presumed I had gotten the right faith . . . living impiously and carelesly, behold now the judgements of God have overtaken mee, not to correction, but to condemnation.

Eventually, Spira was allowed to return home, where he soon died. The text is not clear about the cause (or time) of his death. Some assumed that he died of thirst or hunger, others that he committed suicide.

Thus hee went homewards . . . hee lay about eight weekes in this case, in a continuall burning . . . so spent, that he appeared a perfect Anatomie [skeleton] . . . nothing but sinewes and bones; vehenemntly raging for drinke.

[W]ithin a few dayes after his arrivall at his owne home, he departed this present life. Yet an occasion to make us remember, that secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but charitie to man, to teach him to hope all things.

Posted in faith, john child, judas, spurgeon

What are the effects of final apostasy? The case of Judas, John Child, and Francis Spira part 1

Part 2 here

The nature of apostasy is tremendously fascinating to me. There is the quick apostasy, like Billy Graham’s partner and friend, Charles Templeton, and the slowly emerging apostasy like Billy Graham’s. There is the open apostasy like Demas’, and the secret apostasy like Judas‘.

Apostasy is a falling away from or an open rejection of the truth. No one who is truly saved is nor can ever be an apostate. John says that the apostate’s going out from us is the proof they never were of us in the first place. (1 John 2:19).

Rare in the recounting of the martyrdom of believers is the story of those who recanted. Some did, though. In reading about Judas this week in one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons, Spurgeon mentioned two men in history who, under Catholic pressure to recant Luther’s doctrines of faith under the Reformation, recanted. They openly rejected Christ and publicly said so and signed papers to the effect. Their end was startlingly similar to Judas’.

You might remember that after Judas conferred with the Pharisees, got his 30 pieces of silver, and kissed Jesus unto betrayal, Judas was filled with remorse (but not repentance) and he hung himself. His branch fell and Judas was splashed onto the rocks below, his intestines bursting out in a gory and spectacularly failed death.

Christian looked to see if he knew him; and he thought it might be one Turn-away, that dwelt in the town of Apostacy. But he did not perfectly see his face, for he did hang his head like a thief that is found; but being gone past, Hopeful looked after him, and espied on his back a paper with this inscription, “Wanton professor, and damnable apostate.”  (John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress)

Satan harasses believers, (Luke 22:31; Acts 5:3) and his demons oppress non-believers too, and even possessing some (Luke 4:33, Mark 5:2). Satan himself possessed Judas and will possess the antichrist.

What do satan and his demons do to men who have heard the Gospel, even professed the Gospel, but then have rejected the Gospel? John Child (d. 1684) and Francis Spira (d. 1638) are two horrific examples. Obviously not all men who reject Jesus and show their apostate attitude are tormented like this, but the experience of these two men is worth sharing. Always paired, Child and Spira have become almost synonymous in the retelling. The pamphlet published about their case was the runaway bestsellers of their day, and on through the 1700s and even the 1800s.  Here is the title of the pamphlet and a picture from amazon.com,

A relation of the fearful estate of Francis Spira, after he turn’d apostate from the protestant church to Popery. As also, the miserable lives, and woful deaths of Mr. John Child, and, Mr. Geo. Edwards

In his sermon, “The Betrayal” Spurgeon said this of Mr Child,

Mr. Keach, my venerable predecessor, gives at the end of one of his volumes of sermons, the death of a Mr. John Child. John Child had been a Dissenting minister, and for the sake of gain, to get a living, he joined the Episcopalians against his conscience; he sprinkled infants; and practiced all the other paraphernalia of the Church against his conscience. At last, at last, he was arrested with such terrors for having done what he had, that he renounced his living, took to a sick bed, and his dying oaths, and blasphemies, and curses, were something so dreadful, that his case was the wonder of that age. Mr. Keach wrote a full account of it, and many went to try what they could do to comfort the man, but he would say, “Get ye hence; get ye hence; it is of no use; I have sold Christ.”

Wikipedia says this,

CHILD, JOHN (1638?–1684), baptist preacher, born at Bedford about 1638, was apprenticed to a handicraft; after a while he adopted another calling, and removed to Newport Pagnel, Buckinghamshire, where he lived for some years, married twice, had several children, and increased in wealth. He held ‘the baptism of believers,’ joining himself to the baptists, or, as they were then generally called, ‘anabaptists,’ and for some years was in the habit of preaching occasionally. About 1679 he removed to London. Fear of cution and anxiety to better his position led him in 1682 to publish ‘A Second Argument for a more Full and Firm Union amongst all good Protestants,’ in which he argued against dissent from the church of England and ‘slandered his brethren.’ He appears to have published an earlier book of the same character, but neither of his pamphlets has been discovered by the writer of this notice. The idea that he had acted the part of a traitor preyed upon his mind. He fell into religious mania, and hanged himself in his house on the night of 3 Oct. 1684. A broadside was published the same year on the subject of his death, and after the declaration of indulgence and the subsequent increase in strength of the dissenting interest, pamphlets on Child’s ‘fearful estate’ obtained a large circulation.

Spira’s case was graphically written in almost torrid language. I’ll post that in its entirety in another post next. As John MacArthur said this week in his essay about sanctification,

…sanctification is essentially the believer’s work of mining out the spiritual riches that God placed within him at salvation. It is the active and aggressive pursuit of obedience.”

Source

I would presume to say that apostasy is the opposite of sanctification and thus if I paraphrase, can be said to be ‘an active and aggressive pursuit of corruption’. Apostasy is secret, open, happens fast or slow, but in all cases it is horrible. Look at this verse,

And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, (Luke 4:33).

Before the church was born, the synagogue was the place where God had designated men to assemble for holy worship. However, by Jesus’ day the worship had become so apostate that a demon felt perfectly comfortable hanging out in a man who was attending services there. Only when Jesus, the Holy One of Israel came, did the demon cry out. Have some of our churches become so apostate that demons would feel perfectly comfortable residing in a man attending worship services there? I would venture to say yes.

Emotionally or mentally professing Christ but failing to go all the way, with all your mind, heart, strength, and soul, will only end in failure. But the worst part about apostasy is that the end result is worse than the beginning.

Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:45)

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” (2 Peter 2:20)

The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24)

And with Judas’ end we see that is true. With Mr Child’s end we see that it is true. And next post, with Mr Spira’s end we see that it is true. The tragedy is that when they die their end does not come. They will be tormented forever. That is why, even among brethren, we preach the Gospel. In addition, we ourselves must remain holy, so that the demons around the apostates become uncomfortable to the point of crying out, so that we will know who the apostates are. Or at least some of them if not all of them, since wheat and tares look so much the same.

Next is the “Fearfull Case of Francis Spira

Posted in bereans, faith, god's word, josiah

What is slipping away? What is creeping in?

In 2 Kings 22, King Josiah of Judah ‘s temple workmen found the Book of the Law abandoned and dusty in a temple wardrobe. Judah’s apostasy had gone on so long, the people had not only abandoned the practices of the Law but had forgotten there was a Law, a real one, on paper.

Josiah instituted reforms right away. He read the Law to the people first. He and the people joined in the covenant. (2 Kings 23:2-3).

Then Josiah removed everything that was an abomination in the sight of the LORD. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does satan. (Matthew 12:43-45). Abandoning the Law had created a vacuum into which satan had come in a flood. Josiah “the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven.” (2 Kings 23:4)

Imagine, inside God’s holy temple were implements to worship other gods! Even worse, there were male shrine prostitutes in the temple too. (2 Kings 23:7). Josiah ordered them gone, as well as any priest from another religion, the Asherah poles, the mini-temples on the high places, all tokens dedicated to to other gods left at the gates to Jerusalem, all fires for Molech, the horses and chariots offered to the Sun, anything profane in Ahaz’s upper chamber. Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem… (2 Kings 23:24) and all idolatry in Judah. Matthew Henry wrote of Josiah’s effort,

What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found.

When you abandon God’s Holy Word you abandon everything. See what else Judah had abandoned:

And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. (2 Kings 23:21-22)

For if, after they [false teachers] have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 2 Peter 2:20-22We look at the Israelites and the Judeans’ apostasy and we say, “Wow, they were crazy.” But they were sinful humans just like we are sinful humans, and human behavior doesn’t change one bit. We do the same thing as the Judeans. No, we don’t have Asherah poles in the temple or fiery statues of Molech to put our babies in, or sun chariots dedicated to a false god, but we have celebrity pastors who are worshiped instead of Jesus, and abortion and idols like the shiny and too-expensive SUV in the driveway and the too-large house we can’t afford. Monuments to the idol of self and greed and covetousness. We don’t have male temple prostitutes but we have active unrepentant homosexuals in church or even as clergy in church. How does it happen that an ‘abundance of wickedness’ comes in?

In the New Testament we read, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Heb 2:1).

Inattention. Faith is a thing to be grasped, it is living and active. (2 Thessalonians 2:15). It is something that is meant to be lived. The close attention that is commanded in Hebrews is paralleled in Jesus’s admonition that we must pick up our cross every day. (Luke 9:23). Part of that verse we often neglect is that we must deny ourselves. All false religion and idolatry at root is a worship of self. Jesus calls for us to do the opposite, deny self.

If we are denying self every day and picking up our cross every day, that is pretty close attention. Close attention also means a vibrant prayer life. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray. In the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ we read that we should ask for our daily bread. If we are asking for provision every day in prayer that means we are praying to Jesus every day. That’s pretty close attention.

Apostasy is a process. Sometimes it happens fast, like with Demas who accompanied Paul and then abandoned Paul for the world (approx 60-66AD at most) or apostasy can take a long time to surface, like with Billy Graham (1953-1997). Of course those who apostatize were never saved to begin with (1 John 2:19), but suffice to say, the call for Christians to pay close attention is nevertheless one that should be adhered to. Though we can’t be lost, we can make a shipwreck of our lives, and cast mud onto the name of Jesus in the process.

When we persevere, what a glorious reward we receive! The Bereans persevered, they examined the scriptures daily to see if what they had been taught was so. (Acts 17:11). Acts 2:42 says the disciples “devoted themselves” to “apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Paul & Company ‘thanked God constantly’ for their congregations’ eagerness to hear the word and live it (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

In our faith, perseverance is a virtue. Cling to Jesus, the Chief Shepherd!

“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4).

His crown, His glory. He deigns to share it with us, His sheep, His children, His friends. He is so worthy to cling to. How gross and mean the Asherah poles, sun chariots and male temple prostitutes seem to us now when we compare them against eh holiness and perfection of Jesus. How useless the SUVs, the fancy houses, the celebrity and fame seems to us. May it always stay that way!  Vibrant and loving faith, centered on Jesus, the only worthy one in all the universe. Ahh, comfort.

If it has been a while since you’ve read the bible, prayers, thanked Him, clung to Him, then all it takes is one step in repentance and humility, o prodigal, toward the Father and He will run to you! He is a great and merciful and loving Jesus.

————————

Further reading

What is an Asherah pole?

Signs of Apostasy in the Church

Article: Perseverance of the Saints

Posted in encouragement, faith

The faith of Adam

When Adam and Eve trusted the words of the serpent instead of GOD and stepped out into disobedience, they fell from grace.

To the woman God said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16).

Then God made His prophetic pronouncements to Adam (the ground is cursed because of you, labor will be painful, you’ll sweat and toil, the serpent will be bruised under the heel of the woman’s offspring)

When God was finished speaking, the man called his wife’s name Eve, “because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20)

God Judging Adam, cropped, by Wm. Blake, 1795

Was Eve a mother yet? No. Adam’s naming of Eve was a step into faith based on the future promises of God.

If Adam’s faith was so great based on such little revelation, how much more faith should we have based on the incarnation of Christ, the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, and the completed revelation of God?

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Posted in faith, open doors, Sunday martyr moment, world watch list

Sunday Martyr Moment: Zoe, the Twins, Quintin, and today’s persecuted Christian

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Aurelian, 44th Emperor of Roman Empire

Last week we began we began looking at the Ninth Persecution Under Aurelian, A.D. 274. It was a brief look, Emperor Aurelian was killed by his own brothers a short while after taking the throne.

“Aurelian was succeeded by Tacitus, who was followed by Probus, as the latter was by Carus: this emperor being killed by a thunder storm, his sons, Carnious and Numerian, succeeded him, and during all these reigns the Church had peace. Marcus and Marcellianus were twins, natives of Rome, and of noble descent. Their parents were heathens, but the tutors, to whom the education of the children was intrusted, brought them up as Christians. Their constancy at length subdued those who wished them to become pagans, and their parents and whole family became converts to a faith they had before reprobated. They were martyred by being tied to posts, and having their feet pierced with nails. After remaining in this situation for a day and a night, their sufferings were put an end to by thrusting lances through their bodies.” (photo source)

“There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstances of your life can change! ”
― Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

“Zoe, the wife of the jailer, who had the care of the before-mentioned martyrs, was also converted by them, and hung upon a tree, with a fire of straw lighted under her. When her body was taken down, it was thrown into a river, with a large stone tied to it, in order to sink it.”

“I declare God’s dream for my life is coming to pass.” ~Joel Osteen

“Quintin was a Christian, and a native of Rome, but determined to attempt the propagation of the Gospel in Gaul, with one Lucian, they preached together in Amiens; after which Lucian went to Beaumaris, where he was martyred. Quintin remained in Picardy, and was very zealous in his ministry. Being seized upon as a Christian, he was stretched with pullies until his joints were dislocated; his body was then torn with wire scourges, and boiling oil and pitch poured on his naked flesh; lighted torches were applied to his sides and armpits; and after he had been thus tortured, he was remanded back to prison, and died of the barbarities he had suffered, October 31, A.D. 287. His body was sunk in the Somme.”

“When we use the spiritual laws that God has set up, God must obey what we request.” ~Kenneth Copeland

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I interspersed the quotes from several noted Prosperity/Word of Faith false preachers to highlight the contrast between the ridiculousness of what they preach compared to the reality of the persecution of the Christian. Jesus said,

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

You WILL have tribulation. However, the true Christian who is truly at peace believes Jesus’s words. Our trouble is here on this world but we have peace within knowing He has overcome the world. Our peace is eternal- being reconciled to Him. Anyone who says that our troubles won’t exist on this earth is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)

Zoe was converted because of the steadfast faith of the twins Marcus and Marcellianus. The twins exhibited the peace of Jesus which resided in them, and Zoe believed. In listening to false prophets like Osteen, Copeland, Byrne and others, if you grasp the things of the world, when the world comes against you the things you’ve grasped will fall away. Grasp instead Jesus, who never fails.

Lest one think that such horrors existed only in the fourth century, Christians are being persecuted in exactly the same manner and intensity today. Their persecutors invent evil cruelties to perpetrate upon them, and many who die under them still exhibit the faith of the fourth century martyrs. Below is from the Christian Post, reporting on the new watch list for countries that persecute Christians, compiled by Open Doors.

On January 8, “Open Doors launched its 2014 World Watch List (WWL) ranking of countries where persecution of Christians is most prevalent. And it is, indeed, very prevalent these days, with more than two thirds of the countries on the World Watch List experiencing an increase in the persecution of Christians in 2013…Christians remain the most persecuted religious minority on the planet. … North Korea ranks first on the WWL for an unprecedented 12th year in a row.” (source)

Because of Foxe’s Book, voices like Zoe and Marcus and Marcellianus and Quintin’s are heard today. It is important that they be heard, because they speak of Jesus and by their lives Jesus speaks through them. The Martyrs and the persecuted speak today. Over at Voice of the Martyrs, a North Korean Christian who was imprisoned for many years on a gulag says,

I could not tell you what the worst thing was I experienced. Every day in the camp was like torture. I often had to think about God’s plagues for Egypt. Being in this concentration camp felt like undergoing all those 10 plagues at the same time. People were dying and their corpses were burnt. The guards scattered the ashes over the road. We walked that road every day and each time I thought: one day the other prisoners will walk over me.” (source)

This is certainly not the life of ease and prosperous blessings that the above-mentioned false prophets teach.

Yet, like Zoe, Quintin and the others, when today’s martyrs and persecuted Christians rely on God, HE enables them to persevere, and even thrive, spiritually. Here is that North Korean Christian again,

Despite everything, I remained faithful to God. I remained faithful and God helped me survive. Not only that, He gave me a heart to evangelize other prisoners. Frankly, I was too scared to do it. I wanted to live. How could God ask me to tell the other prisoners about Jesus? I would die if they caught me. God persisted. He showed me which prisoners I should approach. He gave me a feeling: ‘That person. Tell him.’ So I went to the person and told him or her what is in Acts 16:3, that people have to believe in Jesus and that they and their households will be saved. It was an encouraging message for those prisoners, who walked on the edge of death each day. They were easily converted. Not only because of what I said. They saw the Spirit working in me…” (source)

Photo by Marco Forti

For those of us who are living a life of ease and comfort through no “declaration” or works of our own but by the grace of God, let the Spirit shine in you. Pray that the mercy and love of Jesus will stream forth. Can people see the Spirit working in you?

And pray for today’s persecuted brethren of our Body.

Posted in faith, foxe's book of martyrs, martyr, suffering

Sunday Martyr Moment: Martyrs vs. Mark Driscoll – What is real suffering?

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Eighth Persecution, Under Valerian, A.D. 257

Began under Valerian, in the month of April, 257, and continued for three years and six months. The martyrs that fell in this persecution were innumerable, and their tortures and deaths as various and painful. The most eminent martyrs were the following, though neither rank, sex, nor age were regarded.

Rufina and Secunda were two beautiful and accomplished ladies, daughters of Asterius, a gentleman of

The Martyrdom of Secunda and Rufina
Collaborative painting by Il Morazzone,
Giulio Procaccini, Giovanni Battista Crespi (1620-1625)

eminence in Rome. Rufina, the elder, was designed in marriage for Armentarius, a young nobleman; Secunda, the younger, for Verinus, a person of rank and opulence. The suitors, at the time of the persecution’s commencing, were both Christians; but when danger appeared, to save their fortunes, they renounced their faith. They took great pains to persuade the ladies to do the same, but, disappointed in their purpose, the lovers were base enough to inform against the ladies, who, being apprehended as Christians, were brought before Junius Donatus, governor of Rome, where, A.D. 257, they sealed their martyrdom with their blood.

Stephen, bishop of Rome, was beheaded in the same year, and about that time Saturninus, the pious orthodox bishop of Toulouse, refusing to sacrifice to idols, was treated with all the barbarous indignities imaginable, and fastened by the feet to the tail of a bull. Upon a signal given, the enraged animal was driven down the steps of the temple, by which the worthy martyr’s brains were dashed out.

Sextus succeeded Stephen as bishop of Rome. He is supposed to have been a Greek by birth or by extraction, and had for some time served in the capacity of a deacon under Stephen. His great fidelity, singular wisdom, and uncommon courage distinguished him upon many occasions; and the happy conclusion of a controversy with some heretics is generally ascribed to his piety and prudence. In the year 258, Marcianus, who had the management of the Roman government, procured an order from the emperor Valerian, to put to death all the Christian clergy in Rome, and hence the bishop with six of his deacons, suffered martyrdom in 258.

Let us draw near to the fire of martyred Lawrence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless tyrant, understanding him to be not only a minister of the sacraments, but a distributor also of the Church riches, promised to himself a double prey, by the apprehension of one soul. First, with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure of poor Christians; then with the fiery fork of tyranny, so to toss and turmoil them, that they should wax weary of their profession.

With furious face and cruel countenance, the greedy wolf demanded where this Lawrence had bestowed the substance of the Church: who, craving three days’ respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had. In the meantime, he caused a good number of poor Christians to be congregated. So, when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valiant Lawrence, stretching out his arms over the poor, said: “These are the precious treasure of the Church; these are the treasure indeed, in whom the faith of Christ reigneth, in whom Jesus Christ hath His mansion-place.

What more precious jewels can Christ have, than those in whom He hath promised to dwell? For so it is written, ‘I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.’ And again, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ What greater riches can Christ our Master possess, than the poor people in whom He loveth to be seen?”

O, what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant’s heart! Now he stamped, he stared, he ramped, he fared as one out of his wits: his eyes like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar formed, his teeth like a hellhound grinned. Now, not a reasonable man, but a roaring lion, he might be called.

Wikimedia Commons,
Martyrdom of Lawrence

“Kindle the fire (he cried)–of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him, away with him: whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates, bring out the strongest chains, and the fire-forks, and the grated bed of iron: on the fire with it; bind the rebel hand and foot; and when the bed is fire-hot, on with him: roast him, broil him, toss him, turn him: on pain of our high displeasure do every man his office, O ye tormentors.”

The word was no sooner spoken, but all was done. After many cruel handlings, this meek lamb was laid, I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with his martyr Lawrence, so miraculously God tempered His element the fire; that it became not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Consider what the ladies went through. They were young, engaged to be married to handsome, rich suitors. However, when the chips were down, their suitors showed eternally that their brides’ worth was less than their fortunes, and the suitors snitched to the government and gave them over. The ladies were killed. I wonder how the sisters felt in prison. They did not renounce, so we know that they were comforted by the Spirit. (Hebrews 13:5). It can’t have been easy though, in the dank, dark, rat and maggot infested, slimy prison, awaiting their fate. Were the sisters together? Did they sing? Pray? I’m sure they did. Through it all, they remained faithful to the one true Groom and their eternal reward in heaven will last forever. Moths and rust have already destroyed the two rich suitors and their fortunes. (Luke 17:33; Matthew 6:19).

The bishops of Rome had it hard, too. One after another were killed. When Sextus succeeded Stephen, he knew he was going to be killed at some point, I’m sure. What a job description. “Needed: Leader of church, the people you will lead are skittish and likely will be hunted and persecuted. You will be hunted and likely killed too. Probably tortured. Accepting inquiries from 2-5 PM, in person.”

And they lined up, serving Christ with full passion and love. Killed with Sextus were deacons Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. (Matthew 10:16).

And dear Lawrence, tortured mercilessly and roasted on a gridiron because he wouldn’t give over the church money! His declaration of the Church’s treasure being His sheep, priceless!

I think about today’s men who call themselves leaders and whine about difficulties of service in ministry. (Jude 1:16). Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church claims to have “faced danger” a few times. He wrote a long list of perceived persecutions and troubles he said he’s endured, in an essay titled “The hardest part of ministry” with the tag, ‘suffering.’ It’s a lengthy essay about his personal suffering, listing many woes he has faced. Here are a few.

Mark Driscoll, Wiki photo

Once, a man tried to enter his house. Another time a man with a “large knife” walked up the aisle and tried to stab him. Once, a sex offender tried to talk to his family. One time, someone sent Mark a letter telling him to stop preaching. Other times, people would post directions to Mark’s house on social media and encourage his critics to come to his home. He even has had to endure gossip! Once, someone even pooped on his porch!!

Yep, in his own humblebragging words, Mr Driscoll has surely been through it. Mr Driscoll wrote, “In general, going out in public has gotten tough. People feel free to interrupt family dinners out to sit at the table…” That’s just terrible! It’s not like his time is not his own but Jesus’s and his service is to Jesus or anything.

Like the two young ladies who lost their family, their fiancé, and their lives in A.D. 257 had been through it, sealing their martyrdom with their blood, some of today’s pastors are surely enduring a terrible persecution. Dealing with poop on your porch must surely equate with betrayal, imprisonment, and beheading as a terrible price for your service.

I love reading about the martyrs and writing about them so I can honor them as my forbears in faith. I love to ponder the faithfulness of our Savior who gives a faith so strong these precious martyrs endured torture and death with songs and prayers. I love to praise the Holy Spirit for empowering them with the things to say, like Lawrence bringing the sheep as the treasure, knowing it would mean his fleshly doom. Jesus is worth living for.  Jesus is worth dying for.

I also write about these martyrs so as to give us all a sense of perspective. Mr Driscoll has definitely lost his. When he preaches on suffering, do you truly think he understands biblical suffering for the name of Jesus? I don’t.

Driscoll at dinner with family, source: FB

Jesus is hated in this world and that hatred will only grow worse. (John 15:18; Matthew 10:22). Hatred for Him will express itself in physical harm, injustice and death. It already is, in many nations of the world. Complaining because you can’t eat supper in a restaurant without interruption from people is not ‘suffering.’ They are the people whom Lawrence called the most precious treasure of the church. Yet Mr Driscoll considers them a bother and just wants to eat his steak in peace. Perspective-

Being grilled on a gridiron is real suffering. Interruptions at dinner and gossip about you is not.

I think of two evangelists who rode a boat up a river deep into a jungle and trekked three more hours to reach a village of lost people in Laos. They shared about Christ and 178 people were converted and 8 were baptized. Yet the local witch doctor accused several Christians of causing the accidental deaths of three local men, and the Christians were rounded up, tried, told to renounce their faith, threatened with exile, and forced to pay restitution.

This incident was not in some long ago time. It was a news story posted on Voice of the Martyrs on November 18, 2013.

And rich pastors in the US complain that their woes are “cruel and unusual.”

Perspective. Keep in your heart what real suffering for the faith and the name of Jesus is so that we can praise His holy name for being so faithful to those who truly suffer. And let us rejoice in our own circumstances that He hasn’t ordained us to the same events as yet. Rejoice either way, that we suffer for Him or we live for him. And remember the martyrs.

Posted in faith, halloween, zombie apocalypse

It’s Halloween. Zombies!

Today is Halloween. I hate Halloween. I really loathe it. There are too many reasons to go into. Some involve me being an Asperger’s person dealing with costumes, masks and makeup, not to mention parties and being among masses of people. Some reasons involve the open invitation (one that I didn’t issue) to come to my house. Some objections involve being a teacher and having strangers offer candy to children. And most of my reasons are spiritual.

I grew up in New England, not too far from the Salem Witch House.

I went to college in Bangor and lived lived in Maine most of my adult life, where Stephen King’s wrought iron fence in Bangor adorned with bats, spiders and three-headed dragons was part of the neighborhood landscape.

Stephen King opens the new gates to his bat-guarded Victorian home
in this November 1982 photograph.1982 BDN photo by Carroll Hall

Michael Jackson’s Thriller scared us to pieces when it first came out on MTV.

I’m well aware of the origins of Halloween, and I’m pointedly aware of the holiday’s occultic embeddedness on secular people. That’s why I’m always conflicted over Halloween when it comes to church activities. John MacArthur has a good essay on it here.

Anyway the whole zombie thing was on my mind. What are zombies, anyway? Wikipedia has a nifty definition.

A zombie is an animated corpse raised by magical means, such as witchcraft. The term is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli.

You’ve seen it, the shuffling walk, the ghostly rotting flesh, the audible groans. Zombies.

The zombie’s rise in cultural consciousness has grown to the point of the notion of the zombie apocalypse.

Intimately tied to the conception of the modern zombie is the “zombie apocalypse”; the breakdown of society as a result of an initial zombie outbreak which spreads. This archetype has emerged as a prolific subgenre of apocalyptic fiction and been portrayed in many zombie-related media after Night of the Living Dead. In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization.”

George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is
considered a progenitor of the fictional zombie
of modern culture.

Walking corpses. Does that remind you of anyone? The animated dead. Still nothing coming to mind?

Animated dead people, conscious and able to respond to outward stimuli?

Lost people.

Every person on the planet who does not believe in the name of the resurrected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is a zombie. They are alive, but they are dead.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,” (Colossians 2:13)

Please always remember that those without Christ are just as empty as the fake zombies appearing in movies and television. They do not have the hope of Christ in them. Only Christ makes us alive!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.“(2 Corinthians 5:17)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

Even the description of the zombie apocalypse sounds like the conditions will be like on earth immediately after the rapture, when no true believer is left. In those moments after the rapture, the entire earth will be populated with zombies: lost people who are dead in their sins and trespasses, robotically walking around and unknowingly or knowingly submitted to satan, who roams the earth looking for those whom they may devour.

I don’t need to ‘celebrate’ Halloween, not when every day I see a lost person in their hopeless state and I am in agony for them. Not when I am being attacked at every turn by false teacher zombies holding out hands grabbing for my money, or putting books full of poisonous false teachings into my and my friends’ hands. I don’t need to pay any more attention to Halloween than it deserves, because on earth, every day is Halloween. Why look at costumes of bloody people when the only blood that can re-animate dead corpses was shed on the cross at Calvary? Blood that has been and is forever once for all shed?

The earth is a graveyard of sin and death, lost people are un-animated corpses needing to be born-again, and the costumes we wear are the soiled garments of unrighteousness.

Jesus Christ is the Light, the only Light in a dark, dark world. What we should celebrate is being born from above and entering the kingdom of heaven This is what we can and should celebrate. Why look at death, zombies, and hell, when heaven is available to each and every person on earth during this age of Grace! Let grace reign, look to Jesus. Look up, our redemption draweth high!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)