Posted in theology

If in fact the spirit dwells in you…

By Elizabeth Prata

People who are Christians often swing one of two extremes. Either they are told never to doubt their salvation, that it’s the devil trying to get them to doubt. Or they’re told to always doubt their salvation, that it’s arrogant to think we can be sure and secure.

Neither of these extremes are correct. Neither of these extremes are profitable.

Let’s use Romans 8:9 as a launching off point for today’s blog.

Continue reading “If in fact the spirit dwells in you…”
Posted in encouragement, narrow gate

There is only one way to heaven

By Elizabeth Prata

Whatever a fundamentalist is these days, I’m often “accused” of being one. We know that to the world, “Fundies say the darnedest things” and I’ve been quoted on that so-named forum more than once. The world points to biblical Christians as narrow minded, bigoted, closed minded, or myriad of other epithets to indicate that we need to be accepting, tolerant, and broad minded, especially of ‘all religions.’

A certain gentleman made the following remark on Facebook: “The Fundies have little room in their hearts for a good man like this [the Pope] and even less room in their minds.

We have all the room that is possible to have for a man like that, because there but for the grace of God, go us. We love our fellow man enough to witness to the power of Jesus to turn a heart of stone like the Pope’s into a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).

There aren’t any “good men.” There aren’t even ‘all religions.’ There are only two. God’s and satan’s. Much about the Christian life is very stark and clear. It is either-or. Heaven or hell. World vs. Christian. Unforgiven sinner or forgiven sinner. In fact, being “narrow minded,” at least where the Bible and the Lord’s commands come in, is a good thing.

Satan will mimic, counterfeit, masquerade and just plain lie as to the way to heaven.

In a recent sermon about heaven John MacArthur delivered to an audience of youths, he drew on the Bible to show just how narrow the way is and how wide is the gulf between the two worlds. This sharp divide of either/or, in or out, is discussed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Jesus used several metaphors to draw the distinction between the two ways. MacArthur explained:

Strive to enter the narrow gate. What is this talking about? What does it mean to strive to enter the narrow gate? … As we come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount there is a series of contrasts. 

Two gates, wide and narrow
Two ways, broad and narrow
Two destinies, life and destruction
Two crowds, many and few
Two trees, one good, one corrupt
Two fruits, one good and one bad
Two builders, wise and foolish
Two foundations, rock and sand
Two houses, one stands and one falls

Heaven, the Future of Christians, by John MacArthur

If being narrow-minded means ONLY accepting the Lord’s truth and not all the world’s, I will gladly accept the description. If being too narrow means I am on the Lord’s narrow road, I am grateful. If I am in the crowd of the few and not the many, then all is well.

How many entrances do we need? One is all it takes, and for Jesus, it took a lot. He lived a scrupulously sinless life. He suffered the indignity of humiliation on the cross. He bore all the punishment and wrath for sin into His very self, and He endured the agonizing separation from His Father for the first time in all eternity. He did this to make a way for us to enter through Him.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. (Matthew 7:13)

The door is narrow, but it is sufficient.

Posted in theology

The Best Christmas Present I Ever Got

By Elizabeth Prata

I’ve always been a reader. As a child, I read to escape the world around me. Reading is an effective way to do that, especially if you have a lot of imagination and are willing to go where the book takes you.

Series are comforting to me. These days as an adult I like progressive reality competition programs such as Blown Away or Great British Bake Off. I like them because the program is always the same. I don’t have to invest time and energy into learning a new set of characters of deal with unexpected situations. Yet the meat of the show changes, they bake different things, they make different things out of glass.

As a kid I liked book series’ where the same thing happened. The structure was always the same, same characters, only the plot changed, yet its bones were basically the same from book to book.

I always “had my nose in a book” as my mother used to sniff. I loved Nancy Drew. The ‘cases’ were interesting to me a kid, and I liked the female heroine. I got one after another out of the library.

On Christmas morning sometime around 50 years ago, I eagerly woke up and vaulted out of my bed. I ran to the living room and burst through the door. We had cathedral ceilings, so we could always get a ten foot tall tree in there. It was majestic. But almost as majestic was the pyramid of Nancy Drew books that seemed almost as tall as the tree! All the books were there that had been published so far in the whole series, arranged standing up unwrapped, in a pyramid. What a dazzling sight! I was so happy!

I was comforted by that gift. I knew I’d have many happy hours ahead of living in Nancy’s world. These are the ‘cases’ I remember best. The cover art has been changed through the years, at least 4 times, the original covers in the 1930s, again by Rudy Nappi in the 1960s (these are the ones I remember, from my era) and some by Bill Gillies in the 1950s and recent updates by Sabrina Gabrielli in the 2000s.

This site has the cover art, synopsis of all the books, and more information about the series.

The Nancy Drew Unofficial Home Page

The next best gift I received was from my father around 25 years ago. He usually just sent a check but that year he gave a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble bookstore (or Borders, I forget which). It was for $200! I was so happy! Usually when I went to the bookstore (remember them?) I’d have to winnow from the 4800 books I wanted down to one. I have to count my pennies. A gift certificate meant I could just buy whatever book I wanted. It was totally opposite to the way I usually shop and it was great!

The Bookstore folks would not allow cash back, they’d just reduce the amount on the gift card till it was gone. The store was far from me and out of my way I knew I would not likely get back there any time soon. So I spent it all at one go! I stayed there browsing for hours, considering, deciding, until I had spent every last penny and it was great.

The absolute best gift I ever got though was quite different from books. It was received sometime near my birthday December 2003 and the second week of January 2004. This one is completely unlike the Nancy Drew books or the bookstore gift certificate. Why? Because unlike a book that you’ve read once and then you know it, this gift never wears out. It is endless in its giving. It was the moment that the Lord broke in to my life in my early 40s and caused me to see my sin for what it was-rebellion against a Holy and Righteous God. He gave me a spirit of repentance. I fell down on Him, crying out something similar to Paul’s everlasting cry,

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24, 25).

He lifted me from my sin, washed me with His blood, turned me round so I could pursue holiness instead of sin.

That is the best Christmas present I ever got.

Posted in theology

Can I lose my salvation? How can I be sure?

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST HERE

Are you sealed with the Spirit? EPrata photo

Assurance of salvation is something many Christians struggle with. It’s normal that a believer might enter a period when they doubt their salvation. We still sin, and if a person sins repeatedly, it’s also normal to wonder if the Lord has sealed the Spirit in us and that we’re actually saved for the day of redemption. It’s normal that a believer might have a (short) period of performing besetting sins or as known in the Christian culture, “backslide”. We often feel in life that we are not making progress (like the Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, who also slid down the hill at times).

The Holy Spirit is sealed in believers and if a person possesses the Spirit, He will not allow the believer to continue to sin. His ministry is to sanctify. Persistent sin in a believer would be at odds with that progress, so if a person does not allow conscience to prick their heart and repent, eventually the Spirit will make Himself known more strongly- either through a bigger conscience prick, or sending someone to confront you, or raise certain Bible verses to you, or even a mishap in life to knock sense into us.

Continue reading “Can I lose my salvation? How can I be sure?”
Posted in theology

How can it be?

By Elizabeth Prata

As time in your walk with Jesus goes on, after months and years and perhaps decades, don’t let the wonder diminish. The awe-inspiring, breathtaking generosity of a God who hates sin but redeems sinners. Don’t let yourself forget the depravity in which you lived, before salvation. The horror of sin and its ruin on earth. The abhorrence of it to God. The wages of it- death.

But God. But God loves His people and chose to save some. He not only justifies. He not only sanctifies. He not only adopts. He not only feels compassion for us while we were yet sinners. He brings us to His HOME to live in, cleaned, loved, fed, and made righteous. He opens His door to us without hesitation, without reservation, if we repent and fall on His Son Jesus.

Continue reading “How can it be?”
Posted in theology

Living a life of death

By Elizabeth Prata


“Behold, all is vanity.”—Ecclesiastes 1:14.

Charles Spurgeon wrote in his Evening Devotional for this date, “NOTHING can satisfy the entire man but the Lord’s love and the Lord’s own self. Saints have tried to anchor in other roadsteads, but they have been driven out of such fatal refuges. Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all, and to do for us what we must not dare to do for ourselves.”

Spurgeon continues -“What! the whole of it vanity? O favoured monarch, is there nothing in all thy wealth? Nothing in that wide dominion reaching from the river even to the sea? Nothing in Palmyra’s glorious palaces? Nothing in the house of the forest of Lebanon? In all thy music and dancing, and wine and luxury, is there nothing? “Nothing,” he says, “but weariness of spirit.”

The Book of Ecclesiastes speaks to me. I sometimes mourn the lost decades of my life before salvation, still knowing

Continue reading “Living a life of death”
Posted in theology

How high or low you are doesn’t matter to Jesus

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday I wrote about a named woman of the Bible called Joanna. Her life story, gleaned from what little we know of Luke’s two verses, seems interesting. I’m intrigued by these glimpses of the different people the Bible shows us.

Always remember these people are real people. They aren’t characters in a book, though they are in a book, THE Book. They really lived in a real culture and had feelings and families and tears and joys.

In my essay, I delved into Joanna’s life, and afterward I wondered for a good while what her life must have been like. I thought of her contrasted with Potiphar’s wife. Joanna was wife of Chuza, Tetrarch of Galilee. A Tetrarch was a Roman governor of a province or country. It’s a pretty high up position, and the Tetrarch’s steward would hold a high position of authority and status.

Continue reading “How high or low you are doesn’t matter to Jesus”
Posted in theology

Pursuing wind

By Elizabeth Prata

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun, and have found them all to be futile, a pursuit of the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

How pointless it is to pursue the wind. But that is what the unsaved do. It is what I did for 40 years, and it was vain. I heard Billy Joel’s song Movin’ Out this morning and I remember when I first heard it. The song is basically about the meaninglessness of life. The main character in the song decided that everything was meaningless, pursuing life to get a big house in the suburbs, saving up for that special car, working all the time, paying overtime taxes to Uncle Sam…the guy asked, what was it all for? He was moving out. To where and to do what, is not stated. But the same meaninglessness will pursue him there too. Continue reading “Pursuing wind”

Posted in theology

Which doctrines are necessary to be a Christian?

By Elizabeth Prata

Does the Bible speak to which doctrines are necessary for belief and faith in Christ? Yes. iIn it we find what one must believe or be condemned, and it states what not to believe.

The primary essential doctrines of the faith one must stick to, According to Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, (scriptures supporting them are here) are–

1. Jesus is God in flesh, and Jesus is the proper object of faith. The Doctrine of the deity of Christ includes:

–The Trinity
–There is only one God in all existence
–That Jesus is both God and man.

2. Salvation is by Grace alone
3. The resurrected Christ
4. The Gospel

They are called the primary essentials because the Bible declares them to be essential to the faith. Secondary essentials are necessary truths, but there is no self-declared penalty for their denial — yet they are still essential to the Christian faith. Those include:

–Jesus is the only way to heaven
–Mary’s virgin birth

An apostate very slowly starts to doubt the above. He or she begins to read and absorb other things that are contrary to those doctrines. Paul called false teachings gangrene because they slowly pollute the body and mind. (2 Timothy 2:17).

The Bible says that at the time of the end there will be a great falling away from the truth. Look to 2 Thessalonians for the prediction regarding the “falling away.” 2 Thess. 2:3-7 says,

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

The lawlessness is sinfulness and the fact that Paul says it is already at work means that there have been apostates throughout the Church Age, even in Paul’s day. Demas fell away and went back to the world. (2 Timothy 4:10). The verse in 2 Timothy 2:17 speaks of Hymenaeus and Philetus who spread false teachings, two men who “wandered away from the truth” and became “more and more ungodly”. (2 Tim 2:16; 18).

Where does the prosperity gospel fall into this continuum? One comment I often receive when writing a discernment article about a prosperity preacher, or any other false teacher, is that they can’t really be falling/fallen away from the truth, “because they declare Jesus as Lord” or some other affirmation of one of the primary essentials of the faith.

Of course they affirm Christ. If they didn’t, they would be immediately identifiable as false. Yet, in discernment, A teacher’s doctrine and life must match up. What they teach in one place must be the same as they teach in another.

For example, 1 Corinthians 16:22 makes our love for Christ a fundamental issue: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed.” A false teacher may say they love Jesus, but their life betrays the truth. If they twist scripture consistently and grossly, if they sin unrepentantly, if they continually violate standards for behavior listed elsewhere in the Bible, they do not live Christ. They might have been reproached several times by an elder of colleague, and rejected that rebuke. Any or all of these show that the person does not love Christ.

Anyway, be sure of what you believe and why. Examine yourself to be sure you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Drifting away is easy to do. (Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1)

Further resources

What are the Essentials of the Christian Faith?

9Marks of a Prosperity Gospel Church

by faith you have been saved verse