Category Archives: Body of Christ

A Complete Revelation

Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Revelation 22:21

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Here are the first and last verses of the Bible, the literary alpha and omega of the written Word of God. There is a lot of ground covered between these two verses: some historical, some poetic, some prophetic and some advisory. But what ties it all together is that the Scriptures reveal to us God’s plan to redeem us and save us from the fall into sin that happened in the Garden. The heart of the entire Bible is our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the blood-bought salvation that He offers to us all.

I hear people frequently questioning how the canon of Scripture was agreed upon; some argue the process was arbitrary and some argue that some writings were not included that should have been. I don’t plan on recounting that continual debate. I boil it down to this: God was certainly in charge of the councils that set the canon of Scripture through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 is everything that we need to know and understand about God and our relationship to Him through Jesus Christ.

Some ask why the Bible stops where it does, and my answer is that it is complete as is. The Bible starts with the most basic of information – that God created the universe and us – and ends with the arrival of the New Jerusalem and the beginning of God’s eternal reign among us. In between everything we need to know is revealed and the benchmark for spiritual truth is set. So in a sense, Scripture is a progressive revelation, from the general to the very precise, exactly as God wanted it to be.

But there are many people out there who try to claim the Scriptures are just the beginning and that the revelation should continue, and this is a very false notion. From the gnostics of the First Century to modern cults such as the Church of Almighty God/Eastern Lightning, many have presented their literature as the Word of God in support of their false teachings; the Quran of Islam is presented as further revelation from God despite the fact that it strays from Biblical truth. Be sure that once John wrote down the Revelation he received on the isle of Patmos near the end of the First Century the message that God wanted us to receive was complete. No further additions were needed; as they say in court, God rested His case and nothing further was necessary.

I will never try to claim that all that has been written in the last 2,000 years is of no value; quite the opposite is true. Starting at the end of the Apostolic Age and continuing into our day, many people have written many valuable things as the Spirit led them, and many Christians through the centuries have found comfort and inspiration in the writings of those who have gone before us or who still write. I have found much of great value in the writings of Christians from Ignatius of Antioch to Augustine, to Teresa of Avila, to the Reformers, through John Bunyan to Charles Spurgeon, C. S. Lewis, Walter Martin, Charles Stanley and John Piper… I could go on but I’m sure you get my point.

But should the writings of even the most inspired Christians be seen as of the same staure as Scripture? No, they should not. Scripture is Scripture and it stands complete. But all the Christian literature of the last 20 centuries should be valued by it’s truthfulness when compared to Scripture, and this is where we as believers and readers need to exercise discernment. Paul said to test everything and I take that to heart; everything I read I weigh against the truth of Scripture. Does that mean I throw out everything that is not 100% in line with the Bible? No, for if I did I would be left with only cereal boxes to read. I have found much that inspires me and encourages me in writers from many different groups, but I do stay away from the works of those who deny the divine nature of Christ or who teach “a different Jesus”.

So when you run across someone trying to tell you that the writings of their group’s founders are further revelation from God on a par with Scripture, or worse, intended to replace the teachings of Scripture, don’t be deceived. Everything we need to know about God and our salvation lies between Genesis and Revelation, and if nothing else in 2,000 years had been written, we would still have everything we need on those pages.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Jesus Came to Save Sinners

1st Timothy 1:15

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”

In this verse Paul cut to the core of why Jesus set heaven aside and came among us – to save sinful men and women. Period. He came among us and died on the cross to gather those to Himself those who would follow Him in faith and be His for eternity. He did not come to found a new religion, although that happened. He did not come to start some great social services program, although through the centuries much good has been done in that area. He did not come to establish a human-run theocracy, though many through the centuries have tried to do just that; contrary to the popular misconception, the Kingdom will not become a reality until Jesus returns in power and glory to establish His throne in our midst. No, Jesus came down to earth for one purpose: to pay for our sins by dying on the cross, to redeem us so that through Him we can have eternal life. Period.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The True Streets of Gold

Revelation 21:2, 21

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband… The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.”

I would imagine that most of us grew up hearing about the “pearly gates of heaven” and the “streets of gold”, but how accurate is that? Where did that notion begin? There is only one place in Scripture where it talks of “pearly gates” and golden streets, and that is in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation, verse 21. But read the entire chapter and you’ll see that verse 21 is not describing heaven, but the New Jerusalem, the city of God which will descend from heaven to the earth where it will be the abode of God forever, dwelling among humanity. A great bulk of chapter 21 describes the New Jerusalem and conditions therein, not heaven.

So when you hear someone saying that heaven has streets of gold and pearly gates, remember that it is one more false tradition derived from Scripture. As believers we will indeed enter those gates fashioned out of pearls and walk on that golden street, but they will be a part of the most mind-boggling structure in the universe, the New Jerusalem, once our blessed eternity with God Almighty begins.

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Resurrection Makes All the Difference

Matthew 28:5-6

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.'”

Herein lies one of the biggest factors that set the Christian faith apart from every other belief system that has ever been started. Not only is our Savior God among us, the Holy Lamb who paid for our sins, but He proved that fact by the greatest miracle He ever worked: He rose from the dead just as prophesied. No one else can lay claim to that. All other great “religious figures” are still dead. Moses still lies in his unmarked grave. Buddha and Confucious are still dead. All the Brahmins who defined the theology of Hinduism, still dead. Zoroaster, Plato and Aristotle are still dead. Muhammad is still dead awaiting judgement. Only Jesus Christ rose from the grave, and that carries a lot of weight with me. All the rest were just mortal men who had ideas that people accepted and followed, but that is it. Only Jesus lives as proof of His being our Lord and Savior. Only Jesus will return in power and glory to rule over the remnant of humanity. Only Jesus is worthy of our adoration and worship. And the risen Jesus is the only one I will ever follow. What about you?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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R. C. Sproul on the Three Main Types of Christian Legalism

This is a very interesting, and enlightening, blog post from 2016 written by the late theologian and apologist R. C. Sproul and published on the website for Ligonier Ministries…well worth reading by all professing Christians…

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/3-types-legalism/

 

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The Coming War Against the Saints

Matthew 5:10-12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Persecution, even to the death, is nothing new to those professing the Christian faith; the first widespread persecution occured in Jerusalem and was recorded in Acts 8:1-3. Persecution has followed the Body of Christ around the world, coming and going in waves through the centuries, leaving trails of blood-stained ground and ashes in its wake. Persecution of Christians is still alive and well today in many places around the world, not just the Middle East. Red China has persecuted Christians diligently for decades; a growing number of states in India have passed laws outlawing evangelizing; California has been trying to pass a law banning the Bible; the homosexual community has targeted Christian business owners such as bakers. But what we have been seeing today is just the beginning of a much worse persecution to come prophesied in Revelation 12:17 and usually referred to as the War Against the Saints. Anti-Christian rhetoric is on the rise; churches have been burned. If you, as a Bible-believing Christian, start visibly standing against the rising tide of wickedness and depravity in the modern, increasingly secular world, you’ll get labelled a bigot, intolerant, hateful… While the outright killing of believers is still largely outside of the Western democracies, the attitude of hate and enmity towards us grows more prevalent; popular talk show hosts refer to faith as a mental illness, and in the wake of the uproar concerning comments made over the illegal immigration into America I’ve read comments suggesting that “these Christians” should be put in our place “once and for all.” It is coming and many will fall; few will escape unscathed. What can we do? Pray, get grounded in the Word, live in submission to our Savior. Jesus told us in Matthew 10:23 that when we are persecuted in one place we should flee to another (as opposed to provoking martyrdom) and that is of course sound advice. But we still cannot quiet our voices in opposition to evil. The early Christian writer Tertullian once famously declared that “the blood of the martyrs is seed”, and succeeding history has proved him right on at least that point; many cases from the apostolic age to the present have recorded the persecutors coming to faith and becoming Christians through seeing how Christians bore up under torture and death. So we should continue speaking the truth from the Scriptures and confronting evil, flee persecution when possible, and face the worst with all the dignity and courage that the Holy Spirit gives us. And never lose sight of the promise of God to resurrect us to eternal life reigning with Christ, for this life is but a shadow that flits across the earth compared to an eternity with our Lord.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Agree to Disagree

2nd Timothy 4:2

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”

Titus 3:9-10

“But avoid foolish controversies and geneologies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.”

I am fairly active online and a member of several Christian groups here on Facebook, and I see a deep rooted problem that has plagued the Christian faith practially since the age of the apostles: the tendency for people to lose their heads when debating Scripture and allow themselves to get drawn into angry, even hateful arguments over often small points of doctrine. Discussing the Word of God in an intelligent and even spirited manner is a very positive thing; through meaningful debate we are exposed to other viewpoints, other interpretations, and through that exposure we can come to a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and what the Christian life should look like. But being flawed, mortal, sinful humans it can be so easy to lose sight of Paul’s exhortations to rebuke gently, even Jesus’ instructions to love each other. It’s easy for us to read accounts of the hateful rhetoric and anathemas and excommunications of the early church during it’s struggles with various heretical groups and say, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t act harshly like that!”, but then turn around and get drawn into an argument with someone and start hurling vile invective and condemnation at each other. I have seen arguments online that were every bit as hateful as the Thirty Year War between Catholic and Protestant that devastated central Europe. It’s not supposed to be this way! Where is the patience and love? Where in Paul’s letter to Titus are we told to scream at each other, let alone burn each other at the stake? Every time that professing Christians argue and berate and insult each other over points of doctrine, over “quarrels about the law”, over what a particular word means or when to calculate a date, there is a dying world filled with people in desperate need of Jesus Christ who watch the semantic bloodletting and think to themselves, “Yeah, they really live the love Jesus preached” and walk away determined to want no part of the Christian faith. Only God knows how many people die every day to face judgement without the Savior because we have not followed Paul’s example. My old mentor, the late Walter Martin, had a saying that he used daily on the radio: “We should agree to disagree.” He never advocated settling for weak doctrine, quite the opposite, but he always exhorted people to disagree without hate or attitudes of smug superiority. We won’t all agree on everything, and I would never say we should welcome the yeast of blatant heresy into the Body of Christ. But I will say that when we find someone we don’t agree with or who uses a different ritual at church we should not sling virtual anathemas and hateful rhetoric around, for when we do Satan laughs at us and knows that he has gained the upper hand over us by damaging our testimony to the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be gentle, patient and loving, my friends, even when you don’t want to.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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