Saturday, June 25, 2011

Third Street Heralds

I would like to form an evangelism team that heralds the gospel on Saturday afternoons, at Third Street Promenade, in Santa Monica, CA. For more information, email me at: tony@livingwaters.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Read About the Beheading of Christians?

The following article, written by Pastor John Piper of Desiring God Ministries, is reprinted in its entirety, with the permission of John Piper and Desiring God Ministries.

World Magazine received a two-minute video of Islamic militants beheading a man for becoming a Christian. The article is called "Brutal Beheading." I hope many of you read it.

Why?

Because we can’t get into the reality of most of the Bible without some real emotional connection with terror. Every book of the New Testament has terror in it, something like a beheading. The situation in the first century, when these books were written, was more like Afghanistan than America.

Without the help of horrific news we will likely romanticize the New Testament. Some of you they will kill (Luke 21:16). Be faithful unto death and he will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

We are soft. Mentally and emotionally soft. The thought that we might one day be beheaded with a knife, not a sword, or might have to watch someone beheaded, is itself so traumatizing that we can scarcely allow ourselves to think about it.

The miracle of the peace of Jesus (John 14:27) that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), will appear as miraculous as it really is, when we experience it not by escaping this news, but by preparing for it, and trusting God in it.

Including when our own time comes.

~End of Article~

I agree with Pastor Piper. The American segment of the Body of Christ is, by and large, "mentally and emotionally soft." I think not only should the above article be read, but also the video watched, by American Christians, beginning with "youth groups."

Let those churches mired in mediocrity replace recreation with reality, and pizza parties with portraits of persecution. Yes, attendance may drop. But better that professing Christians in America be given the reality check of what it means, what it costs to deny one's self, take up their cross, and follow Christ than to let them to further deteriorate into a mass of people ill-prepared for the coming persecution.

Only an American Christian imitating an ostrich with its head in the sand would fail to see that the persecution of Christians is slowly making its way to the land of the free and the home of the brave--the country where television networks can now intentionally alter our nation's pledge to remove the mention of God, under the auspices of artistic patriotism.

While we may yet be some distance away from reaching the point of seeing Christian beheadings in this country, only intentional cultural blindness and comfortable societal ignorance would facilitate the intellectually dishonest perspective that Christians are not being or will not be persecuted in the United States.

Yes. I agree with Pastor John Piper. American Christians should read about the beheading of their Christian brethren in other parts of the world, before this level of persecution is brought to their doorsteps.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing

Monday, June 20, 2011

Comment Regulations

We are glad so many people (Christian and non-Christian) are reading this blog. Likewise, we are glad people choose to comment on the various articles. One need not be a Christian to post comments, here. Nor does one have to agree with the content of a given post in order to post a comment.

That being said, no comments will be posted to this blog that are blasphemous or irreverent. This includes writing the name of God, without capitalizing the first letter of His name or title. It matters not whether you believe God exists. This includes any derogatory comments made about God. This is a Christian blog where God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is exalted. Any attempt to blaspheme God or impugn His character will not be allowed on this blog. Chronic violators will be banned.

Sarcasm is an accepted tactic in debate and discussion. But some people just can't seem to play well with others. Comments that are sarcastic for no other purpose than to demean or insult others will not be allowed on this blog. Chronic violators will be banned.

Unfortunately, I have had to ban several people from commenting on this blog.

In the end, posting comments on this blog is a privilege, not a right. And those who moderate this blog have the authority and discretion to post or delete comments for the reasons already stated, or for any reason they deem appropriate.

The primary purpose of this blog is to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, to edify and equip followers of Christ, and to present the Law and the Gospel to the unsaved.

Thinking Highly of Christ

We can never make too much of Christ. Our thoughts about the Church, the ministry, and the sacraments, may easily become too high and extravagant. We can never have too high thoughts about Christ, can never love Him too much, trust Him too implicitly, lay too much weight upon Him, and speak too highly in His praise. He is worthy of all the honor that we can give Him. He will be all in heaven. Let us see to it, that He is all in our hearts on earth. ~ J.C. Ryle

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Michael Came Back


Last night I was blessed with the opportunity to join my good friend, David, and the Calvary Bible Church Evangelism Team at the Burbank Media Center. I was further blessed to have my daughter, Marissa, join me.

Before I stepped onto the box to preach, I looked around the media center and my mind was flooded with memories of the many Friday and Saturday nights of evangelism I enjoyed in this place, before I began my time of service at Living Waters. I thought of the several friends who would preach in the open-air for the first time, at this very spot. And I was filled with joy as I thought about the wonderful leader David has become--leading one of the very best evangelism teams in Southern California.

I used the death of Clarence Clemons as an introduction to Ecclesiastes 3:16-22, which was my primary text for the open-air.

There was no crowd to speak of, but the pedestrian traffic was constant and several people stopped to listen at a distance. Five young men were one group that stopped to listen from afar. I could tell they were listening as they periodically stopped their juvenile play-fighting and turned their eyes toward me.

As I finished preaching, I called to the group of young men and asked them if they had any questions. They seemed a little surprised that I called on them. They laughed and murmured among themselves. As they started to walk away, I called out to the one who seemed to be the leader of the group--a large young man wearing a bright blue t-shirt.

"You, in the blue shirt! I'm talking to you!"

He stopped and turned to look at me.

"That's right! You. I'm calling you out. Instead of murmuring to your friends, why don't you come over here and have a conversation with me. I want to hear what you think."

The group laughed and continued to walk away. In a final effort to get them to turn around, I said, "The Bible says that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. That same verse also says that the cowardly will have the same fate."

That got the group to stop, turn around, and talk amongst themselves for a few seconds. But they eventually continued to walk away.

I preached for a few more minutes, calling those within the sound of my voice to repent and believe the gospel. Then, I stepped down from the box, and walked to where Marissa was sitting.


Within moments, I found myself partially surrounded by the group of young men, led by the one in the blue t-shirt. He said, "You said you wanted to talk to me?" He was several inches taller than me and well-built. I would later learn he was only 16 and played center for the Hoover High School football team.

I extended my hand. "My name's Tony. What's yours?"

"Michael."

Dean, one of my fellow evangelists who was there last night, would later tell me that he thought there was going to be trouble with the group, seeing how they had surrounded me. I must admit, for a moment, I wondered the same thing. But the Lord had other plans.

"What do you think about what you heard me say?" I asked.

"I didn't hear anything." Michael said.

"You liar!" One of Michael's friends retorted. "You heard what he said!"

Michael smirked.

Michael was wearing an ornate silver cross on a silver chain, around his neck. I pointed to the cross and asked, "What does that mean to you? Why are you wearing that cross?"

"Because I'm a Christian."

"And what does that mean to you? There are a lot of different kinds of Christians in the world. The word 'Christian' means different things to different people. What does it mean to you?"

"It means I know Jesus and believe the Bible."

"I'm a Christian. But let's say I wasn't. And let's say that I had only three minutes to live and you knew it. What would you say to me?"

"You have three minutes to live, so, enjoy your life."

"That's it?  That's all you would say to me? You wouldn't care what would happen to me after I die? That doesn't sound like a Christian to me."

Michael didn't know what to say.

I asked Michael if he went to church. He said he attended "once in a while." I asked him if he was familiar with the Ten Commandments. He said he was, but he couldn't remember any of them.

I walked Michael through the Law. He admitted to being a liar, a thief, a blaphemer, an adulterer, and a murderer-at-heart. He came to the understanding that according to God's standard he was not a good person and would go to Hell if he died in his present spiritual condition.

"Michael, you're not a Chrisitian. You're wearing a cross around your neck but you do not know the one who died on the cross. If you were to die today you would stand before Christ and He would say to you, 'Depart from me. I never knew you.' And this is why I wanted you to come back and talk to me--so I could tell you this."

I shared the gospel with Michael and his friends, calling them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Michael, I gave you a hard time earlier because I care about you. I don't want you and your friends to go to Hell. I can't send you there, nor would I want to. But if I know the way to eternal life and I don't share it with you, that means I hate you. But I don't hate you. I may never see you again, but I care about you as human beings; and I don't want you to spend eternity in hell. Does that make sense?"

The young men quietly nodded their heads.

"Michael, do you have a Bible?"

"Yes."

"When was the last time you read it?"

"Never."

"Go home and open it to the Gospel of John, the fourth book of the New Testament. Read it. You will see that what I'm telling you is true."

Michael and I shook hands again and I wished the young men a good evening.

As the group slowly walked away, I thanked God that Michael came back.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

God Is Great!

I am presently discipling a young man in my church named Steven. Together, we are working our way through Paul Washer's "The One True God" (Third Edition, p. 31, 2009). Lesson Three begins with this wonderful attestation of the greatness of God.
There is only one God and He alone is great. All other beings and things are totally dependent upon His goodness and strength. If such is the case for even the most esteemed among men and angels, how could we ever attribute greatness to any being or thing other than God? A comparison should never be made between God and any other creature or thing. As the self-existent and infinite Creator, He is infinitely above His dependent and finite creation. The mightiest archangel is no closer to being like God than the tiniest microbe. God is incomparable. In the context of the body of believers, this truth is extremely important. There are no great men or women of God in the Scriptures or in Church history; but only weak, sinful, faithless men and women of a great and merciful God.

Yes, God, the only God, is great!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Love (A Poem by Emeal Zwayne)

The following poem, "Love," written by Emeal ("E.Z.") Zwayne, is based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a.

Love me not with words
Speak of patience
Show me haste
Speak of kindness
Show me meanness
What a waste, what a waste

“I’m not jealous”
Yet you envy
“I’m not boastful”
Yet you gloat
“I’m not rude”
“I’m not selfish”
Yet that’s not what you promote

Talk of calmness
Talk of peace
Walk in anger
Walk in rage
Talk forgiveness
Yet not cease
Holding grudges
Old with age

“I hate unrighteousness”
You say
Yet applaud it
Everyday
“I hate lies”
Yet devise
Sneaky schemes
And foul play

“I’ll stick it through with you”
“Believe in you”
“And hope the best”
Yet in the time of trouble
This was not at all expressed

So love me not with words
For words shall not prevail
Love me in deed and truth
For true love shall not fail

The A-Z of Evangelism

By Emeal ("E.Z.") Zwayne

Awake & Alert

Brave and Bold

Confident, Calm, & Cool

Don’t be Doubtful & Don’t Dabble with the Devil’s Deception

Exceed Expectations with Extreme Excellence in Everything

Firm yet Friendly

Give Glory to God

Humble and Honest

Investigative & Insightful so that your message is Intelligent and

Interesting

Justice, Judgment, & then Jesus

Keep up Kindness

Let out Lots of Love and Light

Make your Message Meaningful and Memorable

Nice yet Not Naïve

Overflow with Optimism

Pile none of your Precious, Priceless Pearls in the Pig Pen

Quit the Quarreling

Read His Radical, Remarkable, Reliable, Reasonable, Readable,
Revolutionary Revelation

Supplicate Seriously for Saints & Sinners

Totally Tactful

Urge for Unction in Utterance

View Victory and Vengeance as the Lord’s

Witness Willingly to Whosever

Xantocreatinine with Xyphoid and Xyleane (which means nothing)

Yearn Yet Yield

Zealous, not “Zealot”

Observation, The Analogy of the Faith, and a Glass of Wine (Part 1)

We received the following question from Munene Kiruja (CA), an "On the Box" viewer.

The Question
Hello Soldiers of the LORD,

I heard Mark Spence give some pretty neutral comments about drinking wine on the show today.

I would like to hear what message about this topic he (or anyone else there) gets from Prov 31:4-9, or even Prov 20:1 among others. Or Noah's example.

How can we endorse something that impairs your judgment to know when to stop, knowing that if we fail to stop it also leads to great ruin?
My Personal Practices, Feelings, and Presuppositions

By way of disclosure, allow me to share my personal practices, feelings, and presuppositions as they pertain to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

I don't drink alcoholic beverages. I never have, even before coming to faith in Jesus Christ. While I've tasted champagne and beer, Mahria and I toasted with 7-Up at our wedding. Again, that was before either of us came to faith in Jesus Christ. Frankly, I don't like the taste.

I don't drink alcoholic beverages because I've seen what drunkenness and alcoholism has done to members of my family, and it has forever left a negative image in my mind.

As a deputy sheriff, I dealt with too many obnoxious, vomiting, self-soiled, belligerent, violent drunkards (both men and women) on the streets and in the back seat of my patrol car to have any desire to consume that which led them to their pitiful state. This is not to say that all people who become intoxicated behave in the before-mentioned ways. Nor is this to say that everyone who drinks gets drunk. But I've seen all of these sinful behaviors (and others) in drunken people, so that's enough for me. Whenever I smell beer, I'm taken back to some of those less than pleasant memories.

As a deputy sheriff and a chaplain I had to knock on the doors of too many homes late at night to tell too many people their loved one(s) would never come home as a result of the careless, selfish, indifferent, and criminal actions of someone who decided to climb behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated. How many times have I done this, you may ask? Does it matter? I did it a number of times, and one was too many.

I have a number of Christian friends that drink alcoholic beverages. The fact that they do imbibe has no bearing on our friendship. My friendship and fellowship with other Christians is not based on our individual positions regarding this issue.

Arguments and Hermeneutic Principles

In this two-part article, I hope to make two primary points: 1) the Bible neither commands nor condemns the consumption of alcoholic beverages, by Christians. Therefore, in the end, it is a matter of one's individual conscience; and 2) while the Christian can consume alcoholic beverages (so long as the result is not drunkenness), there are good biblical reasons for the Christian to abstain from this particular liberty.

In order to make the above arguments, I will employ a couple of important hermeneutic (Bible study) principles. One is "observation." The other is "the analogy of the faith."

The principle of "observation" is executed by trying to determine the answers to at least three questions regarding any given verse or passage of Scripture: what does the verse or passage say; what doesn't the verse or passage say; and what questions come to mind as a result of a simple reading of the text. Observation is distinct from and preliminary to interpretation in that the student is not, at this point in the study process, trying to determine the God-inspired, writer-intended meaning of the text.

The principle of "the analogy of the faith," which is part of the interpretive process, is understood as follows: the best way to determine the meaning of unclear passages of Scripture is by looking to clear passages of Scripture, on the same topic. In other words, let Scripture interpret Scripture.

The topic we’re looking at in this article is a good example of why these two hermeneutical principles are so important to a right understanding of Scripture.

The Bible neither commands nor condemns the consumption of alcoholic beverages, by Christians.

The first passage to which the viewer who submitted the above question refers in an effort to make a case against the consumption of alcoholic beverages is Proverbs 31:4-9.

"It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy" (Proverbs 31:4-9).

A key word in this passage is "forget." And it is also important to note that in this passage is a contrast between kings and those who are "perishing" (condemned).

It was not uncommon for condemned criminals to be given an alcoholic concoction to dull their minds and prepare them for execution.

Kings, on the other hand, are encouraged to be careful when consuming alcoholic beverages "lest they drink and forget what has been decreed." Looking at the above passage in its proper context, the writer of the proverb is not issuing a mandate from God against the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Rather, the sage is issuing a strong warning against drunkenness. For an intoxicated king is one who could very well make bad decisions while inebriated.

The above passage provides a warning to leaders against consuming strong drink. The above passage does not issue a command against Christians consuming strong drink.

The next Scripture reference the viewer uses to support their position is Proverbs 20:1. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise."

The key phrase in this verse is 'led astray by it [alcohol]."

Again, the emphasis of this verse is not on the mere consumption of alcoholic beverages. Rather, the emphasis is upon consumption to the point of intoxication--drunkenness. There is a distinct difference between the consumption of strong drink and being led astray or controlled by that which is being consumed.

Lastly, the viewer appealed to what was likely Noah's most embarrassing moment to support their case for a biblical prohibition against the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

“Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard he drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.” ~ Genesis 9:20-23

The key phrase in this passage is "he drank of the wine and became drunk." Again, it was not Noah's consumption of wine that was sinful. It was his consumption to the point of intoxication which was both sinful and led to his embarrassment and the cursing of one of his sons.

A common mistake by those who practice eisegesis (forcing a desired presupposition or meaning upon a text of Scripture) instead of exegesis (the art of applying sound hermeneutic principles to draw the true meaning from a text of Scripture) is assigning imperative commands of God to the narrative stories of His Word. Certainly there are life lessons to be learned from reading the narrative passages of Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments, and there are times when narrative passages contain commands of Almighty God. But unless the biblical characters in a narrative passage are articulating specific commands of God, it ought not be immediately assumed by the reader that God is either commanding or condemning behaviors chronicled in such narrative passages.

Interestingly (at least to me) is that while the above scriptures cannot be used to show the Bible condemns the consumption of alcoholic beverages, I will return to these same passages (and others) to make the case that while prohibition of the activity is not biblically-based, abstinence from the activity is. But before I do that (see Part 2), let's employ "the analogy of faith" principle to further sustain the argument that there is no biblical prohibition against the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

There is a plethora of passages in the Word of God that show that the mere consumption of alcoholic beverages, such as wine, so long as the consumption of such beverages does not result in drunkenness, is not sinful.

"And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, 'This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.' For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, 'Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.' So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, 'Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved' (Nehemiah 8:9-11).

After the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt,under Nehemiah's superior leadership (I'm standing next to the wall in the photo), the people of Israel gathered to hear what they had not heard for many, many years--the public reading of the Law of God. Ezra the scribe had the distinct honor of heralding God's Word that day (Nehemiah 8:1-8). The people stood in the square near the Water Gate from early morning to mid-day, listening attentively to the Word of God. How sad it is that so many pastors these days fear preaching for more than thirty minutes on a Sunday morning--fearing their congregations may grow bored or frustrated. But I digress.

Once the reading of God's Word was complete a gifted politician, a godly penman, and the gathered priests exhorted the people to stop mourning and, instead, to celebrate what was a holy day. And in their celebration the people were encouraged to party--to consume good food and good wine. In fact, not only were they to eat, drink and be merry, but they were also instructed to make sure to provide food and wine for any of their neighbors who might lack such party trimmings.

It should be obvious to even the casual reader of the above passage of Scripture that had the mere consumption of wine been sinful in the eyes of God the godly leadership of the people of Israel would not have encouraged the people to sin by consuming wine.

"Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do" (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

John Gill's commentary on this verse is helpful.
Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; which includes all things necessary and convenient, and which should be used and enjoyed freely and cheerfully; not barely for refreshment, but recreation; not for necessity only, but for pleasure; yet with moderation, not to excess; and with thankfulness to God; and the rather joy and mirth should mix with these things, since to a good man they are in love. It may be observed that it is said "thy bread and thy wine", thine own and not another's; what is got by labour, and in an honest way, and not by rapine and oppression, as Alshech observes; what God in his providence gives, our daily food, what is convenient for us, or is our portion and allotment.
"Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow, making you desolate because of your sins. You shall eat, but not be satisfied, and there shall be hunger within you; you shall put away, but not preserve, and what you preserve I will give to the sword. You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine" (Micah 6:13-15).

Part of God's judgment against the wicked would be that they would not enjoy the wine made from their own vineyards. If the consumption of wine is prohibited by God, then why would keeping the people from wine be a form of judgment? The judgment in the above passage is clear. God would make his people toil without receiving the benefits of their labor, one of the benefits being wine.

In fact, the prophet Amos tells the people of Israel that wine would be part of the blessing of the restoration of Israel. "I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit" (Amos 9:14).

The next three verses are not only an application of "the analogy of faith," but also serve as examples of the observation principle--specifically, regarding what the verses do not say.

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).

"Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain" (1 Timothy 3:8).

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good" (Titus 2:3).

While some may try to use these verses to support a prohibition against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, to do so would be to ignore what the verses do not say. None of the above verses prohibits the consumption of alcohol. What they prohibit in relation to the consumption of alcoholic beverages is drunkenness and addiction.

And we cannot leave this part of the discussion without citing what is probably the most significant passage of Scripture to refute the notion that the Bible prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now." This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Now before you rush to fill the comment text box with the argument that the wine in Jesus' day was really just grape juice with a little kick, you should know that the Bible makes a distinction between grape juice and wine.
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins (Numbers 6:2-4, emphasis mine).
If the consumption of alcoholic beverages is sinful in God's eyes, then God in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ, would not have provided the wedding party with more wine. Does any follower of Christ believe that the incarnate God-Man would choose as His first recorded miracle the turning of water into wine if the mere consumption of wine is sinful? And let it not be argued that the God-Man used the miracle to tempt fallible people, for God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13).

While there is no all-encompassing prohibitions in the Bible against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, I did find a few specific groups of people in the Bible to whom such a prohibition applies. They were: Aaron and his descendants (the Levitical priesthood) while serving in the Tabernacle (Leviticus 10:8-11); Old Testament priests when he enters the inner court of the Temple (Ezekiel 44:21); and those committed to the Nazirite Vow (Numbers 6:1-21).

While the Christian can consume alcoholic beverages (so long as the result is not drunkenness), there are good biblical reasons for the Christian to abstain from this particular liberty. And that brings us to the second point of this article, which I will share in Part 2.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Short-term Amnesty

“Ray, I've been listening to the Living Waters podcasts and it's given me an insight as to how sly and underhanded your preaching can be. I think it was Kirk who was going through the good person test and if someone answered in the wrong way than he wanted to hear, there's a back-up plan to prove that the person is wrong. It's not a test, it's a trap, a condemnation...The self-assuredness that your friends show appears to be dishonest.” 
My atheist friend hit the nail on the head. It is "a condemnation." However, it's not dishonest. Think of it like this. You are a devious criminal who refuses to give up his evil lifestyle, because you don't see it as being "evil." You consider lawlessness to be an exciting lifestyle. Besides, you've never been caught by the police. Not once. 

I'm a police officer who has the difficult task of telling you about a special short-term amnesty, offered by the Chief of Police. You have a certain amount of time to surrender your weapons and change your lifestyle. After the door of amnesty closes there will be a big bust, and when that comes there will be no mercy, especially in the light of your ignoring the offer of amnesty. I have no alternative but to show you that you are already condemned with no way of escape, and that you would be a fool to neglect the offer of amnesty. 

As a Christian, the only (and not very pleasant) way to convince you of your terrible danger is to point out the seriousness of your crimes against God....that you have "eyes full of adultery" and that lying lips are an abomination to Him. This is done by taking you through the moral Law (the Ten Commandments). You must be convinced that you are an enemy of God...that you hate Him "without cause," to the point of foolishly denying His very existence. 

If you refuse to surrender to Jesus Christ and take advantage of God's incredible offer of amnesty (escape Hell and live forever), you will come under the deserved condemnation of His Law. The Bible says that you are already condemned (see John 3:17-18, 36). 

There are three ways to know if I'm speaking the truth: 

1. The very second you pass into eternity you will realize what a fool you have been to neglect the Savior, because you will know that it's too late to cry "God help me!!" 

2. At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when the heavens depart and He comes in flaming fire "to render His anger with fury and His rebuke with flames of fire." 

3. Upon your repentance and faith in Jesus. Obey the gospel and God with reveal Himself to you (see John 14:21), and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. The gospel I am privileged to preach is backed by the power of God. The atheistic philosophy you have is backed by less than nothing.



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Everyone Knows.....

Everyone knows when human life begins. Doctors know. The U.S. Congress knows. Planned Parenthood knows. Babies aren't murdered in the womb as a result of ignorance. Babies are murdered in the womb because other human beings make a premeditated choice to murder unborn children.

And the difference between Hitler's decision to murder the Jews and the decision made by people today to murder or support the murder of unborn children? Simple...

...The age of the victim.

How To Talk With Atheists

The Sensitive Issue of Homosexuality

The world may ask, "What's wrong with being transsexual, bisexual, or homosexual? After all, people can't help the way they are born." Do you have a ready answer? This line of reasoning may help you lead the questioner to the truth.

To answer this question, let me ask you another question. Are there such things as moral absolutes? Is there an absolute right and an absolute wrong? Is murder wrong? Is it ever morally okay to murder another human being? Is rape wrong? When would it be morally right to rape a woman? Is pedophilia wrong? If you say these things are absolutely wrong, the next question is, Who says that they are wrong? From where do you get this moral compass that determines if something is right, or if it's wrong?

If you leave God and the Ten Commandments out of the picture, you will more than likely say that these practices are wrong because society says they are. It is the majority that rules. If that's what you believe, then you have to concede that what Hitler did was morally okay. He killed eleven million people—six million Jews, and the rest were homosexuals, gypsies, blacks, Jehovah's Witnesses, the mentally and physically handicapped, and anyone else who disagreed with him. Hitler did what he did with the sanction of the German people. He was voted in as the supreme ruler, and what he did was therefore legal. So according to your philosophy what he did wasn't wrong. That's the corner into which we paint ourselves, if we say that morality is determined by the majority. We believe that might is right.

Before 1962, the crime of sodomy was a felony in every state in the U.S., punishable by a long term in prison, often with hard labor. The majority said that sodomy was extremely wrong, but society's perception toward it has radically changed.

The problem with a society that has no moral absolutes is that it predictably slides down a path of degeneration. It doesn't become morally better; it becomes worse. Nazism and pedophilia become the norm, and consequently, the Bible is hated because it condemns any form of immorality. It tells us that there are moral absolutes; that it is always wrong to murder, rape, and commit adultery; and that God will bring to judgment all those who violate those precepts. It seems a statement of their absolute and unchanging nature, that God Himself wrote the Ten Commandments in stone. Then He added that we violate them by mere thought. If we hate someone, we are a murderer; if we lust, we commit adultery in the heart.

I have often said that the city in which I live doesn't really have a smog problem. Each day I walk outside into the fresh morning air, the sky is blue and the air is clean. All around me, though, I can see a brown haze on the horizon—it is the cities around us that have a smog problem. We certainly don't.

But if I get to 10,000 feet in a plane and look down on the area, I can see a brown smog covering the whole of Los Angeles. When I'm in it, I don't see it, but when I'm above it I can see all things clearly. Look now at the smog of sin, from God's high point of view:
The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one. (Psalm 14:2,3)
From our low viewpoint, there are many good people. But when we see it from God's point of view, we see ourselves in truth. Again, in God's eyes adultery is always wrong. Rape is always wrong. Murder is always and absolutely wrong. So is lust, hatred, lying, stealing, greed, ingratitude to God, and blasphemy. All these things are morally wrong, even though society may say that they are acceptable because they have become normal modern human behavior. So, is homosexuality morally wrong in God's eyes? This is God's point of view:
Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9,10)
Homosexuals are "born that way." We are all born with a sinful nature. All of us are born with a propensity to steer into adultery, lying, stealing, fornication, homosexuality, etc. We are born sinners, and that's why we must be "born again." When we are born of the Spirit of God (see John chapter 3) we will have God's normal—desires that please Him.

So, how can you inoffensively tell a homosexual the good news that he can have everlasting life, without offending him? How do you convince him that he must repent of all sin (including his homosexuality) and trust in Jesus alone? The answer is in this verse:
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (1 Timothy 1:8–10)
When the Bible speaks here of "the law" it is referring to the Moral Law—the Ten Commandments. This is what Jesus used in Mark 10:17 and Paul used in Romans 2:20 to show sinners the nature of sin. If you take the time to do what Jesus and Paul did, and take a homosexual through the Ten Commandments, you can convince him (with God's help) that he is a sinner—a liar, a thief, and a blasphemer—who is in desperate need of a Savior or he will justly end up in Hell. And you haven't even mentioned homosexuality; and the reason you have done this is because "the law is not made for a righteous person, but…for sodomites…"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sye TenBruggencate "On The Box"