Posted in encouragement, grace, Master, sheep

His sheep know His voice and they follow. Inspiring video

Youtube synopsis:

Published on Nov 17, 2013

A little compilation of a visit to my friend, Christopher Lange’s farm at Harestua, Norway. I have long wanted to film this test, where we call for his sheep in the same words as he uses, and then let him do it. A Biblical lesson to learn from this!

The verse that comes to mind is

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

It’s an inspiring video, especially when we think about Lazarus, who was dead when Jesus called him, and he responded to his Master’s voice by coming alive again! If we are alive when He calls for us in the rapture, we also will respond to His voice, and “come up here” to be with Him.

HT to reader Ruby who alerted me to this video and to Jacco who found it.

Posted in encouragement, Felix, grace, procrastination, salvation, thanksgiving

Thankful for salvation: thoughts on Felix

After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” (Acts 24:24-25)

It is stated earlier that Felix was thoroughly familiar with “The Way”. (v. 22). Whether it was because Felix had been governor in the area for almost a decade, or because his wife was Jewish, or both, Felix was familiar with the facts about Jesus and his “sect” as Paul’s accuser Tertullus put it. Felix was secure in his knowledge of Christianity in the intellectual realms, enough to feel confident to make a decision regarding the case.

But when the case got personal, really personal, Felix became alarmed. He told Paul to go away and when it was a more convenient time, Felix would think about it. The Greek word for time used in this verse means “a suitable time” or “the right moment”. But there will never be a more convenient right moment.

As James Montgomery Boice said of Felix’s procrastination, if you put it off, the same sinful nature that made you put it off today will make you put it off tomorrow. Nothing will be different. In addition, you’ve begun a habit of procrastination which will only deepen and entrench. Tomorrow it will be worse for you. Now is the acceptable time (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Notice Felix’s alarm at being told of sin and judgment. In the Greek the meaning of terror is ‘being in the grip of a great Godly terror’. The word is used 5 times in the New Testament.

–When the women who brought spices to the tomb after Jesus’ death saw the gleaming angels, they were terrified.
–When they were gathered and Jesus appeared to His disciples they became terrified.
–Cornelius’ terror at seeing a holy angel in a God-given vision.
–In Revelation when a great earthquake occurred and a tenth of Jerusalem fell, the people became terrified and gave God in heaven glory.
–Felix, upon hearing Paul speak of sin and judgment.

You see, in each of the four cases, apart from Felix, the people became terrified upon directly seeing a slice of heaven. Or in the case of the earthquake they knew it was a mighty work of God Himself. And just as seeing a holy angel of God or experiencing God’s hand directly, Felix was experiencing heaven. It wasn’t just Paul speaking some words articulately and Felix becoming annoyed or a bit worried. It was the Holy Spirit opening the depths of Felix’s soul to see his own sin compared to heaven. It was a deep, spiritual terror. Paul’s words and their effect should have brought about the same reaction from Felix as Peter seeing Jesus as Lord of creation with the heavy, full nets of fish in Luke 5:8. Peter fell at Jesus feet, saying “Go away from me, I am a sinful man!” Felix said, “Uh, come back later, this is inconvenient for me.”

When Felix was confronted with his sin and positionally saw how far he was from Jesus, he should have done the same as Peter. Yet though the Lord graciously offered Felix the opportunity to see his sin in light of God’s glory, and though Felix did see it and became abjectly afraid, he procrastinated.

This is a decision. Jesus said whoever is not with Him is against Him. (Matthew 12:30).

So don’t let anyone sway you from evangelizing this way, talking of sin, self-control, righteousness, and the coming judgment. “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” doesn’t have the same potential spiritual terror to pierce the soul as “You’re dead in your sins and Jesus is coming to judge you.”

There is no record in the Bible as to whether Felix found “a more convenient time” and reconciled to God. Probably not, seeing as the next verse records that Felix kept Paul in prison to see if Paul would cough up some money for a bribe. In this case, it IS worse for Felix. All that intellectual knowledge will put him in a worse position at the judgment.

For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:21)

It’s Thanksgiving. I can think of no better gift than salvation to be thankful for. A close second is the Holy Spirit as a gift and a deposit inside us, illuminating the wonders of the Holy Bible to our mind and growing us in sanctification. Or perhaps Jesus forgiving our sins after salvation, or maybe it’s His chastisement which refines us into sterling silver and gold. Or maybe seeing the world, on our walk after the meal, and giving God the glory for His beautiful earth. Or His eternal, boundless grace. There is so MUCH to be thankful for, if you are a Christian. Offer the Gospel to someone today, maybe by next year at this time they will be praising God in gratitude for their reconciliation, and blessedly, Thanksgiving will have taken on a whole new meaning for them.

EPrata photo

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Further Reading

All Dressed Up and No One To Thank

Giving Thanks for Salvation

Posted in encouragement, grace, repentance, salvation, sin

The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do: In which I testify to God’s grace in giving me over to my sin

Last week Tim Challies posted an article titled The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do. It’s a terrifying article. It crushed me reading it and apparently it did for many others as well. I saw this article referred to and re-posted numerous times.

The most terrifying thing God can do is to turn an unsaved person over to his sin. Here is a sample of the scriptural truths the article contains:

We speak often of hell and eternal consequences for sin, but perhaps we give too little attention to God’s action against sin in this world and this life. God’s punishment for sin is sin. His punishment is allowing people to experience the life-stealing, soul-rotting consequences of their sin. He expresses his wrath by allowing them the very thing they want. He does this because when they get the thing they want, it only deepens their destruction. 

In this way, sin is its own punishment. And in all the world I see nothing more terrifying than this: the prospect of God allowing people to experience the full impact and weight of their sinfulness. Nothing is more terrifying than God determining that he will no longer restrain the evil within them.

This is a terrifying thought.

This would be a terrifying event.

For me, the event was not hypothetical. It actually happened. Just before I came to salvation, God turned me over to my sin.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)

I’d lived for 43 years as a sinner, but I had one particular besetting sin that consumed me. After so many decades, the Lord turned me over to it and released restraint. He turned me over to my sin so that I’d choke on it, and by virtue of contrast, thirst for His purity and holiness. After a few mercifully short years, I cried for mercy to the God that I would finally acknowledge and my sin that I would finally admit.

I remember the day when I realized that the sin wasn’t so fun anymore. I realized that my sin had me, I didn’t have it. Like a rabbit in a snare, I tried to shake loose of it, and could not. This perplexed me, because I had always been able to do anything I’d set my mind to. This was different. I was trapped. (Romans 7:14)

Now I know that we are slaves to sin, in bondage to it and to the god of this world, satan. But like quicksand, the more I tried to get out of my sin on my own terms and in my own effort, the more I foundered. I truly felt like I was sinking, forever to be engulfed in a toxic brew of my own making, sinking under the weight of it. My lips were only inches above the water and I felt I had only moments to go, relatively speaking, before I’d sink below the surface to rise no more. And it was cold.

Just prior to salvation, I was attempting to chronicle my experience in art, trying to puzzle out in visuals what words could not express. A spiritual process was happening to me, but I did not understand that it was spiritual. I only knew it was something. I was in a 1 Corinthians 2:14 situation. So I thought that whatever was happening to me I could try and figure it out by making visuals instead of words.

I wrote a little book called “Story of a Fly”. I look back on it now and I see clearly that it is a record of my coming to faith. It contains images and groanings my soul was expressing that words could not convey. As for the title, I think flies are disgusting, and I had no idea why I chose a fly to represent me, the main character in my little book. In retrospect, it was because I was under bondage to satan, also mentioned in the bible as the Lord of the Flies (Baal-zebub or Beelzebul).

In my book, I ‘knew’ there existed a secret kingdom, existing in the midst of and alongside the world I could see. I wanted to go there.

I’d traveled a good deal out in the American West. One of the native mythologies was a trickster god called Kokopelli. He plays the flute and is seen as a spirit of music. He’s also a fertility god and god of agriculture. In my deepest recesses I ‘felt’ that a trickster god was preventing me from obtaining the kingdom, represented below. I called him the ‘fly-wrangler’.

I was searching, seeking, making a long and winding road…but not obtaining this kingdom I wanted to enter so badly.

I felt I was so close and was about to triumphantly enter the kingdom! But there was a barrier. It was insurmountable.

It felt like I was a fly in a jar, captured. I was free to fly around in the jar but not free to get out and go into the kingdom. It was very frustrating. Of course, this feeling I’d had I now know was the weight of sin. Psalm 38:4 is so true! Without repenting no one can ever enter the kingdom of God. I had to deal with my sin.

I could not figure out why I was not enjoying the peace I’d so longed for. I was trying so hard! Yet now I know-

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

All the while, God had given me over to my sin, which I still pursued, though I did not want to anymore. The law of diminishing returns was clearly demonstrating that it was not a worthwhile pursuit.

And that is the last page of the little book. The last page depicts a woman who was well and truly locked in sin. Being given over to sin is truly terrifying. There is a soul-numbing effect that God’s release to sin as punishment has on a person. At least it did to me. The grief is violent, desperate, physical, all-consuming. Spiritual torment! And yet I didn’t know what I was grieving over!

I left many more subsequent pages in the book because I ‘knew’ the story was not going to end there. I did not know what to do next or what would happen next, but the girl was not going to be left in the jar. It just couldn’t end this way…could it? But the grief was an agony.

Not too long after I decided that my sin was the hindrance. I repudiated it. I sought God, who was holy and I repented. Of course the Lord enlivened my spirit and drew me to that point. I had not a clue what to do except wallow in my sin and cry. It was the Lord who was the catalyst.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… (Ephesians 2:1-5)

Being given over to sin is terrifying. That feeling never left me. It fuels me, it haunts me. Sin is a terrible thing. Even more terrifying is God allowing us to bask in it, wallow in it, then sink in it. Obey the Lord. Be grateful for His grace. He saved us from a ghastly fate.

Posted in grace, poem, sin

The winds of sin: A Poem

The winds of sin blow strong
The hearts of stone weigh heavy
The minds of shadow love darkness
The evil day His will prolongs.

The wicked will not prosper
They answer for their deeds
Their names not found on the roster
They stand before Him, these weeds

The winds of grace blow strong
Sin, death and hell cast out
All is fresh and new in beauty
Jesus reigns in glory over the throng

By EPrata

Posted in grace, lovers of self, perilous times shall come, prophecy

Prophecy: ‘For men (and women) will be lovers of self…’

A clip making the rounds on Facebook from Fox “120 Sports” shows the self-absorption of people consistent (in my opinion) of the prophetic verse from 2 Timothy 3:2, “men will be lovers of self”. Here is a still shot-

I snapped this photo that is below 8 years ago when cell phones with cameras were just coming into the fore. I was shocked and surprised at the amount of time the gals were taking to gaze upon themselves. Of course, 8 years ago, the word ‘selfie’ hadn’t been invented yet. ‘Selfie’ was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013. They note that the use of the word selfie increased 17,000 percent from 2012 to 2013.

I do not own a cellphone so being on ‘the outside’, I see cell phone mania all the more.

In one of his letters to Timothy, Paul strongly warned about the behavior of humans in the last days. The last days/end time/last times has been occurring since Jesus ascended and will conclude when He returns. (Acts 2:16-17, cf Joel 2:28). Because of the deteriorating nature of man individually and of society, the times will worsen as the last days progress. (2 Timothy 3:13, 2 Timothy 2:16).

Paul’s specific warning to Timothy about the perilous times that were ahead for the young pastor included a lengthy list of behaviors that will be evidence of the times and which will be contributing to the deterioration of society. Here is Paul’s warning.

Godlessness in the Last Days

1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

These perilous times will be more and more frequent and intense, whereas the intervening periods of relative tranquility will become less and less frequent and peaceful, as the return of Christ nears. ~John MacArthur
Let’s look at the warning about being lovers of self in the last days. Paul’s warnings regarded the difficult times in the church. He was giving Timothy warnings about spiritual impostors and urging him to oppose them and expose them. We know that the world is difficult, godless, and selfish. What will be the difficulty is that the church will become infested with and overrun by people who are the world but pretend to be godly.

In John Warwick Montgomery’s book Damned Through the Church, Montgomery outlines 7 epochs in church history where times have been especially difficult. These have been movements of certain theological orientations which have negatively impacted the church. One of them was that the self has become God, and this movement is still affecting the Church at large in this day and age. As the MacArthur Commentary on 2 Timothy states,

It would be appropriate to add to Montgomery’s list the current emphases on mysticism, which seeks to determine truth about God by intuition and feeling, and pragmatism, which attempts to determine what is true by what produces desired effects. These movements do not come and go but come to stay, so that as the years go on, the church accumulates them, and the battles continue.

If you have ever heard a teacher like Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer or any of the younger female teachers such as from the Propel Movement or the IF:Gathering, they often speak of how we feel as the determiner of truth. Here is an example of that mysticism:

What Moore is saying here is that if we have certain feelings inside of us, it brings us closer to God. But the truth is, it’s about Who we worship, not how we feel. And what if I don’t feel romanced by a sunset (what does that even mean?), then am I apart from God? And how long is this romance feeling supposed to last? How can I sustain this romantic feeling or increase it to feel even closer to Him? What if I “can’t” feel romanced by the sun, when then? You see the issue with constantly teaching about our feelings.

As for the pragmatism, here is an example. If you ever hear anyone say something like, “We packed the church tonight, it must have really been a big move of God!” They look at the numbers of attendees for evidence that the Spirit is working, not whether truth was proclaimed. No one ever thinks that the large numbers attending the program, event, or speaker may have been because satan was planting tares. (Matthew 13:35).

The original sin was pride. It was first found in satan in heaven and he imported it to earth and deceived Adam and Eve. Their rebellion was based on a foundation of loving self more than loving God, thus violating the first commandment. (Exodus 20:3, Matthew 22:37-39).

This notion of self-love and self-esteem infiltrated the church early last century and only grew from there. I remember as a teacher of young children in the 1980s when the self-esteem movement came in full force. The secular world had grabbed it and would not let go. All children were winners in the game, teaching reading was (nearly) out, but we were supposed to spend time in the first segment of the day teaching self-esteem and affirming everything the children did or said. It was only a matter of time before the secular world’s self-love which had coalesced into psychology, esteem movements, personality cults. and affirmation with no companion concepts of discipline or boundaries came into the church. The tares brought it in. They still are.

Another memory is the 1972 book “I’m OK, You’re OK” by Thomas Anthony Harris. It is one of the best selling self-help books ever published. It is a practical guide to Transactional Analysis as a method for solving problems in life. (source). Satan constantly attempts to shift our eyes from God to the self, and once gazing at the self, to believe that we are really just all right and do not need anything from God. We are our own gods.

When we see such fascination with one’s self like in the video or photos above, you can be sure that the same attitudes are also present in the church, just as Paul warned. At the root of the self-esteem problem is one that is really pride. The attitude is ‘I’m OK, I am not a depraved sinner in need of the cleansing blood of Jesus, I need nothing from God, I am my own god’ which is exactly what satan believes. (Isaiah 14:14).

Gill commented on the 2 Timothy perilous times/lovers of self verse:

For men shall be lovers of their own selves,…. Not in a good sense, as men may be, and as such are who love their neighbours as themselves, and do that to others they would have done to themselves; and who take all prudent and lawful care to preserve the life and health of their bodies, and seek in a right way the salvation of their immortal souls:

but in a bad sense, as such may be said to be, who only love themselves; their love to God, and Christ, and to the saints, being only in pretence, not in reality; and who do all they do in a religious way, from a principle of self-love, and to selfish and mercenary ends…

How can one avoid the pitfall of self-love? It IS our natural inclination after all. Let’s look at what scripture says.

First, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).

If we are filled with loving God utmost, it doesn’t leave much room to love ourselves. We do fail at this, no one loves God totally all the time, completely. As a matter of fact, the world’s pull is going in the opposite direction, where the times are like the days of Noah when men thought of evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5). So we rely on the Holy Spirit in us more and more to weed out the attachment to the world and the hate in our own hearts so that we may love God all the more. Further, that love of Him and then our neighbor more than ourselves is expressed not just in feelings, but in actions.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. . (Philippians 2:3-4).

We’re not out to please ourselves but to look after the interests of others. (Philippians 2:21, Romans 15:1).

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Love, do, look, carry… If we are looking unto God and caring for and doing good to our neighbor, we won’t have time for selfies.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

Posted in grace, hope, prophecy, revelation, sin, wrath

"Be saved today"…what are we actually saved from?

I love it when preachers, teachers, theologians talk about the Wrath of God. I do love the wrath of God because it is part of Him and His holy and perfect attributes. I do not love that people will undergo the suffering of His wrath due to the penalty of their sins. The wrath is a serious, serious thing.

I love it when preachers, teachers and theologians speak of the wrath because many others of them who are supposed to teach the full counsel of God do not. I know of churches where a pastor might go into a long, involved altar call, pleading with folks to come forward as music softly plays, and yet never mention wrath, sin, death, or hell. This is not the full counsel of God. Here, Bob DeWaay explains what the full counsel of God actually is.

As I have had people explain it to me: “people don’t go to church to feel worse about themselves.” So, it is deemed irrelevant to discuss the sin nature, and relevant to help people feel better about themselves. What about the glory of God? Are we to hear a powerful, Biblical presentation of God’s glory, His holy nature, our fallen condition, and the necessity of a blood atonement to appease the wrath of God (Romans 3:25)? Again, these matters are not likely to be deemed relevant to many.

Before my own conversion, I heard people say things like ‘the lost need to be saved’. I did not understand what “lost” meant. I joked that those dumb Christians were always going on about being lost but I knew exactly where I was. Har har har. And as for “saved? I had no clue what the threat was that we needed saving from. Yet this is exactly the reason why we should not dilute or on any way water down the message Jesus gave to us, His ambassadors. Ambassadors in real political jobs must convey the message from their superiors exactly as stated. It is not up to the Ambassador to change the message. (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are only witnesses and messengers, and the message has been set. It includes the “unpalatable” doctrines of sin, death, hell, and wrath. There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God. ~Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

The fact is, God’s wrath is the threat. And it is very real. Here are some theological thoughts from J.A. Milliken, and E.E. Carpenter, on what God’s wrath is and why we need saving from it.

WRATH, WRATH OF GOD

Used to express several emotions, including anger, indignation, vexation, grief, bitterness, and fury. It is the emotional response to perceived wrong and injustice. Both humans and God express wrath. When used of God, wrath refers to His absolute opposition to sin and evil. When used of humans, however, wrath is one of those evils that is to be avoided.

The OT speaks very frequently of both God’s wrath and human wrath, but the wrath or anger of God is mentioned three times more often than human wrath. There are some 20 different Hebrew words, used approximately 580 times, that refer to God’s wrath in the OT.

the wrath or anger of God is mentioned three times more often than human wrath.

… These anthropopathic terms must not be construed in such a way as to attribute to God the irrational passion we find so frequently in man and which is ascribed to pagan deities. They do, on the other hand, point to the reality and severity of God’s wrath in the OT (Isa. 63:1–6). God’s wrath is not capricious but is always a moral and ethical reaction to sin. Sometimes that sin may be spoken of in general terms (Job 21:20; Jer. 21:12; Ezek. 24:13) and at other times specified as the shedding of blood (Ezek. 8:18; 24:8), adultery (Ezek. 23:25), violence (Ezek. 8:18), covetousness (Jer. 6:11), revenge (Ezek. 25:17), affliction of widows and orphans (Exod. 22:22), taking brethren captive (2 Chron. 28:11–27), and especially idolatry (Ps. 78:56–66). The means by which God expressed His wrath was always some created agency: His angels, His people the Israelites, Gentile nations, and the forces of nature.

God’s wrath is not capricious but is always a moral and ethical reaction to sin. 

In the prophetic books the wrath of God is commonly presented as a future judgment. It is usually associated with the concept of “the day of the LORD” (Zeph. 1:14–15), or simply “that day.” That day will be a great and terrible day, a day of darkness and gloominess, day of the vengeance of God (Joel 2:2, 11; Isa. 63:4). While some of these prophetic utterances may have referred to the judgment of God in history, their ultimate fulfillment will come in a final act by which the world and its inhabitants will give account to God (cp. the NT use of the “day of the Lord,” 1 Thess. 5:1–9; 2 Pet. 3:10).

The wrath of God is not mentioned as frequently in the New Testament nor is there the richness of vocabulary that is found in the OT. There are only two primary NT terms for wrath: thumos and orge. Both are used to express a human passion and a divine attribute or action. When used of human passion, wrath is repeatedly named in lists of sins that are to be avoided, and if not, may incite God’s wrath (Eph. 4:31; 5:6; Col. 3:8; Titus 1:7).

Some have seen a distinction in meaning in these synonyms, the difference being that thumos expresses a sudden outburst of anger whereas orge emphasizes more deliberateness. There may be an intentional difference in occasional uses of the terms, but this does not prevent both terms from being condemned as vices when applied to human passion. In addition, both terms are used to describe the character of God, particularly in the book of Revelation.

There is great emphasis in the NT placed on the wrath of God as a future judgment. John the Baptist began his ministry by announcing the wrath of God that is to come, from which men should flee (Matt. 3:8). Jesus, likewise, pronounced a wrath that is to come upon Israel and produce great distress (Luke 21:23). Paul speaks of a day of wrath to come that awaits some, but from which believers are to be delivered (Rom. 2:5; Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 2:10). The idea of a future wrath of God is unfolded on a large scale in Revelation. It is described in very graphic terms, as cataclysmic upheavals in the universe (Rev. 6:12–17), “the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15 HCSB), and “the cup of His anger” (Rev. 14:10).

John the Baptist began his ministry by announcing the wrath of God that is to come, from which men should flee

In the NT the wrath of God is not only a future judgment, it is a present reality. It does not merely await people at the future judgment. Jesus stated that the wrath of God abides on unbelievers, and consequently they stand presently condemned (John 3:18, 36). For Paul, God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom. 1:18), all people in their natural state are “children under wrath” (Eph. 2:3 HCSB).

Theological Considerations: The doctrine of the wrath of God is unpopular in much modern theological discourse. Some deny that there is ever anger with God. Others think of God’s wrath as an impersonal moral cause-and-effect process that results in unpleasant consequences for evil acts. Still others view God’s wrath as His anger against sin but not the sinner.

God’s wrath is real, severe, and personal. The idea that God is not angry with sinners belongs neither to the OT nor to the NT. God is a personal moral being who is unalterably opposed to evil and takes personal actions against it. Wrath is the punitive righteousness of God by which He maintains His moral order, which demands justice and retribution for injustice.

God’s wrath is real, severe, and personal.

Moreover, God’s wrath is inextricably related to the doctrine of salvation. If there is no wrath, there is no salvation. If God does not take action against sinners, there is no danger from which sinners are to be saved. The good news of the gospel is that sinners who justly deserve the wrath of God may be delivered from it. Through the atoning death of Christ, God is propitiated and His anger is turned away from all those who receive Christ (Rom. 3:24–25). Therefore, those who have faith in Christ’s blood are no longer appointed to wrath but are delivered from it and appointed “to obtain salvation” (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9).

SOURCE: Millikin, J. A. (2003). Wrath, Wrath of God. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 1688–1689). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

What do the wrath and salvation have to do with each other?

“Wrath” is a strong term, reserved in the English language almost exclusively for describing “God’s anger” with human beings and their sinful actions. The Greek word orgē expresses the idea of “justifiable anger for unjust actions.” It is used throughout the New Testament to describe God’s anger toward the sins and unbelief of humanity.

The Old Testament and the New Testament both teach that God is storing up His anger for the great and final day of judgment. This day is frequently called the Day of the Lord. The concept of the Day of the Lord was developed by the prophets to warn Israel and the nations that no one can escape the righteous outpouring of God’s wrath (Amos 5:18–20). This day was still spoken about by the New Testament prophets, John the Baptist and John the visionary (Matt. 3:7; Rev. 6:16–17).

Those who do not profess faith in the risen Christ remain in their sins and will be subject to God’s wrath, whereas those who believe in Him are delivered (Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 1:10). The good news of the New Testament is that Jesus has come to deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9). Those who have been delivered are reconciled with God because they are no longer under condemnation (Rom. 5:10; 8:1).

Those who do not profess faith in the risen Christ remain in their sins and will be subject to God’s wrath, whereas those who believe in Him are delivered

God’s wrath will be poured out on the devil, his angels, and all who rebel against Him. This is graphically portrayed in the book of Revelation, as we see scene after scene of God executing judgment on the ungodly. God’s stored-up wrath will be unleashed in awful ways, as He brings destruction on: the earth, those dwelling on the earth, the merchants of the earth, false religions, the antichrist, and all the enemies of the gospel. Ultimately, God’s wrath will be satisfied when He has put the devil, his angels, and all unbelievers in the lake of fire, to be tormented for eternity in eternal separation from God (Rev. 14:10; 20:10–15).

SOURCE: Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 427). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Do we have hope to escape the wrath, then?

Here is how Jonathan Edwards concluded his masterpiece sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.

BE SAVED TODAY

Posted in discernment, galatians, grace, jesus, law, paul

Why did Paul spank the Galatians so hard?

Last week I wrote Should We Love False Teachers? in which I took a look at the aforementioned question and put forth an answer. (Answer: no).

O you foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you!?

I’m reading the book of Galatians this month, and the associated commentaries. The book I finished before this was 1 Corinthians, all about that rowdy crowd of raucous Christians Paul had to tame by reminding them that Christian liberty is not license to sin. The book of Galatians is a book about defending salvation by grace and not of works. In it, Paul refutes the Judaizers, a gang of false teachers who upset the Galatians into thinking they had to be circumcised and do other Mosaic law keeping in order to be saved. Paul had to remind the Galatians of their freedom in Christ is given by grace and not of works.

When you start reading the book of Galatians, one thing immediately strands out. Paul cut to the chase. Paul is usually blunt, but in no other book, however, did Paul fail at first to give a loving greeting full of thanks toward the recipients. He always found something to commend, even in the rowdy Corinthians.

Not so with the Galatians.

He says, “Hi, it’s me, Paul, and WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?!” to paraphrase.

Wait, weren’t the Corinthians worse? Why was Paul being so tough on the Galatians? The answer is, because sinful doctrine is worse than sinful behavior. Here is John MacArthur on the Galatian situation from his commentary.

After exposing the dangers of the false doctrines that threatened the Galatians, Paul exposes the wicked character of the men who espoused the doctrines. Like his Lord, Paul had great patience with those who were caught in even the deepest moral sin. As much as they condemned the sin itself and warned against its consequences, their love for the sinner was always evident. For the oft-divorced woman at Jacob’s well and the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus’ rebukes were gentle, and His offers of help were kind and encouraging (John 4:7 26; 8:3-11). And even before the hated and larcenous Zaccheus repented and came to saving faith, Jesus was not ashamed to eat with him (Luke 19:1-10).

But for the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees—whose outward lives were ceremonially impeccable, but who refused to recognize their spiritual need and Who continually corrupted the people’s minds with their legalistic perversion of true Judaism—Jesus had only condemnation. The scribes and Pharisees were the primary teachers and interpreters of Scripture. When a man was initiated into the scribal office, he was given a key that symbolized his qualification to teach. Yet Jesus called them hypocrites, deceivers, extortioners, misguided proselytizes, blind guides, fools, inwardly corrupt and foul, partners with those who killed the prophets and murderers themselves, serpents and vipers, and future persecutors of His church (Matt. 23:13-36). Their worst evil, however, was one that Isaiah had prophesied of them more than six hundred years earlier: “In vain do they worship Me, leaching as doctrines the precepts Of men” (Matt. 15:9; cf. Isa. 29:13).

Paul, too, was longsuffering with those who were caught in sin, as his letters to the immature, factious, and immoral believers at Corinth attest. But also like the Lord, the apostle’s most scathing denunciations were reserved for those who pervert God’s truth and lead others into falsehood.

EPrata photo

Paul extols the Law for its place to remind us of mercy. However, misuse of the Law condemns! THAT is the horror of false teachers! Wrong behavior is external and can be corrected, a poisoned heart full of false notions about Jesus is condemning!

Charles Spurgeon said, in his sermon on Galatians 3:13, “The Curse Removed“,

O ye who trust in the law for your salvation! ye have erred from the faith; ye do not understand God’s designs; ye are ignorant of every one of God’s truths. The law was given by Moses to make men feel themselves condemned, but never to save them; its very intention was to “conclude us all in unbelief, and to condemn us all, that he might have mercy upon all.” It was intended by its thunders to crush every hope of self-righteousness, by its lightnings to scathe and demolish every tower of our own works, that we might be brought humbly and simply to accept a finished salvation through the one mighty Mediator

Anyone who believes – or teaches – differently is ignorant:

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. (1 Timothy 6:3-4)

Posted in demons, discernment, exorcism, forea, grace, Mexico, ritual

Catholic priests attempt to exorcise all demons from Mexico

EPrata photo

I read, shaking my head the whole time, a news article from today, June 16, 2015, noting that some Catholic archbishops and other religious muckey-mucks got together to exorcise the demons from Mexico. All of them. Nationwide.

Hmmm.

What happens when an entire country becomes infested with demons?

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2015 / 03:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Can a country with deep Christian roots like Mexico find itself at the mercy of demons? Some in the Church fear so. And as a result, they called for a nation-wide exorcism of Mexico, carried out quietly last month in the cathedral of San Luis Potosí. High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of exorcism, known as “Exorcismo Magno.”

I want to state at the outset, that Catholicism is NOT CHRISTIAN. This is critical to understand. Catholicism is no more Christian than Wicca or Hinduism. It is a false religion. More on that in a moment.

Curious, I googled “Exorcismo Magno” and found this article, translated from the Spanish from September 2014.

José Antonio Fortea Cucurull is a Spanish writer,
and a Roman Catholic priest and exorcist
of the diocese of Alcalá de Henares. Wikipedia

“El Exorcismo Magno”: Nueva obra del P. José Antonio Fortea
“The Great Exorcism”: New work of Father José Antonio Fortea

Father Fortea presented this new work indicating that “every year in several countries, not many, there are meetings of exorcists. These national meetings usually gather no less than fifty exorcists, usually more than hundred. Between national and international conferences, usually take a year, worldwide, about seven of these annual meetings.” “When nearly a year ago, I attended as a speaker at one of these conferences, I explained to exorcists that exorcístico power can be applied not only to relieve a person of demonic possession, or release a home infestation. But you can also exorcise the infernal forces to move away from a parish, of a city, of a diocese or of the universal Church.”

What?!?! The Catholic Church has had the ritual ability and power to drive all demons from the entire Church this whole time…and hasn’t? Of course they do not have this power, but I make a remark similar to the Charismatics like Benny Hinn who claim power to heal, yet never go to a hospital to do so.

EPrata art

But wait, it seems that this Grand Exorcism, or El Exorcismo Magno, is a new idea from the Father Fortea. Last year at the meeting, he proposed it, and this Mexican Grand Exorcism has just been tried out for the first time.

At the meeting last year when Fr. Fortea proposed a grand exorcism, he wrote,

Canon law prohibits perform exorcisms on people harassed by the devil. But does not prohibit, alone, exorcise the demons of the world.

After over 1000 years, the Catholic Church gets a clue they they have the power to rid the world of demons? By the way, this clearly demonstrates their hubris, pride, and misapplied energies. The Bible says satan is god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4). If the RCC believes it has the power to rid the world of satan, they are then saying they are the god of this world, and disbelieve what God has said through His inspired word that satan is.

Back to the original article I posted, “What happens when an entire country becomes infested with demons?

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, presided at the closed doors ceremony, the first ever in the history of Mexico. Also participating were Archbishop Jesús Carlos Cabrero of San Luis Potosí, Spanish demonologist and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, and a smaller group of priests and lay people. The event was not made known to the general public beforehand. According to Archbishop Cabrero, the reserved character of the May 20 ceremony was intended to avoid any misguided interpretations of the ritual. But how can an entire country become infested by demons to the point that it’s necessary to resort to an Exorcismo Magno? “To the extent sin increases more and more in a country, to that extent it becomes easier for the demons to tempt (people),” Fr. Fortea told CNA.

Did Jesus ever drive out a demon in secret? Or do anything in secret?

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. (John 18:20) 

The 3 reasons the Father said they must do it in secret are these:

EPrata photo & artwork

1. Otherwise, the news of this exorcism can cause the cathedral is so crowded that literally impossible to perform the smallest movement therein
2. Moreover, a small number of participants (30, 40 and 50 lay people) It can concentrate much more on the ceremony. Intimacy, undoubtedly benefits this ceremonial.
3. The presence of a crowd disperse the concentration of the celebrants.

DUJARDIN, Karel, 1663,
Paul Healing the Cripple at Lystra

Peter healed in full view of the throngs in Solomon’s Portico (Acts 3:1-9). Peter healed in the midst of crowds. (Acts 5). Paul healed Eutychus who had fallen out the window and fell on his head. Paul ran to the boy and raised him from the dead, irrespective of crowds standing nearby. Paul also healed in the midst of crowds, (Acts 14:9-10)

Maybe this internet age has wrought a lesser ability to concentrate on healing and exorcising. Yeah, that must be it.

Nevertheless, he emphasized that “if with the power we’ve received from Christ we expel the demons from a country, this will certainly have positive repercussions, because we’ll make a great number of the tempters flee, even if this exorcism is partial.”

And, partial? As if Jesus didn’t make the demons shudder just by showing up? He always had complete command over demons, and fully and totally healed, which is what an exorcism is.

Jesus healed totally. Peter’s mother-in-law was cured of all her symptoms and went at once from being bedridden to serving a meal. When Jesus healed a man “covered with leprosy” (Luke 5:12), “the leprosy left him” (v. 13). It was the same with all of Jesus’ healings; “the blind receive[d] sight and the lame walk[ed], the lepers [were] cleansed and the deaf hear[d]” (Matt. 11:5). (source)

When the legion of demons were in the Gadarene demoniac, Jesus didn’t exorcise 5,998 of them. Once Jesus exorcised, ALL of them were gone and the man was sitting next to Jesus clothed and in his right mind. (Mark 5:1-15)

The Catholic exorcists are not known to Jesus by faith. When impostor exorcists attempt to drive out demons, this is what happens:

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:13-16)

Matthew Henry says of the Sons of Sceva incident:

It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons to profess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the using of Christ’s name, or his works, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us.

Faithlife Study Bible says

19:15 I know The demon claims to have knowledge of Jesus. He understands the person and position of the Lord. The demons tremble before Him (Jas 2:19).

I am acquainted with The demon expresses his knowledge of Paul even though he may not have dealt with him directly.

who are you The demon does not have any information about the sons of Sceva. Because they were not servants of the true God, the demon recognizes that they are illegitimate.

19:16 subdued The actions of leaping and subduing express supernaturally enhanced movements. The demon-possessed man completely overpowers the sons of Sceva.

all of them Luke emphasizes that one man overwhelmed seven others. This further illustrates the demon’s extreme might and the exorcists’ lack of any true power.

naked and wounded The fraudulent claims of the son of Sceva leave them in embarrassment.

19:17 fear See 5:5, 11. When the Church or the world sees the true nature of God’s authority, they fear Him.

Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 19:15–17).

Father Forea in his proposal paper/thesis then spends dozens of pages outlining the particular details for how the ceremony of exorcism should take place. It should be in a cathedral, after dark, near compline, with priests dressed in certain ways, proceeding in certain directions, praying certain prayers, like this excerpt-

Holy Mother of God, pray for us Holy Mary, Queen of Angels … I declare anathema, Satan, enemy of salvation human; recognizes the justice and goodness of God the Father, which, fair trial, condemned your pride and your envy: Depart from this Temple, of this city, of this diocese and the universal Church. I conjure thee, Satan, Prince of this world recognizes the power and strength of Jesus Christ who beat you in the desert, exceeded your snares in the Garden, emptied on the Cross, and risen from the tomb your trophies transferred to the kingdom of light: Church retire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

It should be said “in a commanding tone”. There are a great many prayers and litanies, here is another excerpt

Exorcise all evil spirit that tries to attack the Church. Exorcise all satanic power that attacks the Church. In the name and power of Jesus Christ, I order you to go out and run away from the Church of God, souls created image of God and redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Divine Cordero. Henceforth not you dare, perfidísima snake deceive human race, persecute the Church of God and sift the elected. Almighty God commands you, who in your insolent asemejarte even pretend pride. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Remember, this is google translated from Spanish. Then there is a looooong prayer to Mary. it is called the Litany of the Virgin.

Holy Mary, pray for us
pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of Virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of the Church,
Mother of divine grace,
Pure Mother,
Mother most chaste,
Mother always virgin,
Immaculate Mother,
Gentle mother,
Admirable mother,
Mother of Good Counsel,
Mother of the Creator,
Mother of the Savior,
Mother of Mercy,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin worthy of veneration,
Virgin worthy of praise,
Virgin most powerful,
Clement Virgin,
Faithful Virgin,
Mirror of justice,
Throne of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Ivory tower,
House of gold,
Ark of the Covenant
Heaven’s Gate,
Morning Star,
Health of the Sick,
Refuge of Sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of the Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of All Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into Heaven,
Queen of the Holy Rosary,
Queen of the family,
Queen of Peace.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin
of the world,
Forgive us, Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin
of the world,
hear us, Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin
of the world,
Have mercy on us.
Pray for us, Holy Mother of
God.
That we may be worthy of the promises
Christ.

Did you know that the Catholic philosophy of the Immaculate Conception does NOT refer to the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit? Catholic Dogma believes that Mary was conceived without original sin, that’s why you see that reference in the prayer for national exorcism which Father Forea has developed. Where it says ‘Queen assumed into heaven’ it is a reference to Catholic philosophy of the Assumption of Mary, where she was lifted alive and bodily into heaven. Mary has as many names and titles and appellations as Jesus, doesn’t she.

The Catholics certainly worship venerate Mary very highly, don’t they.

In reading Father Forea’s thesis, his emphasis on ritual, formality, and symbolism is explained throughout. There is a lot of it. A whole lot. In his 50 page book the word symbol or symbolism is written 29 times. Ritual occurs 69 times.

Yet we learn when Jesus confronted the Pharisees, he abhorred empty symbolism and pointless ritual.

what surfaces, starting in verse 38, is the nature of false religion. Point one, they loved the symbolic; they loved the symbolic. … and this is how it is, my friend, with false religion. They love the symbols. When we were in Moscow a few months ago, slipped into a Greek Orthodox church–literally repulsed by extravagant symbolism. You stand in one spot and this parade goes on of people with all these elaborate dressings and head dresses and waving censors, and icons all over everywhere. It literally blasts your senses; it’s so garish, bizarre, and people walking in endless circles and mumbling incomprehensible drivel and waving things in the air–and these poor, sad souls trying somehow to connect with the external. But religion that has nothing inside proliferates the symbolic. Look at the Roman Catholic Church, just full of it…full of it. False religion loves symbols. (How to Evangelize Religious People, Luke 11:37-44)

Our precious Savior, Jesus, loves His sheep with a grace and a force and a purity that is wondrous to behold. Our relationship with him is direct and personal, no ceremonies or rituals or symbols need apply. The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, giving witness to the power of our Redeemer to create in us a new heart. He is the deposit of the guarantee of future inheritance. No one can snatch us out of His hand, our salvation and eternality with Him is ever secure. His Gospel of grace is magnificent- and sufficient.

For the Catholic, they lack this assurance. That’s why they worry about demons and rituals and symbols. They don’t know about grace. They are told they must work to attain heaven, completing the work that Jesus started- yet are never quite sure when they have gotten there.

Jesus said: …Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.(Matthew 11:29-30)

The Catholic lacks this rest. His burden is heavy and the yoke is hard. For the priests walking around mumbling incantations to expel demons form an entire nation, they are no different than the whitewashed Pharisees who walked around the market stalls mumbling long prayers. When the demonic exorcism fails, and it will and it did, the priests can go back to their national meeting and adjust the ceremony by tweaking the color of the ceremonial garb, reverse the prayer walk around the cathedral,  perform it at matins and not compline…they will endlessly look for just the right recipe that will work, but they don’t know that the work was done by Jesus.

Exorcism occurs when the given Gospel message seed planted in the heart is grown by Christ and hearts are changed. That is the only way on this side of heaven to drive out demons in a nation. (Acts 17:6). Even Jesus didn’t raise His hands and command all demons to depart from Judea. (He could have, of course He has the power)

Catholic people, Rest in His grace, appeal to His mercy. Repent of your sins to Him the Judge. We need to present the Gospel to Mexico- it is the Gospel that changes hearts. And to America as well. Because this tweet, right after the original tweet containing the news link, is so true-

Posted in death, election, encouragement, grace, infant

What happens to babies who die?

Sinclair Ferguson on a difficult doctrine: Total Depravity in Children

Elisha Raises the Shunammite woman’s Son: Frederic Leighton

Little Innocents?

The total depravity of our children is a faith-doctrine, a biblical insight. Our natural instinct is to think of new-born children as moral and spiritual tabulae rasae, clean sheets on which to write a successful life. Admittedly the page may soon be a little blotted (the occasional temper tantrum!), but the background is still basically white, surely? Not so, according to the Scriptures: the wicked go astray from the womb and speak lies from birth, insists the psalmist.

Here is a chart comparing Arminianism and Calvinism. I’ll excerpt the part about our sin-nature.

Arminianism Free Will or Human Ability says:

Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.

Calvinism: Total Inability or Total Depravity says:

Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not — indeed he cannot — choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ — it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation— it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.

Jan Sluijters (1881-1957), Elisha and the son of the
Shunammite woman, 1904

Total depravity does not mean that all humans are all as bad as they could be. Not everyone is a Hitler, is he? There are people who are nice and compassionate and do kind things. Then there’s the Hitlers and Stalins and Pol Pots of the world. No, total depravity means that sin has touched every part of our being, totally, and we are totally unable to do anything good for God. We are all criminals in God’s eyes and in His capacity as Judge He would be righteous if He sent all humans to hell upon their death. Even children.

So what happens to children who die, if they are completely depraved but are unable to consciously and maturely respond to the Gospel?

One of the complaints I receive about the Doctrines of Grace is that God would be horribly mean to send babies to hell when they do not have the mind to even be able to contemplate the Gospel and formulate a response to it, the basis of faith and the key to entry into the Kingdom. I agree, that would be hard to swallow. But God does not send babies or children to hell. He is just, and He is sovereign, and He has a plan.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, John MacArthur was invited to the Larry King talk/interview show to try and help people make sense of the spiritual questions the event raised. In a subsequent sermon titled What Happens to Babies Who Die?, Dr MacArthur said this:

Some of you who tuned in to the Larry King Show a week ago Saturday will remember that Larry fired a question to me on the air that came out of nowhere. The question that reveals a nagging, troubling issue in the human heart. He asked me, “What about a two-year-old baby crushed at the bottom of the World Trade Center?”
I answered, “Instant heaven.”
He replied with another question. “Wasn’t a sinner?”
I again answered, “Instant heaven.”
That’s a compelling question, what about a baby crushed at the bottom of the Trade Center? What about any baby that dies? It’s an agonizing question. It’s a question that plagues Christians and non-Christians alike…what happens to babies that die?

In the essay, MacArthur shows from scripture that they go to heaven. Though they are sinners from the womb and though they have not hard or responded to the Gospel, God made a provision.

The Doctrines of Grace make me love Jesus all the more. He made a provision for the children and adults otherwise unable to cognitively understand their sin or the Gospel. God is love and His provision is demonstrates no better than the very moment an apple cheeked youngster’s laugh is stilled by death, when He receives them instantly to His arms.

Of Children:
The seed of every known sin is planted in their hearts. Robert Murray McCheyne

Of Jesus:
Never forget that there is more grace in Christ than there is sin in your heart and your child’s heart combined. Sinclair Ferguson

————————

Further reading:

These essays show from scripture why their authors believe children who die go to heaven.

Charles Spurgeon: Infant Salvation

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin: The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?

John Piper: What Happens to Infants Who Die?

Posted in grace, mighty, prophecy, resurrection, risen

He is risen!

The Righteous Reign of the Branch
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:1-2