What was God Doing in the Christmas Story? (Part 1)

5 12 2019

I love the story of Christmas. It’s a beautiful story that only God could tell. It’s a story that only God could write. We know the basics of the story, it’s all very familiar to us. I don’t want to hit on the basics I want to dwell for a few minutes on the facts less talked about.

I don’t have a single text because we will be all over the place but if I had to have a set text from which to jump into the subject it would be Galatians 4:4-5:

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

What we have in the Christmas story is the middle chapter a longer story. It’s kind of a bridge between the types and shadows and the fulfillment. The story began in Genesis 3:15 with the prophecy from God Himself that a Savior would be coming.

From there a foundation is laid throughout the Old Testament with types and figures of the fulfillment of this great promise. How could such a Savior come to fulfill these types that we see played out in story form across the Hebrew Scriptures?

It’s clear you would need a separate story to bridge the promises and the fulfillment. Certain prophecies were written into the story hinting at what that bridge would look like. Prophecies hinting at how such a Savior would come.

Then we get to the birth of Jesus and we begin to see these prophecies played out in real life. God was doing more in the birth of Jesus then giving the world a Savior. He was keeping His word and demonstrating that He was faithful to bring this Savior.

Have you ever noticed the emphasis God places in the Old Testament on His previous works? The Psalms which were the songs sung in Israelite worship constantly recount the mighty acts of God on behalf of His people.

God over and over again tells the people of Israel remember when I parted the Red Sea, or delivered you from the house of bondage, or gave your fathers manna in the wilderness. His keeping of his word became the evidence that they should trust Him in the future.

This is what Christmas is about. Jesus and the events of His birth are the proof that God keeps His word.

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

All the promises of God are yes in Jesus because in Jesus we find the great fulfillment of all that God promised. So let’s look at the Christmas story with the eye to see the the Word of God to His people fulfilled.

1. The nature of His birth. (Matthew 1:18)

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

After going through a list of this father begat this son Matthew comes to Jesus and he is like the birth of Jesus the Messiah was in this way. In other words not the normal way. He was born of a virgin.

This was promised by God through the prophet Isaiah 700 years before His birth. This was in Isaiah 7:14. If Jesus was born in the normal course of things then God’s promises would be void but they are yes in the birth of Jesus.

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)

We see these events play out in Luke 1:26-35.

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

2. The place of His birth. (Luke 2:1-4)

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.”

The place of His birth is vital because the prophets spoke of it long before it happened. The Jewish leaders understood this, in fact even the Roman authorities knew it had been foretold.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:1-6)

Where are they quoting from? They are quoting the prophet Micah.

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

He had to be born in Bethlehem and then God used ordinary means to bring it about. A census was taken in order to tax the population. We often forget that God uses mundane day to day activities to accomplish His purpose.

God tells the king to take a census and the king thinks it’s his decision and doesn’t realize that God is using him to bring the Savior in the world. He is the yes to the prophet Micah.

To be continued…





In Everything Give Thanks

29 11 2019

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I think this short verse holds one of the most difficult commands in the entire Bible. I know it does for me. Corrie Ten Boom struggle with obedience to this verse as well. Listen to her story.

“We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw.
..Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
“‘Fleas!’ I cried. ’Betsie, the place is swarming with them!’
“‘Here! And here another one!’ I wailed. ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

“‘Show us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ’He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’
“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in First Thessalonians,’ I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.

“In the feeble light I turned the pages. ‘Here it is: “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…’”
It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.

“‘Go on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’
“‘Oh yes:’…“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”
“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“‘Such as?’ I said.
“‘Such as being assigned here together.’
“I bit my lip. ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’
“‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’ I looked down at the Bible.

“‘Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.’
“‘Yes,’ said Betsie, ‘Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’

She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.
“‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.’

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–’ 

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’
“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.
“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
“Back at the barracks we formed yet another line–would there never be an end to columns and waits?–to receive our ladle of turnip soup in the center room. Then, as quickly as we could for the press of people, Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.” Around our own platform area there was not enough light to read the Bible, but back here a small light bulb cast a wan yellow circle on the wall, and here an ever larger group of women gathered.
“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28.

“At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call.
There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.
“One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

“‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,’ I told her.
“‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’
“That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.
“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?”

“Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!’”
“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

The reason we can obey this particular command is in the light of Romans 8:28.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

If all things work together for our good then we can confidently give thanks for everything because no matter how bad anything seems all things work for our good and therefore deserve thanks.





Understanding Acts 2:38

24 10 2019

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

There is a lot of controversy surrounding a particular verse in Acts 2. Many false churches fixate on this verse as the main source of their doctrines. When I come across people from these churches their social media normally has this text prominently displayed, even some churches put it right out on their sign.

There is a danger in what is commonly called proof texting. The Bible is to be understood and interpreted in context. Scripture should be interpreted in light of Scripture. The Bible was never intended to be chopped up in such a way that one verse cancels out another or entire doctrine could be built on the foundation of a single verse without respect to the context the verse is in.

This is called proof texting. It’s dangerous because it always leads to error. Every denomination that calls itself Christian yet veers from orthodoxy does so because they proof text particular verses. I remember door to door witnessing with a pastor and after going to the door of one of these people he moved on and the person followed him down the street yelling “believe Acts 2:38.”

When this happens it’s easy to lose balance and to fixate and even base your entire faith on one particular verse or doctrine. So what does Acts 2:38 mean? Does it cancels out other verses?

Consider Matthew 28:19:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Some would say that baptizing in the name of all 3 persons is based on this one verse and yet it’s not. Salvation is a work of all 3 members of the Godhead. The Father decreed it, the Son accomplished it and the Spirit applies it. It follows that the sign and seal of our salvation would be in the authority of all 3 persons.

The Acts 2:38 proponents have one basic problem: the deny the Triune nature of God. I don’t have space to delve in here but the Scriptures teach extensively on the doctrine of the Trinity so this is not a stand alone verse but a verse that can be clearly understood in accord with other Scriptures. Notice the individuality of the persons and yet the singular use of the word “name.”

It’s not the “names” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It says in the “name” singular of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. They are individual persons but one God, one substance, one essence, one nature.

Does Acts 2:38 change that by saying in Jesus name only? No it doesn’t because you have to understand this verse in context. In this sermon Peter is pointing out that they had rejected Jesus and had crucified Him yet God overruled their objection and raised Him from the dead.

They had rejected the authority of Jesus as Messiah and King at His crucifixion. Now they must be baptized in the authority of this man whom they had rejected. He is not ignoring the words of Jesus in Matthew but speaking to the specific attitude of the crowd in front of him.

It would be like me preaching to Roman Catholics and telling them to reject the system of penance and repent of their sins. I don’t mention anything about the Trinity because they have a different issue. When I speak to a follower of the Watchtower I will address their need to recognize that Jesus is God and never mention Rome’s system of penance. It’s about speaking to the needs of the crowd.

Does this verse teach a works salvation? The answer is no because the message of the Bible is one of salvation by grace through faith. We see it in the salvation of Abraham in Romans 4, and it’s heavily emphasized in Ephesians 2 and Colossians 1. We see it also throughout the book of Acts like Acts 8, 10, and 16. We see it again in Romans 3, 5, 8 and 10.

To take this single verse and teach salvation by baptism would be to cancel out all of the passages on faith alone. So we must interpret this verse in light of the overwhelming evidence in the other passages. So what is Peter saying here? I want to use experts from my book “Understanding Believer’s Baptism” which will be available soon from this website.

“A second point pertaining to this verse is the term “for.” This word is often highlighted to demonstrate that the baptism was for or to cause the remission of sins. The problem is that there are several Greek and English uses for the word “for.” The word can also mean, “in order to get” (which is what these folks are saying) or it can mean, “because of, as the result of.

So is Peter saying they must be baptized in order to get forgiveness of sins? If he is then he is contradicting Paul who simply told the jailer in Acts 16:31 to believe.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

If I say “take two aspirin for a headache” am I saying to take two aspirin in order to get a headache? Of course not. I’m saying it because you already have one.

The same applies if I said I’m going to Grandma’s house for her birthday. Will she not have a birthday or even a party if I don’t go? Of course she will. My going is not to give her a birthday but because she is having a birthday. This is the clear use of the phrase in this passage.

Salvation is a free gift given by God to those who believe. We are commanded to have repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Peter is not contradicting these passages. He is not saying you must be baptized in order to complete remission of your sins. He is saying to be baptized because you have remission of sins.”

We know that baptism does not contribute to salvation because Paul clearly separated the Gospel from baptism. We all agree that the Gospel is what saves us the Bible says in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is the Power of God to salvation so anything necessary for salvation is in the Gospel and yet Paul said God sent him not to baptize but to preach the Gospel.

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)

In that verse in Romans 1 Paul says the Gospel is the power of god to salvation for everyone who believes, once again it’s faith alone that saves. In fact the passages that mention salvation apart from baptism are numerous while the baptismal regeneration proof texts are about 3 or 4. It’s more probable that 3 or 4 verses are being misunderstood than that the hundreds of other verses are.





Biblical Authority

1 03 2018

The Bible has put into place within the local church definite authority. The authority is vested into a position the Bible calls Elder, Bishop, or Pastor. One thing we don’t take serious today is the authority of the local church. I probably take local church authority further than most in the modern church. I’m saddened at how uninvolved the church is in the lives of the people.

The Bible speaks of definite authority vested in church leadership.

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Hebrews 13:7)

The rule here is authority, they have authority because they are watching for your soul. Don’t buy into the hype that a pastor can’t tell you how to live your life or raise your kids. They are vested with the responsibility to instruct from the Word of God in these issues.

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)

Here Peter says the elders are to take oversight. They are not to do it forcefully but by being an example. Pastoral authority shouldn’t be authoritarian in nature but by demonstrating through their own lives Christ-likeness.

When I grew up I learned of two incidents my grandma had with two different pastors. She felt they had done wrong and she confronted them about it. After she spoke her peace that was it.

We never heard about it, at least not until we grew up. She didn’t leave the church and she didn’t talk about it in front of the family or bad mouth the pastor. I have no doubt she didn’t even hold onto it herself. She spoke her disagreement and let it go.

Today people get upset about something and they leave the church. This is because they are not truly submitted to the authority of the church. If they were they would have a sense of commitment and work through their problems.

This is also why people sit and bad mouth their church leadership in front of their families. They bad mouth the pastor then wonder why their kids doubt what the pastor preaches. This is also why people leave churches after a new pastor comes in.

It’s common for people to vote in a pastor then decide a few weeks later they don’t like him and they leave. In my opinion this is sin. If you want to leave a church then leave before a new pastor comes in but once he is there you need to submit to his leadership unless he violates the Word. We need a new dedication to the authority of the local church. We need to stay and work out our problems. It’s no wonder our kids don’t learn commitment when we teach them to leave at the first sign of trouble.





School Shootings: Questions and Answers

26 02 2018

Much of the world was caught off guard by the deadly shooting at a Florida public school. Unfortunately much of the talk since the shooting has not been very helpful. Let me place a few disclaimers on here. I am not a pro-gun conservative nor am I an anti-gun liberal. I don’t buy into the our side vs. their side politics. I believe all political issues need to be examined in the light of Scripture not party rhetoric.

I’m not especially for guns nor am I especially against them. So my perspective is as neutral as I believe it possibly can be. I often joke that Republicans gave away my 4th Amendment after 9/11 so I don’t feel especially bound to protect their 2nd Amendment.

The liberal argument of more gun laws is not the answer since guns are not the problem. These guns have always been accessible and yet the shootings are a recent development. We need to figure out why in the last 20 years school shootings have become common but the last 200 years they were not. What has changed? When we figure out the problem we can figure out the answer.

Another problem with more laws is that laws don’t change anything. The same logic would say to end drug abuse just outlaw drugs. Yeah, they are outlawed and yet drugs are still a problem. If we outlaw rape perhaps rape will stop. Oh yeah, rape is illegal and yet they happen. It’s illogical to say that if we ban guns then gun violence will stop.

We also cannot lose sight of the problem of big government. The FBI knew of the threat and failed. We need to dismantle this oversize government that fails time and time again to actually protect us. We give up our rights for safety and end up less safe. Both sides of the political spectrum need to let go of this proven falsehood that government is the answer.

Conservative talking points are just as off base. The President and many others would have us believe that giving everyone guns would solve the problem. Many honest gun owners will admit that it is very difficult hitting a target. This is true on a shooting range with ear coverings and focus. Imagine how difficult with adrenaline pumping with panic and fear in the air?

I believe you would create more casualties. There is also the issue of licensing these teachers and maintaining their practice and their guns. If its required the guns would have to be provided for them and there is the issue of forcing teachers to carry. I believe in the Constitutional right to carry and the right not to carry.

The problem is found in the human heart. I’m not sure why the liberal even thinks school shootings are wrong. They have to borrow from the Christian worldview to arrive at that conclusion. If we are all animals then killing each other isn’t wrong. By having an issue they are admitting there is intrinsic worth in human life that does not exist elsewhere in creation.

If evolution is true then survival of the fittest would have to be considered. Their opposition to school shootings lies in direct opposition to the very foundational principles they claim to hold dear. The secular worldview is a maze of contradiction.

The cause of school shootings is not too many or too few guns so both sides are wrong. It is found in our teaching our children that they are just animals, life has no purpose or meaning and there is no judgment after this life. The secular worldview is the cause of this problem.

Why didn’t it surface until now? The answer is that over the last 50 years we have grown more and more humanistic that now the fruit is beginning to be harvested. We have taught them that they are animals so they act like animals. We taught them that there is no judgment so they act as though there is no judgment.

The answer is the Gospel. To teach our young people that they are created in the image of God which gives them worth. That they were created to glorify Him and that He will call them into account one day for their lives. That life doesn’t end at death but that eternity goes on without end. The answer is the Gospel and the solution will never be found in Washington or Sacramento. The pulpits of America and the God fearing parents are the solution. This can end if we get back to the truth and not the lies of secular humanism.





Murder is not Subjective

20 02 2018

Abortion is murder. There I said it. Now that the truth is out I want to address a blatant hypocrisy of the pro-abortion crowd. In America if you kill (whether intentionally or not) the unborn baby of a woman it is counted as murder. If you kill a woman with child then you are charged with double murder or if you just kill the unborn child you are charged with murder. This is a Biblical point of view.

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.” (Exodus 21:22-23)

The utter hypocrisy is that our society counts the unborn child as a life unless the mother doesn’t want it, then we say it isn’t. This is insanity. Either it is a life or it isn’t but our desire for it can’t decide that. Can you imagine if we applied that logic to anything else. Divorce laws go out the window because she is only my wife if I want her to be. Killed your 12 year old? Well if you didn’t want him he wasn’t really alive.

The truth is that we know it’s a life and we suppress that because we love our sin. This is what the Bible says.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18)

This verse is saying that we suppress the truth because we love our unrighteousness. The truth is that we know a baby in the womb is still a baby but when it suits our wicked desires we deny it yet when we feel it’s something we want we claim it’s a life. Men and women are in prison for murdering unborn children and yet abortionists do the same thing everyday.

Men and women are in prison for hiring someone to kill a person and yet women pay abortionists every day to violently rip a baby apart. We think we are soothing our conscience but one day the conscience will stand to condemn us on the day we stand before God in judgment. We must repent as a society of this double-minded standard and protect all life.





Thoughts on Ash Wednesday

14 02 2018

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday in Roman Catholic tradition. Catholics get a cross made of ash put on their forehead as an outward sign that they are fasting for Lent. I wanted to address some major concerns about this practice in light of what the Scriptures teach.

Ash Wednesday is a violation of the spirit and letter of Matthew 6:16-18

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

Jesus is very clear that we are not to appear to fast in front of other people. Ash Wednesday violates this directly. I don’t believe that Jesus is just addressing the heart because He does tell us not to physically look like we are fasting. Catholic.com tries to cover for this by saying that Jesus didn’t really care if we look like we are fasting He was just concerned with the heart. They even argue from complete silence that the ones He is addressing were not truly fasting:

“First of all, Jesus’ primary concern is hypocrisy. What he is condemning are acts undertaken to show off one’s personal piety. If the intention in doing an otherwise good act of mortification is to draw public attention to oneself, then, Jesus says, the attention received from the public is the only reward that person will receive, rather than the heavenly reward for which we are searching.

It is also noteworthy that Jesus says these hypocrites are “neglect[ing] their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting.” Perhaps those Jesus was condemning were not actually fasting but creating a surface impression so as to win the praise of others for their presumed piety. God, who sees the heart, knows whether or not they were really fasting. Hypocrisy, after all, is creating an appearance that is at odds with reality. (Article by Michelle Arnold, 2017)

To argue they were not really fasting is to argue from silence. To argue that the only important point is humility which is the spirit of His instructions is to ignore the plain meaning of the text. Yes humility is the reason we are commanded not to make our fasting public but the command to not make it public is still valid. It would be a gross misunderstanding of the Scripture to say that Jesus meant only don’t make it public if you’re not humble otherwise its okay.

This same article argued that the practice is Biblical because of a text in Maccabees 3:47. First of all that text is not even accepted as Scripture by the Jews. It was never a part of the Hebrew canon and was even rejected by Jerome and others because of that fact. Secondly, these were Jews performing a historical mourning ritual. There is no command for or example of Gentiles doing this.

Also of note, they rent their clothes and wore sackcloth. Why only a partial obedience by Rome? The truth is that Rome is notorious for finding Biblical passages that have even the vaguest reference to one of the non-biblical doctrines to support it. Even though they argue against Sola Scriptura they know the importance of it. Another point is that these ashes were sprinkled on their heads not smeared on the forehead.

Another point in reference to the above article is that they say it’s not to be done as an outward form of false humility. Many, if not most, American Catholics rarely attend church or practice their religion, yet they accept Ash Wednesday in large numbers. What you have is millions of people with no sincere desire to follow the church wearing a false symbol on their heads simply to look righteous.

This is also part of the system of penance set up by the church. Penance is the idea that we need to help pay for our sins. We need to make satisfaction for our sins. This is a spit in the face of the work of Christ. He made a perfect offering for sins.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:12-18)

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the propitiation or satisfactory payment for sins.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

If He is the satisfaction for our sins (and a perfect satisfaction I might add) how can we do anything to satisfy God’s wrath on our sin? The answer is we cannot. The article does end well and I want all Catholics to heed what it says.

“Believe in the gospel!”

The Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. We cannot make atonement for our sins because we are dead in sins. A perfect atonement is needed and that perfect atonement is given by Jesus Christ. We are not saved by contributing good works to the work of Christ but by trusting entirely in what Christ did on the cross.

On the cross Jesus paid in full the debt of your sin by taking on Himself the guilt of your sin. He now offers you His perfect righteousness as a free gift. You can be right with God because in salvation we are united to His Son. All you must do is to put your faith and trust in Christ and what He did on the cross. Call on the Lord to save you. You can be perfectly purified right now for all sin by putting your faith in Christ. Turn to Him today He is a perfect and loving Savior.





Praying with Meaning

9 02 2018

The prayer of Jabez became a popular prayer among evangelical Christians. I’m not saying his prayer was bad for him to make but I question the motivation of Christians making that their prayer today. The reason I believe that most people love the prayer is its request for physical prosperity. An increase in land and territory. In our day of the prosperity gospel we are taught that the ultimate sign of Gods blessing is material and physical abundance.

Not too long ago I was listening to myself pray and was disappointed at the shallowness of my prayers. I noticed that those around me were praying the same way I was. My prayers were limited to what amounts to memorized dialogue such as you would see in a movie. When praying for the offering “Lord bless this offering bless the gift and the giver.” When dismissing the service “Lord dismiss us with your blessing and bring us back to the next appointed service.” What was strange was that 5 different men could pray and say a slight variation of the exact same thing.

Private prayer seemed almost worse. Saying the same things time and again. Asking for the simplest things without much thought. “Lord bless so and so” and “Lord if it be your will do such and such” “Lord provide their needs” Lord put a hedge of protection” “Lord bless the pastor” “Lord bless the church.” I readily used the word bless without much definite description. This made the blessing so general if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t know it.

Then I read some of the prayers of Paul and I realized how empty my prayers truly were. Listen to the Apostle pray:

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” (Colossians 1:9-11)

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:15-19)

I quickly realized how shallow and non-specific my prayers had been. I had been asking God to bless people in some general sense or to expand their material blessing without ever giving thought to the weightier matters namely their spiritual understanding. So let me encourage you to listen to yourself pray and ask yourself is your prayer a sign of unbelief? Are you praying in generalities because you’re afraid God won’t answer it?

Does your prayer only center on physical needs and blessing? These are hard questions as praying is almost an art form we have spent our lives perfecting so that we can impress those around us but are we praying to man or to God?





False Prophets

31 01 2018

I wanted to address an issue that I believe is overlooked in much of the church today. The issue of false prophets. I’m not talking about Joel Osteen or Kenneth Copeland. I’m talking about false prophets that are not as easily identified as those in Charismania or in the common cults such as the Watchtower Society, Mormon church, or Roman church.

A false prophet is a person who speaks for the Lord or from the Lord and speaks falsely. The person who says God has said something but God didn’t speak. This person is defined as a false prophet and according to Scripture they are not to be listened to.

“When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22)

I attend a Baptist church and the issue of people speaking for the Lord and then not following through is out of hand. I attended one particular church where over several years half a dozen people stood in front of the church claiming God had called them to pastor or be missionaries. None of those men followed through. One was even put into the office of a deacon after the fact.

They stood up in the assembly of the saints and said God had called them to something that they never acted on. This tells me God didn’t call them or they walked away from the call. If they walked away from the call there should be some concern. We should think twice before giving them any duties within the church.

If God didn’t call them then there needs to be an acknowledgement before the church. If they claimed God spoke publicly they should confess their error publicly. I attended one particular church where a man claimed to be called to preach. After a year he decided he was wrong and in a strong integrity move he went back to the church to confess it.

I can’t tell you how many church planters have come through saying God called them to a city only to try for several years then decide it’s not working and leave. If God called you there who are you to decide it isn’t working? Missionaries in the old days would labor sometimes 7 or 8 years without a single convert. They pressed on because God had called them. Today we have such a results based almost business like model of ministry that a person really feels they need to produce results or quit.

I suppose to sum the point up we need to be careful when saying God has spoken to us. To say God called me or God led me should carry a lot of weight and not be phrases we just throw out lightly. Churches need to hold members accountable to fulfill what they claim God has called them to and address the issue when they don’t act on the claim.





The Necessity of the Gospel

16 01 2018

This message was preached Sunday morning 12/31/17 at McKee Road Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California.

 








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