Wednesday, June 06, 2007

We're Moving

Its been nice here at but its time for a makeover and Wordpress enables us to have more flexibility in the format of the website so without further adeu: please update your boomarks.

The New Website is located at:
When To Leave a Church: A Biblical Approach

Quoting Robert Reymond . . .

If a Christian's church is faithfully proclaiming the Word of God, administers [the Lord's Supper and Baptism] according to the institution of Christ, and faithfully exercises discipline, his church is a true church of God, and a repudiation of it is wicked and a denial of God and of Christ, even though it may have some error in it. But the Bible recognizes that there are some circumstances that may arise in a church which will compel the Christian to separate himself from his church. The Greek New Testament employs two nouns in the main to describe dreadfully sinful situations in the church: apostasy (gr: apostasia) and heresy (gr: hairesis) :

2 Thessalonians 2:3: "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion [gr: apostasia] occurs."

1 Timothy 4:1: "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon [gr: apostesontai] the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."

2 Peter 2:1: "[False teachers] will secretly introduce destructive heresies [gr: haireseis]." (see also 1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20; and Titus 3:10)

In general usage "apostasy" has come to refer to total renunciation of the Christian faith, with "heresy" being viewed more atomistically as any subversive doctrine professing to be Christian (of course, "systemic" heresy is hardly distinguishable from apostasy).

The New Testament lays down the following principles to protect the church in such a situation and to maintain its doctrinal purity:

Elders are charged to guard the church by guarding the truth (Acts 20:28-30; Tit. 1:9; see 1 John 4:2-3). The New Testament is realistic about the problems the church will have with false teachers. The passages cited presuppose that the Christian faith has a definite content, and that there are certain pivotal truths which are absolutely necessary to it.

Apostates and heretics ought to leave the church (1 John 2:18-19). It is not schismatic, indeed, it is quite appropriate, for antichrists to separate themselves from the Christian church. But more often than not, they set themselves up in the church. What is to be done with them then?

Unrepentant heretics who do not leave the church should be disciplined (Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3:10; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 2 John 10-11; Rev. 2:2, 14-15, 20). As there were false prophets in Israel, so there are and will be false teachers in the church. As the former were subject to discipline, so the latter should be as well, mutatis mutandis, that is, by excommunication rather than execution.

Separation from one's local church or denomination is appropriate if it will not discipline heretics (2 Cor. 6:14-18). If a church rejects discipline for theological errors that subvert the foundation of the gospel and becomes theologically pluralistic in practice (even though it may retain an orthodox confession by which it promises to be guided), that church has become "heretical" in that it no longer stands under the authority of God, and the orthodox are compelled to separate from it to bear witness to the marks of the church.

Error in the church should always be of concern to the Christian, and he should charitably labor to rid the church of error. But a Christian should not lightly repudiate his church even when there is perceived error in it. Differences of opinion over [light causes] should not be made the basis for division in a local congregation or denomination. Such division for light causes is "schismatic," schism being understood here as formal and unjustified separation from the church. Paul speaks against such unjustified separation in 1 Corinthians 1:10: "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions [gr: schismata] among you" (see also 1 Cor. 11:18; 12:25).

A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith

Monday, June 04, 2007

So how can he be God ?

The church and more importantly the Bible recognizes the deity of the Son. Most cults strip him of this making the Son only a man, an angel or at best a secondary divine being created by the Father. They ignore the fact that the son is called God just as the Father is. If one says the Son or Spirit are not called God then they would have to be consistent and say the Father is not either.The reason the Father is explicitly called God by Jesus is because he is honoring another instead of himself. Each person in the godhead does this, yet we find their is a hierachial structure (a successive order not in time but of position).

Jesus is called the Son over 200 times throughout the N.T. The Father is referred to as distinct from the Son over 200 times. Over 50 times Jesus the Son and the Father are mentioned in the same verse. Yet we find Paul’s greeting as grace and peace from both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus identifies himself as the Son of God all throughout the Bible. He is always put on equal status with the Father being able to bestow grace to the believer. The only time he is not equal is by position, never in nature.

John 20:31 ...That Jesus is the Christ the Son of God." Jn.16:3 "And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor me." Here he is distinguishing himself as another from the Father. Jesus separates himself from the Father in person but not in nature.

Jn.10:30: " I and my father are one" this is not a numerical one, Jesus is not saying he is the father. they are not one person but in nature they are a united one. It actually reads we are one in Greek the first person plural esmen . Examining his claim further "I and my Father are one." The Jews pick up stones because they understood this as blasphemy in vs. 36 Jesus interprets what he meant by saying because I said, "I am the Son of God." There is a very good reason for this because…. Contrary to those who claim the Son of God means less than God it actually affirmed his deity.

In Jn.20:17 Jesus said "I am ascending to my Father and your Father to my God and your God." Anti-Trinitarians claim since Jesus had a God over him he could not also be God. What we are not saying is that he is the Father or the Spirit. Coming in the servant role and as a man he was submissive to the Father as a Son. Notice he makes a distinction from "my Father and your Father" not saying our Father. The same is applied to " my God and your God." As a man he acknowledged the Father as "my God" .We are unable to say this in the same manner as he did. God is his Father from eternity past, he being the Son of eternal generation. Thomas bowed before Jesus saying, he is his God and his Lord, Jesus could not say the Father was his Lord in the way man does.

Jn.11:41-43 Jesus lifts his eyes toward heaven and prays, " I thank you that you heard me, and I know that you always hear me." We see consistently he is praying toward heaven just like all the saints in the O.T.. So why pray if your God. Because he is dependent on God in his lowered state and he is giving us the perfect example of our having a relationship with the Father. The Son was instructed by the Father as his God, since he decided not to use his position independently. Jesus never referred to his Father as "our Father" in prayer together with others. Father was a term for the Jews who were in covenant with God . Jesus who being God in nature was divine and equal in all respects to God could not call God his Father as we do, being adopted children. God was his Father in a different sense than ours, in that they were united together from eternity. So he makes a distinction of "my" and "our". " "When Christ prayed to the Father, you have the Son on earth the Father in heaven. this is not separation but divine disposition. now we know that God is within the depth's and exists everywhere, but in might and power, the Son being, indivisible from the Father is everywhere with him, yet in the economy, the Father willed that the Son should be found on the Earth, himself ( the Father ) in heaven." (Tetullian.) What he is explaining is that the omni-presence of God is everywhere yet the location of his persons are in different areas. ( Jn.11:41-42,12:28, 17:1-26)

Mt. 26:39-42 In Gethsamane he prays three times to the Father in doing his will. Why does he ask for the Father to let this cup pass if he is God, Isn’t this like asking himself? Jesus' ( 2nd person of God ) was God communing with God the Father (1st person of God ). Jesus is struggling over the soon and coming separation he will experience with the Father. He is asking if there be another way so he will not experience this. Otherwise he has his own human will that is not submitted to God and he is sinning. The concept the scriptures portray of the crucifixion is not that God died but that he was separated spiritually and died in the flesh . In Gethsamane it was the cup that Jesus asked to be removed. If he was praying that he would not have to experience physical death he would be rejecting the very reason he came. His obedience is shown as in Phil.2 says even to the death on the cross. He would not be praying for the very purpose of his coming to be removed.

This is why the cults deny the deity of Christ because they recognize that these are two different persons. It is because of their preconceived ideas and training that God is strictly singular. In their attempt to uphold Monotheism they cannot receive the teaching of his nature being triune, they then lose the Son of God as a distinct person.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Contraption Called Relevance
May 29th, 2007

Our contemporary religious contraptions are as much a ramshackle as a 19th century hair styling machine. They are every bit as dangerous, producing results every bit as ugly, and are destined for the scrap yard as time ushers in obsolescence. Such is the destiny of invention. It is both a milestone and a tombstone of time. The book, “Prophetic Untimeliness ” by Os Guinness, addresses one of our religious contraptions, called “relevance”, and persuasively argues the point that “relevance” is a cultural cage of the present. It divorces us from the past where the faith was once for all delivered (to be passed from generation to generation), and it obfuscates the path to our future.

A mere 111 pages, the book can be read in a Saturday afternoon. But I have read it over and over for two weeks now, and passages of Scripture continue to flood to my mind. Passages, for example, where Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33), and where He warns us that various men will say, “‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is’” while instructing, “Do not believe him” (Matt. 24:23.) Other passages like, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9) and “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9.)

Guinness makes this point in his introduction: “After two hundred years of earnest dedication to reinventing the faith and the church and to being more relevant in the world, we are confronted by an embarrassing fact: Never have Christians pursued relevance more strenuously; never have Christians been more irrelevant.”

He continues on, “Relevance is not the problem…the good news of Jesus Christ is utterly relevant or it is not the good news it claims to be.”

Indeed, if that is true (I believe it is), then why for heavens sake do we worry ourselves to death about relevance? The reason must be an ignorance (and resultant distrust) of the inspired Word of God, and the Gospel it contains. Guinness establishes that we are in a losing race against time where what is relevant is always becoming irrelevant. The only mitigating agent to anything so bounded by the clock, can only be that which is not bounded by the clock (hence, the recollection of Luke 21:23.)

Man tries to compensate for this losing race against time through a tactic called “relevance”. That tactic, according to Guinness, is idolatrous.

Consider the blogged brouhaha about movies a couple of weeks ago. I believe that incorporating movies into the illustrative teaching of the church is wrong, essentially because God did not ordain the pagan mouth to declare the Truth of the gospel. The distinction about the source of Truth is paramount to discernment: Jesus said, “If anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is”, we must cognitively respond, “No, He is not.” To be more plainspoken, the claim that Hollywood’s Superman points to “the real Superman, Jesus Christ”, is the idolatry of relevance that Oz Guinness writes about. Christ’s repetitive warnings in Matthew 24 inform the Christian, “No, Christ is not found there”. The model of Christ is not in Superman anymore than he who poses as an angel of light is a model of the Son of God, compelling as it may be (Matt. 24:24.) On that basis, at least, the preacher is not at liberty to declare pagan works as a preachable source from which we can derive vital Truth.

Our problem is that we have become “put-a-coin-in-the-slot-and-pull-the-lever Christians”. We are not really sowing, but we are teaching that God is reaping: and that is a violently dangerous position to take according to Matthew 25:26-30. Relevance is the first cousin to impatience, and impatience is the reason for developing appealing methodologies. It is a whole lot more fun to “worship” under the bright lights of a production, or to “develop a relationship” at Starbucks, than it is to simply sit in our neighbor’s kitchen and talk to them about the peril of our sin.

For example, do you remember Campus Crusade’s “Here’s Life America” campaign in 1976? Based on the marketing methods of Coca Cola (“Coke Adds Life”), Campus Crusade devised a “relevant” message designed to appeal to culture’s quest for a fulfilling life. That campaign, if you read about it today, was an utter failure when compared to the number of people reached and the money spent to do it. At the time, the campaign allegedly amassed some 300,000 Christians to promote “I Found It!” buttons, bumper stickers, and billboards. It was reported by TIME Magazine that over 60 million homes were exposed to the campaign. I remember the TV ads here in Dayton where local church members sat on stools and told the viewers they had found “it” and gave the toll-free “I Found It!” phone number where the “Four Spiritual Laws” would be offered to the caller. But the public became rapidly aware of the slick marketing method to shove religion down their throats, and the campaign’s effectiveness declined as commercial and billboard contracts expired. The whole process proved that Romans 3:11, written around 56 A.D., was as relevant in 1976 as was the original utterance of that verse in Psalm 53:1-3 some nine hundred years before Christ. In other words, there is no substitute for the effectiveness of an individual Christian witnessing in earnest to an unbeliever, giving them the full gospel from God’s Word every day, wherever we are. The flash-in-the-pan method is not nearly effective as the daily, consistent witness of a Christian whose mouth is bold to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Consider: if only 50% of those 300,000 people were to witness personally to only one person a day, only 270 work-days per year since 1976, they would have witnessed to over 1-1/4 billion people by now. And if only one person per witness became a Christian ten years later, and that new Christian only witnessed to one person per month for the next 21 years, there would be another 38 million people truly reached through personal evangelism by now. Such a simple method, which is repeatedly demonstrated in the Bible, depends on a genuine concern for souls. It is, after all, the second commandment: loving your neighbor as yourself.

But Matthew 7:21-23 tells about people who are consumed with doing something utterly contrary to God’s will. Obviously, their goals are flat wrong, and they were deceived by their own methods. In the Laodicean sense, they appear to be good for nothing (Rev. 9:16) and care only for themselves (v. 17.)

As Matthew 7:21-23 and Revelation 3:14-22 make clear, methodologists are simply not performing the ultimate commission of preaching the gospel to lost souls, despite their lip service to the contrary. We know of a man who was not really concerned about souls, and brazenly rejected God’s plain instruction to reach them. That man was initially good for nothing, bringing about havoc in his dereliction, and was eventually spit out of the mouth of a fish. Can the symbolism with Laodicea be any more clear? As a result of his disobedience to his commission, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. I find it compelling that the fish spit Jonah out after his prayer of repentance. I do not believe that Jesus enjoys coercing His blood-purchased servants into action, anymore than God was pleased to coerce Jonah; nor do I believe that Jesus is pleased with my pseudo-repentant whining every time I ask Him to withhold discipline for my willful disobedience. We are all legends in our own minds, inventing evangelistic contraptions in the name of Christ. But neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit are amused by our contrivances or our disingenuous lip-service. It is God who has bought us; it is God whom we serve! Has that even sunk into our heads, yet, that we might glorify Him in our bodies?

Given today’s “relevant church”, with its budgets, methods, and schemes, I cannot help but believe that we are setting ourselves up for a Jonah-like coercion toward repentance, and a cataclysmic vomiting. God wants this world properly evangelized before His great day of wrath, just as he wanted Nineveh reached.

So let’s just boil this down. We’ve got our relevant methods: Christian radio, Christian TV, Christian phone books, Christian coffee houses, Christian Schools, Christian News, and Christian Talk Shows. Many churches now rival professionally-staged productions, while others have adopted as much of the culturally-conforming presentation as their riches can afford. Even to all of that plausibly-permissible environment and technology, we add the dung of Hollywood to our preaching and call it “being relevant”; we add the psychology of Carl Jung to the evaluation of a man’s fitness for church-planting; and we evaluate the effectiveness of church growth based on statistical models. Seeing as how we’ve defined our own criteria for miracles and provision, one wonders what the Holy Spirit is doing?

Meanwhile, a large percentage of Christians saturated in the above methods are dedicating their personal time to the electronic coliseum called “reality entertainment”. We know the stats of NASCAR drivers, the rules of our favorite sports, the debauchery of the latest entertainer, the grossest antic of the current Survivor, who the next American Idol is, but we can’t explain the gospel on demand. We will erupt passionately over the War in Iraq, our political views, or the unfair nature of jobs being sent overseas — but we won’t dare to confront anyone on the state of their soul unless we spend the next year ostensibly “developing a relationship” or at least “earning the right” to speak with them.

Do we really believe that the Creator of mankind Himself is capable of communicating through the mouths of His people, or not? Evidently we do not. God communicated to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others without any help from man’s novel methods, thank you very much. And here we in these latter times have the most miraculous communication from God ever dropped into the lap of man called the Bible. Indeed, we have the whole Bible. One wonders why we cannot be content with nothing but the Bible. It is a fair question, which goes straight to the heart of whether we really want to be genuinely relevant.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Too Much Originality

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called. (1 Timothy 6:20)

Some preachers have such a phobia for repetition and such an unnatural fear of the familiar that they are forever straining after the odd and the startling. The church page of the newspaper almost any Saturday will be sure to announce at least one or two sermon topics so far astray as to be positively grotesque; only by the most daring flight of uncontrolled imagination can any relation be established between the topic and the religion of Christ. We dare not impugn the honesty or the sincerity of the men who thus flap their short wings so rapidly in an effort to take off into the wild blue yonder, but we do deplore their attitudes. No one should try to be more original than an apostle. GTMan144.

"Give me a word from heaven, Father, that will fly without my weak efforts at cute originality! Amen."

(A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership, May 29)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What’s Inside the Trojan Horse?
By John MacArthur

By God’s grace, I have been the pastor of the same church now for nearly forty years. From that vantage point, I have witnessed the birth and growth of menacing trends within the church, several of which have converged under what I would call evangelical pragmatism — an approach to ministry that is endemic in contemporary Christianity.

What is pragmatism? Basically it is a philosophy that says that results determine meaning, truth, and value — what will work becomes a more important question than what is true. As Christians, we are called to trust what the Lord says, preach that message to others, and leave the results to Him. But many have set that aside. Seeking relevancy and success, they have welcomed the pragmatic approach and have received the proverbial Trojan horse.

Let me take a few minutes to explain a little of the history leading up to the current entrenchment of the pragmatic approach in the evangelical church and to show you why it isn’t as innocent as it looks.

Recent History

The 1970s, for the most part, were years of spiritual revival in America. The spread of the gospel through the campuses of many colleges and universities marked a fresh, energetic movement of the Holy Spirit to draw people to salvation in Christ. Mass baptisms were conducted in rivers, lakes, and the ocean, several new versions of the English Bible were released, and Christian publishing and broadcasting experienced remarkable growth.

Sadly, the fervent evangelical revival slowed and was overshadowed by the greed and debauchery of the eighties and nineties. The surrounding culture rejected biblical standards of morality, and the church, rather than assert its distinctiveness and call the world to repentance, softened its stance on holiness. The failure to maintain a distinctively biblical identity was profound — it led to general spiritual apathy and a marked decline in church attendance.

Church leaders reacted to the world’s indifference, not by a return to strong biblical preaching that emphasized sin and repentance, but by a pragmatic approach to “doing” church — an approach driven more by marketing, methodology, and perceived results than by biblical doctrine. The new model of ministry revolved around making sinners feel comfortable and at ease in the church, then selling them on the benefits of becoming a Christian. Earlier silence has given way to cultural appeasement and conformity.

Even the church’s ministry to its own has changed. Entertainment has hijacked many pulpits across the country; contemporary approaches cater to the ever-changing whims of professing believers; and many local churches have become little more than social clubs and community centers where the focus is on the individual’s felt needs. Even on Christian radio, phone-in talk shows, music, and live psychotherapy are starting to replace Bible teaching as the staple. “Whatever works,” the mantra of pragmatism, has become the new banner of evangelicalism.

The Down-Grade Controversy

You may be surprised to learn that what we are now seeing is not new. England’s most famous preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, dealt with a similar situation more than 100 years ago. Among churches that were once solid, Spurgeon and other faithful pastors noticed a conciliatory attitude toward and overt cooperation with the modernist movement. And what motivated the compromise? They sought to find acceptance by adopting the “sophisticated” trends of the culture. Does that sound familiar to you?

One article, published anonymously in Spurgeon’s monthly magazine The Sword and the Trowel, noted that every revival of true evangelical faith had been followed within a generation or two by a drift away from sound doctrine, ultimately leading to wholesale apostasy. The author likened this drifting from truth to a downhill slope, and thus labeled it “the down grade.” The inroads of modernism into the church killed ninety percent of the mainline denominations within a generation of Spurgeon’s death. Spurgeon himself, once the celebrated and adored herald of the Baptist Union, was marginalized by the society and he eventually withdrew his membership.

The Effects of Pragmatism

Many of today’s church leaders have bought into the subtlety of pragmatism without recognizing the dangers it poses. Instead of attacking orthodoxy head on, evangelical pragmatism gives lip service to the truth while quietly undermining the foundations of doctrine. Instead of exalting God, it effectively denigrates the things that are precious to Him.

First, there is in vogue today a trend to make the basis of faith something other than God’s Word. Experience, emotion, fashion, and popular opinion are often more authoritative than the Bible in determining what many Christians believe. From private, individual revelation to the blending of secular psychology with biblical “principles,” Christians are listening to the voice of the serpent that once told Eve, “God’s Word doesn’t have all the answers.” Christian counseling reflects that drift, frequently offering no more than experimental and unscriptural self-help therapy instead of solid answers from the Bible.

Christian missionary work is often riddled with pragmatism and compromise, because too many in missions have evidently concluded that what gets results is more important than what God says. That’s true among local churches as well. It has become fashionable to forgo the proclamation and teaching of God’s Word in worship services. Instead, churches serve up a paltry diet of drama, music, and other forms of entertainment.

Second, evangelical pragmatism tends to move the focus of faith away from God’s Son. You’ve seen that repeatedly if you watch much religious television. The health-wealth-and-prosperity gospel advocated by so many televangelists is the ultimate example of this kind of fantasy faith. This false gospel appeals unabashedly to the flesh, corrupting all the promises of Scripture and encouraging greed. It makes material blessing, not Jesus Christ, the object of the Christian’s desires.

Easy-believism handles the message differently, but the effect is the same. It is the promise of forgiveness minus the gospel’s hard demands, the perfect message for pragmatists. It has done much to popularize “believing” but little to provoke sincere faith.

Christ is no longer the focus of the message. While His name is mentioned from time to time, the real focus is inward, not upward. People are urged to look within; to try to understand themselves; to come to grips with their problems, their hurts, their disappointments; to have their needs met, their desires granted, their wants fulfilled. Nearly all the popular versions of the message encourage and legitimize a self-centered perspective.

Third, today’s Christianity is infected with a tendency to view the result of faith as something less than God’s standard of holy living. By downplaying the importance of holy living–both by precept and by example–the biblical doctrine of conversion is undermined. Think about it: What more could Satan do to try to destroy the church than undermining God’s Word, shifting the focus off Christ, and minimizing holy living?

All those things are happening slowly, steadily within the church right now. Tragically, most Christians seem oblivious to the problems, satisfied with a Christianity that is fashionable and highly visible. But the true church must not ignore those threats. If we fight to maintain doctrinal purity with an emphasis on biblical preaching and biblical ministry, we can conquer external attacks. But if error is allowed into the church, many more churches will slide down the grade to suffer the same fate as the denominations that listened to, yet ignored, Spurgeon’s impassioned appeal.

Make it your habitual prayer request that the Lord would elevate the authority of His Word, the glory of His Son, and the purity of His people in the evangelical church. May the Lord revive us and keep us far from the slippery slope of pragmatism.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Old Cross And The New
By A.W. Tozer

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself for Christ." To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting in the Lord." To the thrill seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship." The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God's just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God's approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.

(A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as Doctrine, the Commandments of Men"

"Hostility toward unbending Biblical Christianity is rising fast, exposing today’s double-minded guides who bend the truth to please people and broaden their influence. Ponder these statements by three trusted models of Christian leadership. Are they teaching God’s Truth — or promoting a more popular postmodern distortion?"

The above statement is very Prophetic, even Churches which believe they are not part of this growing trend are part of it by allowing through "the back door" teaching that goes beyond the Truth of God's word and add to it a private interpretation which plays into the hands of Satan. Relativism has permeated the minds of the vast majority of churches and their leadership in Western Christianity, a tough thing to say but unfortunately true. When you allow a Church Leadership to go beyond what the Bible says you are in effect saying that their words carry the same weight as the words of the Prophets of the Old Testament, of Jesus and the Apostles words in the New Testament.

As Peter said in 2 Peter 1:19-21:

"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

The Prophets of the Old Testament did not speak of their own words but were given the words by the Holy Spirit to speak, and therefore we include their words as part of the infallible word of God, or the Canon of Scripture (The Bible). So any Prophetic word given today or any teaching given today must line up with their words and the words of Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament and cannot add to them, take away from them or depart from their explicit meaning. It was fitting that Jesus spoke to John the Revelator in Revelations 22:18-19 the following words:

"For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Jesus also spoke the following words in Matthew 11:13-14: "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive [it], this is Elias, which was for to come."

In other words the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament and John the Baptist pointed to Jesus. All Prophecy has to point towards Jesus, no prophecy or teaching of today that is valid can point away from Jesus or de-emphasize him in any way.

This is the slippery slope where Tradition came in to the Catholic Church, was raised up to have the same binding affect as Scripture on those who are of the Catholic Faith, and hence where the Catholic Church departed from the truth. It is the same slippery slope that the Ancient Israelites went down, and by the time of Jesus day they had departed from the truth. "And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as Doctrine, the Commandments of Men" Matthew 15:9

Once you decided to cast yourself adrift and add to, take away or attempt to re-interpret Scripture especially from sources that are known have walked away from truth and become blind to it, you have lost all ability to claim to know truth and to stand in truth. And further the discernment to know truth which comes from Holy Spirit will depart from you. You will then become ready prey for the false spirit of this age, which is unity over truth.

Watch the leadership of your church, the Teachers, the Pastors, are they going too far into intellectualism and attempting to stretch the word beyond what it says in the Bible? Are they leaning too far into fallen interpretations and commentaries? Such as Jewish Rabbinical teachings, or de-emphasizing the Trinity and Jesus as a co-equal PERSON in the Trinity, to re-interpret the word which diminishes who Jesus is? Do they give accomodation to religious traditions that have departed from truth or do they give positive words or refuse to admonish those who are well known and speak words that do not line up with the word of God?

If they are doing this they are playing into the hands of Satan and the Spirit of the Age, which is to latch on to AND emphasize ANY teaching that diminishes who Jesus is for the sake of unity, again, emphasizing UNITY over stressing who Jesus is. We are quickly losing the truth that the Gospel is meant to cause offense to many. It was never meant to unify ALL people. The very concept of exclusive truth pre-ordains that it will cause offense to many. Oh brothers and sisters the days are dark and the deceit is growing, pray that God will give you insight and whatever it takes to keep you in truth.

I strongly recommend the article lnked below.

God Bless and Stand Fast in the Faith which was first delivered unto you!

John Baker

Trading Truth for Solidarity - Part 1
From Pentecost to Pluralism

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We are in a Famine: The Poverty Business

some extracts from the article:

"Inside U.S. companies' audacious drive to extract more profits from the nation's working poor . . . ."

"But this remaking of the marketplace for low-income consumers has a dark side: Innovative and zealous firms have lured unsophisticated shoppers by the hundreds of thousands into a thicket of debt from which many never emerge. . . . . "

"Federal Reserve data show that in relative terms, that debt is getting more expensive. In 1989 households earning $30,000 or less a year paid an average annual interest rate on auto loans that was 16.8% higher than what households earning more than $90,000 a year paid. By 2004 the discrepancy had soared to 56.1%. Roughly the same thing happened with mortgage loans: a leap from a 6.4% gap to one of 25.5%. "It's not only that the poor are paying more; the poor are paying a lot more," says Sheila C. Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. . . . "

"Why bother grabbing for the few dollars in a broke man's pocket? Now there's a reason. . . . "

"In some instances, marketers essentially use products as the bait to hook less-well-off shoppers on expensive loans. "It's the finance business," explains Russ Darrow Jr., a Byrider franchisee in Milwaukee. "Cars happen to be the commodity that we sell." In another variation, tax-preparation services offer instant refunds, skimming off hefty fees. . . . "

"The only feasible way to run a capitalist society is to allow companies to maximize their profits," says Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. "That will sometimes include allowing them to sell things to people that will sometimes make them worse off. . . . "

"Now, he says, a growing number of sizable corporations are realizing that viewed in the aggregate, the working poor are a choice target. Income for the 40 million U.S. households earning $30,000 or less totaled $650 billion in 2004, according to Federal Reserve data. . . . "

"Thomas finances much of what she buys, but admits she usually doesn't understand the terms. "What do you call it—interest?" she asks, sounding confused. Two years ago she borrowed $400 for rent and food from Advance America Cash Advance Centers Inc. (AEA), a payday chain. She renewed the loan every two weeks until last November, paying more than $2,500 in fees. . . . "

"A public housing administrator who reviews tenants' tax returns pointed out to Thomas that Jackson Hewitt had pared $453, or 10.4%, in tax-prep fees and interest from Thomas' anticipated refund. . . . "

Our country is lving out Amos 8:

“The end has come upon my people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore. And the songs of the temple shall be wailing in that day,” Says the Lord GOD— “Many dead bodies everywhere, they shall be thrown out in silence.” Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, And make the poor of the land fail, Saying:

“When will the New Moon be past that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, Falsifying the scales by deceit, that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— Even sell the bad wheat?” The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:

“Surely I will never forget any of their works. Shall the land not tremble for this, And everyone mourn who dwells in it? All of it shall swell like the River, Heave and subside Like the River of Egypt. “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight; I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head;

I will make it like mourning for an only son,And its end like a bitter day. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.“In that day the fair virgins And strong young men Shall faint from thirst. Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, Who say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan!’ And, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives!’ They shall fall and never rise again.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

VOM News and Prayer Update: May 15, 2007

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:Fear God and keep His commandments,For this is man's all.For God will bring every work into judgment,Including every secret thing,Whether good or evil."(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

CUBA UPDATE: Pastor Summoned to Court – VOM SourcesPastor Carlos Lamelas has been summoned to appear in court on Tuesday, May 15, 2007. Even though he does not know why, he thinks it is because he needs to be given his "innocent verdict" in person. At the same time, he feels this could be the Cuban communist government's ploy to send him back to prison. Pray God will intervene in this situation. Ask him to encourage Pastor Lamelas and his family. Pray Christians in Cuba remain steadfast in their faith in Jesus. Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 26:3-4

CHINA UPDATE: House Church Leader and Mother Still in Prison – China Aid AssociationPastor Hua Huiqi and his elderly mother Shuang Shuying are still in prison. According to China Aid Association (CAA), Pastor Hua's trial will likely open in two weeks and his mother Shuang Shuying is being held in a medical center. "She is seriously sick and has been treated in that medical center since her sentencing. She is held in the kitchen hall in a one bedroom apartment-like prison cell with two other female prisoners. There are two PSB female police officers observing her 24/7. The doctor said she is too weak to be put in a formal prison because of her heart problem, diabetes and other medical problems," CAA said. Pray for healing for Shuang Shuying. Ask God to encourage Pastor Hua and his family as he prepares to go to trial. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

PAKISTAN Muslim Radicals Introduce Anti-Christian Law; Christians Receive Threatening Letters – VOM Sources

The Voice of the Martyrs sources in Pakistan report that Muslim radicals have introduced a law in Parliament that any Muslim who converts to Christianity should be killed. Although the details are sketchy, intercede for this situation and ask God to move so this law does not go into effect. Pray God encourages Christians in Pakistan to be a witness for Him in spite of persecution.

CHARSADDA – On May 7, 2007, Christians in the Charsadda District received letters warning them to shut their churches and convert to Islam. The letter that set a 10-day deadline said, "All Christians should convert to Islam within 10 days or leave Charsadda. We will execute all of you if you don't convert to Islam." Copies of the handwritten letter were delivered to two churches and several Christian homes in Charsadda. Even though the police have been alerted, Christians in the area are concerned for their safety. A similar letter was delivered to believers in Mardan district. Pray God gives Christians in Charsadda courage to stand for Him. Ask for protection and peace to surround them during these uncertain times.
Deuteronomy 31:6

INDIA UPDATE: Pastor Released After One Year in Prison – VOM SourcesIn Orissa state on May 2, 2007, Pastor Jeremiah Mahji was released after spending a year in prison. The Voice of the Martyrs contacts report that since Pastor Jeremiah's release, there have been repeated phone calls threatening that his son, Pastor Nehusena, will be killed. Thank God for the release of Pastor Jeremiah. Pray God protects their family and believers in India. Ask that their testimony will bring others into the knowledge of God. Romans 15:1-6

TURKMENISTAN Pastor Jailed in Labor Camp for Three Years – Forum 18 NewsOn May 14, 2007, Baptist preacher Vyacheslav Kalataevsky was jailed for three years in a labor camp for illegally crossing the border in 2001, establishing a prayer house and organizing meetings for Christian Baptists. According to Forum 18 News, his family insists the sentence was imposed to punish him for his activity with the unregistered Baptist congregation in the city. Vyacheslav told the court today in his closing statement that officials have a hostile attitude to him because of his faith. "This is backed up by the fact that as soon as he was arrested in March, the questions were all about his religious activity, not about crossing the border," the family told Forum News. Pray for this pastor and his family. Pray his testimony will draw non-believers into the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Psalm 10:17, 2 Corinthians 7:4
Rick Warren's Pal's at Council on Foreign Relations Call for End To National Currencies:

Rick Warren claims to be a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, A Washington Think Tank made up of International Intellectuals, Ex-Presidents, Ex-Government Officials, and Ex-Military Leaders. The CFR's main goal is the removal of all National Borders to end what they call Nationalism induced war and suffering.

Quote from the article:

"But the world can do better. Since economic development outside the process of globalization is no longer possible, countries should abandon monetary nationalism. Governments should replace national currencies with the dollar or the euro or, in the case of Asia, collaborate to produce a new multinational currency over a comparably large and economically diversified area.

Europeans used to say that being a country required having a national airline, a stock exchange, and a currency. Today, no European country is any worse off without them. Even grumpy Italy has benefited enormously from the lower interest rates and permanent end to lira speculation that accompanied its adoption of the euro. A future pan-Asian currency, managed according to the same principle of targeting low and stable inflation, would represent the most promising way for China to fully liberalize its financial and capital markets without fear of damaging renminbi speculation (the Chinese economy is only the size of California's and Florida's combined). Most of the world's smaller and poorer countries would clearly be best off unilaterally adopting the dollar or the euro, which would enable their safe and rapid integration into global financial markets. Latin American countries should dollarize; eastern European countries and Turkey, euroize. Broadly speaking, this prescription follows from relative trade flows, but there are exceptions; Argentina, for example, does more eurozone than U.S. trade, but Argentines think and save in dollars.

Of course, dollarizing countries must give up independent monetary policy as a tool of government macroeconomic management. But since the Holy Grail of monetary policy is to get interest rates down to the lowest level consistent with low and stable inflation, an argument against dollarization on this ground is, for most of the world, frivolous. How many Latin American countries can cut interest rates below those in the United States? The average inflation-adjusted lending rate in Latin America is about 20 percent. One must therefore ask what possible boon to the national economy developing-country central banks can hope to achieve from the ability to guide nominal local rates up and down on a discretionary basis. It is like choosing a Hyundai with manual transmission over a Lexus with automatic: the former gives the driver more control but at the cost of inferior performance under any condition. . . . . . . . ."

The End of National Currency is the most astonishing thing that I have read since Zbigniew Brzezinski’s appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year.

Foreign Affairs is the most important and influential journal of International Relations in the world. It is the mechanism by which the Council on Foreign Relations disseminates the game plan to people in polite circles. CFR’s positions on core issues represent the raw building blocks for most of the gibberish spewed by corporate television, radio & newspaper media.

Publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are dumbed down versions of Foreign Affairs that are published daily. Television news is the same thing, but dumbed down again. Foreign Affairs is also where politicians from several countries look to determine what’s safe to say, which policies are doable and what needs to be done. A degree in International Relations is largely a certification of a student’s ability to internalize CFR jargon and concepts.

Got the picture?

Now, what did the most important and influential journal of International Relations in the world just say about the U.S. Dollar and the global economy?

In summary: The U.S. dollar is an “absurdity” and the only way to stave off a global disaster is for most countries to join one of three global currencies, based loosely on: the dollar, the euro and a pan Asian currency.

I encourage everyone to read The End of National Currency in its entirety, but I’ll quote some more from this article below:

The dollar’s privileged status as today’s global money is not heaven-bestowed. The dollar is ultimately just another money supported only by faith that others will willingly accept it in the future in return for the same sort of valuable things it bought in the past. This puts a great burden on the institutions of the U.S. government to validate that faith. And those institutions, unfortunately, are failing to shoulder that burden. Reckless U.S. fiscal policy is undermining the dollar’s position even as the currency’s role as a global money is expanding.

Four decades ago, the renowned French economist Jacques Rueff, writing just a few years before the collapse of the Bretton Woods dollar-based gold-exchange standard, argued that the system “attains such a degree of absurdity that no human brain having the power to reason can defend it.” The precariousness of the dollar’s position today is similar. The United States can run a chronic balance-of-payments deficit and never feel the effects. Dollars sent abroad immediately come home in the form of loans, as dollars are of no use abroad. “If I had an agreement with my tailor that whatever money I pay him he returns to me the very same day as a loan,” Rueff explained by way of analogy, “I would have no objection at all to ordering more suits from him.”

With the U.S. current account deficit running at an enormous 6.6 percent of GDP (about $2 billion a day must be imported to sustain it), the United States is in the fortunate position of the suit buyer with a Chinese tailor who instantaneously returns his payments in the form of loans — generally, in the U.S. case, as purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds. The current account deficit is partially fueled by the budget deficit (a dollar more of the latter yields about 20-50 cents more of the former), which will soar in the next decade in the absence of reforms to curtail federal “entitlement” spending on medical care and retirement benefits for a longer-living population. The United States — and, indeed, its Chinese tailor — must therefore be concerned with the sustainability of what Rueff called an “absurdity.” In the absence of long-term fiscal prudence, the United States risks undermining the faith foreigners have placed in its management of the dollar — that is, their belief that the U.S. government can continue to sustain low inflation without having to resort to growth-crushing interest-rate hikes as a means of ensuring continued high capital inflows

At the turn of the twentieth century — the height of the gold standard — Simmel commented, “Although money with no intrinsic value would be the best means of exchange in an ideal social order, until that point is reached the most satisfactory form of money may be that which is bound to a material substance.” Today, with money no longer bound to any material substance, it is worth asking whether the world even approximates the “ideal social order” that could sustain a fiat dollar as the foundation of the global financial system. There is no way effectively to insure against the unwinding of global imbalances should China, with over a trillion dollars of reserves, and other countries with dollar-rich central banks come to fear the unbearable lightness of their holdings.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

An Ape is just an Ape After All!

Well according to this article, evolutionists have lost a prized find in their battle to prove the theory-tale of evolution. "Lucy" appears to be just another type of gorilla-like ape:

Israeli researchers: 'Lucy' is not direct ancestor of humans

Tel Aviv University anthropologists say they have disproven the theory that "Lucy" - the world-famous 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis skeleton found in
Ethiopia 33 years ago - is the last ancestor common to humans and another branch of the great apes family known as the "Robust hominids."

The specific structure found in Lucy also appears in a species called Australopithecus robustus. Prof. Yoel Rak and colleagues at the Sackler School of Medicine's department of anatomy and anthropology wrote, "The presence of the morphology in both the latter and Australopithecus afarensis and its absence in modern humans cast doubt on the role of [Lucy] as a common ancestor."

The robust hominids were discovered in southern Africa 69 years ago and are believed to have lived between 2 million and 1.2 million years ago. Their jaws and jaw muscles were adapted to the dry environment in which they lived.

Rak and colleagues studied 146 mature primate bone specimens, including those from modern humans, gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans and found that the "ramus element" of the mandible connecting the lower jaw to the skull is like that of the robust forms, therefore eliminating the possibility that Lucy and her kind are Man's direct ancestors. They should therefore, the Israeli researchers said, "be placed as the beginning of the branch that evolved in parallel to ours."

Their research has just been published in the on-line edition of PNAS, the Proceedings of the [US] National Academy of Sciences.

Lucy, which means "you are wonderful" in Amharic, was discovered (40 percent of its skeleton) by the International Afar Research Expedition in Ethiopia's Awash Valley. Fitting the bones together, they said it was an upright walking hominid (Homo sapiens, which comprises modern Man and extinct manlike species). They later found its jaws and additional bones.

Further analysis led the Afar researchers to believe it was of a female, and the skeleton listed as AL 288-1 was nicknamed Lucy because the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was often played at the camp.

The specimen was only 1.1 meters tall, estimated to weigh 29 kilograms and look somewhat like a common chimpanzee. Although it had a small brain, the pelvis and leg bones were almost identical in function with those of modern humans, proving that these hominids had walked erect.

Although fossils closer to chimpanzees have been found since then, Lucy - which is housed in the national museum in Addis Ababa - is prized by anthropologists who study Man's origin.
Rak and his colleagues also wrote that the structure of Lucy's mandibular ramus closely matches that of gorillas, which was "unexpected" because chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans, and not gorillas.

Friday, May 11, 2007

You Won’t Reach It on Tiptoe

"Add to your brotherliness . . . love." (2 Peter 1:7)

Love is indefinite to most of us, we do not know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that that preference be for Himself (cf. Luke 14:26). When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ is easily first; then we must practise the working out of these things mentioned by Peter.

The first thing God does is to knock pretence and the pious pose right out of me. The Holy Spirit reveals that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now, He says to me, show the same love to others - "Love as I have loved you." "I will bring any number of people about you whom you cannot respect, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you." You won’t reach it on tiptoe. Some of us have tried to, but we were soon tired.

"The Lord suffereth long. . . ." Let me look within and see His dealings with me. The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way. God’s love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God’s love to me. Growth in grace stops the moment I get huffed. I get huffed because I have a peculiar person to live with. Just think how disagreeable I have been to God! Am I prepared to be so identified with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness are being poured out all the time? Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.

(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, 95)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How to Know if You Are a Real Christian response to Frank Beckwith's defection to Romanism (Steve Camp: CAMPONTHIS)

Romanism is a false religion, that constitutes a false church, led by a false pastor, that preaches a false gospel. It is the best that Satan has to offer of man-made and man-centered religion that sees salvation by joining grace plus merit, faith plus works, and Christ plus Pope. The theological term is called semi-Pelagianism. This is works righteousness at its finest. This is another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9) which is no gospel at all.

Tridentine Roman Catholicism is a faith centered in prayers to the dead, the centrality of the Latin Mass, confessionals, and the specter of purgatorial suffering. It is a firm belief in the Immaculate Conception, the Bodily Assumption of Mary, and the "5th Marian Dogma" - the idea that Mary is co-redemptrix, co-mediatrix, and advocate for the people of God.

Indeed, consider for just a moment the wording of the petition that has been submitted to the Pope, signed by more than six million Roman Catholics worldwide, that expresses this view:

"With filial love, we the faithful wish to humbly petition you, the Vicar of Christ, to solemnly define as Christian dogma the Church's constant teaching on Mary's co-redemptive role with Christ the Redeemer of humanity. It is our belief that such a definition will bring to light the whole truth about Mary, Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Spirit, and Mother of the Church. Therefore, it is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide you, Holy Father, to define and proclaim the Blessed Virgin Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate for the people of God."
Indeed, one could also go into his belief in indulgences, the treasury of merit, and so many other things. But, let's get to the heart of the matter.

The issue of peace is truly the major difference between the biblical gospel and that promulgated by Rome. Rome's teachings on key issues are so far removed from their biblical definitions that the resultant gospel becomes one that is based upon human performance rather than the finished work of Christ (Romans 3-4; Hebrews 9:14ff). Romans 5:1 is key: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

Question: How can a Roman Catholic have true peace, true shalom with God? In Dr. Beckwith's renewed Romanism, justification is not the divine, forensic declaration that a sinner is right in God's sight based upon faith alone in the work of Christ alone, including the imputed righteousness of Christ which provides us with a perfect standing before God. Instead, justification and sanctification are made the same thing, so that one is justified by baptism initially, causing one to enter "the state of grace." You can do good works in the state of grace that are meritorious before God, but, the commission of a mortal sin destroys that state, and makes you an enemy of God once again. You can become re-justified through the sacrament of penance, though the temporal punishment of sins remains. Anyone should inquire of Dr. Beckwith, "upon what basis he could have peace with God when he could go to sleep that night as God's enemy? How is that true peace, true shalom?"

Romanism believes that the Mass is still a bloody, propitiatory sacrifice.

TWENTY-SECOND SESSION, CANONS ON THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS: "If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA" (Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass, Canon 3).

It is unfathomable to believe that this is now what Dr. Beckwith, by confession to Rome, must affirm.

Biblical Christianity clearly teaches that the sacrifice of Christ was a once for all sacrifice, never to be repeated, and is sufficient for the redemption of all the elect. Consider the following verses:

Heb. 7:27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Heb. 9:12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Heb. 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Heb. 10:10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Salvation, beloved, is found by grace alone, through faith alone, in the Lord Jesus Christ alone and His once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross - plus or minus nothing. He was then raised bodily from the dead "for our justification" (Romans 4:25).

The point here is simple and tragic: a man of Dr. Beckwith's learning has abandoned historic, biblical Christianity to embrace a false religious system that cannot save, but can only damn.

In a recent article, Dr. Beckwith, commenting on his defection from Protestantism and his return to Romanism says the following:

"I became convinced that the Early Church is more [Roman] Catholic than Protestant and that the [Roman] Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible. Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible,..."

Those statements, beloved, are in direct conflict with one another. It is impossible to affirm that Romanism and the Reformed view BOTH represent what is "biblically and historically defensible." That is like trying to pick up a tub while standing in it--you can't do it. This kind of reasoning is nothing short of spiritual schizophrenia. To paraphrase Tertullian, "what does Rome have in common with Wittenberg?"

All to say, may I encourage you to pray for this dear man--for only the Lord knows the state of his soul; only the Lord sees the future clearly as to what this will mean for him; only the Lord can turn his heart toward the truth and the genuine gospel once again. This is not casual fodder for the blogosphere -- nor is this about winning some theological discussion surrounding his departure from biblical Christianity. This is about the gospel and the nature of saving faith.

From whatever Protestant church Dr. Beckwith hailed from, they should consider beginning church discipline immediately due to his heterodox actions.

In light of this very sad spiritual treason by Dr. Beckwith and
embracing of doctrines of demons in Romanism, the following article by Jonathan Edwards is a must read. I would encourage you to email this to your pastors and friends as well. And especially to those you might know who are still burdened under the heavy yoke of Romanism. May the Lord Jesus Christ grant them saving faith to leave the wayward bride of Benedict XVI and embrace biblical Christianity, the true gospel of Jesus Christ, His Word, and repent of their sins.

Sola Fide, Steve Galatians 1:6-9

by Jonathan Edwards "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder."? -James 2:19

How do you know if you belong to God? We see in these words what some people depend on as an evidence of their acceptance with God. Some people think that they are all right before God if they are not as bad as some evil person. Other people point to their family history or church membership to show that God approves of them. There is an evangelism programme in common use that asks people certain questions. One of the questions is, "Suppose you were to die today. Why should God let you into his heaven?" A very common response is, "I believe in God." Apparently the apostle James knew people who said the same thing: I know I am in God's favor, because I know these religious doctrines.

Of course James admits that this knowledge is good. Not only is it good, but it is also necessary. Nobody can be a Christian who doesn't believe in God; and more than that, the One True God. This is particularly true for those who had the great advantage of actually knowing the apostle, someone who could tell them of his first-hand experience with Jesus, the Son of God. Imagine the great sin of a person, who knew James, and then refused to believe in God! Certainly this would make their damnation greater. Of course, all Christians know that this belief in the One God is only the start of good things because "anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Heb. 11:6.)

However, James is clear that although this belief a good thing, it is definitely not proof that a person is saved. What he means is this: "You say you are a Christian and you are in God's favor. You think God will let you into heaven, and the proof of it is, you believe in God. But that is no evidence at all, because the demons also believe, and they are sure to be punished in hell." The demons believe in God, you can be sure of that! They not only believe that He exists, but they believe that God is a holy God, a sin-hating God, a God of truth, who has promised judgments, and who will carry out his vengeance upon them. This is the reason the demons "shudder" or tremble— they know God more clearly than most human beings do, and they are afraid. Nevertheless, nothing in the mind of man, that devils may experience as well, is any sure sign of God's grace in our hearts.

This reasoning may be easily turned around. Suppose demons could have, or find within themselves, something of God's saving grace—proof they would go to heaven. This would prove James wrong. But how absurd! The Bible makes it clear that demons have no hope of salvation, and their believing in God does not take away their future punishment. Therefore believing in God is not proof of salvation for demons, and it is safe to say, not for people, either.

This is seen even more clearly when we think about what demons are like. They are unholy: anything that they experience, cannot be a holy experience. The devil is perfectly wicked.

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)

"He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning." (1 John 3:8 )

Therefore the demons are called evil spirits, unclean spirits, powers of darkness, and so on.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph 6:12)

So it is plain that anything in the minds of demons cannot be holy, or lead to true holiness by itself. The demons clearly know many things about God and religion, but they do not have a holy knowledge. The things they know in their minds may make impressions in their hearts— indeed we do see that the demons have very strong feelings about God; so strong, in fact, that they "shudder." But they are not holy feelings because they have nothing to do with the work of the Holy Spirit. If this is true of the experience of demons, it is also true of the experience of men.

Notice this, that it does not matter how genuine, sincere, and powerful these thoughts and feelings are. Demons, being spiritual creatures, know God in a way that men on earth cannot. Their knowledge of God's existence is more concrete than any man's knowledge could be. Because they are locked in battle with the forces of good, they have a sincerity of knowledge as well. On one occasion Jesus cast out some demons. "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" (Mat 8:29) What could possibly be a more clear-cut experience than this? However, while their thoughts and feelings are genuine and powerful, they are not holy.

Also we can see that the holy objects of their thoughts doesn't make their thoughts and feelings holy. The demons know God exists! Matthew 8:29 shows they know more about Jesus than many people do! They are thoroughly that Jesus will judge them some day, because He is holy. But it is clear that genuine, sincere, and powerful thoughts and feelings about holy, spiritual things, is no proof of God's grace in the heart. Demons have these things, and look forward to eternal punishment in hell. If men have no more than what the demons have, they will suffer in the same way.

We may make several conclusions based on these truths. First, that no matter how much people may know about God and the Bible, it is no sure sign of salvation. The devil before his fall, was one of the bright and morning stars, a flame of fire, one excelling in strength and wisdom. (Isa. 14:12, Ezek. 28:12-19) Apparently, as one of the chief angels, Satan knew much about God. Now that he is fallen, his sin has not destroyed his memories from before. Sin does destroy the spiritual nature, but not the natural abilities, such as memory. That the fallen angels do have many natural abilities may be seen from many Bible verses, for example Eph 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." In the same way, the Bible says that Satan is "more crafty" than other created beings. (Gen 3:1, also 2 Cor. 11:3, Acts 13:10) Therefore we can see that the Devil has always had great mental ability and is able to know much about God, the visible and invisible world, and many other things. Since his job in the beginning was to be a chief angel before God, it is only natural that understanding these things has always been of first importance to him, and that all his activities have to do with these areas of thoughts, feelings, and knowledge.

Because it was his original employment to be one of the angels before the very face of God, and sin does not destroy the memory, it is clear that Satan knows more about God than just about any other created being. After the fall, we can see from his activities as a tempter, etc., (Matt 4:3) that he has been spending his time increasing his knowledge and its practical applications. That his knowledge is great can be seen in how tricky he is when tempting people. The craftiness of his lies shows how clever he is. Surely he could not manage his deceit so well without an actual and true knowledge of the facts.

This knowledge of God and his works is from the very beginning. Satan was there from the Creation, as Job 38:4 7 shows: "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. . .while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" So he must know much about the way God created the world, and how He governs all the events in the universe. Furthermore, Satan has seen how God has worked his plan of redemption in the world; and not as an innocent bystander, but as an active enemy of God's grace. He saw God work in the lives of Adam and Eve, in Noah, Abraham, and David. He must have taken a special interest in the life of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of men, the Word of God incarnate. How closely did he watch Christ? How carefully did he observe his miracles and listen to His words? This is because Satan has set himself against Christ's work, and it is to his torment and anguish that Satan has watched Christ's work unfold successfully.

Satan, then, knows much about God and God's work. He knows heaven first-hand. He knows hell also, with personal knowledge as its first resident, and has experienced its torments for all these thousands of years. He must have a great knowledge of the Bible: at the least, we can see he knew enough to try tempting our Saviour. Furthermore, he has had years of studying of the hearts of men, his battlefield where he fights against our Redeemer. What labours, exertions, and cares the Devil has used over the centuries as he has deceived men. Only a being with his knowledge and experience of God's working, and the human heart, could so imitate true religion and transform himself into an angel of light. (2 Cor 11:14)

Therefore we can see that there is no amount of knowledge of God and religion that could prove a person has been saved from their sin. A man may talk about the Bible, God, and the Trinity. He may be able to preach a sermon about Jesus Christ and everything He has done. Imagine, somebody might be able to speak about the way of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of sinners, perhaps even enough to show others how to become Christians. All these things might build up the church and enlighten the world, yet it is not a sure proof of the saving grace of God in a person's heart.

It also may be seen that for people to merely agree with the Bible is no sure sign of salvation. James 2:19 shows that the demons really, truly, believe the truth. Just as they believe there is one God, they agree with all the truth of the Bible. The devil is not a heretic: all the articles of his faith are firmly established in the truth.

It must be understood, that when the Bible talks about believing that Jesus is the Son of God, as a proof of God's grace in the heart, the Bible means not a mere agreement with the truth, but another kind of believing. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (1 John 5:1) This other kind of believing is called "the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness." (Titus 1:1) There is a spiritual holding to the truth, which will be explained later on. Some people have strong religious experiences, and think of them as proof of God's working in their hearts.

Often these experiences give people a sense of the importance of the spiritual world, and the reality of divine things. However, these, too, are no sure proof of salvation. Demons and damned human beings have many spiritual experiences which have a great effect on their heart attitudes. They live in the spiritual world and see first-hand what it is like. Their sufferings show them the worth of salvation and the worth of a human soul in the most powerful way imaginable. The parable in Luke chapter 16 teaches this clearly, as the suffering man asks that Lazarus might be sent to tell his brothers to avoid this place of torment. No doubt people in hell now have a distinct idea of the vastness of eternity, and of the shortness of life. They are completely convinced that all the things of this life are unimportant when compared to the experiences of the eternal world. People now in hell have a great sense of the preciousness of time, and of the wonderful opportunities people have, who have the privilege of hearing the Gospel. They are completely aware of the foolishness of their sin, of neglecting opportunities, and ignoring the warnings of God. When sinners find out by personal experience the final result of their sin there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 13:42) So even the most powerful religious experiences are not a sure sign of God's grace in the heart.

Demons and damned people also have a strong sense of God's majesty and power. God's power is most clearly displayed in his execution of divine vengeance upon his enemies.

"What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?" (Rom 9:22)

Shuddering, the devils await their final punishment, under the strongest sense of God's majesty. They feel it now, of course, but in the future it will show to the greatest degree, when the Lord Jesus "is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." (2 Thess 2:7) On that day, they will desire to be run away, to be hidden from the presence of God. "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him." (Rev 1:7) So everyone will see him in the glory of His Father. But, obviously, not all who see him will be saved.

Now it is possible that some people might object to all this, saying that ungodly men in this world are quite different from demons. They are under different circumstances and are different kind of beings.

An objector might say,
"Those things that are visible and present to demons are invisible and future to men. Besides, people have the disadvantage of having bodies, which restrain the soul, and keep people from seeing these spiritual things first-hand. Therefore, even if demons do have a great knowledge and personal experience of the things of God, and have no grace, the conclusion does not apply to me."

Or, put another way: if people have these things in this life, it may very well be a sure sign of God's grace in their hearts.

In reply, it is agreed that no man in this life has ever had the degree of these things as the demons have them. No person has ever shuddered, with the same amount of fear that the demons shudder with. No man, in this life, can ever have the same kind of knowledge that the Devil has. It is clear that demons and damned men understand the vastness of eternity, and the importance of the other world, more than any living person, and so they crave salvation all the more.

But we can see that men in this world can have experiences of the same kind as those of demons and damned people. They have the same mental outlook, the same opinions and emotions, and the same kind of impressions on the mind and heart. Notice, that for the apostle James it is a convincing argument. He claims that if people think believing in one God is proof of God's grace, it is not proof, because demons believe the same. James is not referring to the act of believing only, but also to the emotions and actions that go along with their belief. Shuddering is an example of emotions from the heart. This shows that if people have the same kind of mental outlook, and respond from the heart in the same way, it is no sure sign of grace.

The Bible does not state how much people in this world may see God's glory, and not have God's grace in their hearts. We are not told exactly to what degree God reveals himself to certain people, and how much they will respond in their hearts. It is very tempting to say that if a person has a certain amount of religious experience, or a certain amount of truth, they must be saved. Perhaps it is even possible for some unsaved people to have greater experiences than some of those who have grace in their hearts! So it is wrong to look at experience or knowledge in terms of amount. Men who have a genuine work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts have experiences and knowledge of a different kind.

At this point, someone might answer these thoughts by saying, "I agree with you. I see that believing in God, seeing His majesty and holiness, and knowing that Jesus died for sinners is not proof of grace in my heart. I agree that demons can know these things as well. But I have some things they don't have. I have joy, peace, and love. Demons can't have them, so that must show that I am saved."

Yes, it is true that you have something more than a demon can have, but it is nothing better than a demon could have. A person's experience of love, joy, etc., may not be because they have any cause in them different from a demon, but just different circumstances. The causes, or origins, of their feelings are the same. This is why these experiences are no better than those of demons.

To explain further:
All the things that were discussed before about demons and damned people, arise from two main causes, natural understanding and self-love. When they think about themselves, these two things are what determine their feelings and response. Natural understanding shows them that God is holy, while they are wicked. God is infinite, but they are limited. God is powerful, and they are weak. Self-love gives them a sense of the importance of religion, the eternal world, and a longing after salvation. When these two causes work together, demons and damned men become aware of the awesome majesty of God, whom they know will be their Judge. They know that God's judgment will be perfect and their punishment will be forever. Therefore, these two causes together with their senses will bring about their anguish on that judgment day, when they see the outward glory of Christ and His saints.

The reason many people feel joy, peace, and love today, while demons do not, may be more due to their circumstances, rather than any difference in their hearts. The causes in their hearts are the same. For example, the Holy Spirit is now at work in the world keeping all of mankind from being as wicked as they could be (2 Thess 2:17). This is in contrast to demons, who are just as wicked as they can be all the time. Furthermore, God in his mercy gives gifts to all people, such as the rain for crops (Matt 5:45), heat from the sun, etc. Not only that, but often people receive many things in life to bring them happiness, such as personal relationships, pleasures, music, good health, and so on. Most important of all, many people have heard news of hope: God has sent a Saviour, Jesus Christ, who died to save sinners. In these circumstances, the natural understanding of people can cause them to feel things that demons never can.

Self-love is a powerful force in the hearts of men, strong enough without grace to cause people to love those who love them,

"But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." (Luke 6:32) It is a natural thing for a person who sees God being merciful, and who knows that they are not as bad as they could be, to therefore be sure of God's love for them. If your love for God comes only from your feelings that God loves you, or because you have heard that Christ died for you, or something similar, the source of your love to God is only self-love. This reigns in the hearts of demons as well.

Imagine the situation of the demons. They know they are unrestrained in their wickedness. They know God is their enemy and always will be. Although they are without any hope, still they are active and fighting. Just think, what if they had some of the hope that people have? What if demons, with their knowledge of God, had their wickedness restrained? Imagine if a demon, after all his fears about God's judgment, was suddenly led to imagine that God might be his Friend? That God might forgive him and let him, sin and all, into heaven? Oh the joy, the wonder, the gratitude we would see! Would not this demon be a great lover of God, since, after all everybody loves people who help them? What else could cause feelings so powerful and sincere? Is it any wonder, that so many people are deceived this way? Especially since people have the demons to promote this delusion. They have been promoting it now for many centuries, and alas they are very good at it.

Now we come to the question, if all these various experiences and feelings come from nothing more than demons are capable of, what are the kinds of experiences that are truly spiritual and holy? What do I have to find in my own heart, as a sure sign of God's grace there? What are the differences that show them to be from the Holy Spirit?

This is the answer:
those feelings and experiences which are good signs of God's grace in the heart differ from the experience of demons in their source and in their results.

Their source is the sense of the overwhelming holy beauty and loveliness of the things of God. When a person grasps in his mind, or better yet, when he feels his own heart held captive by the attractiveness of the Divine, this is an unmistakable sign of God's working.

The demons and damned in hell do not now, and never will experience even the tiniest bit of this. Before their fall, the demons did have this sense of God. But in their fall, they lost it, the only thing they could lose of their knowledge of God. We have seen how the demons have very clear ideas about how powerful God is, his justice, holiness, and so on. They know a lot of facts about God. But now they haven't a clue about what God is like. They cannot know what God is like any more than a blind man can know about colors! Demons can have a strong sense God's awesome majesty, but they don't see his loveliness. They have observed His work among the human race for these thousands of years, indeed with the closest attention; but they never see a glimmer of His beauty. No matter how much they know about God (and we have seen that they know very much indeed) the knowledge they have will never bring them to this higher, spiritual knowing what God is like. On the contrary, the more they know about God, the more they hate Him. The beauty of God consists primarily in this holiness, or moral excellence, and this is what they hate the most. It is because God is holy that the demons hate Him. One could suppose that if God were to be less holy, the demons would hate Him less. No doubt demons would hate any holy Being, no matter what He was like otherwise. But surely they hate this Being all the more, for being infinitely holy, infinitely wise, and infinitely powerful!

Wicked people, including those alive today, will on the day of judgment see all there is to see of Jesus Christ, except His beauty and loveliness. There is not one thing about Christ that we can think of, that will not be set before them in the strongest light on that brilliant day. The wicked will see Jesus "coming in clouds with great power and glory." (Mark 13:26) They will see his outward glory, which is far, far greater than we can possibly imagine now. You know the wicked will be thoroughly convinced of all who Christ is. They will be convinced about His omniscience, as they see all their sins replayed and evaluated. They will know first-hand Christ's justice, as their sentences are announced. His authority will be made utterly convincing when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Jesus as Lord. (Phil 2:10,11) The divine majesty will be impressed upon them in quite an effective way, as the wicked are poured into hell itself, and enter into their final state of suffering and death (Rev 20:14,15) When that happens, all their knowledge of God, as true and as powerful as it may be, will be worth nothing, and less than nothing, because they will not see Christ's beauty.

Therefore, it is this seeing the loveliness of Christ that makes the difference between the saving grace of the Holy Spirit, and the experiences of demons.

This sight or sense is what makes true Christian experience different from everything else. The faith of God's elect people is based on this. When a person sees the excellence of the gospel, he senses the beauty and loveliness of the divine scheme of salvation. His mind is convinced that it is of God, and he believes it with all his heart. As the apostle Paul says in 2 Cor 4:3 4, "even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." That is to say, as was explained before, unbelievers can see that there is a gospel, and understand the facts about it, but they do not see its light. The light of the gospel is the glory of Christ, his holiness and beauty. Right after this we read, 2 Cor 4:6 "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Clearly, it is this divine light, shining into our hearts, that enables us to see the beauty of the gospel and have a saving belief in Christ. This supernatural light shows us the superlative beauty and loveliness of Jesus, and convinces us of His sufficiency as our Saviour. Only such a glorious, majestic Saviour can be our Mediator, standing between guilty, hell-deserving sinners such as ourselves, and an infinitely holy God. This supernatural light gives us a sense of Christ that convinces us in a way nothing else ever could.

When a most wicked sinner is caused to see Christ's divine loveliness, he no longer speculates why God should be interested in him, to save him.

Before, he could not understand how the blood of Christ could pay the penalty for sins. But now he can see the preciousness of Christ's blood, and how it is worthy to be accepted as the ransom for the worst of sins. Now the soul can recognize that he is accepted by God, not because of who he is, but because of the value God puts on the blood, obedience, and intercession of Christ. Seeing this value and worth gives the poor guilty soul rest which cannot be found in any sermon or booklet.

When a person comes to see the proper foundation of faith and trust with his own eyes, this is saving faith. "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life." (John 6:40) "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me." (John 17:6-8)

It is this sight of the divine beauty of Christ that captivates the wills and draws the hearts of men. A sight of the outward greatness of God in His glory may overwhelm men, and be more than they can endure. This will be seen on the day of judgment, when the wicked will be brought before God. They will be overwhelmed, yes, but the hostility of the heart will remain in full strength and the opposition of the will continue. But on the other hand, a single ray of the moral and spiritual glory of God and of the supreme loveliness of Christ shone into the heart overcomes all hostility. The soul is inclined to love God as if by an omnipotent power, so that now not only the understanding, but the whole being receives and embraces the loving Saviour.

This sense of the beauty of Christ is the beginning of true saving faith in the life of a true convert.

This is quite different from any vague feeling that Christ loves him or died for him. These sort of fuzzy feelings can cause a sort of love and joy, because the person feels a gratitude for escaping the punishment of their sin. In actual fact, these feelings are based on self-love, and not on a love for Christ at all. It is a sad thing that so many people are deluded by this false faith. On the other hand, a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ causes in the heart a supreme genuine love for God. This is because the divine light shows the excellent loveliness of God's nature. A love based on this is far, far above anything coming from self-love, which demons can have as well as men. The true love of God which comes from this sight of His beauty causes a spiritual and holy joy in the soul; a joy in God, and exulting in Him. There is no rejoicing in ourselves, but rather in God alone.

The sight of the beauty of divine things will cause true desires after the things of God. These desires are different from the longings of demons, which happen because the demons know their doom awaits them, and they wish it could somehow be otherwise. The desires that come from this sight of Christ's beauty are natural free desires, like a baby desiring milk. Because these desires are so different from their counterfeits, they help to distinguish genuine experiences of God's grace from the false.

False spiritual experiences have a tendency to cause pride, which is the devil's special sin. "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil." (1 Tim 3:6) Pride is the inevitable result of false spiritual experiences, even though they are often covered with a disguise of great humility. False experience is enamored with self and grows on self. It lives by showing itself in one way or another. A person can have great love for God, and be proud of the greatness of his love. He can be very humble, and very proud indeed of his humility. But the emotions and experiences that come from God's grace are exactly opposite. God's true working in the heart causes humility. They do not cause any kind of showiness or self-exaltation. That sense of the awesome, holy, glorious beauty of Christ kills pride and humbles the soul. The light of God's loveliness, and that alone, shows the soul its own ugliness. When a person really grasps this, he inevitably begins a process of making God bigger and bigger, and himself smaller and smaller.

Another result of God's grace working in the heart is that the person will hate every evil and respond to God with a holy heart and life.

False experiences may cause a certain amount of zeal, and even a great deal of what is commonly called religion. However it is not a zeal for good works. Their religion is not a service of God, but rather a service of self. This is how the apostle James puts it himself in this very context, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?" (James 2:19 20) In other words, deeds, or good works, are evidence of a genuine experience of God's grace in the heart. "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:3 4) When the heart has been ravished by the beauty of Christ, how else can it respond?

How excellent is that inner goodness and true religion that comes from this sight of the beauty of Christ! Here you have the most wonderful experiences of saints and angels in heaven. Here you have the best experience of Jesus Christ Himself. Even though we are mere creatures, it is a sort of participation in God's own beauty. "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature." (2 Pet 1:4) "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." (Heb 12:10) Because of the power of this divine working, there is a mutual indwelling of God and His people. "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)

This special relationship has to make the person involved as happy and as blessed as any creature in existence. This is a special gift of God, which he gives only to his special favorites. Gold, silver, diamonds, and earthly kingdoms are given by God to people who the Bible calls dogs and pigs. But this great gift of beholding Christ's beauty, is the special blessing of God to His dearest children. Flesh and blood cannot give this gift: only God can bestow it. This was the special gift which Christ died to obtain for his elect. It is the highest token of his everlasting love, the best fruit of his labours, and the most precious purchase of his blood.

By this gift, more than anything else, the saints shine as lights in the world. This gift, more than anything else, is their comfort. It is impossible that the soul who possesses this gift should ever perish. This is the gift of eternal life. It is eternal life begun: those who have it can never die. It is the dawning of the light of glory. It comes from heaven, it has a heavenly quality, and it will take its bearer to heaven. Those who have this gift may wander in the wilderness or be tossed by waves on the ocean, but they will arrive in heaven at last. There the heavenly spark will be made perfect and increased. In heaven the souls of the saints will be transformed into a bright and pure flame, and they will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.