Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sorcery: Ushering in a “Blissful” Christless Eternity


july_nl_720.png A few years ago I had the wonderful privilege of ministering to a very elderly lady who was about to be operated on for a cancer issue. It was not a life-or-death-related surgery, but at her advanced age there were some definite concerns. As we awaited the gurney to transport her to surgery, I asked her a question that had been pressing on my heart. I was aware that she may not have known the Lord beyond her social Christian upbringing. She knew a number of things about Jesus, but I wasn’t confident that she was born again. So I asked her simply, “What’s next?” I could tell that she was apprehensive about the pending surgery, and my question startled her. She asked what I meant. Trying to be as sensitive to the situation as I could, I nevertheless told her that I felt compelled to ask her if she thought about what was next for her should she not survive the surgery.
That may seem like the wrong thing to ask. There are those who would have me say things that would build up her confidence regarding the outcome of the operation. Many believe that a positive attitude increases one’s chances of survival when the body goes through a physically traumatic event. There is little doubt that one’s attitude can influence a person’s condition for wellness or harm, and a good attitude certainly wins out over a bad attitude ( see Proverbs:15:13, 15; 17:22), but it’s no guarantee regarding the hoped-for outcome.
I wanted her to be both encouraged and to have a guarantee as she faced surgery. I interrupted her perplexed look by straightforwardly asking if she wanted to spend eternity with Jesus.
I knew that she had enjoyed “listening in” on conversations when my wife and I and our children talked about Jesus and our love for Him. None of that involved “preaching at her.” It had primarily consisted of family members talking about the One we each loved above all and what He was doing in our lives, such as answering our prayers, helping us to grow in our biblical faith and enabling us to share the gospel and do the things that pleased Him.
She never hesitated in her “yes” response. Hers was not a fear-of-the-surgery reply. It was obvious at that moment that the Lord had given her peace and His perfect love had cast out her fear. I then repeated the simple gospel (which she had heard in our home numerous times) and asked her if she believed in her heart that Jesus had paid the full penalty for her sins and if she was willing to accept His offer of the gift of eternal life. Again, there was no hesitation in her affirmation. It seemed to me that the Holy Spirit was bringing to her mind the things we had previously talked about related to the gospel. She survived the surgery, but it was not too long afterward that she received that for which she had asked. She went to be with her Savior, who had promised that she would spend her eternity with Him.
There is no greater promise given in the Scriptures and, therefore, no greater encouragement: “[Christ] in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest [guarantee] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians:1:13-14).
As I mentioned, the lady was elderly. She lived until her mid-90s. The children she had birthed were a part of the “baby boomer” generation (those born right after World War II and into the early ’60s). It is the largest generation thus far in US history, peaking at nearly 79 million at the end of the 20th century. The first of the baby boomers (1944-’46) are now entering their 70s, and most are suffering the plight of old age with its accompanying illnesses.
The baby boomers introduced the subculture of the hippies, a youth movement that began in the US and rejected the establishment with its traditional social customs. They protested war and violence and instead promoted peace and love. Much of the movement was fueled by mind-altering drugs that were greatly encouraged by influential men such as Harvard professor Timothy Leary (“Turn on, tune in, drop out.”), a major advocate of LSD. The use of psychedelics grew exponentially during the 1960s. Drug companies and psychiatric researchers tested them “on alcoholics, people struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressives, autistic children, schizophrenics, terminal cancer patients, and convicts, as well as on perfectly healthy artists and scientists (to study creativity), and divinity students (to study spirituality).”  The 1970 Controlled Substances Act, however, put the experimentation and use of LSD and other psychedelics practically out of business—but only for a time.
Today, those of the psychedelics-prone hippie generation are now part of the establishment. They may have “turned on” and “tuned in,” but many did not “drop out.” In fact, some are running our largest and most prestigious institutions, from medical institutions to research organizations to universities. In a rather stunning article published in the New Yorker magazine titled “The Trip Treatment,” subheading: “Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results,” author Michael Pollan documents the surprising return of medical experiments featuring hallucinogenics. Psilocybin, a.k.a. the sacred or magic mushroom, is the lead experimental drug. That’s primarily because it doesn’t carry some of the “political and cultural baggage” of LSD, which is “stronger and longer-lasting in its effects and is considered more likely to produce adverse reactions.” The research is taking place in respected institutions such as Johns Hopkins, UCLA Medical Center (Harbor), New York University, the University of New Mexico, London’s Imperial College, the University of Zurich, and many other universities. Pollan notes that “Researchers are using or planning to use psilocybin not only to treat anxiety, addiction (to smoking and alcohol), and depression but also to study the neurobiology of mystical experience, which the drug, at high doses, can reliably occasion.”
The New Yorker article cites the case of a man whose cancer had spread throughout his body and was given no hope of recovery by his doctors. Facing death drove him to seek options to relieve his extreme anxiety. Quoting researchers, Pollan writes, “Cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months…. People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear.” Novelist and drug proponent Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is often quoted for support regarding using psychedelics with terminal patients “in the hope that it would make dying a more spiritual, less strictly physiological process.” Huxley, a humanist and anti-Christian, was injected with LSD at his deathbed. His “spiritual” process (read hallucination ) may have given him temporal relief, but his ecstasy, according to the Scriptures, eased him into an eternal separation from his Creator in a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth in darkness forever (Matthew:22:13). The Word of God would have us think about death and what follows as life’s most critical consideration .
Huxley’s so-called spiritual process has been an important subject of many of the researchers. Pollan writes, “Perhaps the most influential and rigorous of these early studies was the Good Friday experiment, conducted in 1962 by Walter Pahnke, a psychiatrist and minister working on a Ph.D. dissertation under [Timothy] Leary at Harvard. In a double-blind experiment, twenty divinity students received a capsule of white powder right before a Good Friday service at Marsh Chapel, on the Boston University campus; ten contained psilocybin, ten an active placebo (nicotinic acid). Eight of the ten students receiving psilocybin reported a mystical experience, while only one in the control group experienced a feeling of ‘sacredness’ and a ‘sense of peace.’ (Telling the subjects apart was not difficult, rendering the double-blind a somewhat hollow conceit: those on the placebo sat sedately in their pews while the others lay down or wandered around the chapel, muttering things like ‘God is everywhere’ and ‘Oh, the glory!’).” Further evaluation of the experiment noted that some of the subjects had to be given antipsychotic drugs in order to counter the side effects of psilocybin. For some of the early researchers “it was difficult not to conclude that they were suddenly in possession of news with the power to change the world—a psychedelic gospel.”
What then of this “gospel” from a biblical perspective? It contributes to a fulfillment of what the Scriptures indicate will be an end-times deception. It is referred to as sorcery . The term in Revelation:9:21 and 18:23 in the Greek is pharmakeia , which Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines as “the use or the administering of drugs.” Galatians:5:20 translates the term pharmakeia (from which we get our word pharmacy) as witchcraft . It should be apparent from those scriptures that drugs will play a major part in the “strong delusion” of the Last Days (2 Thessalonians:2:11). Revelation:18:23 declares that “thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Furthermore, the commitment to the use of drugs will be so strong that even after God pours out His wrath upon the earth during the Great Tribulation none will repent of their sorceries (Revelation:9:20-21).
Satan’s devices often come progressively like ocean waves that arrive in sets. When a wave crests and crashes on a beach, it deposits its debris and then retreats. That wave is followed by another wave, which deposits more debris. This analogy fits the use of hallucinogenic drugs by the baby-boomer generation followed by a new wave, which is taking place today. This is not intended to condemn the use of all drugs, some of which, notwithstanding their abuses, have been helpful to mankind. Hallucinogenic drugs, however, have a long history in many cultures as key ingredients in religious rituals. The drug-induced altered state of consciousness transcends euphoric experiences and becomes a means of contacting spirit entities. That has been the mainstay of shamanism throughout the world by people groups and cultures that have had no contact with one another. The shaman or witchdoctor, by ingesting or inhaling a hallucinogenic substance, is enabled to commune with the spirit world. He is thus “equipped” to mediate between the spirit beings and his tribe or village. The Bible censures the practice as a form of divination that results in communication with demons (which explains the uniformity of shamanism throughout the world).
Although there is a great deal of research to document the harmful effects of psychedelic drugs, even so, many participants in the psychedelic experiments are convinced of the value. Pollan reports that support for the use of hallucinogenics is gaining ground. The prestigious Psychopharmacology journal published a supportive landmark article titled “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance.” One might judiciously wonder exactly what pharmacologists were taught about the mystical and spiritual realm.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned having asked my friend: “What’s next?” This is a question that must be answered by everyone who faces death, because our eternal destiny depends upon it. Scripture is unambiguous: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews:9:27). It is an extraordinarily deceptive scheme of the Adversary to deny a dying person what may be the final opportunity for salvation by wrapping one’s last days of physical life in a cloak of psychedelic bliss. Heartbreakingly, this drug wave will certainly increase in the days ahead, as Pollan points out: “Many of the researchers and therapists I interviewed are confident that psychedelic therapy will eventually become routine. Katherine MacLean hopes someday to establish a ‘psychedelic hospice,’ a retreat center where the dying and their loved ones can use psychedelics to help them all let go.” The former hippies will likely help with its formation: “Many of the people in charge of our institutions today have personal experience with psychedelics and so feel less threatened by them.”
Fifty years of the ever-increasing influence of Eastern mysticism, however, through its homogenized and westernized form known as the New Age Movement, has corroded away the last chains of opposition. The gurus rushed to the West, trumpeted in by the Beatles under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Eastern meditation took its practitioners to a higher level of altered states of consciousness than the banned hallucinogenic drugs. (See America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice: the Rise of New Age Shamanism by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon for a detailed account of sorcery’s surprising impact on the West.)
Maharishi’s Spiritual Regeneration Movement, which was barred from US schools because of its blatant teaching of Hinduism and Eastern mysticism, has come back even stronger as the fraudulent science of Transcendental Meditation (TM).
Popular TV medical doctor and Sufi Muslim, Dr. Oz is the national spokesperson for Transcendental Meditation’s mystical mind-altering Hindu practice. Yoga, which is the heart of Hinduism, rivals Starbucks in popularity and can be found everywhere throughout the country, including in Christian churches. Its meditation is a more direct vehicle to a mystical altered state of consciousness. The legal use of marijuana (the psychedelic drug cannabis) began under the belief (some would say “ploy”) that it has significant value for medicinal purposes. It has recently been ushered into the realm of a recreational substance in a few states. It’s hardly a wild guess that the rest of the country will follow.
The astounding and pervasive use of drugs (which, again, the Bible terms sorcery ) in our day is one more proof of the prophetic accuracy of Scripture. Certainly the world is falling prey to the deceptive scheme instigated by the father of lies, Satan himself, and, tragically, so are many who profess to follow Christ. The Israelites heard from the Prophet Jeremiah God’s words of correction and His pleading with them to return to Him, yet they refused to repent of their spiritual adulteries. Christendom today is on that same path.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict the hearts of believers who, knowingly or unknowingly, have succumbed to sorcery, that they would repent and obey His Word.   TBC

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Catholics Should Believe Their First Pope

By mike gendron

The apostle Peter played a prominent role in the early church. Soon after he abandoned his career as a fisherman to follow Christ, he became a fisher of men. Several of his sermons were recorded in the Book of Acts, and his two epistles are included in the divinely inspired Scriptures. Since Catholics have been taught that Peter was their first pope, I have developed some questions to shed some light on his theology, ecclesiology, and soteriology. All of the answers come directly from his writings and sermons. It is my prayer that those of us who have been sanctified by the truth will share these glorious truths with our Catholic friends and loved ones.   

Peter, were you the first pope and the supreme head of the first century church?
"As a fellow elder, I exhort the elders among you... to shepherd the flock of God." (1 Pet. 5:1-3)

Are you the rock upon which Jesus would build His church?
Jesus is "a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God, chosen and precious... The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word." (1 Pet. 2:4,7-8)

Were you infallible?
Paul opposed me to my face because I was not in step with the truth of the Gospel.(Gal. 2:11,14)

Should we confess our sins to priests?
Repent of your wickedness and pray to God that your sins may be forgiven. (Acts 8:22)

Should we pray to Mary and the saints?
Pray to God. (Acts 8:22)

Can anyone be saved apart from the Lord Jesus Christ?
"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

What would you say to Pope Francis who teaches that atheists can follow their conscience into heaven?
"There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." "The ignorant and unstable twist Paul's letters to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." (2 Peter 2:1; 3:16)

Can anyone be certain that they have inherited eternal life?
God has caused believers to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven and protected by the power of God through faith. (1 Pet. 1:3-5)

Is it possible for God's grace or indulgences to be purchased for the remission of sins?
God ransoms us "not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ." (1 Pet. 1:18-19)

Can a person be born again through water baptism?
The only way to be regenerated is to be "born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God." (1 Pet. 1:23)

Should Jesus Christ be made a sin offering during the sacrifice of the Mass?
Christ suffered "once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (1 Pet. 3:18).

Is the Catholic priesthood necessary to mediate between God and man? 
Every believer, who is called out of darkness into Christ's marvelous light, is made a priest for the purpose of offering spiritual sacrifices to God and proclaiming His perfections (1 Pet. 2:9).

Should Jesus continue to be pictured as a dead man hanging on a cross or as a baby in Mary's arms?
The resurrected Christ has "gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him." (1 Pet. 3:21-22)

What should we do in these days of great deception?
Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 3:17-18)

There is a profound contrast between the divinely inspired teachings of Peter and the fallible, ungodly opinions of Pope Francis. The enormous disparity between the instruction of these two men Catholics call "pope" shows how far the Roman Catholic Church has departed from the faith of the apostles. May God give us all a greater compassion for the many victims of religious deception. Read more contrasts between Peter and Francis here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Giving the Gospel to Your Children

by John MacArthur
What are the bare-bone facts of the gospel? What is the minimum information needed to believe and be saved? While those questions may foster interesting discussions, they are not valid questions for developing evangelistic programs. Sadly, too many evangelistic efforts are based on answers to those questions.
In fact, many of the formulaic approaches to the gospel deliberately omit important truths like repentance and God’s wrath against sin. Some influential voices in modern evangelicalism have actually argued that those truths (and others, including Christ’s lordship) are extraneous to the gospel. They say such matters should not even be brought up when talking to unbelievers.
Other evangelical leaders, desiring ecumenical unity with Catholic and orthodox churches, suggest that important doctrinal issues such as justification by faith and substitutionary atonement are not really essential to the gospel. They’re in effect calling for a bare-bones approach to the gospel. Their ecumenical openness implies that virtually any kind of generic faith in Christ may be regarded as authentic saving faith. They ignore the fact that the New Testament condemns those who profess to believe in Christ while rejecting or twisting the doctrine of justification (Galatians 1:6–9). It seems many evangelicals are obsessed with finding out how little of God’s truth a person can believe and still get to heaven.
Parental Evangelism
Applied to parenting, that approach has potentially eternal consequences. That’s why parents should resist the temptation to think in such terms. The sort of constant, faithful, diligent teaching required by Deuteronomy 6:6–7 is incompatible with a minimalist approach to the gospel.
The gospel is the good news about Christ. There is a sense in which the gospel includes all truth about Him. There’s no need to think of any aspect of biblical truth as incompatible with or extraneous to the gospel. In fact, since Christ is the sum and the summit of all biblical revelation (Hebrews 1:1–3), every truth in Scripture ultimately points to Him. And therefore none of it is out of place in evangelistic contexts. One could accurately say, then, that parents who want to be thorough in evangelizing their children need to teach them the whole counsel of God, taking care to show the gospel ramifications in all that truth. That, I believe, is the true spirit of what Deuteronomy 6:6–7 calls for.
No single formula can possibly meet the needs of every unregenerate person anyway. Those who are ignorant need to be told who Christ is and why He offers the only hope of salvation (Romans 10:3). Those who are careless need to be confronted with the reality of impending judgment (John 16:11). Those who are fearful need to hear that God is merciful, delighting not in the death of the wicked but pleading with sinners to come to Him for mercy (Ezekiel 33:11). Those who are hostile need to be shown the futility of opposing the will of God (Psalm 2:1–4). Those who are self-righteous need to have their sin exposed by the demands of God’s law (Romans 3:20). Those who are proud need to hear that God hates pride (1 Peter 5:5). All sinners must understand that God is holy and that Christ has met the demands of God’s perfect righteousness on behalf of sinners (1 Corinthians 1:30). Every gospel presentation should include an explanation of Christ’s sacrificial death for sin (15:3). And the message is not the gospel if it does not also recount His burial and the triumph of His resurrection (vv. 4, 17).
Highlight the Crucial Gospel Doctrines
Along with a commitment to be thorough, however, parents must also take great care to highlight certain truths that are particularly crucial to a correct understanding of the gospel. Here are some pointers that will help keep you on course:
Teach Them About God’s Holiness
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). That is not speaking of a craven fear. It is not the kind of fear that regards God as capricious in His anger. Rather, it is a devout, reverential fear of offending God’s holiness, based on a true understanding of God as One whose “eyes are too pure to approve evil, and [One who] can not look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13).
Show Them Their Sin
Be sure to teach your children from the youngest age that misbehavior is not merely an offense against Mom and Dad; it’s also a sin against a holy God, who demands that children obey their parents (Exodus 20:12).
Help educate your children’s conscience so that they understand they are accountable to God first, and then their parents. Teach them this with love and genuine compassion, not in a browbeating manner.
Teaching them they are sinners does not mean belittling them or tormenting them with constant verbal battering about their failures. The goal is not to trample their spirit by continually berating them. Instead, you need to instruct them tenderly and help them view their own fallenness from God’s perspective. They need to appreciate why they are drawn to sin, and ultimately they must sense their own need of redemption. Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). How will your child turn to Christ if he doesn’t realize he’s sick?
Instruct Them About Christ and What He Has Done
Teaching your children about their own sin is by no means an end in itself. You must also point them to the only remedy for sin—Jesus Christ. He is the heart of the gospel message, so instructing them about Jesus Christ should be the ultimate focus and the design of all your spiritual instruction.
Explain Christ’s deity (John 1:1-3, 14) and His Lordship (Philippians 2:9-11). Explain that He became a man (Philippians 2:6-7), but maintained His sinless purity (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22-23) and became the spotless sacrifice for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21), shedding His blood as an atonement for our sin (Ephesians 1:7). Explain how His death on the cross purchased our salvation (1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 1:20), and that He triumphantly rose from the dead (Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). And explain that He freely justifies those who trust in Him (Romans 5:1-2; Galatians 2:16), and that His righteousness is imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:5-6; Philippians 3:8-9).
Tell Them What God Demands of Sinners
God calls sinners to repentance (Acts 17:30). Genuine repentance is not self-reformation or the turning over of a new leaf. It is a turning of the heart to God from all that is evil.
It’s helpful to stress that repentance is a heart-turning and should not be equated with any external action on the child’s part. In many modern evangelicals’ minds, the act of praying to invite Jesus into the heart has become practically a sacramental means of salvation. The same thing is true of lifting a hand in a meeting, or coming forward to the altar. But such external actions have no intrinsic saving efficacy. They are all works, and works cannot save. Faith—a repentant trust in Christ alone for salvation—is the one true instrument of our justification, according to Scripture. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
It’s best to avoid all such emphasis on external actions, and keep focusing instead on the response Scripture calls for from sinners.
Advise Them to Count the Cost Thoughtfully
Don’t downplay the hard demands of Christ. Don’t portray the Christian life as a life of ease, free from difficulties and dilemmas. Keep reminding your kids that the true price of following Christ always involves sacrifice, and the prelude to glory is suffering. It’s true that Christ offers the water of life freely to all who will take it (Revelation 22:17). But those who do are making an unconditional commitment to follow Him that may literally cost them their very lives.
Here is why all the central truths of the gospel focus on the cross: It reveals how heinous our sin is. It shows the intensity of God’s wrath against sin. It reveals the great love of God in paying such a high price for redemption. But it also serves as a fitting metaphor for the cost of following Christ. Jesus repeatedly stated that the cost of following Him involves a willingness to sacrifice all.
Urge Them to Trust Christ
We began by noting that regeneration is the Holy Spirit’s work in the heart, and we cautioned parents not to employ artificial means or external pressure to coax a shallow profession of faith from the child. Nonetheless, there is an urgency inherent in the gospel message itself, and it is right for parents to impress that urgency on the child’s heart.
God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

(Adapted from What the Bible Says About Parenting.)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ten fatal flaws of Catholicism

At the Worldview Weekend Conferenced in Branson, MO, John MacArthur responded to some thought provoking questions from the audience. When asked why so few evangelicals are contending for the faith against Roman Catholicism and its ecumenical movement, he said it is because they are ignorant of the errors of Catholicism. The next day, Mike Gendron took the opportunity to inform the audience of the ten most fatal errors of Catholicism. They are listed below:

1) It perverts the Gospel by adding requirements (Gal. 1:6-9).
2) It rejects the Gospel's promise of eternal life (2 Tim. 1:10). 
3) It rejects the sovereign, regenerating work of the Spirit with its sacrament of baptism (Eph. 1). 
4) Its bishops are false successors of the apostles, having not witnessed the resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).
5) It distorts the Word of God by adding its tradition to it (Prov. 30:6). 
6) Its illegitimate priesthood encourages the idolatrous worship of a wafer as Almighty God (Exodus 32).
7) It denies Christ's blood as the only purification for sin (1 John 1:7).
8) It blasphemes God by giving His titles of Holy Father, Head of the Church to the pope (John 14:1617:11; Eph. 5:23).
9) It rejects Jesus as the only way of salvation (John 14:6).
10) It follows deceitful spirits and teaches doctrines of demons by forbidding its clergy to marry (1 Tim. 4:1-4

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Keeping it Real

"The Christian life is too glorious to be easy. It must involve trials and testings. This was true of Christ himself as well as of the apostles and early church. Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation (Jn:16:33)....The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you..." (15:19-20).
Avoiding this uncomfortable truth, a "user-friendly gospel" is preached by thousands of pastors. Megachurches are created by offering an appealing "Christianity" that is guaranteed to bring success and popularity with the world, but which would not be recognized by Paul or the other apostles as the Christian life they knew. Celebrities popular with the world are paid to enter today's pulpits to endorse Christ; thereby they entice multitudes into a false Christianity. Once upon a time the Christian's heroes were missionaries and martyrs. Not today. Believers and the world now share the same role models. Today's successful church offers a Christianity guaranteed to be comfortable and which provides numerous services, from 12-step programs to psychological counseling, to escape every possible trial.
The faith by which the Christian life is to be lived and which is described as "more precious than gold" must be tested by temptations, trials and difficulties. Why? So that when the faith by which the just live comes through the fire of adversity it will "be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1Pt 1:7). Of Christ, who "[left] us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1Pt 2:21), it was said, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross..." (Heb:12:2). We are able to endure earthly trials because our hope lies beyond this brief life: "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor:4:17).
Those who have trusted God through deep trial testify that their faith has been strengthened and their joy increased. Having to depend totally on Christ draws us closer to Him and increases our love for Him. Any counsel, help or support we offer to those in distress should bring them through the trial of faith with their roots deepened in Christ (Is 43:2), rather than enable them to escape the very challenges God intends and the work He desires to effect in their hearts. By putting us in seemingly hopeless situations, God intends to move us from mere intellectual belief to practical trust in His provision." -Dave Hunt

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Will the Real Jesus please stand up?

There's the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.
There's Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.
There's Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life's problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.
There's Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).
There's Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.
There's Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that "all you need is love."
There's Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.
There's Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding "the god within" while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.
There's the intellectual Jesus- who cares only for doctrine and creeds, and wants His followers to be "missional".
There's Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.
There's Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.
There's Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.
(Obviously none of these represents the true Jesus who is God reigning in Heaven, who died on the cross for our sins, rose and conquered death on the third day. Who is at the same time a God of mercy, love, wrath, justice, compassion, and all knowing and all powerful. Who is a perfect Father and Savior! And who is coming back soon in judgement and will restore the earth out of sin and the curse! That's the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Christian Worldview for Children

All Christian parents want to train their children to be “good kids.” But that honorable goal is starkly shallow compared to the eternal purposes God has in mind for your parenting.

The purpose of training is to prepare the soil of our child's heart so they will seek God for themselves and be convicted of their own sinfulness and their need to repent. Compelling a child to “pray a sinner's prayer” will not save them. It will only make false converts if the heart is not prepared for God's presence.

The Bible mentions the heart 826 times. “Heart” refers to the core of a person's being. From the heart proceed our good and bad thoughts, emotions and behavior. What we teach our children can determine whether that soil is prepared to produce good or evil.

Nothing is more important than seeding deep within the heart and mind of a child core Christian convictions like Jesus is God; The reasons we know Jesus Christ rose from the dead, why we should be convinced the Bible is a true and accurate revelation from beginning to end and the absolute truth that Jesus is the only way to God. Unless our children know these and other key doctrines revealed in the Bible, they will not be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Although the word “doctrine” sometimes intimidates people, it is nothing more than a description of the will of God and the Gospel. If we have not trained the hearts and minds of our children to love sound teachings then we should not be surprised when three-fourths of them eventually walk away from the faith in college.

Excerpt from the book:

"The purpose of our training is to prepare
the soil of our children’s hearts so they will seek God for
themselves and be convicted of sinfulness and the need
to repent. Forcing or coercing children to “pray a sinner’s
prayer” will not save them but only make false converts.
I know this well from personal experience. At the age of
five, I prayed a “sinner’s prayer,” and at seven I walked the
aisle to join our church and be baptized. For years, I used
these acts to affirm my salvation. I learned to “perform,” to
do what was expected of me, or to do what I knew would
make other Christians respect and accept me.
I played the “game” even though I didn’t know I was
playing a game. I thought I was saved because I had prayed
the right prayer, walked the aisle, and was baptized. It was
not until I read Revival’s Golden Key by Ray Comfort that
I understood my total depravity and need for Biblical repentance. "

Order it here: Christian Worldview for Children