I believe the Bible very clearly teaches that, once a person truly receives Christ as their Savior, God promises never to revoke their saved status. I have read a great deal of opinion to the contrary -- everything from the 18th century sermons of John Wesley and John Fletcher to modern Methodist and Free Will Baptist theologians. Three chronic problems keep cropping up with their reasoning, in my opinion. What are those three problems?
The Bible very clearly teaches eternal security. But it shouldn't be rejected because of guilt-by-association with other errors.
Yesterday morning, in our adult Bible class, we talked briefly about how to explain evil in relation to God. I suggested there were two extremes on either side of the question, both of which should be avoided. It is a strange and unwanted irony that our conversation connects to the great evil that happened in Texas yesterday.
We talked about how one error would be to say that God makes people sin. This is a kind of fatalism -- a denial of human choice. There are probably very few who stray into this error, but I know there are a few here or there.
The Bible is clear: God never causes anyone to sin (James 1:13-15).
We pastors in particular should be careful not to use the word "cause" in a vague way. God ordaining that sins happen doesn't mean God makes people sin. God forbid! The responsibility is entirely that of the perpetrator. God's ordination means that even sin fits, somehow, into His total plan. The ultimate example of God ordaining sin was Christ's crucifixion (see Acts 4:27-28).
But the other, reverse error would be to say that God had no relation to the crime at all. As if God just passively sits up there, just as shocked as all of us, or to say (worse yet), God was helpless to do anything to stop it. This explanation isn't an option, either.
Once we know that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present, and eternal, the option of saying He couldn't do anything is gone.
Consider God's power -- God could have vaporised the weapons right out of the gunman's hands. God could have vaporised him. But God let it happen.
Do we know why God let this happen? No. Will we ever? Maybe not. Probably not, on this side of glory. But we do know other truths that matter.
We do know that God is the kind of Person who willingly sacrificed His own Son so that we could all be saved from eternal death. The Christians who died yesterday went immediately to Heaven, which entrance was purchased for them by Christ's horrible but redeeming death for them. That's the sort of God God is. He is not just some cosmic unfeeling Eyeball.
We also know that the Christians who died yesterday will be raised in glory one day, because of what Christ accomplished for them. Christ promised that. Because Christ rose, they will.
I also believe these Christians are martyrs for the faith, since the man who attacked them was, by reports, an outspoken atheist who vehemently called all who believe in God "stupid." Christ pronounced special blessing on those of our number who suffer for His name's sake (Matthew 5:10-12).
We also know that God is near to the broken-hearted, and will bend His powers to help, comfort, and strengthen those who were left behind to go on living with meaning.
We also know that the villain who did this did not "get away with it", and is now not getting away with anything. This is pure justice. There is a place where the fire never goes out and the worm dieth not. Mark 9:43-44.
Not only that, Christ pledged that this villain's evil work will one day be 100% reversed and undone forever. If it's possible to laugh at the futility of the bad guys, then we will all laugh on that day. These people, with us, will rise and return in victory, because of what Christ did 2,000 years ago on Easter morning.
The apostle Paul once said that, for the Christian, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). The way these people left is an atrocity. But you know? None of those people want to come back here, at least not until Christ personally leads the way.
So we will pray for the living, and ask God to bring good out of this evil.
Are there such things as ghosts? The Bible says no.
This is the time of year when people exhibit a fascination with ghoulish things, among which are included ghosts -- the alleged departed spirits of the dead. Kentucky tourist sites offer "ghost walks" -- spooky tours of supposedly haunted places. These are all scams designed to separate gullible people from their money; in a few cases they're just interesting historical tours with a tongue-in-cheek ghost angle thrown in for flavor. But then there are real cases of frightening and paranormal manifestations in people's lives, which also fascinate people.
The Bible says that when a person dies, they immediately go to one of two places. If they are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, they go immediately to Heaven. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). The Bible says nothing about long tunnels with a light at the end of it. There is no such place as Purgatory -- that is an ancient pagan concept that began to infect Christianity as early as the 2nd century. If a person stands outside of Christ when they die, they go to Hell. In Jesus' account of the wicked rich man and beggar Lazarus, both died at the same time and both immediately went to Hell and Paradise respectively (Luke 16:19-23). There is no intermediate condition, on earth or in the afterlife.
So what is it that people see, when they claim to see ghosts, or experience paranormal events, such as through the Ouija board? For one, they see and hear the overheated products of their own imaginations. A person who expects and wants to see the paranormal will find it, of their own making. This is just human psychology.
For two, they see and hear deceptions perpetrated on them by con artists and tricksters. Whether the seance artists of the 1920s or the so-called ghost hunter TV shows of today, millions have been ,made off the gullibility of human foolishness.
But the Bible also teaches that there are such things as demons. God is the ultimate righteous immaterial Spirit, angels are His righteous immaterial spirits, and demons are evil immaterial spirits who serve Satan. Demons stand behind the false religions of this world (1 Corinthians 10:20). Satan and his demons are able to appear to men (if God permits), and disguise their appearance (2 Corinthians 11:14). In Job 1-2, Satan was able to affect the weather, evil men's minds, and disease -- though only as far as God allowed it. If an apparition is not just a product of the imagination, or a scam, then it is demonic.
As I said, a ghost cannot be a human soul, because every human soul departs immediately for Heaven or hell at the point of death. God God absolutely forbids any attempt to communicate with the dead, and He condemns all forms of sorcery. www.gotquestions.org/Bible-sorcery.html
If you own a Ouija board, destroy it!. If you own Tarot cards, throw them away! Do not dowse for water (which is a witchcraft practice), and do not try to talk to the dead. Talk in prayer and praise to God only! Jeremiah 33: Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name: Call on Me!" Do not pray to the dead, or seek the dead!
Call instead upon the living, resurrected Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, to free you and your home from evil spirits, and He will do it. He is the Messiah, exalted above all spirits and powers, and is the implacable enemy of the devil. The only "ghost" with whom we should interact is God the Holy Ghost.
I was recently asked a question about God ordering the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites, including their children. To answer that question would require an essay so long that few would read it, so I'm going to address the question as concisely as I can.
1. God sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross, so that children (among others) may rejoice in heaven, free of all sickness, pain, or death. It is not God's will that little children perish everlastingly (Matthew 18:14). They die physically because of Adam's unique original sin, and Adam's sin made us all sinful by nature (Romans 5:18).
But God judges individuals based on their works (Revelation 20:13), and babies have no works (Romans 9:11), so they are not judged. God cannot be accused of not caring about the children of the world. In one case in the Old Testament He refrained from judging an entire city, because of the children and animals that lived there (Jonah 4:11). God is also clear that He finds no enjoyment in punishing (Ezekiel 18:23). God made sure there was an open door to Heaven for all infants and children who cannot know Him or His moral laws. God opened that door with the key of the cross.
2. God visits the consequences of the sins of parents on their descendents (Exodus 20:5). Not the guilt -- God in Ezekiel 18 says He doesn't blame children for their parents' sins. But the practical consequences of adult wrongdoing cascade down on children. We see this in everyday life: when the court system jails a criminal, the punishment negatively impacts the children of the criminal.
A parent can bring divine blessing or cursing upon his or her own children. An example of blessing was Phinehas. When Phinehas righteously executed a rebellious Israelite with a spear, God rewarded his whole line with the honor of perpetual priesthood (Numbers 25:6-13). Another example is Noah -- we all benefit from Noah's obedience (Gen. 9:11). This principle ought to make parents tread more carefully. The Amorites of Canaan lived in violent, evil perversion for centuries, until God decided to erase them. They brought annihilation of their people down upon their own heads.
3. God is the only God, and the Creator, which gives Him absolute, unique rights that no human being has. No one may say to the Creator, "Who do You think you are?" or "What do you think You're doing!?" According to certain science/ecology websites, about 150,000+ people die each day. In each case, the circumstances of the person's death was ordained by God.
God alone decides how long each person lives (Psalm 139:16). Skeptics complain that God was "wrong" to have the Jews kill the Canaanite children. But, since God ordered them to do it, it was therefore not wrong. God always has the right to end life. God is not a giant man. If the Jews had done it on their own, it would have been genocide. But God through His prophet Moses ordered them to do it, so it was a divine judgment.
God is not a moral monster, because human beings do not have a right to stay alive a certain amount of time, or to die in a certain kind of way. There is no moral law, whether above God's head or created by humans here on earth,by which He may be judged. In addition, God created Heaven at the cost of His son's death, so that all the suffering of this life could be wiped out forever. God the Son knows exactly what it feels like to suffer horribly and die, so no one can accuse Him of apathy, and He came of His own free will to undo earth's suffering, so no one can accuse Him of indifference.
It is common for atheists and skeptics to attack the Old Testament by claiming it demeans women. This short post is designed to refute that charge.
The first principle to bear in mind is that feminism is not the standard of truth. Feminism is based on a rotten philosophical foundation of atheism, humanism, and Darwinism. All three of these "isms" are false. As a result, feminism is not the yardstick by which to measure any other systems of ideas. If atheism is true, then there are no fixed, objective moral rules, and therefore there's nothing to judge by. Logically consistent atheists have no moral right to be outraged at anything, let alone be outraged at the Old Testament.
Another way of saying this is that the Bible is not obligated to satisfy modern standards. Modern standards have no authority behind them. They're nothing but fallible people's fallible opinions. The Bible is God's Word, as evidenced by its fulfilled prophecies, accurate diagnosis of the wicked human condition, and transformative power. Jesus unconditionally endorsed the Old Testament. So all contemporary thought must justify itself according to the the Bible, not the other way around.
That having been said, skeptical attacks on the Old Testament's view of women are always guilty of selectivity bias. Only material that appears to demean women is cited (even though, again, the issue of where our standards come from is not addressed). Biblical material that honors women is minimized or completely ignored.
Then is added a multitude of examples of mistreatment of women by the Christian Church through the ages. This last step is irrelevant. The Christian Church, in all its various historical forms, is not the authority of spiritual truth. In addition, the Christian Church disobeys the Bible whenever it truly mistreats women.
Begin at the beginning. The Bible teaches that God created women in His image. Genesis 1:27. Feminism on the other hand, says that women are the random, meaningless results of micro-organisms. Which of those two statements honors and lifts up women?
In Old Testament law, women had God-given rights. They had the right to marital faithfulness (Exodus 20:14). The punishment for attacking one's mother, or kidnapping a woman, was death (Ex. 21:15). An injured pregnant woman was to be avenged (Ex. 21:22-24). Seducers of young single women were punished with fines (Ex. 22:16-17). Jewish society was forbidden to exploit widows (Ex. 22:22-24).
The general moral rules of Moses, such as no committing false witness or not stealing, applied to everyone. Men with skin diseases were subject to the same ceremonial "clean laws" as women with their menstrual periods. Sexual predation was forbidden (Leviticus 11:7-13). Sex trafficking was forbidden (Leviticus 19:29). You don't find these legal protections in the pagan law-codes of the time.
The Old Testament presents a father-centered view of the world because God is a Father, and not a mother. God doesn't have a physical body -- Christ said God is Spirit in nature, John 4 -- so the Bible wasn't talking about body parts. God doesn't have body-parts. Nevertheless, God says He is male. God is not a she, or an it.
God, through Moses, revealed that God created the first human being, a man. God established His covenants with men, and built His people Israel on the foundation of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The father is the over-all head of the home. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is, obviously, a man. It was impossible for the Messiah to be female.
The New Testament takes a new turn on women's issues, because the Christian Church isn't under Moses' system. Women have greater rights under the Christian system. For example, the apostle Paul says that a single Christian woman can marry any man she likes, as long as he is a Christian also (1st Corinthians 7:39). Unlike the Old Testament law, Paul recommends Christian women remain single. There is no mention in Paul's letters of dowry, or fathers having absolute authority in this area, which is entirely different from Moses' Law.
So we begin to answer this question by rejecting any of the world's "-isms" right out of the gate. The standard of spiritual truth is not conservatism, progressivism, feminism, capitalism, man-made patriarchalism, or any other man-made -ism. The standard of truth is the Bible. The Bible honors women, while at the same time contradicting feminism.
Christ Heals a Leper.
This man was very ill.
He fully believed in Jesus Christ.
Christ healed him.
What you can believe:
You might have heard the phrase "replacement theology" uttered by some preacher somewhere, or read it on the Internet, wondered what it meant, or if it was important. The official word for this doctrine is supercessionism. It is the idea that the Christian Church replaced Israel in God's plan, after Christ was crucified. In the past, both ancient and more recent, it has been used to justify anti-semitism, which is devilish.
Supercessionism denies that God has any special prophetic intentions for the Jews anymore. There are Presbyterian preachers and writers whose doctrinal views of Israel are supercessionist. They protest the phrase "replacement theology", but the substance of what they preach amounts to it.
How do we know that God didn't replace the Jews with Christians? Paul in Romans 11 says forcefully that God has not completely cast away the Jews (11:1). God elected Jews in eternity past, and He continues to redeem a Jewish remnant by His grace (11:2-5). Paul knew that not all his fellow Jews were irrevocably hardened (11:13-14).
Each individual Jewish person's unbelief toward Christ meant they were cut off from the tree of Abraham (11:17-19). Paul meant Jewish people as individuals, not the whole nation. If an individual Jewish person repented, and trusted in Christ, God would "graft" them like branches back in (11:23-24). God has certainly not rejected the Jews absolutely or irreversibly.
There is only a partial hardening of the Jews against Christ now, until God finishes the age of Gentile redemption (11:25). The Lord permits many of them to go their way. But, in the future, God will miraculously turn ungodliness away from the Jews, and take away their sins (11:26-27). Zechariah predicts this in Zechariah 12-13.
We know that "Israel" in verse 26 doesn't mean the Christian Church, because these Israelites are ones who are enemies of the Gospel (verse 28). God still loves the Jews, because of His love for and covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (11:28b). God's ancient call to the Jews to be His people, and the covenant gifts He gave them, cannot be revoked (11:29).
Covenant theology does not automatically lead to replacement doctrine. Covenant theology says that the three Persons of the Trinity covenanted with each other in eternity to accomplish salvation by grace (the word "covenant" being used in a more broad sense of mutual agreement).
Each of God's six historical covenants -- Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Christ -- fit into, and move forward, God's eternal grace-covenant. Covenant theology doesn't nullify God's past pledges to Abraham in Genesis, and it doesn't by nature say that God has no distinct plans for the Jews. There are some covenant preachers who do say such things, but I think that is the result of a reactionary spirit against Dispensationalism, or wrong teaching.
The following are some edited excerpts of a modern-English version of a sermon, "The Warrant of Faith", first preached by Charles H. Spurgeon of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, in 1863. This was Spurgeon refuting certain hyper-Calvinists of his day.
Last night, during prayer meeting, the name "Tullian Tchividjian" came up. If you aren't familiar with him, here is a link to a news article: http://christiannews.net/2016/11/26/year-after-affair-admission-divorce-tullian-tchividjian-emerges-with-new-wife-preaches-god-bends-toward-sinners/
I am in the midst of prepping a message about Satan's fall and final judgment, as predicted in the book of Revelation. I'm struck by how important Biblical eschatology is to present-day living.