Posted in gospel, theology

The Gospel is simple, and narrow

By Elizabeth Prata

There is something in us that deep down, quite disbelieves the Gospel could be so simple.

Years ago when I was teaching fourth graders, they thought that the more you wrote, the better the answer. They thought that the bigger the words they used, the better. The more complicated their essay was, the better grade they were going to receive.

Sometimes that’s the case, but usually not. Less is more.

Ernest Hemingway is famous for his writing rules. He always said that shorter sentences and vivid words, but not longer words, made for a clearer story.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1–4).

The Gospel is short & simple. It’s deep and mysterious, but on the surface it’s simple. If a man repents of his sin and asks the risen Savior who died for those sins to forgive him, he is saved. A person is saved by grace, not by works. He is not saved by complex hierarchical rituals, or lengthy creeds, or religious systems based on byzantine schemes. He is saved by grace, a free-to-us gift from Christ. (Ephesians 2:8–9).

For all its simplicity, the Gospel is narrow. It is simple and understandable, but narrow. There is no other way into heaven.

John Bunyan in his autobiography Grace Abounding, wrote of a dream he’d had. It involved walking up to a base of a tall mountain with a wall around it.

Now, this mountain and wall, etc., was thus made out to me—the mountain signified the church of the living God; the sun that shone thereon, the comfortable shining of His merciful face on them that were therein; the wall, I thought, was the Word, that did make separation between the Christians and the world; and the gap which was in this wall, I thought, was Jesus Christ, who is the way to God the Father (John 14.6; Matt. 7.14). 

But forasmuch as the passage was wonderful narrow, even so narrow, that I could not, but with great difficulty, enter in thereat, it showed me that none could enter into life, but those that were in downright earnest, and unless they left this wicked world behind them; for here was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul, and sin.

We can’t bring anything with us as we pass through that narrow gate. We do not add to the Gospel nor do we take away from the Gospel. Its simplicity is part of what makes it clear. Grace abounds when its efficacy is bestowed upon us.

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8).

gospel

Posted in gospel, theology

This is what they forget

Two thousand years is a long time. That’s two centuries.Two bundles of hundreds. Fifty generations, give or take. A long time.

Jesus ascended sometime around 33 AD. Before He left, He promised to come back.

He is coming back.

Men of Galilee,” they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).

When He returns, sinners will stand before Him to receive their punishment for their sins. (Psalm 145:20).

We will stand before Him also. We won’t be receiving wrath or condemnation or punishment as the wicked will, but we will account for everything we said and everything we did in His name. (2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 12:36, Revelation 22:12).

We have one job. As Christians, we are charged with bringing one message and one message only, containing its necessary elements, to people whom Jesus charged should hear it. (All the world.) We have a job title: Ambassador. Continue reading “This is what they forget”

Posted in gospel, Uncategorized

Florida alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz needs the Gospel as much as any of us do

We’ve been progressing through the attribute of love as God loves and expects it of His children. It’s love week here at the End Time.

I’d planned next week to explore hate. Not everyone’s favorite subject, I’m sure, but we’ve all experienced it, either prior to salvation when were at enmity with God or afterward when we had fleshly flashes of it.

Today, sadly, we as a nation are once again mourning in the aftermath of a massacre shooting. This was the worst kind, a school shooting.

Yesterday alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a public school of about 3,000 students outside Boca Raton, FL. In the recent past we’ve endured:

February 14, 2018 – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – Parkland, Florida. 17 people killed and at least 14 others injured.

January 23, 2018 – Marshall County High School – Benton, Kentucky. Two killed and 18 injured.

December 7, 2017 – Aztec Hight School – Aztec, New Mexico. Two killed and shooter kills self.

September 13, 2017 – Freeman High School – Spokane, Washington. 1 student killed, 3 injured.

April 10, 2017 – North Park Elementary School – San Bernardino, California. Adult kills student and teacher, then self. Two others injured.

That is a list of just the shootings within the last year, and of course you and I know there are many more, and not just school shootings. In the aftermath, we see quotes like this one from CNN.

“This has been a day where we’ve seen the worst of humanity. Tomorrow is gonna bring out the best in humanity as we come together to move forward from this unspeakable tragedy,” he said.

I would disagree, and the Bible supports me on this. It isn’t the worst of humanity. It’s humanity. It’s easy to think of Cruz as an enemy and hate him. But we have met the enemy, and he is us.
The ground of this pure and unspoiled earth became blood soaked shortly after the Fall, when Cain slew Adam. Even prior to that moment, Eve and Adam behaved violently by disobeying God, moving forward in enmity. They broke His one and only command, thus causing the fall of man from his position God had declared as “very good.” After that, man has not been “very good” but “very bad”. The technical term in Christianity for very bad is “depraved sinner”. After the Fall, this became a world of death instead of a world of life. (Romans 5:17).

Ligonier explains our depravity:

So often we are quick to blame others for our failures and shortcomings. We even mask how we do this by employing the “if-only” rationale to excuse our sin. “If only I had been raised differently…I had a better job…you hadn’t provoked me…my husband would listen to me…my church were better….” The list is endless and usually contains genuinely flawed people and circumstances that are blameworthy.
But no circumstance, other person, or activity can ever justify my sin. I sin, Jesus said, because my heart is sinful. That is a shattering reality. But we must humbly face it if we want to be spiritually healed.

Alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz shot people because he is a depraved human. But we’re all depraved. The difference is that prior to salvation we have no hope of resisting that depravity. Afterward, it is a constant battle, albeit aided by the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But it’s in all of us. Ask Abel. There is none good, no not one. When the hate against God that’s inside us grow to such monstrous proportions one cannot restrain it any more, we unleash it in terrible ways. Gossip, slander, adultery, extortion, oppression, murder. It’s all there in all of us.

It is exactly why we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

Praise God He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. The Gospel is life.

 

Posted in billy graham, false teacher, gospel, jesus, repent

Billy Graham turns 97 today, please pray he repents before he dies

The Bible records many truly devastating promises from the Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah, Creator, Judge. There are two which are particularly weighty on my heart. One is from Revelation 14:16,

So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Are there any four words anywhere more devastating? “…the earth was reaped.” All wicked flesh crushed under the weight of the holy gavel.

The other terrible promise is this:

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. 22On 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?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Billy Graham is just such a one as these. He is at grave risk for standing before the Lord he claimed to serve, only to learn that despite his longevity, despite his seemingly ‘mighty works’, the Lord never knew him. All the crusades, all the fist pounding podiums, all the books written- it was all a sham, all for nothing, all as filthy rags.

But how can this be? you ask. How can a man live so long and speak of Jesus so much and not know Him? This set of verses shows us that it is possible. The Pharisees spoke with Jesus face to face, knew Jesus was from God (John 3:2) and they witnessed His many miracles, and yet they refused to believe. And not only that it is possible, there are MANY who will tragically and eternally discover that they had missed the mark all their years. People underestimate the power of how deeply sin blinds us. We are totally blinded to sin and to the deceptions of our own heart. 
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
So far we have learned about the how and that not only is is possible to labor for Christ, use His name for their works, and yet not be saved, we have learned that this verse is a reality for MANY.
Now, why do I say that it is a likelihood for Billy Graham? There are many reasons, if one cares to look and examine what the Bible says compared to what Mr Graham has said and believes.
Here is one web page with a list of compiled facts and their references which demonstrate the troubling theology and personal behavior of Mr Graham. If this link goes dead, here is another one.
I can understand that the approach the evangelist takes is different from the one the pastor takes. The two men have different roles. Despite that difference, however, the message remains the same. Sin-death-Jesus-blood-cross-wrath-resurrection-ascension-glorification. This is the message. This is the Gospel.
Mr Graham deletes critical components from the message. For example, the blood.

And then there is Graham’s preaching what he says and what he does not say. Graham is famous for exhorting people to “commit to Christ,” but precious little is said regarding “repentance” over sin. It is a much easier gospel than what Jesus preached. And there is precious little said of atonement through the blood of Christ. Perhaps this helps explain: in a letter dated Feb. 29, 1968, Rev. W. H. Martindale, Spiritual Counselor of Graham’s home office, wrote: “Mr. Graham believes that we are saved through the blood of Christ; however, this aspect of Christian doctrine he does not emphasize in his messages. This is the duty and prerogative of pastors.” If Graham does not emphasize “salvation through the blood of Christ,” then we can only ask which Jesus he is preaching. It plainly is not the Jesus of the gospel. (source)

Mr Graham also deletes from the Gospel message the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to salvation. In 1978 McCall’s Magazine interview, Mr Graham said that,

In a January, 1978, interview with McCalls Graham said, “I used to play God, but I can’t do that any more. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost were going to hell if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God through nature, for instance and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying “yes” to God.” (source)

Romans 10:13 says, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Graham’s words were not a one-time mistake. They are not a statement spoken unwisely by an aging evangelist. They are firmly held beliefs Mr Graham has spoken or written about since 1960 when he wrote the same in his Decision Magazine. He said it again in 1997 to Robert Schuller, on a defunct television program called the Hour of Power,

Billy Graham was interviewed on television by Robert Schuller, a noted infidel widely recognized for his alteration of historic Christian doctrine. Part 1 was an approximately 7-minute-long broadcast in Southern California on Saturday, May 31, 1997. The following is an exact transcript of an excerpt close to the end of this broadcast. 

SCHULLER: Tell me, what do you think is the future of Christianity? 

GRAHAM: Well, Christianity and being a true believer you know, I think there’s the Body of Christ. This comes from all the Christian groups around the world, outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ. And I don’t think that we’re going to see a great sweeping revival, that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that, the Apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem when he said that God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.

So the noted and celebrated evangelist believes that a person can never hear the Gospel, can be outside the body of Christ, not even know Jesus, and be saved? Graham believes the Body of Christ comes from outside Christianity? Aren’t the folks who believe these things the very people we’re called to evangelize? Not be the evangelist?
Matthew 10:33 also make a devastating promise: “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
Dr John MacArthur spoke of this interview and Graham’s false view four times in detail over the years, herehere, and here. Also here:

Then he went on to say, “I’ve met people in travel situations that have never seen a Bible, heard about a Bible, never heard of Jesus, but they believed in their hearts that there is a God and they’ve tried to live a life that is apart from the community in which they live.” Is that enough? You might not be surprised to hear the Pope say that. But you might be surprised to hear Billy Graham say that.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
And there’s this essay from a faculty member at Westminster Seminary, titled The Myth of Influence

Evangelicals who succumb to the myth of influence do so in part because of their own flawed theology. They have developed theologies which depart from the rich biblical theologies of the Reformation. 

Some evangelicals have embraced the myth of influence out of an Arminian view of salvation. Since salvation ultimately depends on the consent of the free will, many theological compromises are justified in order to gain a hearing and move the unbeliever. Other evangelicals are motivated by a defective doctrine of the church. They see the church, not as an essential institution in God’s economy founded on and regulated by his Word, but as a helpful support group for the individual Christian in his walk of faith.
Both of these theological weaknesses surface in Billy Graham. His Arminianism is clear. (7) His weak doctrine of the church is seen in his sending inquirers back to false churches

Did you know that? In an effort to ensure high attendance and in order not to rock the boat with local churches, the Billy Graham Crusades were always designed to work with any church, including Synagogues and Catholic churches? And that seekers streaming down the aisles once they were “counseled”, were sent back to their false churches?
Mr Graham also says he personally believes in the virgin birth but that such a belief is not necessary for salvation; that aliens exist on other planets but they are not in rebellion against God and therefore don’t need His blood; that the Roman Catholic Church has the same Gospel as the Protestant Church; that evolution is a possibility; and that baptism regenerates the soul. 
Here is a quote from an interview program:

Islam is misunderstood, too, because Muhummad had a great respect for Jesus, and he called Jesus the world’s greatest prophet except himself, and therefore I think we are closer to Islam than really we think we are. (David Frost, On May 30, 1997)

Through simple longevity and staying power, plus popularity, Graham’s apostasy has escaped many. This gentleman, Christopher J.E. Johnson, made remarks that I also would like to state clearly as my beliefs also:

It sounds like Billy Graham is a real Christian, and it’s also why I believe he’s one of the most deceptive men of our day. Due to quotations like this, I have had many objections to my statements about Billy Graham and his teaching of false gospel; so many I found it necessary to write a full-length article about him. Billy Graham may SAY these things on stage, but he doesn’t truly believe them.  

Because people tend to take extremes and take my words out of context, I want to make it clear that I am NOT saying people have not been truly born-again saved at a Billy Graham event. I am NOT saying all people who work in the Billy Graham organization are apostates. I am NOT saying Billy Graham has never preached a good sermon. However, what I AM saying is that we have VERY little evidence of Billy Graham’s faith in the Jesus Christ of the Bible, and a LARGE amount of evidence that he believes in a false, new-age idol he calls “Jesus Christ.”

This evidence is present on video, in articles, and in interviews. Graham’s age has given us numerous opportunities to see and read and watch his statements regarding Jesus and the way to salvation. We have an ability in this day and age of the world wide web to not only research this evidence for ourselves but also to watch his apostasy from his earliest days to the present day, over 81 years of his alleged Christianity.
I say these things with no glee and no shred of joy. It grieves me to see a soul go down to Sheol. It is a heartache to watch streams of seekers flow down the aisles of a Billy Graham crusade and know that they will be re-consigned to darkness, thanks to the pragmatic, popularity seeking ecumenical evangelist known as Billy Graham.
I urge you to seek out the information I’ve presented. Confirm it. Compare to the Bible. Remember that we are warned that many ministers of light will come in and devour the unwary. (2 Corinthians 11:14, 1 Peter 5:8). Meanwhile I pray Mr Graham comes to repentance. The Lord has already graciously prolonged his days.
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)
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Further Reading
Billy Graham: The Man and his Message. Video of a talk delivered by Cecil Andrews of Take Heed Ministries.