Posted in books, theology

It’s payday, so that means…buying books!

By Elizabeth Prata

The last day of the month is payday, so the first day of the month I scour the interwebs for good deals on books. They are not only for my consumption, but to have on hand to give away. I love a good book ministry, and I want to be active in offering credible and edifying resources to women, both online and in real life. Part of discernment is choosing good materials from which to study, and I enjoy helping women in this way. It’s a satisfying feeling when I put a good book into the hands of a sister.

I was listening to a clip from John MacArthur about “Dumbing Down the Message“, and in that short clip, he mentioned he was writing a book called “Why One Way?” (2002). I was not familiar with that one from him. Defending the exclusivity of Jesus as the one way to heaven was important in 2002 and even more so now. I became interested in the book, and wandered over to Amazon to browse it. It was $5, so I bit the bait and placed the order.

Ligonier has a Friday $5 sale. Several of their shorter, one-topic paperbacks are always inexpensive, but these were on sale today for $1.88. I bought:

Can I Have Joy in My Life? by RC Sproul
Are People Basically Good? by RC Sproul
Can I Lose My Salvation? by RC Sproul

We know that the Bible itself is the best material in the universe to study. But God raised up men to write commentaries and books and to develop teaching series. These things are perfectly OK to use in aiding your understanding of God. If you are reading your Bible and attending a good church, don’t listen to anyone who disparages good and edifying materials by saying “don’t study ‘man’s words'”. God raised up these men to write words that contribute to the body of information available to the saints.

So what do you do to help younger sisters in the faith access good ministries and materials? What materials have proven useful for you in your growth and education?

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Weepers and gnashers: the importance of examining ourselves

I saw this clip on Todd Friel’s Wretched Youtube page last night and it was extremely moving to me. It was also convicting. It DID spur me to check myself and examine as to whether I am in the faith.

This is important to do, because as the video title suggests, there will be two types of people in hell. The two types are based on the verse from Matthew 13:50, where at the end of the age, angels will

throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

By the way, when you study angels you notice how active they are in executing all God’s commands, especially in Revelation. Anyway, in the clip, Dr Sproul explains what the weeping and what gnashing of teeth is.

The weepers are weeping because they were self-deceived all along and were not saved when they thought they were. Jesus will declare to them, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23). Hence the urgency to check one’s self to see if we are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The gnashers are angry. They refuse to acknowledge God for who He is, even while they are justly tormented in the fires of hell. How can this be, one might wonder, when the entire lake of fire has been prepared by God for the devil and his angels, and the unforgiven sinners? The fires are real, they are in them. How can they not acknowledge God?

Revelation gives us a clue as to the depth of sin and the anger at God’s authority. Even while they were alive and under punishment of God’s plagues, they did not repent. Revelation 9:20-21 has the first instance. The Lord sent an angel to open the pit and release hordes and billions of demons, which were so many they clouded the sun upon their release. The demons were given authority to plague mankind with sores and pain. A third of all mankind is killed! Further billions will be laying around writhing at the sting of demons, and yet-

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

To make the depth of their depravity even more pointed, the next verse from Revelation shows clearly that they KNOW it is God sending the plagues, and they did not repent. Instead, they cursed his very name!

They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (Revelation 16:9).

And again in verse 11 when another plague was sent, they did not repent but instead cursed the name of God again. Instead, they began assembling at Armageddon to fight him!

This all goes to show the power of sin. The power of sin to delude us as to its power. It can blind us. Am I self-deceived? Am I not in the faith? Will I hear those dread words ‘depart from me?’ Will I be weeping?

Please watch the short video and ponder the gravity of it all. The cross of Jesus split history. It split the whole of humankind into two types of people- saved and unsaved. It split the world into Gospel-loving and hell-bound. The cross stands alone as the point of beginning or the point of departure.

There will be two types of people in hell…


I thank God that there are and were men to preach the truth, even the unpleasant truths of scripture, such as hell, self-delusion, and false conversion. It’s important. Now, how do we examine one’s self? Further resources are listed below.

Sermon series:

Undoubtedly the sincere claims people make are sometimes far from reality. As chilling as that thought may be, there are countless well-meaning people who believe they’re saved, but they aren’t. Could you or someone you know be one of them? How do you know your faith is built on a solid foundation? Or is that something you can ever know this side of eternity?
Determine for yourself whether you are a Christian. John MacArthur shows you how to assess your spiritual condition in Examine Yourself.

If you don’t want to go through a series of sermons, here is a 15-page free booklet called Is it Real? 11 Biblical Tests of Salvation.

If you don’t want to read a 15 page booklet, here is a 5-page free booklet called Examine Yourself.

If you don’t want to read 5 pages, here is a 515 word essay from GotQuestions on What does it mean to examine yourself?

If you don’t want to read 500 words to examine yourself, then I direct you back up to the top to re-watch the clip, where there will be two types of people in hell. I’m not saying that if you don’t follow through in looking at these particular resources you’l go to hell, but I’m emphasizing that the power of sin to delude us is great and must be constantly watched against. There is nothing more important than checking one’s self to make sure we are not one of the two types. It’s the best thing you could do all day or for all eternity. 🙂 If nothing else, you will receive assurance! This illustration by artist Boris Sajtinac is all too vivid!

apostate church by boris sajtinac

Believe me, I checked myself immediately after watching the clip. I know the power of sin to delude me is too great. I’ve seen it happen to others and I know it dwells inside myself. Please, pray and check, and be assured, dear sister.


Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Lucky Dipping

In RC Sproul’s class called Knowing Scripture, in lesson 4, “Literal Interpretation,” Sproul taught against a certain popular method of decision making he calls “lucky dipping.”

In this method, when the believer wants to hear from God or wants to make a decision, they ask God to lead and guide them, and then they open the book and let their finger or their eye fall on a particular passage. They read the passage and then rest on it as their “answer” to their problem. Sproul said that this is a spiritualistic method of interpretation that rips verses from the Bible’s context. He said,

“God did not inspire passages of Scripture many years ago to tell us answers totally unrelated to the literal meaning originally intended. God does use Scripture to speak to us, but the message is always consistent with the literal interpretation.” Sproul, Knowing God

He gave an example of a hypothetical believer who asked God to lead him. He opened his Bible and read Matthew 27:5, ‘And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.’

The audience laughed. Sproul went on. He said that the person didn’t like the ‘answer’ at all, muttering ‘That can’t be right’. He repeated, ‘Lord, lead me’, and opened the Bible and dipped again, landing on Luke 10:37. “You go and do likewise.”

Sproul’s exaggerated example reveals the ridiculousness of using the Bible like a Magic 8 Ball.

I think we can all agree that dipping is unwise and we should avoid it. Sometimes when pastors preach exclusively in the topical method, they can tend to ‘lucky dip’, too. Not that they use it as a method for finding personally tailored advice, but as a method for coming at the scriptures with a topical agenda in mind.

But if topical preaching is the main method of preaching and teaching, rather than expositional verse-by-verse, then a lazy tendency can creep in. Sometimes the leader can handle the scriptures carelessly, selecting different verses from different Testaments or different literary genres to support their point. With a careful pastor who normally exposits, occasional topical preaching can be fine or even necessary. Sometimes the congregation needs clarity on an issue, especially if there has been a national or local tragedy, or if there has been a particular problem in the membership that is causing confusion or division.

But if a teacher or pastor continually preaches topically, then lucky dipping could become a problem. If the pastor doesn’t take the care that’s necessary, the sermon could simply become a mere listing of of verses disconnected from the overall argument.

And back to the original statement about laymen doing the lucky dip. If a pastor or teacher teaches topically all the time, taking verses from here, there, and everywhere, or worse, from all different translations in order to support the topic, he or she is actually teaching his congregants to lucky dip. With less training than the teacher, the church member might say, ‘Well, he/she goes all over the place with the verses, it must be OK if I do too’. And then you wind up with people who might eventually use the scriptures as a Magic 8 Ball, divining God’s will or manipulating His word to make it say what it doesn’t say.

It’s admittedly easier to open the Bible and find the one verse that will seem to help for the moment, rather than setting down to carefully study a passage in context. That is why a lazy tendency can creep in. Resist that. And resist following teachers who do that all the time. The Bible is God’s own word to humankind, the only supernatural message we have ever received with purity and unimpeachable truth. Handle with care.

I argue that the primary reason we misinterpret the Bible is not because the Holy Spirit has failed to do His work, but because we have failed to do ours. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R. C. Sproul

Sing to tune of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, “We don’t need no divination…”
EPrata photo