Posted in jesus, justice, lake of fire, love, prophecy, wrath

Isaiah’s Prophecy: Looking at God’s wrath…but isn’t God LOVE?

Wrath by EPrata

There is His wrath, justice, and holiness to consider. His holiness, wrath and justice are expressed partly in His glory in saving souls and partly in His glory is rendering wrath unto souls. This verse below closes the book of Isaiah. It is an astounding prophecy and a violent image to be left with-

And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24).

We know and understand that Isaiah’s prophecy relates to the end of time and the eternal state. Jesus used the reference to the worm that does not die in Mark 9:48, referring to the final state of sinners.

The Sky Be Rolled Back as a Scroll, Rev 6:14. EPrata photo

What are we to make of such a thing? Going out to look at those in the lake of fire?? Why didn’t God hide them? The entire scenario is so unsavory, so putrid, such an assault to future glorified eyes, why put the ones who rebelled on display? Don’t we want to focus on the love of God? Why be so, well, negative?

Yes but He is also Justice! His holiness demands a response to sin. Not only did He NOT purpose to save all men, but He allows us, forgiven sinners, to sink to our knees in gratitude at the display of His wrath upon those who did sin and were not forgiven.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible says of Isaiah 66:24,

It shall not be inconsistent with true love for the godly to look with satisfaction on God’s vengeance on the wicked (Revelation 14:10).

Barnes Notes says,

This is the consummation of the series of bright visions that passed before the mind of Isaiah, and is an appropriate termination of this succession of wonderful revelations. Where could it more appropriately close than in the final triumph of the true religion, and in the complete and final destruction of all the enemies of God. The vision stretches on to the judgment, and is closed by a contemplation of those scenes which commence there, but which never end. The church is triumphant. Its conflicts cease. Its foes are slain. Its Redeemer is revealed; and its everlasting happiness is founded on a basis which can never be shaken.

He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: (Psalm 50:4).

God saw his glory being despised by sinners—he saw his worth belittled and his name dishonored by our sins—and rather than vindicating the worth of his glory by slaying his people, he vindicated his glory by slaying his Son. ~John Piper, 1992

We are blessed with forever being able to view grace, in gazing at the “Lamb looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6) and being able to view justice, in gazing at the tormented dead bodies of those who rebelled. God does not hide or diminish or secret away any of His attributes. He is always gloriously on display, from creation to His Son to His Bride to His fulfilled promises to His redeemed people to His justice in vindicating Himself through wrath. We serve a mighty and loving and holy God. Far from being negative…it’s all Good.

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life,
he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20:15

Posted in discernment, doctrine, false prophets, false teachers, love

Should we love false teachers?

It’s always nice to talk about love and tolerance. We know that God loved the world. He loves His Son. We are told to love each other, that is how they will know us (John 13:35). But sometimes love is not appropriate or warranted. Do I mean this, really? Well, we know we are supposed to hate sin. We know there are six things, no, seven, that the Lord hates. (Proverbs 6:16-19). We hate sin so much we’re supposed to kill the old man in us. (Colossians 3:5). We don’t endlessly give the Gospel to those who hurl it back, those hurlers are called swine. So when it comes to love, we know we don’t ‘love’ everyone or everything, at least not according to the romantic or secular definition of love. So here is the question: are we supposed to love false teachers?

At The Berean Call, the question is posed:

To the world it might appear that all is well in the Christian realm. Much-beloved speakers hold forth from the pulpits of some of the largest churches in the world. Believers and nonbelievers alike buy their books, avail themselves of their programs, and utilize their methodologies. One might come to the conclusion that Peter must not have been referring to the church in our day regarding false teachers. Tolerance is the word of the day. We hear admonitions on a regular basis to “just get along” with those of opposing faiths. “Love” reigns supreme.

But what is this “love” of which they speak? What about those who identify a false gospel or a false teacher among some of the popular speakers these days? Does this “love” still apply to those who expose the ones who are actually deceivers among the flock?

A dear sister in the faith posed the question to me. To love those who are deluded and cannot understand the Word and care for them and not be critical. I thought about it for a long time, because I love poorly and I’m always appealing to the Lord to teach me love better.

So I began to think hard, should we love false teachers? Are they to be pitied? I decided, no. Though I value the opinions offered and they DO make me think, I don’t necessarily always agree. I’d like to offer an alternate view about how far not to go in pursuing love, and to offer a different perspective of what love actually is.

If we read Jeremiah 14:16, there is not even a hapless non-believer who accidentally can’t understand God’s truth and accidentally follows false prophets because they don’t know better. They DO know better. God said He will pour out their evil upon them because they knew better but followed false prophets anyway. 2 Timothy 4:3 also puts the blame on those who choose to follow false teachers because they wanted their ears tickled, so they went out and accumulated for themselves false teachers who told them what they wanted to hear.

But back to the false teachers themselves. I reserve my highest caring in this situation- for Jesus. We do care for the state of our neighbor’s souls, and we do care for brethren, but in all this let us not forget caring about Jesus.

I care about His name and what people do in His name. The harshest criticism in the Bible from everyone, (Jesus, Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, John, James, Jude, etc) was aimed at those who pervert God’s word. It is not a situation where we say “poor, poor false teachers. Let’s understand them and open our hearts to them and care.” I do hope they are saved someday, but beyond that they get no caring from me. I am highly CRITICAL of them in righteous indignation. Here is why-

The Bible tells us they do it on purpose. They disguise themselves- that isn’t an accident. (2 Cor 1:13). They do it for greed. (1 Timothy 6:5). They do it to put us in bondage again. (Gal 2:4). They do it because they hate Jesus and love themselves. (1 Tim 6:4). They do it because they enjoy lying. (2 Peter 2:1).

These false teachers are already cursed and destined for hell. In the essay “The Pathology of False Teachers” we read,

Unfortunately, their prognosis is not hopeful. Their spiritual condition is terminal. Those who are deprived of the truth are headed for judgment. Hebrews 6:6 solemnly warns of such men that “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.” Peter says that they bring “swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Peter 2:1). The severest hell will be reserved for those who, having been exposed to the truth, turned away from it (cf. Hebrews 10:26–31).

The goal of the false teacher is not to create an environment of love, but to feed his ego and fill his pockets.
~John MacArthur

You notice they don’t pervert Buddha’s words. They don’t pervert Allah’s words. They don’t pervert Shiva’s words. They choose to pervert Jesus’ swords for gain, for fame, for an audience, and all the other reasons. I am critical of that because I care about Jesus.

The Berean Call again:

Every epistle in the New Testament was written to correct error in the church. Did Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude not understand that to correct those who were in error was in truth a failure to love them? Did they believe that it was none of their business to bring correction to the false teaching? Do we consider them divisive for confronting error and holding fast to the truth? No! They boldly addressed the error and at times even named the offenders.

No, I do not love false teachers. I do not care about false teachers. I care about Jesus. I love His followers. Tim Challies said in his essay 7 Marks of a False Teacher,

False teachers are concerned with your goods, not your good; they want to serve themselves more than save the lost; they are content for Satan to have your soul as long as they can have your stuff.

Jesus called false teachers broods of vipers and hypocrites. (Mt 23:33)
So did John the Baptist in Mt 3:7
Paul said they were cursed. Twice in 2 sentences. (Gal 1:8,9)
Paul said their talk is gangrenous. (2 Tim 2:17)
Jesus called them ravenous wolves (Mt 7:15)
John called them deceivers (2 John 1:7)
Jude calls them ungodly perverters (Jude 1:4)
Peter called them depraved, disobedient, and destined for hell (1 Peter 2:8, 2 Peter 2:1,2)
John called them antichrists (1 John 2:22)
Never mind the harsh language from God in the OT against false prophets.

So. Were they wrong not to “love” the false teachers?

Indeed, we are told repeatedly we are to mark them, avoid them, not listen to them, close the hospitable door on them, put them out, warn them, keep away from them, give them to satan, but nowhere does it say to love them, care for them, or pity them.

Indeed, John advises the elder lady and her children not to even allow false teachers into their house NOR give them a greeting! If we do, God considers that we are participating in their evil deeds. (2 John 1:10). The John MacArthur Commentary on 2 John 1:10 says this-

Irenaeus relates that the church father Polycarp, when asked by the notorious heretic Marcion, “Do you know me?” replied, “I do know you, the firstborn of satan.” (Against Heresies, 3.3.4)

John himself once encountered Cerinthus (another notorious heretic) in a public bathhouse in Ephesus. Instead of greeting him, however, John turned and fled, exclaiming to those with him, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of truth, is within.” (Against Heresies, 3.3.4)

Charein, (greeting) means ‘Rejoice’ It was a common Christian greeting, conveying the joy believers had in one another’s presence. But it is an affirmation of solidarity that is totally inappropriate for false teachers, who have no part in the truth of genuine Christian fellowship.Such emissaries of satan must be exposed and shunned, not affirmed and welcomed.

False teachers like to decry such treatment as harsh, intolerant, or unloving. But love forbids dangerous spiritual deception to gain a foothold among Christians. John’s pastoral admonition is perfectly consistent with Jesus’ denunciation of false teachers as ravenous wolves, thieves and robbers, whose only purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. The church cannot aid or abet such spiritual outlaws by doing anything that would acknowledge them as Christians. The one who does so, even by doing something as seemingly innocuous as greeting them, participates in their evil deeds by helping them to further their deception.

I reserve all my criticism, judgment, and righteous indignation for the false teachers, and all my love for Jesus the Man-God, His people, and His revealed word. During the few times I’ve had opportunity to engage directly with a few of the false teachers I’ve written about, I hope I was lovingly showing them the error of their ways. THAT also is love, though the world doesn’t call it love. Love is to admonish and correct so hopefully they do not persist in their tragic path, or worse, taking others with them.

Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
Source

Here are two resources on the subject:

How to Treat False Teachers

The Danger Facing the Church
Love also comes out of sincere faith, not the hypocritical faith manifested by false teachers. Faith that has no pretense creates love. A false teacher has a dirty heart because it’s never been cleansed by the true gospel of faith in Christ. A false teacher has a guilty conscience because his impure heart triggers it. But his conscience may have reached the point where it’s so scarred that it’s lost its sensitivity. And a false teacher has hypocritical faith. He’s a phony–he wears a mask. That kind of life will never produce the love of God. The goal of the false teacher is not to create an environment of love, but to feed his ego and fill his pockets.

A Final Warning: Beware of False Teachers

Lesson 107: A Final Warning: Beware of False Teachers! (Romans 16:17-20)
Years ago, a seminary professor told his class at the beginning of the semester that they would work together on one major project during that semester. They would move systematically through the New Testament to categorize every area of truth and determine how many times each area is addressed. Their goal was to find what one thing is emphasized more than any other in the New Testament. When they completed the project, they were amazed to see that warning against false doctrine is emphasized more than any other thing, even more than love, unity, and experience (Renald Showers, in “Israel My Glory,” [April/May, 1995], pp. 24-25). I have not verified their conclusion, but they’re probably right. …

J. C. Ryle was a champion for the truth in the Church of England during the 19th century. I’d recommend that you read him. In Warnings to the Churches ([Banner of Truth], p. 110), he wrote about how difficult yet necessary controversy in the church is. Then he added, “But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation.” After acknowledging that many would view what he writes as exceedingly distasteful, he states (p. 111), “Three things there are which men never ought to trifle with—a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin.”

Posted in bible, encouragement, love

See what love the Father has for us!

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1)

The words ‘what kind’ in the Greek indicate an otherworldly or supernatural love. It is a kind of love that the Holy Trinity has for His children but one that we do not understand fully…because it comes from another place than from men, or on earth. It’s astounding to think of this love! It is so deep and so perfect. It’s abstract because it comes from the fountain of the Father’s heart but it is real because He demonstrates it-

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Warren Wiersbe explains that in the 1 John 3:1 verse and onward, John gives us three reasons for a holy life.

God the Father Loves Us (1 John 3:1–3)

God’s love for us is unique. First John 3:1 may be translated, “Behold, what peculiar, out-of-this-world kind of love the Father has bestowed on us.” While we were His enemies God loved us and sent His Son to die for us!

The whole wonderful plan of salvation begins with the love of God.

Many translators add a phrase to 1 John 3:1: “That we should be called the sons of God, and we are.” “Sons of God” is not simply a high-sounding name that we bear; it is a reality! We are God’s children! We do not expect the world to understand this thrilling relationship, because it does not even understand God. Only a person who knows God through Christ can fully appreciate what it means to be called a child of God.

First John 3:1 tells us what we are and 1 John 3:2 tells us what we shall be. The reference here, of course, is to the time of Christ’s coming for His church. This was mentioned in 1 John 2:28 as an incentive for holy living, and now it is repeated.

God’s love for us does not stop with the new birth. It continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ! When our Lord appears, all true believers will see Him and will become like Him (Phil. 3:20–21). This means, of course, that they will have new, glorified bodies, suited to heaven.

But the apostle does not stop here! He has told us what we are and what we shall be. Now, in 1 John 3:3, he tells us what we should be. In view of the return of Jesus Christ, we should keep our lives clean.

All this is to remind us of the Father’s love. Because the Father loved us and sent His Son to die for us, we are children of God. Because God loves us, He wants us to live with Him one day. Salvation, from start to finish, is an expression of the love of God. We are saved by the grace of God (Eph. 2:8–9; Titus 2:11–15), but the provision for our salvation was originated in the love of God. And since we have experienced the love of the Father, we have no desire to live in sin.

(Source: Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 504). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

This heavenly love is given to us that we are children of God. This God, this holy and loving and just and perfect Father, revealed Himself to us in His word. His word is where we learn more about Him, His love, His plan for us.

His word is edifying and instructive and all sufficient. (2 Timothy 3:16). It pierces, transforms, convicts. I read Dr Albert Mohler’s comment yesterday when he put up this link to Dr John Piper’s video regarding the importance of reading the Bible:

Albert Mohler ‏@albertmohler 20h20 hours ago

My heart was really moved by this new video from @JohnPiper — “God Wrote a Book.” Please see it and share it. http://ow.ly/O366H

I did view it and I did share it. I encourage you to watch, it is 5 minutes.

The love the Father has for us brings peace and gratitude. It is a refreshing and wonderful feeling, knowing by His grace I am a child of God. What further joys await when I am lifted to His holy habitation to see Him as He is. That is where the 1 John 3 verse goes, it says in vv. 2-3,

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Pure. Brothers and Sisters, we will see Him as He is. Read John 17 if you want to fall on your face in gratitude in being a recipient of this great love the Father and the Son have for each other and which  Jesus opened that circle to include us within it. We are secure in the bosom of the holy and loving Trinity, and someday, we shall see Him as He is.

GOD WROTE A BOOK by Dr John Piper
https://player.vimeo.com/video/130148742

Posted in encouragement, end of all things, Father, God, jesus, love, Trinity

At the end of all things, love

Nestled in the middle of the next-to-last chapter in the first letter to the Corinthians, we find the consummation of all things.

But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:23-28)

The Spirit in me was moved by this passage and it moved me. I cannot explain it, but you know the feeling you get when your indwelling Spirit is moved by the outdwelling inspired Spirit, and the grand picture that comes to mind cannot be expressed but only tears can approach the grandeur of the moment you’re reading about.

The scene where Jesus bows to the Father and gives the Kingdom back to Him…redeemed, purified, holy, beautiful…all that Jesus has fought for, died for, rose again for, bloodied His garments for, He now bows in Divine Love and presents it to God…it is utterly astonishing in its holy love that exceeds our capacity to understand. Yet we will be spectators to it. Even more than spectators to this coming act of Divine love and submission, we ARE the kingdom that will be presented to God. Do you ever just fall over thinking of the wonder that we worms have been elected, justified, redeemed, glorified, and will be the gift of love given back to our Father?

Sometimes I get thinking of my own self, my sanctification, my sins, my repentance, that I forget it is not about me. The inter-trinitarian love of our God-head is eternal and ongoing. The struggles of Jesus on the cross, the grief the Spirit sometimes feels in us, the anger of the Father, all this is ongoing and this is what it really is all about- God’s plan, God’s redeemed, God’s desire. This wondrous plan started before the world began. But it is recorded in the first moments of history in Genesis 1:26 so that we may know.

John MacArthur on the Corinthians verses:

This is such a powerful, powerful statement. What it says is this, when the Son has received the redemption, when the Son has received His redeemed humanity, if you will, His bride, when all enemies are destroyed and He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, sovereign of the universe, when everything is under Him, except God Himself, He will then take the Kingdom, all that the Father has given to Him, and He will give it back to the Father in a reciprocal act of divine love that God may be all in all. Here in a wonderful inter-Trinitarian way beyond our comprehension, the Father who ordained redemptive history to gather a bride for His Son, a Kingdom for His Son, when the Son receives that Kingdom which is a gift of the Father’s love, in a reciprocating act of love, the Son hands the Kingdom back to the Father. The grandeur of this crowning event can hardly be fathomed.

Sometimes we think about salvation in very personal terms. But it’s better for us to think about salvation in these vast and almost incomprehensible terms, that salvation while you’re involved in it by the grace of God, it’s really not about you, it’s about the infinite love, the limitless love of the Father for the Son and wanting to give to the Son a gift of His love which is a redeemed humanity that will love Him and adore Him and worship Him and praise Him and serve Him forever. And the Son recognizing that all the redeemed are gifts from the Father, even says, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me.” The Son when He receives them all, gives them back to the Father. Everything is restored to God that He may be all in all. The Son has come as a servant of God into the world to take back to God souls redeemed. He has conquered death, He has by His own resurrection provided a full resurrection for all who believe. And when all are gathered into His arms, as it were, He will take them all and present them to the Father and will Himself subject His own life to the Father.

Our God is three-in-one, something we know but don’t understand. One God but three Persons, each with a distinct personality and tasks but in complete harmony with one another because He is one.

What a privilege it will be when we see Jesus present the Kingdom to the Father. It is an inexpressibly beautiful moment of joy, exquisite in holiness, perfect in love. The culmination of the moment we read about in 1 Corinthians is described aptly above by MacArthur as “inter-Trinitarian love” is also described by him in Genesis 1 as the deliberations of the “divine executive council”. The goal to redeem the earth was set from time immemorial, but we are privileged to read about it in Genesis 1:26.

He says, “Let us make man in our image.” God is one god and yet He is three persons as we know. What you have here then is the council of the Trinity engaged in the purpose of creating man and now the time is right.

I have to stop at this point. I wouldn’t be faithful to the intent of Scripture if I didn’t do this. Through the years, I have tried to show you that God had a divine purpose before the world began and that that divine purpose was to take a bride, as it were, for His Son. That God the Father desired to give to His Son an expression of love in a bride that would be a redeemed humanity to be given to His Son to love and adore and praise and glorify His Son forever and ever and ever and also to serve Him. That eternal purpose of God unfolded within the executive council that is God within the Trinity. (source)

The Godhead’s love for one another within the Trinity is eternal and had been ongoing since before that moment of human consciousness was created and awakened in Genesis 1. But aren’t we blessed to be able to watch this amazing love demonstrated in the gift-giving of the Kingdom at time’s end.  We will be there. We ARE the gift.

Whenever you’re feeling small, or marginalized, or persecuted or woeful, just think of the grandeur in which we will be allowed to participate at the conclusion of the monumental plan of God, to watch our Jesus bow and say, “Father, the Kingdom is Yours.”

Posted in doom, end time, john macarthur, love

John MacArthur: "Hope for a Doomed Nation" AKA Love in the time of evil

John MacArthur preached on Sunday. It was a sermon from the pastor side of him, not the teacher side of him. He did not explain the bible verse-by-verse. Instead, he was speaking from the heart to his flock about today’s world.

He quickly reviewed the tenets of the Holy Spirit created restraints put upon the world so it does not self-destruct from sin. Conscience, family, civil law/government and the church are four ways the Spirit restrains sin in the world, MacArthur summarized from a recent sermon. In addition, Romans 1 shows what God does to societies when societies leap over those bounds; sexual revolution, homosexual revolution, then reprobate mind. He said we are in the midst of judgment, the wrath of abandonment, since it can be clearly seen that America has leaped beyond those restraints and God has given us over to those different kinds of perversity. There IS an eschatological wrath, and there IS an eternal wrath, but the current judgment is neither of those. The eschatological wrath is coming, MacArthur said, and we can all agree, that is promised. But the current wrath is the judgment of abandonment. “That one is not coming. We’re in the midst of it,” he said.

That was his 30 minute introduction in the sermon “Hope for a Doomed Nation.

Dr MacArthur usually takes a several week vacation the beginning of June. He said at this point in his sermon,

“So as we look at America, and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks when I’m not here, I’m just pre-empting that a little bit by helping you to be able to think through whatever happens.”

He then listed 12 points that are driving this nation to its terrible demise, a spiritual pathology that is causing us as a nation to run so fast to the cliff.

It was a really interesting sermon. I think any one with discerning, biblical sense can see how far along the prophetic timeline we are. Many people I work with who are of biblical maturity and discernment believe this as well. I know I do. Imagine believing we are so close to the edge of some kind of terrible, visible disaster, that MacArthur believes something drastic might happen even in the next few weeks as he is gone from the pulpit. To be so close to something we all sense will occur, he is unwilling to leave his flock without preparing them biblically to be able to cope with “whatever happens.”

He ended with Matthew 5:43. Love our enemy. No matter what happens, while we were still enemies, Jesus came down to rescue us, His enemies. So we are to love our enemies because we were them before grace came. The enemy is our mission field.

You’re never more like God than when you love your enemies, because you were one of the enemies God loved. Romans 5:10, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God. Your enemy is your mission field. The world of enemies was God’s mission field. God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son. …

To convert a sinner from his eternal doom is of far greater significance than the deliverance of an entire nation from temporal evil

His speaking of Godly Love after 47 minutes of darkness was a Light that was powerful and incisive. Imagine demonstrating that kind of love in this very dark world. It will stand out brightly.

Posted in grace, love, salvation, wrath

I was not saved by a loving Jesus wooing me

I wasn’t saved by love. The Gospel was not attractive to me. It was not made attractive to me by smiling Christians. I was saved by wrath.

This is NOT my Jesus

Glorious Jesus who was and is and is to come did not woo me to the cross. No one fulfilled my felt needs. No one befriended me and cajoled me into loving Jesus. He battered my head with a 2X4, dragging me kicking and screaming to the cross, where He made me face my sin. Once I saw my sin, I saw His coming wrath for it.

I repented.

THEN I loved Him. After He opened my eyes I saw all His loveliness and grace and mercy and long-suffering and patience and grief over sin and sinners. But I was not wooed, nor was I loved onto Mt Moriah. It is not true that “Jesus won’t come where He isn’t welcome”. It is not true that “Jesus won’t force Himself on anybody.” He is sovereign God! He goes where He pleases! (Psalm 24:1). He drop kicked Saul/Paul to the ground AND blinded him! He didn’t ASK Mary if she’d like to become pregnant and an object of ridicule and rumor the rest of her life. No, He sent an angel to TELL her how it was going to be. (Luke 1:30-37)

He isn’t wringing His hands in heaven hoping that Jane or Tom or Mary will believe in Him, and maybe they will, if he just sends the Spirit to soften the pew cushions … or energizes the preacher with a louder “WOO!” … or if the musician plays one more verse of “Just As I Am.” Maybe if He can make church “exciting” then Harry will repent and believe. No.

It was the sovereign wrath that convicted me and convinced me. It is why I love passages like this.

The Judgment at Christ’s Coming
The Great Day of His Wrath, John Martin ~1853

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10)

Let us begin the marveling now. Marvel at a Savior who saves by His sovereign election, will, purpose, and plan! Marvel at He who is wrath and judgment and holiness and fierce anger! Be afeared of His anger over your sin. Marvel that El Shaddai… El Elyon …sent His Son to take on all anger for sin. Marvel that He is also Jehovah Rapha, and Jehovah Jireh, the LORD that heals, the LORD will provide. Marvel at the wrath. It makes marveling at the grace all the more sweet.

Posted in gay marriage, homosexual, love, sin

"Dear Homosexual: Why We’ll Never Bake Your Fake ‘Wedding’ Cake"

J.Matt Barber wrote an opinion piece that was published in the CNS News site yesterday. Within 32 hours it had garnered 5,777 comments. Not views. Comments. And most of those are negative. Very few ‘hear, hears’ and lots of “you’re a pig” kind of comments.

What topic in today’s culture will bring this much negative response? Proclaiming homosexuality as a sin. Which Barber did, and very biblically and compassionately too. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.

Why We’ll Never Bake Your Fake ‘Wedding’ Cake
J. Matt Barber March 9, 2015

Dear homosexual,

We are your fellow sinners and no better than you. We know this. We are saved from eternal torment, self-wrought, by the grace of Christ alone. If you are an unrepentant, “out and proud” homosexual practitioner, then you are not. It is our deepest prayer that you, too, will accept the free gift of eternal salvation, repent and “go and sin no more.”

The alternative is a living hell.

Let us be direct. According to the unequivocal moral precepts of biblical Christianity, explicit throughout both the Old and New Testaments, your homosexual behavior is sin. Sin is evil. Homosexual behavior is the central, defining characteristic of your counterfeit “gay marriage.” Therefore, “gay marriage” is evil. Christians are obligated to avoid sin – to “do no evil.” “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality. …” (1 Corinthians 6:9).

It really is that simple. This is why, as faithful Christians (apostate “Christians” notwithstanding), we will never have anything whatsoever to do with your pagan, sin-based “same-sex wedding” rituals.

We will not bake your fake wedding cake.

We will not arrange your fake wedding flowers.

We will not take your fake wedding pictures.

We will not host your fake wedding reception.

We will not do these things because to do these things is to disobey God. It is to aid you in your sin, to cause you to stumble, which, in and of itself, is to layer sin upon sin. “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2).

While we all fall short of His glory, the history of God’s people has shown that no unjust law presuming to force us to do otherwise, will ever make us disobey God in this or any other regard. We realize that forcing others to affirm that which offends God makes you feel better about your sin for a time. We also realize that it infuriates you when we refuse to join in as you attempt, ineffectively, to justify your wickedness by calling it “marriage.”

This is nothing new. We Christians have been infuriating pagans by refusing to bend on truth for over 2,000 years.

And we will continue to do so until Christ returns.

Children don’t like to be told “no.” They sometimes throw a fit when we don’t give them what they want. Still, when we know that some desire they may have is both wrong and harmful to them, we must tell them no.

They get over it.

You’ll get over it.

We’re telling you no because we love you with the love of Christ. But understand this: As we are so commanded, we must, and do, hate the evil conduct by which you define your identity. Sexual immorality – in this case self-destructive and disease-spreading sodomy, which violates the laws of nature and nature’s God – is a grave sin that will destroy you in both body and soul. You are deceived. It is not “who you are.” It is what you do.

And what you do is wrong. Period. Full stop.

If we as parents were to condone, support and even assist our children in the commission of a grave sin, of a wrong, what kind of parents would we be?

What kind of friend would we be to you if we condoned, supported or assisted you in the commission of your grave “gay marriage” sin?

Maybe this will help you to understand. Whereas, and while you may be in denial of this fact, sexual immorality is the central defining characteristic of your temptation-driven “gay” identity. Christ’s righteousness and our obedience to Him are, at least in part, central aspects of our Holy Spirit-gifted Christian identity.

You can financially ruin us, sue us, throw us in jail or even feed us to the lions, but we will never, under any circumstances, while empowered by the Holy Spirit, deliberately disobey God to please you or anyone else. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Of late, we Christians are especially inspired by one of our Christian sisters (and others who face similar trials). She is leading by example in her obedience to Christ.

“If Rob walked in the store today, I would hug him and catch up on his life. The same faith that tells me that I can’t be a part of Rob’s wedding is the same faith that tells me to love him as Christ does.”

And with this graceful, compassionate and very truthful statement, Barronelle Stutzman, the elderly grandmother and floral artist who faces financial ruin at the hands of both homosexual activists and the state of Washington, has at once mirrored the love of Christ and exhibited the heart of a lion.

Ms. Stutzman is the victim of anti-Christian persecution and discrimination. Her case has garnered national attention and represents a microcosm of the cultural Marxist effort in America to silence Christian dissent and compel us to join in sin. Barronelle is being sued by homosexual practitioner and longtime customer Rob Ingersoll for politely declining to create the floral arrangements for his mock “gay wedding.” She has been charged by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Because of the tremendous negative publicity Ferguson’s and Ingersoll’s persecution of Ms. Stutzman has generated, Ferguson recently offered, via press release, to quickly settle the case for $2,000 – as long as Ms. Stutzman would surrender her Christian freedom and right of conscience and promise, going forward, to sin. That is, to take-part in sodomy-based “marriages.”

Again, and with characteristic grace and courage, she flatly declined.

“[This conflict] is about freedom, not money,” wrote Ms. Stutzman in reply to the offer. “I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us ‘freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.’ I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.”

Truth, in love.

Dear “gay” friend, you will one day realize, hopefully before it becomes too late, that you are not only on the wrong side of history, you are on the wrong side of eternity.

It breaks our hearts to see you there.

And so we refuse to help send you.

Sincerely,

The Christians

Matt Barber is founder and editor-in-chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber). 

Posted in fellowship, first century church, love, worship

Let’s stop idolizing the first century church and love our own churches a little more

It’s fashionable today to hate the church. People like to come across as wise sages, decrying the ecclesiology of the western church. Many people note that church is shallow, entertainment-driven, and lukewarm, with worthless shepherds leading clueless goats. Some even go so far as to say that most churches should be closed. They say they love Jesus but hate religion. They say that they love Christ but disparage the church.

You hear more and more that the First Century church is what we should get back to. Continue reading “Let’s stop idolizing the first century church and love our own churches a little more”

Posted in entertainment, hospitable, hospitality, love

Jen Wilkin explains the difference between entertaining and being hospitable

Part 2 here…

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Jen Wilkin wrote a great essay about the difference between entertaining and being hospitable. Please, PLEASE read it.

We are called to be hospitable. It is a biblical command.

  • Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
  • But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (Titus 1:8)
  • And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Timothy 5:10)
  • Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:7)
  • Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1 Timothy 3:2)
  • And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Acts 2:46)
The Graphics Fairy

Did you know there were so many references to being hospitable? There are still others, about serving, and lodging with one another and in the OT about not suppressing the sojourner. Being hospitable is important.

I knew a woman who was the most hospitable person I’d ever met. Neither one of us was saved. I am now and she still isn’t so we’re not talking biblical standards here, but still, her loving kindness is ever an example to me. Her house was open to one and all. Jen Wilkin wrote,

Orderly house or not, hospitality throws wide the doors. It offers itself, expecting nothing in return. It keeps no record of its service, counts no cost, craves no thanks. It is nothing less than the joyous, habitual offering of those who recall a gracious table set before them in the presence of their enemies, of those who look forward to a glorious table yet to come. It is a means by which we imitate our infinitely hospitable God.

That was her. The piles of clutter tottered high and were thrown to this corner and that when more people piled in. The table was moved out from the wall, then moved again with a leaf added when more people stopped over. The larder was often bare-bones but the beans and bread was just as tasty as if it had been lobster and caviar. The tea kettle whistled when someone needed sympathy, guitars were broken out when we were joyful and wanted to sing, kids were always included, and there was always laughter. It was convivial and sweet there, always.

No one minded the towels on the bathroom floor, the crumbs on the table or the dishes in the sink. What I remember is the laughter, friendliness, warmth. It was a bright and safe place to berth when seeking refuge in a cold-cruel world.

Jen Wilkin again,

Hospitality involves setting a table that makes everyone feel comfortable. It chooses a menu that allows face time with guests instead of being chained to the cooktop. It picks up the house to make things pleasant but doesn’t feel the need to conceal evidences of everyday life. It sometimes sits down to dinner with flour in its hair. It allows the gathering to be shaped by the quality of the conversation rather than the cuisine. Hospitality shows interest in the thoughts, feelings, pursuits and preferences of its guests. It is good at asking questions and listening intently to answers. Hospitality focuses attention on others.

Pixabay free pics

And there is the Christ-likeness, service in humility and love. I can’t wait for the day when I can be
perfectly hospitable in heaven, when others may come to my room Jesus had prepared for me and I can host them in the name of Jesus in perfect love.

Until that time, I’m not perfect, but as the hospitable season approaches I hope I can display the same loving openness that my friend did. Even more, I’m thankful for the example of generations of warm and loving Christians who have done for my ancestors in the faith. Peter stayed many days in Joppa with Simon the Tanner (nearly three years). (Acts 9:43). Saul/Paul stated with Judas in Damascus on Straight Street. (Acts 9:11). Lydia urged Paul and ensemble to stay at her house,

And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:15).

“her [Lydia’s] faith soon worked by love; and by the fruits of righteousness which followed upon it” (Gill’s Exposition).

Part 2 here…

Posted in encouragement, love, repent, salvation, sin

Big sin? Big God!

“I was sinking deep in sin…” goes the first line of an old song. (Love Lifted Me, 1912)

Mixed media collage, plus digital overlay. By EPrata

No matter how deep in sin a person is, no matter how low…no matter if they are in the gutter, or even one foot down the shaft of the gates of hell (like I was)

God’s arm is not too short to lift you from it!

He won’t make you wait. He won’t toy with you. If you call out to the Lord to save you and forgive your sins, He will, instantly. If you are saved but have sinned or strayed, and you call out to the Lord to forgive you, He will, instantly.

He was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:29-31)