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 OUR PASSOVER LAMB10552571_1564555450472203_1095884821233938201_n13076632_1188660301151933_5684932331029755454_n5695passover

 Passover is the time of year that the Jewish people remember their miraculous release from slavery in Egypt.  It was instituted by God and the details are very specific as recorded in the Book of Exodus. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:1-2. This should get our attention. The first month on the Jewish calendar is Nissan and on the 10th day of Nissan a lamb was to be chosen. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats” Exodus 12:5. The lamb was to be perfect and was to be cared for. On the fourteenth day of Nissan the chosen lamb was to be killed and his blood put on the side posts and the upper door post of each household where the lamb was to be eaten. That night the Lord would move through the land of Egypt and the firstborn of both man and beast would die. The blood of the lamb was the only protection for the household. Only obedience to God would allow the firstborn of a household to be protected. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.” Exodus 12:14. It all happened just as God said and the Israelites were freed from bondage. God wanted them to remember what He did for them. Passover is celebrated to this day but there is a much deeper meaning to Passover. It was fulfilled by Jesus.

The Passover story is familiar to us and it is prophetic. Like all of the Jewish feasts, Passover is about Jesus. This important feast celebrates the Israelites being set free from Egyptian bondage, but by allowing Himself to be sacrificed, Jesus set us free from the bondage of sin and death. When He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey He fulfilled many prophecies, including one in Daniel which foretold the exact day He would be hailed as the Messiah. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.“Daniel 9:25. Calculations based upon this prophecy reveal that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the exact day foretold in Daniel. When He traveled to Jerusalem on that final journey He knew that the time was right and He would be hailed as the Messiah, but then He would be sacrificed…crucified. Years before this John the Baptist had recognized Him as the Lamb of God, and Jesus truly is our perfect Lamb The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. Jesus truly was the once for all sacrifice to take our sin away. There is no more monumental event in history than Jesus’ crucifixion, except for His resurrection.

Jesus rode on a donkey colt into Jerusalem and the people hailed Him as Messiah…the people had chosen Him. Unlike the Passover lamb that was treated gently from the time of selection until its quick sacrifice, Jesus would not be treated kindly. In those final few days He would have disputes with the Jewish leaders and ultimately be betrayed by one of the twelve men who followed Him. After His arrest He endured beatings, scourging, mocking, and pure brutality. They spit on Him, pushed a crown of thorns onto His head, and put a purple robe on Him to mock His claim to be King. Pilate stood Him before a crowd of angry people and asked them if he should set Jesus free or a robber named Barabbas. The crowd called for the release of Barabbas, but gave the frenzied cry“ Crucify Him!” when Pilate asked them what he should do with Jesus. Then, the Lamb of God was sent to the slaughter. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.” John 19:17-18. The Passover lamb was slaughtered quickly, but Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” was beaten unmercifully and then nails were pounded into His hands and His feet. He hung on the cross for hours, dying slowly. He looked down at His mother and gave the responsibility for her care to John and He watched as the Roman soldiers gambled for His garments. In spite of all that was done to Him, His love and forgiveness was not shattered. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:34. His forgiveness is still available to us today.

Jesus had gone to Jerusalem knowing full well what He faced there, but He went willingly. At the last meal He shared with His disciples, He told Judas to go and do what he had to do…to go and betray Him. He kept silence during the illegal trial and the beatings. He carried His cross to His own crucifixion. Jesus, God the Son, had never been separated from God the Father because He was sinless and perfect, even in His human form. But as He hung on that cross He took our sins upon Himself and for the first time ever the perfect Lamb of God felt separation from God the Father because sin separates us from God. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My god, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34. The sin that you and I should be condemned for was fully paid for on the cross. Jesus’ blood was shed for each and every person who has ever lived and who ever will live. It’s up to each of us individually to accept or reject that gift of salvation. That gift is free for the asking, but cost Jesus dearly.944057_208770469472928_700770130468267408_n

Jesus fulfilled prophecy with precise timing, and after all things were accomplished, He chose the timing of His death. “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.”John 19:28-30. It was finished. The blood of the Lamb was shed for you and me. We can look back and see the fulfilled prophecies and know that only His blood can redeem us. Those who followed Him were not so sure. They had followed Him and believed He was the Messiah, but now He had died. They feared that they would be the next ones crucified because they had followed Him.1957996_458968030964218_935759081704337320_n

For many reasons the burial was swift and they were unable to tend to His body the way they should have. At the first hint of light on the first day of the week a handful of women went to care for the body. Their grief was heavy as they walked to the tomb. A large stone had been placed at the entrance and they weren’t sure how they would be able to move it, but on they went. When they reached the tomb they were met with an astonishing sight. The stone had been rolled away! And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:5-6. Can you imagine their joy! Jesus was risen from the dead! He’s alive!!

     From Exodus to Daniel to the Resurrection, the date is clear. God has gone to great lengths to establish when the Passover is to be celebrated and therefore when Christ was hailed as the Messiah, offered as the perfect sacrifice, and resurrected. In spite of that most Christians choose to celebrate Christ’s victory over the grave on a different day called Easter. That day is not related to the Jewish Passover. It occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox. That day is based upon a pagan celebration and the traditions surrounding it have nothing to do with Christianity. Is it wrong to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection on this pagan holiday? Each person needs to decide individually.Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17. We belong to Christ and therefore we have freedom. Jesus fulfilled the Law and we need to be careful that we don’t return to the Law because that is not where salvation is found, but the date of His final entry in to Jerusalem, the day of the crucifixion, and the day of the Resurrection all seem important to God. We need to pay attention. Salvation is through Christ, but we need to honor Him in all our ways. Does coloring eggs and eating chocolate bunnies make you a pagan? No, but you need to be sure that you are identifying with Christ. We know that His sacrifice was during the Passover celebration which foreshadowed Him. It seems important to God that we know when Christ’s victory over death occurred. This year, 2016, Passover begins at sundown on April 22. Take time to read through Exodus chapter 12 and then read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ final week and also read through the Resurrection. Christ took our sins upon Himself and won the victory over death. Never forget that or take it lightly.

The blood on the door posts of the Jewish households so long ago protected them from death on that night of the first Passover. The blood of “…the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” applied to your heart is the only means by which you can be protected from eternal death. Celebrate our true Passover Lamb.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

 

All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed

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How to Discern – Part 1

by Anton Bosch

How to Smell a Rat

A toddler will eat anything. It does not matter if it is nutritious or poison, it has no ability to discern between food and poison.

As Christians mature in the faith they should learn to discern between spiritual poison and spiritual food. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). The problem is that the vast majority of modern-day “Christians” are either not born again or have been kept in a perpetual state of babyhood, and are thus unable to discern the difference between truth and error. Because of this, and because we have a new generation of church-goers who do not know the Bible, false teachers have multiplied, and millions believe anything these preachers say.

Discriminating between truth and error is really not that difficult as long as we abide by a few basic principles. The first of these is that truth is absolute. I use the term “absolute” as the opposite of “relative.” For most people – Christian and non-Christian – truth is relative. We hear:

“Truth is relative to one’s own experience, background, culture and environment.”

“What is true for one person may not be true for someone else.”

“What was true in Jesus’ day or a hundred years ago, is not necessarily true today.”

“What is true in the jungles of Africa is not true in the concrete jungles of America.”

But truth is absolute. It is unchanging and it is equally true in every time, culture, or environment. God’s truth does not change or have a different meaning in a different environment.

What is truth? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6). The Truth is first a person – Jesus Christ. His Word is Truth. Jesus said: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17). Truth, the Person, never changes: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Truth, the Word, never changes. “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19).

The second principle is that the Bible is complete. Many people think that God continues to give new revelation through prophets, preachers and visions. But that is a lie from Hell to move people away from the foundation of the Word. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son….” Note that God has spoken. The Greek is very specific, this is past and complete. God does not continue to speak. Yes, we refer to “God speaking to us,” but what we actually mean is that God is reminding us of what He had already said in His Word. Jude 3 says: “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” This translation is accurate in that the faith was delivered once and for all (eternity). It is not continually being delivered.

Theologians speak of “progressive revelation.” Unfortunately some preachers do not understand what the term means and assume that it means that God is continually revealing more and more of Himself. No. He gave us the whole revelation in Jesus Christ which has been written down in the form of the New Testament, and that’s it. The next time we will get any more information is when we see Him face to face. We can be absolutely sure that there is no further revelation between the Revelation given to John and the revelation of Jesus at His return.

Anyone who claims to have additional information that is not contained in the 66 books is a charlatan and a heretic. In fact, the Bible several times pronounces a curse on any who add to, or subtract from God’s Word. (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Matthew 15:6-13, Revelation 22:18). If a preacher is willing to subtract or change the smallest part of the Bible (a jot or tittle), then you need to be careful. If he will subtract in one area, he is capable of subtracting or adding in other areas. Once you undermine the smallest part of the Bible, then you may as well throw the whole thing out.

The third principle is that God does not change His mind. What God has said is forever established and will never be altered in any way. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). (Settled means established, firm and unchanging.) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good” (Numbers 23:19). So, to suggest that God has a different plan for people today to what He described in His Word, or that He changed His mind, or that He is making up His plans as He goes along makes God a liar and a man. He is neither. His plans were established from before the foundation of the earth. He knew all the twists and turns that man and history would take from the beginning. He does not adjust or tweak his purpose as time unfolds.

If we can accept that God has no other plan, purpose or will for us than which is revealed in the Bible, and that any deviation from it in deed, word or principle is heresy, we will easily be able to recognize most of the error that goes around.

Don’t be fooled when men tell you that only the educated can understand the Bible. We can all understand it. It does not matter how clever the argument is presented. If its conclusion is contrary to the plain teaching of the Bible, it is error. BUT there are a few simple rules that we must apply when we interpret the Scriptures. It is often these rules that are broken in order to arrive at a teaching which is erroneous. I know that not everybody knows these rules or how to apply them. But every believer who faithfully reads his Bible will know enough to smell a rat and to be on guard.

I believe that no one can get into error by simply believing and practicing the Bible. God gives us enough information for each stage of our growth to protect us. Eve did not know the whole counsel of God, but she knew that God had forbidden eating of the tree. But, she got into trouble when she listened to the Devil’s version of what God had said. If only she had stuck to the simple truth God had given her, she would have been safe.

Every believer can ask this easy question: “Show me where it says so in the Bible.” If the teacher cannot do so, or has to contort your mind or the Scriptures to get a square verse to fit into a round hole, then run for your life – he is dangerous.

God’s word is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It enlightens and leads us. It does not bring us into darkness, confuse or mislead us. Trust His Word and if man contradicts His word “let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

How to Discern – Part 2

How to Understand the Bible

Many people will agree that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. The problem however is often how it is interpreted. How can we be sure that our understanding is the right one?

In discerning truth from error, we must begin by understanding Truth for ourselves. Many people try to discover the Truth by analyzing and dissecting error. You simply cannot do that. It is like someone trying to drive a car by looking only in the rearview mirror while trying to move forward. You cannot see where you are going by looking where others have gone wrong. So before we try to judge error or someone else’s doctrine, we need to be sure about what we believe. I agree, that many are prompted by the rise of some error to study truth. But, if you want to learn the truth on some matter, you will only learn it by studying the Bible, not by studying the mistakes of others. So what must I do to understand?

First I must ask God for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). The same Spirit Who inspired the men to write the Bible (2Timothy 3:16, 1Peter 1:21), is available to help us understand what is written. The Bible is not an academic book which can be studied in an intellectual way only. Yes, the Bible is logically sound and intellectually deep, but it is primarily a spiritual book in which God speaks to His people. And His Spirit will lead, guide and counsel us so we may come “into all truth” (John 16:13). Studying the Bible is both an academic and spiritual exercise. Read it in a “spiritual” way without applying sound reasoning and you will not discover the Truth. But study it as academic literature without the Spirit’s help and you will most certainly end in error. Pray David’s prayer: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).

Second, the reader must be in a right relationship with the Lord. When we are disobedient, in habitual sin or rebellion, we will always read into the Bible what we want it to say. This is the most dangerous way of handling the Word of God. Countless errors have been “discovered” when the reader looked into the Bible for justification for his disobedience or sin. If the Lord has been convicting you about something, you must be obedient to Him first else your reading will always be distorted and you will not see clearly. David was able to say “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (Psalm 119:100). Obedience leads to understanding, disobedience leads to error.

Third, we must be open and willing to change our views if they are proven to be wrong. When our prejudice or preconceived ideas overwhelm sound thinking, we will inevitably end with a distorted view of Scripture. We grossly underestimate the power of tradition and preconceived ideas to keep us from discovering the truth. Our traditions invariably are a filter through which we read and which colors the teaching of the Bible. Just think about the word “church.” Every person who reads has an established view of what that word means, even before they begin to read and so when one reads, he sees the Roman Church, or one of a thousand denominations. Others see a building of a particular shape while others see two or three believers agreed and in the name of Jesus. The same word – many different meanings – but only one can be right!

Paul says: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2Corinthians 3:18). By “unveiled face” he was referring to the veil which Israel put over Moses’ face to filter the glory of God’s revelation and to deliver it in a form with which they were comfortable. But we must come to the Word without a veil or filter. We need to be willing to be open-faced in order to absorb the full impact of God’s revelation. The same revelation transformed Moses and blinded Israel. Come to the Word with an open face and it will transform you. Try to veil, limit or modify it and it will blind you (2Corinthinas 3:14).

Sometimes we actually need to suspend what we believe on a particular subject while we do an in-depth study of God’s Word on it. If we don’t do so, we may continue to build on bad foundations. I have found it invaluable, at different times in my life, to actively put all my experience, training and tradition on hold while I seek to understand some aspect afresh. Only the fool keeps going down the wrong road without checking from time-to-time if he is indeed on the right way. Even Paul felt the need to check (Galatians 2:2).

Fourth, we must turn to the Bible first. Many people will turn to their pastor, guru, commentary or Internet before going to the Bible. (Some will only go to these sources and never get to the Bible). If we go to any source outside the Bible first, it will invariably color and bias or thinking, more than it already is. In order to understand a particular subject, you need to enlist the aid of a concordance (preferably computerized) and search for every part of the Bible that speaks to that subject. Then you need to read those sections – not just the verses, but the entire passages. Note down the ones that make a specific point. Only once you have read the whole Bible (Old and New Testaments) on a particular subject, and have collated all the information, can you begin to come to some conclusions. Only after having searched the Scriptures, and have come to some conclusion, should you to turn to other sources. (More about that next week.)

“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1Peter 2:2). It is the pure milk that causes us to grow. If it is diluted with the words, thoughts and traditions of men, it is no longer pure. If it is sugar coated by the eloquence and stories of the preacher, it is also no longer pure. What I am writing here is not the pure milk of the Word – they are my ideas based on the Word. And while my thoughts may help some to understand a few things, it can never have the same effect as when you read, study and understand the Bible yourself.

Finally, we must study the Scriptures with a specific goal in mind. This goal is not to increase our knowledge, or to prove that someone else is wrong, or to justify your own actions. The only valid attitude is to allow God to speak to us through His Word. The reading and study of the Bible is first, foremost and primarily a personal issue. The Lord does not use the Bible to speak to others through us, unless, we have heard Him speak to ourselves first. We can only approach it with trembling hands and with the prayer of Samuel: “Speak, for Your servant hears” (1Samuel 3:10). Only if we truly want to hear and obey, will its truths begin to unfold.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8)

How to Discern – Part 3

Orthodoxy

The Roman church has for a long time believed that only the “clergy” may interpret the Bible. In fact, until recently, they did not even allow translations of the Bible into the common language of the people because they did not believe that ordinary people were equipped to read the Bible, let alone interpret it.

Since the Reformation, the Bible has been made available to ordinary people and now anyone in the free world is able to read, study and own Bibles. But the pendulum has swung to the other extreme so that today every Tom, Dick and Harry feels he has the right to interpret the Bible as he feels fit. This is an equal but opposite error to that of the Roman clerical system.

It is therefore important that we understand that while each of us has the privilege of reading the Bible for ourselves, no individual has the right to interpret the Scriptures as he wishes. We can all understand the Bible, and the Spirit will lead us into all Truth, but it is not up to us to formulate our own “new” doctrine. There is a body of truth that is not open for reinterpretation. We refer to this as “orthodox” teaching. “Orthodox” means “conforming to established and traditional doctrine”. (Not to be confused with Eastern Orthodox churches.)

Over the last 2,000 years of Christianity the church has endured countless errors, counter-errors, over-corrections, church councils, remarkably gifted teachers and heretics. Through all these processes the basic tenets of our faith have been established, tested and proven. We have the advantage of learning from 2,000 years of experience. Yet, many fools have risen in these days who feel they are wiser than all the great men who came before and have the right to attack or add to orthodox and established doctrine. Anyone who feels they have a “revelation” that goes against orthodox teaching needs to be very sure of his facts.

Is there Biblical proof for the statement that no individual has the right to interpret the Bible without reference to orthodox doctrine? Yes indeed.

Paul quoted a principle established in the Law that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (2Corinthians 13:1). This principle applied to every area of Jewish life and is carried forward into the life of the church. Even Jesus applied this principle to Himself. Jesus Himself said: “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true” (John 5:31). He then named four witnesses who testify to His claims. These are John the Baptist, Jesus’ works, His Father, and the Scriptures (John 5:33-39). Thus Jesus honored the principle that no individual can make a claim that is not able to be substantiated by multiple witnesses.

There are two essential qualifications for witnesses. They must agree and they must be credible (Exodus 20:16). The Jewish council found two witnesses to testify against Jesus, but they were false witnesses. So whose testimony should we believe concerning Jesus? Should we believe the testimony of John, Jesus’ works, His Father and the Scriptures or that of two rogues from the back streets of Jerusalem? Most false teachers may be able to quote others who believe like they do, but who are those witnesses? Are they people who have a reputation for correct theology or are they just as confused as the one who finds support in their false teaching?

The great Apostle Paul received his revelation and doctrine directly from Jesus Christ Himself (Galatians 1:12). In spite of the magnitude of this revelation, Paul felt the need to check his doctrine with Peter (Galatians 1:18). Then fourteen years later he again went to Jerusalem to check that he was indeed preaching the truth: “And I went up… and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain” (Galatians 2:2). Notice that he checked with “those who were of reputation”.

When building a wall it is no use checking the wall with a spirit level that is not correct. The level may indicate that the wall is plumb when it is not. Too many Christians check their doctrine with the wrong people and the wrong standards. Any doctrine has to be confirmed by those who have a reputation for Truth and correct doctrine. Far too many preachers are like King Ahab. Ahab gathered a team of 400 prophets who would tell him what he wanted to hear but he rejected the one man who he knew spoke truth (1Kings 22). Thus every heretic has a list of names of those who believe like he does, but will not listen to those who hold to orthodox doctrine.

When pilots bring ships into the harbor at Durban in South Africa, the channel through which they must pass is very narrow and disaster waits a few feet on either side. So to navigate safely they watch three lights on the distant shore. When these three lights line up, the ship is on the right course. The problem is that the shore is littered with thousands of lights. Only a fool will choose any three that line up. If it is imperative that a ship’s pilot has to make sure that he gets the right three lights to line up, then it is even more incumbent on us to make sure our teaching lines up with the right reference points.

Paul told Timothy “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Timothy 2:2). Notice how Paul reminds Timothy that there are witnesses to his teachings. Also, he does not instruct Timothy to formulate his own doctrine but to simply carry forward those truths that had already been established by Paul.

Jude says: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Jude does not instruct us to establish or formulate doctrine but rather to contend for what was once for all delivered. Jude’s reference to “the faith” refers to a body of established truth and doctrine.

Job said: “inquire, please, of the former age, and consider the things discovered by their fathers; For we were born yesterday, and know nothing, Because our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you, and utter words from their heart?” (Job 12:8-9).

In this generation, our doctrine should be the purest, the most accurate and the most orthodox because we have the benefit of 2,000 years of church history. But instead of learning from the mistakes and discoveries of those who have gone before, this generation seems hell-bent to disregard the benefits of accumulated wisdom and rather to invent their own peculiar brands of heresy. These are indeed the people Jeremiah prophesied about when he cried: “Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, `We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16).

How to Discern – Part 4

Check, Check and Check Again

This is a principle that holds true in most areas in life. Carpenters speak about measuring twice and cutting once. We teach our children that when they cross the street they must look left, look right and look left again. And when it comes to our faith we must be even more careful and check everything we hear.

1Thessalonians 5:21 says: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” In other words, not everything is good and can be trusted, so everything must be tested first. The noble-minded Bereans even subjected Paul’s teaching to scrutiny and they were commended for doing so (Acts 17:11).

We live in dangerous times and the world is filled with deceivers, false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing and heretics. Those who preach the Truth are a small minority while the false apostles wield massive budgets with which they dominate every form of media. No matter whether you listen to “Christian” radio, watch “Christian” television look at “Christian” websites or enter a “Christian” bookstore, the odds are stacked against the possibility that you will be exposed to truth. Yet every day thousands are deceived into believing anything that is sold under the banner of “Christian.”

It is thus imperative that we carefully check every word we hear or read. But how do we do that? Here are a few brief pointers:

First, listen to the voice of the Spirit: “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21). Let me make this very clear: You cannot judge a message or a man just based on that inner voice. But if you listen to the promptings of God’s Spirit, you will often feel uneasy about something which simply means that you need to stop and check. In the same way, a good feeling about someone or a teaching does not mean it is right – you must still check. Almost every week I get emails from people who question things because they “did not feel it was right.” In most cases they were correct. Error is presented so cleverly and so slickly that there are times that the problem will not be obvious. Yet an uncomfortable feeling about the message should lead to a check.

It is easy to overreact to the extremes of the mystical and touchy-feely religions and to reject anything that is not written in black and white. But Jesus promised that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). Paul writes “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). Listen to Him. He will often warn you of danger and alert you to the need to check further.

The second check is to ask the question: “Does this line up with Scripture.” Notice, the question is not whether the speaker / author quoted a verse. The question is “does it line up with the general teaching of the Bible.” It is easy to support error with isolated verses which are taken out of context.

Next ask the question: “Exactly what does the Bible teach on this matter”. You will be surprised how much you can learn by simply using a concordance. The fist time I heard that people were barking like dogs in churches, and that this was a “blessing from God,” I immediately looked at every verse that spoke about dogs and barking. That little study showed that every time dogs were referred to in the Bible they were symbolic of evil, demons and that which is defiled! So if the devil is presented as a dog in the Bible (Psalm 22:16,20), can the barking of a dog be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit?

The fourth question is whether the teaching is new or is representative of what the church has always believed? So when the televangelist says that God consists of nine parts, we should immediately recognize that as contradictory to the commonly held doctrine on the tri-unity of God. Some times new teachings aren’t quite as obvious as this, but the point is – they’re new.

Off course, this presupposes that you know the basic doctrines of the faith. That is just the problem. Most Christians do not know the fundamentals of the faith and “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). If you are not able to list and describe the fundamentals of the Christian faith, then you are in danger.

I am not asking you to be a theologian, just like you do not need to be a chemist to know that protein is food and arsenic is poison. You must know the basics else you will swallow the biggest lies and be deceived. When someone presents a teaching that contradicts the basic tenets of the faith you need to be very careful. Check again. Did you misunderstand him? Did he misspeak or does he really believe what you heard him say? We do not all agree on every detail of the faith but there are certain non-negotiable doctrines that are simply not up for discussion and you need to know what those are.

The fifth question is whether the message contains flaws in logic. Our faith is logical and rational and when preachers make irrational and unproven claims they must be challenged. There are many ways in which preachers and writers break simple rules of logic. Here is one example of a “technique” that is often used: If “A” equals “B” then “C” equals “D.” NO! The first part of the statement has nothing to do with the second. Don’t be fooled by a long list of things that are mentioned but that has nothing to do with the conclusion. Here is a real example. God made Abraham rich with material things; God made Isaac rich (materially); God made Jacob rich (materially); therefore God will make you rich with material things. Wrong. There is no direct link between the Patriarchs, material blessings and you – even though many like to say so.

The sixth question is whether there is evidence of dishonesty. Does the author deal with the material and evidence in an honest way or does he disregard all the verses that disproves his point and only quote those that support his idea? Does he blatantly change words or their meaning? Does he pick and choose translations to find one that will support his view? Or does he make obvious errors in fact. Remember, if he can lie to you in small things then he can lie to you in the major things – don’t trust him (Galatians 2:24). I just caught you. There is no Galatians 2:24! Yet you will be surprised how often writers and preachers will quote verses that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic. They do this since they know their audience is gullible and will not open the Bible to actually check.

Next week I will deal with questions you need to ask about the author / speaker. You must check both the message and the messenger. Sometimes good preachers can bring a flawed message. In that case you must reject the message but not the preacher. But sometimes a bad preacher can bring a good message. In this case both the message and the messenger must be rejected. The only way you will know the difference is to check, check and check again.

How to Discern – Part 5

Who’s Who?

It is important that we check every word we hear or read against the plumbline of the Bible. In addition, we need to check the source of the information as well. We must check two things: The message and the man.

Many times we will hear messages that sound spot-on, and may even be doctrinally correct, but the speaker is a deceiver. Remember, the Devil will present truth in order to get you on his hook. No Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness will knock on your door and begin the conversation by saying that they have come to present another Gospel and another Jesus. They all begin by affirming that they believe exactly what you believe. The problem is that by the time they get around to the lie it is often too late. Our only defense is not to listen to a single word from someone we have not checked out thoroughly first. Mormons and JWs are easy to recognize by their outward appearance. But how do we recognize someone who appears to be an evangelical, Bible believing preacher? Here are a few hints:

First,who is he and where does he come from? In other words who does he relate to and who has influenced his thinking? This can easily be established from his bio, personal history or curriculum vitae. Where did he train? Where does he fellowship? Who is he in relationship with? Who does he quote? Who quotes him? If he has a website, look at the other sites he provides links to. These questions will often reveal a lot about the messenger. Obviously, he may have had bad connections in the past and may have repented. If he has repented from former evil associations, has he publicly repudiated those links and doctrines and broken fellowship with them? If he has, his past should not be held against him; but, at the same time, some of those influences may continue to taint his thinking and one should be on the alert for signs thereof. “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1Corinthians 15:33) and a man can be known by the friends he keeps.

Second,and closely related to the first: What qualifies him to be a teacher? By this I don’t mean whether he is ordained or has papers, but what gives him the right to teach you anything? You need to ask questions about how long he has been a believer, how old he is, does he have a proven track record of serving the churches, or is he just a maverick who has set himself as a “prophet”? Is he in submission to others? Since the advent of the Internet and self-publishing any misfit who cannot work with others, and who has no desire to be a servant to the churches, can set himself up as a “ministry”. Does he exhibit skill and integrity in the way he handles the Word, or is he a workman who needs to be ashamed? (2Timothy 2:15). Does he faithfully teach and preach the Word, or is his message based on stories, testimonies and jokes? Finally, does he challenge as well as encourage, or does he only speak those things that will not offend the hearers? (2Timothy 4:2).

Probably the most important qualification is his life! How many times has he been married? Does he have a testimony of integrity, uprightness and holiness? How does he relate to money and material things? These are but a few of dozens of questions that need to be asked about the fruit of his life. Jesus said: “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16). By their “fruit” Jesus did not mean the fruit of his ministry (how many converts, books etc) but the fruits of his life. What does his life produce? Do you really think that if he produces thistles at home he will produce grapes in your life? (2Timothy 3 and Titus 1 contain additional questions you may need to ask.)

Fourth, what does he believe? This gets a bit harder since he will very likely hide the real truth under language that appears to be sound. Sometimes error can be discerned by carefully scrutinizing his statement of faith. But mostly you will have to read and listen carefully. The internet may contain hints at what may be wrong, but don’t accept anything you find on the internet without thoroughly investigating that information and its source. Anyone can publish anything on the internet and many work very hard to discredit legitimate ministries through this means. But read carefully what is said about the individual and use that information as a cue what to look out for in his teaching. But allow me to emphasize: information from unknown sources on the internet can only serve as red flags; it cannot be trusted to approve or disqualify anyone. Whoever… does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him (2John 1:9).

Fifth, we must ask the question; what do the witnesses say? In the third article in this series (Orthodoxy) we established that we need to look at the credibility of the witness as well as the testimony of the witness. Who approves of this man? If known false teachers give him a good testimonial, or he appears on the same platform as they, then you know he has to be a false teacher himself. Likewise, if those who are proven to be ministers of light condemn him, you better take note

This is why it is important that we surround ourselves with those whom we can trust to advise and counsel. Many “discernment type” ministries have an axe to grind, but there are a few that can be trusted to give a balanced assessment of a particular ministry. These people who have been gifted to be watchmen to the church can save us a lot of time and research. (Next week we will examine the qualifications of a good discernment type ministry.) Check their websites and blogs for warnings about specific ministries, speakers and authors. The Lord says about watchmen that: “whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head” (Ezekiel 33:4).

Sixth, what is his agenda? Sometimes a speaker or author can pass all the tests and still have the wrong agenda. It is therefore important to ask what it is that drives him. Is it money, ego or power? Does he bear a grudge or bitterness? Is he trying to prove that he is right and everyone else is wrong? Watch and listen carefully and his motive will shine through. If he is not driven by a love for the Lord, a love for God’s Word and a love for God’s people – then he probably has nothing to say. When Jesus commissioned Peter, there was one question that mattered: “do you love me?” (John 21:15-17). If the speaker does not exhibit a love for Jesus then he is disqualified no matter how much he knows (1Corinthians 13:1-3).

Unless you are able to verify the bona fides of a speaker or writer, you should never receive from them. Very few would knowingly invite the devil to preach in their church, yet many are willing to have his messengers speak in his place.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1John 4:1).

How to Discern – Part 6

What of the Watchman?

Each believer has responsibility for himself to be on the lookout for error and deception (Revelation 3:11). The Lord has also set the elders in the local church with the duty to watch for wolves who would seek to attack the flock (Acts 20:28-30).

In these last days error is multiplying and spreading faster than the average believer or shepherd can track. Every day brings some new heresy, and modern electronic media and world travel has resulted in new heresies spreading across the globe within hours of being hatched. Often these teachings are so cleverly disguised that it literally takes a specialist to recognize them and to formulate a defense against them.

As a result the Lord has raised up a special group of people who have been uniquely gifted and prepared to act as watchmen to the churches. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, the attacks were so incessant that in addition to every man carrying his sword whilst building (Nehemiah 4:17-18), a select group was tasked with looking out for the enemy (Nehemiah 4:9, 16). As a shepherd in a local church, it would be impossible for me to fulfill my duties and keep track of the many new errors that arise almost daily. I am therefore very grateful for those who have dedicated themselves to the work of monitoring, researching, warning and formulating answers to the many winds of false doctrine of our time.

But, as in every area of the Lord’s work, there is the good, the bad and the ugly. Just the fact that someone points out error does not necessarily make them devoid of error themselves. Some err in doctrine, and others in their attitude or lifestyle. It is therefore important that we establish what the difference is between the good and the bad amongst discernment ministries. (I use “discernment ministries” [lower case] as a generic term distinct from “Discernment Ministries” which refers to a specific organization).

In one sense, this is the easiest ministry that anyone can get into these days. This is true simply because it is much easier to point out mistakes in others than to correct those mistakes. Some who could not write or preach a single word to edify the church get involved in throwing stones. Pulling down is easier than building up and finding fault is easier than teaching truth. Many are involved in these ministries because they want revenge for past hurt, or because they want to be involved in ministry but do not have the gifts to do so, or even because they have a problem with pride.

Here are some important questions to ask about discernment ministries:

What attitude do they display? Is it one of arrogance and pride and do they feel that they are better than those poor heretics over there? Or do they genuinely mourn and weep over the state of the church? Do they speak with humility and grace, recognizing that it is only the grace of God that has kept them? Do they feel that they are superior to everyone else and God’s only remnant? (The series “Contentiously Contending” deal with this in more detail.)

Who are the faces behind that particular ministry? What are their personal lives like? Do they have a history of serving the churches and standing for truth? Are they in fellowship with other believers and ministries and do they serve a local church or are they loose cannons?

What is their motive? Is it revenge, profit, fame and importance? Or is it love for the Lord, His Word and His People? (The previous article “Who’s Who?” applies as much to discernment ministries as to preachers.)

Are their accusations based on thoroughly documented research supported by credible witnesses and empirical proof? Or is it based on second-hand rumor and guilt by association? Many of these ministries could discredit someone just because that person happened to pass through the same airport as a known heretic, even though there is no connection between them.

Do they rely on innuendo, rumor and quotes taken out of context to make their case? Or do they rely on facts, track-records, history and documents?

Are they credible? In other words how do you know you can trust them? Do they exaggerate or embellish to make a point? Have you ever noticed them lying or are they people of integrity? Is their assessment balanced, or are they biased? Do they ever have something good to say about anyone or can they only speak about what is evil and wrong?

Are they conspiracy theorists? One such man teaches that the Jews are to blame for every form of evil that plagues our world, that NASA found dinosaur bones on the moon but conspired to conceal the matter, but at another time claimed that man never went to the moon and that it was all a conspiracy! Yes, this man is one of the most prominent speakers, broadcasters and writers against “error”.

Do they teach the truth or only against error? Do they provide an antidote to the heresy, or can they only point out what is wrong? The Lord and the Word never reveal a problem without providing a solution to that problem. Yes, the Bible speaks against sin, but it also provides the antidote – the precious blood of Jesus. It reveals the wickedness of man’s heart but offers the righteousness of God to those who believe (Romans 3:22-23).

Just the fact that they are a discernment or apologetic ministry does not exempt them from all the checks and balances we have spoken about in this series. They need to be checked. The bad need to be rejected and the good need to be valued. I would urge you to know which of these ministries can be trusted and to read their material regularly. If you are a pastor or preacher, you need to attend a good discernment conference every year in order that you may be warned of the new devices of the evil one.

If you do use their services you need to support them by your prayers, encouragement and gifts. The good ones will never speak of their needs, yet it costs a lot of stamina and finances to keep those ministries going – help them so they can better serve you. Above all, pray for them. It takes a lot of courage and they pay a very high personal price for their stand as they are constantly being attacked. They need your prayers and encouragement.

The fact that Nehemiah set a watch and dedicated some to bear arms, did not absolve the rest of the people from being on guard:

“Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me. Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us” (Nehemiah 4:17-20).

Anton Bosch

anton@ifcb.net

3310 W Magnolia Blvd

Burbank, CA, 91505

Tel 818 846 5520

http://www.antonbosch.org

http://www.burbankchurch.org

http://kimolsen.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/how-to-discern/comment-page-1/#comment-7280

DiscernIt

How to Discern – Part 1

by Anton Bosch

How to Smell a Rat

A toddler will eat anything. It does not matter if it is nutritious or poison, it has no ability to discern between food and poison.

As Christians mature in the faith they should learn to discern between spiritual poison and spiritual food. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). The problem is that the vast majority of modern-day “Christians” are either not born again or have been kept in a perpetual state of babyhood, and are thus unable to discern the difference between truth and error. Because of this, and because we have a new generation of church-goers who do not know the Bible, false teachers have multiplied, and millions believe anything…

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Signs of a Hard Heart

Reblogged from Joe Quatrone, Jr.:

Fharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you” (Exodus 7:3-4).

Have you ever met someone who was just plain stubborn?  We might know people within our circle of friends who insist on having their way.  They are hardheaded and obstinate about what they want.  A moment of reflection may cause us to feel uncomfortable at the thought – you know, personally.  God calls it a heart problem.  This problem of self-centeredness has existed from the beginning of time, documented in the lives of people we read about in Scripture as well as people we live with today. 

Pharaoh is probably the best illustration in the Bible of a person with a hard heart.  He was exposed to the truth over and over again, yet refused to respond accordingly.  Notice from the verse above that God said, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.”  God engineered the situation we read about in Exodus.  In doing so, God displays His power and provides a blueprint for what happens when a person refuses to accept and bend the will to the truth.

Pharaoh was presented with overwhelming evidence.  Plague after plague, sign after sign, miracle after miracle, but still he refused to accept God’s warnings and let the Israelites go.  God repeatedly presented Pharaoh with the truth of who He was, yet Pharaoh wouldn’t bow.  Even when faced with undeniable evidence that he was wrong, Pharaoh wouldn’t give in.  He refused to acknowledge that another kingdom was greater than his.  His pride, stubbornness, and hard-heartedness caused him great grief and distress.  His overexposure and under response to truth proved to be extremely costly for him, his family, and his kingdom.

All of us have experienced the stubborn desire to have things the way we want them, even when “our way” isn’t God’s way.  That’s what Pharaoh was doing.  If we are wise, we will learn from his experience.  Every time we say no to God, we live in rebellion, stubbornly asserting our selfish will over His will for our lives.  Just as Pharaoh stubbornly clenched his fist and said no repeatedly to God, we too cannot do that for long without developing a hard heart that will lead to destruction.  We stand in danger of following in the footsteps of Pharaoh if we refuse to submit to God’s standard.  The more we can be duped into believing we’re right and God is wrong, the more we are in danger of developing a hard heart.

Although we must be careful, we need not despair.  One of the primary reasons I believe God initiated this entire sequence of events was to provide us with a lesson plan for not following the way of Pharaoh.  God wouldn’t leave us without a way to experience victory over our tendencies to assert our rights over His truth.  We can rejoice in the graciousness of God as we study the lesson He gave us and apply its truth to our lives.

Let’s be honest.  We all want things the way we want them.  We all want what we want when we want it.  I’m more comfortable when things are the way I like them.  All people are.  The tension comes into play when what we want is not what God wants, when the two conflict.  Refusal to act on the truth time and time again will corrode the heart of man until nothing can melt the hardness.

Paul wrote, “Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).  It’s dangerous to say no to the truth because there will come a time when God allows us to have our own way: “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind” (1:28).  Paul clearly portrays the inevitable downward spiral into sin when a hard heart develops.  God does not cause this steady progression towards evil.  Rather, when we reject Him, God allows us to live as we choose.  He gives us over or permits us to experience the natural consequences of our sin. 

We can count on this: frequently saying no to God will eventually result in God letting us have our own way.  Sounds pretty good?  Don’t bet on it.  How many children have cheered their independence from mom and dad only to weep in the dark of the night because they discovered having their own way was not always as appealing as it seemed?

To avoid the pitfalls that are sure to occur in our paths, we must understand the danger signs of a hard heart.  Otherwise, we can and will rationalize ourselves into disaster!  The saga of Pharaoh supplies us with signs to use as a checklist for a hard heart.

The first sign (and one that we all struggle with) is stubbornness.  Pharaoh was eaten up with a stubborn spirit when confronted with God’s truth.  All of us have been here.  It’s the way we react when we know we shouldn’t do something.  We respond, “I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to do it anyway.”  When we are confronted with truth repeatedly and ignore it, our lack of response to God demonstrates a hard heart that no doctor can fix.

The second sign of a hard heart is a lack of concern for spiritual things.  This is made evident when God’s work becomes second to our own.  Insensitivity to God’s work is a sure sign we are developing a hard heart.  A lack of concern for spiritual things means we are more concerned with our business than with God’s.  The selfishness of that attitude is evidenced when God gets in the way of our plans, yet we choose to do things the way it works best for us anyway.

The third sign of a hard heart is ignoring the testimony of other people.  Similarly, if we ignore undeniable evidence over and over again, there is no doubt we are developing a hard heart. Whether the evidence comes from a person or event, ignoring it can result in tragic consequences.

The fourthsign of a hard heart is recognizing sin, but refusing to deal with it.  We know cheating is wrong, but we do it anyway.  We know lying is wrong, but we do it anyway.  We understand there is a speed limit for a good reason, but speeding is just something we do.  We may feel bad for a time (feeling bad relieves some of the guilt), but that’s as far as it goes.  If we are honest, some of us have no intention of doing anything about our sin.

The fifth sign of a hard heart is pride.  The prideful person says, “I know better than anyone else.”  Men suffer from this disease quite often.  We pretend to be experts about everything.  No matter what anyone else says, our way is the right way.  Often, it is hard for us to take instruction from anyone.  Even when we know we are wrong, we argue instead of facing up to it.  And the tragedy is everybody knows our problem is pride.  The root of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness was pride.  He considered himself a god.  He wasn’t about to let some other God get the best of him.

The sixth sign of a hard heart is acknowledging sin, but attempting to make a deal with God.  Instead of turning from sin, we rationalize it and try to make deals with God, so we can continue sinning and not be plagued by our consciences.  Think about the college student who is scared he has gotten his date pregnant.  I can just imagine listening in and hearing him try to make a deal with God: “God, if You will just fix it where she’s not pregnant, I will go to church on Sunday, and I’ll even volunteer to help out in the nursery!  After all, it takes two to make a baby!”  Do you think God is impressed one bit with his excuses?  A woman who plays the same game, blaming her plight on the man she chose to be with, is just as guilty of the attempt to bargain with God.  While we may attempt to make deals with God, our efforts lead to more problems, and the gap between His truth and our desires get wider and wider as our hearts harden.

The signs for developing a hard heart are made unmistakenably clear to us in Scripture.  We don’t have to wonder and assume things because God has already given us a description of the problem and what we must do to fix it.  We can promise, bargain, and rationalize all we want, but unless we come to an accurate understanding of God and His will for us, we will fail miserably in our efforts to succeed.  It’s not so much our behavior that needs to change (although it certainly needs to change) as it is our hearts that need restoring.  Once that happens, our behavior will change, and we will know what is right and wrong.  We sometimes focus too much on changing behaviors when we should be focused on doing what will result in changed hearts.

As we grow as Christians, sin should bother us more, not less.  Yet every day we spend hours being entertained by the very sin Christ died for!  We rent it at Red Box, view it online, watch it on television, and read it in books.  “But I never thought if it that way,” you say.  Over time, we have changed the rules and our hearts have come to accept things we wouldn’t have dreamed of accepting a few years ago.  Do we remember when bad language really bothered us?  Perhaps now it hardly affects us. 

We must be sure of two things when we contemplate the problems of a hard heart: (1) the warning signs or red flags God has given us through Scripture, and (2) how to avoid taking the same road Pharaoh did.  Our response to truth determines whether our hearts will be hardened or remain pliable and ready to have God make them after His own.  Applying the truth we’ve obtained through study is the key to victory in this (or any) situation!  Unless we allow God to apply the truth to our lives, we will continue to go our own way.  And that’s a sure sign of a hard heart.

There’s only one absolute answer to the problem of a hard heart.  Nothing short of honest repentance will bring about the change needed.  I don’t mean rededicating our lives.  I’m talking about allowing God to change our hearts to the point where our no becomes a yes to His truth.  True repentance manifests itself in a changed life.

God’s priority for us is that we take Him seriously when He says, “Go into the world and change it!”  When we lead people to trust Christ as Savior, we change the world.  Recognizing this puts our response to truth in a totally different perspective.  We’re not in this world just for our pleasure or well-being.  God put us here for a purpose, and it was not to spend our days fulfilling selfish needs at the expense of those He would have us bring to know Him personally.  

We have to understand the big picture to understand why developing a hard heart will bring about disaster.  Putting all things into perspective, if we continue to insist on our way, there will come a time when God’s truth no longer matters to us at all.  When Paul wrote, “God gave them over to a debased mind,” he was making sure we understood what would happen to us if we continued to insist on our way long enough: God will back off and let us have what we think we want!  Sounds great until the reality of our depravity destroy our life. 

Humbling ourselves before God is a proven cure for the hard heart.  Christ can transform a hard heart into one that responds cheerfully and obediently.

Posted on May 3, 2012


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The Truth About Lies!.


by Don Twobears

RaptureReady.com

James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not, what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

We have talked extensively about how mortal we as humans are, but there is one thing we missed, so to speak, we also have immortal Spirits. It’s actually that area in you and I, that we can sense there is definitely a God. It is also that one special spot, that is more about “me” than any other spot and this is where God speaks to us.

In Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. You must understand, most of those that renounce the Lord as their Savior, do NOT know they have a Soul and a Spirit. All they know are their physical bodies and they believe they are able to “Think” with only a Brain, they will NOT accept any information, of any kind, unless they are able to “Measure it”. Funny, how they dream every night and yet they have never been able to “Measure” their dreams.

We can bicker and argue till the Cows come home and never move a single inch from where we are right now, for either side. You must understand, those that are lost, KNOW something is going on, they just can’t put their finger on it and yet because they started with a LIE, they must continue with that lie! So in the end, it comes down to the fact that the first “Lie” breeds the next and so on and so on, all lies, one after the other. As I have said before, isn’t PRIDE wonderful?? All of this, falls into the folder named SIN.

Lies

The next important question about this folder SIN, is their SIN forgiven or not?! It’s as simple as that! Then as they stand before the Lord at the “Great White throne of Judgement”, they need only to answer whether their SIN is forgiven or NOT! There’s no need to open the folder and list all the sins by name, being forgiven or not is the only answer needed. What will be so unique, is the people standing before the Lord are NOT saved by HIS Blood from the Cross! And why is that?! They weren’t able to Measure it? How profoundly sad!
I can NOT tell you how many times, or how many ways, they are willing to give anyone that is willing to listen to them, how there is NO God. They have their minds filled to brim with all the garbage satan feeds them on a daily basis, bluntly speaking, they are more willing to “Believe a Lie”.

Deception

It says in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
This entire 2 verses says it all, re-read it for yourself and see, because the Lord God is very exact and to the point here! The point is though, satan makes them stupid, to a point that they will never willingly accept what the Word of God is telling them! Again, it is so unique to see, they have “Lied to themselves” and then to notice “They believe their own lies”!
Even though the Word of God, tells them they are wrong! Then we read where the Bible says “that the Truth will set you free!” It can easily be seen that the lost do not want to be set free, how amazingly ignorant of them. This alone, is so desperately sad, it makes your heart cry for them!

It is easily understood, that man from the beginning desires Peace and Harmony! The problem comes, to what degree? Or it could be, Peace and harmony for whom (Usually they want that for themselves but not for others!) And the ultimate degradation begins and usually with the “Thought”, my favorite for sure, “It’s all about ME!!” We can use the older axiom of “Hooray for me…to hell with you!” Still, they desire Peace and Harmony, as they stand there and shoot themselves in the foot! Then they cry and cry about all the pain they are suffering and then it’s “Why does this always happen to me?!” Or it can be seen as “Poor Me, don’t you feel sorry for me?”.
Here is where the whole thing begins to show its ugly head, the other person (Also unsaved) looks at them and lies “Oh yeah, poor baby”! The whole time, laughing at the others stupidity in their heart! See…the entire charade begins to fall apart at the seams, but they still want Peace and Harmony! You have to wonder, do they really KNOW what Peace and harmony truly are?
Most of us are willing to call this individual “Manipulative”. Here’s another tidbit for ya, “Manipulative and liar” are synonymous, wouldn’t you agree? The question is however, “WHOM is being lied to and WHOM is believing that lie”? In my humble opinion, I am tired of reading all about it and trying to figure it all out! It’s enough for me to predicate the outcome and still be able to sleep at night, therefore I digress.
It is mind-boggling, the extent they are willing to go to! Here is where the “Being set free” from Sins gnarly grasp becomes a thing of beauty! It makes the verses, Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”, seem like an Oasis in the desert!!
Here is the point, where we begin to see for ourselves the verse that says “Man’s intellect is like foolishness to God”! Sort of strange, that we never understood this until WE were saved to Jesus Christ. This is also the point where the Lord GIVES you and I, HIS Wisdom and Discernment! After this takes place, we begin to see the multitudes of Levels of understanding, of the Word of God, that we never knew existed before.
What is unique, the unsaved are not able to understand the words and verses they see right in front of them. It is also unique, that the Lord gives us this understanding with HIS Wisdom, that HE does not give to the Unsaved. “We” are able to understand what HE has told us, information that the unsaved and satan would give their arms and legs to understand or know. And WE can stand on a corner and scream this info at the top of our lungs, but satan and the unsaved will remain befuddled. Strange, right?! The Lord simply amazes me every time I turn around!!
Here is a strange situation, we have all this info from our Lord and Savior and we can bring it to the unsaved and they can bark and harass us all about it, all day long! They can stand there and belittle us and tell us how stupid we sound as we preach God’s Word. But take a small step back and look at this again, now we see who is truly ignorant and who is not!
If you and I were sitting around the campfire one evening, enjoying the Pine scent in the air and the Mountains of Colorado and I told you all about the Rapture and the Tribulation, and just how close they were, Being unsaved, you’d laugh your head off at me! The Proof is in the Bible, God’s Holy Word to us, which has been around for better than 2600 years! And in that time, we have witnessed every single Prophecy come true, up and until today. Now I tell you about Bible Prophecy that has yet to come true, but is written out in the Bible and has yet to be fulfilled. Would you believe there is some validity to those Prophecies?? What I’m trying desperately to get you to understand, is Faith!
Everything concerning our Lord and Savior is about you and I having Faith, in God’s Truth, in other words, what is written in the Bible! Believing Gods Word is having Faith, it is the understanding in our hearts and the the Whole Belief of the Bible as truth. This is the spot where the Lord meets us, face to face and asks us if we would like to live forever? Then HE shows us how this can be, through HIS Word the Bible. Why would anyone want to measure this, how would it affect the outcome? It would change nothing!
When you come to Jesus Christ as your Savior, you leave that “Old Person and his intellect”, nailed to that Cross.
NOW…you know better, you know the truth and it indeed sets you free from all that cumbersome load of lies and deceit. You already know, you can’t change the world! The only thing you can change for the better or for the worse is YOU. When this truly takes place in your life, it goes from “It’s all about ME to It’s all about the Lord”!!
If you are Great in the World, your hardship and pain are all yours to deal with! With Jesus Christ, there is NO pain and suffering, no death, no fear, no longer being lonely, but there is an Eternity of Love, harmony and true Peace. The likes of which no man is able to imagine!

It really comes down to, which do you prefer, pain and suffering or Love and Harmony…for Eternity??
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Here is a quote from a portion of an article originally written by John Piper. I believe that it fits in well with the context of the above post:

Romans 1:18–23.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature,have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that havebeen made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

Notice several things:

  1. All people ”know God,” even if they have never heard the Bible. “What can be known about God is plain to them” (verse 19). “Although they knew God…” (verse 21).

  2. The way they know God is by the way God has made the world and their own consciences (verses 19–20).

  3. Even though they know God, no one who knows God anywhere in the world “honors God as God or gives him thanks” (verse 21). Instead, theysuppress the truth” (verse 18)

    . That is, they resist the truth deep in their hearts and “exchange it” for other things that they would rather have (verse 23).

  4. Therefore, they are “without excuse” (verse 20). That is, they are guilty and deserved to be punished.

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Related Articles:

An Open Letter to Richmond, VA (LiveJournal.com)

Postmodern Truth vs. Biblical Truth (Thoughts.com)

Crossing Paths with God (Orble.com)

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c. 1482

c. 1482 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Crucifixion A Medical Perspective

http://youtu.be/nFuqlO0Beao

“But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

If the world truly understands the agony and pain Jesus suffered, we will be more appreciative of Him and thankful that He did it vs. God requiring us to pay that price for our sins. Thank God that it is finished and that Jesus will never have to do thi again. I hope those that watch will see the cost of sins in our lives and repent and give their lives over to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

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A Puritan Catechism

http://newdemonstration.com/catechisms/a-puritan-catechism

With Proofs

Compiled by
C. H. Spurgeon
“Heir of the Puritans”

I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times, and therefore I have compiled this little manual from the Westminster Assembly’s and Baptist Catechisms, for the use of my own church and congregation. Those who use it in their families or classes must labour to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.

May the Lord bless my dear friends and their families evermore, is the prayer of their loving Pastor.

—C. H. Spurgeon

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15)

Published about Oct 14, 1855, when Spurgeon was 21 years old. On Oct. 14, Spurgeon preached Sermon No. 46 to several thousand who gathered to hear him at New Park Street Chapel. When the sermon was published it contained an announcement of this catechism. The text that morning was,

“Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps. 90:1).

Questions

1 What is the chief end of man?
2 What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?
3 What do the Scriptures principally teach?
4 What is God?
5 Are there more Gods than one?
6 How many persons are there in the Godhead?
7 What are the decrees of God?
8 How does God execute his decrees?
9 What is the work of creation?
10 How did God create man?
11 What are God’s works of providence?
12 What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he wascreated?
13 Did our parents continue in the state wherein they were created?
14 What is sin?
15 Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
16 Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
17 Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell?
18 What is the misery of that state whereinto man fell?
19 Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?
20 Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
21 How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
22 What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
23 How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
24 How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
25 How does Christ execute the office of a king?
26 Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
27 Wherein consists Christ’s exaltation?
28 How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
29 How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
30 What is effectual calling?
31 What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?
32 What is justification?
33 What is adoption?
34 What is sanctification?
35 What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
36 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
37 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
38 What shall be done to the wicked at their death?
39 What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?
40 What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
41 What is the sum of the ten commandments?
42 Which is the first commandment?
43 What is required in the first commandment?
44 Which is the second commandment?
45 What is required in the second commandment?
46 What is forbidden in the second commandment?
47 Which is the third commandment?
48 What is required in the third commandment?
49 Which is the fourth commandment?
50 What is required in the fourth commandment?
51 How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
52 Which is the fifth commandment?
53 What is required in the fifth commandment?
54 What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
55 Which is the sixth commandment?
56 What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
57 Which is the seventh commandment?
58 What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
59 Which is the eighth commandment?
60 What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
61 Which is the ninth commandment?
62 What is required in the ninth commandment?
63 Which is the tenth commandment?
64 What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
65 Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
66 Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
67 What does every sin deserve?
68 How may we escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
69 What is faith in Jesus Christ?
70 What is repentance to life?
71 What are the outward means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits ofredemption?
72 How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
73 How is the Word to be read and heard that it may become effectual to salvation?
74 How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful?
75 What is baptism?
76 To whom is Baptism to be administered?
77 Are the infants of such as are professing believers to be baptised?
78 How is baptism rightly administered?
79 What is the duty of such as are rightly baptised?
80 What is the Lord’s Supper?
81 What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?
82 What is meant by the words, “until he come,” which are used by the apostle Paul inreference to the the Lord’s Supper?

Questions & Answers

1 Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), and to enjoy him for ever (Ps. 73:25-26).

2 Q. What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?
A. The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:16) is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy him (1 Jn. 1:3).

3 Q. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man (2 Tim. 1:13; Eccl. 12:13).

4 Q. What is God?
A. God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24), infinite (Job 11:7), eternal (Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17), and unchangeable (Jas. 1:17) in his being (Exod. 3:14), wisdom, power (Ps. 147:5), holiness (Rev. 4:8), justice, goodness and truth (Exod. 34:6-7).

5 Q. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only (Deut. 6:4), the living and true God (Jer. 10:10).

6 Q. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory (1 Jn. 5:7; Matt. 28:19).

7 Q. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose according to the counsel of his own will, whereby for his own glory he has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Eph. 1:11-12).

8 Q. How does God execute his decrees?
A. God executes his decrees in the works of creation (Rev. 4:11), and providence (Dan. 4:35).

9 Q. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God’s making all things (Gen. 1:1) of nothing, by the Word of his power (Heb. 11:3), in six normal consecutive days (Exod. 20:11), and all very good (Gen. 1:31).

10 Q. How did God create man?
A. God created man, male and female, after his own image (Gen. 1:27), in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Col 3:10; Eph. 4:24) with dominion over the creatures (Gen. 1:28).

11 Q. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).

12 Q. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; (Gal. 3:12) forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death. (Gen. 2:17)

13 Q. Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

14 Q. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4).

15 Q. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12).

Q. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery (Rom. 5:18).

16 Q. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin (Rom. 5:19), the want of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

17 Q. What is the misery of that state whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God (Gen. 3:8, 24), are under his wrath and curse (Eph. 2:3; Gal. 3:10), and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever (Rom. 6:23; Matt. 25:41).

18 Q. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his good pleasure from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life (2 Thess. 2:13), did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer (Rom. 5:21).

19 Q. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5), who being the eternal Son of God, became man (Jn. 1:14), and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person for ever (1 Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9).

20 Q. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the son of God, became man by taking to himself a true body (Heb. 2:14), and a reasonable soul (Matt. 26:38; Heb. 4:15), being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and born of her (Lk. 1:31, 35), yet without sin (Heb. 7:26).

21 Q. What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Christ as our Redeemer executes the offices of a prophet (Acts 3:22), of a priest (Heb. 5:6), and of a king (Ps. 2:6), both in his state of humiliation and exaltation.

22 Q. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us (Jn. 1:18), by his Word (Jn. 20:31), and Spirit (Jn. 14:26), the will of God for our salvation.

23 Q. How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering up himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice (Heb. 9:28), and to reconcile us to God (Heb. 2:17), and in making continual intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).

24 Q. How does Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself, (Ps. 110:3) in ruling and defending us (Matt. 2:6; 1 Cor. 15:25), and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

25 Q. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition (Lk. 2:7), made under the law (Gal. 4:4), undergoing the miseries of this life (Isa. 53:3), the wrath of God (Matt. 27:46), and the cursed death of the cross; (Phil. 2:8) in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time (Matt. 12:40).

26 Q. Wherein consists Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day (1 Cor. 15:4), in ascending up into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Mk. 16:19), and in coming to judge the world at the last day (Acts 17:31).

27 Q. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us (Jn. 1:12) by his Holy Spirit. (Tit. 3:5-6)

28 Q. How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us (Eph. 2:8), and by it uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling (Eph. 3:17).

29 Q. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit (2 Tim. 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Acts 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Acts 26:18), and renewing our wills (Ezek. 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel (Jn. 6:44-45).

30 Q. What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?
A. They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).

31 Q. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7), and accepts us as righteous in his sight (2 Cor. 5:21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Rom. 5:19), and received by faith alone (Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9).

32 Q. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace (1 Jn. 3:1), whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:17).

33 Q. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph. 4:24), and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Rom. 6:11).

34 Q. What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification (Rom. 5:1-2, 5), are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17), increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end (Prov. 4:18; 1 Jn. 5:13; 1 Pet. 1:5).

35 Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness (Heb. 12:23 and do immediately pass into glory, (Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Lk. 23:43), and their bodies, being still united to Christ (1 Thess. 4:14), do rest in their graves (Isa. 57:2) till the resurrection (Job 19:26).

36 Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory (1 Cor. 15:43), shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment (Matt. 10:32), and made perfectly blessed both in soul and body in the full enjoying of God (1 Jn. 3:2) to all eternity (1 Thess. 4:17).

37 Q. What shall be done to the wicked at their death?
A. The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Lk. 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection, and judgement of the great day (Ps. 49:14).

38 Q. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?
A. At the day of judgment the bodies of the wicked being raised out of their graves, shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments with the devil and his angels for ever (Dan. 12:2; Jn. 5:28-29; 2 Thess. 1:9; Matt. 25:41).

39 Q. What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God first revealed to man for his obedience, is the moral law (Deut. 10:4; Matt. 19:17), which is summarised in the ten commandments.

40 Q. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).

41 Q. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

42 Q. What is required in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment requires us to know (1 Chron. 28:9) and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God (Deut. 26:17), and to worship and glorify him accordingly (Matt. 4:10).

43 Q. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

44 Q. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requires the receiving, observing (Deut. 32:46; Matt. 28:20), and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances as God has appointed in his Word (Deut. 12:32).

45 Q. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbids the worshipping of God by images, (Deut. 4:15-16) or any other way not appointed in his Word (Col. 2:18).

46 Q. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.”

47 Q. What is required in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names (Ps. 29:2), titles, attributes (Rev. 15:3-4), ordinances (Eccl. 5:1), Word (Ps. 138:2), and works (Job 36:24; Deut. 28:58-59).

48 Q. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor they cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

49 Q. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12).

50 Q. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

51 Q. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

52 Q. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honour, and performing the duties belonging to every one in their various positions and relationships as superiors (Eph. 5:21-22; Eph. 6:1, 5; Rom. 13:1), inferiors (Eph. 6:9), or equals (Rom. 12:10).

53 Q. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity — as far as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good — to all such as keep this commandment (Eph. 6:2-3).

54 Q. Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.”

55 Q. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life (Acts 16:28), or the life of our neighbour unjustly (Gen. 9:6), or whatever tends to it (Prov. 24:11-12).

56 Q. Which is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

57 Q. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment forbids all unchaste thoughts (Matt. 5:28; Col. 4:6), words (Eph. 5:4; 2 Tim. 2:22), and actions (Eph. 5:3).

58 Q. Which is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is, “Thou shalt not steal.”

59 Q. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment forbids whatever does or may unjustly hinder our own (1 Tim. 5:8; Prov. 28:19; Prov. 21:6), or our neighbour’s wealth, or outward estate (Eph. 4:28).

60 Q. Which is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

61 Q. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man (Zech. 8:16), and of our own (1 Pet. 3:16; Acts 25:10), and our neighbour’s good name (3 Jn. 1:12), especially in witness-bearing (Prov. 14:5, 25).

62 Q. What is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, or his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.”

63 Q. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate (1 Cor. 10:10), envying or grieving at the good of our neighbour, (Gal. 5:26) and all inordinate emotions and affections to anything that is his (Col. 3:5).

64 Q. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No mere man, since the fall, is able in his life perfectly to keep the commandments of God (Eccl. 7:20), but does daily break them in thought, (Gen. 8:21) word (Jas. 3:8), and deed (Jas. 3:2).

65 Q. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of various aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others (Jn. 19:11; 1 Jn. 5:15).

66 Q. What does every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come (Eph. 5:6; Ps. 11:6).

67 Q. How may we escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16), trusting alone to his blood and righteousness. This faith is attended by repentance for the past (Acts 20:21) and leads to holiness in the future.

68 Q. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace (Heb. 10:39), whereby we receive (Jn. 1:12), and rest upon him alone for salvation (Phil. 3:9), as he is set forth in the gospel (Isa. 33:22).

69 Q. What is repentance to life?
A. Repentance to life is a saving grace (Acts 11:18), whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sins (Acts 2:37), and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ (Joel 2:13), does with grief and hatred of his sin turn from it to God (Jer. 31:18-19), with full purpose to strive after new obedience (Ps. 119:59).

72 Q. What are the outward means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are the Word, by which souls are begotten to spiritual life; Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Prayer, and Meditation, by all which believers are further edified in their most holy faith (Acts 2:41-42; Jas. 1:18).

73 Q. How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convicting and converting sinners, (Ps. 19:7) and of building them up in holiness and comfort (1 Thess. 1:6), through faith to salvation (Rom. 1:16).

74 Q. How is the Word to be read and heard that it may become effectual to salvation?
A. That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend to it with diligence (Prov. 8:34), preparation (1 Pet. 2:1-2), and prayer (Ps 119:18), receive it with faith (Heb. 4:2), and love (2 Thess. 2:10), lay it up into our hearts (Ps. 119:11), and practise it in our lives (Jas. 1:25).

75 Q. How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful?
A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful, not from any virtue in them, or in him who does administer them (1 Cor. 3:7; 1 Pet. 3:21), but only by the blessing of Christ (1 Cor. 3:6), and the working of the Spirit in those who by faith receive them (1 Cor. 12:13).

76 Q. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19), to be to the person baptised a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death, and burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12), of his being ingrafted into him (Gal. 3:27), of remission of sins (Mk. 1:4; Acts 22:16), and of his giving up himself to God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4-5).

77 Q. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God (Acts 2:38; Matt. 3:6; Mk. 16:16; Acts 8:12, 36-37; Acts 10:47-48), and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to none other.

78 Q. Are the infants of such as are professing to be baptised?
A. The infants of such as are professing believers are not to be baptised, because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures for their baptism (Exod. 23:13; Prov. 30:6).

79 Q. How is baptism rightly administered?
A. Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the person in water (Matt. 3:16; Jn. 3:23), in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, according to Christ’s institution, and the practice of the apostles (Matt. 28:19-20), and not by sprinkling or pouring of water, or dipping some part of the body, after the tradition of men (Jn. 4:1-2; Acts 8:38-39).

80 Q. What is the duty of such as are rightly baptized?
A. It is the duty of such as are rightly baptized, to give up themselves to some particular and orderly Church of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:47; 9:26; 1 Pet. 2:5), that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Lk. 1:6).

81 Q. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ; wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to his appointment, his death is shown forth (1 Cor. 11:23-26), and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace (1 Cor. 10:16).

82 Q. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?
A. It is required of them who would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body (1 Cor. 11:28-29), of their faith to feed upon him (2 Cor. 13:5), of their repentance (1 Cor. 11:31), love (1 Cor. 11:18-20), and new obedience, (1 Cor. 5:8) lest coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves (1 Cor. 11:27-29).

83 Q. What is meant by the words, “until he come,” which are used by the apostle Paul in reference to the Lord’s Supper?
A. They plainly teach us that our Lord Jesus Christ will come a second time; which is the joy and hope of all believers (Acts 1:11 1 Thess. 4:16).

http://newdemonstration.com/catechisms/a-puritan-catechism

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Why A Christian Should Be Encouraged
In Days of Difficulty

BECAUSE he has a Father in heaven who loves him, cares for him, and has blessed him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.  (John 16:27; Luke 12:22-28; Ephesians 1:3)  

BECAUSE he has a Great High Priest in heaven to sympathize with him, succor and support him, and to conduct him into the enjoyment of heavenly things.  (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16; 8:1-6)

BECAUSE he has a Great and Good Shepherd to lead him, care for him, protect him, and sustain him until the time when the Lord takes him home to glory.  (Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20-21)

BECAUSE he has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who pleads his cause and always prevails.  (1 John 1:8-10; 2:1)

BECAUSE he has a Divine Counselor to go to for counsel or advice at all times, who will give him understanding and lead him in the right path.  (Isaiah 9:6; Proverbs 3:5-6)

BECAUSE he has an Abiding Comforter (the Holy Spirit) to guide him in his understanding of the Word, to teach him spiritual truth, and to take of the things of Christ and show them unto him.
(John 14:16-17; 16:13-14)

BECAUSE he has a Throne of Grace to go to at all times where he can obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 5:14-15; Philippians 4:6-7)

BECAUSE he has the Holy Scriptures to search and study which testify of the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow; they also empower and transform him into Christ’s likeness.  (1 Peter 1:6-11;
1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:4-8)

BECAUSE angels minister unto him in response to his Heavenly Father’s command, being an heir of salvation.  (Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 103:17-21)

BECAUSE he is an heir to an incorruptible inheritance, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven, and is kept by the power of God until he comes into possession.  (1 Peter 1:3-5)

BECAUSE he has the interests of Christ and the work to which he has been called to engage him until the return of his Lord.  (Ephesians 6:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 1 Timothy 2:1-6)

BECAUSE he has before him the Blessed Hope of the Lord’s imminent return to catch away His saints to comfort him in times of difficulty.  (Titus 2:13; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:9-11)

IN CHRIST WE HAVE:

Love that can never be fathomed.
Life that can never die.
Union that can never be severed.
Righteousness that can never be tarnished.
Peace that can never be understood.
Joy that can never be diminished.
Hope that can never be disappointed.
Glory that can never be clouded.
Light that can never be darkened.
Purity that can never be defiled.
Beauty that can never be marred.
Wisdom that can never be baffled.
Resources that can never be exhausted.    

. . . Author Unknown!

http://www.scripturaltruths.org/

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