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(revised 04/06/17)

I remember growing up in the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) denomination. As late as the 1960s, we would often sing the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. One of the verses contains the phrase “though none go with me, still I will follow.” That is how I feel nowadays about the EFCI – that I am walking alone. (Actually I no longer belong to the denomination, but am trying to reach the denomination since so many of my relatives and friends still belong.)

I’m sure there are born again, biblically sound, spiritually mature Christians in the EFCI.  But for the most part, churches in the EFCI have not stayed close to their first love (especially in Northwest Yearly Meeting, where contemplative heretic Richard Foster first became popular). Specifically, I have heard of very few EFCI churches that preach and sing every Sunday about our blood-bought salvation, the bloody atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary to save (rescue from eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire) those who sincerely repent of their sins. I hear very few passionate invitations to unsaved attenders/seekers/sinners to turn from their sinful ways and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord. And it has been decades since I’ve seen an EFCI tract rack with “hellfire and brimstone” tracts, or heard Evangelical Friends singing old-time gospel hymns such as “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood.”

Regarding the loss of emphasis on “the Blood and the Cross” – not just in the EFCI but in many evangelical denominations – I have reposted an excellent sermon on this below. Click here for the original source of the sermon. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

The Offense of the Cross
by Josef Urban

“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased” (Galatians 5:11). Paul’s Gospel had teeth. It bit hard into the kingdom of darkness and ripped chunks from it wherever it came. He didn’t make his message smooth and soft in order to suit the fancies of the religious majority. His Gospel was a sharp word that exalted Christ, lifted the cross up high, proclaimed total commitment to Christ the King, and utterly stripped man of all self-reliance, shattering self-righteousness, tearing down false religion, and leaving men stripped bare before God in utter dependence on His free grace alone to save them.

And of course, with a Gospel like this, Paul suffered persecution wherever he went. Yet he didn’t dare water-down the potency of the truth of God. He didn’t compromise his message in order to make it more acceptable to the people. He didn’t pervert it to make it look pretty. He proclaimed, “This is the way, the only way! Walk ye in it!” and pronounced a thundering “Anathema!” on anybody that dared to tamper with the message and preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

Yet this is exactly what was happening in the church at Galatia. False teachers had come in and deceived the brethren by perverting the Gospel. They were preaching that in addition to believing in Christ, it’s necessary to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. They were adding to the Gospel, changing the message to make it more acceptable. Paul said of them: “As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:12). False teachers and false brethren today are rarely found preaching circumcision as necessary for salvation. However, they are still doing the same thing to the Gospel, adding to it and taking away from it in order to make it less offensive and more acceptable to the religious folk who fill the churches, in order that they don’t have to suffer persecution for the sake of the message. They take away the “offense of the cross” and in doing so, take away the heart and substance of the Gospel.

Paul’s Gospel exalted the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul preached salvation solely through the finished work of the cross, and preached abroad that those who are to be saved by grace must identify themselves with this bloody cross. He preached that men need to believe in Christ, and that the result of believing is an identification with the cross. He gloried in the fact that he was “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). He preached that the sinful flesh needs to be crucified; that the carnal man has to be put to death. Any who refuse to thus nail themselves to the cross are unworthy of the great, glorious Gospel of Christ. Any who water down the Gospel and dilute the message to make it more acceptable to carnal men or to tailor to the religious status quo, refusing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel are enemies of the cross, serving their own bellies, minding earthly things, and will face destruction (Phi. 3:18-19). There is no compromise here. Those that don’t like the message are the enemies of the cross.

Paul’s Gospel was offensive, highly offensive. He boasted that his message contained “the offense of the cross” and would not dare to cause such offense to cease. To him, the fact that there was such an offense was proof that he was preaching the true Gospel. He knew that the true Gospel would stir up devils and provoke the wrath of wicked men, and thus at times cause offense. And he continued to preach this true Gospel to the very end, even though it was “foolishness to those who are perishing”, because he knew that it was the power of God to those who believed and embraced it, resulting in salvation (1 Cor. 1:21). In addition to demolishing Satanic strongholds and turning multitudes from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, the result of preaching this was angry mobs, getting stoned, being whipped and scourged, getting thrown into prison, being hated everywhere he went, and ultimately being beheaded in Rome.

Why doesn’t our “gospel” today get us persecuted? Why does it sit so well with the religious masses? Why doesn’t it bite and cut and wound and hack and kill false religiosity? Because it’s not God’s Gospel! It’s not the sharp, two-edged sword that pierces hearts and slashes through false religious ideologies. It doesn’t wound the consciences of hardened sinners and cause them to cry out in godly sorrow, “What must I do to be saved?” It doesn’t tear away the false foundations and strip away their false hopes, and so it leaves us building on a faulty foundation that’s not going to stand when the floods of God’s just judgment come against it. There’s no digging deep in plowing up the hardened ground by preaching the offense of the cross and calling for deep repentance, so there’s not a solid foundation laid that will endure to life everlasting. The result is that multitudes are trusting in a false “gospel” that pampers the flesh and are blindly walking down the wide road that leads to destruction.

In taking away the offensiveness of preaching heart-repentance from sin and biblical justification by faith and the necessity of bowing to the Lordship of Christ, and in taking away the offensiveness of the message of the cross, we have destroyed the foundation of the Gospel. We need to get back to the offensive message of self-denial, crucifixion to the world and the flesh, of dying to sin, and of preaching salvation as the sovereign work of God’s free grace, given freely to men on the basis of faith in Christ alone apart from any merit or work of their own. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the unadulterated truth of the real Gospel, men and devils will come against us in opposition too. Perhaps when we get back to preaching the truth, we will find that there’s nothing new under the sun, and that the same Gospel has always had the same results, in the 1st century and in the 21st century.

The problem today is that the modern church has a severe lack of holy troublemakers. What I mean is that the great Spirit that brought about reformations in church history is largely void in today’s church, though it is sorely needed. The Spirit of Elijah is gone from our midst. Elijah was a holy man of God. He preached an offensive message, a message of repentance and God’s judgment against sin. He had power with God, and as the judgment of God against the sin of Israel, there was no rain at Elijah’s word for three and a half years. After that time, Elijah appeared to the wicked king, Ahab, and Ahab shouted out, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Ki. 18:17). Elijah was a holy troublemaker to the sin, false religion and Baal worship of that day. But it wasn’t Elijah that caused the main trouble; it was the sin of Israel. Elijah responded to the wicked king: “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Ki. 18:18).

This often happens today. When a man of God rises up and starts preaching an offensive message of the cross, of dying to self, of God’s judgment against sin, of the true Gospel, he is often accused of being contentious, or factious, or as a troublemaker. Yet it is not the Gospel that is the trouble, even though many times people don’t like it. The real trouble is the sin in the church and false religiosity. The true problem is the worship of the Baal’s, of “another Jesus” that is so often preached today that resembles a nice, soft, fluffy teddy bear that is the sinner’s accessory for life-enhancement more than He resembles the ferocious, triumphant Lion of Judah that demands absolute worship and obedience who demands that all be reconciled to Him or else be ripped to shreds when His wrath is kindled but a little (Psa. 2:12). –Now, the wrath of the Lamb isn’t the only attribute of our blessed Lord, nor should that be all we preach. Jesus is a friend of repentant sinners, and full of mercy and love such as no finite mind can fathom, freely wiping away the sins of the most wretched on earth and bestowing on former rebels of the Kingdom the greatest riches of the Kingdom. However, the truth is that there is a great lack in the majority of the professing church nowadays of preaching the full counsel of God, and reasoning of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come, and thundering forth the terrors of the Living God that shall one day soon fall grievously on the head of the wicked.

This is what we need today, when there has been such a soft “gospel” preached for so long, when the multitudes of religious masses fill the churches, comfortable in their sin, living at ease in Zion in lukewarm pleasure-seeking religion, serving a “Jesus” that is not the Jesus of the Bible, but is rather the bi-product of their own worldly culture and carnal thinking. We need zealous men who burn with Holy Ghost fire that have not been tamed-down by the religious status-quo, who will turn over the tables of the money-changers in the house of God, who will by the might of the Spirit smash the idols of materialism and greed, who will tear down the altars of the golden calves they call, “Jehovah”, who will prophesy against the false prophets of “another Jesus” the true word of the Lord. We need those who love Jesus enough to take a stand against the Devil and be persecuted for preaching a sharp, convicting message, that even though it offends, it also gloriously contains real power to deliver from sin and save souls.

The Apostle Paul was a holy troublemaker too. When he came to a certain city, the people cried out, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Act. 17:6).When he stood on trial before the Governor, he was accused of being one who stirred up trouble everywhere he went. They said of him, “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Act. 24:5). Paul was accused of being a ringleader in a troublemaking sect, because he tore down the religious status quo wherever he went by preaching a pure message of Christ and Him crucified, and utterly despised every false way that seeks to counterfeit or pervert the Gospel of God. The religious masses of his day didn’t like, and the ones of our day don’t like it, either.

Yet this is what we need today. We need preachers with a reformation Spirit to demolish the false foundations of Christian thinking we have in our modern day, and to exalt the old fashioned Gospel of the cross. It is only the real Gospel, the one that often offends both men and devils, that is the truth which can save those who believe. Perverting it, diluting it, changing it, and adulterating it will only lead to deception and destruction. We need to see the restoration of the true Gospel in the church, the one that has teeth that bites chunks into the cotton-candy “gospel” of our time, the one that is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces hearts, the one that is mighty through God to demolish the strongholds of Satan, the one that God uses as the chief instrument to ignite a fire in the hearts of men and to bestow the grace of saving faith in His precious elect.

I’m not saying that we should purposely try to be offensive. We should never purposely offend anyone simply for the sake of being offensive or trying to conjure up a rude awakening by the methods of the flesh. We should be filled and dripping with the love of Christ when we share the Gospel, evidencing the blessed fruit of the Spirit, led by the Spirit of Truth and speaking not as mere men, but as the oracles of God. We should actually go out of our way to ensure that the way we act and what we do doesn’t unnecessarily offend anyone so as not to put stumbling blocks in their way from accepting the Gospel. Paul said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). No matter the amount of self-denial involved, Paul would go out of his way to make sure that the way he acted and what he did helped people to understand the Gospel, not push them further away from it. We must give honor to whom honor is due, and respect to all by all means as long as it doesn’t compromise the Gospel in any way. And while all this is certainly true, we have to check ourselves, because if the Gospel that we’re preaching isn’t offending anybody, it’s some heavy evidence that what we’re preaching isn’t the true, biblical Gospel of the cross. We must never, never, water down and adulterate the pure truths of the Word of God in order to make it more acceptable to the unregenerate!

Yet, today, there is a huge movement sweeping through the professing church that does this very thing. They take away expounding on the threats of God’s holy Law and warning of the judgment to come. They don’t mention the fury and wrath of God. They don’t preach the Biblical message of God’s holy hatred of sin. They don’t preach the blood of Christ and its utter necessity for making propitiation and appeasing offended Deity. They take away the preaching of repentance. They don’t preach the power of His resurrection and His grace that gives us victory over sin. They don’t expound on the necessity of the New Birth and of a definite conversion experience. Instead, they preach philosophy, psychology, and ear-tickling sermons that make rebels feel really good about themselves in their current state before God. They preach positive self-improvement, self-esteem, and self-help. And the masses just eat it up and want more!

Their strategy is to remove the “hard sayings” from the Word of God and to only preach what unregenerate sinners like to hear in order to grow their churches and increase their attendance and membership. They think, “Let’s not preach about the wrath of God against sin because it’ll offend somebody; instead let’s just preach how God loves everybody no matter who they are or how they live”. And by preaching a sugarcoated “gospel” their goal is to grow their meetings –and it works. It’s not a rare thing to find a huge mega church in every city in the US that uses these very methods of ear-tickling half-truth “gospels”. They call it, “seeker-sensitive”. But, as one preacher put it, “There’s only one seeker and that’s God!” There are none that seek after God, apart from a work of grace in their hearts after God has first sought them. We should labor to make our churches God-friendly. And we can only do this when we preach the whole truth!

What example did Jesus lay down for us to follow? Did He take out important truths from the Gospel, truths that people didn’t like to hear, in order to please men and make more disciples for Himself? –Certainly not! To the contrary, His preaching cut through all the false pretenses and impure motives of those who seemed to be seeking God, and He would expose the hearts of the people and proclaim the very truths that they didn’t like to hear!

In John 6, after multiplying bread and feeding a multitude, a great mass of people followed Him. But their motive wasn’t the love of the truth and the glory of God and to honor Jesus for His mighty miraculous power. Their motive was selfishness, because they were following Him because He fed them with bread. Jesus didn’t mince words –He cut straight through their impure motives and said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (Jo. 6:26). Jesus continued to preach and expound on the truth, revealing their false motives and proclaiming that He is the true bread which came down from Heaven. This offended them, and they began to murmer against Him (vv. 41-42).

Many were offended at His word. Did He know they would be offended? –Of course! The words He spoke were not even His own, they were the words of the Father Himself, the very words of God. Not one word was spoken outside of the direct order of God. It was God’s plan to preach to these people in such as a way as to turn them back from following Jesus because, again, they motive was not pure and acceptable before God. He would rather have a few wholehearted followers than a multitude of lukewarm self-centered hypocrites who appear to follow Jesus outwardly while inwardly their motive is to gratify their own selfish desires.

In this discourse Jesus continued to say what some of the most offensive things one could possibly say to a Jew: He made Himself out to be greater than Moses, their greatest prophet, and on top of this, made the shocking statement that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. What an outrage this must have caused! These are people who won’t even touch shrimp or ham, let alone eat flesh and drink blood! They were certainly offended. And not only were the Jews in general offended, but many of those who were at that time His disciples, who were following Him, were offended as well:

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (Jo. 6:60-65).

And the result of this whole discourse brings us to the only “666” in the Bible outside of Revelation, that is, John 6:66, which says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” That is, many of those who were following Him were offended at His word and left their outward form of following Him. But the truth is that they never were truly following Him with all their hearts. Though they had an outward profession of faith, they didn’t have the inward work of grace to make their profession a spiritual reality in their lives. Jesus spoke the sharp, two-edged cutting word of God that sliced through their false outward profession and cut down the religious pretense, leaving nothing but the motive of the hearts exposed. Though He knew this would cause them to turn away from their outward profession, He knew that it was the best thing to do for the sake of maintaining the purity of the church at that time.

Why did He do this? –Because He knew that all those who were given to Him by His Father would come to Him, hear from Him, accept His words, have their spiritual understanding opened, and believe in Him and be saved. Those who were His own precious, elect sheep, having light from above, would understand that He didn’t speak of physically eating His flesh and blood, but of spiritually partaking of the real substance of His Being in the most intimate way –of deriving their very life from His life, and living every day in the reality of His broken body and shed blood for their salvation.

So while the hypocrites and false followers are chased away by the preaching of hard truth, the genuine and true followers are edified by it and drawn closer to Him through it. Preaching the offense of the cross, the hard truth of the word of God has a way of leaving the true children of God in awe and edified in the inner man, since most of the “meat” of the Gospel that gives us the most strength is initially hard to digest for the natural man. In light of this, for the sake of the truth of the Gospel, we must never take away any truth from it for the sake of making it acceptable to the carnal masses. If the true Gospel scares people off and offends hypocrites, let them go! It’s better to have God with us through the preaching of the true Gospel and the people against us then it is to have the people for us and God against us!

Let’s follow the example of the Lord Jesus who spoke truth without regard to its consequences. Our job is to proclaim the Gospel, and God’s job is to ensure results. We do our part, and then God will do His. But we dare not try to take God’s job by seeking to conjure up results by tampering with the message! What a damnable thing! The cross is a scandal, an offense to the world! Let’s leave it at that!

Apparently, the true Gospel that Jesus came to herald was one that was so offensive that He pronounced a special blessing on all those who were able to receive it: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:23). It takes a special blessing not to be offended in Christ. This must mean that most people, if they hear and understand the true Gospel, and see and hear the true Jesus, will in some measure be offended or will be unable to believe and be saved. This is quite the contrast to the lukewarm “gospel” we hear so often today, that offends nobody, that is easily embraced by the sinful multitudes who love to hear these humanistic ideas about God preached and are never shaken from their complacency, never get alarmed over their sinful condition, never depart from their iniquity, and never embrace the cross of Christ in identification with His sufferings or bow the knee of submissive obedience to His Lordship –things which are essential characteristics of true faith and necessary evidence of the reality of the Gospel in one’s life.

This true, offensive Gospel, far from being accepted by the world, was a scandal to the world, and the world hated it!  It ended up getting our Lord nailed to a tree. This true Gospel, according to early historical records, ended up getting the Apostle Peter crucified as well (that is, crucified upside down). It ended up getting all the Apostles martyred, except for John, who was banished as a condemned criminal to the Isle of Patmos. This true Gospel will never be accepted by the world and its ungodly system or the prince of darkness who oversees it. It will always be a scandal, an offense, a sword between those who follow it and those who refuse to (see Mat. 10:34-36). Where is this Gospel today? Surely, wherever it is, persecution tends to follow it in some form or another, but thank God; genuine salvation does too! And so does revival!

Please share this message with others!

(revised 08/24/15)

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the reality of eternity. God’s Word also uses the terms “everlasting”, “forever”, etc. I don’t know whether there will be “time” as we know it (with one year equaling 365 days i.e. one complete orbit of the Earth around the Sun). But however the word “time” is used after Christ returns, born again, resurrected Christians will live forever in God’s presence.

It is impossible to comprehend eternity. But I came up with this story which will perhaps give us a start.
—————————————
One day in Heaven a group of the born again saints came before God the Father and asked, “Could You teach us more about eternity? Can You help us better comprehend what ‘eternity’ means?”

God replied, My children, I will try to explain in terms you can understand. First of all, recall this passage from My Word:

29) Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30) But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31) So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:29-31)

Now, My children, how many birds  – not just sparrows but all birds – do you think there are on Earth?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by several trillions.  Then He wrote the total number of birds down in His ledger.

Then God asked, Now, My children, how many hairs do you think are on all the heads of all mankind?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by several trillions. Then He wrote the total number of hairs down in His ledger.

Then God said to the saints, My children, consider these two passages:

He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. (Psa. 147:4)

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (Gen. 22:17)

Then God said, Now, My children, how many stars do you think there are? Here’s a hint – even ungodly, atheist scientists are awed by the number of stars in My universe; some scientists estimate there are between 100 and 200 billion currently observable galaxies, each with billions of stars. (1)

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by trillions. Then He wrote the total number of stars down in His ledger.

Then God asked, My children, how many grains of sand do you think there are – not just on the seashore, but in the whole Earth?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with a number. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated by trillions. Then He wrote the total number of grains of sand in His ledger.

Then God asked the saints,

How many leaves do you think are on all the plants on Earth?
How many blades of grass do you think are on Earth?
How many granules of dirt do you think are in the Earth?
How many snowflakes do you think are on the Earth?
And … how many drops of water do you think are in all of Earth’s oceans and other bodies of water?

The saints conferred for awhile, then presented God with the numbers. God chuckled, for the saints had underestimated each of the numbers by trillions. Then He wrote the total numbers of leaves, blades of grass, granules of dirt, snowflakes and drops of water in His ledger.

God passed around His ledger for the saints to see. As they pondered the huge numbers in awe, God called forward one of the saints. Then God gently placed ten drops of water in the palm of the saint’s hand. And God said, My children, let Me ask you just one more question. How many total atoms do you think are in My entire universe? Here’s a hint. One of Earth’s scientists has made this estimate when discussing molecules:

… the number of [known] stars in the heavens is “an unbelievably large number,” but then… you will find the same number of molecules “in just ten drops of water.” (2)

The saints conferred for awhile, then replied: “We don’t know the total number of atoms, let alone molecules – we can’t even fathom such a number.”

God chuckled, then wrote the total number of atoms in His ledger, for He knew the exact number.  When He announced the number, the saints bowed down in awe at God’s Creation. Then God said, My children, here is My point. You began by asking Me, “Can You help us better comprehend what ‘eternity’ means?”  Think of it this way. Imagine that each atom in My universe represents one year of “Earth time”. When this number of years has passed, this will literally be just the BEGINNING of eternity with Me.
——————————
Dear reader, eternity is a long, long time. Imagine time that is infinite, that never ends. Unfathomable, but true.

Now, where do you want to spend your future – eternally in God’s presence, or in eternal torment in the Lake of Fire? Only a fool, a lunatic or an unbeliever would choose eternal torment by remaining an unbeliever. Yet most people do choose to remain unbelievers. As creatures with free will, they stubbornly refuse to believe the Bible and the message of salvation, rejecting Christ.

Dear sinner, I would plead with you to:

Repent of your sins and your ungodly, self-centered life
Believe Christ died as the “sin debt offering” (paying the penalty of eternal punishment for your sins) and rose again
Accept Christ as your Saviour today
Turn your life over to Christ as Saviour and Lord (commit your life 100% to Him)
Live for Him the rest of your life, in total obedience to His Word

Your eternal destiny is at stake.

FOOTNOTES

(1) Elizabeth Howell, How Many Galaxies Are There?

(2) Comments by David Blatner, as discussed by Robert Krulwich in Which Is Greater, The Number Of Sand Grains On Earth Or Stars In The Sky?


I am privileged to be Facebook Friends with John Henderson, a member and Administrator of the Facebook “Concerned Nazarenes” Group. In the face of the Supreme Court gay “marriage” hearings, John has written an excellent article regarding homosexuality. The need of this hour, in these End Times, is for born again Christians to confront this and many other sins. Through such articles, hopefully the Holy Spirit will convict sinners, leading them to repent of their sins and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord. Personally, I would feel amiss if I did not warn sinners of the path they’re on, leading to an eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire.

Following is a repost of John’s article, also posted on the blog of my good Facebook Friend Manny Silva (click here for the original).

Why I am Compelled to Oppose Homosexuality
(By John Henderson)

I am under obligation to declare the whole council of God. I would not know that homosexuality (behavior and orientation) were an abomination before God outside of the Scriptures. I recall the time when homosexuals asked only to be left to themselves. We did that. Then they asked for more and more, each time getting what they asked for. Now they are in a militant demand-mode to the point that American ministers are being threatened imprisonment in some places if they refuse to perform “gay” marriages and American Christian businesses are being fined for refusing to serve “gay” customers.

There was a period when, as a practicing psychotherapist, I carried a client load of homosexuals seeking counseling about their difficulties surrounding the sin. Without exception, when I brought them face to face with the solution of deliverance in Jesus Christ, they walked away, some being haughtily offended that I should even suggest they were in need of forgiveness and redemption. Every one of my clients intentionally chose to follow the homosexual lifestyle instead of coming to Christ. Word got around and they stopped seeking me as a counselor.

I am not aware of anyone at this time in my family who is homosexual. There are those, however, who are very dear to me who are addicted to other kinds of sin, sins just as damning. I do not make excuses for them but let those I love know with biblical clarity where they stand and what needs to happen in their lives whenever the subject should come up. I am obligated before God to be true to their eternal souls.

There is not one person caught up in that lifestyle that I do not feel strong compassion for, often to the point of tears. But I cannot, through false sentimentality, make them feel comfortable, accepted, and secure in the sin they have chosen. There are leaders in my own denomination who coddle them, sooth them, and make them feel comfortable in this choice of theirs and it is damning their poor souls to hell. Those leaders shall answer to God for that failure to be a watchman on the tower.

If my own sons, daughters, or sister announced they were “gay”, I would still love them. They would be just as welcome in my home as ever before. I would not engage in shaming or humiliating them or doing anything to put them down or alienate them from my love. Any “gay” stranger or acquaintance in need of help will get that help without qualification or hesitation. At the same time—and they would already know this—I would not let them off the hook concerning the claims of Christ on their souls. I would not change God’s rules just because they were precious to me or because I needed to better “understand” them somehow.

I do not go about seeking battles with homosexuals. The homosexual agenda is another matter. It is currently a powerful tool of the Marxist socialist agenda with the self-proclaimed objective of undermining and eventually destroying the Christian biblical influence in our society. It is not a person-on-person struggle. It is a struggle of two worlds, each with diametrically opposite objectives. People are only the pawns in a demonic battle against the Church of our Lord—which is actually a rebellion against the Lordship of Christ.

If my dear ones should choose to follow that way (or any other way that leads to destruction), I will be forced, with broken heart, to watch them slipping into hell. Since I do not want to be caught in that position, I intend to cry out all the more in warning that they are going 190 miles an hour down a dead-end street. I had rather hurt their feelings and offend them greatly, and have them despise me than to be even partly responsible for what becomes of them if this is the direction they choose for themselves.

I am aware there are desperate attempts to justify homosexuality, especially in efforts to make it appear that it is somehow okay with God and even supported by the Bible. There are homosexual “churches”, homosexual “ministers” and even a “Queen James Bible” translation. That is only whistling in the dark.

2 Peter 2:7 tells us that God “rescued righteous Lot, who was deeply distressed by the lifestyle of the lawless in [their] debauchery.” One may assume he probably brought up the subject more than once while living there. We know he remained righteous in spite of it to the point that God had to remove him and his family before he could destroy the two cities because of Abraham’s prayer. God would have spared the cities had there been only ten righteous in both places, but there were only Lot, his wife (who perished afterwards), and two daughters. One might assume that only Lot was righteous and the other three benefited with their lives because of his righteousness.

When righteousness is removed, homosexuality takes over and the wrath of God is all that remains. Even those who could have escaped, such as Lot’s two sons-in-law, will perish along with the intentionally degenerate. The simple truth is that you cannot mock God and expect Him to look the other way.

(revised 11/19/15)

The news headlines are foreboding for born again Christians in America. As we all know, in 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court declared gay “marriage” legal in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

I was surprised that gay marriage is not new – a number of other countries have had gay marriage for quite some time now. This Wikipedia article lists countries where gay marriage is already legalized, as well as countries which are close to legalizing gay marriage.

But readers might ask, “Why is this a big deal? Christians in America have been losing their rights for decades now. After all, prayer was removed from our public schools over fifty years ago.”

Here’s the big deal. With the national legalization of gay “marriage”, the United States is entering uncharted waters morally. Never in history has a nation as large as ours legalized homosexual sin/perversion in this way.

… The Court’s decision may impact the form of biblically based churches dramatically. Churches that hold to a strict and conservative interpretation of the Bible’s teaching about gender and marriage may find themselves “Romanized”.

The elites of first century Rome would not allow the church an institutional presence in society. “The Christian churches were associations which were not legally authorized, and the Roman authorities, always suspicious of organizations which might prove seditious, regarded them with jaundiced eye,” writes Kenneth Scott LaTourette.

In our time this means local churches that do not embrace same-sex marriage would find their legal status shaky or non-existent, as well as parachurch groups, conservative Christian colleges, church-based humanitarian agencies, and all other religious institutions – Christian and otherwise – supporting the traditional view of marriage.

Without state-recognized corporate status everything from mortgages and building permits to employment and hiring practices is threatened – all of them essential for institutional function.

Journalist Ben Shapiro notes that there is already a movement on the state level “to revoke non-profit status for religious organizations that do not abide by same-sex marriage.” The Supreme Court’s decision could make churches refusing to comply “private institutions engaging in commerce,” and therefore subject to laws already in place. Refusal to perform a same-sex wedding would put a church out of business…

Mr. Henley then provides some excellent info on corporations which are lining up in favor of “same sex marriage”(and by inference disciplining/harrassing/persecuting Christian employees who stand up for traditional marriage).

Mr. Henley then goes on to analyze the state of American Christianity. Namely, where we stand currently in the slide towards full-blown persecution. He writes:

Previously, I wrote in The Christian Post about the process by which the prophetic voice is silenced in a culture: Marginalization, caricaturization, vilification, criminalization, elimination.

We have reached the stage of vilification – conservative Christians are now regarded by the consensus establishments as the villains in “transformed” America. The Supreme Court may well take us to the criminalization stage.

The biblical church therefore must learn to live as the first century Christians did in Rome.

Their faith would not permit violent resistance to the state. Rather, as Dr. Martin Luther King would demonstrate, the resistance would take the positive form of standing for truth midst the antagonism of individuals and institutions opposing their freedom. [This is the one part of Mr. Henley’s article on which I have a serious difference of opinion. I have a problem with Mr. Henley referring to MLK here. MLK led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) – which today fights for gay marriage and other LGBTQ “rights” – and thus against Christians who favor traditional marriage. The SCLC  lists a number of born again Christian agencies, under the heading of LGBTQ hate groups, even providing info on these Christian groups to the FBI. I should give Mr. Henley the benefit of a doubt – perhaps he is not aware of this…]  The first century Roman Christians knew the greatest they could do in the exclusion of marginalization, ridicule of caricaturization, loathing of vilification, infamy of criminalization, and threat of elimination was to live out their faith in the midst of a society that hated them.

Since they did not have official sanction for an institutional presence in Rome, the Roman Christians operated through organic relational communities. In homes, catacombs, and other secret places, they functioned as the body of Christ. And when they emerged up into the public glare they manifested the face of Christ.

This is what the biblical church must prepare for now. Leaders should begin thinking about what will happen if non-profit status is lost. Christian institutions must embrace a Book of Acts strategy for corporate operation. Schools must train future church leaders in New Testament strategies…

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(Revised 11/19/15)

Today many LGBT proponents of gay marriage are accusing born again Christians of hate crimes. Seems to me they’re confusing the definitions of these supposed transgressions: “bias”, “discrimination”, “bullying”, “persecution”, “hate speech”, “hate literature, and “hate crimes”.

Regarding the traditional definition of “hate crimes”, I have never heard of truly born again, biblically sound, mature, godly Christians causing violent, physical, bodily harm to LGBT people or their property. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Can LGBT people say they have never caused violent, physical, bodily harm to truly born again, biblically sound, mature, godly Christians or their property?

But I digress. The question at hand: does the Bible have hate speech towards LGBT people, as they claim? I say no! And Pastor Jack Wellman concurs. I have taken the liberty of reposting Pastor Wellman’s article below. Click here for the original posting of his article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Jack WellmanArticle by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book  Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

Does The Bible Have Hate Speech?

Some call what is preached in the Bible hate speech.  Does the Bible actually have hate speech?

What is Hate?

There are laws in Canada that make it a crime to preach against certain things that exist in their society and these laws may soon be coming to the U.S but is there really hate speech in the Bible?  Can we say that with authority?  We know that God hates sin and it is said that God hates divorce but it never says that God hates divorced people.  Psalm 7:11 says that “God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” but the Hebrew doesn’t actually call it “hate” but the Hebrew word “za`am” means “to denounce, express indignation,” or “to be indignant” and it is the wicked because of their sin that God denounces and expresses His indignation against.  For those who have repented and put their trust in God, His anger against sin was satisfied by Jesus Christ at the cross.  Christ “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” and “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5) which is what Paul wrote “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1) so now there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).  God hates sin because sin was very costly…costing Jesus His life and the price for our sins was placed upon Jesus at Calvary in unimaginable torment and suffering that went on for hours.  God loves the Son but He also loves those who have repented and trusted in Him too so Jesus took the wrath of God so that we wouldn’t have to bear it ourselves in hell and it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

Does God Hates Sin but Love the Sinner?

If we look at the Bible verses that contain the word sin + hate we can see that it is not always directly pointed toward the person but what the person does.  I hated it when my son or daughter disobeyed me but I never hated them…so in my love I disciplined them.  If I didn’t love them, I would do nothing…that would be apathy.  Regarding the sin and not as much the sinner, God has much to say about it and it’s not good; “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him” (Prov 6:16).  The psalmist added “you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4).  For the most part, the world is separated from God by their sins (Isaiah 59:2) and if we love the world, then the love of the Father is not in us because whoever has “friendship with the world is at enmity (or hostility) with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).  That’s why those “who love the Lord, hate evil [and] He preserves the lives of his saints” (Psalm 97:10).

What is Love?

If you knew someone who was blind and they were walking toward the edge of a cliff, it would be hateful to not warn them. You could be held legally liable for not warning them.  Just as if you saw a child drowning in a swimming pool and did nothing to save them would be criminally negligent, so it is to not warn people that if they step out of this life without Christ, they face an eternal punishment from which there is no escape.  It is not hateful to warn them of an impending judgment that is coming, on the contrary, it is the most loving thing you can ever do…even if it comes at the expense of their hating you.  It is really the message that they hate and not the messenger.  The message from Jesus’ own lips says “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18b).  Everyone loves John 3:16 but it means nothing without John 3:18.

Conclusion

The opposite of love is not hate…it is indifference or apathy.  Do we care that people are dying every day without Christ and will suffer in hell for their sins?  Do we not care enough to point them to the One and only way that they can be saved (Acts 4:12)?  I believe if we don’t share the bad news of people’s sins separating them from a Holy God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and that “whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36b) the “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ alone will mean nothing.  It’s actually a cruel thing to not tell others that they will stand before God and be judged someday apart from Christ (Rev 20:12-15) and that no works will ever be good enough to save them (Eph 2:8-9).  They must repent of (turn away, forsake) their sins and then put their trust in Jesus Christ.  Show them love by telling them the truth; that God is angry at the sinner every day (Psalm 7:11).  Tell them how they can be saved from God’s wrath and after they die and at the judgment (Heb 9:27) they will be saved.  And tell them to their face that it is in their “hard and impenitent heart [that they] are storing up wrath for [themselves] on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:5) so they need to repent, believe, and be saved (John 3:16).

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(revised 11/19/15)

In recent days I have been very concerned about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the “same-sex marriage” issue. As we all know, “same-sex marriage” was approved for all 50 states of the U.S. (plus the District of Columbia) in 2015.

A question for born again Christian readers: are you “vexed” (troubled) by the possibility of nationally recognized gay marriage? I’m not talking about just the possibility of various Christian rights being taking away. I’m also talking about concern over sin itself.

I must admit, I have a tendency to be angry towards sinners themselves. But we need to take a deep breath, step back, and realize why we preach against sin. Sinners are headed straight down the path to Hell and the eternal Lake of Fire, if they do not accept Christ as Saviour. This is what our preaching against sin (of various kinds) should be all about – pointing out sin, and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict so sinners will turn around, repent of sin and accept Christ as Saviour and Lord.

I realize there are various ways to approach sinners and sin. And I would say different people need to be approached in different ways. Plus preachers vary in their personalities and God-given missions. John the Baptist and other prophets seemed to “rail” against sin in righteous anger. On the other hand, Jeremiah was called “the weeping prophet” (see the book of Lamentations), and Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Following is an excellent, pertinent sermon outline I came across, by Independent Fundamental Baptist Pastor James J. Barker. The original sermon outline can be found here. I hope to add links to the Scripture passages, as time permits.

BEING VEXED IS NOT ENOUGH

Text: II PETER 2:1-9

INTRODUCTION:

1.     I would like to draw your attention to a word found twice in our text this morning – “vexed” (2:7, 8).  Lot was vexed. He did not approve of the so-called “gay lifestyle” of Sodom and Gomorrah.

2.     To be “vexed” means to be troubled, to be afflicted, to be disturbed, to be annoyed, and to be distressed.

3.     From our text we see that Lot was vexed by the filthy behavior of the Sodomites (2:6-8).  In fact, some Greek scholars even translate this word as “tortured” – i.e., Lot was being tortured by “seeing and hearing” what the Sodomites were doing.

4.     If all we had to go by was the OT, most of us would assume that Lot was not a saved man.  However, in II Peter 2:7, Lot is referred to as a just man, and in verse 8 he is referred to as a righteous man.

5.     In other words, Lot was saved.  He was carnal; he was backslidden; he was a compromiser – but he was saved.  Lot knew the Lord.

6.     As we look at the life of Lot this morning, I would like to remind you that I Corinthians 10:11 says these OT historical accounts were “written for our admonition.”

7.     Then the very next verse says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” This is an important lesson for us because in the Bible, Lot represents the carnal, worldly Christian, and the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world.

8.     Sodom and Gomorrah are referred to many times in both the OT and the NT.  We do not have time to look up all of the references, but we will look at a few in order to demonstrate that in the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah is a picture and type of the world (cf. Isaiah 1:9, 10; 3:8, 9; 13:19; Jer. 23:14; 49:17, 18; Ezek. 16:49; Amos 4:11, 12; Zeph. 2:9; Luke 17:28-32; Rev. 11:8).

9.     Did you notice that God not only compares Israel, and Judah, and Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah; He also compares Babylon, Edom, Moab, and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah.

10. In other words, just as Lot represents the worldly, carnal believer; and Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world.

11. My message this morning is entitled, “Being Vexed Is Not Enough.”  There are many Christians who complain about the homosexuals but they let their children dress just like the world.  They oppose abortion but they let their children go to proms and get involved in dating.

I. LOT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THE SODOMITES

1.     Second Peter 2:7 says that Lot was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.”  In the King James Bible, “conversation” refers to conduct and behavior.

2.     Lot was not only vexed by the way they talked, he was vexed by the way they lived – “their unlawful deeds.”

3.     I think it is easy to understand what happened to Lot.  We see this all the time.  For example, a young person goes to public school and tries to live for God and soon he or she gets discouraged – the ridicule, the derision, the sarcasm, the scorn, the contempt – it becomes to much to bear so soon the public school student begins to “blend in” rather than be different from his ungodly classmates.

4.     This peer pressure is very strong with teenagers but it is also a problem with adults.  Christians often hear dirty words and gutter language at work.  Wicked sinners will take God’s name in vain, but many Christians will not object.

5.     This is what happened to Lot.  He should have separated from the Sodomites.  He should have taken a stand for God.  He should have protected his family, but he didn’t.

6.     The Bible says, “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2:8).

7.     Notice, Lot had to endure this ungodliness “day to day.”  He was horribly affected by what he was “seeing and hearing” (2:8).  Many Christians vex their righteous soul by what they are seeing and hearing – for example, by watching garbage on TV, and videos, and the Internet, and listening to rock music, and so on (cf. II Peter 2:8).

8.     Michael Green says, “It is customary for Christians today, living inn a secularized society, no longer to be shocked by sinful things which they see and hear.  They will, for example, without protest sit through a television program presenting material which a generation ago they would never have contemplated watching at a theatre or cinema. But when a man’s conscience becomes dulled to sin, and apathetic about moral standards, he is no longer wiling to look to the Lord for deliverance” (Tyndale Commentary).

9.     Remember, Lot had to be dragged out of Sodom (Gen. 19:16).

10. By the way, notice sodomy is called “unlawful” (II Peter 2:8).  Liberal politicians and wicked judges can pass all the laws that they want but they cannot make homosexuality lawful because God calls it “unlawful.” The Bible also calls it sinful, vile, wicked, abominable, unnatural, dishonorable, unseemly, and foolish.

11. James 1:27 tells us that we should keep ourselves “unspotted from the world,” but too many Christians are like Lot.

II.  LOT DID NOT HAVE A GOOD TESTIMONY IN SODOM

1.     You may remember the interesting conversation between the LORD and Abraham that is recorded in Genesis 18.

2.     In this portion of Scripture, Abraham is attempting to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-33).

3.     Abraham is pleading for the wicked citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He does not want to see them destroyed.

4.     Note that Abraham starts with 50 (Gen. 18:23, 24) and ends up with the LORD assuring him that He will not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten righteous people can be found there (18:32).

5.     Perhaps Abraham thought that Lot and his extended family would be enough to spare the judgment of God. If Lot had just won his own family to the Lord, along with his daughters’ husbands and his sons’ wives, the Lord would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot had absolutely no influence in Sodom (Gen. 19:12-14).

6.     The Scofield Study Bible says, “Lot had utterly lost his testimony” (cf. Gen. 19:9 and Scofield margin – “The world’s contempt for a worldly believer”).

7.     The reason Lot could not persuade his friends and family, and the reason he had absolutely no influence for God was he was not separated.

8.     And because Lot was not separated from all of the wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah, he did not speak out against all of their filthy wickedness.

9.     Preachers today will not deal plainly with sin because (like Lot) they are compromised.   How can they boldly attack rock music when they themselves listen to rock music?  And when they even have it in their churches?

10. Or when they are afraid of losing members?

11. How can they preach against Hollywood if they are captivated by it themselves?

12. How can a preacher speak out against immodest dress when his wife or his daughter wears a mini-skirt?

13. How can a preacher preach about soulwinning if he never goes out soulwinning?  Some preachers say, “My area of expertise is discipleship.”  May I be frank and say that is baloney?  If preachers do not win souls soon there will be nobody left to disciple!

14. In his commentary on this text, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “We are to preach righteousness to such a world.  We are to warn it; to tell it of the judgment that is coming because of its sin; we are to plead with men to see their danger and escape from it.  And above all, we are to give them an example of the Christian life and the Christian character, and of loyalty to God and His truth.”

15. Here is where Lot failed. And when he finally did try to warn them about the judgment of God, they did not take him seriously (Gen. 19:14-16).

16. Thanks to the mercy of God (Gen. 19:16), Lot was able to get his daughters out of Sodom, but he was not able to get the Sodom out of them (cf. Gen. 19:30-38).

17. Isn’t it interesting that in Zech. 2:9, the LORD says, “Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah.”  And that is how these nations began – with an incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters right after they escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:37, 38).

III.  THE STORY OF LOT IS A LESSON FOR US TODAY

1.     We often think that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning against the sin of homosexuality, and it certainly is (cf. II Peter 2:6; Jude 7).

2.     This is one of the reasons why the ungodly hate the Bible.  This is why they make disparaging remarks about fundamental Christians.

3.     There are other reasons as well.  The Bible clearly teaches that if they do not repent and turn to Jesus then they will go to hell.  That is not a message they want to hear.

4.     But the Bible’s strong condemnation of homosexuality is a big bone of contention in these days of moral relativism and apostasy.

5.     However, there is another important lesson here – one that is often overlooked.  Lot represents the modern, worldly Christian.  He is saved but he has little interest in the things of God.

6.     He has godly relatives (e.g., Lot was Abraham’s nephew) but he is more comfortable associating with the wicked crowd (cf. Gen. 13:10-13; 19:1).

7.     Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

8.     Lot was unwilling to take a stand in Sodom and it cost him his testimony; it cost him his conscience; and it cost him his family.

CONCLUSION:

1.     While the story of Lot is a lesson for the worldly Christian, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning to the unsaved (II Peter 2:6). God will judge the “ungodly” (2:6, 10).

2.     God is patient and long-suffering, but it is unwise to exhaust His patience (II Peter 3:9).

Pastor James J. Barker
email:   jbarker4@optonline.net

(revised 01/30/15)

I feel privileged to be Facebook Friends with John Henderson, a member of the “anti-Emergent” Facebook Group Concerned Nazarenes. This Facebook Group is attempting to confront and warn members primarily of The Church of the Nazarene denomination.

I, John, and many others are concerned about the doctrinal falling away of many evangelical churches and entire evangelical denominations. Most of these churches are falling away from biblically sound doctrine into the postmodern heresies of Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Leonard Sweet, etc. etc.

Interestingly, all of the above individuals have spoken and/or taught at the heretical George Fox University and/or George Fox Evangelical Seminary, schools in the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) denomination. The EFCI was once (relatively) biblically sound.  But, in recent decades, all the Regions of the EFCI (including the once very biblically sound, Wesleyan Holiness EFC-ER) have begun trending quickly into postmodern “progressive evangelical” apostasy.

By the way, John – like myself – is Wesleyan Holiness in doctrine. We hold to the Wesleyan-Arminian position that a born again Christian can turn his or her back on God, walking away into apostasy and “losing” his or her salvation. Technically, we believe in “conditional eternal security”.

So why exactly is the EFCI (and many other evangelical denominations) falling away? There are many factors I’m sure – factors which I will not attempt to enumerate here. But I did find the following post by my friend John Henderson very pertinent. Click here for the original source of this post. Note: I am inserting comments [in brackets] and emphasizing certain points by bolding.

Point of No Return
By John Henderson
12/14/14

This is one of those things where I would welcome, would embrace, having someone tell me I was wrong and showing me how so. It has to do when a person or a group has gone so far in the wrong direction, making wrong choices, and ignoring and neglecting God that they will never return to their better days outside of a divine miracle of intervention.

It happened first in the Garden of Eden. God made it clear to Adam and Eve what the limits were and what would happen if they went beyond them. They went past them and, in the day they sinned, they died spiritually on the spot and physically a few years later. Not only were those the consequences to them but they brought sin and damnation upon all of their descendants that only the Cross of Christ could overcome.

One might argue that God’s creation was perfect and it was impossible for man to undo what God had done. That is a good argument but it was not what happened. Salvation is perfect but man can still trample the perfect redemption.

That is how it is. There is a point where a person can go beyond the possibility of repentance—not because God is powerless but because his or her conscience is so seared by unbelief and rebellion that they cannot come to repentance. Someone has likened it to no longer hearing God’s call because the heart is so filled with animosity to the things of God and the attractions of the world that His call is drowned out by the din of those things. The call has not diminished. The hearing has ignored it so long that it is as though there is no call.

We have a grandfather clock in our hallway. It chimes the Westminster chimes every 15 minutes. Frankly, I do not notice them very often because I am accustomed to ignoring them. A visitor sleeping in a nearby room will often remind me of them. I try to remember to silence the chimes when we have overnight guests.

For this reason, I think a backslider who once followed Christ faithfully is less likely to return than would be a reprobate who has never received Christ. I think of the man who wrote that great song, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” who apparently never made it back. There are statics [sic] that say younger people are more likely to receive Christ than are older people. I often wonder if I would have ever turned to Christ had I put it off at the age of 15 until a later time; had I decided to taste of the world a bit before considering Christ.

There are many sad stories of people who put off salvation so long until all opportunities are gone. I do not like to hear of them but they are out there. Many of them I knew personally.

That same thing is true of once-great churches. I have yet to learn of a backslidden church or denomination that ever returned to its original level of spiritual life, activity, and influence after having started down the road of compromise. The slide was always gradual and hardly noticeable in the beginning. After a while, people started to notice something was wrong and eventually there were those who began to warn about it. There were occasional turnabouts, but not many and not often. Once the fatal drift took hold, it was too late. The cancer of sin had eaten away too much for there to be a recovery. If there ever was to be a cure, it had to be divine, but usually God had been so excluded that He was no longer considered that relevant and His call was no longer being heard.

The good news is that it does not have to turn out like that. There is still that clarion call and most can still hear it. Some will turn to Christ who seemed beyond the call.

I was told that when news got out that I had been saved, there were some who found it unbelievable about me. One person reportedly expressed such disbelief as to say: “Not him! Not that Henderson boy! Anybody but him could be saved!” I am glad that the Holy Spirit thought differently. God may have had to reach a little farther for me but He did. The stain of sin may have penetrated deeply even at my young age, but the Blood of Jesus went deeper than the stain had gone.

I have often thought that my own point of no return was very near then. An accident that should have been fatal convinced me of that. I had come to Christ shortly before the accident—maybe a week, two at the most—and believe I would have perished in the accident if I had put off salvation. I broke my neck in three places in a diving accident and walked away with no permanent damage of any sort.

Genuine revival is still possible. Maybe it won’t look like we used to know or expect, but it can be every bit as real and far-reaching as ever. As long as the Holy Spirit is still with and in us, everything pertaining to the preaching of the gospel is still just as possible as it was in the beginning. That will not change or diminish until Jesus comes again.

(rough draft)

(image source: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/10/b6/03/10b6034de0667891454f6fd8334e501c.jpg)

I have taken up stargazing recently, and am becoming very interested in Creation Astronomy (the biblically sound Young Earth Creation view which states that God created the Sun, Moon and stars on the fourth literal 24-hour day, about 6,000 years ago).

One of the questions that has occurred to me: what is the purpose of the stars? More specifically, why did God create so many stars?

Of course I should ask, who are we to question God’s actions and decisions? But as created beings with intelligence and an inquisitive mind, the question does occur to us.

A recently acquired Facebook Friend, Jay Ryan, points out that God created  the Sun, Moon and stars for “signs and seasons”. Jay has devoted an entire book  to explaining this in more detail.  Jay Ryan explains how God created the Sun, Moon and stars for “signs and seasons”, as the following Bible verse says:

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” (Gen. 1:14)

The above verse forms the basis of what Jay describes as Classical Astronomy. In this article he explains Classical Astronomy in more detail, and points out the faults in modern day secular astronomy.

But this question still puzzles me: why did God create so many stars? And what about distant objects in space? Is it wrong for mankind to research deep space, as is the emphasis today in secular astronomy? And what is the purpose of deep space objects? (Another question I hope to deal with in another blog: why did God create such a vast universe, yet create life on just one planet?)

Here a few thoughts off the top of my head, as to why God created such a vast universe with so many stars. I am searching for Bible verses to back up these points. The points are in no specific order, and there is some overlap:

1) For mankind’s pleasure

2) To show God’s awesome power (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence)

3) To show God’s grace and love for mankind

4) To humble mankind

5) To challenge mankind intellectually

At some point we have to sit back and say “my Lord and my God” and “we… just… don’t… know…” 99% of the answers. This one thing I know, our God is a truly awesome God. In the end we must admit, His creation of the Universe is truly beyond our comprehension.

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