What the Bible says about light and seed

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.

The Good Seed and the Weeds “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Friday, July 7, 2017


 Reposted from Soteriology101 FB page

Let's look at the uses of the term "DEAD" in the scripture for you to decide:

1) Jesus called the church in Sardis "DEAD" and called them to wake up.

2) The Prodigal was "DEAD/lost" then "alive/found" demonstrating that the term "DEAD" is idiomatic for "separated by rebellion" not "innate moral inability"

3) “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:13-15‬ ‭
Are we born "DEAD" according to James? Or is DEATH birthed in those who sin after its full grown? 

4) “What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:7-11‬ ‭

Are we born "DEAD" according to Paul? Or was it through the commandment, after "sin sprang to life" that DEATH came?

5) “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1-3, 6‬ 

This passage says nothing about how or when they died, nor does it relate their condition to any type of innate moral inability. It does say God raised them up with Christ. Is this meant to represent the special inner work of regeneration which effectually causes them to believe after they are raised up? Let's observe what else Paul says about being raised up in Christ.
“In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which *you were also raised up with Him through faith* in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Col. 2:11-13).

They were raised up THROUGH FAITH, not unto faith according to Paul.
Calvinists have the burden to produce just one clear biblical example of the term "DEAD" meaning "the moral incapacity to respond willingly to God from birth."
The strongest rebuttal I've heard to this argument thus far is "Leighton, you just don't think dead means dead!"

In reality, I'm looking for the actual biblical meaning of this term while Calvinists seem to be presuming theirs.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

No Other Way - Pr. Ray Stedman

Reposted from Daily Devotions - raystedman.org
But this is to fulfill the scripture: He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me. I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, . . . whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me (John 13:18b-20).
The contrast here is between the knowledge of Jesus and the ignorant unbelief of Judas. Jesus knew from the Scriptures that one among those close to Him would betray Him, and He knew from the beginning which one it would be. But Judas didn't know that. Judas was ignorantly following the greed of his own heart, and he was resisting every effort Jesus made to reach him. Now he was on the verge of that final act of rejection that would plunge him over the precipice into utter and complete disaster.

In the next paragraph you see that described--how he took the sop from Jesus' hand, and that was the final chance he had. When he did, Satan entered into him, and Judas was no longer his own master. But Jesus indicates that He understands what will happen. He says, I'm telling you this before it happens, so when it does, you will know I am the one this Scripture describes. Judas, on the other hand, didn't know what was happening to him or how he had fallen into Satan's snare and now was at the brink of disaster. You can see how these two stand opposed one to another. Jesus sacrificed Himself in order to save His disciples; Judas sacrificed Jesus in order to save himself. Those two philosophies dominate the world today.

In this final appeal. Jesus is directing a word to the holders of these two basic attitudes, Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me. That is a word to us, that when someone comes to wash our feet, to help us with some problem of sin in our life, we are to remember that this person is sent by Jesus. Therefore, it is He who is offering to wash our feet. And we are not to resent this ministry from others. But we are to remember what Jesus says, He who receives any one whom I send, receives me.
Continue reading

Pastor Lauds Liberation Theology by Bashing Atonement

Reposted from juicyecumenism.com

The Middle East has always been an excellent place to examine the explosive relationship of competing political interests and religious identities. Specifically, it makes an excellent case study in examining how competing convictions influence or interfere with one’s interpretation of Scripture.

On April 21, 2017, Pastor Mitri Raheb, the Palestinian Senior Pastor of a Lutheran church in Bethlehem, spoke at St. Olaf College on the relationship between religion and politics in the Middle East. His comments indicate the growing danger of letting identity politics (manifest under the guise of liberation theology) determine one’s interpretation of Scripture.

During his talk, Raheb primarily focused on interpreting recent Israeli/Palestinian events and Bible passages through the Liberation Theology point of view. Liberation theology misconstrues Scripture and the surrounding world by emphasizing the pursuit of political ends and means to achieve complete social equity.

Contextualizing his lecture, Pastor Raheb began by comparing the Jewish government to Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian dictatorship in Iraq. He accused Israel of using religious texts to secure domestic sovereignty and feign legitimacy in the international community. He then proceeded to label fellow Christians as “Zionists” who were “sent” by the Jews to defend their state under the pretext of horrifically misguided eschatology while they callously ignore the plight of the Palestinian people.

Turning then to Scripture, Raheb offered his own interpretation of Jesus’ death on the cross (emphasis added):
“We have for too long tried to spiritualize the notion of liberation in the Bible. We’ve replaced liberation with salvation and the cross became nothing but atonement. I think we have to put the cross in its original context of political and religious violence…. The cross is a permanent reminder of the millions of people who are persecuted either by the state or by the religious establishment because they raise their prophetic critique to an unjust ruler or to a corrupt form of religion.”
It’s not often that a self-proclaimed Christian uses the phrase “nothing but atonement” with a pejorative connotation. Atonement by Jesus Christ was the single greatest act of self-sacrificial love the world has ever known. It satisfied around four thousand years of prophecy and a covenant made by the living infinite God who chose to make Himself known to a fallen, finite creation. Thinkers, writers, and philosophers alike have pontificated on atonement for hundreds of years. Jesus died a humiliating, excruciating death on the cross at the hands of both Jewish and Roman people because that was how it was prophesied in the Old Testament (e.g., Psalm 22:16-18, Isaiah 53).

Paul was very clear in Romans 6:3-7 when he stated that the cross was meant to liberate God’s people from the tyranny of sin and death. Or again in Romans 8:3, “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,” implying that the cross was the ultimate defeat of eternal slavery to sin.

Raheb concluded his defense of liberation theology by interpreting the Pentecost story in Acts 2 as a celebration of diversity because the disciples were able to speak in visitors’ native tongues. A simple glance over this passage shows that this assertion is simply not true. The disciples were given the ability to speak in many different languages (in the first case of multilingual evangelism) to the Jews who had not yet heard the good news. The Jewish people with their different languages and nationalities were united under their common ethnic and religious background. There is no normative indication anywhere in the passage that would indicate that “diversity is strength,” as Rahab argues.

I agree with Mitri Raheb’s approach to observe modern conflict in a political and religious light. One cannot and should not separate the two for fear of oversimplifying, misunderstanding, and misdiagnosing one of the longest running conflicts in human history. But Mr. Raheb’s identity politics and liberation theology have done just that.

Raheb wove an implicit line of logic throughout the whole lecture: because modern Jewish people are not the ancient Israelites of the Bible, they have no “spiritual” claim over contested Palestinian land. And since ancient Israel’s only purpose was to prepare for the Messiah, there is no need for a Jewish state anymore. Any argument to preserve a physical Jewish state would, therefore, be a Zionist misinterpretation of prophecy and an act of oppression to the Palestinian people.

Pastor Raheb has allowed his political identity as a Palestinian to precede and outweigh his identity as a Christian. This became evident in how he blatantly ignores huge portions of Scripture and facts to support his case for liberation theology.

I will not waste the readers’ time in recounting the “New Zionist” position, but rather direct them to a better defense of it than I could provide in this limited space (or a fascinating read if they so desire). Without dissecting the details, Israel, and more importantly, the Jewish people remain an integral part of God’s redeeming plan for the world, but without implying that the Lord is waiting on us to immanentize the eschaton.
Several facts stand in defiance of Pastor Raheb’s assertions. First, geneticists have revealed evidence that modern Jewish people are in fact descendants of the ancient Israelites of the Bible. Distinct Jewish people groups from all over the world share genetic legacy (not just cultural or religious identity) originating in the Middle East dating back 2,000 years.

And if one believes in the inerrancy and timelessness of Scripture, it would be hard to ignore the numerous passages that indicate that the second coming of Christ will involve a unified Jewish state (Zech. 12:5-9, Luke 13:34-35, and Romans 9 & 11 to name a few).

It is only through God’s outpouring and overflowing of grace onto the Jewish people that Gentiles are also given grace by extension (Romans 1:16). The same grace available to the Jews is available to the Palestinians. Yet Pastor Raheb seems to be so caught up in idolizing his own primary identity as a Palestinian that his view and reception of grace have been warped.

That is the greatest danger of identity politics. Though identities are personally meaningful and powerful in shaping worldviews, they are immaterial in the eternal light of salvation. Liberation theology, specifically, seeks to undermine salvation and spiritual needs by replacing them with material needs and social vendetta.

The relationship between religion and politics is a tangled one. It is often hard to define where one stops and the other starts (or whether the two ought to be mixed at all). But what is undeniable is that if you’re going to claim Christianity as your religion, it must be your first and most important identity. Any party identity, political belief, or doctrinal interpretation must always be filtered through the ultimate and omniscient authority found in the Holy Bible. There will never be a characteristic that can outshine the salvation bestowed by grace alone.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Peace of Mind in Perilous Times - Pete Garcia

Reposted from omegaletter.com 
Prophecy - Signs
Monday, September 15, 2014
Pete Garcia

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  ~ Isaiah 5:20

It used to be, that people didn’t need to lock their doors at night, or worry about someone stealing a bike from their front yard.  You didn’t use to need to worry about your kids walking to the store by themselves, or just being out all day playing until dinner time.  You didn’t need to worry about whether your government was spying on you.  You trusted the banks to do with your money, what they said they would.  If bad guys did bad things, they were caught and went to jail (and for a long time).  You had a national border that actually stopped, or at least, limited the amount of unknowns coming into your country.  At one point in your life, you had faith in the system. 

But what we’ve seen in the last 25 years in the United States, is a rapid and aggressive acceleration into a national decline in almost every sector.  We have effectively transitioned from a producer-nation, to a service based nation.  We have rapidly transitioned from a creditor nation, to a debtor nation.  We have justified to ourselves (vis-à-vis an ever rising debt ceiling), the current level of sky rocketing debt we currently find ourselves in.  Time honored cultural and religious institutions are being turned on their head.  Marriage is no longer just between a man and a woman.  Children don’t necessarily need to come from only two parents.   Science is quickly outpacing the ethical boundaries that prevent the abuse of those technologies. 

Globally…Ebola, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and a half dozen other diseases are but hairbreadth away from becoming pandemic.  Strange animal die-offs are occurring at alarming rates.  The radioactive fallout from Fukushima pollution of the Pacific has begun to change the face of life in the world’s largest ocean.  ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, and many other Islamic terror groups are rampaging across the 10/40 window, leaving a trail of carnage in their wake.  Crime and murder have all but seized our city centers, which in turn has driven the law abiding citizen, further and further out of it. 
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good  2 Timothy 3:1-3
The norms and basic civil decencies are being turned on their head.  Ethnic tensions are on the rise globally, but none so alarmingly as they are right here in the US, where black inner-city mobs ‘knocking-out’ or beating up non-black persons, is seemingly becoming common place.  The media are reluctant or outright afraid to call things what they are, and ‘hate crime’ is seemingly only reserved for those ‘dangerous’ Tea Party types.  Right is wrong, up is down, black is white, and evil is good…and it’s only getting worse.  Notice how the Apostle Paul’s words are ringing truer and truer by the day.  Things are not getting better, but are getting progressively worse.  And now that we find ourselves in these very times he spoke of, are we surprised that they are anything less than what the Bible said they would be? 

Not many years ago, it was really hard to find things to dig up to prove that we are in fact, in the last moments of the last days.  Such is not the case in 2014, where so much is happening, on so many fronts, that it makes your head hurt just thinking about it.  It would be really easy to get discouraged with all that’s transpired since 9/11/01 and conclude we must already be in the Tribulation in some form or fashion.  Maybe that is why positions like Pre-Wrath and Post-Tribulation positions seem to be growing at more rapid rates within Eschatological circles.  It is natural to assume, that when things take a turn for the worse, we must be in one or more of the judgments.  For instance…

The other day I was scanning the news when I came across an article talking about the pros and cons of the new RFID technology.  It had a long laundry list of potential benefits that it could have constructive impacts to many of the aforementioned problems we are currently experiencing in this nation.  For instance, it could help prevent crime, track predators, protect property, and prevent identity theft.  But at the end of the article, it asks the question of whether or not it’s ethical, and whether it has the potential for abuse.  I thought that was a rather silly question, considering all we know now about the abuses of government thus far, over privacy and what not.  But I liken it to the pre and post mindset people had before and after 9/11. 

Before 9/11, Americans would have never allowed the Patriot Acts to pass through the halls of Congress.  But afterwards, because of fear, it seemed like a very logical thing to do and it was pushed through at break-neck speed.  Now that it is in force, its tentacles of intrusion have only ever grown in its scope and depth as it reaches into the lives of average Americans.  All it took for the American people to hand over personal liberty was the right threat.  Each new potential threat is used to justify a continued and ever more pervasive reach into the lives of the public…and again, that too is by design. 

Fear drives our daily lives now.  Fear feeds into our belief systems, and into what we are willing to accept as normal.  Fear is ingratiating itself into our eschatology, which is why positions like Pre-Wrath and Post-Trib are on the rise in Evangelical churches.  Fear is an insatiable monster in and of itself, and it feeds on hope, and devours peace, crushes action, and delivers you into a cradle of bondage.

Being grounded in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture as THE Blessed Hope, is more than just lip service.  It is more than just head knowledge.  It’s more than just having the correct, chronological understand of end time’s events.  It was designed by God, to give us, a light of hope, in an increasingly darkened world.  Whether we want to accept it or not, we are that generation that will see the Lord return.  We are the generation with Israel back in her land.  We are the generation with Israel in control of Jerusalem.  We are the generation that has the technological and economic means to control all buying and selling in the world.  We are that generation that have all the signs converging at break neck speed.  And yes, doom and gloom is big business…just turn on your local or national news.  Fear sells, but we, are not called to live in a spirit of fear.  Peter says…
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 2 Peter 1:19
We are not only to have the proper understanding of Scripture, to include how things end (eschatology), but we are also supposed to apply that knowledge to our daily lives.  If you notice in the New Testament, almost every passage referencing the Lord’s coming at the Rapture, is preceded or surrounded by passages that promote holy living.  We are to live out our beliefs, by being grounded in the reality, that Christ will return, and that His return, will be before the world enters into that final seven years.   We are not called ‘overcomers’ for nothing…

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It’s knowing, believing, and sharing that belief through our word and deed that will draw people to Christ, because we have this hope, in an increasingly hopeless world.  We belong to Christ, Christ is in us, and we make up the body of Christ…and Christ is God.  If Christ existed before all things, and by all things were created through Him, and Christ conquered death and hell at the Cross…what have we to fear?  What is in this life that poses a greater threat than that?  Nothing.  We are not called to have a spirit of fear.  The Pre-Tribulation Rapture (or catching up) is just hope realized and codified in Scripture for our benefit.  It was God’s plan, hidden before the foundation of the world, revealed through Paul and John to us, that we should live boldly and confidently, in a world that is passing away. (Eph. 3:1-7; 1 Thess 4:13-5:9; 1 John 2:17)

A world passing away, is juxtaposed with the peace that passes understanding.  Yes, these are dark times, and they are growing darker by the day.  But the worse it gets, the closer it is to Christ’s return.  We simply need to keep all that in perspective. 

So beloved, don’t get sucked into false beliefs that promote fear, and rob you of hope.  Don’t be drawn to teachers that feed doom and gloom, and promote their own ministries or eschatological beliefs, over what Scripture actually teaches.  Don’t let their confusion over the Rapture, with the Second Coming, lead you down a path which has you prepping for Armageddon, when we are called to live boldly and confidently in this time so soon near our Lord’s coming.  (See Matt. 6:25-33
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory  2 Cor. 4:16-17

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Miss You - A Coffee Shop Interlude

Written and Published by Jean-Louis Mondon in 2014 
French original text " Tu me manques" 2007. Composed for my sweet wife and inspiration as my faithful traveling companion along life´s journey.


I miss you
As the poet without his muse
As the morning coffee without a croissant
As the Frutti without Tutti
Woudn´t that be something?

I miss you
As a forest without trees
As an orchard without bees
 As lips without kisses
As alas, my arms weary
of not embracing you

I miss you
As a station without a train
As a goodbye, see you again
Without tears, nor handkerchief
 To dry them out

I miss you
As in nostalgia
With no object nor subject
Without a sunset 
As a backdrop
For your gracious silhouette
Fading away stolen innocently
From the empty hope chest
In the attic of my head

I miss you
As a gentle zephyr
In the midst of a raging tempest
As a mute on a trumpet
Announcing a welcome lull

I miss you
As a snow storm without
Oat flakes on a flowered table cloth
Instead of a white grave sheet
For a lonely breakfast
Spent in chatting alone
with a bouquet of bright pansies
In a long monologue
Without a friendly echo sharing
The memories of yesteryear

I miss you
Without fear of being wrong
Without worry of emotions
Nor the need to learn
To understand each other
Without reason, nor questions
At the dawn of our home coming
Dreamed of in the eternal kingdom
Of never again. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What is so wise about a serpent?

Snakes lay low and blend into their environment.  They get the lay of the land, and figure out where their safety is.  They are extremely precise when they strike.  They wait until the optimum conditions are lined up, and time it just so. Serpents are wise enough to flee from danger.  Jesus said we are to be wise as serpents.

To be harmless as doves.  Harmless means honest, sincere, without guile.  Stick with truth, and don’t get drawn into debate.  Soar above the fray.

Be Sober: Serious, sedate, temperate and subdued, not excessively emotional, not extreme, or fanciful nor fearful.  Keep your “spiritual wits” about you.

Be vigilant: keep careful watch for potential danger and difficulty, watchful, awake, alert.
Walk circumspect: circum (around you) spect (mindful, thoughtful, attentive).  Don’t get so deep into anything to the exclusion of attentiveness to the bigger picture and what is going on around you.  Don’t let down your guard.

Those perilous times are upon us.  It is not just what we see happening on our streets, and in the news.  There is an intentional stirring up of  conflict and “precision strikes” being made upon our specific individual vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

It doesn’t get easier from here.  Hold on for dear life, trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in everything.  If you are a stay-at-home Mom, acknowledge Him in your mothering, your “mundane” tasks of laundry, dishes, refereeing, shuttling.  If you are a businessman, acknowledge Him in your business.  If you are disabled, acknowledge Him in what He has allowed because He is wise and has a purpose in it.  If you are struggling and feel powerless, know that He allows it for the purpose of helping you rely on Him.  We don’t do it on our own, we pretty much have to be forced a lot of the time.

If you are prone to depression, be proactive in counter-acting negative thoughts and replacing them with scripture and thankfulness.  If you are sick and the medical bills are piling up, you can still be thankful if you have insurance that pays some of it, or for friends who care, or for the fact you are not as sick as you could have been.

If you are a pastor discouraged in your ministry, you can still rejoice in your own salvation and the knowledge that our redemption is near.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness  ( both refer to sexual promiscuity) not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

This weekend in our family, there was a lot of strife, contention, emotion, a lot of misunderstanding.  Satan is really good at that, but we have to be mindful of the fact he is always right there ready to exploit every emotion and sore spot and weakness.  We are feeling the evil move in, making it personal.  We are seeing the evil day come to hand.  It is going to be important to call on the Lord at all times and in all things, and when we let our flesh get the better of us, to repent right away, and not let anything fester.  If we hurt or offend, we need to own up and apologize, make restitution where possible.

I imagine you have noticed the same thing in your own household, or work environment, or church, even.  We should not be surprised and we can’t afford to fall for it.  Our battle is not with flesh and blood.  Yet we very often take it out on flesh and blood, causing injury and offense.

It occurred to me that this time as we are at the final moments, is a lot like when a woman goes through pregnancy, which for many of us, is pretty miserable for nine months, and yet when the term is up, you then have to “walk through fire” of labor and delivery to be done with it. There is no other exit. Can’t turn around, can’t take a detour or easier option.  Many women have been known to say “I can’t do it” when the absolute fact is that she will, she must and therefore, she can, she just doesn’t “feel” like she can.  It can be grueling and we have to accept that and prepare as best we can, and place our trust in what we have learned and done, and in the people alongside us who are there to help us get through it.  Don’t trust your feelings.  Don’t trust your doubts.  Don’t trust even necessarily your own eyes.  This is peak deception time.

I personally have many moments when I feel like I can’t face or endure something to get to the other side of this, to redemption, to release.  But now is not a time for giving up. See it through, faithful to the end, not perfect, not sinless, but repentant, humble, determined, leaning on the Lord, pressing into Him, knowing He is the stronger one in the yoke, and will not let us stumble and fall, but will enable us to go on as long as we are willing and as long as we desire to be obedient and to serve Him in whatever our situation or circumstances are.

It is like that time on the airplane when there is an emergency situation, and we are supposed to help the children and elderly and otherwise helpless, but we only can do that if we put on our own oxygen mask first. There comes a time when it is the real deal, that the flight attendants must necessarily cease to assist others and strap themselves in.
It is not selfishness, it is a matter of navigating the turbulence we are now firmly in the midst of. It is a time to keep short accounts and encourage others. It’s the last hour of the night shift when many are just waking up, while some of us have “labored through the night”.  
Those are our reinforcements, no our replacements.  All leave cancelled for the foreseeable future!

Remain vigilant with intense, unfaltering, wary watchfulness with an attitude of submission to the Holy Spirit to avoid unnecessary frictions, distractions, and sins.

Pray, pray pray.  If you don’t have a huge repertoire of scripture memorized, write them on cards and plaster them all through your house or work station, or carry in your pocket and refer to them often.

That old serpent, Satan, is a clever one.  He outsmarts us a lot of the time.  But when he comes around accusing, harassing, stirring up trouble, we can remind him of Revelation 20, verses 2-3 and 10.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.“And  the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
This is the hard part. But it will all be over soon.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ironside: What Does it Mean to Repent and Be Saved?


By Dr. Harry Ironside (From his book, Except Ye Repent)
More and more it becomes evident that ours is, as once expressed, an “age of sham.” Unreality and specious pretense abound in all departments of life. In the domestic, commercial, social, and ecclesiastical spheres hypocrisy is not only openly condoned, but recognized as almost a necessity for advancement and success in attaining recognition among one’s fellows.

Nor is this true only where heterodox religious views are held. Orthodoxy has its shallow dogmatists who are ready to battle savagely for sound doctrine, but who manage to ignore sound living with little or no apparent compunction of conscience.

God desires truth in the inward parts. The blessed man is still the one “in whose spirit there is no guile.” It is forever true that “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” It can never be out of place to proclaim salvation by free, unmerited favor to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it needs ever to be insisted on that the faith that justifies is not a mere intellectual process — not simply crediting certain historical facts or doctrinal statements; but it is a faith that springs from a divinely wrought conviction of sin which produces a repentance that is sincere and genuine. Our Lord’s solemn words, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” are as important today as when first uttered.

No sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor were any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” “I came not,” said our blessed Lord, “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

One great trouble in this shallow age is that we have lost the meaning of words. We bandy them about until one can seldom be certain just how terms are being used. Two ministers were passing an open grocery and dairy store where, in three large baskets, eggs were displayed. On one basket was a sign reading, “Fresh eggs, 24 cents a dozen.” The second sign read, “Strictly fresh eggs, 29 cents a dozen.” While a third read, “Guaranteed strictly fresh eggs, 34 cents a dozen.” One of the pastors exclaimed in amazement, “What does that grocer understand ‘fresh’ to mean?” It is thus with many Scriptural terms that
to our forefathers had an unvarying meaning, but like debased coins have today lost their values.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate and, thus, of his need of grace. Yet there are not wanting professed preachers of grace who, like the antinomians of old, decry the necessity of repentance lest it seem to invalidate the freedom of grace. As well might one object to a man’s acknowledgment of illness when seeking help and healing from a physician, on the ground that all he needed was a doctor’s prescription.

Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on “all men everywhere to repent,” results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that “faith without works is dead”; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God.

We need to reread James 3 and let its serious message sink deep into our hearts, that it may control our lives. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” No man can truly believe in Christ, who does not first repent. Nor will his repentance end when he has saving faith, but the more he knows God as he goes on through the years, the deeper will that repentance become. A servant of Christ said: “I repented before I knew the meaning of the word. I have repented far more since than I did then.”

Undoubtedly one great reason why some earnest Gospel preachers are almost afraid of, and generally ignore, the terms “repent” and “repentance” in their evangelizing is that they fear lest their hearers misunderstand these terms and think of them as implying something meritorious on the part of the sinner.

But nothing could be wider of the mark. There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing. But in order to clarify the subject, it may be well to observe carefully what repentance is not and then to notice briefly what it is.

First, then, repentance is not to be confounded with penitence, though penitence will invariably enter into it. But penitence is simply sorrow for sin. No amount of penitence can fit a man for salvation. On the other hand, the impenitent will never come to God seeking His grace. But godly sorrow, we are told, worketh repentance not to be repented of. There is a sorrow for sin that has no element of piety in it— “the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In Peter’s penitence, we see the former; in the remorse of Judas, the latter. Nowhere is man exhorted to feel a certain amount of sorrow for his sins in order to come to Christ. When the Spirit of God applies the truth, penitence is the immediate result and this leads on to repentance, but should not be confounded with it. This is a divine work in the soul.

Second, penance is not repentance. Penance is the effort in some way to atone for wrong done. This, man can never do. Nor does God in His Word lay it down as a condition of salvation that one first seek to make up to either God or his fellows for evil committed. Here the Roman Catholic translation of the Bible perpetrates a glaring deception upon those who accept it as almost an inspired version because bearing the imprimatur of the great Catholic dignitaries. Wherever the [King James version] has “repent,” the Douay-Rheims translation reads, “Do penance.” There is no excuse for such a paraphrase. It is not a translation. It is the substituting of a Romish dogma for the plain command of God. John the Baptist did not cry, “Do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Our Lord Jesus did not say, “Do penance and believe the gospel,” and, “Except ye do penance ye shall all likewise perish.” 

The apostle Peter did not tell the anxious multitude at Pentecost to “Do penance and be converted.” Paul did not announce to the men at Athens that “God commandeth all men everywhere to do penance” in view of a coming judgment day. No respectable Greek scholar would ever think of so translating the original in these and many other instances.
On the contrary, the call was to repent; and between repenting and doing penance, there is a vast difference. But even so, we would not forget that he who truly repents will surely seek to make right any wrong he has done to his fellows, though he knows he never can make up for the wrong done to God. But this is where Christ’s expiatory work comes in. As the great Trespass Offering, He could say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Psalm 69). Think not to add penance to this—as though His work were incomplete and something else were needed to satisfy God’s infinite justice.

In the third place, let us remember that reformation is not repentance, however closely allied to, or springing out of it. To turn over a new leaf, to attempt to supplant bad habits with good ones, to try to live well instead of evilly, may not be the outcome of repentance at all and should never be confounded with it. Reformation is merely an outward change. Repentance is a work of God in the soul.

Recently, it was the writer’s privilege to broadcast a Gospel message from a large Cleveland station. While he was waiting in the studio for the time appointed, an advertiser’s voice was heard through the loud speaker announcing: “If you need anything in watch repairing go to” such a firm. One of the employees looked up and exclaimed, “I need no watch repairing; what I need is a watch.” It furnished me with an excellent text. What the unsaved man needs is not a repairing of his life. He needs a new life altogether, which comes only through a second birth. Reformation is like watch repairing. Repentance is like the recognition of the lack of a watch.

Need I add that repentance then is not to be considered synonymous with joining a church or taking up one’s religious duties, as people say. It is not doing anything.
What then is repentance? So far as possible I desire to avoid the use of all abstruse or pedantic terms, for I am writing not simply for scholars, but for those Lincoln had in mind when he said, “God must have thought a lot of the common people, for He made so many of them.” Therefore, I wish, so far as possible, to avoid citing Greek or Hebrew words. But here it seems almost necessary to say that it is the Greek word metanoia, which is translated “repentance” in our English Bibles, and literally means a change of mind. This is not simply the acceptance of new ideas in place of old notions. But it actually implies a complete reversal of one’s inward attitude.

How luminously clear this makes the whole question before us! To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. And this is what God commands. John came preaching to publicans and sinners, hopelessly vile and depraved, “Change your attitude, for the kingdom is at hand.” To haughty scribes and legalistic Pharisees came the same command, “Change your attitude,” and thus they would be ready to receive Him who came in grace to save. To sinners everywhere the Savior cried, “Except ye change your attitude, ye shall all likewise perish.”

And everywhere the apostles went they called upon men thus to face their sins—to face the question of their helplessness, yet their responsibility to God—to face Christ as the one, all-sufficient Savior, and thus by trusting Him to obtain remission of sins and justification from all things.

So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejector realizes and owns his need of a Redeemer, and so believes unto life and salvation.

Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture, we read, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Yet, we find true believers exhorted to “repent, and do the first works.” So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before
God. And this is repentance.

Perhaps it will help us if we see that it is one thing to believe God as to my sinfulness and need of a Savior, and it is another thing to trust that Savior implicitly for my own salvation.
Apart from the first aspect of faith, there can be no true repentance. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” And apart from such repentance there can be no saving faith. Yet the deeper my realization of the grace of God manifested toward me in Christ, the more intense will my repentance become.
It was when Mephibosheth realized the kindness of God as shown by David that he cried out, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Samuel 9:8). And it is the soul’s apprehension of grace which leads to ever lower thoughts of self and higher thoughts of Christ; and so the work of repentance is deepened daily in the believer’s heart.
“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.”

The very first evidence of awakening grace is dissatisfaction with one’s self and self-effort and a longing for deliverance from chains of sin that have bound the soul. To own frankly that I am lost and guilty is the prelude to life and peace. It is not a question of a certain depth of grief and sorrow, but simply the recognition and acknowledgment of need that leads one to turn to Christ for refuge. None can perish who put their trust in Him. His grace superabounds above all our sin, and His expiatory work on the cross is so infinitely precious to God that it fully meets all our uncleanness and guilt.”

(Dr. Harry Ironside’s writings are in the public domain. You may read more articles by him at: www.harryironside.com).
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