JUDGMENT IS AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO BELIEVERS Saturday, Aug 22 2015 

JUDGMENT IS AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO BELIEVERS

In Genesis 6:5, there is a description of our present world: And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Then God determined, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast (6:7). But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (6:8). God’s grace in the midst of awesome judgment is a blessing and an encouragement to the obedient. When His judgment was over, God said, I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth (9:13). Now when believers see the rainbow, we are reminded of God’s grace and that He always judges sin.

Every judgment spoken of in the Bible is a warning to the unbeliever and a blessing to the believer. It is a reminder of God’s all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful character. It reminds us that the sovereign creator God is a holy God and that His holiness is His primary characteristic. Truth flows from His holiness, and love flows from truth. Liberal-minded professing Christians hate judgment because they know they have been disobedient. True grace is foreign to them. This is why their “sloppy agape” makes love to rule over holiness – so that judgment will disappear. Judgment, on the other hand, causes true believers to rejoice. Even the final judgment in the Lake of Fire does this, because the eternal destruction of the wicked highlights God’s holiness, forgiveness, and grace for the obedient. Liberal-minded theologians deny the eternal judgment of God simply because their guilt condemns them, and they hate judgment.

An example of this in our own society is the issue of capital punishment. There is a very real reason why people oppose this doctrine that is clearly taught as part of the age we live in. Many who oppose the death penalty judgment only wish to protect themselves. They fear judgment because their hearts condemn them.

ALL JUDGMENTS HAVE ALREADY BEGUN

Those who have chosen judgment over grace are already suffering the consequences of their decision. 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) Every day, in the life of the unbeliever, God is demonstrating His judgment. James talks about the wicked wealthy man who is already being judged for his ill treatment of the poor and needy. Everything in his life is a mockery of a holy God, while every day in the life of the true believer should glorify the Lord of Glory.

The Bible teaches that, after the departure of the true church from this earth, the anti-Christ will rise. The Holy Spirit’s special ministry of indwelling that began at Pentecost will no longer exist on this earth as a restrainer; then the evil one will rule. One word characterizes the Tribulation period; it is the word “wrath”. The rule of the wicked one is a judgment of tsunami proportions, and this judgment has already begun to work.

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:3)

THE JUDGMENT HAS ALREADY BEGUN

Our nation and our world will be judged. Because of the holy character of the sovereign creator God, He must judge evil. Never in the history of this world since the flood has wickedness and violence been so wide spread. Never in the history of our nation has the holocaust of abortion been so sweeping. Never has the voice of sodomy been so deafening. No group or leader in government has been so egregious. While all past leaders have had their faults, nothing compares to the evil in the elite of our own country. All three branches of our government have openly and without apology left the road of truth for a street of lies. The rich and the powerful go on without conviction while the small and insignificant are imprisoned for petty crimes. God must judge this once great nation.

I have no time for those who have their heads in the sand. The judgment has already begun. I am thankful for the optimists, but those of us who are realists refuse to make excuses. In the past, God has used His creation to judge this cursed earth, and He is doing so now. Fire, flood, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, typhoons, etc., are not incidentals in God’s plan to judge; and that judgment has begun.

STOP HERE FOR A REMINDER AND ENCOURAGEMENT

For believers, all of this reminds us of God’s grace for His children and that He loves His own and is justified in all judgment. Our nation is just one incident away from a civil war, and those who stoke the fire of racism may be the spark that causes it to begin. Economic collapse is inevitable given the rapid increase of our national debt. How God will judge all this wickedness, we do not know; but true believers know that God will judge, and He will be justified. That is why believers can be comforted. HE WINS, WE WIN, THE WICKED LOSE.

The carnal mind says …for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (II Peter 3:4); but God says, For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Romans 8:22) Put down your silly games, and make sure your heart is right with God!

A DAY OF PRAYER AND MOURNING Tuesday, Jun 30 2015 

Several voices are calling for a day of mourning and prayer for our nation. It has been suggested that we choose July 4th of this year for that purpose. It would be a good contrast to what we normally see as a fun day with the family. One would have to note that security forces are saying that there are credible threats against us on that day.

A precedent for this is found in Proverbs 29:2 – When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. In my nearly eighty years of life, this world has moved further into moral self-destruction than in all the rest of history. Those who misunderstand the holiness of God ask …where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. One question will solve this: when, in the history of this world, has there been a worldwide push to support sodomy? This may not include every nation, but who would ever have expected the news to be filled with photos of crowds in the streets of so many countries calling for the spread of this wickedness? This has never happened before.

MY, AIN’T GOD MAD

Some years ago I wrote an article with this title. Now in our nation, when you add the murder of thousands of unborn children to the exceedingly wicked spread of sexual perversion, it spells judgment. The wicked laugh at such an idea, saying “We don’t even know if there is a God”. Some in our circles tell us it isn’t so bad. Others ridicule God’s justice and push their own “sloppy agape” to silence the voices of truth.

Have it your way. The fact is that God has to judge this nation because He is holy and all other things flow from His holiness. God will judge this nation. We don’t know just when or how, but we do know why. We do know the times and the seasons (I Thessalonians 5:1), and we do know how God has done this in the past. He has used wicked rulers, enemies, and even the weather. We do know that this world is cursed by sin, and …we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22) We do …know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (II Timothy 3:1) A list of crimes against God is outlined in that text, and they continue to increase at breakneck speed.

HOW DO PEOPLE RESPOND?

The pessimist cries, “Woe is me, there is no help or hope! It’s all over; nothing we can do. Face it – we have lost”. The optimist cries, “It’s not that bad. We will recover. Focus on the positive, and ignore the negative”. The realist cries, “This is a critical hour. We are set for the judgment of God. God is still on the throne. In the end, we will win; and we have a responsibility in this hour. There is no time for a pity party. We are overcomers, and the battle is not done”.

Actually, both the pessimist and the optimist have their heads in the sand. They both fail to engage the opportunity God has given us in this hour of trouble. As true believers, we were born for this hour. It is a great time to share the love of God and the gospel of Christ. The contrast is so great that, if we respond as God has directed, God will bless in many ways. This is a great hour for truth. The pessimist ignores it, and the optimist denies it. The realist steps up to take the challenge God has put before us. A holy God has called us to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)

It is not loving to soft-pedal sin. It is not loving to cover or ignore wickedness. It is loving to tell the truth and make it plain and simple. We are not supposed to surrender or be silent. We need to see things as they are. This is not time for the silence or cowardice.

WHY SHOULD WE MOURN?

The truth is that our nation has crossed the line. Except for the grace of God and the possibility of a national revival, there is no coming back. The destruction of this country is sure, and the judgment of God has been sealed. This may be why mention of America is nowhere to be found in the scriptures. We should mourn because that judgment is near. In recent years our country has come close to civil war several times, and in the last year any one of these “flash points” could have set off fighting in the streets. We had a warning of outside destruction on 9/11; now the destruction is from within. Racism is on the rise, the elite in our capital violate our founding documents, the economy is set for collapse, and our military power has been neutered. One might add to this the current open hatred for biblical Christianity.

Of course there are small rays of light, such as the spirit of forgiveness in Charleston and some in leadership who speak out for righteousness. The entertainment church in general, however, has become virtually useless and doesn’t have enough power to blow the nose of flea. We should mourn because no nation that chose to kill its young and its old, embrace sodomy, or to turn its hand against God’s chosen people has ever continued.

If I had a flagpole, I would lower it to half-mast on the fourth of July in remembrance of the “death of a nation”; but I refuse to surrender, to soft pedal sin, to run and hide, to be silent. My only task is to speak as God speaks, love what God loves, and hate what God hates. The reason for this is that true believers are winners, not whiners. Read the Book: He wins, we win, they lose. PERIOD.

DAY OF PRAYER AND MOURNING Sunday, Jun 28 2015 

Several voices are calling for a day of mourning and prayer for our nation.  It has been suggested that we choose July 4th of this year for that purpose.  It would be a good contrast to what we normally see as a fun day with the family.  One would have to note that security forces are saying that there are credible threats against us on that day.

A precedent for this is found in Proverbs 29:2 – When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.  In my nearly eighty years of life, this world has moved further into moral self-destruction than in all the rest of history.  Those who misunderstand the holiness of God ask …where is the promise of his coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.  One question will solve this: when, in the history of this world, has there been a worldwide push to support sodomy?  This may not include every nation, but who would ever have expected the news to be filled with photos of crowds in the streets of so many countries calling for the spread of this wickedness?  This has never happened before.

MY, AIN’T GOD MAD

Some years ago I wrote an article with this title.  Now in our nation, when you add the murder of thousands of unborn children to the exceedingly wicked spread of sexual perversion, it spells judgment.  The wicked laugh at such an idea, saying “We don’t even know if there is a God”.  Some in our circles tell us it isn’t so bad.  Others ridicule God’s justice and push their own “sloppy agape” to silence the voices of truth.

Have it your way.  The fact is that God has to judge this nation because He is holy and all other things flow from His holiness.  God will judge this nation.  We don’t know just when or how, but we do know why.  We do know the times and the seasons (I Thessalonians 5:1), and we do know how God has done this in the past.  He has used wicked rulers, enemies, and even the weather.  We do know that this world is cursed by sin, and …we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22)  We do …know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  (II Timothy 3:1)  A list of crimes against God is outlined in that text, and they continue to increase at breakneck speed.

HOW DO PEOPLE RESPOND?

The pessimist cries, “Woe is me, there is no help or hope!  It’s all over; nothing we can do.  Face it – we have lost”.  The optimist cries, “It’s not that bad.  We will recover.  Focus on the positive, and ignore the negative”.  The realist cries, “This is a critical hour.  We are set for the judgment of God.  God is still on the throne.  In the end, we will win; and we have a responsibility in this hour.  There is no time for a pity party.  We are overcomers, and the battle is not done”.

Actually, both the pessimist and the optimist have their heads in the sand.  They both fail to engage the opportunity God has given us in this hour of trouble.  As true believers, we were born for this hour.  It is a great time to share the love of God and the gospel of Christ.  The contrast is so great that, if we respond as God has directed, God will bless in many ways.  This is a great hour for truth.  The pessimist ignores it, and the optimist denies it.  The realist steps up to take the challenge God has put before us.  A holy God has called us to speak the truth in love.  (Ephesians 4:15)

It is not loving to soft-pedal sin.  It is not loving to cover or ignore wickedness.  It is loving to tell the truth and make it plain and simple.  We are not supposed to surrender or be silent.  We need to see things as they are.  This is not time for the silence or cowardice.

WHY SHOULD WE MOURN?

The truth is that our nation has crossed the line.  Except for the grace of God and the possibility of a national revival, there is no coming back.  The destruction of this country is sure, and the judgment of God has been sealed.  This may be why mention of America is nowhere to be found in the scriptures.  We should mourn because that judgment is near.  In recent years our country has come close to civil war several times, and in the last year any one of these “flash points” could have set off fighting in the streets.  We had a warning of outside destruction on 9/11; now the destruction is from within.  Racism is on the rise, the elite in our capital violate our founding documents, the economy is set for collapse, and our military power has been neutered.  One might add to this the current open hatred for biblical Christianity.

Of course there are small rays of light, such as the spirit of forgiveness in Charleston and some in leadership who speak out for righteousness.  The entertainment church in general, however, has become virtually useless and doesn’t have enough power to blow the nose of flea.  We should mourn because no nation that chose to kill its young and its old, embrace sodomy, or to turn its hand against God’s chosen people has ever continued.

If I had a flagpole, I would lower it to half-mast on the fourth of July in remembrance of the “death of a nation”; but I refuse to surrender, to soft pedal sin, to run and hide, to be silent.  My only task is to speak as God speaks, love what God loves, and hate what God hates.  The reason for this is that true believers are winners, not whiners.  Read the Book: He wins, we win, they lose.  PERIOD.

THE SECULARIZATION OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION Friday, Jun 5 2015 

The term “secular” is most often used as a contrast to that which is spiritual, so that the world is divided into those two parts. That is actually a liberal concept. Believers often divide the work of the local church into those two parts, too. The problem is that, in the believer’s life, there is no such thing as secular or “non-spiritual”. The truth is that, for us, everything is a spiritual responsibility, right down to our very thoughts.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
(II Corinthians 10:5)

In the local church, we have made a false dichotomy because that allows us the freedom to do it our own way. This is exactly what has been done in our personal lives as well. Where did this human-based idea come from? This dangerous insertion is the way of the world. It is rebellious man wanting to live his life without spiritual intervention, to feel that he is in charge of his world, the “captain” of his soul. Human government has used this to strangle spiritual influence, and it is everywhere in the world around us.

Why did this false idea spread so rapidly? One of the major reasons is that it has been a centerpiece of our education systems, allowing man to answer the major questions of life rather than following the plain, clear teaching of God’s Word. From such areas as the source of life, to life after death, man has forced his definitions on us. The most tragic issue is that so-called Christian education has followed this concept blindly so that it would appear to be intellectual.

THE RECORD IS CLEAR

There is no question that many of our great educational institutions began with worthy spiritual goals. It’s not that they were perfect or had the same beginning; they moved from preparing preachers to creating scholars who despise the concept of a sovereign God with absolutes. The sad thing is that many current Christian institutions are neck- deep in this journey of the secularization of Christian education. This is a difficult thing for us to admit, but our very beliefs and the way we approach the Scripture is tainted by the concept that we have a better idea than God.

The question is why and how did this happen? It is as simple as reviewing the history of Israel. They determined that God as their king was not enough; they wanted to be like the other nations around them with a king they could see and touch. (I Samuel 8) So God gave them Saul, who was the epitome of “independent man”, who could live life the way he determined and yet have one foot in the religious world. This is clearly demonstrated in I Samuel 15. Saul, the secular/religious man, was actually the judgment of God on a nation who wanted to have it both ways. This is exactly what Paul describes with the “religious sinner” in Romans 2:17-29. You can’t have it both ways and still have it God’s way.

HUMANISTIC EDUCATION AT ITS WORST

In all honesty, state or federal schools are not public. They do not represent the general public; they reflect the view of the elite, who continue to experiment on unsuspecting people. Humanistic education will claim that it is free-thinking and intellectual, but the truth is that state schools function by “indoctrination”. That is exactly why, since the 1030’s, socialism has blossomed into the entitlement society we live in today.

Please don’t use the old lame excuse of there still being some good Christian teachers and administration in the system. Looking at the whole, their number is so small they barely appear on the charts. Talk about believers bailing out of the educational system is also poorly thought through. When schools were local and community-oriented, our presence was effective; but today the ACLU has more influence on the schools than all of us put together!

THE TRAGIC INFLUENCE ON US

Christian education has been unduly influenced by the humanist agenda. We were taught to think like they do. This liberal mindset is neck-deep in our own schools. We copied so many of their errors in an effort to be intellectual that now we not only think like the world, but also act like the world. A couple of illustrations from the pool of thousands will suffice. We were the people of absolutes and truth, with God and His Word as a standard; now we think that all views are right, and you cannot say that other people are wrong. People do have a right to their own views, but there is only one truth. We need to be kind and polite, but that doesn’t extend to our giving credence to error. All of this has affected our theology, too. There is only one right interpretation of a Bible text, but we act like we are not really sure, and they just may be right. Instead of being a matter of black and white, truth has turned gray.

We wanted to be approved by them, and in doing so we became like them. The demise of the Bible college movement is a result of this terrible compromise. What do the intellectual heathen know about what God wants our academic standard to be? Herein is the great failure. In Christian education, we have divided life into secular and spiritual. That is our excuse for allowing men and women who hate our God and us to tell us how education is best accomplished. Of course, most every one of us reading this was trained to think with a liberal mindset, and that is why Christian education has become secularized. We act, think, talk, and smell like our culture rather than having the sweet smell of truth and holiness.

SHOT IN THE FOOT Thursday, Apr 16 2015 

The purpose of these monthly articles is to create discussion and it is to that end that I continue. It is not sufficient to discuss a problem, there must indeed be a suggested proposal and that is all a proposal is, an idea.

In one of his short stories Edgar Allen Poe tells of a man who is shut in a room where the walls move slowly inward. His death is sure if some answer doesn’t arrive soon. This is actually a picture of what is happening in our society as the walls of offense and restriction move in on Biblical Christianity. One of these issues is about sodomy. In our life time this practice has moved from being criminal to permissible, to acceptable, to legal and now supported to the point that people faith are required to accept it and be silent.

In the market place legal action is being taken against a business that exercises freedom of religion. These believers are required to honor and give respect to something God has condemned. The penalty for exercising the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, guaranteed in our founding documents, is that the best citizens in our nation are fined and forced out of their livelihood.

Several states have passed laws to support religious beliefs of its citizens but in doing so they are maligned, attacked and marginalized. In these actions believers are blackmailed and discriminated against. Discrimination is the very thing that those on the left say they champion. The language used against moral citizens is filled with hate, threats and demonstrates the very essence of evil that the immoral practice typifies.

Who is responsible for this slide into the moral abyss and the vengeful attack on believers? This may surprise you but we are. We shot ourselves in the foot. Let me explain.

COMING TO YOUR CHURCH SOON

We began this slide by choosing to use terms that favor the enemy. Trying to be polite we began using terms that were not so offensive to those who mock God’s holiness. “Gay” doesn’t mean happy but we wanted to so nice. “Same as” didn’t carry the seriousness that God describes in Romans one and Deuteronomy but “sodomy” was such an unkind word. Then sweet talking evangelicals fell into the word trap and made something evil not so evil. Now those terms of accommodation are used, by the cowardly, out of fear of penalty.

Finally the term “same sex marriage” came to the surface. No thinking Biblicist should ever use such a phrase because there is no such thing. Only God gets to define marriage. Using such language only gives credibility to wickedness. Use whatever name you choose but don’t call it marriage. If you are afraid just be quiet but don’t criticize those who will stand for righteousness at any cost.

We are a short step from this issue reaching the door of our churches. The God of the intellectual heathen is man. Their God said “anything goes” and even churches must comply. When they demand that godly pastors perform heathen marriages, what are you going to do? If you refuse your doors will be closed just as businesses are being closed.

WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?

The problem is that we chose to be “agents of the state”. We agreed to put marriage under a humanistic authority. You can argue until you are blue in the face but you cannot find any biblical authority for the state being in charge of marriage. Your allegorical, philosophical hermeneutic will get you there but not the bible text. I explain all of this from the biblical text in my book “The Coming Conflict” on the separation of church and state.

You will argue “it is law” and this is one of the big problems. Many things are legal but that doesn’t make them right or moral. Making the murder of unborn children legal didn’t make it right or moral. The bible is clear, when man’s law is in direct opposition to God’s law no believer is obligated to participate in evil. If they did Moses never would have had a chance, Daniel and the three Hebrew children would have signed up and the apostles would have been silent about the gospel.

You will argue that the courts have ruled in favor of this evil. It is hard to help people who have little understanding of just how corrupt the judicial system is. This goes all the way to the top with a supreme court that has rewritten the founding documents of this land. Those documents were meant to protect good citizens as Paul and Peter explain they should. Now the court is punishing good and giving protection for evil. One can only wonder why this isn’t treason.

HERE IS A PROPOSAL

What is a godly pastor supposed to do? Remember we are right around the corner on this issue. In our city someone has been going from church to church asking if they would do “same as” marriages. I suggest you stop being an agent of the state. Let the couple go to the Justice of the Peace for a license. Then have a real wedding under God in the church. So when the “same as” question comes you say “sorry we don’t do state weddings, our wedding celebrations are for the believers in our church just like any other worship event”. If you don’t find an answer sit down and compute what taxes will cost you when they take that freedom away. You will be out of business in less than three years and that is what they want, your silence. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot twice.

THE AUTOPSY OF A DEAD CHURCH Saturday, Mar 21 2015 

Christ’s words to the local church at Sardis are painful: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Rev. 3:1) That verse triggered something in my mind about the state of the local church today. In the past few years, thousands of pulpits that used to flame with the fire of righteousness have fallen to the “Ichabod syndrome”. They are left with about as much power as a wet firecracker. It is true that some of them have just gone out of existence. That is bad enough, but nothing compared to the tragedy of churches that are dead and don’t even know it.

Like marionettes, they dance, jiggle, and pretend to be real; but there is no real spiritual life in them. They are good at crowds and, just like the super bowl crowd, they make plenty of noise. They use a lot of good words and talk about God, even quote at times from the Bible, but truth was buried a long time ago. They flail about like a body that has just been beheaded, but from which real life is gone. The shell, buildings, and trappings are all there, but they echo with the sounds of those who are eternally lost.

WHAT CAUSED THEM TO DIE?

Leadership with no integrity has deliberately led them like the pied piper. Change is their mantra, and culture is their God. As II Timothy 3:5 says, …having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Because man is at the center of things, they cannot tolerate established faithful believers. Old things are out, and old people are just in the way. With no shame for their dishonesty, they use craft to assume ownership of ministry and money and then replace it with a consumer mentality. All vestiges of the past have to be removed, with nothing left to remind people of those days of genuine revival and powerful conversions. It may not be deliberate, but this is also the plan of the communists – “kill, destroy, and remove” any reminders of the past, then replace them with things that make people of the world comfortable. It is all about what they like.

Peter warned the people that false teachers were coming. Jude told them that they were already here. Those apostates didn’t rush in with guns blazing. That wouldn’t have worked, because the church would then wake up from its dull sleep. Modern day false teachers are bullies and cowards; like the ISIS demon butchers, they cover their faces. They strike at the elderly with little compassion for broken hearts. The truth is that they couldn’t hold a spiritual candle to most of those seasoned believers, but they are cowards. They hide while they attack the simple and immature, and then finally it is too late.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS HORRIBLE DEATH?

This part is really the most tragic. The majority of the congregation could have prevented the death, but they did little or nothing. In fact, like Lot in Sodom, they fit right in. There are times when they might think back to a ministry of truth and righteousness, but then they are drawn back to the den of death. It is so much fun, and it feels so good, and the communicators are so effective. No real thought is given, though, as to what those leaders are not saying. It never crossed their minds that worship leaders didn’t have enough Bible truth in them to fill a thimble.

It never dawned on them, in the beginning, to recoil with righteous indignation when they began “singing lies”. They never thought to ask why the majority of great doctrines were never addressed. Their spiritual axe was so dull that they failed to realize that when nonsense – and sometimes heresy – were being taught, they should be asking questions. By then, those who originally were able to recognize error had either been run off or had left with the pain of a grieved soul.

In the end, thousands of so-called churches had “Ichabod” written over their doors, and they never even saw it coming. Like zombies or “the living dead,” they go through the motions with no feeling at all of the “burning” that Jude talks about. It is true that many of the deceived had never known the grace of God personally, but woe unto those disobedient believers who were not prepared, who remained silent and then joined the thundering herd.

FOR THOSE WHO CARE

Ministry always rises from what one believes. The idea that someone can change methods without it relating to their belief is part of the death lie. Disobedient people hate this, but it is possible to walk into an empty church building and know exactly what questions to ask. When you attend a so-called worship service, many of your questions will be answered. Worship is in the Spirit, and it is about God. It has to be in truth; thus, when people are singing lies, that is not worship. That is not truth. Worship is about God, not man. When a worship service mimics the Israelites dancing around the golden calf, it is not hard to tell that God is not the focus there.

I am for good change. I am for enthusiasm. I have no criticism of those who are moved emotionally by a song, message, or testimony. It is not that hard to tell, though, when someone is exuding hypocrisy. Don’t demonstrate your ignorance by talking about judging. We don’t condemn people; that’s God’s task. Ours is to be loyal to true grace and to a holy God. That relationship of obedience requires us to recoil at false teaching and fake worship that is not backed up by the daily life.

Let me be pointed – the Emerging Church movement is filled with this death cult, and yet blind people run rapidly toward disaster just because it is all new. It feels good to be saying, “I like it!” Oh, for the days when it was about what God loves and hates! You do have a choice, you know. Why in the world would you choose to stay trapped in something that grieves a holy God?

THE AUTOPSY OF A DEAD SERMON Monday, Feb 23 2015 

Many sermons have little any affect on the listeners when it comes to decision making. As my friend Jim said “They are D.O.A, dead on arrival”. This discussion is not about truth that was last month. This is about effectiveness. Even a dead body has some truth associated with it, but it doesn’t have life.

If you get offended by this discussion you are not reading carefully. Sermons aren’t for and about the preacher. They should be about God, not the human instrument and it should be for the listener. I have no idea how many sermons I have heard in my almost 80 years. I have no idea how many I have preached over 55 years of ministry but a number of them were DOA. I looked over some of messages from those first years in the pastorate and I wondered how anyone ever listened to them. It isn’t that I was not sincere; I just wish someone would have shared the following with me. It wasn’t until my post graduate work that I had a professor who was willing to rip my disjointed thoughts into pieces. I thank God for that man.

GETTING STARTED

Sermons aren’t supposed to be entertainment and the preacher is not an entertainer. That doesn’t mean humor and illustrations are out of the question. But those are only tools and they shouldn’t be the main thing a listener remembers about the sermon. Every message ought to begin with a clear statement of where one is headed and what if any decision or action would be expected. The sermon needs to focus on that subject and lead the person to the stated action. It should close with a clear statement of the idea and clearly lead to any action the speaker intended the listener to have. This is simply the outline of the old black preacher. “I tells them what I going to tells them, then I tells them and then tells them what I told them.” At any point in the message the listener should be able to know what the idea, goal and action is.

AN APPROACH

There are many forms that a message could take. None of them are necessarily bad. Some however are better than others. Many effective preachers have done well with a verse by verse exegetical approach. It may be the best approach but doctrinal, topical or devotional messages have their place. It is not difficult to make an exegetical approach as dry as dust however. A discourse should not be a technical seminary lecture but the local church is in serious need of teaching, no matter what the makeup of the congregation is. At the same time all messages always should teach. One way to test this is to write in the margin of one’s outline the doctrines being taught by the sermon. Working through a bible book as a series is safe in that sooner or later you come to every doctrine and serious issue that needs to be shared.

As the pulpit master carefully reviews his sermons for the year there are some things he should find. Central doctrines should have been clearly dealt with. A central doctrine is not limited to the things you have to believe to go to heaven. There are subjects that open the door understanding important doctrinal areas. I often ask how long it has been since you preached or heard some speak on the Blessed Hope, the any moment return of Christ for the Church. What someone believes is really not as important as how they got there. That is the real test.

THINGS THAT KILL SERMONS

In a former article I discussed the issue of “time” as it relates to a message. One of my students asked “how long does it take for you to prepare a message”? My answer was “it takes fifty four years”. It takes time to prepare an effective message, one that will deliver the intended response. This may sound strange but it takes more time to prepare for a well ordered thirty minutes message than it does for a rambling hour. That is no recommendation for sermonettes that produce christianettes. An effective message has no time for unrelated word slurs.

There are very few preachers who have the ability to hold the attention of an audience for an hour and a half. Many times long winded sermons are there only because the speaker likes the sound of his own voice. The real issue, however, is not the length of a sermon. In a previous article I outline the problem of referring to time. At any place in the message we mention time it will distract the listener. References such as “time is my enemy”, “I don’t have enough time”, “I am almost done”, “this is my last point”, or even “finally” are fatal. They don’t believe us anyway having heard those disclaimers to many times before. If you give the listener any hint that you are almost done, you are done. They are zipping up bible covers, putting on a coat or ordering lunch, but you are done. Don’t bother to give an invitation you lost them and your sermon is incomplete. How to hold their attention is another matter for another article.

GIVING LIFE TO A MESSAGE

In diligent preparation every word should be weighed. Preachers who wing it are in for a fall. While there must be solid truth taught there is need for application. One should note that application is not part of interpretation. These can only be added once the interpretation is finished. If we begin with the application before the text we are on dangerous ground. An illustration may be used to introduce a message but even that should rise from the theme of the text that has been settled by exegesis. If the listener goes away with a desire to come listen again the message was alive. Dead messages send people away empty and cold.

JUDGMENT IS AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO BELIEVERS Tuesday, Feb 3 2015 

In Genesis 6:5, there is a description of our present world: And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  Then God determined, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast (6:7). But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (6:8).  God’s grace in the midst of awesome judgment is a blessing and an encouragement to the obedient.  When His judgment was over, God said, I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth (9:13).  Now when believers see the rainbow, we are reminded of God’s grace and that He always judges sin.

Every judgment spoken of in the Bible is a warning to the unbeliever and a blessing to the believer.  It is a reminder of God’s all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful character.  It reminds us that the sovereign creator God is a holy God and that His holiness is His primary characteristic.  Truth flows from His holiness, and love flows from truth.  Liberal-minded professing Christians hate judgment because they know they have been disobedient.  True grace is foreign to them.  This is why their “sloppy agape” makes love to rule over holiness – so that judgment will disappear.  Judgment, on the other hand, causes true believers to rejoice. Even the final judgment in the Lake of Fire does this, because the eternal destruction of the wicked highlights God’s holiness, forgiveness, and grace for the obedient.  Liberal-minded theologians deny the eternal judgment of God simply because their guilt condemns them, and they hate judgment.

An example of this in our own society is the issue of capital punishment.  There is a very real reason why people oppose this doctrine that is clearly taught as part of the age we live in.  Many who oppose the death penalty judgment only wish to protect themselves. They fear judgment because their hearts condemn them.

ALL JUDGMENTS HAVE ALREADY BEGUN

Those who have chosen judgment over grace are already suffering the consequences of their decision.  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)  Every day, in the life of the unbeliever, God is demonstrating His judgment. James talks about the wicked wealthy man who is already being judged for his ill treatment of the poor and needy.  Everything in his life is a mockery of a holy God, while every day in the life of the true believer should glorify the Lord of Glory.

The Bible teaches that, after the departure of the true church from this earth, the anti-Christ will rise.  The Holy Spirit’s special ministry of indwelling that began at Pentecost will no longer exist on this earth as a restrainer; then the evil one will rule.  One word characterizes the Tribulation period; it is the word “wrath”.  The rule of the wicked one is a judgment of tsunami proportions, and this judgment has already begun to work.

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:3)

THE JUDGMENT HAS ALREADY BEGUN

Our nation and our world will be judged.  Because of the holy character of the sovereign creator God, He must judge evil.  Never in the history of this world since the flood has wickedness and violence been so wide spread.  Never in the history of our nation has the holocaust of abortion been so sweeping.  Never has the voice of sodomy been so deafening.  No group or leader in government has been so egregious.  While all past leaders have had their faults, nothing compares to the evil in the elite of our own country.  All three branches of our government have openly and without apology left the road of truth for a street of lies.  The rich and the powerful go on without conviction while the small and insignificant are imprisoned for petty crimes.  God must judge this once great nation.

I have no time for those who have their heads in the sand.  The judgment has already begun.  I am thankful for the optimists, but those of us who are realists refuse to make excuses.  In the past, God has used His creation to judge this cursed earth, and He is doing so now.  Fire, flood, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, typhoons, etc., are not incidentals in God’s plan to judge; and that judgment has begun.

STOP HERE FOR A REMINDER AND ENCOURAGEMENT

For believers, all of this reminds us of God’s grace for His children and that He loves His own and is justified in all judgment.  Our nation is just one incident away from a civil war, and those who stoke the fire of racism may be the spark that causes it to begin. Economic collapse is inevitable given the rapid increase of our national debt.  How God will judge all this wickedness, we do not know; but true believers know that God will judge, and He will be justified.  That is why believers can be comforted.  HE WINS, WE WIN, THE WICKED LOSE.

The carnal mind says …for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (II Peter 3:4); but God says, For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Romans 8:22)  Put down your silly games, and make sure your heart is right with God!

WHAT’S A BELIEVER TO DO AT THIS POINT? Tuesday, Dec 30 2014 

WHAT’S A BELIEVER TO DO AT THIS POINT?

Some time ago we had an active discussion about what is happening in our world. It centered on God’s involvement in weather and the freefall of society in general. God does use weather events to accomplish His purposes and to judge humans for their evil actions. Bible prophets were not popular in most cases because they told the truth. Their message was not popular or welcome. Even believers did not want to hear truth if they deemed it negative.

Like it or not, God has begun to judge this world. He is doing this by using serious weather events, as He did in the past. His purpose is to bring judgment on those who violate His person and holiness. God is using government leaders to punish nations who turn their backs on Israel. Wickedness of the most serious nature, such as the murder of the unborn and the acceptance of sodomy, is something God cannot ignore. Worldwide economic disaster waits in the wings, and the planet “groans” under horrible military conflicts like we have never seen. The growth of Islam with all of its atrocities is just part of what happens when a world forgets the sovereign creator God.

HERE AT HOME

All of the above events are real threats to our own nation. I have said repeatedly that we are just one major event away from civil war in our own land. Now rioting in the streets has become a national pastime, with the approval of those who are supposed to be protecting everyone’s freedoms. All these things are in the hand of God, and He uses them to judge those who have trampled His truth underfoot. Any serious student of Nazi Germany would recognize what is happening in our country. Instead of a free people, able to speak and practice what they believe, a new era of slavery is underway. We are not free to condemn the evil of sodomy; we must be silent or pay the price. It is one thing for people to practice evil; it is another thing to force other people to recognize it, to accept it, to be silent about it, or to be punished for opposing it.

So here we are, and you don’t want to talk about these subjects. You don’t want to hear about them because they are negative. We are just supposed to play our silly little church games. Let me sound a warning: you will not escape the fallout of all of this. Let me add that the problem is made much worse by evangelical leaders who have taught us to hide our heads in the sand of activity and self-centered theology. We do have a responsibility in this world, and it is about light and truth.
WHERE DO WE STAND?

The sounds and images of conflict are on the horizon. Please consider some ways that God would have us respond. Deal with ignorance. There is no safety in not knowing. Those who told you not to waste your time on current events have simply given you a sleeping pill, but the truth will be there when you wake up, as you most certainly will do. Deal with denial. To say that something isn’t happening when it actually is serves only to rob us of the very attitude of power that we need for the coming conflict.

Study the scripture. I and II Peter, along with other books of the Bible, give us direction for dealing with situations similar to the ones we face today. They provide a proper perspective that will help us to stand tall. Let me remind you of a great truth: in the end, WE WIN! We are not losers; we are overcomers, so stop talking and acting like a loser!

We are strangers and pilgrims in a foreign land, and we need to look at this challenge from heaven’s point of view. I don’t like pain any more than you do, but it is part of the believer’s challenge in this world. I don’t like rejection, either, but remember that if they hated our Lord, we should expect the same treatment. You can’t compromise with pagans. To the worldlings, you are a bit less than human with almost no thinking ability. We might be able to fly under the radar for a while, but the day will come when what you believe and practice will be considered criminal. We already know the results of the final judgment, so their condemnation of us is but a small thing.

Pay no attention to cowardly professing Christians. They will criticize you. They should be holding your arms up, but they will condemn you. You will be accused of being political, or of lacking love. You will be accused of ignoring or hindering evangelism. When you speak the truth as it is revealed in scripture, they will allegorize the text in order to cover their disobedience. You don’t have to have the approval of those who live with superstitious fear; fear God alone.

STAND STRAIGHT AND STAND TALL

Stop whining and start winning. The present and future persecution is small compared to that of saints of the past. This is not a time to feel sorry for ourselves; rather, hateful opposition should cause us to REJOICE! We should be thankful for the privilege of suffering for our Lord. This is biblical Christianity. See the enemy for what he is and the compromisers for what they are, but stand straight and stand tall. Some of my readers may live long enough to win a martyr’s crown, but we do not fear those who can kill the body; we only fear Him who can condemn the soul.

Sorry to disturb your fairy-tale, sugarplum mindset, but if you think all this will go away because you don’t know (ignorance) or don’t care (denial), you are in for a rude awakening. Wake up, stand straight, and stand tall – be an overcomer!

CHURCH TRAMPS Thursday, Nov 20 2014 

Our readers probably thought I had run out of subjects to fire people up. Actually, there is still a long list of these waiting to be tackled. This subject is not new, and I found a statement by J.C. Ryle that makes the point for this article. “There is an amazing ignorance of scripture among many and a consequent want of established, solid religion (theology). In no other way can I account for the ease with which people are, like children, ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine’. (Ephesians 4:14) Because of this plague of biblical ignorance, people are drawn quickly into all kinds of error.” Bishop Ryle goes on to speak to the impact of this ignorance: “There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true.” (Holiness: Its Nature and Hindrances)

Ryle never intended his words to be prophetic, but they do aptly describe that situation in which we find ourselves mired. In years gone by, there were large groups of people who traveled from church to church in search of something different. They usually did not last long at any one place; their heads were soon turned to something new. They were often referred to as “church tramps”. Not everyone had a need for that kind of novelty, and many families remained a part of their local church as their generations passed on. These people were strengthened by strong pulpits and regular meaningful Bible studies. They put down their roots and “rolled with the punches”.

THE WAY IT IS TODAY

The “tramp syndrome” has a new face today. The people moving from church to church are more like a parade. The word spreads like wildfire that there is a new show in town, a better form of entertainment. The problem is fed by the mega-church mentality. After all, it is so easy to move on; who knows, and who even cares when you are gone? This syndrome demonstrates a terrible lack of integrity, because so many churches today have camouflaged their names so as to hide doctrinal error. That is patently dishonest. Folks who are ignorant of a theology that is biblical slide in and out of those churches, carrying more and more error with them.

The strange thing is that anyone who knows the scriptures and wants to participate in God’s holiness are in big trouble if they attempt to point these things out. They are tagged as “unloving troublemakers”, while the real villains are those who profit from their ignorance. Many young, unlearned men have been caught in this flood. They are sure that if they follow the religious gurus, the churches they lead will grow and become well-known. Most of the time, however, these men end up being tools of their own destruction. They have an ungodly disdain for the history of a church, its heritage, and its doctrinal standard and instead become immersed in their own trickery and smitten with the god of change. Many of these wayward ministries end up closing, and others wither on a long road to a certain death.

GET TO THE POINT

Over the past year, I have observed this tragedy from a personal point of view. Looking back over fifty-four years of ministry and thirty-seven as a senior pastor, we tried to maximize learning that would help people to know the scripture. Everyone knows something about the Bible, but that is not the same thing as actually knowing the Bible. Knowing Bible stories or narrative is good, but one needs to know the God of the Bible and the meaning of the revelation that God has given us. To accomplish this we used, in the main, an expository pulpit to study books of the Bible verse by verse. In addition to the Sunday school with some excellent teachers, there were all kinds of Bible studies for every level. We opened a Bible institute and created a strong Christian school with six years of intensive Bible study. Then there were Bible-reading projects, several radio programs, and Bible conferences – all to study the scriptures. But it seems that I failed.

How could it be that so many people who had the opportunity to feed on the Word through all those years could have missed the point or walked away from the basic truths they had received? Many of them have moved on to churches where doctrinal error is at the heart of what they believe. Some have even gone where cultic teaching is dispensed (on the sly), but those people don’t appear to have a clue.

I know all the pat answers. Of course they are responsible for their own choices, but if they had the information and if they chose to believe it, how could they tolerate blatant abuse of the scriptures? Perhaps it is no longer important, or the entertainment atmosphere has dulled their senses. It could be that many individuals were not saved to begin with, since that is a widespread problem in all churches.

While I grieve at the embracing of doctrinal error by those who have fallen, I must admit that my heart has been encouraged by those who did recognize a theology that is biblical. These folks practiced holiness and walked away from nonsense and the open teaching of error. They were wise enough to catch the undertone of heretical teaching, but then found it extremely difficult to find a place where the Bible is not taught as a sort of “fill-in-the-blanks” book.

THE ANSWER

While the questions may be many, the one answer is still the same: there is no substitute for immersing oneself in the Holy Book. Pastors must find more ways to get people into the Book. True believers cannot be satisfied with a few minutes of real Bible content in their Sunday activities. There must be a constant hunger for truth, because this alone will sound the alarm when error is taught.

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