Friday, December 30, 2011

Trustworthy Answers in Untrusting Times

From the human perspective, life doesn't always make sense. It is a difficult journey with obstacles to face and pitfalls to avoid. All of us have asked the same hard questions: "Is there a God?"; "Does He really love me?"; "Why am I here?"; "Why did this have to happen?"; "What is life really about?"
Life is a process of seeking answers for the road ahead. But the real question is: "Where do I go to get the answers to those questions?" Philosophers can only speculate about the meaning of life. At best, they can suggest theories for the reasons of suffering, the existence of God, and other basic spiritual questions. In the end, philosophy's answers are totally unsatisfying. Even Bertrand Russell, perhaps the premier philosopher of the twentieth century and a man totally opposed to Christianity, admitted before he died that philosophy had availed him nothing.
I'll never forget a man I once met while hiking through the mountains of northern California. He was a graduate of Boston University who lived in an overturned Frigidaire box by a stream.
I saw him there and introduced myself. After describing his frustrating search for the meaning of life, he told me, "I've escaped."
"Well, have you found the answers?" I asked.
"No," he replied, "but I've put myself into a situation where I don't have to ask the questions!" Unfortunately, that is the best human wisdom can do.
Information, But No Answers

The last fifty years have produced an information explosion unparalleled in human history. Yet with all we have learned and with all the volumes that have been written, modern knowledge has been unable to shed any new light on the most basic spiritual questions facing the human race. That's exactly the situation the Bible ascribes to mankind in the end times: "always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).
Man has solved incredibly difficult problems in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, microbiology, and even space travel. But the true meaning of life stubbornly eludes those whose methods of pursuit are merely rational. They end up totally puzzled about life, death, God, man, sin, heaven, hell, love, joy, and peace.
The problem is that spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Corinthians 2:14). It's not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but human wisdom is defective because it is tainted by man's sinfulness and unable to perceive the things of God.
Trustworthy Answers from the Unchanging God

That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can't find on our own. It is God's Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Psalm 19 contains a hymn of praise to God for the wonders of His Word. It is also a marvelous lesson about the authority and sufficiency of Scripture to answer all the questions of life.
Perfect Answers

Verse 7 says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul." "Perfect" comes from a Hebrew word that means comprehensive, or complete. In other words, the Bible contains all the truth that is necessary to transform and restore the human soul.
Thus the Bible offers hope for those weighted down by a sense of their own failure. Because it is perfect truth, it can revive man's broken soul and offer new life to those defeated by sin and failure. If you are apathetic, Scripture will convict you of sin and show you your real needs. If on the other hand you are crushed with emptiness, guilt, and anxiety, God's Word contains truth that can transform your soul with new life in Christ.
Certain Answers

The psalmist goes on: "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (v. 7). Natural intelligence is at best a leap in the dark. Even the most perceptive philosopher will tell you that there is no certainty in human wisdom. At his best, man is totally inadequate in the pursuit of truth.
Not so with Scripture. God's Word is sure, certain, infallible, inerrant, and totally reliable in every sense. In contrast to human wisdom, which is based on academic pursuit, the Bible can make a simple person wise. What a fantastic promise! Whatever you need to know in life is covered in the Word of God. Study it for yourself. It will tell you how to build lasting friendships, how to develop communication skills, and how to build a solid marriage. All you need is an open mind, a receptive spirit, and an obedient heart.
Satisfying Answers

Verse 8 continues: "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart." Everyone wants a happy and contented life. The problem is that people look for joy in all the wrong places. Real happiness cannot be found in pleasure and materialism. You can't find lasting joy in sinful self-gratification and the hedonistic pursuit of money, sex, alcohol, and drugs. All these things lead to a dead end.
God offers real satisfaction to people who obey His Word. He wants us to be happy. Too many people think of God as a joyless ogre who stamps out pleasure wherever He finds it. God does not look at mankind from heaven saying, "There's one having fun; get him!" He designed us so that the greatest possible joy comes as a fruit of our obedience to Him.
Best of all, the gladness He gives is not the kind that ends when the party is over. It is a rich, deep joy that operates even in the midst of life's most difficult trials. No matter what pressures you may face in life, He will strengthen and guide you through His Word.
Enlightening Answers

"The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (v. 8). Scripture makes sense out of life. It helps us understand the depth of man's depravity without God. It is no wonder our world is filled with lying, cheating, murder, war, and tragedy. It is easy to understand why someone without spiritual understanding would want to escape into a box and hide!
What comfort does philosophy offer to someone who loses a child? What can human wisdom say to a person whose spouse has cancer? Only God's Word can speak with authority to the deep needs of life as it enlightens the eyes of those who submit to its truth.
The Bible may not always give easy answers to the hard questions we ask, but the truth it reveals is far superior to the pat answers of human wisdom. The Scripture declares the character of God. It shows Him as a loving, caring, all-wise, and omnipotent Sovereign who remains in control--no matter how bleak this world may seem.
Enduring Answers

Verse 9 says, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever." "The fear of the Lord" is parallel to "the law," "the testimony," "the precepts," and "the commandment" (vv. 7-8). It is another of the psalmist's names for Scripture. More than that, "the fear of the Lord" signifies the sum of man's response to God's Word.
The Bible, unlike any other book, endures forever. It is relevant in every generation--never out of date or obsolete. Though it is an ancient document, it never needs another edition. It has been translated to update the language, but for two millennia it has remained the same in content. It speaks to us as pointedly and authoritatively as it ever did to any generation since it was written.
Human philosophies come in and out of style. Every field of science known to man is constantly in a state of flux: changing, growing, discarding one maxim and replacing it with another. But one thing that never changes is the eternal Word of God.
True Answers

Finally, the psalmist says, "The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether" (v. 9). What a bold statement that is! God's Word is true. This is the unequivocal testimony of Scripture to itself. It is hard today to find anything we can count on for truth. The media, politicians, and even some preachers all have a reputation for lacking credibility. In fact, we take it for granted that they regularly distort the truth.
In a world of lies, people despair of trying to find the truth. That was even true in the time of Christ. Pilate, facing Jesus on one hand and an angry mob on the other, cynically asked, "What is truth?" (John 18:38), as if to say, "I give up"--just like the man in the refrigerator box!
Franz Kafka, the brilliant German novelist, used a parable to illustrate the futility of man's search for truth. He described a bombed-out city of rubble where death and ruin were everywhere. People had been crushed under debris, where they lay dying in agony. In the middle of this total holocaust, one solitary figure sits in a bathroom. Kafka calls him the defiant fisherman. He sits on a toilet seat with a fishing line dangling in the bathtub. There is no water in the tub, and obviously no fish, but the defiant fisherman keeps on fishing anyhow.
That, said Kafka, is what the search for truth is like. It is a futile quest for something that isn't really there. It is a worthless pursuit for meaning, while the whole world is dying all around.
It is a hopeless picture, but that is exactly what it's like to look for truth apart from the Bible. The natural man cannot find truth in the spiritual realm. He is spiritually dead and unresponsive to God (Ephesians 2:1-2). The only way he can find truth is if the spiritual realm invades his coffin of flesh.
That's exactly what the Bible does! It is a supernatural revelation from God that invades the human heart with the sum of spiritual truth we need to know. If you are looking for the transformation of your soul; if you are in need of true wisdom and real joy; if you long for eternal life, the only place you'll ever find it is in the pages of God's Word, the Bible.

Taken from:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wonderful Atheists

We were in Santa Monica, Southern California, looking for colorful interviews for the Third Season of our television program, especially for the opening four episodes. One program was called “Joe Average.” It opened with a man named Joe getting out of bed, making some toast and honey, drinking a glass of milk, then going outside in the early morning sunlight and checking his garden and the day’s weather. The script says, “Joe is a typical man. He doesn’t think much about the creation that surrounds him, let alone the Creator. Even though God gave him life itself, if you asked Joe if God had ever done anything for him, he probably couldn’t think of one thing. It’s just another average day for Joe Average. Not quite. There is nothing 'average' about Joe or what he has done that morning. He’s actually a miracle machine that no man-made mechanism could ever begin to even imitate.” Then the program talks of the marvel of his body, and where his milk, toast, and honey came from. It’s a wonderful and unique episode.

I stopped a couple on rollerblades and asked if they would like to be on television, talking about what they believe happens after someone dies. They looked at each other and said, “We’re atheists!” It told them how much I love atheists, and they gave their consent to be on the program.

First question: “Has God ever done anything for you?” Their answer was a predictable “Nothing.” I said, “He gave you life.” Again, a predictable “Our parents gave us life.” I said, “That's right. And their parents gave them life, right back to Adam.” He agreed, then said, “No!!!!,” He laughed, and added “You got me!” That set a relaxed tone for the interview.

I said, “I have a task for you. Make me some milk, from nothing.” He looked a bit puzzled and said, “We would need a cow.” “Okay then, make me a cow, from nothing.” He said he couldn’t do it. His wife agreed. So I asked where the first cow came from. “Evolution.” How did evolution create the cow? A predictable “The big bang.” Where did the materials come from for the big bang to happen? He didn’t know.

When I asked them both to make me some honey, from nothing, they went back to the bee, and ended up with the same dilemma. They had no idea what happened “in the beginning.”

I asked them to surmise that there was a God in the beginning, and a Heaven and a Hell. Were they good enough to go to Heaven? A predictable, of course they were . . . that is, until they saw the perfect righteousness of God's Law--they were guilty of lying, stealing, blasphemy and adultery of the heart (lust). If there was a Hell, they both admitted that they were going there when they died. Did that concern them? It did. I then explained that 2,000 years ago, a legal transaction took place between God and man.

When Jesus of Nazareth suffered and died on the cross, He was paying the fine for the moral Law that each of us has transgressed. Because of His suffering death and resurrection, God can now legally dismiss our case. We can leave the courtroom. He can commute our death sentence and let us live.

I explained the necessity of repentance and faith, and how (if the husband cared about his wife and five kids) he needed to get right with God. He looked at me with wide-eyes and said, “I have never had anyone explain that to me before . . .” It was a wonderful interview with a couple of very nice people. It was also just what we needed for the program. It wasn’t the first time atheists turned out to be a God-send.

(Taken from:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Things Unseen

“Things unseen” is a motif that runs throughout Scripture—and what is not visible to the eye often presents a significant challenge to those unable to discern God’s presence and purpose when God seems silent.
AS I WRITE, I AM home awaiting a plumber. My water bills over the past few months have been slightly higher than usual, but I hadn’t noticed a leak until my neighbor informed me that she saw a small amount of water pooling near my meter. I have mowed over the spot on several occasions and never sensed anything out of the ordinary, yet the invisible leak is finally visible and now trickling into the street.
Luke 1:5-7
"In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old
The apostle Paul speaks of “things unseen” when he writes, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). You could say that “things unseen” is a motif that runs throughout Scripture— and what is not visible to the eye often presents a significant challenge to those unable to discern God’s presence and purpose when God seems silent. Consider barren Sarah and her husband, Abraham, who is told by God, “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16). And yet twentyfive years pass before Sarah bears Isaac. In the meantime, the couple attempts to take matters into their own hands to fulfill God’s promise only to experience more heartache (see Genesis 16).
Then there are Jacob and Moses, who flee their homes without seeing God’s purpose or promise for years, and Joseph, betrayed by his own brothers and dragged to a foreign land where he is falsely accused and imprisoned. Did they not wonder if God really had a better story for their lives in the face of “things unseen?” Or how about Elizabeth and Zechariah who pray for decades for a child but seemingly see no evidence of God at work? Even though they are “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly,”1 barrenness in their culture symbolized shame, scorn, and God’s supposed disapproval. They live with the heartache of being both childless and greatly misunderstood. Not surprisingly, when an angel finally tells aging Zechariah that Elizabeth would bear a son who would be the forerunner to the Messiah, he doesn’t believe him and asks to see with certainty that this would be so.
Yes, this long road is riddled with love, loss, and bewilderment, and perseverance tests the faithful to the core when we “labor under the misimpression that we see what we see, that seeing is believing, that either I see it or I don’t.”2 Yet it is in such places, Scripture tells us, that God “longs to be gracious” and promises that all “who hope in him will not be disappointed.”3 Indeed, “by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise” and “by faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”4 Each of these characters’ journeys through things unseen allows their faith, once small as a mustard seed, to become visible, and their trust in God to grow deep roots. Such faith, the writer of Hebrews says, “Is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1).
Moreover, Scripture reveals that long before we may see God’s hand, He is at work on our behalf. For instance,the prophet Daniel mourns and fasts for three weeks earnestly seeking God’s wisdom. Twenty-four days later, he is visited by a heavenly being who announces, “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard and I have come in response to them” (Daniel 10:12). As A.W. Tozer notes, “Wherever faith is present, we touch and handle things unseen.”5
I have had the privilege of working alongside Ravi Zacharias for nineteen years now and have heard him speak about the founding of RZIM on numerous occasions and been asked about it myself —as I was just the other day. And it never fails: every time the story is recounted, I get goose bumps. As Ravi writes in his autobiography Walking from East to West, he was on a flight back from Amsterdam where he had addressed a large gathering of those “inside the faith” when he became more burdened for those on the margins and for the “happy pagan” who expressed little interest in (so it appeared) spiritual concerns. Who was addressing their heartfelt and challenging questions, he wondered. So Ravi and his wife, Margie, began to pray about their next steps yet chose not to disclose this burden but rather wait on God’s leading.
The more they prayed, they sensed that if Ravi were to leave his comfortable seminary teaching post, they would need a certain amount of money in order to move forward with a ministry that would respond to the needs of inviting bodies such as universities with little to offer beyond the great privilege of answering student’s genuine questions. One day, after Ravi’s last lecture at a conference where he was speaking, he decided to ask those present to pray for him and his wife as they wrestled with a decision but said nothing more. Ravi was in the hotel lobby preparing to leave when a gentleman whom Ravi didn’t know asked to speak with him a moment.
The man said, “I went to my room and got on my knees, and I asked the Lord to reveal to me the wisdom you need. I asked him if there was anything I could do to help in the decision you’re making. Now, I don’t know what that decision is, but the Lord did impress me that I could help.”6He then handed Ravi a check for the exact amount that he and Margie had prayed about for several months! (As Ravi notes in his autobiography, he did not accept the gift until after getting to know Mr. D.D. Davis and sharing more about his vision; Mr. Davis, in time, would become a father figure and mentor in Ravi’s life.)
Isaiah 30:18
"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
For a season, a couple journeyed through things unseen—and in a sudden moment, God revealed his answer to them through a complete stranger. Like the slow leak in my yard, just because we cannot see God at work doesn’t mean that He is not. As scholar Timothy Paul Jones observes, “When [God] doesn’t seem to respond to our prayers, it may not be because He’s chosen not to speak; it may be that His answer is already on the way.”7

Taken from: 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Muslim Challenges Ravi Zacharias

 Here a Muslim man asks a few challenging questions about the Christian faith. Ravi Zacharias give some good answers!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Understand Your Sin= Understanding You Need A Savior

      It's hard to tell people they need Jesus Christ as their Savior or even start talking about Christianity unless they first understand their condition. For example, let's say someone goes into the doctor for a physical. The doctor comes to you after the evaluation, and tells you that you have a very serious condition. You have cancer. The news from him would alarm you to ask the question: "What should I do?" You would hope that the doctor would respond with a cure for your condition and a road that leads to healing.
     With the alarming news from the doctor that you have cancer, you would quickly try and find a cure for your condition. The same example here can be used in regards to the universal human condition. The cancer of sin! Most people think that they are good people and are healthy spiritually. Most understand that they do in fact, sin. But many don't realize the life threatening effects of sin or what sin really is.
What is Sin? 
     In order for people to see they absolutely need a cure for their sinfulness, they need to see sin in it's truest light. "Sin is the breaking of God's law.  If God says "Do not lie" and you lie, then you have broken His law and sinned.  When you sin, you offend God because it is His law that you have broken.  Also, the reason God says to not lie, not cheat, etc., is because these laws reflect the moral purity of His nature.  Therefore, the Law is a reflection of the character of God.  It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie.  It is wrong to steal because God cannot steal, etc.  The moral law is not arbitrary.  It is based on God's holiness.
   The law, then, is a standard of moral purity.  The Old Testament contains the Law of God.  It is a perfect standard because it is God's standard.  When we fail to keep the law, we sin.  When we sin, we offend God.  This offense against God results in a judgment.  Laws are laws because they have penalties.  There is no law without a penalty.  Therefore, breaking God's law brings judgment which is separation from God.  "But your sins have made a separation between you and your God," (Isaiah 59:2).  And, "the wages of sin is death..." (Rom. 6:23).  So, to sin, to break God's law, results in judgment.  The judgment is known as damnation which is the righteous judgment of God upon the sinner.  If God did not judge the sinner, then He is not upholding His holiness and he would be allowing sinners to go unpunished." (
    Because we have all broken God's Law and stand guilty before Him, we can now see our spiritual bankruptcy! We have nothing to offer God and our works "are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) before Him.  No amount of good deeds can outweigh the bad.  We may be able to earn things in life, ( good grades, income, etc.) but we simply cannot earn our own salvation from sin.
    We Need A Savior
    Until we individually see our sinfulness and our wretched condition before a holy God, we will never understand why we need a Savior.  The example of the person finding out they had cancer shows that he/she understood the devastating consequences of cancer unless they found a cure. The same should be true for our sin.  Unless we find the cure for our sin- Jesus Christ, we will experience the devastating consequences of our sin- eternal judgement!
   Jesus came to this earth as a man. He had to become man in order to represent man. He lived a sinless life because he was God and kept all the requirements of the Law that we could not keep. He then willingly went to the Cross of execution on our behalf to satisfy God's righteous demand on sin. He took the very judgement you and I deserve. He took on the penalty for every sin you and I committed in our lives. He became our cure by rising from the dead three days later. When we see our sin and ask: "What should I do?" we can go directly to the Savior in prayer. "Who ever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
    We can discuss Jesus and Christianity all day. But it will mean nothing to us if we don't understand the price that was paid by the Judge himself to save humanity from their sin! 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Significance of the Virgin Birth

By John MacArthur

At this point in Matthew’s narrative, we know two indisputable facts. One, Mary is pregnant, and two, Joseph is not the father of the child. A third crucial fact comes by way of angelic revelation. The child in Mary’s womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit. That means Mary is still a virgin.
But what was the significance of Mary’s pregnancy even though she had not had relations with Joseph or any other man? Joseph likely would have spent some time puzzling over that question if the divine messenger had not immediately clarified his pronouncement with these words, “‘And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matt. 1:21).
The angel tells Joseph that Mary will actually bear a son. And not just any son, but Jesus, who “will save His people from their sins.” God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning defined the fundamental, overarching purpose for the Son’s coming to earth. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, Jeshua, or Jehoshua, each of which means “Jehovah (Yahweh) will save.” The baby Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and would give birth to in the plan of God would grow up to testify to the Father’s salvation and would Himself be that salvation. By His own sacrificial death on the Cross and triumphant Resurrection from the grave He would save His own—all those who are drawn from sin to repentance and who receive faith to embrace His atoning work.
Here’s the significance of the virgin birth: Since Jesus was conceived by the agency of the Holy Spirit, God was His Father; His lineage was a holy one. Therefore, Jesus was able to save His people from their sins. That’s the good news of Christmas. Rejoice in it!

John MacArthur

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christless Christianity (Excerpts)

"Christ is a source of empowerment, but is he widely regarded
among us today as the source of redemption for the powerless?
He helps the morally sensitive to become better, but does he save
the ungodly—including Christians? He heals broken lives, but
does he raise those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph.
2:1 NKJV)? Does Christ come merely to improve our existence
in Adam or to end it, sweeping us into his new creation? Is
Christianity all about spiritual and moral makeovers or about
death and resurrection—radical judgment and radical grace? Is
the Word of God a resource for what we have already decided
we want and need, or is it God’s living and active criticism of
our religion, morality, and pious experience? In other words, is
the Bible God’s story, centering on Christ’s redeeming work,
that rewrites our stories, or is it something we use to make our
stories a little more exciting and interesting? (pg. 24)

Religion, spirituality, and moral earnestness—what Paul called
“the appearance of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim.
3:5)—can continue to thrive in our environment precisely because
they avoid the scandal of Christ. Nobody will raise a fuss if you
find Jesus helpful for your personal well-being and relationships,
or even if you think he was the greatest person in history—a
model worthy of devotion and emulation. But start talking about
the real crisis—where our best efforts are filthy rags and Jesus
came to bear the condemnation of helpless sinners who place
their confidence in him rather than in themselves—and people
begin shifting in their seats, even in churches." (pg. 26)

"Discipleship, spiritual disciplines, life transformation,
culture-transformation, relationships, marriage and family,
stress, the spiritual gifts, financial gifts, radical experiences
of conversion, end-times curiosities that seem to have less to
do with Christ’s bodily return than with matching verses to
newspaper headlines, and accounts of overcoming significant
obstacles through the power of faith. This is the steady diet
we’re getting today, and it is bound to burn us out because it’s all
about us and our work rather than about Christ and his work.
Even important biblical exhortations and commands become
dislocated from their indicative, gospel habitat. Instead of the
gospel giving us new thoughts, experiences, and a motivation
for grateful obedience, we lodge the power of God in our own
piety and programs." (pgs. 26-27)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

False Teachers Among You

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you... And many will follow their destructive ways...They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you... they speak great swelling words of emptiness.... (2 Pt 2:1-2, 13,18)

To the world it might appear that all is well in the Christian realm. Much-beloved speakers hold forth from the pulpits of some of the largest churches in the world. Believers and nonbelievers alike buy their books, avail themselves of their programs, and utilize their methodologies. One might come to the conclusion that Peter must not have been referring to the church in our day regarding false teachers. Tolerance is the word of the day. We hear admonitions on a regular basis to "just get along" with those of opposing faiths. "Love" reigns supreme.

But what is this "love" of which they speak? What about those who identify a false gospel or a false teacher among some of the popular speakers these days? Does this "love" still apply to those who expose the ones who are actually deceivers among the flock? We find that those who point out error and apostasy in the church are, in fact, considered divisive and judgmental. Some are told that their criticism will bring harm to the Christian church. They are perceived as arrogant and "negative." It is clear that the trend among evangelicals to embrace the "politically correct" thinking of the day will have egregious effects on the Body of Christ.

This "state of the church" forces me to ask a few simple questions. If Peter said that there would be false teachers in the church, where are they? How can we identify them? Who will warn others? It stands to reason that if the Word of God warns us that false teachers will be present in the church, doesn't it follow that we are expected to expose them? How will we recognize them, and what are we to do about them?

The Apostle Paul wrote, "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves" (Acts 20:30). So we see that these false teachers will bring in things that are corrupt, contrary--opposed to biblical doctrine (teaching). Their purpose is to gather disciples to their own folds, separating them from the true Body of Christ. Paul's concern was not only that this would occur--but that the church would tolerate it: "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted--you may well put up with it!" (2 Cor 11:4).

The very thing that Paul warned about has come to pass! Most Christians not only tolerate those who speak "perverse things," but they ostracize believers who won't accept them. Do we think that we are wiser than Paul? Are we more mature than Jude? Are we really called to leave the evils of error alone and allow the church to be polluted by the lies? Not according to the Scriptures!

Some may say, "But there are good men and women out there whose ministries have been damaged when others pointed out errors in their teachings." Couldn't the same have been said about Paul when he called Peter to account for his error and "withstood him to his face" (Gal 2:11-14)? Paul didn't intend to bring condemnation upon Peter but rather to move him to repent of his actions. Paul saw the need to keep the message of the gospel pure so that both Peter and those who heard him teach would know the truth--the truth that makes men free!

In the early church, it was the elders of the church who were responsible to give correction and instruction through the Word of God. Today we are fortunate to have greater individual access to the Scriptures, which are every believer's authority. We know that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tm 3:16-17).

Every epistle in the New Testament was written to correct error in the church. Did Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude not understand that to correct those who were in error was in truth a failure to love them? Did they believe that it was none of their business to bring correction to the false teaching? Do we consider them divisive for confronting error and holding fast to the truth? No! They boldly addressed the error and at times even named the offenders.

Paul instructed Titus (an elder) regarding the standards by which other elders should be appointed--and function. He said, "For a bishop must...[hold] fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not....Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth... and [are] disqualified for every good work" (Ti 1:7-16). It is those in leadership who are called to the task of identifying error. Sadly, these are primarily the very ones who are promoting the error from the pulpits and publishing houses.

Jude wrote, "Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Paul told the Romans, "Note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them" (Rom 16:17). This is what the Bible says, but the trend today is to "avoid those" who are pointing out the ones who are spreading error!

Every God-called pastor is told, "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). Peter said, "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers..." (1 Pt 5:2a). Along with the calling of God comes gifting and passion. One of the gifts given to every godly pastor is love for the church. If we truly love people, we don't want to see them fall into error. Error causes harm, and "love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom 13:10).

Peter declared, "There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you..." (2 Pt 2:1-2). Paul said, "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly..."  (1 Thes 5:14a). We must by all means "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3). However, we must always remember that, as servants to the Lord and to the Body of Christ, we are called to "comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all" (1 Thes 5:14b). And always keep in mind that: "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth" (2 Tm 2:24-25).

"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Gal 6:1).

By Paul Van Noy
Pastor of Candlelight Christian Fellowship,
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas in Your Heart

      Christmas is a special time around the world. Young and old alike anticipate exchanging gifts and spending time with family. The gifts exchanged at Christmas serve as a reminder of the greatest gift ever given. That gift is Jesus Christ, God's Son, who was born to bring salvation to all who will receive Him.

    Often, a gift given at Christmas is based on what a person needs. The gift God gave the world met the need of every person that has ever lived. The Bible states that we are sinners, separated from God, and deserve eternal death. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:10, 23) "But your inquities have seperated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) "For the wages of sin is death;" (Romans 6:23b)
   To meet our need of salvation, God wrapped His Son, Jesus Christ, and presented Him to the World. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) God gave His gift because of His great love for us.

    Webster's Dictionary defines a gift as something of value that is voluntarily given from one person to another without receiving anything in return. This is exactly what God did for us by giving His Son to die on the cross for our sin. 2 Corinthians 9:15 states, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." This gift cannot be measured in value. It can never be destroyed or broken. This gift is eternal life. "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23b)
     Jesus willingly gave Himself to meet our need. "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliever us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." (Galatians 1:4)
     A true gift is given freely. God does not ask you to do anything to earn salvation. It is a free gift. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

      We give gifts and expect them to be received. No one gives a present for it to be rejected. However, many people reject God's gift. Refusing to accept God's gift results in an eternity in Hell. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36)
      You can receive His gift by turning from your sins and accepting Him as your personal Lord and Saviour. "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. " (Romans 10:9-10)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Emotion is not Devotion

This common greeting exposes one of the most dominant factors in our life. To most people the height of accomplish-ment is to feel good. The advertisers are getting wealthy by catering to this driving passion. Young people are being led down a road of shame, being victimized by their emotions. The most popular TV program is the one that can arouse a response of fear, hate, love, or joy. America is racing-headlong toward the goal of escape from reality. It is evident in the entertainment world, the make-believe reading materi-als, drugs, alcohol, and the glamorized human body.
This emphasis on FEELING has crept into nearly all religious circles. The sensual beat of the night club is now heard from the platforms of our churches, Bible colleges, and supposedly Christian radio stations. (None of my money shall support any of them.) How unscriptural to use such fleshly appeal to attract others to the Savior! Such depraved methods reveal frustrated feelings and a demonstration that they are victims of a pleasure-mad, feeling-oriented philosophy in which one worships at the altar of pleasure and sacrifices everything to it as they become the servants and not masters of their emotions.
The most popular religious radio and TV programs in America today are based on this mad craze for excited feelings. Their programs contain thimbles of Scripture and barrels of experience and emotions. If one should remove “the healing attraction” from their ministry, the interest and support would diminish immediately. They are endeavoring to entertain a fellowship of sick immature people. Of course they, too, have the “beat of Hollywood” in music, method, and appearance.
The standard dictionary states that emotion is a stirring perturbation, or excitement of the mind; the power of feeling, sensibility, and sentiment. The root word means, “move out.” It lists feeling as a synonym. The same dictionary states that feeling is any mental stirring, sentiment, or emotion. One of the synonyms used is passion.
Not only are people of the world becoming victimized by their emotions, but it becomes more pathetic when professing Christians live in his same realm. Their spiritual level is determined by how they feel. Their service and zeal is completely dominated by their emotions. The more tears shed, the greater the consecration. They follow the preacher who has the tear in his voice, and the congregation that shouts. To them such attraction is of greater importance than the presentation of the Word of God.
So many times, when asking a person for the assurance of their Salvation, I have heard the familiar sound, “0, I feel like it.” Seldom do I hear a scripture verse or the testimony of a changed life, visible by conduct and appetite. Occasionally, there is one honest heart who says he is not saved because he does not feel like it. He heard someone state how different he felt when trusting the Savior; so the struggle and labor for a certain feeling continues with a question if he will recognize it at the proper time.
Many churches have adopted the standards and methods of contemporary society rather than those of the Word of God. The current appeal is for more interesting approaches and content, which is a plea for entertainment, rather than solid Bible study. Since when is personal happiness our prime concern? We seem to be egocentric rather than theocentric. Today’s professing Christian is pursuing his own personal goal on a higher religious plane. Numbers and noise satisfies this crowd. They declare their methods as examples for all to follow.
Many people in our day are caught up in the frantic pursuit of a satisfying experience. Remember the men who turned the world upside down did not tell people about their exciting experience, nor was their burden to show how to discover the emotional experience of the spirit-filled life. Not one apostle or Bible preacher, including Paul, told of such an experience. They did not present themselves as spirit-filled men or boast of a superior spiritual attainment. The Holy Spirit (within the pages of the Bible) simply declared them as spirit-filled men. They had no preoccupation with inward experiences that produced emotional reactions in their lives. There was no programming to overwhelm emotions to produce an inward hysteria of intoxication.
Men today take the spotlight from Christ to the glorification of a religious experience under the pretext of honoring the Holy Spirit in the glorification of man by the effect upon his emotions. In so doing, they cast TRUTH down and exalt the creature rather than the creator.
We must stop allowing feelings to dominate our being and discover what the Word of God says. Can we find one scripture verse that gives us assurance of heaven on the basis of our feelings? I would not walk across the street to hear an experience but I would walk miles to hear refreshing news from the Bible. Go ahead and beg and weep all you want; but as for me and my house, we are going to take God at His Word and get busy doing what He has told us (in His Word).
What does the Bible say about feeling? The word is found only twice in the entire Bible. The first time is in Ephesians 4:19. ‘Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” The word ‘feeling’ actually means ‘senseless’ resulting of a long process of hardening as shown in the 18th verse. This word can properly be translated “being past hope.” The only other scripture that uses this word is Hebrews 4:15. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the felling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Again, this word is not the same as our present day understanding. The Greek can be translated: “Cannot sympathize with our infirmities.” The root meaning is sympathy.
In only seven places in the Bible will you find the word ‘feel.’ In four places it is talking of the sense of touch. In one place it is the lack of satisfaction. In another it does not refer to humans and in the other it is denoting experience.
Feeling and emotions are not involved when it comes to the necessary steps of Salvation. Do not misunderstand me. We are emotional creatures and God has created us with a capacity to react and respond to approaches received through our five senses. But the Bible is clear and plain that we are not brought into personal relationship with God’s Son through our emotions. We do not have assurance on the basis of our fluctuating feelings.
Emotion is not Devotion - continued
In the Garden of Eden, Eve was deceived upon responding emotionally to Satan. She allowed her five senses to dominate all other faculties. We know the horrible consequences. Her failure to obey God was the result of Satan succeeding to make her self-conscious. Notice her five senses in action in the third chapter of Genesis:
Hear - YEA HATH GOD SAID, vs.3
Taste - WE MAY EAT, v.2,3
THE EYES, v. 6
Taste - GOOD FOR FOOD, v.6
When emotions rule, pride always shows itself because of self-consciousness. “.. . And a tree to be desired to make one wise.” (Genesis 3:6)
God gave a commandment that required obedience. The devil appealed to her desire, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. His method remains unchanged; as we see its demonstration throughout the Bible. Living according to feeling is the greatest hindrance to Godliness that we face. (Listen for it as many preachers and laymen use this unscnptural word.) “I feel.” Godly living, by God’s commandments, results from a Biblical structure and personal discipline. The Bible clearly indicates that God deals with our heart, mind, and spirit. “The spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:15) To live according to feeling reflects a foreign religion and morality not found in the Bible
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
These and many other verses settle forever the issue of our part in Salvation. God’s glorious provision in His Son made available to us is the result of His Grace. We are not saved upon the basis of our faith. It was God who loved us and gave His only begotten Son that we might not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Notice that it is through faith that we that we have access to this grace. “By whom (Christ) also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2) We are not saved by what we do, it is a matter of believing in what Christ has done for us. You cannot be faithful in order to get to heaven. Christ alone was faithful and we must believe in His work.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: For there is no difference.” (Romans 3:22) We possess God’s righteousness on the basis of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. This righteousness is unto us and upon us when we believe in Christ’s righteousness. (See Galatians 2:16, 3:22) Will you take God at His Word and believe Him to do as He has promised or will you try to feel this which can only be received by faith?
Notice the result of believing in Christ! The jailer who ordered the stripes upon Paul’s back now washes him and is baptized by him. (Acts 16:33) In the next verse we find them in fellowship around the table in the jailer’s house. The Bible informs us that HE REJOICED. Why not? Was he not now a child of God? Had not God forgiven him of all sins? Did not God keep his promise? The jailor gave praises to God as Paul did in prison.
Here is genuine emotion that results from contact with the cleansing Blood of Christ. I want you to notice the timing. He rejoiced after he believed, for the 34th verse implies that he rejoiced because he had believed. You, too, will be happy when you believe God to do what he promised. For God cannot lie. The Bible tells us that He will remember my sins and iniquities no more forever. (Hebrews 10:17) “As far as the east is from the west has He removed my transgressions.” (Psalms 103:12) Praise the Lord! I believe it! For these and many other reasons this preacher is full and overflowing with joy, thrill, and delight.
The steps are simple. First, the grace of God has already been manifested. Second, Christ was faithful on the Cross satisfying God’s just judgment upon sin and meeting His righteous standards that demand perfection. Third, you can now believe God’s promise and receive Christ’s provision to take away your sin. Fourth, it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to inform your spirit of his transaction. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16)
It is not your labor that imparts this witness. It is God’s work to do exactly that which he promised. Will you, the best way you know how, believe God’s Word? Will you let God take care of the witness of His Spirit? Remember, you rest upon the finished work of Christ in your eternal behalf. Faith is provided for you through the Word of God after His Spirit reveals sin through Biblical Truth. Believe God, independent of feeling, seeking, and begging. God wants to save your soul far more than you will ever desire Him to. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)

By Dwight Porter (

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Day Christ Was Born

We are not referring to December 25. That may or may not have been when Christ was born. There are conflicting theories: 1) that December 25 was set by Christians to counter the Roman Saturnalia celebration each December 17-23, which "led to widespread drinking and debauchery, so that among Christians...'saturnalia' came to mean 'orgy'"; 2) that early Christians set the date of December 25 by assuming that Mary visited Elizabeth immediately after her (Mary's) conception, and then calculating the time of Elizabeth's conception as six months earlier (Lk 1:23-25)--based on Jewish records and tradition concerning the schedule of priestly temple duties and Zacharias's "course of Abia" (Lk 1:5);1 and 3) that it replaced the feast of Saturnalia, as Will Durant claims,2 which is probably the most popular criticism of the date.

Regardless of the day, Christ's virgin birth into this world as a babe was an event of such stupendous proportions that Paul declared: "great is the mystery..." (1 Tm 3:16)! The Creator of all (Jn 1:3) entered into His creation as one of its creatures, knowing everything He would suffer at the hands of those rebels that He had brought into existence through Adam and Eve. The hatred, misunderstanding, false accusations, abuse, rejection, mockery, and finally, the scourging and crucifixion that He would endure from those who owed their very existence to Him had long been foretold by Hebrew prophets under His inspiration.

His mother, Mary, was not "the spouse of the Holy Spirit," as Roman Catholicism says. She was the spouse of Joseph and not a polygamist. The "Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2:8) humbled Himself to live as a baby, child, man, and finally unto "the death of the cross" (Phil 2:5-8). As a child, he was subject to his "parents." When Mary or Joseph asked the boy Jesus to do some menial task, He didn't respond, "Who do you think you're ordering around? I'm God!" He quickly and humbly did their bidding.

Joseph was not His father, yet the child Jesus lived such a normal life that even Mary, who had at first pondered much in her heart (Lk 2:51), fell into the habit when speaking to Jesus of referring to Joseph as "thy father" (Lk 2:48). Joseph was certainly the head of the household, and the child Jesus obeyed him.

The One who had made the universe out of nothing and who knew every particle--from the innermost depths of each atom to the outermost reaches of the cosmos--confined Himself to an obscure life in a small home and carpenter shop in Nazareth. There, as Joseph's bright young apprentice, He "learned" to fashion wood with crude tools and became known as "the carpenter's son" (Mt 13:55). His workmanship and creativity must have been fantastic. We are told nothing about those early days, except for His visit to the temple at the age of twelve (Lk 2:41-52), when He astonished the rabbis and reminded Mary and Joseph that His real Father had sent Him into this world for a special purpose.

It was infinite love beyond our comprehension that caused our Lord to leave the glory and power He had rightfully known for eternity as God the Son, to become a man in order to purchase a bride with His own blood. He came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk 19:10). When He accepted that mission from His Father ("my Father hath sent me"-Jn 3:17, 10:36, 20:21; Heb 1:6), our Lord well knew that the incarnation would not be temporary but eternal. He forever became one of us but without sin.

On David's throne in Jerusalem, as Israel's promised Messiah, He will "reign over the house of Jacob for ever" (Lk 1:33). He remains "the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tm 2:5), the only mediator between God and man, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever" (Heb 13:8). For all eternity He will bear the marks of Calvary, and heaven's throne will forever be "the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rv 22:1).

How could anyone have known who He really was, since His glory was veiled in human flesh? Any true believer of that day who was in touch with God, knew the Word, and looked for the Messiah, would have known Him. Daniel 9 and Nehemiah 2 plainly told everyone who was willing to read and understand that it was the prophesied time for the Messiah to come. Anna the prophetess and Simeon, a devout Jew who looked for the Messiah, both recognized Him immediately, even as a baby (Lk 2:25-38).

Though there was some excuse for not knowing Him as a child, there was no defense for not recognizing Him after He began His ministry. The miracles alone that He did were sufficient to prove that He was the Messiah. And He must have been a very special person. Even the officers sent by the Pharisees to arrest Him acknowledged, "Never man spake like this man" (Jn 7:46)!

Who could have failed to realize that here was "God...manifest in the flesh" (1 Tm 3:16)? Almost everyone! Very few recognized and admired the God-likeness of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, their innate sinfulness despised His purity. Of the vast majority, in fulfillment of prophecy (Ps 35:19, 69:4, 119:161), Christ sadly declared, "They hated me without a cause" (Jn 15:25). It seems incredible!

John the Baptist recognized that Jesus was sinless: "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" (Mt 3:14). Yet later, even he doubted (Lk 7:19), in spite of all of the proofs God had given him (Jn 1:33-34). The Apostle John was one of the few who recognized Him: "We beheld his of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth....That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested..." (Jn 1:14; 1 Jn 1:1,2).

Tragically, "though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him" (Jn 12:37). The Pharisees knew that His miracles were genuine, that He had raised Lazarus after four days in the grave; but they still justified themselves in determining to kill Him and Lazarus to preserve their positions of leadership. No wonder God declared, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer 17:9).

The devils recognized Him during His ministry, even though they may not have known who He was as a babe: "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God" (Mt 8:29; Mk 1:24). Jesus did not cast out demons in the name of the Father but by His own authority, and they obeyed Him (Mt 8:28-32; Mk 1:25; Lk 4:35).

The universe, which He as the eternal Word had spoken into existence, knew and obeyed His voice. He calmed storms with a word (Mk 4:39). Yet even then His disciples did not know who He was. They were afraid and "said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (4:41).

Jesus said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (Jn 17:3). That does not mean that any neighbor acquainted with Him as a child when He grew up in Nazareth had eternal life. It means to know Him in spirit and in truth--the way that we must worship God (Jn 4:24). It is not enough to say the words with one's lips ("I love you, Lord...I worship you") but to know and love Him in one's heart as He truly is.

Even though Jesus is God, and Mary is the mother of Jesus, that does not make her the "mother of God," as Catholicism teaches. Nor did she remain a virgin. The birth of her "firstborn son" (Mt 1:25) in Bethlehem was not the birth of Christ as God but of His human body, soul, and spirit--"a body hast thou prepared me" (Heb 10:5). She was the honored mother of the man Christ Jesus. But she was not the mother of the eternal Son of God, who created this universe, is one with the Father, and "was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14).

Christ existed as God's Son long before the incarnation (Ps 2:12; Prv 30:4; Is 9:6; Dn 3:25, etc.). He had, from all eternity, ruled with the Father on His throne as the Son of God: "Unto the son he saith, thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom" (Heb 1:8); "whose goings forth have been from...everlasting" (Mic 5:2). To call Mary "the mother of God" is the worst blasphemy possible.

Paul makes a particular point of saying, "He was...seen of angels." They witnessed the unfolding of this mystery. We are not told the angels' thoughts or whether they had any advance notice of the incarnation, but Christ's birth into the world as a man must have been a mystery even to the "multitude of the heavenly host" that praised God at Christ's birth (Lk 2:13).

Could this really be the One they had worshiped as the eternal Word, the Creator of all--and here He was a helpless baby in Mary's arms nursing at her breast?! Could that be possible? Yes, there was the command: "When he bringeth the firstbegotten into the world...let all the angels of God worship him." (Heb 1:6). What a mysterious occurrence that day when Jesus was born!

Paul calls this most amazing and important event in the history of the universe not only a great mystery--but the mystery: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1 Tm 3:16). The mystery of godliness was unveiled in the incarnation of Jesus Christ!

Invading this rebellious planet from heaven itself came the only perfectly godly man who would ever live. All the rest of mankind are sinners. Eternally, those in heaven will be sinners--saved by grace.

Yes, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"--except for one man. It is a great mystery how anyone who is fully man, as Christ is, could live without ever sinning. Yet Scripture assures us: He "did no sin" (1 Pt 2:22); "who knew no sin" (2 Cor 5:21); and "in him is no sin" (1 Jn 3:5).

Indeed, it was not possible that Christ could sin. He faced every temptation, but He never had to struggle to keep from yielding. Sin had no attraction for Him: "The prince of this world [i.e., Satan] cometh, and hath nothing in me" (Jn 14:30). There was nothing in the "Holy One of God" (Lk 4:34) that was in the least attracted to sin.

He left us "an example, that [we] should follow His steps" (1 Pt 2:21). But how can we follow the steps that lead to the Cross? If we are to be godly, the only godly One must live in us: "I travail in birth...until Christ be formed in you" (Gal 4:19). It must be "not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2:20). But how can He indwell sinners? This is another part of the "mystery of godliness."

There was only one way mankind could be redeemed from the penalty of eternal death. For a holy, righteous God to justly forgive sinners, the full penalty for sin must be paid (Rom 3:9-28). A sinless man, undeserving of death, would have to die for the rest of mankind: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Rom 5:19).

Although the eternal Son of God, through the virgin birth, became fully man, He remained fully God. As sinless man, He could justly die for sinners. And only as infinite God could He pay the full penalty for the sins of all mankind. Even as a fetus in Mary's womb, He did not cease to be the One who said, "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal 3:6). This is the most difficult part of the mystery. We cannot understand it, but we believe it because God says it--and we realize there was no other way.

As God and man in one person, Christ took the full weight of God's wrath upon sin for all mankind. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). He tasted "death for every man" (Heb 2:9). That had to include "the second death," which all who refuse to believe on Him who died for them will endure for eternity in the Lake of Fire (Rv 20:11-15).

Calvinism, however, teaches that Christ died only for an elect whom God had predestined to heaven. It claims that God loves the entire world--but not with the same kind of "redeeming love" for all: those who are predestined to eternal torment are loved with a lesser love, but loved nevertheless, because God blesses them in this life with sunshine and rain, etc. That is why we titled the book, What Love Is This? It is not love of any kind to fail to rescue any who could be rescued. Calvinism claims that God could save everyone if He so desired, but doesn't. That is not love.

The parallel Old Testament passage to "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23) is "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way..." (Is 53:6). Isaiah adds, "and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." The iniquity of all who "have gone astray" [i.e., who have sinned] was laid on Christ at the Cross.

Christ said that "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn 3:14-15). Poisonous serpents were sent by God as punishment for Israel's sin. Those bitten were dying. The serpent is a picture both of Satan and of sin that has bitten all mankind unto the death. God's remedy was: "Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and...[not an elect among those dying, but] every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. [It] came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived" (Num 21:5-9--emphasis added).

Christ said that just as all who had been bitten could look in faith upon the brazen serpent and live, so all who have sinned can look in faith to the "Lamb of God [on the Cross] tak[ing] away the sin of the world" (Jn 1:29), and receive eternal life as a free gift of God's grace. That is the good news of the gospel. We need to proclaim it everywhere.

What a day it was when Christ was virgin-born in Bethlehem! And what a day it is when He comes to live eternally in the hearts of those who believe on Him! This is the victory of godliness that every Christian should be experiencing--yet many do not know all that is theirs in Christ. Let us live godly lives and proclaim the good news to all. TBC

Dave Hunt 

Originally published December 2006