[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, December 31, 2007

A Sermon on Hebrews 2:5-11

by Matthew

I preached this yesterday at a tiny village chapel.

Hebrews 2
5: For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
6: But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
7: Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
8: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
9: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
10: For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
11: For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

I think it is safe to say that some people really enjoy reading Hebrews and some people don’t. I knew a young man who said he wished Hebrews had never been included in the New Tesament. I am very sorry he felt that way. There are some difficult issues in Hebrews, nevertheless there is some wonderfully rich theology in it.

In the first chapter of Hebrews, the author establishes Christ’s superiority over angels and His supremacy. The question in the first chapter is the deity of Christ.

The second chapter that we are looking at today deals rather with the humanity of Christ. Many of us will have been remembering the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas day. The incarnation of God is perhaps the most wonderful and unique aspects of Christianity.

Yet often those of us who are conservative in theology become so focused on defending the deity of Christ that we forget the significance of our Lord’s humanity. Why does it really matter that God became man?

Hebrews 2 gives us a glorious insight into the significance of the incarnation of the Word of God.

The author quotes from Psalm 8 and shows that this Psalm is messianic and futurist in its outlook.

‘What is man that thou art mindful of him?’

In the Milky Way, our galaxy, there are at least 200 billion stars. There are billions of galaxies in the universe, all containing billions of stars. Yet God is concerned about this planet earth and those that live on it.

Is there life on other planets? Some Christians say definitely not. The Bible does not say. If there is life on other planets, it is there because God made it, not because of any statistical probability that has been dreamed up by those that think life came about by chance. I leave it to you to think about that. Regardless of whether there is life on other planets, God cares most about this one.

We do know that there is another kind of life in the universe. That is angels. When God made Adam, He made him to be perfect in his body and mind. Yet he was still made a little lower than the angels. Angels have glorious bodies that are mighty in power and strength. The bodies of angels are not subject to the same limitations that we are subject to. They can travel between earth and heaven, while we are bound to stay here on earth. Angels seem to excel over man in their beauty. Yet God chose to put man in charge of this earth. God is working out his purposes through men and women. He chose those that are weak.

Think for a moment about the dream that Jacob had of a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. What did those angels think as they looked upon Jacob? Jacob would have been sweaty and dirty from his travels.

The feet of the angels must have gleamed as they gracefully trod that celestial staircase. In contrast, Jacob’s feet must have been covered in dust. What did those angels think as they looked upon this man?

Did they say “Look, its that man! The man our Lord commanded us to watch over. What’s so special about him?”

Yet Jacob was special to God, as are all God’s elect.

God gave Adam the responsibility to care for this world and to have charge over it. It must be said that mankind has made something of pickle of exercising dominion over the earth. Mankind has run the earth with the same efficency that the present governments have shown in looking after confidential data.

Yet though God knew that man would fail to exercise dominion over the earth with justice and righteousness, it was always God’s purpose to give man more responsibility.

We see here in the Psalm quoted in this chapter that God put all the works of His hands into the power of man. That includes the moon, the stars, heaven and the angels in it. God is going to put mankind in charge of the entire universe. God created man in his image, so that man could exercise governmental authority over the universe. As the apostle Paul said, ‘Know ye not that we shall judge angels?’ God’s people in heaven are going to be in charge of the angels. Thus, the author of Hebrews points out that not all things are yet put under him. The time when mankind is the chief administrator of God’s kingdom is not yet come.

What an incredible thought that God is going to give the government of the universe to mankind?

Yet there is the problem of man’s failure. God cannot overlook the sinfulness of man and the failure of humanity to follow God’s blueprint for life.

That is why God became man. Jesus was made a little lower than angels for our sakes.

In the Old Testament, God appeared several times in bodily form as an angel. Yet Jesus in the incarnation did not take on the flesh of angels, but became a man as we are with all it limitations. The glorious form of an angel might have been a fitting form for Him, yet He became a man.

As this passage tells us, He did this so that He might taste death for every man. That He might suffer the penalty for sin, which is death.

The crucifixtion of the Lord Jesus Christ seems like a horrible event, yet He was crowned with glory and honour because of it. Christ has proved Himself to be the only man who has been faithful and obedient to God.

Thus He is the new Adam, or more correctly the Last Adam. Adam failed in His obedience to God, yet Christ was perfect in faithfulness. While Adam failed as a candidate to exercise dominion over the earth, Jesus Christ proved Himself, by His faithfulness to be worthy to rule over the universe and when all things are subject to Him, He shall exercise that authority.

As the last Adam, Christ is the head of a new race of heavenly humanity, a new kind of humanity made in His image. Born-again believers in Him are united to Him sharing His life. They have the power by the Holy Spirit to live as He did, perfect in their faithfulness. If you are in Christ, you have the power to live a victorious life. Those who are in Christ by faith can become ever more Christ-like in their conduct.

It is God’s purpose that this new humanity should inherit His kingdom. It is His purpose that all things, things in heaven and things on earth should be subject to Christ and those that are in Him. In the future, the resurrected saints will constitute a kind of celestial aristocracy that will govern the universe.

This calls for faithfulness. The apostle Paul wrote that “If we suffer with Christ, we shall reign with Him.” If we suffer for Christ’s sake we can be sure of reigning with Him in glory. In Revelation chapter 3, we read that great promise that the one who overcomes will sit down with Christ in His throne, even as He is sat in His Father’s throne. If we perservere in faith we can look to inheriting the throne of the universe.

Is this a wrong attitude? Some Christians talk as though seeking any kind of reward for faithfulness is selfish. However, the Bible encourages us to seek the rewards and privileges of the kingdom. God displays His glory by bestowing it on His subjects.

Christ is glorified by bringing many sons to glory, as it says in this passage. He is the head of a new race of humanity who He is pleased to make as He is. His people are to be like Him, not only in their resurrection form, but in the privileges they are granted in the kingdom.

Therefore we should seek more of the kingdom of God. We should seek the reward of inheriting all things.

But it is necessary to prove that we are fit to rule God’s kingdom. Have we to be faithful in small things before we are entrusted with everything. In the parable of the pounds, the one who had been faithful in little was entrusted with ten cities.

Sadly, often Christians show that they are not fit to be heirs of the kingdom. When there is division in churches, is this not a sign that Christians are not very good at running the affairs of their master? When Christian husbands and fathers fail to show the godly leadership that is called for in the home, is this not a sign that they are not fit to rule over one, let alone ten cities? If we are to inherit the earth we must show diligence over those things that we are entrusted with.

It may be that you are not yet a Christian. It may be that you have not yet found that heavenly position that is in Christ. I say to you, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Have faith on Him for everlasting life.

Jesus was made a little lower than the angels so that He could taste death for sinners like you and me. He ascended into heaven so that we can be granted access to that place. He possesses the very life of God and if we trust in Him, we receive eternal life.

If you would only believe on the Lord Jesus then you can be part of a new heavenly humanity. You can be assured of a glorious future in heaven and the opportunity to inherit the kingdom of God. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Do you believe this?" An amalgam of pertinent considerations

by Antonio da Rosa

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to [Martha], "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Brothers and sisters. What is the aim of our evangelism, what are the objectives of our endeavors? Simply put, we are seeking men and women to believe the "this" of Christ's question in John 11:26.

Friend, Jesus is the resurrection and the life! He guarantees eternal life and resurrection to all who believe in Him! Do you believe this? To believe this is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! How do we know that to be true? Martha sufficiently informs us in her answer to Jesus in John 11:27

She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God"

Those who have a general and arbitrary understanding of what John means when he says "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (Jn 20:31) wholesale disregard a careful consideration of the only other usage of the phrase "the Christ, the Son of God" in John's epistle. The discussion with Martha NAILS it (Jn 11:25-27).

Imagine this scenario:

A professor was to say this to a student: "I am the dispenser of homework assignments, the dispenser of tests, the grader of work, the chief in this classroom. Do you believe this?"

and the student said:

"Yes. I believe that you are the professor, the teacher of the classroom."

In such a situation, we would clearly identify that believing that the first speaker is "the professor, the teacher [of the] classroom", is believing that he is "the dispenser of homework assignments, the dispenser of tests, the grader of work, the chief in [the] classroom."

This is common sense!

To believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, in its Johannine, soteric usage, is to believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and Life, the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him!

Martha's answer is nothing but a full blown Johannine confession! And it is the only other instance of the phrase consisting of the appositional construction "the Christ, the Son of God" (which we find only in Jn 11:27 & Jn 20:31)! Martha's answer fully discloses for us the import of the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, which makes such belief salvific. John has gone through great pains to define for us how one receives everlasting life (which by the way is the topic of his gospel!). The bottom line for Jesus and John in his writing is that they want us to know, certainly, that we have everlasting life by trusting Jesus, for if we don't, we haven't exercised saving faith, we haven't believed "this"!

1 Timothy 1:16
However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe in Him [Jesus] for eternal life.

"The apostle Paul sums up what Martha, and every Christian, believes when they come to faith in Christ: "However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life" (1 Timothy 1:16). In order to be saved, we must believe on Jesus for everlasting life. On the basis of His death and resurrection, He always fulfills His guarantee to give everlasting life to all who believe in Him for it. Martha did not decide to believe in Jesus for eternal life. She was convinced of the truth of what Jesus said and hence she believed in Him in the biblical sense." (Bob Wilkin, Saving Faith in Focus, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society)

Throughout the Johannine gospel, John uses the technical phrase denoting saving faith, "pisteuw eis" ("believe in"), in other words, believe in Jesus. Whenever, in any language, someone uses the phrase "believe in" something, the context determines what is the content of that belief.

There are no exceptions!

A quarterback telling a wide receiver, "I believe in you"
(quarterback trusts wide receiver that he can make the play)

A father telling his wife, "I believe in the babysitter"
(father trusts that the babysitter is qualified to take care of his children)

A passenger telling another, "I believe in the airline pilot"
(passenger trusts that the pilot is qualified to take care of his air travel)

A Narcotics Anonymous participant telling a friend, "I believe in the program"
(NA participant trusts that the program works)

The candidate for class president telling the assembly of students, "Believe in me!"
(prospective executive asking the student body to trust him to exceed their expectations in getting the job done)

The teenager telling his folks as he takes the family car out for the day, "Believe in me!"
(teen is asking that they trust him for the well-being of the car)

Jesus says, "whoever believes in Me will not perish but has everlasting life. The one who believes in Me will live. The one who believes in Me shall never die, even into eternity."

Why the disconnect?!!

The context is eternal well-being, and Jesus is saying He is the Savior from perishing and the Guarantor of eternal life! Whoever trusts in Him as the one guaranteeing that they will never perish, but have eternal life, will never perish but have eternal life. The gospel of John is full of these passages and contexts. When He says, "Whoever believes in me shall never perish but have everlasting life" the context is clear. He is eliciting trust in Him FOR the guarantee that they will not perish and FOR everlasting life.

This is the meaning of "believe in" Him in those many contexts in the gospel of John. Jesus is saying, "Believe in Me!", in other words, "Trust Me for your eternal well-being!" There is no other way to take these passages and contexts. You will injure simple interpretation of them by taking them in any other way. Jesus is seeking to get them to rely upon Him for their eternal destinies. He shows Himself authoritative so that people will trust Him.

If I said "I believe in the babysitter" in the context of going out for the evening with my wife, let it be known I certainly mean that I am entrusting the well-fare of my children to the babysitter. When Jesus says that "...whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (Jn 3:16) the context is clear. He wants us to entrust our eternal destiny to Him. If I do believe in Him, as the John 3:16 context shows for us, I know that I have everlasting life and will never perish, for the guarantee is inexorably linked to His promise.

Saving faith is believing in Jesus for everlasting life. It is trusting Jesus to guarantee your eternal well-being.

We all agree that saving faith is believing in Jesus. But that statement is useless and worthless without a context. When I say I believe in the babysitter, I don't mean I trust her with my taxes or medical diagnosis! Believing in the babysitter has an irreducible content based upon the context. And that is that you trust the care of your children into her hands.

The same with believing in Jesus. It is as simple as trusting your eternal care into His hands. And when you do that, you know FOR CERTAIN that you are saved. Why? Faith is conviction that something is true. If I believe in Jesus when He says all who believe in Him will never perish and have everlasting life, I consider it true. Therefore, I know I will never perish and I know I have everlasting life.

The saving message is "believe in Jesus"


"doubt in Jesus"

The gospel of John is not complex. It is very simple, and he states the saving message throughout the gospel. WHOEVER, no exceptions, believes in Him (and in the context we know that believing in Him is entrusting our eternal destiny to Him, in other words, believing in Him FOR eternal life) has everlasting life. If someone reads the gospel of John and doesn't get that message, I would suggest they take the blindfolds off.

Romans 4:20-22
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

Why was Abraham accounted righteous? Simply because he believed that what God had promised He was able to perform. In other words, Abraham trusted God for the promise, therefore he was accounted righteous.

A friend who once held the view that I take stated the following about this verse: "they need to know His promise and they need to be fully convinced that what He promised He is also able to perform." I say, Amen! And if they are fully convinced of His promise, they know they have it, thus assurance being of the essence of saving faith.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might still perish, but at least has eternal life for the time being." (Pseudo Jn 3:16)

Is this a saving understanding of this verse?

"And I give them eternal life, and they might still perish; and someone might snatch them out of My hand." (Pseudo Jn 10:28)

Is a hope-so confidence about going to heaven good enough?

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (Jn 4:10)

Does it really matter if you know what the gift is?

Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; and whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him might thirst again; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life, well, maybe." (Pseudo Jn 4:13-14)

Could it really be said that the woman believed Jesus if she reinterpreted His words in this manner?

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26)

Does it really make any difference if you "believe this"?

Can you believe Jesus or believe in Jesus in the manner He describes without believing "this"? And what is "this," but that the believer is guaranteed eternal life?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Does one need to believe in the humanity of Christ to receive eternal life?

by Matthew
Does a person need to believe in the humanity of Christ to receive eternal life?

If a person believes that Jesus is God, yet believes that His humanity was an illusion, can she still trust in Christ for eternal life?

What if a person believes that He had an angelic, not an human body? What if a person holds that He posessed a human body, but not an human soul, as the Taylorite Exclusive Brethren teach?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What does it mean to believe that Elizabeth II is the Queen?

by Matthew

A child may know that Elizabeth II is Queen of Great Britain. She may not, however, be aware that this makes her Queen of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, Head of the Commonwealth, the chief of state of Great Britain, the possesor of the residual prerogative powers, the head of the House of Windsor, formerly Saxe-Coburg Gotha, the fount of all honours, the Defender of the Faith, and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Likewise, there are a number of things entailed by Jesus being the Christ, the Son of God. Some people believe some of these things while rejecting others.

The important question is, what is essential for a person to believe in Jesus as Christ and Son of God in a salvific way?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Preaching the gospel... to the saved?

by Antonio da Rosa

Writing over 30 years after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, John Mark, receiving much of his information from the Apostle Peter, starts off his treatise on the Lord Jesus Christ in this fashion:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)

The term “gospel” means “good news,” and indeed, Mark was about to pen some! The ‘good news’ Mark wrote about was “the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Yes, the good news concerning Jesus Christ… And good news it was! In his writing, Mark shared the love, righteousness, and compassion of Jesus. Extraordinary and notable miracles are testified to. Authoritative pronouncements of Christ were recorded. The readers are instructed on how to live the Christian life, a life of significance, purpose, and meaning! and one which can be richly rewarded! As a climax, Mark tells of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on the third day after being put to death on a cruel, Roman cross; information not merely for the benefit of evangelism, but of exceeding importance for the Christian reader, who will use the cross as an example for his life, and appropriate the resurrection power of His ascended Lord for the purpose of sanctification!

Such a consideration is instructional, for it is quite revealing to note that some thirty years after Jesus left the earth, a friend of the Apostle Peter and helper of the Apostle Paul, uses the term “the gospel” (Gk: euangellion), with the definite article (denoting specificity), to refer to the happenings and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Let us trek over to Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Here we are met with this verse:

So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you [2nd person, plural pronoun] who are in Rome also. (Rom 1:15)

Who are the “you,” in this context, who Paul is referring to? Put another way, to whom was Paul ready to preach the gospel to? Please note Paul’s employment of the second person, plural pronoun, “you”. In the first fourteen verses of the book of Romans, leading up to verse 15, the plural “you” is used by Paul fourteen other times to refer to the intended readers of his epistle: “the called of Jesus Christ” (1:6), “all who are in Rome, beloved of God” (1:7), “saints” (1:7), and those whose “faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (1:8). Let us follow along the thread of fourteen references to the plural “you” that lead up to verse 15.

Rom 1:6
“among whom you [#1] also are the called of Jesus Christ”
The Roman saints were among the nations, wherein they had received grace for obedience to the faith.

Rom 1:7
“To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you [#2] and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul extends his greetings and blessing to the saints, beloved of God, who are in Rome.

Rom 1:8
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you [#3] all, that your [#4, lit: “of you”] faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
Paul thanks God for the Roman saints because their faith is well known, being proclaimed throughout the world.

Rom 1:9
“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you [#5] always in my prayers”
Paul makes supplication for the Roman saints.

Rom 1:10
“making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you [#6].”
Paul prays God to orchestrate a visit to the church at Rome.

Rom 1:11
“For I long to see you [#7], that I may impart to you [#8] some spiritual gift, so that you [#9] may be established”
Paul greatly desired to take a trip to the Roman saints so that he could bless them for the purpose of creating within them an indestructable foundation.

Rom 1:12
“that is, that I may be encouraged together with you [#10] by the mutual faith both of you [#11] and me.
Paul discloses that a visit to the Roman saints would be beneficial for both him and them.

Rom 1:13
Now I do not want you [#12] to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you [#13] (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among [Gk: en] you [#14] also, just as among the other Gentiles.
Paul wishes to have fruit in the Roman saints, which his gospel ministry among them would provide. (See 1 Thess 2:19 – 3:3)

So you see that within the span of only eight verses (1:6-13) Paul makes reference to the Roman saints, beloved of God, whose faith is well known in the whole world, by using the plural pronoun “you” fourteen times, which well establishes the identity of the plural “you” in verse 15. Let us look again at this verse and this time include the greatly attested antecedent to this pronoun:

So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you saints, beloved of God, whose faith is well known throughout the world, who are in Rome also. (Rom 1:15)

The fact cannot be escaped that Paul wished to preach the gospel to those who are already born again!

The next 3 verses contain the literary device called the explanatory ‘gar,’ which is translated into English with “for,” explaining that which comes before. This word is very important, for it flags to us an explanation to follow. A simple exercise in biblical interpretation: find out what the “for” is for. (Incidentally, one of the many reasons that I do not like the NIV is that it removes, if I remember correctly, some 90% of the explanatory ‘gars’ from its translation. You scholars out there can correct me if I am wrong, it may be only 70%.)

The reason that Paul wants to preach the gospel to the beloved saints in Rome is:

For [he was] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for deliverance for [i.e. available for] every believer. (Rom 1:16; translation mine)

In order to reduce the bias shown to the word “salvation” in 21st century Christian thought, I translated the Greek term “soteria” with the English “deliverance”. Whenever bible readers happen upon the words “save” or “salvation” they seem to have a knee-jerk reaction, assuming that they always (or even most likely) denote salvation from hell. But this would be the meaning least expected by the Koine Greek reader (see dialogue on such in one of my articles here: Discussion of Salvation). When one comes across these words, the context alone must decide what kind of deliverance is in view.

Furthermore, I translated the present, active, substantival participle (Gk: tō pisteuonti) as “believer” rather than the familiar “one who believes”. Zane Hodges speaks about this same Greek construction (the articular, substantival, present participle) in his commentary on 1st John, and it is here instructive:

This construction in Greek is essentially timeless and characterizes an individual by some act or acts he has performed, without specifying how often these were done or even whether they still continue. In this respect such statements have their closest analogy to many English nouns (often ending in –er) that express completed and/or ongoing action. For example, “he is a murderer,” “she is a cheater,” “he is a supporter,” “she is a winner.” In such cases, the person may be described this way based on one instance of murder, cheating, support, or winning, or on the basis of many such acts. (The Epistles of John, 1 John 5:4, pg 217, emphasis his. See also his note #7 on pg 237 which is referred to from this quote)

Therefore, we conclude that the reason that Paul wished to preach the gospel to the saints in Rome was that the gospel is the power of God available to the Christian (“believer”) for deliverance! (What kind of deliverance will be discussed shortly). The reason that the gospel is the power of God for deliverance to the Christian is next explained:

For in it is revealed the righteousness of God by faith, granted to faith, just as it is written, “Now the one who is righteous by faith shall live.” (Rom 1:17, translation by Zane Hodges, the Kerugma Message, Vol 13, No.3, Winter 2004)

The connection between the type of deliverance available to the Christian through the gospel, which Paul had just mentioned, and justifying faith (here mentioned) is this: the justified one through the power of God in the gospel shall live!

It is through the deliverance available to the Christian (in other words, the justified one) in the gospel that he will live in its truest senses! Paul speaks about such living available to the Christian through his gospel (see Rom 2:16; 16:25, and 2 Tim 2:8 where Paul calls the gospel “my gospel”) in Romans chapters 6-8. It is in Rom 8:12 where he states, “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” When we were discussing the writing of Mark above, we mentioned that he related to us how we can live a meaningful and significant Christian life. When Mark writes:

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own lifel? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?

He was giving us the gospel!

Finally, we have one more consecutive, explanatory ‘gar’ to consider. Why do we need the deliverance afforded to us by the gospel through the power of God, wherein, we, those justified by faith, can live?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… (Rom 1:18)

The gospel teaches us how to be delivered from sin: from its power, and thus its effects and consequences. The above verse is universal in scope. God’s anger is presently being revealed in the world against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness of men. Romans 1:16-17 is the thematic statement for the whole book of Romans. The Roman Christians, the unbelieving Jews, and we, the 21st century beneficiaries of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, need to practice the principles of the gospel that Paul preached so that we can truly live and be delivered from God’s wrath which He presently reveals against any man practicing ungodliness and unrighteousness.

Accordingly, in Romans 1:16-17, the Apostle has set forth his theme succinctly and effectively. He is proud of the gospel precisely because it makes available the power of God that accomplishes deliverance in the lives of believers. This deliverance of sinful creatures is in full harmony with God’s own righteousness. That righteousness is revealed in the gospel as a righteousness actually attained prior to deliverance on the sole basis of faith. Thus the gospel leads to the realization of the profoundly important truth stated in Habakkuk: if a person is righteous by faith he can live For the New Testament person, that is nothing less than victorious Christian experience. (Zane Hodges, Ibid., emphasis his)

Are you in the practice of preaching the gospel to the saved?

The gospel is much more than faith alone in Christ alone...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Warfare in Heaven

by Matthew

Images taken from Gustave Dore's illustrations of Paradise Lost, with the exception of the last, which is an illustration from Dante's Divine Comedy by the same artist.

The Bible tells a titanic struggle between good and evil. We might enjoy reading about the clash between the forces of good and evil in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but in the Scriptures, we read of a far epic and cosmic conflict. The warfare between the kingdoms of light and darkness is waged not just over this earth, but in the heavenly realms too.

The universe was created for God's glory. The glory of God is the chief end of all creation. He created the universe to be under His sovereign rule, to be ordered according to His purposes. However, Satan one of His angels sought to usurp the throne of the most high. We read of this in the Old Testament:

Isaiah 14
12: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13: For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15: Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Satan or Lucifer became lifted up by reason of his great beauty and privilege in God's eternal kingdom. He desired to exalt himself.

Satan was joined in his rebellion by many angels. Revelation 12 would suggest that a third of the angels joined with Satan. Satan thus established his own counterfeit kingdom in the heavens. Just as God has His angels who serve Him, Satan has his own angels. Together they make up a hierarchy of evil, for they are called thrones, dominions, principalities and powers. This kingdom of opposition will wage war until its final defeat by the kingdom of God.

When did this rebellion begin? The Scriptures do not tell us. However, it would seem that it began in prehistory before the creation week of Genesis 1. There are good reasons for thinking that there is a period in between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. We do cannot know how long and those who use this theory to explain geological time have many difficulties. Nevertheless, the state of formlessness in which we find the world in Genesis 1:2 is likely the result of Satan's original rebellion. Teh original would thus have been created to be inhabited and administered by angels, yet this creation fell into ruin and was replaced by the world in which we now dwell.

God closed the former dispensation of pre-history and began a new work with mankind. He entrusted to them the dominion of earth. Humanity, made a little lower than the angels was chosen to be the new custodians of God's kingdom.

Yet though Satan's original rebellion was judged and halted, he did not cease his war and corrupted the new creation by obtaining the loyalty of man. Through capturing the hearts of men, Satan was able to re-establish his rule over the world. So we find in Scripture that Satan is called the prince or god of this world. His kingdom holds sway over it. The apostle Paul tells of this kingdom of darkness and its influence over the world:

Ephesians 6
12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We read in Daniel of a 'prince of Persia', no doubt a fallen angel of great power, who presumably exercised dominion over the heathen people of Persia. There are some Charismatic Christians who make much of 'Territorial spirits' and seek to do spiritual warfare against such beings. This is folly. We do not begin to have the knowledge to know how to fight such beings directly, nor do we need to know the details of how Satan's kingdom works in some particular location. The Christian should not trouble about the details of what territorial spirits there might be and rather fight through simple prayer and the preaching of the Word. That is our place in this cosmic conflict.

It is necessary to mention a second fall of angels. There are some who connect this with Satan, though there is not sufficent evidence to make that connection. This is the fall of the sons of God, in the time of Enoch and Noah, who saw that the daughters of women were fair, as we read in Genesis 6. From the wicked intermarriage of angels and humans came a race of giants who were wiped out in the flood (though the giants of Canaan were probably a similar race). It is likely that the demons are the disembodied spirits of these beings.

God wasted no time in judging the angels of this second rebellion:

6: And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

We do not know how the course of the warfare in heaven effects events on earth, but we have reason to believe there is some connection, however mysterious. Deborah sang of how the battle on earth was waged in heaven too:

Judges 5
20: They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

Elisha's servant was given a vision of the legions of angels who were on the side of Elisha:

2 Kings 6
15: And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16: And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17: And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

The marvellous thing about this story is not the vision that the servant received, but that Elisha had no need for it. By faith he knew of the spiritual forces that were on his side.

We must not forget to look at Job. At the beginning of the book of Job, we see Satan in heaven with the sons of God. We learn from this story that Satan's actions are limited by God's control. Satan cannot act outside the sphere that God limits him to.

The warfare in heaven will come to a climax in the end times, at the middle of Daniel's Seventieth Week. We read in Revelation chapter 12:

7: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8: And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9: And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10: And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12: Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Satan will be defeated in heaven and he and his angels will be sent down to earth. There he will aid the Beast and the Antichrist in opposing God on earth through persecuting the church and the remnant of Israel. Once he is expelled from heaven, Satan will no longer be able to domminate the affairs of earth with the same governmental authority. He will have to rely entirely on his human intermediaries. After the defeat of his followers at Armageddon, he will be bound for a thousand years. He will no longer be able to wreak havoc in the earth.

Once Satan is removed from heaven, the celesital realms are ready to be purified and made fresh. They shall burn with fire at Christ's coming, as we read in 2 Peter 3:12.
The removal of Satan and his angelic kingdom is a vital step in God's purposes. For the new heavens shall be the seat of government for a new celestial hierarchy. The Lord has prepared a replacement for the old angelic government of angels in a people He has gathered to Himself. This is the church and the resurrected saints of the Old Testament. They shall reign with Christ and consitute a new celestial aristocracy to govern the universe. By grace, the fall of Satan and his angels made way for the uplifting of man to the highest place in the universe. All things shall be subject to mankind (the son of man and those that are in Him).

The final battle shall take place after the millennium. Satan shall be let out and shall again gather a rebellion of wicked men. Though the earth shall be governed in the millennium by peace and righteousness, the heart of man is wicked. Sinful man can never be satisfied with God's goodness. People shall turn again to Satan's lies. Yet they shall be defeated swiftly. Though they may hope that Satan might have some last trick to save them, they will be vanquished and sent to the lake of fire forever, to be tormented day and night with Satan, the one to whom they offered their lives.

With the ultimate defeat of death and sin, God may be all in all. The cosmos shall be restored to perfect fellowship with God and all of creation, man, woman, beast, angel shall all be joined in harmony with the eternal love of the Triune God, experiencing the perfect fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and being transformed and transfigured by that divine love.


Lot and his daughters, by Orazio Gentileschi

by Matthew

In this picture we see the daughters of Lot with their father looking hopelessly at the lost home they have left.

The end of Lot is a sad one. Living in a cave, seduced by his own daughters and father of nations that were enemies of God.

Lot is the type of the carnal Christian, the believer who has his heart set on the things of this world and who thus fails to inherit the riches of God's kingdom.

Lot chose to dwell in the well-watered plains of Sodom and Gomorrah. He looked upon the material gain he could make in that region. he thought nothing of the fact that the people their were wicked.

In Genesis 13, we see Lot pitching his tent toward Sodom. He did not intend to live in the wretched city. He just wanted to be close enough to it to trade with the people there. Yet when we see him next in chapter 19, he is living in a house in that very city. When we get involved with the world we put ourselves in danger of getting sucked deeper into its ways. The initial compromise draws us into more involvement with the kingdom of Satan.

When he was finally put to the test, events showed that Lot had been corrupted by his time in Sodom. He had adopted a spirit of compromise. For when faced with an angry mob, he offers them his daughters to molest.

The mob of Sodomites then show the contempt with which they view him:

And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
Genesis 19:9

Lot probably believed that in coming to dwell in Sodom he would be a positive influence for good in the place. He perhaps thought that he might show them something of godly ways. Yet in the end it turned out that he had absolutely no influence at all upon the folk of Sodom. They had only contempt for the man. A lot of Christians seek to make friends with unbelievers and spend much time with them, in the hope of being 'salt and light' and being a witness. This is good, but they must beware adopting the ways of the people they seek to befriend. The world has nothing but contempt for the hypocritical Christian and will never be won by such a person. There attitude is this:

"You might think that we are sinners, but you don't mind spending time with us. You might think you are holy, but you laugh at the same jokes as us. You might think we are going to hell, but you dont mind making money off us."

And thus in the end we find Lot living in that cave, a pathetic figure. When we do not walk as the Lord would have us walk, we are in danger of the Lord's chastening. If we fall from the right path, our end state can be worse than our first.

The believer can rest assured of being in heaven, but there is judgment for the worldy Christian. The carnal Christian who has little work to show will be saved only as one saved by fire. She will not be told 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' She will not enter into the joy of the Lord.

The final fruit of Lot is his descendents. Through the incestous act of his daughters, Lot became father of two nations that were enemies of God's people, the Moabites and Ammonites. There is a lesson here. The worldliness of Christians can have lasting fruit, just as the righteous deeds of the Phillians had lasting fruit. The testimony of the carnal Christian will not be a sweet savour, but a stumbling block to the perishing. What a terrible thought, that through our hypocrisy, unbelievers might reject the Gospel and go to hell! Further, the carnal Christian is in danger of leaving a wretched testimony to her children. How many young people reject the faith of their parents because of the inconsistency of their lifestyle? Will your children grow up to be Moabites and Ammonites?

Yet let us not forget the work of grace in Lot's progeny. For Ruth the Moabitess was a daughter of Lot and an ancestor of our Lord. Grace so often works even in failure.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A couple of odd quotations

by Rose

I was looking around and found this disturbing bit of doctrine:
... the saints will & must persevere in the obedience which comes from faith. Election is unconditional, but glorification is not. There are many warnings in Scripture that those who do not hold fast to Christ *can be lost* in the end.

Obedience, evidencing inner renewal from God, is *necessary* for final salvation.

There is a fight of faith to be fought. We must endure to the end in faith *if* we are to be saved.

I think it sort of begs the question as to whether one is saved in any sense at all upon faith in Christ. This person seems to speak as if salvation is all a future thing. It also sounds like they suppose salvation can be lost - based upon the first quote. What do you think? Does this sound like a seasoned theologian? Does it sound like a newbie in the Calvinist doctrine or someone who has really made sense of his doctrine?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Destruction of Sodom

by Matthew

Sodom was a wicked place. Yet God did not allow the wickedness of Sodom to continue forever. Sodom was destroyed by fire from heaven.

God is holy. Holiness is a fundamental part of His nature and He cannot suffer evil to go unpunished. Hence, the Lord demonstrated in history His abhorrence of sin by destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.

I knew an unbelieving girl who insisted to me that Sodom must have been destroyed by a volcano, an occurence which the Biblical writers must have interpreted as God's judgment. She gave absolutely no evidence whatsoever for Sodom's being destroyed by a volcano. Her interpretation of this event was entirely due to her naturalistic assumptions. She did not believe in God or at least doubted His existence, so she could never accept the idea of God destroying cities. Such scepticism is entirely irrational.

Men will always doubt the reality of God's judgment.

Romans 1
18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19: Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Men and women will ever deny or ignore God, yet God's wrath is revealed against them. They shall be without excuse when that wrath is poured out.

Just as God's wrath was poured out on Sodom, God's wrath will be poured out on the sinful world in which we live in the future.

2 Peter 3
3: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4: And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8: But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

People scoff at the idea of God's judgment, just as people scoffed before the flood. People assume that things have always been the way they are, yet they have not, for God intervened dramatically in the flood and changed the very face of the earth. The world before the flood perished utterly.

Likewise, the world is scheduled for another cleansing. The earth is reserved for a fiery transformation. All of the sinful system and order of Satan that governs this world shall be dissolved. It is not the physical creation that burns; no the earth was created to be inhabited. Rather, the sinful things upon it shall be burned up.

This wrath is poured out during the trumpet and vial judgments that we read about in the book of Revelation, judgments that are concluded with the battle of Armaggedon and the final destruction of sinful human government. This period of judgment is the Day of the Lord, which begins after the openning of the sixth seal:

Revelation 6
12: And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13: And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14: And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15: And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16: And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

As an advocate of the Pre-Wrath rapture, I believe that those who are in Christ are translated and glorified at this point. God's wrath is stored up to be outpoured on the sinful world system, not the believer (though the works of believers shall be judged by our Lord at His coming).

We read in Luke 17:

26: And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27: They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
28: Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
29: But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
30: Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

As soon as Lot went out of Sodom, immediate destruction was poured out upon the city. Likewise, the rapture of the church shall be followed by the outpouring of God's wrath upon the nations that have rejected Him.

Knowing that judgment will be poured out on the world, we need to live in expectancy of the coming of Christ. In this time before the Day of the Lord, we need to make known the Gospel message to a sinful world. God commands all to repent and we need to call people to that position.

Knowing that the world is reserved for judgment means that we must not love it. It so easy to love the things of this world and to be occupied with them. Lot dwellt in Sodom, desiring to enjoy its riches. Yet in the end, he was left with nothing. All that wealth was burned up. Let us think on things above, not the things of this world.

Luke 17
32: Remember Lot's wife.

One of the shorter verses in Scripture and a stark warning.

Lot's wife looked back at burning Sodom. She had forgotten the warning she had been given. Her heart was still in Sodom.

There is danger in having our heart in the world. If we fail to watch for Christ's coming and become attached to this world, we shall fail to show the faithfulness that our Lord calls us to. Just as Lot's wife was turned to a pillar of salt, there is judgment for the believer who fails to overcome. Not loss of salvation, for the believer posesses everlasting life. To fail to overcome means to forfeit the great inheritance and privileges that our Lord would bestow upon those who follow Him.

Sodom burned and this world shall burn, yet we look to a new heavens and a new earth and the establisment of God's kingdom within them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

An example of a checklist for eternal life from an outspoken fundamentalist/traditionalist: Lou Martuneac

by Antonio da Rosa

Recently Lou Martuneac stated this:
Wilkin (at his GES blog) erroneously claimed there is a 12 point checklist, but off [sic] course can’t produce any supporting documentation for one. That is because there is none available. Try as you might you are [not] going to get a checklist either.

Your efforts will not work because you have been given clear, precise biblical, based answers.

Leaving aside, for the moment, the false claim that Refined Free Grace theology has "been given clear, precise biblical, based answers," from their traditionalistic counterparts concerning their views on 'what must a man do to be saved?' let us note for the moment that Lou takes exception to the non-specific, illustrative statement of Bob Wilkin, that traditionalists have twelve point checklists. Now such a claim by Bob was obviously tongue-in-cheek, without anyone in particular in mind. Yet, it is Bob's contention that what is already on the books by way of specific statements by extreme fundamentalist/traditionalists is enough to prove the point. For example, Tom Stegall posits five distinct conditions for receiveing everlasting life. But each one of those conditions is made up of varying subpoints. These subpoints must necesarily be assented to in order to fulfill the main condition. Therefore his list of five conditions for everlasting life is, in reality, much larger than that.

It is really difficult to get straight answers from those who consider themselves traditional Free Grace. There really is no great consistency in their statements. These two questions cannot be unambiguously and certainly answered:

How many conditions are there really for one to receive everlasting life?
How do you know that you really know all the conditions? For instance, how do you know that what you think are the conditions are not lacking?

The confusing statements of those who are traditional, and who consider themselves teachers on the matter, is unfortunate, for what is mist in the pulpit is fog in the pews. If they don't know exactly how one is born again and cannot show from the bible what those conditions are (or even know if they have them all), how are those who they teach supposed to know?

With that said, here is a list that I made of the conditions for everlasting life that Lou Martuneac is on record stating:

CONDITIONS FOR EVERLASTING LIFE as articulated by Lou Martuneac

1) Believe that there is only one God
2) Believe that God is one; in other words, believe in the Trinity
3) Believe that Jesus is the Christ
4) Believe that Jesus is God’s Son
5) Believe that Jesus is deity
6) Believe that Jesus died on the cross
7) Believe that Jesus died for his sins
8) Believe that God raised Jesus from the dead
9) Believe that Jesus was a human

10) Must agree to the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit
11) Must understand that he is a sinner
12) Must confess the sin that makes him a sinner
13) Must turn from that sin
14) Must know that Jesus is God’s Son
15) Must confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus
16) Must transfer his dependence to the Lord for his salvation
17) Must pray for God to save him

An 18th should be included as well. This 18th condition can be articulated as such:

18) If someone disagrees with Lou on some fundamental doctrine about Christ or God, he cannot be saved.

Stated differently:

18) You may not understand all doctrine, but you cannot deny any of the big ones about Christ or God.

Therefore many more conditions are actually necessary. Imagine someone believing that Jesus was God but denying the virgin birth. The virgin birth is not on his list, but you can't be saved and deny the fundamental doctrines at the same time. Therefore another condition for eternal life from Lou would be:

You cannot deny the virgin birth.

The list could go on and on! Lou's checklist for eternal life is turning out to be quite a theology book.

To show that I did not pull these statements out of thin air, here they are by Lou. Some are clearly stated, the rest are clearly extrapolated. So without further ado

I will give the documentation to more than substantiate Bob Wilkin's claim:

The answer to your scenario is this, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” (Romans 10:9). [Emphasis his]

Any JW, Mormon or Hindu, who rejects and/or adds Jesus to a list of many gods, according to Antonio, can cling to these wicked heresies and still be born again the Hodges' way.

He must know and believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on the cross for his sins, and rose from the dead.

When he agrees with the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-9) and transfers his dependence to the Lord for his salvation he has biblically repented.

That “biblical Jesus” you speak of would, of course be the eternal “Son of God”, the “Christ,” i.e., Deity; right?

The defining question is: In this dispensation, speaking exclusively of the “norm,” and excluding the “exceptional” cases, must that lost man believe Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead for the reception of eternal life (salvation)?

My answer is an emphatic, unvarnished, “Yes, absolutely!” [emphasis his]

If a person expressed their intention to hang on to their sin I would stop right there. I would not attempt to lead them to pray for God to save them. That person is far from biblical repentance.

...biblical repentance... [is] [w]hen a man understands that he is a sinner, and makes a definite, on-purpose decision to confess that sin, and turn from the old ways...

The teaching of the “Crossless” advocates dismisses repentance, the cross, resurrection and Deity of Christ from the Gospel.

While they teach that lost sinners must believe “the gospel” to receive eternal life, they also teach God does not require lost sinners to believe or even know that “Jesus died on the cross.” That, dear reader, is a “crossless gospel” no matter how you slice it!

Because I quoted Lou, does not mean that I agree with him in his assessment of the Refined Free Grace Theology position. They are here to show his position.

Note: I only spent a little while constructing this post. I am sure that if I spent more time, I could find more of his confusing statements whereby he adds additional requirements.

As an end, I just want to state to you this:

Even these 18 conditions do not represent fully all the conditions truly insisted upon by Lou. You see, each one of these conditions represents other conditions in the forms of sub-points. For example, what does it mean to believe that "Jesus died for my sins"? One must necessarily understand substitutionary atonement or he can't fulfill that one condition. To understand substitutionary atonement would require the fulfillment of a number of conditions that make that doctrine up. In essense, Lou Marunteac's checklist for evangelism at least doubles the eighteen points made here. Others in his position have been more forthright and stated that in order to be born again one must believe the whole Bible. This actually sums up Lou's position.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Faith does not always result in action

by Matthew

Back in 2002 and 2003, I was of the opinion that Britain and the United States should go to war against Iraq (Note to commenters- I do not want to get into the question of the rightness or the wrongness of the Iraq War in the comments, if you don't mind).

I believed that Saddam Hussein proabably had weapons of mass destruction and the West would be taking a big risk if they did not take out his military machine.

However, I did not join the army, the navy or the air force. I was very skinny and I have a minor disability, but I cannot say with certainty that I would have failed a medical test had I volunteered my service to Her Majesty's forces.

I had not the slightest thought of taking the king's shilling. A military life had no attraction for me. I was studying law and I did not want to break off my studies to go to war. I am sure if I had suggested joining up, my friends and family would have advised me against it.

I contributed absolutely nothing whatsoever to the allied efforts in the war against Iraq. The only thing I did as a result of my professed belief was to write one or two letters to the local paper in favour of war. I very much doubt that had I not written those letters to the Worcester News, Mr Blair and Mr Bush would have had second thoughts about going to war.

So, given that my belief had little effect on my behavour and did not result in my dedicating my life to service to my country, was it really sincere?

Yes, of course! I really did believe that war was necessary. I was convinced. I was persuaded. I trusted Blair and Bush in their conviction that war was necessary.Though rightly or wrongly, I had no intention of fighting for them.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So you're born again... But will you walk with Jesus in white? Part 1

by Antonio da Rosa

So you're born again... But will you walk with Jesus in white? Part 1