“…Wisdom and spiritual understanding” Col. 1:8

Which comes first, understanding or believing?  Most would assume you cannot believe that which you don't understand.  This reasoning puts man as the standard of truth.  He judges what is worthy to be believed by what he is able to understand.  Adam’s fall in the garden was motivated by a temptation to be God.  Nothing has changed.  Men are still standing in judgment of God, putting their reason above God's revelation.  God says; If you will not believe, you shall not “be established” (understand) Is. 7:9b.  Truth is, nothing we believe can be fully understood.  However, the understanding God gives us only comes after the heart is brought to bow in submission of faith.  God’s prophets and preachers have never been called on by God to prove anything to men.  They are called of God to preach, proclaim, herald, declare, "thus sayeth the Lord". God's sheep, when given a heart to believe, hear His voice and follow Him.   The “potsherds” (shards of broken clay pots) of the earth will always strive with their Maker. Is. 45:9. The vessels of honor will always be pliable clay in the hands of the Potter.                                      ~Greg

Two Funerals

Is a person’s life measured by the glory men give them at their departure from this world, or by the glory God gives them at the entrance to the next? The whole world observed today (December 5, 2018) the funeral of George H.W. Bush. It was an impressive ceremony of precision and pomp fit for a king. The setting was the austere National Cathedral. The participants were made up of some of the most powerful people in our world. Every step and word were choreographed to maximize a dramatic effect on the hearts and minds of all. No doubt (by man’s standards) President Bush could be called a “good man”. No doubt he was loved by his family. No doubt he was instrumental and influential in this world. But, if Mr. Bush’s hope for the salvation of his immortal soul was reflected by the empty pious platitudes spoken at his funeral, I fear that the glory of his departure far exceeded any glory he has now.

Five hundred miles away on the backside of an Indian reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina, there was another funeral this week. The body of the sister laid to rest was taken from her death bed, and in less than twelve hours was respectfully placed in a pine box and returned to the earth from which it came. There were no news cameras, no dignitaries, no flowery speeches of her accomplishments; just her grieving husband and a few family members and friends. The words spoken at her graveside were of the Successful Saviour of Sinners Laverne Land trusted for the keeping of her soul. The hope we have for our dear sister in Christ, is that the Glory she received from God infinitely exceeded the glory she got from man. “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God”. Jn. 12:43                     ~Greg

Where Does Grace Lead?

Some people would have us believe that if we preach pure grace it will lead people to licentious living. They say if we remove the law as a guide or motivation for Christian living, people will have nothing to keep them holy. They say to tell a person to just follow Christ doesn’t provide enough structure and will lead people to careless living. Is that where the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ Jesus leads? Grace preachers have always been, and always will be, falsely accused of this devilish lie. The apostle Paul spent most of his time defending the gospel of grace against this lawmongers view of self- righteousness. “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Rom 6:15 No, grace does not lead to sin, grace leads to Christ.  Truth is; “The strength of sin is the law.” 1 Cor.15:56. Show me a man preaching the law, and I’ll show you a people with no hope for their sin.                    ~Greg

“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned…” Ps. 51:4

The severity of a crime is judged in large part by the innocence of the victim. A child abused by a trusted caretaker would be a much worse crime than a prison inmate being abused by a prison guard. Sin is the most heinous crime because it is committed against The Most Innocent.                                                ~Greg

Forgiveness

Many people suffer the “tormentors” (Matt. 18:34) of an unforgiving heart. When the suffering becomes unbearable, they search the dark dungeons of their already enslaved heart for the ability and virtue to forgive. They may temporarily escape their prison cell only to be captured and returned. The problem is that the power to forgive can not be found in a sinner’s heart. The ability to forgive is very simply the result of being forgiven. Look not on the offense, or offender you are trying to forgive. Rather, look at the offense of your own sin towards God, and His grace to forgive YOU through the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiving will be easy in light of your own forgiveness.         ~Greg

The True Measure of a Man

Someone sent me a quote that read: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at time of challenge and controversy”. Truth is, men in times of “challenge and controversy” usually become temporarily humble and prayerful.  It is in times of “comfort” (when there seems to be no apparent outward need) that he shows his true nature of pride and independence.  He becomes confident, not knowing that where he is standing is shifting sand.  His true nature, or “ultimate measure” is exposed in the times of ease not controversy.

Knowing we are this way; the Lord is merciful to keep His children in constant trouble.  Not always with their circumstances, but always with their sin.  This way, their “ultimate measure” is seen before God as humble, prayerful, and dependent.  The only safe place the child of God can find to stand, in comfort or controversy, is in Christ.                ~Greg

“Grace Gospel Church”

Twenty-two years ago today, the Lord called us out and separated us to the gospel of His free and sovereign grace in Christ. We did not choose to come out. We were not looking to “start a church”. The Lord shut us up to Himself and gave us a need to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The beginning of this work was all of grace and all to His glory. Since then, the Lord has been gracious to add to the church such as should be saved. He has been merciful to keep us faithful to the gospel. Had He not kept us, we would all have fallen away. If we have grown in His grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (and I believe we have) that too is a testimony to His grace. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6. However long we have in the days to come, we will become more and more aware of our dependence on our Great God for His mercy and grace.

Grace:             A free and sovereign act of demerited favor.

Gospel:           The Good News that ALL the work of Salvation is accomplished once and for all in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Church:          The called-out ones. God’s elect, faithful in Christ Jesus.                                                                ~Greg

Assurance of Salvation

Every child of God believes with all their heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  In believing on Him, they know without any doubt that He was successful in putting away ALL the sins, of ALL God’s elect, ALL by Himself.  They believe that none for whom Christ died will ever suffer the wrath of God.  They know that God saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied.  These things are never in question for a child of God.  However, one thing every believer questions is: “did Christ die for me?” Were My sins put away once and for all?

Only the Holy Spirit can calm our fears and comfort our hearts.  He (the Holy Spirit) does this, NOT when we look for some evidence in ourselves.  To the contrary, the more we look for evidence in ourselves, the more we are caused to doubt.  No, the peace of God that passes understanding is the result of having your heart and mind kept on Christ Jesus.  When I look to Christ, the dove of peace flies into my heart.  When I look for the dove of peace, He flies away.                                                             ~Greg

“Gird Thy Sword upon Thy Thigh”

Ps. 45:3

 

May the Lord be merciful to answer this prayer. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Eph. 6:17. When John saw the vision of Christ in Revelation 1, he said, “out of His mouth went a two-edged sword”. Then in Hebrews 4, the Lord tells us that His Word is “quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged Sword”.

The thigh is a picture of strength. The Lord touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh and made him to ‘halt on his thigh’ the rest of his life. Jacob, like all of us, had to learn that his strength came from his weakness. 2 Cor. 12:10. Then when the Lord Jesus Christ is seen in Revelation 19, His name, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”, is written on His thigh.

So, when the bride of Christ prays, “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh”, she is praying for the Lord to speak to her heart with the irresistible power and truth of His Word. Let us join our hearts in offering that supplication to our Lord this morning. Add to that, “Lord give us ears to hear”, and we will leave this place having heard from God Almighty.                                                        ~Greg

Everybody is trying to figure out who they are and what they’re supposed to do. The answers to those two questions are very simple. Who you are: “Every man at his best state is altogether vanity” Ps. 39:5. What are you to do: “This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another” I Jn 2:23. There it is. The secret to life is not found in who you are and what you should do, but rather in who He is and what He has done. Trying to figure yourself out is like going down in a well. The deeper you go, the darker it gets. The Lord did not say; This is life eternal that they may know themselves… Oh, no. He said, “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ who thou hast sent” Jn. 17:3.  Figure out who He is and what He has done, and you will know all you need to know. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” Matt. 6:33.                                          ~Greg

How Sorry Do You Have to Be?

A sincere apology must convey to the offended party that you are able to empathize with the pain you have caused. Only then can true forgiveness be experienced. I hear people define repentance as being “truly sorry” for your sins. Only when the Spirit of grace and supplication is poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem are we able to look upon Him whom we have pierced and mourn after Him. Zech. 12:10. But, even then we cannot know the full extent of what our sin has cost God. That is why Christ prayed from Calvary’s Cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. It is also why David speaking prophetically of when Christ would be “made sin,” said; “I will declare mine iniquity, I will be sorry for my sins”. Ps. 38:18. Yes, a sinner must be “truly sorry”, and that can only happen as Christ stands in their stead. What God requires, God must provide.         ~Greg

EVERYTHING that God requires, God MUST provide; and God ONLY accepts that which He provides.                               ~Greg

Assurance of Salvation

Are you sure you are saved? Now before we cause more unbelief and lack of assurance than already exist, let us considers the premise of that question.’  The truth is, it is a bad question.  The honest soul will have nothing but doubts trying to answer
it.  Knowing their own capacity to deceive themselves, they will be caused to say with the disciples; ‘Lord is it I.’ Only the religious find comfort in this question because it takes them back to the very thing they are trusting in for their salvation.  A decision they made, a prayer they prayed, or an experience of some sort.

God’s means of comforting and assuring His children are found in a completely different question. Do you believe that Jesus (God does all the saving), is The Christ (sent of the Father to successfully accomplish His purpose), The Son of The Living God (sovereign over the armies of heaven and all the inhabitants of the earth)?  Are you persuaded that He is able to keep that which you have committed unto Him against that day?  Do you believe what the Scriptures clearly set forth about the glorious person and completed work of Christ?  “These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name”. True assurance of salvation is found not in what one believes about themselves, but rather in what one believes about Jesus Christ.                                                                                           ~Greg

Commitment vs. Need

Shame and the promise of reward are motivations used to bolster commitment. Man-made, free will, works religion is all about commitment. The more committed you are the less shame you will have, and the more rewards you will enjoy in this life and the life to come. In sixty-six books of inspired scripture, the word “commitment” is nowhere to be found. What is found over and over are the words, “poor” and “needy”. Show me someone using shame and the promise for a reward to motivate commitment, and I will show you someone putting men under the law. Show me a man preaching Christ, and I will show you a congregation of poor and needy sinners who will, “commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing” 1 Pet 4:15.                                         ~Greg

Regeneration and Faith

Regeneration (the new birth) necessarily precedes faith.  Not in time. Chronologically they happen simultaneously. But in sequence, or order of events, regeneration must precede faith. “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Faith is to spiritual birth what breathing is to physical birth. In both cases, they are the evidence of life, not the cause of it.           ~Greg

Is the Gospel Fair?

Our God delights in showing mercy. Micah 7:18. At the same time He is of immutable holiness that demands judgment against all sin. He will by no means clear the guilty. Ex. 34.7. Christ suffered the full wrath of the judgment of God to satisfy Divine justice for His people. There can be no mercy without justice. When the unbeliever responds to the message of the gospel (as they often do), with “that’s not fair”, we know that in the truest sense of the word “fair”, it is the only message of salvation that is equitable to God and man.                                              ~Greg

Conviction of Sin

 

All men have the moral law of God written on their hearts. Romans 2:14-15. All men know there is a God with whom they must do. Romans 1:19-20.  Consequently, all men suffer some pangs of conscience when they violate God’s law. The severity of the violation and the tenderness of the conscience determines the depth of the conviction. This is everyone’s experience. One need not the Holy Spirit to have this kind of conviction, shame, or sorrow. It’s called a guilty conscience.

So, what is the conviction of Sin? Not feeling guilty for bad behavior but seeing that the best thing you’ve ever done is iniquity before God.   When the Holy Spirit makes us see our sin, we come to believe that sin is what we are, not just what we do.   This conviction only comes when we see ourselves compared to the Holy One of Israel. The One who is Himself holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.  Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ must make Himself known.  When He does we will join Isaiah in crying, “Woe is me”.  We will join Job in declaring, “Behold, I am vile”.  We will agree with Daniel who said, “My comeliness was turned in me into corruption”.  We will rest all the hope of our immortal soul on the Lord Jesus Christ for all our righteousness before God. That, at least in part, is the conviction of Sin.  ~Greg

Minding the Flesh

“They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh”. Rom. 8:5. This explains why when the religious (who have not the Spirit of God) talk about their god, it is always in relationship to this fleshly life. They speak of the need to believe in something bigger than themselves. They speak of a need for a higher power to help them with the trials of life. They talk about a ‘jesus’ who gives them peace. For them, god’s purpose is to improve their life in this world. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and the flesh profited nothing. Never do you hear them express a need to be delivered from the wrath that is to come. The forgiveness of sin is at best a secondary concern for them. They are unable to set their affections on things above because all they can see are the things below. Only they that are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.  ~Greg

Have you heard God say, “I have numbered your kingdom and finished it”? All men are born into this world in rebellion against God. They will not have Christ reign over them. When we hear Christ say, “It is finished”, not only do we rejoice to know everything God requires for our salvation was accomplished on the cross, but we also rejoice to have our self-reign finished. All men attempt to atone for their own sins by putting the false weight of their will and works on the balance. Only when Christ is revealed do we see ourselves ‘found wanting’. Only then do we trust the “Perfect Stone” Prov 11:1 for all our righteousness before God. All men are born into this world with a fleshly Adamic nature. They cannot understand its sinfulness until they receive a new and “pure” (Persia) nature in the new birth. Like Rebecca, they will struggle with two nations in them, and spend the rest of their days crying, “why am I thus”? Gen 25:22-23.

The handwriting is on the wall. Only God’s elect will hear it before it’s too late.                 ~Greg

The Handwriting is on the Wall

Only believers will heed its warning. The blasphemous king of Babylon was judged by God for taking the holy things and using them in his pagan worship of idols. Daniel 5. The message of judgment was 1) God hath numbered thy kingdoms and finished it; 2) Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting; 3) Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. In essence, these same words of judgment will be spoken by God to ALL men. For His elect, they will be spoken in the day of their calling. For the reprobate (like Belshazzar) they will be spoken in the day of their damnation.

Have you heard God say, “I have numbered your kingdom and finished it”? All men are born into this world in rebellion against God. They will not have Christ reign over them. When we hear Christ say, “It is finished”, not only do we rejoice to know everything God requires for our salvation was accomplished on the cross, but we also rejoice to have our self-reign finished. All men attempt to atone for their own sins by putting the false weight of their will and works on the balance. Only when Christ is revealed do we see ourselves ‘found wanting’. Only then do we trust the “Perfect Stone” Prov 11:1 for all our righteousness before God. All men are born into this world with a fleshly Adamic nature. They cannot understand its sinfulness until they receive a new and “pure” (Persia) nature in the new birth. Like Rebecca, they will struggle with two nations in them, and spend the rest of their days crying, “why am I thus”? Gen 25:22-23.

The handwriting is on the wall. Only God’s elect will hear it before it’s too late.                 ~Greg

Young Parents

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6

Young parents: Raising children is not easy. It requires wisdom, patience, consistency, and most importantly, love. Many mistakes will be made along the way. No honest parent can look back without many regrets. I have heard it said that it is the most important job with the least amount of training one can have. Yet, as believers, we do have a perfect example in our loving Heavenly Father.  May the Lord give us the grace to follow Him.

There are three things children will not learn unless they are taught. Our loving Heavenly Father teaches each and every one of His children these same three things: 1) respect for authority; 2) take responsibility for their actions, and 3) be considerate toward others.  Jails are full of men and women who have never been taught these three basic lessons. The ultimate form of respecting authority is to bow in submission and worship to our sovereign and omnipotent God. The ultimate form of taking responsibility for one’s self is to be made a sinner. No excuses, no exceptions. When the Spirit of God makes one a sinner they have no one to blame but themselves.  And, the ultimate form of being considerate toward others is the unfeigned love the Lord puts in our hearts for all the brethren. This love is manifest not in word but in deed and in truth. 1 Jn. 3:18.

Though we will fail many times in training a child in the way he should go, our God has never failed. When we are brought to see, in the preaching of the gospel, what the Lord has done for us in Christ, we will bow in grateful submission, we will willingly confess our sin, and we will love God’s people.  To our young parents: do you see why it is vital to have your children under the preaching of the gospel?  It is the only place for them to be taught of God.               ~Greg

The King's Matter

“…thou hast made known unto us the KING’S MATTER.” Dan. 2:23

A death sentence had gone out from King Nebuchadnezzar for Daniel and his friends. The only way their lives could be saved was for the Lord to reveal the mystery of the king’s dream. So, it is with us. The wages of sin is death. None of the magicians, astrologers or sorcerers of our day can interpret the King’s Matter. The truth of the gospel of God’s free grace in Christ (which is the King’s Matter) can only be known by divine revelation. If the Lord doesn’t open the eyes of our understanding, we will die.

Oh Lord, show us our total inability. Show us the glory of thy beloved Son. Enable us to cast all our care on Him who cares for us.                                                                                     ~Greg

Grace

Grace has been defined as “unmerited favor”. Certainly, grace is by its very nature unmerited. Oh, but it’s so much more.

Suppose you rolled down your car window at an intersection and gave a dollar to a beggar. That would be unmerited favor. Now, suppose that same beggar had murdered your only child. Suppose you opened your door and brought him into your car. Suppose you drove him to your house, gave him his own bed, fed him and put him in new clothes. Suppose you took him to your bank and gave him unfettered access to all your assets. Suppose you drove him to the courthouse and signed all the legal documents to adopt him into your family.

That would be much more than “unmerited favor”, don’t you think? Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me… Oh, the praise of the glory of His grace wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.                                                                                              ~Greg

The Schoolmaster

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster (to bring us) unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster.” Gal. 3:24-25. Fortunately, the King James translators put words that were not in the original text in italics. “To bring us” was added erroneously to the text. The law doesn’t bring us to Christ. The Holy Spirit brings us to Christ, through the preaching of the gospel. This passage of scripture is declaring that prior to faith we were under the authority of the law, which the Lord likens to a schoolmaster.

So, what was a schoolmaster? A schoolmaster was the most trusted and beloved servant in a wealthy man’s estate. The master of the home put the schoolmaster in charge of his children. The master set down the rules for the house and trusted the schoolmaster to teach and enforce them to his children. The children were instructed by their father to obey the schoolmaster. They were under his constant supervision. He was their rule of life. The schoolmaster was answerable to his master for the raising of the children. Once the children were of age, they became heirs of the estate. They were no longer under the authority of the schoolmaster. So what kind of relationship would the grown heir have with the beloved servant that guided and protected him in his foolish youth? No doubt there would be a special love and appreciation for his now, friend.

What is the believer’s relationship to the law? “Great peace have they which love thy law”. Ps. 119:165. We do not have an adversarial relationship with God’s holy law. The law of God is our friend.  It is no longer our rule of life. Christ has satisfied all its demands and made us joint heirs with Him. Christ Himself is now our rule of life. Looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of faith, we are no longer “under” the law but “under” grace.                                                                ~Greg

What is a Blessing?

When an unbeliever speaks of being blessed, I fear the things they are looking at as a blessing will end up being a judgment against them. Why? Because they are looking at their favorable circumstances as evidence of their favor with God. “Blessed” means “Happy”. They are happy without Christ.  Their “blessings” cloud their need for Christ.

True blessings are contingent upon grace. “Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”. Eph. 1:2-3. For the child of God, everything is a blessing. Yes, everything. They look to Christ for all their “favor with God”. The only time they experience true happiness is when they are resting all their hope in Christ. Often, they find their greatest blessing, or happiness in the hardest of circumstances.                                                         -Greg

Blessing to Overcomers

  1. Eat the tree of life. Rev 2:7
  2. Not hurt in second death. Rev 2:17
  3. Eat the hidden manna. Rev 2:17
  4. Power over the nations. Rev. 2:25
  5. Clothed in white raiment. Rev. 3:5
  6. Made a pillar in Temple. Rev. 3:12
  7. Sit with Christ in His throne. Rev. 3:21

-Greg

The Faithful Man

“Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” Prov. 20:6

The Lord tells us in this proverb that men by nature are on a self-condemning path of self-righteousness and self-atonement. He is always looking for some evidence of goodness in himself to recommend him to man and God. He doesn’t know that what he is proclaiming as “goodness”, God calls “filthy rags”. Christ said, “there is none good but one, that is God”. Mark 10:18. Please notice that this proverb begins with “Most”… not all. Who can find a faithful man? Those who find (or are found by) The Faithful Man.                                                                                 -Greg

Absolute or Progressive

Many believe salvation is progressive. They would say that no one can be sure if they are saved until it is too late. Very sadly, they keep hoping they have done enough. No, no, salvation is an absolute. Either you are, or you are not saved. And that has everything to do with whom you believe, not what you’ve done.

Others would say sanctification is progressive. They look at their lives and deceive themselves in believing they are getting better. They compare themselves to others and convince themselves they are ‘Holier than thou’. Or, they compare themselves to the law and take pride in thinking they are keeping it better than they used to. Like Salvation, sanctification is an absolute. Either one is holy in Christ, or they are still in their sins.

So, does the Bible teach us that any part of our faith is progressive? Yes, faith itself is progressive. “Lord, ‘INCREASE’ our faith.” Revelation is progressive. Love is progressive. Knowledge is progressive. “I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in judgment” Phil. 1:9. Growth in grace (seeing more and more of our need for grace) and growth in the knowledge of Christ will progress until we see Him face to face and be made like Him.      -Greg

Sovereignty and Responsibility

One might ask, “how do you reconcile God’s sovereignty with man’s responsibility”?  The answer is simple. They don’t have to be reconciled because they are already friends. Please don’t misunderstand. I did not say, “sovereignty versus free will”. Those two things are mutually exclusive. God cannot be sovereign if man determines the destiny of his own soul.

The Word of God clearly teaches that our God is absolutely sovereign over all the free and uncoerced thoughts and actions of men.  The Word of God also teaches that every person is fully responsible for every choice they make. To deny God’s sovereignty, will lead to legalism. To deny man’s responsibility, will lead to fatalism. “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”. Acts 2:23. – Greg

By Grace Through Faith

Faith is the means of Grace. It is the only means of grace. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. To make anything else a means of grace is to have a works gospel. Whatever is not of faith is sin.

So where does that leave The Preaching of the gospel, Prayer, Worship, the Lord’s Table, the fellowship of the saints, Scripture? These things are means to faith. Thank God for them. He uses them to give faith. When True faith comes through these means, it does not rest its hope in the means. It rests completely in the glorious person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is given to us by God’s free and sovereign grace.         -Greg

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty

The narrow road to heaven has a dangerous precipice on each side. On one side is legalism. The self-righteous Pharisee falls over on this side. He prides himself in being a stoic but in fact he’s completely off the road. On the other side is lawless, licentious living. To their destruction, the epicurean, antinomian falls off this side. Most people, like a drunk driver, swerve from one side of the road to the other. What is the only way to avoid these pitfalls? Remain sober, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. The only way to avoid lawlessness and legalism is looking unto the perfect law of liberty. -Greg

Restraining Grace

What is of more profit to a child? For their father to provide them with an abundance of material things, or for their father to grab them by the hand and pull them back from running out into traffic? Some of the greatest blessings we receive from our loving heavenly Father are the things He restrains us from. Like a child, we will never know how much we have been saved from certain peril.

A Paradox

False humility takes pride in being humble. The truly humble believe themselves to be proud.
· The fools believe themselves to be wise. The wise believe themselves to be fools.
· The blind think they can see. Those who can see, believe themselves to be blind.
· The unfaithful believe themselves to be faithful. The faithful believe themselves to be unfaithful.
· The dead believe themselves to be alive. Those who are truly alive, reckon themselves to be dead.
· All the unrighteous believe themselves to be righteous. All the righteous believe themselves to be unrighteous.
· Every person believes themselves to be either, “Holier than thou”, or “Chief of Sinner”.

Dogs are Beggars

Dogs are beggars by nature. They are not embarrassed to beg. You can’t offend a dog for begging. The only thing that stops a dog from begging is the threat of punishment. Knowing that there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, God’s dogs are never ashamed of, nor deterred from begging. They happily wait for the next crumb that falls from the Master’s table.

When is a sinner saved?

Men have debated this questions for millenniums. Most of the controversy stems from man’s effort to reconcile the temporal to the eternal. Living in a world of time and space, he tries to define the when in this question as a single event! Scripture settles all controversies. So, what sayeth the scriptures?

1. God’s elect were saved in the covenant of grace established by God in eternity past. II Timothy 1:9; Is. 45:17; II Thes. 2:13.

2. God’s elect were saved when Christ bore their sins on Calvary’s Cross 2000 years ago. Rom 5:9-10; Jer. 23:6.

3. God’s elect are saved when they hear the gospel as the gospel and are made willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Titus 3:5; Eph 2:8; Rom. 10:9-13.

4. God’s elect are continuing to be saved as they are kept by the power of God to keep coming in faith to Christ. Is. 64:5; I Peter 2:4.

5. God’s elect will be saved when they are taken to glory to see their Savior face to face and be made like Him (sinless). Rev. 12:10; II Peter 3:12-15; I Peter 1:9.

All five of these glorious truths (Election, Redemption, Regeneration, Sanctification and Glorification) are necessary for a sinner’s salvation. Let others speak of when they “got saved”. We don’t hang the hopes of our salvation on one subjective experience in time. Our faith is in Him who does all the saving. We have been saved; we are being saved; and we shall be saved. “And being made perfect He became the author of ETERNAL SALVATION unto all them that obey Him.” Heb 5:9.

– Greg

The Pharisee

What is the motive behind men who say to the preacher: “you need to preach more of man’s responsibility”. Are they truly concerned about how other men live? I think not. Are they sincerely wanting to know how they should live? No, they already know that. They are wanting their own lives validated. They want their own righteousness affirmed. It’s not that they need to know how to live. It’s that they want others to know how they live. “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men”. Lk 18:11.

-Greg

Tares Among the Wheat

The solution to “easy believism” is not “hard believism”. The solution to a life inconsistent with the gospel is not to look for proof in one’s outward behavior. Is the walk of faith “hard” on the flesh? Most definitely. Does true conversion consume every part of a believer’s life? Yes.

Men speak of having a “commitment to the Lordship of Jesus”, in an effort to expose and oppose those who are not committed. Usually those same men will imply that they are the standard of true commitment. Is it possible to have the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and not Lord? Absolutely not. Are there pretenders in the church? Yes. Are there tares among the wheat? The Lord said there is. He also said not to root them out lest we damage the wheat. Whenever we point men to evaluate their salvation by themselves, all we do is bolster the self-righteousness of the unbeliever and cause the true child of God to doubt their salvation. Let us preach Christ in the whole counsel of God. He’ll take care of dividing the sheep from the goats.

-Greg

A Loving Husband

It is easy to submit to someone who loves your sacrificially. For a man to insist that his wife submit to his authority without earning her respect by putting her needs before his own, can only cause resentment. The Lord proved His love for His wife by giving Himself for her. He always speaks kindly to her. He is always tender and patient with her. He reminds her constantly how precious she is to Him. She in return, delights in submission to His loving authority. “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.” Eph. 5:22-33.

-Greg

"Behold Me"

We come into this world crying for attention, literally. As we grow older and more independent, our desire for the eyes of men only gets worse. We have perfected the art of calling attention to ourselves with modern day social media. It all goes back to our perverted desire to be like God. (Gen. 3:5). For God says, “Behold me. Behold me.” Is. 65:1. What is the difference when God says, “look at me” and when we say it? For us it is a desperate attempt to shore up our feelings of insecurity with the approval of men. It is filled with pride and self-righteousness. When God says, “Behold me”, it is a gracious call for sinners to be saved.                                                                                      -Greg

Prevenient Grace

What is Prevenient Grace? It is grace before grace, or that which is pre (before) convenient (purposed to an end)? In fact, it is everything, (yes, everything) a child of God experiences in life and thought prior to being effectually called to Christ by the Holy Spirit. Our Heavenly Father knows each one of His children perfectly. He has ordained a perfect set of circumstances for each one of them to be able to hear the gospel and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. In the hand of our merciful, loving Father, it really is… “All Good”.

Because the reprobate enjoys the benefits of living in a world where God is providing for His people, some speak of God’s “common” grace. There is nothing “common” about God’s grace, and there is no such thing as grace that is not saving grace. Only God’s elect receive God’s grace, and everything they receive is by God’s grace. “I know the thoughts I have for you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jer. 29:11. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28.

-Greg

The offense of the cross

Let us not confuse Brashness with Boldness. What some want to believe is the offense of the gospel is just their own offensive personality. A martyr mentality is another form of self-righteousness.

Now, that being said, the gospel of God’s grace in Christ is offensive to the natural man. The unbeliever is always looking for affirmation of their own righteousness. The gospel not only withholds affirmation, but it declares all men’s righteousness as filthy rags before a Holy God. The Lord Jesus Christ is the “Rock of Offense”. He is the “Stone of Stumbling” which the builders rejected. I Pet. 2:7-8. The offense of the cross is to preach Christ in such a way as to give men nothing else to glory in. Gal. 5:11.

If the self-righteous are not offended at our message, we are seeking to please men rather than God, and we are not the servants of Christ. Gal. 1:10.                                                 -Greg

'Holier than thou' or 'Chief of sinners'?

The Lord judges the self-righteousness in Is. 65 for believing themselves to be “Holier than thou”. In contrast, the Apostle Paul confesses himself to be the “chief of sinners”. The truth is that all men believe themselves to be one or the other. Which one we believe ourselves to be… depends on the standard by which we judge.

Those who compare themselves to other men can always find someone they are ‘holier’ than. Those, who by God’s grace have seen Christ, are brought to cry, “woe is me”. The Pharisee in Luke 18 was proud of how he measured up to ‘other men’. The Publican could only cry, ‘be merciful to me the sinner’! The Lord was very clear on which one went down to his house justified.

Now, here is the hope of this truth. How God sees men is just the opposite of how they see themselves. God says to the ‘holier than thou’ group: ‘you are a smoke in my nose’. And to sinners He says: “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” I Jn. 3:9 All the righteous believe themselves to be unrighteous, and all the unrighteous believe themselves to be righteous.                                                                               -Greg

Training a child in the way they should go

The “Experts” tell us that the way to build our children’s self-esteem is by telling them how wonderful they are (even when they’re bad), always rewarding them (even when they are lazy); and withholding discipline (even when they disrespect authority). It should be no surprise that we have raised a generation of self-absorbed brats with an entitlement mentality. Truth is, self-esteem is the by-product of good decisions, hard work, and showing a genuine interest in and respect for others. Teach your children by example, precept, and correction to choose right over wrong, to respect others (especially authority), and to work hard. Then, they will grow up feeling good about themselves. Parenting is hard work. It will keep you on your knees. Reject the wisdom of this world. May the Lord give us the grace to do it His way.

In the end, ‘the way they should go’, is to Christ. Here is where our God given responsibility must not falter. If the Lord is pleased to save our children, He will use the preaching of the gospel to do it. There is no greater thing we can do for our children than to have them in public worship. May God give us the grace to make this THE priority in our homes. Don’t wait for your child to want to come to church. Train them from infancy and trust God that they ‘will not depart from it’. Remember, “faith comes by hearing”. Always have them where they can hear and pray the Lord will give them ears to hear.

-Greg

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" Heb 12:2

If one looks to their works, either as the cause or the evidence of their salvation, they are not looking to Christ.                      -Greg

The is-ness of God

All men by nature create in the idol factory of their darkened imagination a god who is not. It is nothing more than a figment of their imagination. Whatever are the particulars of any man’s idol, it always ends up being a god he can control.

“He that cometh to God must believe that He is…” Heb. 11:6. The word of God reveals four things about the IS-NESS of God.  1. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of host. We dare not approach a Holy God without the blood of a spotless Lamb. 2. God is Spirit Jn. 4:24. We can not worship Him without the Holy Spirit revealing the truth about Christ. 3. “God is Light” I Jn. 1:4. In Him is no darkness at all. We can only know God in the Light of the gospel of His free grace. 4. “God is Love” I Jn. 4:8. The everlasting, infinite love of God can only be known in Christ.

The summary of these four aspects of God’s essential nature or IS-NESS of God is: I AM. The Sovereign, First Cause and Sustainer of all things is Jehovah. May He give us the grace to believe that He is.                                                         -Greg

"His mercy endureth forever". Psalm 136 (All 26 verses)

Why so much repetition? Because, “His mercy endureth forever”. Often when we pray for mercy (as we ought), we are looking for the evidence of that mercy in our circumstances. Our God is full of mercy (James 3:17). He delighteth in mercy (Micah 7:18). Mercy is all He has for His children. His mercy is seen not in what He does, but in how He enables us to trust Him in whatever He does. “His mercy endureth forever”.                                  -Greg

No Mercy Without Justice

“Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other”. Ps. 85.10

Holy justice demands every sin be punished to the fullest extent of the law. “He will by no means clear the guilty.” Ex. 34:7. What does the law require? Death!

So where has the truth of Divine Justice met with mercy? Where has righteousness and peace kissed? How can God be just and at the same time justify guilty sinners? Only at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. “For He (Father) hath made Him (Son) sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” II Cor. 5:21.

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. When did this peace happen? Notice the verb tense in our text (Ps. 85:10) Are and Have. Those are past tense verbs. All for whom Christ died were justified by His death on Calvary’s Cross. How do I know if He died for me? Only those for whom Christ died will trust Him alone for all the hope of their salvation.

– Greg

Complicated or Contrary

The gospel is not COMPLICATED. It is a simple message declaring that, “Salvation is of the Lord” Jonah 2:9. It declares all the sons of Adam as sinful, unable and unwilling to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It declares Jesus Christ as the Sovereign, successful Savior of His elect people. The gospel is wholly of God’s free and sovereign grace. It does not require a superior intellect, or even a good knowledge of the Bible to understand.

So, why is it so hard for men to hear? The Lord said, “Light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” John 3:19. The gospel is CONTRARY to everything men by nature believe to be true. Rather than forsaking all his ways, he is desperately trying to reconcile what he is hearing to what he has already decided is true.

One cannot have faith (believe) without repentance (changed mind). Both are a work of grace without which the natural man will continue to complicate the simplicity of the gospel.

-Greg

Conspiracies

Many people are given to believe conspiracy theories. Whether it be politics, medicine, education or science, they are convinced that there is a cover-up led by a select group of powerful people deceiving the masses for their own profit. First, the problem with conspiracy theories is that men are not that powerful. They can never anticipate all the unintended consequences of their scheme. Second, secrets are almost impossible to contain beyond a couple of people. Whatever lies are told, are eventually exposed.

So, why is the biggest lie ever told believed by so many for so long? The lie? “Man has a free will.” Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. For this cause, GOD SHALL SEND THEM a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie. II Thes. 2:10-11.

What God conspires against man, will not be exposed until the judgment. Who are the only ones not deceived by this “conspiracy”? “Surely, they are my people, children that WILL NOT LIE: so, He was their Savior.” Is. 63:8. “I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” I John 2:21.

 -Greg

The Most Believed Lie

There are many soul damning lies being told about our Lord that are believed by most. There is, however, one big lie that is more unanimously believed than all the others.

It is that man has a free will. Men pride themselves in believing that they can override the power of God with this all powerful “free will”. This lie claims that in the final analysis man decides the destiny of his own soul, and that God has made himself subject to this irresistible force.

If by “free will” man believes that he is free, when given two or more options, to choose the one he wants, that is without dispute. As a matter of fact, that is always the case. We could even go so far as to say that it is impossible to select an option that is not your preference. When given an opportunity to select from among two or more possibilities we always choose the one for which we have the greatest desire. ALWAYS! Man’s will is not free. It is subject to, yes in bondage to, his natural inclinations.

Therein lies the problem. It is not in man’s fallen, sinful nature to desire salvation God’s way. John 5:40 “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” In choosing what he wants he always chooses against the light. John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” It is impossible for man to force his choice against his own will. He is in desperate need of a new nature; one that is born from above. One that has as its only inclination a desire for coming to the Christ of scripture. John 3:7 “Ye must be born again”. Some will attempt to honor God by agreeing that He must give us a new heart, only to dethrone Him by saying that you must be willing to let Him. John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him”.

But doesn’t the Bible say, ‘whosoever will’…? Yes. But the problem is not with the whosoever, it is with the will.

-Greg

A Bloody Warrior

“Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah” Is. 63:1

Bozrah (fortress) was a city in Edom.  Edom was the land inhabited by the descendants of Esau.  Esau is clearly a picture of everything which is at enmity with God.  The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to set the captives free.  The gates of hell could not prevail against Him.  He invaded the fortress of Satan to deliver His people.

Isaiah 63 is a glorious picture of a warrior coming home from battle.  He is covered in His own blood, but He is not dragging His sword, exhausted or struggling to put one foot before the other.  Oh no, He is declaring to His kinsmen, “It is finished”.  I have single handedly defeated the enemy.  Your warfare is accomplished. Your adversary has been conquered.  The law has been fulfilled.  Justice has been satisfied.  The grave has lost its power.  Death is swallowed up in victory.  Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.

-Greg

Federal or Seminal Head

Many commentators in their attempt to explain imputation will refer to Adam as our “Federal Head”. By “Federal”, they mean “Representative”. When Adam, as our representative sinned, God charged or imputed the guilt of that sin to all mankind. “By man came death…” “In Adam all died”. I Cor. 15:21-22.  I believe the truth of imputation goes further. Just as Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek because he was in the loins of Abraham, Heb. 7:9-10, we were in the loins of Adam. It is not “Federal” headship, it is “Seminal” (seed) headship. We were there in the garden physically in our Father according to the flesh. If these new DNA tests could go back far enough, they would trace every man’s ancestry to Eden in Mesopotamia. Death was not just charged to us, it was experienced by us. We actually died in Adam. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, FOR THAT ALL HAVE SINNED”. Rom. 5:12.

In the same way (spiritually not physically) all God’s elect were placed by God “in Christ” before Adam. We are His seed. When it pleased the Lord to bruise Him and make His soul an offering for sin, God saw His seed. Is. 53:10. He did not just bear our sin, He bore us. Christ suffered at the hand of His Holy and Just Father the punishment we deserved… and we died in Him.

Read Rom. 6:3-11 “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed…”

Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ” Gal. 2:20. Then he said in Phil. 3:10, that his hope was to know Him and the fellowship of His suffering. When Christ died, He did not just own our sin to satisfy Divine justice, He owned every one of His people. We were “IN” Him. The just for the unjust that He might bring us to God. Federal Head speaks to legal imputation. Seminal Head speaks to the glory of Christ and our real spiritual union with Him.

-Greg

Why do God's Preachers Preach?

When God calls a man to preach the glorious gospel of His free grace, He puts in his heart a hope behind his preaching. Like his Master, he has been sent to, “preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captive, recover of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” Luke 1:18. He preaches in hope that the Lord will minister grace and mercy to men’s sin sick soul. If he is called of God, he will remain faithful to preach Christ in season and out. He will not adjust his messages based on the response of men. His heart will be set to comfort God’s people until the cities be wasted without inhabitants, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate.

Some hearers will get angry, some will remain silent, some will try to correct him, others will even praise him. None of these things will deter him from hoping that some will hear and be saved. All that being true, preachers are fail men that need to be encouraged to know if someone has heard God speak to their soul.

Lord willing, in a couple of weeks, two of God’s preachers will come to preach the gospel to us. Pray for them as they prepare the messages we need to hear. Pray for the Lord to anoint the services with His Holy Spirit. Pray for God to give us ears to hear. If the Lord speaks in power to your heart, let them know. I’m not suggesting you pretend to be blessed if you weren’t. Oh, but if you are, their hope will be increased by knowing your hope has increased.

Greg

One Medicine for the Soul

What if there was a doctor that prescribed the exact same medication for every one of his patients? It didn’t matter if you had a broken leg, heart disease, were blind, or had terminal cancer. This doctor always gave every person the same medicine. Your first reaction might be that this doctor was not very capable. He obviously didn’t understand the complexity of the human body. You would not trust such a doctor with your health. Now, what if every patient that took this doctor’s prescription was healed, regardless of their situation? Immediately, your attention has shifted from all thoughts and concerns for the doctor to this amazing miracle drug. What is it? How can I get some? What does it cost? Then, you find out that it is absolutely free –

You see it really doesn’t matter how sin has manifested itself in your life. Its outward effects differ for each of us. Unbelief is the sin that doth so easily besets us all, and it remains the same for us all. The one and only cure for our sin sick soul is the Balm in Gilead, Jer. 8:22. The leaves on the Tree of Life are the only medicine for our souls, Ez. 47:12.

A doctor once told me that ninety percent of medicine is treating the symptoms until the body heals itself. Make the patient as comfortable as possible while the good living cells multiply and the bad cells die. Man-made religion operates on the same philosophy. Man thinks his sin problem is that which manifest itself outwardly. So he goes about treating symptoms, not knowing that the real problem is unbelief. The sin sick soul cannot heal itself. There is no part of it that is good or alive. It is completely dead. It doesn’t need reformation, it needs regeneration, and that is a miracle of grace that only God can do.

Don’t look, even in the Bible, for precepts to address the symptoms of sin. Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of your faith. His glorious person and accomplished work is sufficient for every need. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound, and grace comes through faith. Oh Lord, increase our faith.

-Greg

A Tragedy Made Worse

The confusing and heartbreaking tragedy of a mass murder is only made worse by the explanation the “religious experts” give. The question people ask is always the same. “How can an all-powerful, all loving God, allow so many innocent people to suffer?”  There are three assumptions in this question: 1) God is all powerful; 2) God is all loving (by that they mean that He loves everyone); and 3) People, or least some people, are innocent. As stated, this question is impossible to answer. The assumptions are clear contradictions.  They cannot be reconciled.  To answer the question, one or more of these presuppositions must be changed.

It ought not surprise us that the false prophets would change the only assumption that is true. They always answer the question by denying the fact that God is all powerful.  They try to comfort people by saying that God has abdicated His throne to the free will of evil men or to Satan.  The unbelieving public swallows this lie hook, line, and sinker.  In man’s desperate attempt to have a god they can control, they would never consider the possibility that God doesn’t love everybody, or that no one is innocent in His presence.  These “hard sayings” are just too offensive Jn. 6:60-61. A God who is absolutely sovereign and men that are totally sinful, turns their world upside down.

“Our God is in the heavens, He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” Ps 115:3-4.  Faith does not question God.  Faith bows to Him and says with the Psalmist, “Not unto us, Oh Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake” Ps 115:1.

Greg Elmquist

Obedience

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  II Corinthians 10:3-5

It is indisputable that every born again child of God, and every faithful preacher of the gospel of God’s free grace in Christ, has a God given desire to honor the Lord with their lives.  Truly, it is God that works in them, causing them to will and to do of His good pleasure.  They genuinely loathe their sin.  Never do we excuse sin or suggest in any way that disobedience is of minor importance. If, however,  I preach in such a way as to draw the attention of my hearers to look at their works to get the assurance of their salvation, I have caused them to look away from the very source of their obedience.  I have brought them under the bondage of the law,  for the law is the only standard by which they can measure their success.  I have armed them with carnal weapons to fight a spiritual warfare.  They are doomed to failure.

If I emphasize “their obedience” as the grand and final goal of the gospel, I have, in so doing,

de-emphasized the “obedience of Christ” as the glorious end of all things.  I have made the salvation of a sinner a mere stepping stone to the greater end, their obedience.  Looking to my obedience as proof of salvation is no different than looking at it for the cause of my salvation. If you want me to obey God, tell me about Christ.  Tell me about His accomplished work of redemption.  Tell me about His love for me.  Tell me about the Father’s satisfaction with Him. Tell me about His fulfilling the whole law for me.  Tell me about His intercession for me.  Tell me about my acceptance before God in Him.  Tell me about how His shed blood completely covers all my sin.  Tell me about His power to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him.  Point me to Calvary. Please don’t send me back to Sinai.  I will either be crushed by its impossible demands, or I will pretend before men and lie to myself, exposing my self-righteousness before God.  Your attempt to make me holy will only cause me to be guilty of the worse sin of all.

Seven Sacred Cows

What do we believe about the presuppositions of manmade religion?  What are the sacred cows of paganism that need to be put to death in order to hear the truth? To answer this question properly, much needs to be said by way of introduction. However, for the sake of time, allow us to outline the difference as simply as we can.  We will only make three brief introductory points. First, what we believe is rooted in WHO we believe. This is not an intellectual or academic exercise. It is a living relationship with Jesus, THE Christ, the Lord of glory, our Savior.  That is the reason we refuse to allow our desire to be a witness for Him to be reduced to a debate. Second, the differences in what we believe are not a matter of theological emphases. Denominations have been created over one doctrine or tradition being emphasized over another.  The difference in what we believe and what most believe is the difference in eternal life and eternal death. Third, we understand from scripture and from personal experience, that the only way to savingly see the difference between the truth and a lie is by the free and sovereign grace of God. He is the only one that can make us to differ from another. So, what are the differences? Don’t sacrifice the truth to protect your sacred cows.

  1. We do not believe God loves everybody.  We believe the love of God is only to be found in Christ, and that was determined by God before the world began. Eph.1:4
  2. We do not believe Christ died for everybody.  He laid down His life for the sheep not the goats. It is not for us to try to figure out which one men are. His sheep will hear His voice and they will follow Him. Christ purposed to save His elect, and He fulfilled all He came to do. Jn.10:26-27;  Is.42:1-4
  3. We do not believe God, in any way, wills all men to be saved. God is God. His will is always accomplished. If He willed all men to be saved then all men would be saved.  The purpose of God according to election will stand  Rom.9:11, 8:28
  4. We do not believe man has a “free will”. Man’s will is in bondage to his sinful nature. It is not free to choose Christ. Man left to himself is unable to believe. God must make him willing through the miracle of the new birth. Jn.3:3
  5. We do not believe the gospel is an “offer” of salvation to be accepted by man. The gospel is the declaration of the “good news” that Christ has DONE everything necessary to secure the salvation of His people. God is not waiting for us to DO something to make what Christ did work for us. 2Tim.1:9 “It is finished!” Jn.19:30 This message of grace is irresistible to the elect.
  6. We do not believe our faith is the effectual cause of our salvation. The Faith OF Christ is the only faith that makes us accepted before a holy God.Gal.2:16 Our faith is a gift of God given IN, not FOR salvation. Eph.2:8-9
  7. We do not believe the Bible is a rule book for Christian living. We believe it is in its entirety a revelation of the glorious person and accomplished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He Himself is our rule of life. Lk.24:44-45
  8. In short, we believe that “salvation is of the Lord”. He gets all the glory for saving a dead dog sinner such as I. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. God, our Heavenly Father, purposed the salvation of His chosen people in the covenant of grace before the world began. Christ, the Son of God, accomplished everything necessary for Righteousness and Justice on behalf of those chosen. The Holy Spirit, at the appointed time, gives the elect ears to hear and hearts to believe. He then keeps them in Christ until their sojourn in this world is over. At that time, they will see Christ in all His glory and be made like Him.We know there are some who will want to argue these points with verses of Scripture they think refute what we believe.  Remember the first point in the introduction.  We will not shame Christ by making Him the subject of a debate. “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”  If you have an interest in this gospel we would encourage you to listen to the gospel preached by a faithful gospel preacher.  The Lord uses the preaching of Christ crucified to save them which believe. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

One Pressing question

Every time I get into a discussion with a person over the differences in our faith it inevitably comes down to the same question; “What is the gospel?”.  In short, the gospel is a Person.  The content of our faith is completely tied to the True Person and True Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Who He is and what He did is everything in the gospel.  The Word of God is our only source of light and truth in answering this most pressing question. ‘Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.’ Jn. 17:17 God’s word is a revelation of the person and work of Christ.  However, using biblical terms to answer these questions is not sufficient IF one is guilty of changing the meaning of those terms.  Truth is, if words have meaning, and they do, God’s word must be believed for what it means. To say I believe all men are sinners because the bible says so, and then give those same men the ability to accept Christ by their own free will, is to deny what a sinner is.  To say I believe that Jesus is the Christ because the bible says so, but then to deny His success in accomplishing the full salvation of all Israel is to change the title Christ to ‘Christ wannabe’.  To say I believe that Christ kept the law of God perfectly because the bible says so, and then to use that same law as a standard to prove men’s salvation, is to deny that Christ is in fact the end of the law for righteousness.  To say I believe salvation is of grace and not of works and then to make the accomplished work of Christ contingent on something I do, is to change grace to works.  To say I believe Christ raised from the dead because the bible says so, and then to suggest in any way that there is something left for us to do in order to secure our salvation, is to change the glorious truth of the resurrection from a declaration of Divine satisfaction to a mere historical event.  We could go on to every precious truth declared in God’s word about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Only when Christ is preached according to the scriptures does the gospel become the power of God unto salvation. God has never used a false prophets preaching to effect the salvation of one of His children. Satan is a counterfeiter by nature.  The Lord said he was a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, an ‘angel of light’ a ‘minister of righteousness’.  We ought not to be surprised that he would use God’s word to spread his lies.  All he has to do is change it’s meaning a little.  A little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf.  Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. It destroys the gospel.

Look to Christ

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” John 3:14

      There can be no hope of salvation apart from the Lord Jesus Christ bearing the sins of His people in His body on the tree of Calvary.  There was no other way to put away sin. The son of man MUST be lifted up.  He bore all the sins of all God’s elect of all ages, fully satisfying Divine justice once for all.

      The serpent is obviously a picture of God making Him sin for us who knew no sin….  Those stung by the fiery serpents of sin MUST look to the serpent on the pole to live.  Num. 21:8-9.  Yet, in spite of God’s promise many Israelites died from the serpents. I can only think of one reason why anyone in the camp of Israel would not look to the serpent on the pole. They were too busy looking at the serpents on the ground and the wounds they had caused in their flesh.  Grant it, poisonous snakes around your feet would be an alarming sight.   But, God did not say; ‘try to avoid the snakes’, or ‘tend to your wounds’. No, He said look to the One on the pole and you shall live.

     Do we not do the same thing today.  We wallow in the guilt and shame of our sin, rather than looking to Christ.  We try to mend the wounds of our sin, rather than looking to Christ. We set but rules and regulations to avoid the serpents on the ground, instead of looking to Christ.

      So how do we view our sin?  All we need to know about the evil of our sin is seen in what it took God to redeem us from it. There is no greater evidence of how God sees our sin than when He sheathed the sword of His Divine justice into the heart of His beloved Son. Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. Oh, that we could simply look to Christ and believe that in Him we are, ‘INDEED dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord’.

Spiritual Prostitutes

The Lord calls Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, the Great Whore. (Rev.17)  The mystery of Babylon is that her citizens do not see her or themselves as spiritual prostitutes. Spiritual prostitution is committed anytime and every time anyone tries to pay God for His favors. The glorious person and accomplished work of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our only and full ground of acceptance before God. Anything else offered to barter God’s approval, whether it be in hand or heart, is of that great whore Babylon. If we attempt to approach God with our good works or our good intentions we are committing spiritual prostitution and proving ourselves to be the offspring of the Mother of Harlots. Add anything to Christ, ANYTHING, and you are on a futile mission to allure Him into the fornicating land of Babylon. He will not go there.

Coming to Christ with nothing but our sin, leaving all our righteousness behind requires a miracle of grace in regeneration. It remains a mystery to the natural man. Someone might say; ‘but my sin is too great’. This too is nothing but Babylonian self-righteousness veiled in false humility. Would you be more fit for salvation had you not committed such a grievous offense? No, my friend, you would not. Another may think; ‘I don’t know if I am committed enough’. Again, spiritual prostitution. You will never win God’s favor by the depth of your commitment. Come to Christ just like you are. Come with all your hypocrisies, all your shallow insincerities, and all the ugliness of your sin. It’s all you have.

Our commitment will deepen, our love will grow, and our faith will mature only as we see that these things have absolutely nothing to do with our acceptance before God. Our acceptance is found only in the Beloved.

Don’t be seduced by the harlot of Babylon. She is the ‘strange woman’ of Proverbs 5. She is full of deceit. “Remove thy way far from her and come not nigh the door of her house. Her end is bitter as wormwood”. In contrast to this great whore is the chaste bride of Christ, a virgin. May God be pleased to show us and make us to differ.

Faithfulness

Someone asked me recently what my goals were for our church. I told them, to remain faithful to the gospel. I don’t think they understood, but I trust you will. Our Lord said, it is required of a steward that he be found ‘faithful’. It is not up to the servant to decide or try to determine what the Master will be pleased to do with his faithful service. Now, you know that the hope of our salvation rest wholly on the faithfulness of Christ. He is the only One that pleased the Father with perfect faithfulness. Oh, but what a high calling it is, for a follower of Christ to be found faithful. Not only is it all we CAN do, it is all we should set our goals TO do. And, it will require all we can find in our Lord’s merciful grace to achieve. There is no greater success to set our ambitions toward. I challenge you to make it your goal. Be the most faithful member of your church you can be. Be faithful in worship services. Be faithful in prayer. Be faithful to encourage your brethren. Be faithful to bear one another’s burdens. Be faithful in giving. Be faithful in witnessing. I pray it could be said of us what Paul said of the house of Stephenos, they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints’. I Cor.16:15 What greater reward is there, than to hear Christ say, “well done good and faithful servant”?

The One Pearl of Great Price

“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls.
Who when he found One Pearl of Great Price, went and sold all that he had
and bought it”
Matt. 13:45-46
Over the years men collect a jewelry box full of pearls.  In one drawer
they keep the pearls of “good works”.  These pearls come in various sizes
and shapes.. depending on the sacrifice they made for them. Some were given
to them by the people they helped…but most of them they awarded to
themselves.  So many men are hoping to trade with God their valuable little
pearls…in exchange for eternal life. The problem is these pearls are
strung together on the rotting thread of self-righteousness. When tried by
fire in the day of judgment this thread will break and all the pearls will
be lost forever.  Their value is only in our imagination, for the scripture
says:  All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and that which is highly
esteemed among men is an abomination to God.

Another drawer is full of equally worthless pearls…the pearls of
“religious experience”. These pearls are all polished to a brilliant shine
by constant handling. They are often taken out to admire…especially in
times of doubt.  There is the pearl of warm feelings and emotions
experienced at a time of past religious dedications. There is the pearl of
verses memorized, and doctrines learned.  There is the pearl of baptism,
church membership, and faithful attendance.  These gaudy trinkets are often
taken out and worn in public by their owners to impress other men with their
knowledge of God.  Like the dangling phylacteries off the robes of the
Pharisees these pearls are used to intimidate the less spiritual.  To those
who posses the One Pearl of great price, these people look as foolish as a
senile old lady overdressed with cheap outdated costume jewelry.  One says;
‘But my mother and father gave me these pearls.  Why they have been in the
family for generations. They have very great sentimental value. They’re
heirlooms. What will my family say if I get rid of them?’

Dare we open another drawer? Here we find a collection of pearls that have
great value in this world, but like the others are worthless in the next.
Here are the pearls of “worldly pleasure, popularity, power, and
possessions”.  Thy give great contentment to the flesh. They indulge the old
man with much enjoyment, but he can never get enough of them.  In the end,
they addict him to the world so that he becomes unconscious to the Spirit of
God and has no interest in the One Pearl of Great Price

All these pearls must be sold to posses the One Pearl of Great Price. You
can not wear the One Pearl of Great Price even as a center piece around
which other jewels are enhanced. No, it will be owned and displayed as a
solitaire, or it will not be worn at all. This pearl can not be the “center”
of attention.  Oh no.  He must get “all” the attention.  The wise merchant
gladly sells all he has to buy the One Pearl of Great Price.

What do you believe?

The prophet Isaiah asked the question every enlightened child of God wonders at.  “Who hath believed our report?”  When those that know the Truth consider what men believe ( and what they once believed ),  they stand amazed at the lunacy of the human race.  Men will believe a lie before they will believe the truth. Their darkened minds will embrace nonsense with such conviction as to rest the salvation of their eternal soul on it.  Men will believe in Aliens from outer space before they will believe in the need of an alien righteousness imputed to their account.   Men will believe in reincarnation to a cow before they will believe in the resurrection of the Suffering Servant to the Successful Sovereign Savior.   They will believe in the hocus-pocus, smoke and mirrors of religious ceremony before they will worship Christ in spirit and in truth.  Worse yet, they will put the hope of their salvation in a god so small that he can be bribed by their works, outwitted by their wisdom, or overpowered by their will.  They will not see their works as filthy rags, their wisdom as foolishness, or their will in bondage to sin.  One need not look far to find sufficient and convincing evidence that the entire human race has fallen headlong into utter darkness.   When the believer in Christ Jesus the Lord considers what natural men believe to be true, and when they observe the quick and complete rejection of what really is true, they are made to feel like the only sane person in an insane asylum.  They truly are not of this world.   How can one convinced of nonsense be made to believe the truth?   The answer is found in the same passage of scripture.  “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”  Truth comes only by Divine revelation.   The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.   Oh, to fellowship with those that have a love of the truth.  We are bound to give thanks to God for you brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.

Abusers of Grace

Some will hear the gospel of God’s Sovereign Grace in Christ Jesus and give lip service to it.  They will, for one reason or another, (usually to keep peace in their family) attend services and associate themselves with the true church. They may even prefer the message of grace because they think it gives them liberty to sin.  For lack of true saving faith, they are unable to enter into spiritual worship or any meaningful fellowship with other believers.  Most, in time, will lose whatever motivation they have for coming and eventually give up on the charade.  “They went out from us for they were never of us”.  It will be evident that they believed in vain.  The tendency is to say they believed in their head but not in their heart.  The truth is they never believed in their head or their heart but as natural liars simply espoused with their lips something they never understood.

Those closest to these poor souls know all too painfully the gross inconsistency between what they say they believe and how they live.  They know better than all other believers the inability the false professors have to rejoice in Christ or demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit.  The heartfelt desire for the believer in this case is for the spurious faith of their loved one to be exposed so they can see their need for true faith in Christ Jesus.  The thought is that if we could show them how inconsistent their life is with true saving faith they will give up on their false security and turn in humble submission to Christ Jesus the Lord.

The problem with that idea is twofold.  First, it is the Holy Spirit alone that is able to give repentance and faith to dead sinners.  Any attempt we make to expose or manipulate an unbeliever is sure to fail.  Second, if we preach to expose abusers of grace all we end up doing is discouraging and defeating true believers.  The inconsistencies every true believer has in their struggle between the flesh and the spirit becomes the focus of attention.  Trying to shame unbelievers with the law will only serve to cause the true children of God worldly sorrow.  It will take away their joy by turning their attention away from the accomplished work of Christ to their own works, or lack thereof.

Anytime the pure and simple gospel is preached there will be abusers of grace.  Did the Lord not say there would be tares among the wheat?  Did He not also say, not to try to root them out?  He knew that in doing so we would damage the wheat.  In spite of how men might abuse it, we must remain faithful to preach grace.  We should pray for those who are yet strangers to it and trust the Lord to either save them or separate them in His time.

Sovereign or Superior Grace?

Many, I have found report to believe in Sovereign Grace. They speak of their love for a God who sovereignly elected a people, a Christ who sovereignly atoned for those particular people alone, and a Spirit who sovereignly and successfully regenerates the same chosen people. In their confessions, they boldly and uncompromisingly speak of the “doctrines of grace” as gospel truth. Using scripture, reason, and history, they can debate their position quite convincingly. They seem to stand firm in their belief that ‘Salvation is of the Lord’. They write eloquently about the old paths and gather for Bible conferences to promote a restoration of sound doctrine. I am sure you can tell by my tone thus far that I believe there to be a fly in the ointment. There is, and it stinks to high heaven. The truth is that many of these supporters of “Sovereign Grace” really only believe in a superior grace. Their refusal to declare a man-centered, works religion as soul damning heresy tells me that what they mean by sovereign is really only superior. Their belief that a person can know the Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of a lie tells me that what they mean by sovereign is really only superior. Their unwillingness to renounce their experiences in arminianism as bogus tells me that what they mean by sovereign is really only superior. Words are only as good as the definitions we attach to them. If salvation is only by the sovereign grace of God in Christ Jesus, then truly no lie can be of the truth. John 17:3  And this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Many “sovereign gracers” need to repent of two things. The pride of thinking that they have superior truth when really they have not known the Truth at all, and the fear of separating themselves from less fortunate “brethren” who are really not brethren at all.

What is the Gospel?

After all the logic, after all the reasoning, when the smoke blows away and the dust settles we are left finally with this piercing question. We know that, “The gospel is the (only) power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes…” “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” So, what is the content of this gospel and what is the message contained in this name? When the apostle Paul said; “we preach Christ crucified”, he did not mean, we’re going to affirm the historical facts surrounding a man named Jesus that died upon a Roman cross. Neither did he mean, we’re going to present the theological foundations and the Biblical dogma supporting the idea of a Savior who died for sinners. Though our gospel is solidly historical, profoundly theological, and consistently Biblical, the message of our gospel is far too personal and powerful to be reduced to a mere proposition. No, we are to proclaim and believe a Jesus who is in all His attributes the anointed One of God. A Jesus who sovereignly secured the salvation of His people by satisfying all the demands of God’s holy law and laying His life down as a Substitute, atoned for the elect of God once and for all. There are those who say; “yes, I believe that is the content of the gospel”, yet they refuse to denounce the freewill Arminian gospel they were “saved” under. They are unwilling to say that the content of THE one and only gospel that has the power to save is NOT in the message of the popular jesus. I can only come to one conclusion. They don’t really believe the gospel. Not savingly. The message you believe you were “saved” under is the message you believe the gospel to be. Again I ask you, “what is the gospel?”

What DO we believe?

In times past some of us have recited what has been known as the “Apostles Creed” as a declaration of our faith. I have no interest in reviving this practice or writing an addendum to this document. But, I do want you to see that the very heart of the gospel is no where to be found in the content of this popular creed. The reason that everyone from Roman Catholics to reformed Presbyterians can agree with the statements contained in it is because the offense of the gospel is completely absent. Someone might ask; “Isn’t this what Christians believe?” My answer is yes… but oh, we believe so much more. As is usually the case, the problem is not with what is said, the problem is with what is not said. Read it, you’ll see what I mean.

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. The third day He rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the universal church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ fully and finally accomplished redemption for all of God’s elect when He died on the cross of Calvary. We believe that when He died as our Substitute under the wrath of God that He fully and finally satisfied Divine justice by paying the sin debt and thereby secured salvation for all for whom He died. We believe that Christ through the Holy Spirit will also succeed in effectually calling and bringing all that He died for with Him into everlasting Glory. We believe that any gospel that robs our Lord of this, HIS glory in the finished, successful, accomplished work of salvation, is another gospel…. which is no gospel at all. Now, there’s the real offense and power of the gospel. Do you believe that?

What do we miss when we miss church?

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” Heb. 10:25, is clearly a warning against apostasy, as is 1John 2:19, ( They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.) No child of God will be able to remain detached from the body of Christ. Their estrangement from the world, their genuine love for the brethren, and their hunger for the gospel, causes them to long for the fellowship of God’s people. However, a believer can become slovenly in their attitude toward the assembly of the saints in public worship. A warning against this carelessness is in order.

First, each of us needs to remember our responsibility to the rest of the body. What a discouragement it is to pray, plan, and prepare for public worship only to have members of the body conspicuously absent. Each member of the body feels less than whole when the body is not complete. Let us take seriously our responsibility to one another to be an example, “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1Tim.4:12)

Second, and perhaps the most devastating result of missing public worship is, Who me miss and the unbelief that it causes. The Bible does not tell us what Thomas was doing or where he was when The Lord appeared to the other disciples. All we know is that he was not there. “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.” Because he was not there when Jesus came to them, Thomas demanded proof and declared his unbelief. But he said unto them, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) Oh, don’t you know how Thomas regretted not being there. Being GOd, the Lord Jesus is omnipresent. However, He is very particular about where He has promised to manifest His glory and His grace. Public worship is one of those places he has promised to come and be known in a special way. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” We are sad to say that under the best of circumstances we are all plagued with the temptation of unbelief. To miss public worship when we could have been there, is to aggravate that which needs to be mortified. Next time you are tempted to be careless about public worship, remember Who has promised to be there. The Lord gave us Thomas as an example NOT to follow.

What's wrong with the question, "When did you come to the Doctrines of Grace?"

Before exposing the eternally fatal flaw of such a question, let me say uncategorically that I love all the truths defined in what is popularly known as the “doctrines of grace” or the “five points of Calvinism”. I will say up front that all these wonderful truths stand or fall together and should be referred to as the doctrine of grace. Remove or deny any one of its points and grace is no longer grace. Show me a so-called four point Calvinist, and I will show you one who is trusting in the works of the flesh for their salvation. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” Galatians 5:9. “If by grace then it is no more of works otherwise grace is no more grace…” Romans 11:6. As far as the term `Calvinism’ is concerned, it only supports the idea that this precious truth is nothing more than an inhouse debate; nothing more than a different perspective held by brothers; some of the Arminian persuasion and some of the Calvinist persuasion. This falacy reduces the gospel to a never ending feud of ideas and opinions. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what Calvin or any of his adversaries thought. The only thing that matters is, “what sayeth the Scriptures” about God’s gospel. Which brings us back to my original question, what is wrong with the question, “When did you come to the doctrines of grace?”

This question not only implies, but usually affirms that one can come to Christ and know nothing about grace. Recently I received a written testimony of a man from India. I quote; “I am a Hindu convert. In the year 1972 the Lord saved me. It was in an Arminian church. I entered the ministry in 1981. In the year 1984 I was introduced to the amazing word GRACE. It was the starting point of my search for the doctrines of grace.” Another letter came the very next day asking me some questions about myself. Two of the questions were, “when were you converted?” and, “when did you come to the doctrines of grace?” Often you even hear a testimony that goes something like this: `After I was converted, I heard about the doctrines of grace. My first reaction was unbelief or even utter hatred. However, after a prolonged studious struggle over these disturbing issues, I came to embrace them and am now convinced they are true.’ Most of these Arminian converts to Calvinism believe their primary mission from God is to convince their less fortunate brethren to cross over the river of higher learning and breathe with them the less polluted air of a better doctrine. They say they believe in Sovereign Grace, but in reality, they believe in Superior Grace.

“The gospel of Christ is the only power of God unto salvation” Rom.1:16. If a person can be converted apart from knowing anything about the sovereign, effectual, accomplished work of Christ, then what does a sinner believe to be saved? Is the gospel nothing more than an account of some historical events, or is it a message of a Savior that satisfied all God’s demands for righteousness on behalf of His people? Remember, “He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel” Ps.103:7. Most everybody knows the acts of God, only the elect know His ways. Salvation is not just in believing what God has done, but why He did it. And that, is the divine revelation that breaks a sinner’s heart and brings him to faith in Christ.

Grace or Works?

Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then id it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Is the whole of our salvation accomplished by the finished work of our Holy Substitute? Or, is there something else that man can do to make himself more fit, qualified, holy, or otherwise more acceptable in the sight of God? Can man establish his righteousness more securely by his supposed performance of the law? Or, is the righteousness of Christ our all and only means of acceptance before a Holy God? The message of free and sovereign grace is an offense to men’s pride because they refuse to admit that they are totally incapable of doing anything good (Rom. 3:10-12). Men, refusing to find their satisfaction in the righteousness of Christ, go about to establish their own righteousness (Rom. 10:3). Though they often succeed in impressing other men, most especially themselves, God is worse than not impressed. He is infinitely offended by their attempt to rob Christ of His glory.

God says works and grace are mutually exclusive. Grace by definition means the total absence of works. Once you introduce works into grace you no longer have grace but only works. A little bit of leaven leavens the whole lump. You can not mix works and grace any more than you can mix oil and water. Regardless of how hard you shake the bottle the heavier water gravitates to the bottom and the lighter oil to the top. So it is with works and grace. The living water of God’s grace will be completely covered by the oil of man’s works, so that if one attempts to find refreshment from that glass they will ingest nothing but sickening oil. Not only will it not satisfy, it will cause them to loose even what they have.

How do I choose a "church"?

With a religious meeting house on most literally every corner, how does one choose which to attend? The answer to this question will be determined by our reason for attending church in the first place.  Many choose the church (I use that word very loosely) that provides the most interesting and entertaining programs for their family.  Much like you might choose a health club or a sporting event.  Others choose a church because it is consistent with what they have always known; the same denomination, style of services, and familiar surroundings.  Really, this is no more a choice than we have in choosing a family.  We are just stuck with what we have.  Some choose the church to closest to where they live.  This is a good reason to choose a convenience store, but do associate with a church for convenience? Many are looking for that subjective “good feeling”.  They can’t put their finger on anything specific except to sy, ‘I’ll know when it feels right’. This may be a good way to decide on a flavor of ice cream but does it really work in finding a church? Most, they tell us, go to the place where they know and feel comfortable with another person or persons.  This sort of “fellowship” makes for a nice civic club, but is it the criteria one should use in associating with the place that is to care for their soul? Finally, many choose a church because the charismatic delivery of the preacher keeps them awake. One can not but wonder if the apostle Paul whose ‘bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible’, would have any success at all in pastoring today.

Well, the answer to the question; ‘why do I go to church?’ is inseparably linked to what I see the purpose of the church to be. If the church’s reason for existence is to serve man, then all these reasons are very valid. If, on the other hand, the true church exists to serve God and His purposes, then we best look to God’s word to see what He says about His church. Paul sums up the true church when he says to Timothy; “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”. I Tim. 3:15 We would do no violence to the word of God by paraphrasing this verse to read; the true church is the place where the living God meets with His called out ones who hold up, on firm ground, the person and work of Christ Jesus the Lord. There is only one question to ask to determine if the church I am attending is the right church. Is the Christ of scripture being fully preached, worshipped, and followed? Many men lie about our Lord by saying things of Him that are not true. Others lie about Him by not saying things that are true. If Christ is fully preached, the content of truth will be preferred over delivery, sweet and satisfying fellowship will be in Him, the joy will be incomparable to all entertainment, the consistency of scripture will be far superior to that of my past experiences, and no distance or barrier will be too great an obstacle. To get the right answer you must ask the right question. Choose carefully!

Don't Believe it, He's not there

The twenty-forth Chapter of Matthew has been the source of much speculation by men trying to predict the time of the Lord’s return. The tragic irony is that most of the discussion and debate has been by the very ones our Lord was warning us to avoid. Right in the middle of this glorious prophecy is a description of the “false christs” and “false prophets”. In verse twenty-six, the Lord said, “if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth, behold he is in the secret chambers; believe it not”. Here is the standard of measure we can use to try the spirits. All false gospels declare Christ to be either in the desert or in the secret chambers. Don’t believe it. He will not be found in the desert of law keeping, the arid landscape of ceremony, or the dry lifeless soil of free-will. Nor will He be found in the secret chambers of higher knowledge, deeper life, or an “anointed” charismatic experience. No, when our Lord returns it will be just like when He comes to one of His elect in salvation. The very next verse says, “like the lightening coming out of the east and shining to the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” He comes suddenly, sovereignly, and surely. Look for Him in His free, sovereign, simple gospel of accomplished substitution and full satisfaction. That is the only place He will be found, and He will be found there.

Unconditional Love

“God is love” I John 4:8. He defines love. He is the source of all true love. Any ‘love’ that is inconsistent with His love is no love at all. So, where did man get the notion of “unconditional love”? Well, obviously from his perverted view of God. For the God that is, knows nothing of unconditional love. Our God loves Righteousness and hates iniquity, Heb. 1:9. The Lord loves The Righteous, Ps. 147:8. There is one huge condition on God’s love…Absolute Perfect Righteousness. To say God loves anything or anyone else is to blaspheme His Holiness. The Lord Jesus Christ (and by imputation those that are in Him), is the only object of God’s love. ‘…the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Rom. 8:39. Those who talk of unconditional love deny God’s glory in salvation by denying the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The essence of His nature (Righteousness), and the purpose of HIS death (Substitution and Satisfaction), was so that God’s condition for love would be met. Mark it down, those who talk of unconditional love do so to cover up and excuse their own sin. It may fool men but God is still angry. And what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of an angry God.

Not even an accusation

Suppose you had to stand as a defendant before a judge whose responsibility it was to enforce the law. You would hire the best advocate you could afford. Suppose you were guilty without any defense. You would plead for the courts mercy. Now, suppose you were an habitual offender that had committed nothing but crimes that were all so heinous they were punishable only by death. And, suppose the prosecutor, who had never lost a case, had such irrefutable evidence against you that your attorney could not so much as cross examine the witnesses. Add to that a judge who was well known for always exacting perfect justice. One who by no means would clear the guilty.

Though men rarely see themselves ever having committed a crime punishable by death, and though they rarely see the Judge of the universe as perfectly just to His law and Holy in His character, this is in fact where all sons of Adam are. Is there any hope? Can God be just and justify sinners at the same time?

Well, suppose the Judge himself willingly became the defendant. Suppose He came down from His lofty and rightful place of honor and took on Himself the very guilt and punishment of your crime. Then, after having satisfied all the demands of His perfect law He ascended back to His majestic throne of justice to stand as your Advocate. What cause would be so desperate, in which such an Advocate, if He will plead, will not prevail? What rightful claim would the law have against you now?

Poor sinner, admit your guilt. And rather than presuming upon the benevolent mercy of a consenting god, trust in the righteousness of a substituting Saviour; the only One in Whom the Judge of the universe is satisfied.

Guilty but Forgiven

Suppose you had to stand as a defendant before a judge whose responsibility it was to enforce the law. You would hire the best advocate you could afford. Suppose you were guilty without any defense. You would plead for the courts mercy. Now, suppose you were an habitual offender that had committed nothing but crimes that were all so heinous they were punishable only by death. And, suppose the prosecutor, who had never lost a case, had such irrefutable evidence against you that your attorney could not so much as cross examine the witnesses. Add to that a judge who was well known for always exacting perfect justice. One who by no means would clear the guilty.

Though men rarely see themselves ever having committed a crime punishable by death, and though they rarely see the Judge of the universe as perfectly just to His law and Holy in His character, this is in fact where all sons of Adam are. Is there any hope? Can God be just and justify sinners at the same time?

Well, suppose the Judge himself willingly became the defendant. Suppose He came down from His lofty and rightful place of honor and took on Himself the very guilt and punishment of your crime. Then, after having satisfied all the demands of His perfect law He ascended back to His majestic throne of justice to stand as your Advocate. What cause would be so desperate, in which such an Advocate, if He will plead, will not prevail? What rightful claim would the law have against you now?

Poor sinner, admit your guilt. And rather than presuming upon the benevolent mercy of a consenting god, trust in the righteousness of a substituting Saviour; the only One in Whom the Judge of the universe is satisfied.

Come, but you can't

Is it contradictory to tell someone to some and drink from the River of Life freely, but then tell them they are unable? Should we just tell men to come to Christ and leave out the part about God’s sovereign election and man’s total inability? Many would say we are just confusing the message and restricting the free pleasure.  Why is it necessary when commanding men to come to Christ to tell them they can’t? Why are total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace essential elements of the gospel? One simple reason.  Without these truths, men will make a work out of coming.  Without these truths men will be led to believe that God has done His part, now it is up to you to come.  No, men must trust Christ for their coming also.  If you bring anything to the table of salvation, even your coming, then grace is no longer grace and you are left in your sins. The Lord will do it all … or He won’t do it at all.

"Blood and Water"

John 19:33-34 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

God in His providence, would not allow any of the bones of His sinless Son to be broken. It was pictured in the Pascal Lamb (Num. 9:12) and prophesied in the Psalms (Ps. 34:20). There must be no doubt among us that Christ is not divided; nor can He be, or will He be, received in part. Our only hope for holiness before a righteous God is the whole sacrifice of the spotless Lamb.

There is another reason God would not allow the legs of Christ to be broken. The miracle of blood and water from the side of Christ must be accomplished to further testify the purpose for which our Lord died. The wicked act of this frustrated soldier was planned and used of God to publicly declare an accomplished redemption. God requires an atonement of precious blood, innocent blood, to justify guilty sinners and satisfy the demands of His holy law. From the innocent animal that God Himself slew in the garden to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness, all the way through the history of His people, the shedding of sacrificial blood was given to picture what was now once and for all accomplished by Christ upon the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. But with it; oh, with it…, there is now no condemnation. None! Glory to God for His unspeakable gift.

What about the water? Man is not only in need of atonement and justification but he is also in need of holiness. Without holiness no man will see God. We must be cleansed from the filth that defiles us. We must be sanctified in the sight of a holy God for His eyes are too pure to look upon sin. Some would tell us that we go to the blood of Christ for our justification and then to the law and our good works for sanctification. The flow of blood and water from our Lord’s side tells us that we go to Christ for both. Everything we need is found in the person and work of Christ Jesus (I Cor. 1:30).

The Lord Jesus likened spiritual birth to physical birth when he said to Nicodemus, “you must be born again”. What is present at the birth of a baby? Lots of blood and lots of water. From our entrance into this world as the sons of Adam, we are told of our need to be justified and sanctified. From the. testimony of our Lord’s pierced side we are told…”It is finished”.

God's High Priest

Some time ago I spoke to a man who told me he was a member of the “Order of Melchizedek”. He seemed to be very proud of the fact that his group has discovered some deep mystery that was known only to themselves.  Their leaders has written some books that gave them insight into these lost ancient secrets.  It was clear to me that this man was infatuated with a hard to pronounce name that had the sound of profundity.  However, it was also clear that though he thought he understood all mysteries, he was, in fact, clueless.

Isn’t that the way religious people are? They aquire a vocabulary that makes it sound like they have uncovered the deep meaning of life while blind and ignorant to the most basic truths.

So, who is Melchizedek and what does His name tell us? Hebrews 7:2 makes it clear that His name means: 1) King of Righteousness, and 2) King of Peace. The two things men can never do for themselves, Righteousness and Peace. Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s High Priest. Only as He intercedes for us with His perfect righteousness, can we enjoy peace with God. The only way to be of the “order of Melchizedek” is to be “in” Melchizcdek. When that is done, men don’t boast of their knowledge. They boast of their Lord.

Should we mention the doctrine of election to the unbeliever?

Some have told us that this great Biblical truth is an “in-house debate” and should not be brought up to the unbeliever.  We should them at the place of their responsibility and never mention their inability we are told.

First, let me say with no uncertainty, the doctrine of election is not a “debate”. It is a biblical truth that is uncatagorically essential to the marvelous gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace. To deny election is to dethrone God. The gospel of “man’s free will” is another gospel. Read Galations 1:6-10 to see what God says about that. The doctrine of election is not a “deep truth” that requires the exercised intellect of a trained theologian to comprehend. It is a simple truth that all of God’s children rejoice to believe.

Second, the scriptures give plenty of examples of this great truth not being “in-house”. Let me briefly mention just two. The first is none less than our Lord’s own evangelistic ministry. In Matthew 15, and Luke 7, we have recorded Jesus encounter with the Syrophenician woman. After pleading with the Lord for mercy on her demon possessed daughter, Jesus told her that He came for the lost sheep of Israel (the elect), and that He could not take the bread from the children and give it to the “dogs”. The Bible says, “she worshipped Him”. The Lord declared the doctrine of God’s sovereign election to bring this woman to understand her only hope was to bow in humble submission to the One who alone could save her. The second example is the conversion of the apostle Paul in Acts 9. God sends a disciple by the name of Ananias to confirm the gospel to this last and greatest (or least as he saw it ) apostle with the message of election; “he is a chosen vessel of mine” v.15.

The modem evangelistic appeal, devoid of God’s sovereign election, in essence, invites the unbeliever to “make a decision” without confronting them with the Sovereignty of God. It presents them with an “invitation”, an r.s.v.p… let them decide if and when they are ready. It feeds the pride of man. The true gospel message is one of sovereign grace that humbles the sinner to beg for a crumb of bread from the Master’s table. God gives grace to the humble. .’.He resists the proud.

Twelve and Seven?

Mark 8:13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

In reading this passage recently I found myself in the boat with the disciples experiencing their bewilderment. What did the Lord mean when He used the number of baskets left over from the miraculous feedings to explain the warning about leaven? When He said, “How is it you do not understand?” I was forced to confess my own dullness and brought to ask Him for discernment.

In both the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand Jesus gave His disciples an opportunity to feed the people before He performed the miracle of multiplication. He obviously wanted them to see their own inability and conclude that He alone is the Bread of Life. But, now they did not even bring enough bread for themselves. They concluded that the Lord’s warning about leaven was a veiled rebuke for their lack of preparation. No, the one loaf they had with them in the boat was quite sufficient. Any more would have been too much. The Master Teacher was showing them, and us, a truth about salvation that must not be missed.

First, let us remember that once a little leaven is put into the bread it eventually leavens the whole loaf. No amount of leaven is acceptable. Our Lord said the leaven of the Pharisees is illustrated by the twelve full baskets left over after the feeding of the five thousand. Twelve is a number used often in the Scriptures to illustrate complete perfection. Most of the references to the number twelve in the Old Testament are to the twelve sons or tribes of Israel. Most of the references in the New Testament are to the twelve apostles. We see in Revelation that God’s elect gathered in glory are pictured in multiples of twelve times twelve thousand. Also, the heavenly Jerusalem, the place of the Lamb’s unmitigated glory, has walls built on twelve foundations, each measuring twelve furlongs, separated by twelve single pearled gates, and guarded by twelve angels. So, what is the correlation between the twelve baskets of leftovers and the leaven of the Pharisees? God gave His perfect law to the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve apostles preached Christ, the only law keeper, whose substitutionary atonement provides for His people eternal salvation in the City of God. The Pharisees were guilty of self-righteousness. In their blind hypocrisy they recommended themselves to God as having completed the perfect demands of the law through their own religious zeal. Jesus is telling us that when we have done all we can do to keep the law there are still twelve full baskets left over that no man can consume. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5). The One Loaf in the boat is all we need.

What about the number seven and the leaven of Herod? Herod is the epitome of licentiousness. His attempt to find satisfaction and ultimately life in the indulgence of fleshly pleasures ends in a horrible picture of judgment and death. Seven is the number for creation. All that God made in the material universe was accomplished in seven days. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and looses his own soul…” The leaven of Herod is any attempt to find our life in the temporal things of this world. The flesh refuses to be gratified. When it has done all it can do to satisfy its hunger there will always be seven full baskets left over. Enjoy what God gives you, use it for His glory, but find all you need in the One Loaf. He is our all in all!

Four Unanswerable Questions

There are four lies being told in Orlando today. Modern, man-centered, Christ dethroning religionist would have us believe; God loves everyone; it is God’s will for everyone to be saved; Christ died for everyone; and the Holy Spirit draws the saved and condemned alike. These are well established suppositions, rarely questioned for their truthfulness. To call them into question is to unmask the faulty foundation of a false gospel and kindle the wrath of those desperate to protect their traditions.

1) “What sayeth the Scripture?” “The Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness” (Ps. 11:7). “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Rom. 9:13). God’s love is a holy love. He can no more love unrighteousness than He can cease to be holy. God’s love is for Christ, in Christ, and through Christ. Everything outside of Christ is under the condemnation and wrath of God. He has loved His elect with an everlasting love, having chosen them in Him before the foundation of the world.
Question #1: If God loves all men, those who receive eternal life as well as those who suffer eternal damnation, what does the love of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?

2) What does the Bible say about God’s will and salvation? “Having predestined us according to the good pleasure of His Will” (Eph. 1:5). “Having made known to us the mystery of His Will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” “I will have mercy upon whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, or of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Therefore, He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Rom 9:15-18). “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He wills (Jn. 5:21).
Question #2: If God wills for all men to be saved, what does the will of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?

3) What do the Scriptures say about the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross? Did He die for all men? “I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people” (Titus 2:14). “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:4). If Christ purposed to die for all men1 did He not have the power to accomplish His purpose? God forbid! Did He die to make men savable or did He die to accomplish the salvation of a chosen people?
Question #3: If Christ shed His precious blood for all men, what does the work of Christ on the cross have to do with anyone’s salvation?

4) What does God say about the work of the Holy Spirit in redemption? Are sinners dead (Eph. 2:1) in need of regeneration, or just sick in need of a little reformation? “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). “The written code kills, but the Spirit gives life”(II Cor. 3:6).
Question #4: If the Holy Spirit draws the saved and the condemned alike, what does the Holy Spirit have to do with anyone’s salvation?

The Truth: Salvation is of the Lord! Don’t believe a lie, it will damn your soul.

Exclusive and Inclusive

The gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus is both exclusive and inclusive. It is a double-edged sword. It cuts people out and it cuts people in. The exclusivity of God’s gospel will not allow a person to be saved while believing another gospel. One’s complete hope and trust must be in THE Christ revealed according to the Scriptures. He is The Way and He Is God’s Way. To deny Him is to be excluded by the sword of the gospel. Just as the door of your home is used to keep out unwelcome guest, so Christ stands at the entrance of the sheepfold to keep out those that would rob Him of His glory.

But, never let us forget that God’s gospel is also inclusive. Put the positive side of two magnets together and they will repel one another with an irreconcilable force. When we come to the positive righteousness of Christ with any amount of our own righteousness we are repelled. But, turn the negative side of that magnet to the positive side of the other and they will be attracted with a force irresistible. So it is with Christ. The only condition for salvation is to repent of your righteousness (which is altogether filthy rags) and trust in the Christ of true righteousness as your only Lord and Savior. It matters not who you are or what you have done. Whosoever will may come. If we are kept out it is because we refuse to come on God’s terms. Jesus said, you are not willing to come to me. Again He said, Light has come into the world but men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. The gospel includes everyone who is willing. No man can say, “I was willing to come but He was unwilling to save me”. Unregenerate men are by nature unwilling. You can not be more willing to be saved than God is to save you. Thy people will be made willing in the day of Thy power (Psalm 110:3). “Oh Lord, make us willing.” Can you say with the hymn writer, ‘He included me?’

"Can God use me?"

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me… ” Acts 1:8

Why did God choose to use human instruments as His witnesses? Is it a denial of His power or His glory to say He always uses one man to communicate the gospel to another? Would He not be more glorified by using a more miraculous and unaided means to accomplish His purpose? Is God dependent on men to perform His will? Let me try to illustrate the answer to these questions. I am currently in the process of building a boathouse in my yard. I am no professional carpenter and possess no unusual skills. What I do have (borrowed mostly) is all the best tools money can buy. I have a skill saw, a saw zaw, a jig saw, a chain saw, an air compressor, nail guns, and more. If you came to my work site you would be impressed, not with my vast collection of high quality tools. There would be no way for me to accomplish my job without them. Oh yea, all the wood was given to me also. I can’t even take pride in how much money I spent on this project. Now, compare that to the way the Amish would construct a barn. No power tools. No modern technology. From the cutting down of the trees and hewing out the timbers, to boring the holes for perfectly fit wooden pegs, the entire job is done with archaic hand tools that would be worse than useless in my hands. If you visited that work site you would say, ‘wow, what craftsman, what skill, all that beauty and look what they used to build it’. The more backward and broken an instrument is, the more glory goes to the builder for being able to use it. If God ever in ever uses you or me in any way, it will be categorically in spite of us. The greatest miracle of all is that God can and does take an instrument that is nothing in itself but sinful defilement and uses it to produce a new creature that is perfectly holy. 1 Cor 1:27-29 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” Do you qualify?

Where Does Grace Lead?

Some people would have us believe that if we preach pure grace it will lead people to licentious living. They say if we remove the law as a guide or motivation for Christian living, people will have nothing to keep them holy. They say to tell a person to just follow Christ doesn’t provide enough structure and will lead people to careless living. Is that where the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ Jesus leads? Grace preachers have always been, and always will be, falsely accused of this devilish lie. The apostle Paul spent most of his time defending the gospel of grace against this lawmongers view of serf-righteousness. “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Rom 6:15 No, grace does not lead to sin, grace leads to Christ. He is able by the law of love and faith to restrain our flesh and make us His workmanship.

“…saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
Jer.6:14

“from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Jer.6:14

Nothing has changed. The false prophets are still declaring peace when there is no peace. Notice they heal the hurt of the people `slightly’. Can you think of one time the Lord Jesus performed a miracle of healing that was anything less than total? No. When Christ speaks peace there is reason for rejoicing. `My peace I leave you’. Why do people so gladly listen to a message of false peace? For the same reason people take pain medicine rather than undergo radical surgery. They want to just feel better rather than be put under the care of the Physician. Doctors who freely pass out anesthetics and placebos become popular and wealthy… but their patients die.