Friday, September 30, 2011

Cannonballs Are Not Always Funny

This morning fellow blogger and friend, Frank Turk, shared a video on Twitter. Here it is:



For the record: Frank did not find the video humorous.

The video, posted just nine hours prior to the writing of this article, already has more than 29,000 views. The person who uploaded the video included this description:
Getting baptized is one of THE most important acts a Christian will make in their life. This little guy was so excited to make this proclamation that he quite literally jumps for joy. While our hearts shall be fixed on Christ, we should all have this kind of enthusiasm and joy when entering the Kingdom of Christ! Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. Luke 6:23
A plethora of first impressions, thoughts, and questions filled my mind as I watched the video--none of them good. And I realize that all of my first impressions could be wrong. It's easy, sometimes too easy, to comment about some of the ridiculous things that are put on the Internet.

So, after taking a little time to calm down after watching the video more than once, I would like to preface the rest of this article with the following:

It's obvious, even to the untrained eye, that the pastor in the video was not pleased with what the boy did. In fact, the pastor makes it clear at the end of the video that what had just happened would never happen again.

The video doesn't show the aftermath of the boy's stunt. Was he disciplined by his parents? Was he counseled by the pastor? One can hope. None of us uninvolved, third party viewers know the answers to these questions.

Many of the commentators on the video's page insist the boy was merely expressing his joy in the Lord. The video is neither an affirmation of the boy's joy in the Lord, nor is it evidence that the boy is a false convert. It may be true that he is nothing more than an immature boy who was expressing the joy of knowing Christ. Or it may be true that the boy is lost and is the product of the "trite, Christless, 'fun & games' mentality of so many churches (not all) youth ministries). Again, having nothing more than the video from which to draw conclusions, viewers who do not know the boy, personally, cannot draw a conclusion either way.

I have no idea who the person is who posted the video or how he came about the footage. Is he a member of the church, or not? I don't even know if the person is a man or a woman. What I do know is this. He (or she) performed a novice's level of interpretation to his citation of Luke 6:23. The interpretation given for Luke 6:23 isn't even a good attempt at eisegesis, which is an errant approach to the Scriptures.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. ~ Luke 6:22-23
The verse the person who posted the video cited has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the joy one feels when they come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The actual context and meaning is rather obvious. In the above passage, Jesus encouraged his disciples to consider with joy the blessing of being persecuted for the Lord's sake (see also Acts 5:41; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 4:14-16).

Sadly, however, so many American Christians handle the Word of God with utter carelessness, concerned not with what a passage or verse of Scripture actually means, but rather concerned only with what they think about the verse and how their chosen misinterpretation makes them feel about themselves. The way many American Christians, from pulpit to pew, handle the Word of God is irreverent--which brings me to the point of this article: the irreverence of the American Church.

Irreverence: "disrespect, impertinence, mockery, derision, lack of respect, impudence, flippancy."

What the boy did by jumping into the baptismal font, whether motivated by a joyful heart or juvenile mischievousness, was an irreverent act. The boy showed a lack of respect toward both his pastor and His Savior (assuming he is, in fact, saved). He also showed both flippancy and mockery toward the ordinance of baptism. And the congregation approved of and participated in the boy's sin with their laughter.

While hindsight is 20/20 and it is sometimes easier to make tough, spur-of-the-moment decisions from the armchair than in the midst of a difficult situation, were I the pastor (and I was thinking biblically at that critical moment of surprise) I would have prevented the boy from being baptized--at least at that time. I would have taken the opportunity to publicly (but gently) rebuke the boy for his public, shameful act and rebuke the congregation (not so gently) for finding it funny. That sad and irreverent moment in the church, during what was presumably a time of worship, should have been a time of solemn teaching to the church family regarding the biblical meaning of baptism and the sin of irreverence toward God.

As shameful and disappointing as the above video is, I thank God that not all churches in America are irreverent toward God, His Word, worship, and His ordinances. I'm reminded of churches like Grace Community Church, pastored by John MacArthur, where many Sunday evening services are dedicated, in part, to the testimony and baptisms of new believers. At churches like Grace, you will never see a child cannonball his way into the baptismal font. The antics of a child would never be the central point of attention, or the memory with which the congregation would be left. No. Christ and Him crucified--Christ and Him glorified through the testimony, obedience, and faith of His people--is what the congregation would remember.

Segments of the American Church need to wake up to the blasphemous levels of irreverence they are presenting to God as worship. They are tantamount to the strange and unauthorized fire offered by the sons of Aaron (Leviticus 10:1-3). While many American Christians are right now "yuckin' it up" over this video now gone viral, what they should be doing is repenting of finding humor in irreverence.

Cannonballs are not always funny.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Twitteneutics - Day 8

Here's what I've gleaned during my time in God's Word, this evening.

There are times, especially when dealing with unbelievers, that it is appropriate to answer a question with a question (Mark 11:27-33).

To have unbelievers in your "worship band," to serve in the church, or to step into the pulpit is sinful (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Repent American Church!

If the world doesn't hate you it is because what you believe is inconsistent with the Bible, or you are born again and no one knows it (1 Jn 3:13).

Christian author: If the lost, secular world loves your book, then one thing is certain. Your book is inconsistent with THE BOOK (1 Jn 4:5-6).

If you do not hate evil, you do not fear the Lord. And if you do not fear the Lord, you do not know the Lord (Prov. 8:13). Repent!

Too often Proverbs 8:17 is used as an evangelistic verse. The verse is a call to seek wisdom, not an altar call. Be careful with God's Word.

The Lord hears the prayers of His children. He numbers our days. He is sovereign over every aspect of life. God is good (Isa. 38:1-6).

"America: The Modern-Day Valley of Slaughter"

Last Saturday, just before the release of Living Waters' documentary 180, I had the privilege, honor, and blessing of joining the men of Grace Bible Church of Bakersfield, for their monthly men's breakfast. After a wonderful meal and time of fellowship, I preached from Jeremiah 7:1-8:3. The Message: "America: The Modern-Day Valley of Slaughter."

In the message, I point out the parallels between Israel of 2,600 years ago and America of today. One of the most striking parallels is how both nations, with reckless abandon, with wanton disregard for the Word and Law of God, and with depraved indifference to the lives of children, sacrificed their children to the worship of false gods.

America is a modern-day Valley of Slaughter because it murders unborn children at the rate of 1 every 21 seconds. America's love affair with abortion makes our nation no different than ancient Israel who, as an idolatrous and adulterous nation, sacrificed her children to the false gods Molech and Baal.

I hope this message serves the Lord and His people as a word of conviction and encouragement, and a call to  both repentance and action in the fight for the unborn.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"What I Do With My Body Is Between Me and My God!"

At the time of this post, we have received more than 700 emails via the "feedback" feature of the 180movie.com website. The vast majority of the messages are extremely positive, with some of them being so moving as to bring me to tears--messages like this one:
I once thought the same way as the others in this movie but through those like you that planted the seed God took over and has been changing my life ever since. I have had abortions, yes more than one. I wish so much now that it would've been illegal. I was pushed into it by sexual sin. I had so many people tell me it was the right thing to do. Big mistake. I have a wonderful nine-year-old son, now, and just the thought of him never having a voice, never making it into my arms, brings me to tears. God has rules for our own good. God always makes a way for us, and my son has changed me for the better, and he has changed my life. When I had my son I realized what a huge sacrifice God made for us, to send his only Son to be tortured, and made to die on a cross . . . I choose life with the guidance of my Savior, I chose to follow the God that knows my sinful heart and loves me anyway . . . When I'm am asked about my beliefs, my religion, I simply say, "I am forgiven and grateful, thank you Jesus--the only one who died for me."
Or this one:
I've had multiple abortions and I've heard abortion compared to the Holocaust before. But, I've never understood why. I've avoided discussing or advocating on any side of the issue for many years. This video has been popping up all over Facebook. I finally clicked on the link. I am a history buff with a passion for WWII. My attention was immediately grabbed. As soon as the switch to abortion began I wanted to stop watching, but I couldn't. Part of me needed to keep watching. I don't know what to do with this information, but I think it is changing the way I view these things. I might need to watch it again. That's something I never thought I'd say.
Note: when we receive emails like the one above, we make contact with the person via email to provide encouragement and to share the gospel with them.

We also receive messages that leave you scratching your head, as the ignorance of people around the world is brought into plain view. Like this one:
We loved you movie and watched it as it made it's debut all the way over in Thailand. In Chiang Mai, the city where we live and work, a local school created quite a stir when it's students were encouraged to come to school dressed as Adolf Hitler and Nazi soldiers. Thanks for your AMAZING, God honoring work.
And, as expected, along with the "good" messages, we have also received a number of messages that could be categorized as "bad" and "ugly."

We received the following message via the "feedback" feature of the 180movie.com website, from Dee Marrow-Zane:
I am amazed and disgusted that the holocaust is being compared to pro-choice legislation in this country. Really? I'm pretty sure there aren't enough characters available in this box for me to even begin to address the flawed logic in this "documentary." Worse yet - you have advertised it as a piece about remembering the holocaust, and instead it is pro-life propaganda at it's sleaziest. I am a woman, a Christian and a mother. I vote, and I will NEVER elect a person into office who thinks that MY BODY should be legislated by the government. What I do with my body is between me and my God. I am also German - raised by a grandmother who fled Nazi Germany during WW2. This is a disgustingly misleading piece of propaganda. Hitler would be proud of you.
Dee's response is not remarkable when compared to other messages we have received from folks who use the same shrill rhetoric--claiming the video is illogical while refusing to apply any logic in their response. So, I'm not going to address most of Dee's complaints.

What stood out to me in Dee's message, and the subject of today's Vlog, is the following statement:
I am a woman, a Christian and a mother. I vote, and I will NEVER elect a person into office who thinks that MY BODY should be legislated by the government. What I do with my body is between me and my God.
In the following video, I will question Dee's assertions and give what I believe are biblical answers to those assertions.

For further study: Exodus 20:4-6; Isaiah 5:20; Matthew 7:15-20; John 15:1-11; Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 John 2:8-11

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Twitteneutics - Day 7

Here's what I've gleaned during my time in God's Word, this evening.

I can relate to Peter (act/speak now, think later Peter). Sometimes it is better to just be quiet and stand in awe of God (Mark 9:6).

Only the God-Man could have such perfect knowledge of how the Son of Man would die and rise again. Jesus is God (Mark 9:30-32)!

If you are not engaged in persuading others to repent and believe the gospel, could it be you don't truly know the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:11)?

Christian: Have you stopped today to thank God for the great exchange that took place on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21)?

Any man who enters court to defend himself has a fool for a client. So, too, is the man who thinks he will do the same before God (1 Jn. 2:1).

If you believe God is "all-loving," as the term is often used, you know not the God of the Bible. God is love. AND He is Justice (Job 37:23-24).

God does NOT help those who help themselves. He helps those whom He saves and those who take refuge in Him (Psalm 37:39-40).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Twitteneutics - Day 6

Here's what I've gleaned during my time in God's Word, this evening.

What a benevolent and loving King (Mark 8:1-9)!

Mark 8 is such a wonderful chapter. In it's 38 verses, Jesus is seen as Priest, Prophet, Physician, and King. Worship Him!

Atheists and other unbelievers are not stupid. They are blind and like it (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

More reason to believe "your best life now" and messages like it are not of God and utterly devoid of any real hope (2 Cor. 4:7-18).

Men: Before you like to the right, to the left, and behind you--before you go to a website no godly man should go--take heed (Prov. 5:20-23)!

How Do I encourage a Grieving Unbeliever?

I received the following question from Kristi Graydon. Kristi attends Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH. Kristi is studying "Comprehensive Bible" at this well-known Christian university. Kristi asks:

Hey Tony! There have been several of my classmates here at Cedarville University with friends back home who are not believers and have had deaths in the family, and that got me thinking: if I were in their situation what I would say to my friend whose unbelieving parent passed away?

I'm curious as to what you would say or how you would handle that kind of situation. I know that I'd want to show compassion, listen to my friend, and do my best to be there for them; but at the same time, I wouldn't want to miss out on an opportunity to share the truth of the Gospel with them.

I'm so unsure how to handle a situation like this because I don't particularly want to ever just say that their loved one is justly in Hell, because that isn't going to be comforting or a way to really reach that person. Maybe my thinking needs adjusted. But anyway, I'm just curious how you'd handle a situation such as this.

Thank you!
Great question, Kristi. It's one I've been asked many times and one we've addressed on the show. But it's worth talking about, again.

As a deputy sheriff and chaplain (now retired) for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, I faced the situation you address in your question many times. Regardless of how many times I dealt with people in the midst of tragedy and grief, it never got easier. But, there is most certainly a way to present the law and the gospel to unbelievers who are grieving.

I hope the following video is an encouragement to you and your classmates. And for further study:

Job 1:1-2:10; Psalm 139:13-16; Luke 13:1-5; Romans 8:28-29

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Call to Action!

Tomorrow is one of the most important days in the history of Living Waters. Tomorrow, we officially released our new documentary, 180. What an honor, privilege, and blessing to be part of this--if even in a very small way. What an honor to serve alongside the men and women of the Living Waters family--all of whom contributed in some way to the making and now distribution of this important documentary.

The gestation period of this documentary was literally nine months--from January to September 2011, from inception to release. Labor was very difficult at times. Countless hours of prayer, many sleepless nights, meetings, conversations, consultations, review and editing and more review and editing of the footage, and more prayer.

And now, the time has come to release the documentary to the world and to watch the Spirit of God move. We, at Living Waters, fully-believe the Lord will use this documentary for His glory as unborn children around the world are spared a hideous, murderous death and souls are converted to genuine repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are already receiving reactions to the documentary from Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and email. As you can imagine, the reactions range from good, bad, to ugly. One comment we received via YouTube really touched my heart. Heather wrote:
I wish I had seen this when I was 17 and scared. I miss my baby so much! Abortion IS the second holocaust.
Another comment left on the YouTube page read:
Tears in my eyes as I watch this.......People say it is the woman's choice but what about the child's choice to live, from the moment of conception, it is a baby and it has rights......I am so thankful for our Lord, a Lord who is forgiving when we ask for forgiveness, a Lord who can forgive all sins and a Lord who loves us despite our past mistakes.
While the production of the documentary was an incredibly laborious undertaking, I think I can safely say that my brethren at Living Waters will agree when I assert the following. Now, the heavy lifting begins. Now, is when the work gets really tough.

And now is when we need your help the most. How can you help?

1. Spread the Word

While the documentary is available for viewing on YouTube, it is imperative you point people to view the documentary on the 180 Movie website. This main site serves as not only a viewing platform, but also a portal to another very important site--HeartChanger. There, people who have been impacted by abortion, or those who are contemplating having an abortion, can find excellent resources where they can receive the love, care, and support they need.

Go to the Get Involved page of the 'HeartChanger website. There you will find many action steps you can take to help spread the word about this life-saving, life-changing documentary.

2. Blog About '180'

If you are a blogger like me, then I implore you to talk about '180' on your blog. If you do, it is very important that you link to 180movie.com with one or more of the following keywords: "Pro-Life" "Prolife" "Adoption" "Abortion" "Prochoice" "Pro-Choice." Here's a sample text:
If you are viewing my blog, you probably support adoption like our family does.

This past month, I viewed an amazing documentary. I am excited to say it's available for the general public to view. Please take 30 minutes to sit down and watch this. I promise you 180Movie will be life-changing and you'll want to share it with everyone you know. It may cause your friends and family to make a 180 in their beliefs about abortion.

After watching it, I hope you'll post your comments here about who you shared it with. Share it with people you know that are not pro-life. Like the people in this documentary, they may do a 180 from being pro-choice to an unwavering pro-life view. To find out more about this amazing documentary, visit the 180 Movie."
NOTE: It is not necessary to link individual keywords more than once in your blog article. I did that in the above sample text just to provide an example.

Blogging about '180' in this way will help move the 180 website up in the Google search engine. If we can get 100 or more bloggers to post about '180' using one or more of the before-mentioned keywords, it could result in literally millions of visits to the site.

2. Distribute the DVD

If you purchase ten or more copies of the documentary, your cost is only $1 each. Purchase as many as you can to distribute to your neighbors. You can also purchase the documentary to distribute on college and university campuses, as well as outside high school campuses (from public sidewalks).

3. Tell Us Your Story

If you've watched the documentary and it has changed the way you think about the murder of the unborn, or if you have any other kind of testimony related to either the documentary or the issue of abortion, we want to hear from you. Go to the HeartChanger site and click on the "I Did A 180" button.

4. Partner With Us

The production of the '180' documentary was not only a huge undertaking for the Living Waters family, but it was also a huge step of faith. While many have stepped forward to help financially support the production and the world-wide distribution of '180,' there is still much work to do. We need your help. Please prayerfully consider extending your generosity to include financially partnering with us to put '180' into the hands of millions (even billions) of people around the world.

5. Pray

Yes, pray for us. You can only imagine the level of vitriol and outright hatred we have already received for daring to produce this documentary. The temporal and spiritual attack is intense. And it is only going to get worse.

Later this year, with the help of more than 1,000 committed Christians, we will distribute more than 200,000 copies of the '180' DVD on college and university campuses throughout the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. While nothing will stop this mission, the opposition might be intense on some of the campuses. Pray for both the success and the effectiveness of this campaign.

6. Watch 'On The Box'

We will provide regular updates on On The Box about all things related to '180.'

A Call To Action

Let this post serve as your call to action. Pray. Participate. Partner.

Thank you.http://www.180movie.com/

Dirty Car Art and the Foolishness of Atheism

Last year I attended the Santa Clarita Street Art Festival, with my brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews. During that time, I was blessed to distribute about four hundred gospel tracts to members of my community.

Some very talented artists were on-hand for this year's festival--chalk artists, musicians, a professional drum corps, and more. There were even some artists who used Post-its to create a picture of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner.

One of the most interesting displays of artistic talent was the Dirty Car Art, by Scott Wade.



Amazing what an intelligent and creative mind can do with a car, some dust, and a brush.



How ignorant it would have been for me to walk up to Scott Wade and say, "How long did it take those detailed images to spontaneously appear in the dust, on your car? It must have taken billions of years!"



How ridiculous it would have been for me to ask Mr. Wade why he was taking credit for creating the images on his dirty car, when it was obvious that they simply appeared by chance. A little dust, a little wind, a little time and, voila!



Wade had a notebook on a table of many of the dirty car images he has created over the years. They were extraordinary.

How foolish and insulting it would have been for me to tell the artist that I didn't believe he created the images; even though I had a piece of dirty car art right in front of me, which provided ample evidence for the authenticity of the other images in the notebook.



In fact, I don't think any atheist would have approached Mr. Wade and made such ridiculous assertions.



Yet, sadly, in a futile attempt to sear and blind their own conscience, and in order to deny what they already know in their heart and mind; the atheist makes similar ridiculous arguments against the existence of God and His creative power. Claiming to be wise, they have become fools (Romans 1:22).

The atheist wouldn't think of committing intellectual suicide and setting themselves up for embarrassment by suggesting to a human artist that their artwork occurred as a result of coincidental and random actions performed by mindless, independent elements. Yet, the atheist commits intellectual suicide every day. No, instead, the atheist, like any reasonable person, would compliment Mr. Wade for his amazing artwork.

So, why does the atheist violate his or her own conscience and deny what they know in their heart is true? The sad and simple truth is that they love their sin and, therefore, try as hard as they can to suppress the truth about God and His creation, by their unrighteousness.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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 have been made. So they are without excuse. 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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:18-22).

Yes, Scott Wade is an amazing artist. But God's amazing and detailed design of the Universe makes Mr. Wade's artwork seem like a toddler's fingerpainting.

And it is this amazing, powerful, supremely intelligent Creator that each and every one of us will one-day stand before and give an account for our lives. When that great and terrible day comes, because God is good, He is going to judge each of us according to the perfect, moral standard of His Law. If we've ever lied, stolen, taken His name in vain, He will find us guilty of breaking His Law. And because God is good, He must punish our sin; and the punishment God has ascribed for sin is eternity in Hell.

But God is also merciful, loving, and kind in that He provided one way to escape that punishment; and that was through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ: fully-God and fully-Man, without sin. He died a horrible, bloody death on the cross that He did not deserve in order to take upon Himself the punishment we rightly deserve for our sins against God. And then three days later He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave.

What God requires of you and me is that we repent--that we turn from our sin, and by faith and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

So, please, repent and believe the gospel while God has given you time.

I know a number of atheists will read this blog post. Of course, some of them will be incensed that I dare to question their intelligence or, at the very least, their common sense. I don't think atheists are stupid. Not at all. They are merely and tragically self-deceived. And I no more want an atheist to perish in their sin than I would want that for any other lost person.

The foolishness of atheism is as foolish as denying that Scott Wade is a talented artist. Repent and believe the gospel while God has given you time.

Twitteneutics - Day 5

Here's what I've gleaned during my time in God's Word, over the last few days.

In the case "Naturalism v. Christianity," for Naturalism: Darwin (Rom. 1:18-23); and for Christianity: Peter (2 Pet. 1:16-21). No contest!

Under what circumstances should the Christian engage in civil disobedience? God's Word give us the answer (Acts 5:17-42). Preach the Gospel!

The American Church is, in many ways, like the Pharisees of old--placing the traditions of men over the commands of God (Mark 7:1-13).

The new Judaizers in the American Church follow the Jewish dietary laws, in direct contradiction to the words of Christ (Mark 7:14-23).

Nablus, the world's leading exporter of Islamic terrorism, was once known as Shechem--a city whose founder was a rapist (Genesis 34:1-2).

Praying specifically this morning for @realrobbell that he will repent and come to faith in Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:1-3).

Praying for the many false teachers who ascribe to the "Word of Faith" and "Health, Wealth, and Prosperity" religions (2 Peter 2:10-22).

Do you never feel the Lord's discipline? Do you tire of talk of His correction? Then it is likely you are not one of His children (Proverbs 3:11-12).

Many American churches do not follow a biblical form of church government. They have "Eldercons," instead of Elders and Deacons (Acts 6:1-6)

The Bible knows nothing of the false teachings: "God has a wonderful plan for your life" and "Your Best Life Now" (Acts 7:1-60).

Friday, September 23, 2011

How Do I Decide What To Watch?

Needless to say, we can't answer every question on the program. We wish we could. And there isn't always time to write a detailed article to answer thought-provoking questions. So I've decided to start a Vlog (video blog).

As often as duties permit, I will post vlogs in which I answer questions received via Twitter, Facebook, and email.

My first vlog offering answers a question I received from Ina, on Facebook. Ina is a viewer of "On the Box" and lives in Oslo, Norway.

Ina wrote:
Your show has changed my life. I now witness and hand out living waters gospel tracts in the streets of Oslo, and on airplane. It's so fun, thank you for making me realize that evangelism is the number one most important thing except for being born again. Your show is so encouraging because nobody wants to join me evangelizing, but I know that you guys do it every week and that motivates me! Thank you!

What things should Christians stay away from? Like, television? Secular music; theatre shows; types of educations? Where does one draw the line? I would like to know, because if my non-Christian friends invite me to watch horror movies, what should I say?
I hope you enjoy the video. And for further study:

1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8; James 4:17

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Practical and Ideological Effects of Skepticism and Atheism

The following quote is from John MacArthur's book, "The Jesus You Can't Ignore" (p. xviii). I've added this book to my Reading List.

"The practical and ideological effects of skepticism are as potent as those of heartfelt devotion--only in the opposite direction. Someone who rejects God has repudiated the only reasonable foundation for morality, accountability, true spirituality, and the necessary distinction between good and evil. So the atheist's private life will inevitably become a living demonstration of the evils of unbelief. To whatever degree some atheists seek to maintain a public veneer of virtue and respectability--as well as when they themselves make moral judgments about others--they are walking contradictions. What possible "virtue" could there be in an accidental universe with no Lawgiver and no Judge?"

Allow me to present you with a real-life example of the mindset of an atheist skeptic--a mindset that sadly proves Pastor MacArthur's point all-to-well.

Recently, I wrote a "Letter to the Editor" in my local newspaper. As expected, my letter was met with some negative reactions.

The latest response to my letter, which the paper printed, was written by an atheist who does not live in my community. He is part of a small group of atheists who troll about Christian blogs, forums, and YouTube channels. This particular atheist, like others in his small online circle, has what could be described as a rather unhealthy fixation (almost stalker mentality) toward the staff of Living Waters.

Here is what the atheist wrote:
In response to “Double-murder/suicide shows society’s ills,” Sept. 8:

I also offer my sympathy to the families involved.

I must also scold Tony Miano for taking this tragedy as an excuse to proselytize and say Dr. Martin Strassner was a bad person because he may not have believed the same thing Miano does.

Miano even goes further to call Dr. Strassner selfish by killing himself. Suicide is not a selfish act, but one done under great pain and suffering that Miano and most of us will never be able understand.

But to Miano, this is just another excuse to push his gospel agenda and is typical of him. He is obsessed with going to places where people died and turning tragic events into a stage for himself.

He clearly has nothing better to do than troll for these tragedies and yell at cars passing down the street, claiming how depraved everyone is for not believing the same things he does, all while carrying his holier-than-thou cross.

Shame on you, Miano.
As is typically the case with atheists who have no case, this atheist starts his letter with a red herring--introducing a topic not related to the subject at hand.

The atheist wrote: "I must also scold Tony Miano for taking this tragedy as an excuse to proselytize and say Dr. Martin Strassner was a bad person because he may not have believed the same thing Miano does."

I never said Dr. Strassner was a bad person because he did not believe as I believed. I never met Dr. Strassner, so I have no idea what he believed. I said that according to the Word of God, no one is good.

But the use of logical fallacies is consistent with an atheistic worldview in which there are only subjective, not objective, standards for morality. This is born out in the fact that atheists are quick to cry "foul" when others use logical fallacies, but it is considered "fair play" for atheists to make ready use of them in their argumentation.

And by what standard does this particular atheist "scold" me (and later closes his letter with the retort "shame on you, Miano")? By the atheistic, naturalistic, subjective, sliding scale, anything goes, "what's true for you may not be true for me" code of conduct? Please.

After all, as Doug Wilson has so aptly put it, "The universe just doesn't care." By scolding me, the atheist reveals the contradiction in his own thinking. As an atheist, he would readily assert there is no fixed, objective, transcendent, eternal, God-breathed Law or moral standard that applies to all people everywhere. Yet he contradicts his own mindset by saying I was wrong for implying that Dr. Strassner was not a good person. If there is no objective moral absolutes, then I can't be wrong. No one can be wrong. Eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we die!

The atheist who wrote the letter dresses himself in the veneer of virtue while clinging to a worldview that is, by design, utterly devoid of virtue. As Pastor MacArthur rightly asks, "What possible 'virtue' could there be in an accidental universe with no Lawgiver and no Judge?"

So, while the atheist wrote his letter in an attempt to castigate me for my "Letter to the Editor," his efforts have had an entirely different effect. In an attempt to take the moral high ground, he showed the inherent flaws in the atheistic worldview. He had to steal from the woodpile of the Christian worldview to build his house of straw. His letter serves as a prime example of the practical and ideological effects of skepticism and atheism.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twitteneutics - Day 4

Here's what I gleaned from the Word of God, over the last couple days.

Only God can forgive sins. And He did (Mark 2:5-12)!

Any man who is not chivalrous toward his wife is not a godly man (1 Peter 3:7).

To argue about the veracity of God's Word is akin to demanding the Judge step down from His bench and take the witness stand (Prov. 30:4-6).

What will cut thru the hardest of hearts? Only the preaching of "this Jesus" (Acts 2:36-37). So preach Christ! Preach Christ! Preach Christ!

Stop counting decisions! The Lord adds to His church (Acts 2:47)! The # of raised hands is not necessarily evidence of the # He has saved.

Acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God does not mean you are saved. There were others who have done the same (Mark 3:11).

"Your Best Life Now?" According to Paul, such a mindset is a most pitiful one (1 Cor. 15:19).

The logical outcome for Christians who insist on looking, talking, and acting like the world in the name of "relevance?" See 1 Cor. 15:33-34

Will God judge America for abortion? Yes! Judgment will begin with churches that name Christ while supporting abortion (1 Peter 4:15-17).

The healing of the lame man preceded the heralding of a message of repentance and faith, not health, wealth and prosperity (Acts 3:11-26).

Door-To-Door with 180

The first 50,000 copies of our new documentary "180" arrived at Living Waters yesterday afternoon. Ray and I were like little kids converging on the tree, on Christmas morning.


As soon as the boxes were off the truck, Ray grabbed a box and headed to his neighborhood to distribute 100 of the DVDs to his neighbors. Like Ray, door-to-door evangelism is not my preference or my strong suit. But I couldn't wait to take some DVDs home with me to distribute to my neighbors.


So, after dinner, sporting the latest in "180" apparel, Mahria and I went door-to-door through our condo community.


Jason was one of our first neighbors to receive "180."


Mahria and I, with the help of Amanda (who kept track of of which homes received DVDs), made contact with 34 of our neighbors--most of whom we had never met. We have another 200+ condos to cover, before the project is complete.


Here's what I said when someone answered the door.
"Hi. My name is Tony, and this is my wife, Mahria. We live, here, in the community. We're not here to sell you anything. I serve with an organization that has produced a new documentary (handing them the documentary and my business card); and we're giving a free copy to all of our neighbors. My email address is on my card. If you would like to share your thoughts after you've watched the documentary, I would love to hear from you."
Several times I was asked, "What is the documentary about?" My response:
"The documentary compares two holocausts--the holocaust of World War II and a holocaust that is taking place today."
I was actually surprised how easy it was to put the documentary into the hands of my neighbors. Not one person refused to take the DVD. I can't wait to get home, today, and continue bringing this vitally important documentary and the power of the gospel to my neighbors.

Won't you join us in the effort? Yes, door-to-door evangelism isn't easy for most Christians. It's a challenge for me, and it's even more challenging for my quiet and shy wife. But certainly saving the lives of the unborn and offering our neighbors the life-giving, life-saving message of the gospel is important enough to overcome our fears.

Order enough copies of 180, today, to canvas your neighborhood! And let me know how it goes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just a Thought (Darwinian Evolution's Missing Link)

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. ~ Luke 1:2-4 (ESV)

What the atheist and the naturalist will never find in Darwinian evolution: a logical, orderly account with evidence to support their faith in nothing.

Twitteneutics - Day 3

Here is what I've gleaned from reading God's Word this morning--thoughts I posted on Twitter.

Building relationships to earn the right to share the gospel with people is foreign to Scripture and inconsistent with Jesus' ministry (Mark 1).

Those who claim to know Christ, yet see freedom from sin as a license to sin, are not truly servants of God (1 Peter 2:16). They are lost.

To "ascribe" to the Lord is not to confer something upon Him, but to reverently recognize what is already true about Him (Ps. 29:1-2).

Every have a heckler rage and laugh at the point when the heckler realizes he has no case against the Truth? Proverbs 29:9 explains why.

Do you refuse to share the gospel because of your fear of man? Your fear does not protect you from harm. It testifies to your unbelief (Prov. 29:25).

Atheists are to be most pitied among people, for they have to see things upside-down to make any sense of their worldview (Isa 29:15-16).

Only A Fool Mocks The Gift

Last Wednesday, Ray, Miguel Esparza (Living Waters' director of Spanish-Speaking Outreach), and I went to Cerritos College to proclaim the gospel. Earlier that day, I posted an article titled Another Look at the Parachute Analogy. In that article I shared the heroic and sacrificial story of Lt. David Kingsley who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life so that other airmen might live.

There were some people in the crowd, particularly one young lady named Tianna, who mocked the proclamation of the gospel. So, I used a twist on the David Kingsley story and Tianna's mockery to make the point of how foolish it is to mock the gift of salvation.

What you're about to watch is that open-air.



When I finished preaching, a young lady who had been sitting to my right asked me several questions. Tears filled her eyes as she shared with me how heartbroken she was over the recent death of her beloved grandfather. I was able to encourage her (and her friend) and bring the conversation back to the question of her soul--to the question of where she will spend eternity. It was a wonderful conversation. The young lady and her friend both took some literature and my business card.

I just shake my head and laugh at Christians who insist you have to "take time to build relationships with people in order to earn the right to share the gospel with them." Such notions are nothing more than lies from the pit of Hell. The enemy has effectively used such unbiblical notions to convince Christians not to share the gospel with people.

My conversation with the young lady after the open-air proclamation of the gospel serves as just one of many cases in point that proves all you need is a love for God and love for people to be able to share the gospel with someone. It proves you need not take years to build relationships, but rather just moments to establish a rapport with a person.

So, if you ascribe to this silly, man-concocted, man-centered notion that long-term relationships must come before speaking the truth in love, if you ascribe to the false notion that you have to "earn the right" to proclaim the gospel either publicly or one-to-one when Almighty God has already commanded you to go and proclaim the gospel to everyone (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15), repent. Stop sinning in this way. Believe the Bible. Obey Christ. And share the gospel with whomever you can, whenever you can, for as long as you can.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just a Thought (Apocalyptic Thinking)

The existence and popularity of the apocalyptic movie genre testifies to the reality that people know a Day of Judgment is coming. Yet sadly people sear their consciences with tales humanly-designed to entertain them and demonically-designed to numb them to what they will one-day face apart from repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They scoff at the coming apocalypse, relegating the tragic end of days to the stuff of Hollywood magic. What fools!
"This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.' For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed (2 Peter 2:1-10).

Twitteneutics - Day 2

Here is what I've gleaned from reading God's Word over the last couple days--thoughts I posted on Twitter.

Israel's ongoing security issues are a result of the nation's ongoing disobedience (Judges 1:27-2:5).

True peace comes to him whose mind is focused on Christ and whose trust is truly in Him (Isa. 26:3-4).

The most rational form of speech is that which is consistent with the truth of Scripture and brings glory to Christ (Acts 26:24-29).

Repentance and contrition that is consequence-driven produces nothing more than a worldly grief leading 2 death (Matt. 27:3-5; 2 Cor. 7:10).

If the fear of evangelism is so great that you refuse to engage, is the Lord truly your light and salvation (Psalm 27:1-2)?

One's spiritual gifting is not determined by tests, surveys, feelings, or opinions. Such is determined by the Sovereign One (1 Cor. 12:18).

Salvation is entirely of the Lord! He is sovereign! His children are secure and their hope is eternal (1 Peter 1:3-9)!

The antithesis of impotent and godless "your best life now" theology is found in one amazing paragraph of Scripture (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Those who claim to have once been born-again, but are now atheists, are liars. Imperishable seed never becomes perishable (1 Peter 1:22-25).

If you have no fear of the Lord then you have no real wisdom. If you refuse to turn away from evil then you lack understanding (Job 28:28).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Twitteneutics - Day 1

Mahria and I use Professor Grant Horner's Bible Reading System. We have known Grant for many years. He is one of the most learned and interesting men I know. He loves God and loves His Word. I've tackled many Bible reading systems and programs over the last 20+ years. There is none better, in my estimation, than Professor Horner's.

This morning during a rare day off (which didn't turn out to be an entire day off--still hoping for one of those), I began tweeting some brief insights as I sat at the edge of the lake reading my Bible. As I tweeted away part of the morning, I came up with an idea to share tweets from my daily Bible reading in a new daily blog article titled "Twitteneutics." A "shout-out" to my good friend, Kevin Mollohan, for helping me come up with the name of the reoccurring segment.

Obviously "Twitteneutics" is a play on words. It is a combination of the words "Twitter" and "Hermeneutics." Hermeneutics is the scientific discipline representing the study and interpretation of Scripture. More specifically: it is the branch of theology that deals with biblical exegesis. The term "exegesis" is derived from a compound Greek word, which means "to guide." In other words, to exegete a verse or passage of Scripture is draw the true meaning from the text by applying (being guided by) sound hermeneutic principles.

"Twitteneutics" is not as sophisticated as hermeneutics or exegesis, and these reoccurring articles will have more of a devotional flare than in-depth study. "Twitteneutics" will simply refer to a daily collection of tweets, stemming from my daily reading of the Bible.

I hope you find them encouraging and challenging. And I also hope I can keep up these articles at a daily pace. So, here's Day 1.

No one who names Christ as Lord and Savior can come away from Joshua 24:2-13 and not clearly see that GOD is sovereign over all things!

Those who deny eternal punishment while affirming eternal life may be in step with culture, but they're out of step with Christ (Matt 25).

Performance-driven worship is utterly foreign to Scripture (Matt. 26:26-30). Oh, how the modern church needs to repent of musical shallowness!

Christian: Matt. 26:50-50 is not a pacifistic mandate. It's a mandate to submit to governing authorities and a mandate against vigilantism.

Meekness defined! Matt. 26:53-54 Power under control!

Christian: if you refuse to open your mouth and share the gospel with the lost, are you really any different than Peter (Matt. 26:69-75)?

Yes, I preach the gospel out of necessity (1 Cor. 9:16-18). Woe to you if open-air preaching has become a recreational hobby!

Do you seek to be culturally relevant for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:23) or for the sake of your own popularity and comfort?

1 Cor. 10:13 doesn't mean God won't give you more than you can handle. It means He will enable you to endure what you can't handle on your own.

Many Christians hide behind 1 Cor. 9:22 thinking they can somehow fool God into believing their life isn't really a reflection of James 4:4.

If you have no fear of the Lord, then you are not His friend (Psalm 25:14). Repent and believe the gospel.

Do you boast of loving the lost, but you don't share the gospel? Then you are like one who boasts of a gift they do not give (Prov. 25:14).

If you are preaching anything other than the true unadulterated gospel, then you actually hate your hearers (Prov. 26:28). Repent!

Him We Proclaim!

This morning's devotional offering comes by way of video. Will you be obedient to the faith and proclaim Christ, today--whether atop a box, in a conversation, or by handing someone a gospel tract?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another Look at the Parachute Analogy

Introduction

Many of you are familiar with the Parachute Analogy developed by Ray Comfort. I love it, and I use it often when articulating to a lost person the difference between intellectual assent to the truths about Jesus Christ, and genuine trust and faith. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the analogy, it goes like this:
You and I are on a plane traveling to New York. We get about half-way there when we hear the pilot's voice over the loud speaker. We can hear fear in his voice. The pilot says, "We've lost the engines and we can't get them started again. The plane is going to crash. There is nothing we can do about it. There's a parachute under your seat."

We both look under our seats. We see that the parachute is there. We believe that the parachute is there.

The plane descends to about 10,000'. The pilot instructs the flight attendants to open the doors, and then he orders everyone to jump for their lives. I put my parachute on and jump out of the plane. You don't put your parachute on, and you jump out of the plane. Who survives the fall?

"You do." Is typically the answer I receive.

"Why?"

"Because you put on the parachute."

"But we both believed in it." I allow the person to stew on that for a moment, and then I explain the analogy.

"It wasn't enough to simply believe in the parachute. You had to put it on and trust that it would open and save your life when you jump out of the plane. The same is true with Jesus Christ. It is not enough to simply have an intellectual belief in or agreement with Jesus. The demons believe and they tremble. You must put on the Lord Jesus Christ and, by faith, trust Him to save you the same way you would trust a parachute."
Many people believe in Jesus (both inside and outside the walls of the church); but far fewer people know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, having placed their faith and trust in Him alone for their salvation. This analogy drives that point home very nicely.

As I continue to study the Word of God and strive to apply as much solid doctrine as possible to my open-air preaching and one-to-one witnessing, I have thought of another way to make the parachute analogous with an important doctrinal truth--regeneration.

This new analogy does not replace the parachute analogy so effectively used by many Christians. It merely places emphasis on a different doctrine. The original analogy paints a wonderful picture of genuine, tangible faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. My hope is that this new analogy will help Christians explain the essential doctrine of regeneration (new birth) to unbelievers.

The New Analogy

David Kingsley served as a Portland firefighter before entering the Army Air Corps in April 1942. He answered his nation's call to service when it needed him most.

Kingsley received his bombardier wings during the Summer of 1943, after which he joined the 97th Bombardment Group. Kingsley's group was stationed in Italy.

On June 23, 1944, Second Lieutenant Kingsley and the rest of his fellow bomber crewmen participated in an attack on the oil targets around Ploesti, Romania. It was Kingsley's 20th mission over enemy territory. The flak and enemy fighter assaults had been particularly ferocious in the area of Ploesti, and this day was no different.

Kingsley's bomber was badly damaged during the bomb run, but the pilot was able to maintain control of the aircraft, which allowed Kingsley to drop the bombs with devastating precision. Kingsley's bomber was so badly damaged that it fell behind the rest of the formation and began to lose altitude. Three German ME-109 fighter pilots saw an opportunity to exact vengeance and mercilessly fired upon the wounded bomber.

The tail gunner was severely wounded in the arm. Other crewmen yelled to Kingsley, asking him to render aid. The tail gunner's parachute and flak jacket were removed and he was covered in blankets, in order to make him as comfortable as possible.

Moments later, eight ME-109's attacked the bomber. This time the ball turret gunner was severely wounded. The bomber was going down. There was no hope for the plane.

Kingsley immediately put the ball turret gunner's parachute on him. The tail gunner's parachute was lost in the chaos of flying blankets and equipment as the bomber continued to descend. Kingsley, with no regard for himself, took off his parachute and put it on the tail gunner. When the pilot ordered the crew to bail out, Kingsley helped his two wounded comrades to the open bomb bay and pushed them out of the plane, saving their lives.

As the the rest of the bomber crewmembers jumped for their lives, they reported last seeing Second Lieutenant Kingsley standing on the bomb bay catwalk. The bomber remained in the air for just a few more moments until it crashed into the ground, exploded, and burned. Kingsley's body was later found in the wreckage.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, Second Lieutenant David Kingsley was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor--our nation's highest military award.

Had Kingsley not put the parachutes on the wounded men, they, would have died in the plane crash. This certainly was true for the wounded tail gunner to whom Kingsley gave his own parachute, sacrificing his life in the process. He literally took the tail gunner's place on the mortally wounded bomber.

What an extraordinary picture of Jesus Christ's substitutionary atonement on the cross and the regeneration of fallen, helpless people!

The Penal Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ:

"Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep...For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father" (John 10:11, 14-15, 17-18).

"Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:24-26).

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man' though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

"For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'--so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:13-14).

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).

"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time" (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Without a propitiation making payment for the sins of men, without a substitute taking the place of punishment for the penal debt men owe to God for their sins against Him, there would be no hope whatsoever for any member of the human race. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, took upon Himself the punishment every person deserves for their sins against God when He voluntarily, and in obedience to the Father's will, went to the cross and shed His perfect sinless blood as a ransom for many--as a ransom for sinners who bear in their redeemed souls and who exhibit in their lives the fruit of the divine gifts, of repentance and faith.

Without the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross no one has been saved; no one can be saved; no one will be saved. Praise and thanks be to Almighty God that instead of condemning all of mankind to eternity in hell, which all of mankind deserves for their sins against Him, He chose--in accordance with His loving, gracious, merciful, and kind nature--to save sinners through the sacrificial death and the glorious resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. God would be just if He condemned everyone to hell. And God is just if He chooses to save, if He chooses to pardon sinners, accepting as propitiation the death of His one and only Son.

The Beautiful Doctrine of Regeneration:

"But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).

"Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God...That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again"'" (John 3:3, 6-7).

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44).

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved...For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9).

"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God and Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).

"Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18).

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Salvation is of God, by God, and for the glory of God. Salvation is by the grace of God alone, completely devoid of and separated from the works of sinful mankind. Even repentance and faith are gifts from God (Acts 5:31; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:25), which are made manifest as a result of God drawing a person to Himself (James 6:44).

God is sovereign. Man is not. The only atonement acceptable to God, for the remission of sins against God, could only be accomplished by the sinless God Man, Jesus Christ the Lord (Hebrews 9:15-28). As a result, the regeneration of any man is caused by God, according to the will of God, for the glory of God.

Application:

Now that I've shared the analogy and the rich theology to which it points, how can this analogy be used in the context of biblical evangelism?

After sharing the Law and the Gospel, and having shared the story of the heroism of Lt. David Kingsley, I might say something like this to an unsaved person:
There was absolutely nothing the wounded bomber crewmen could do to save their own lives. They were helpless. Had Lt. Kingsley not sacrificially intervened on their behalf, they would have perished in a ball of flames when the bomber hit the ground.

Likewise, there is nothing you can do to save yourself, spiritually. You are every bit as helpless as the wounded crewmen in the bomber. Unless God miraculously, graciously, and lovingly intervenes in your life you will perish and spend eternity in the fires of hell, as the just punishment for your sins against God.

Lt. Kingsley's sacrifice was evidenced by the fact that he died a horrible death as he went down with the plane, literally taking the place of his wounded crewmen. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The effect of Lt. Kingsley's sacrifice was evidenced by the fact that he saved the wounded crewmen by fitting them with parachutes and caused them to float to safety when he pushed them through the open bomb bay doors, before the plane crashed.

Likewise Jesus Christ died a horrible, bloody death on the cross for the sins of those who repent and believe the gospel.
A Plea To the Unbelieving Reader:

There is no more vivid and tangible evidence of the sacrifice and love of God than the cross of Jesus Christ. And the evidence that God has extended to you the free gift of eternal life, the evidence that He has literally caused you to be born again (1 Peter 1:3) will be this: You will repent. You will turn away from and forsake your sins against God, and you will turn toward God. And, by faith alone, you will receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will then continue to repent and continue to believe, as you grow in your faith in Jesus Christ.

What do you think the attitude was of the wounded crewmen who were saved by Lt. Kingsley? Do you think they were grateful? Do you think they took any credit for their rescue? Do you think they forever had a fond affection for Lt. Kingsley? Do you think they spoke highly of him and spoke of him often? And how do you think those crewmen would respond to anyone who tried to drag Lt. Kingsley's name through the mud, deny his valor, or even deny his existence?

So, too, will it be with you--if God saves you. You will repent of your sins against God and you will receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will love the Lord Jesus Christ, with thankfulness in your heart. You will gladly submit to him as the Lord of Your life and take no credit for your salvation. You will begin to love the things that God loves, and you will begin to hate the things that God hates. You will think often about Jesus Christ. You will love to read His Word. You will want to spend time with Him in prayer. You will long to be with Him, in Heaven. You will defend His name and His honor against anyone who would blaspheme His name or deny His existence and life-saving power. And you will tell others about what He has done for you, with the hope that God will extend to those with whom you speak the salvation He has given you.

And when you sin against Him, when you fall short of God's glory (and you will), instead of trying to justify your sin or exonerate yourself, you will cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness.

I wonder what the conversation was like in the bomber between Lt. Kingsley and the wounded crewmen. I can hear them crying out to Kingsley, begging him to help them. They realized that there was nothing they could do to save themselves. They knew that unless Kingsley intervened they would perish when the plane crashed.

Cry out to God, right now. Repent. Confess your sins--the sins you've committed against Him. Beg for His forgiveness and ask Him to save you. Place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Lt. Kingsley, a hero, was the only hope for the wounded crewmen. Jesus Christ, the Lord, is your only hope. Apart from Him, without His miraculous intervention in your life, you will perish in your sins. My hope is that He saves you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Danger of the Modern Gospel

In the video you are about to watch you will meet Jason. Jason is a student at Cerritos College. A couple of weeks ago, after Ray Comfort preached the gospel to members of the school's football team, Jason stood up in an overt attempt to undermine the message Ray had preached. Jason's message: "You can be president, someday."

Last week Ray, Eddie Roman, and I returned to Cerritos College. We try to spend at least a couple hours each week preaching the gospel, on the campus. As happened previously, Jason was there to undermine Ray's preaching of the gospel. As soon as Ray finished preaching, Jason stood up to herald his own version of the gospel, a false gospel, a dangerous modern gospel that is, sadly, prevalent in many churches in America, today.



I did my best to point out the difference between the gospel Jason offered the students and the gospel Ray and preached--the gospel of Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures.

Yes, I was angry with Jason. As I state in the video, I was angry with Jason because the message he tried to present was not one that could save the students, but one that would, if believed, condemn them. Jason's version of the gospel was and is a perversion, a fallacious distortion that he likely learned within the confines of a church in the area. The fact that Jason likely learned his false gospel in church (and in all likelihood in the children's or youth ministry of the church) makes him no less responsible for believing and propagating such a dangerous message.

Yes, Jason's gospel, a gospel believed by millions of people in America, is a dangerous gospel and, by definition, a contradiction. The word "gospel" means "good news." There was nothing "good" about Jason's message. It was devoid of truth, for it had no basis in Scripture. It was devoid of love, for it was meant to leave people comfortable in their lost, spiritually dead, and sinful state. And it was devoid of power, for Jesus was not the central figure and glorified subject of his message. Jason was the central figure and glorified subject. The people to whom Jason spoke were the central figures and glorified subjects. Jason's was a man-centered message that lacked the truth, love, and power to save anyone.

Unfortunately, as open-air preachers we meet a lot of people like Jason on the streets and on college campuses--people who profess to know Christ, but are offended by Christ and the preaching of His gospel. You cannot be saved by a gospel you do not know. In other words, if a person does not know the gospel, or if a person believes a false gospel, then there is no reason to believe the person is truly regenerate, born-again, saved. And this is why you heard me, in the video, call Jason to repentance and faith.

Jason walked with us to the parking lot, after I finished preaching. We continued to try to reason with him, from the Scriptures, to show him the gospel he preached and therefore believed was not the gospel of the Bible. We left him with a copy of "Hell's Best Kept Secret" and "True and False Conversion" and welcomed him to talk to us any time he sees us on campus.

If you are in a church where you are hearing a message similar to the one Jason proclaimed, leave. If you are not hearing a complete and biblical presentation of the gospel in your church, leave. If your church does not preach the true gospel, you are not in a church. You are in a religious social club. Leave!

And if you need help finding a good, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, gospel-proclaiming church, please let me know. I would love to try to help you find one.

One last thing: are you willing to do for the truth what Jason is willing to do for a lie? Jason stood up in front of his fellow students to preach. What he preached was a lie, but he made a stand.

Can you not also make a stand--a stand for the truth--a stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ? Can you not stand up, open your mouth, herald the true unvarnished gospel, and be heard for the glory of Christ?

When will you stand up and let your voice be heard by those who are lost in sin and bound for Hell? When will you love people enough to do for the truth what people like Jason are willing to do for a lie?

When?

You are running out of time.

Biggest Evangelistic Project


“Paradigm shattering! A most powerful message that will change and save lives!” ~ Johnny Berguson - Pres. Kingdom, Inc.

“As one who was scheduled to be aborted, this astounding video struck me at my core that this is needed more now than ever. It is more than powerful...it is a vehicle of God's voice to this generation, and must be seen!” ~ Ron DiCianni

The “180” project is the biggest evangelistic project we have ever attempted. On one day in the near future, 1,000 Christians will mobilize and give away 200,000 copies of a DVD that proclaims the gospel clearly, and does it biblically. This will be done in 100 of the nation’s top universities, again, in one day. Most of the 1,000 are not your average Christians. Many of them have been through our “Ambassador’s Academy.” This is three days of intense hands-on training, where they learn not only to do one-to-one, but to preach outside the comfort of the walls of the Church…in the open air—like John Wesley and Whitefield, Spurgeon, Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul did. On the day that the gospel is given out to 200,000 people through the “180” DVD, many of our graduates will boldly stand up and proclaim the gospel in the open air.

This isn’t political action, something which I grew weary of many years ago. I have signed many petitions in the hope of seeing political change, but have instead seen issues like homosexuality, promiscuity, pornography, blasphemy, violence, and abortion do nothing but escalate to epidemic proportions. Every four years there is excitement about Christian candidates, in the hope that these will be the ones who will turn our nation back to God. We have even tried to convince secular America that we were established as “one nation under God,” and they couldn’t care less.

But when we look at the Book of Acts—the blueprint of the Church--we don’t find a political agenda. As much as it is encouraging to see men of God in high political office, our agenda is primarily to preach the gospel to every creature, something we have, as a whole, failed to do. In his book, The Coming Revival, Bill Bright said that only 2% of the contemporary Church in America regularly share their faith with others. That means that 98% don’t.

The “180” video begins by addressing ignorance among students as to who Hitler was and what he believed, addresses the holocaust of abortion, and then it moves into a clear biblical gospel. This causes the hardest of hearts to do a complete 180. You see a blasphemous and hate-filled atheist change his mind about God, on-camera, as well as apathy in many others being replaced by deep concern about their own salvation. You see evangelism done as Jesus did it--the addressing of the human conscience, something that has been sadly lacking in much of modern evangelism.

This is why we are making the “180 Course” available in a few weeks. The two-part DVD with a 64-page Study Guide not only teaches Christians how to address the horror of abortion, but it teaches them how to share the biblical gospel. And it does so by using the main evangelism training lesson taken from our “Basic Training Course,” an 8-week DVD study commended by John MacArthur, Ravi Zacharias, and Josh McDowell. We have been working within the Church for many years by using the course to train people to share their faith, with more than 20,000 courses in use by churches and individuals. Evangelism is the heart and soul of our ministry because it is the heartbeat of Jesus Christ. Those who, like the apostle John, rest their head on the breast of the Savior hear that heartbeat.

A number of people have encouraged us to remove the Gospel from “180” and simply use it as a powerful tool in the fight against abortion. But an overweight, blind, and pregnant snail with chronic emphysema has more chance of getting across L.A.’s 405 freeway at peak traffic, than they have of getting the gospel removed from the video. Abortion is just one ugly branch on the evil Adamic tree. The gospel attacks the root, and the only hope for this dying Hell-bound world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to mobilize a lukewarm Church. Please help us to do that.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Power Under Control

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:27-31

After the traitorous kiss of his betrayer, his false friend, the Son of Destruction (Matthew 26:47-50; John 17:12), Jesus was arrested and would soon begin His long walk to the cross. And that long walk began with not one, but six unlawful trials.

First, Jesus went before Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest (John 18:12-23). Then Jesus was tried before Caiaphas (the high priest) and the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:57-68; John 18:24), where He was condemned to die. The next morning Jesus appeared again before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1). Jesus' fourth trial occurred when He was presented to Pilate for the first time (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1; John 18:28-32). The Lord's fifth trial was before Herod (Luke 23:6-12). Herod then returned Jesus to Pilate where He would endure His sixth and final trial (Luke 23:13-25; John 19:1-16).

Immediately following His horrific flogging (Matthew 20:19; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:16), and just before His final trial in front of Pontious Pilate, Jesus endured further humiliation and suffering at the hands of Roman soldiers. And it wasn't a small band of soldiers. It was an entire battalion--six hundred men who held the Jews in contempt, and who thought even less of a condemned Jew who was accused of trying to usurp the throne of Caesar by declaring Himself to be a King.

They fashioned a mock crown out of thorns and placed it on His head, likely ripping the flesh from His scalp. They gave Him a scepter made from a reed and then beat Him about the head with it. They knelt before Him in mock worship.

He did not speak a word. God in the flesh, who could have called down the wrath of His Father upon the sinful soldiers, did not respond in kind. He was the epitome of meekness. He exercised perfect power under perfect control. And He would continue to exercise perfect meekness to His last breath as He struggled to utter His last words on the cross. "It is finished!"

Looking back to the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus first spoke of meekness, it seems that He was not only encouraging His disciples to live godly, set apart lives; but that He was also speaking prophetically about how His own exercise of power under control would impact the world. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).

After defeating sin and death on the cross and through His glorious resurrection, Jesus would command His disciples to proclaim the gospel to the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15). But first He would encourage them with these words. ""All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18).

The One whose meekness surpasses that of all others is the same One who inherited the Earth. He is the same One the Father glorified by giving Him all authority, not only in Heaven, but on Earth as well.

Evangelist, in honor of and love for the Lord Jesus Christ, you, too, must exercise power under control. You must be meek as He was meek. What does that mean?

The Word of God, the great sword of the Spirit that you wield, must never be used with malice. Your zeal and your passion to declare the Word of the Lord must be tempered with meekness. No greater power will ever be entrusted to you than the proclamation of the gospel. And you must exercise control, by the ever-present assistance of the Holy Spirit, by always speaking the truth in love. Let not your meekness be tainted and weakened by the sins of harsh words, abusive rhetoric, mocking tones, and self-promoting eloquence.

The Lord Jesus Christ manifested perfect strength through perfect meekness. And we, as heralds of His gospel, must seek to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29) as we strive to glorify Him by exercising power under control, as we declare Him Lord to the masses.

Don't quit.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mars Hill (Rob Bell) Is More Greek Than Christian

It's seems anticlimactic, even redundant, to say, "This time Rob Bell and Mars Hill Church have gone too far." After all, Bell makes a habit of going too far--too far away from orthodoxy to be considered evangelical in any true sense of the word. But, if what has been reported on Twitter by Rob Bell's teaching pastor, Shane Hipps, is true, then maybe it's time to say just that. Rob Bell, Shane Hipps, and Mars Hill have gone too far. In fact, after reading Shane Hipps' tweets, I think it is safe to say Mars Hill is more Greek than Christian. While the name of the church, "Mars Hill," is likely a reference to the apostle Paul's interaction with the Greeks on the now ancient and historic site, one activity at the church today leads me to believe the name of the church speaks more about modeling Greek culture than apostolic teaching.

The following tweets are from Shane Hipps, the teaching pastor at Rob Bell's Mars Hill Church.
Watched members of @marshillorg invite a Muslim woman to the communion table today. You all amaze me. #bigjesus

@Blogustana For clarification, we practice an open table. Anyone wanting grace is welcome.

@TheBerker My apologies. I wasn't trying to be cool. I just thot it was cool. We practice an open table. Anyone wanting grace is welcome.

To clarify, the Muslim woman didn't actually take communion. Even so, taking it would violate her theology more than mine. Open table here

@BillyKangas Yes, the word "Sacrament" is from the Latin for "mystery." So I have a lot of room for disagreement on this one.

@jeffreykauffman I love the Bible. I think Paul is talking to a specific community, like head coverings, slavery, or women being silent.
Communion, like baptism, is an ordinance given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His Church. Communion is "open" in the sense that all who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are welcomed and encouraged to partake--regardless of the local fellowship to which the individual Christian belongs. All Christians are part of one Body (Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Philippians 2:1-2).

On the other hand, communion is "closed" in the sense that it is an ordinance for born again followers of Jesus Christ, only. There are few things (i.e. Bible reading and meditation, prayer, worship, baptism) as spiritual in nature, in which a Christian will engage and participate, as communion. As such, Christians are commanded by the Word of God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) not to engage in any spiritual enterprise, any spiritual practice, any form of worship with those who do not know Christ and who idolatrously and blasphemously worship any other god other than the one, true God who has revealed Himself through His creation (Romans 1:18-20), through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and through His incarnation (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11). Those who know Christ (John 10:14), those who belong to His Church (Colossians 1:18), those who are part of His Bride (Revelation 19:6-8) should not join hands, hearts, or minds in any form of worship with Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hindus, Buddhists, or the like.

And to bring worshipers of false gods to the communion table is to encourage the idolater to partake of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-28). To bring the idolater to the Lord's table is to spurn the Son of God and to profane the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified (Hebrews 10:26-31).

What the leaders and the people at Mars Hill did today, around the Lord's table, was not an act of love toward the Muslim woman who was invited to the table. It was a supremely unloving and selfish act. For by trying to show the world how tolerant, ecumenical, and conversant they are with the practitioners of a godless religion (and the showiness of the timing, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks did not go unnoticed by this writer), the church at Mars Hill set up the Muslim woman to blaspheme God. Instead of calling the woman to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 1:15; 16:15; Acts 17:29:31), they called her to the Lord's table in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-28). How crafty. How careless. How cruel.

Fortunately, as Shane Hipps indicated in one of his tweets, the Muslim woman declined the idolatrous invitation. And in so doing, while still utterly lost in her sin and worship of a false god, she showed more spiritual integrity than those who invited her to the Lord's table.

Yes, Mars Hill Is More Greek Than Christian.
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, "What does this babbler wish to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities"—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean." Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.'

Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." ~ Acts 17:16-31
Mars Hill Church in Michigan is not like the apostle Paul in the above passage. Mars Hill Church is like the Greeks of Paul's day--very religious, a church full of idols.

To Rob Bell, Shane Hipps, and the rest of the leadership of Mars Hill Church: "the times of ignorance go overlooked, but now commands [you] to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man [Christ Jesus the Lord] whom He has appointed, and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

I pray they do repent, turn to Christ, and live.

I pray the Muslim woman will find her way into a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. I pray she finds a church where Jesus Christ is worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24)--a place where she will be taught "you cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons" (1 Corinthians 10:21)--a place where she is taught about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). I pray she will one day come to the Lord's table, having receiving Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. I pray she will one day come to the Lord's table in a worthy manner, eating the bread and drinking the wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for her sin.