Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Could the Apostasy be Upon Us?

I recently came across an interesting article written by Steve Gallagher in the Spring 2008 issue of Unchained! Magazine. Mr. Gallagher is the founder of Pure Life Ministries and a good writer; I’ve read several of his articles and ordered three of his books as part of my Christmas present to myself, they are now in a stack with five other “to read” books on my shelf.

The article is called, Could the Apostasy be Upon Us?, and was inspired by the movie, Time Changer, starring D. David Morin, Gavin MacLeod and Hal Linden. Here is part of that article:

“The storyline occurs in 1890 and revolves around Bible professor Russell Carlisle, who is unwittingly transported by a time machine into modern-day America. For five days, he finds himself trapped in a wicked world to which you and I have become shamefully accustomed.”

“At one point, he is seen watching television. His horrified expression betrays the fact that he is witnessing the kind of blatant immorality which has become standard fare for many of us. But perhaps the most poignant scene occurs when he is invited by some Christians to attend a movie with them. Suddenly, he is shown running out of the theater screaming at the employees, ‘You have to stop this movie! That actor took the Lord’s name in vain! He blasphemed God!’

“If you or I witnessed a fellow believer acting this way, we would quickly distance ourselves from him. And yet this scenario provokes a few pointed questions Christians should ask themselves. Why aren’t we more outraged when we hear actors take the Lord’s name in vain? How can we look upon scantily-clad girls on television without blushing? Why do we permit TV to indoctrinate our children with the world’s values? The Church is obviously backslidden. The greater question it provokes is: Could we be in the Great Apostasy and not be aware of it?”

“After having spent the last two years studying this subject in Scripture, I was forced to acknowledge that two of my long-held assumptions regarding it have been wrong.

“First, I came to realize that this falling away would not primarily be an obvious, outward renunciation of Christianity; it would be much more an issue of what is occurring in people’s hearts (e.g., Matt. 24:12).

“My second erroneous notion was that the greatest problem in the Church today is that pastors are too busy to effectively disciple their flocks. I thought the sin and carnality running rampant in our midst was the result of harried pastors not holding churchgoers accountable to actually live what they are learning. I now believe that the larger issue is that pastors are burning themselves out trying to lead unconverted people into living the Christian life.

“In the end, I arrived at the devastating conclusion that a large segment of the Post-Modern Church—that which has been the subject of our love and efforts—fits all the criteria predicted by Scripture of the Apostate Church. This issue of Unchained! Magazine will highlight a handful of those characteristics.”

I must say, “Amen to that, brother!” I agree with him wholeheartedly; I’ll even add that I believe that a lot (most?) people who call themselves Christian have no idea what that really means. I know non-Christians are clueless about Christianity, just ask one sometime.

I’ll repeat something here that I’ve said for several years now, America is NOT a Christian country; it started out that way, but went off track years ago. Would a Christian nation murder 1.5 million babies every year? Would a Christian nation openly embrace and accept homosexuals and their lifestyle? Would a Christian nation allow all the R- and X-rated movies and shows, and allow all the porn and smut that we have?

No, this country is not Christian and it has no desire to be. I’ve not studied the Great Apostasy as deeply as Mr. Gallagher so I can’t say we are fulfilling that prophecy right now, but I won’t disagree and say we aren’t. Either way, America is in trouble spiritually and morally, and the church in American is in the same boat.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Learning from Noah’s Flood

We can learn a lot from the way God dealt with Noah and the people on earth just prior to the flood. God illustrated four points of emphasis for us in the story of Noah’s Flood:

•God allows man to exercise his free will
•Man’s free will leads him to sin against God
•God must step in to punish/save man
•God then sets man on the right course again

Noah’s flood is a perfect example of how God provides a “lifeboat” to save man from his sin. God allows man to travel on his own course only so far, then He steps in with an ultimatum: straighten up or pay the price! God allowed man to live in sin for about 1600 years before He had enough of man’s ways; God brought Noah into the ark and caused the great flood to wipe evil off the face of the earth. The flood is a foreshadow of what is to come in the last days when the righteous and the ungodly are separated, with the righteous going to be with God in salvation and the ungodly going to their final place in hell.

God always provides a way out! The righteous will be saved from the wrath to come. But man is free to choose the course he wants to take and God will not force any decision upon him; the ones who drowned were free to repent and get into the ark with Noah. The apostle Peter called Noah “a preacher of righteousness,” so obviously he tried to convince others of their sinful ways, yet no one listened.

Today, Jesus is the “ark” in which we are called to get on board in order to bypass the terrible wrath to come. God is fed up with the sin of man and is soon to evoke punishment again; but as before, He has provided a way out for anyone who will only choose that way. Jesus is our “preacher of righteousness” today, calling all to salvation though His mercy and grace.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Can a Christian be a Democrat?

I want to make two things clear right from the start: first, I know that no one is perfect or sin free, I am not claiming that I am, nor even close to being, a sinless person. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV), “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”; so if he was the chief sinner, then I must be the Master of the Universe sinner.

Second, I am not passing judgment on anyone. That’s God’s job when it comes to a person’s relationship with Him. I can though, look at a person’s actions and judge whether those actions are in line with the Word of God or not. Some Christians do wrong out of ignorance, others because they rationalize the sin away, but the fact remains that a Christian does not always do what the Word says to do; mistakes and regrets are plentiful in every Christian’s life, so I write with those thoughts in mind.

Now, back to the point at hand, can a Christian be a democrat and/or, in good conscious, vote for a democratic Politician? Before I give my though on this, I’ll state one more caveat—when I use the word “Christian”, I’m thinking of a person who is “born-again” and has a relationship with Jesus Christ that is beyond the I-attend-church-3-times-a-year person, or the I-believe-there-is-a-god-and-I’m-not-a-Muslim-so-I-must-be-a-Christian person. I’m taking about the person who knows that they are a sinner deserving to go to hell, but is saved from that fate because of what Jesus did by dying on the cross in order to pay the penalty that was owed for their sin, and that He rose from the grave so that they too can rise up and be with God for eternity.

Okay, now back to the point; the big, general answer is that no, a true Christian cannot be a democrat nor can they vote for one. Today’s Democratic Party is morally evil, plain and simple. Click on these two links to see what the Democratic Party’s platform is, what they stand for and behind: here and here.

How can a true Christian support abortion? This is the most evil act a person can commit! To intentionally and horrifically murder a totally innocent, unborn child is just beyond my comprehension. There is no reason for it at all! The Democratic Party is proud of these numbers: “In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred.”

A lot of people will say, “I agree with you, but what about rape and incest?” Well, let me ask this, what part of the rape or incest did the child take part in? Why do you want to execute the innocent child for what its father did? What does God say? (A small sampling from the Word)

Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.

Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder.

Deuteronomy 27:25a Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person.

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: …hands that shed innocent blood…

Jeremiah 1:4-5 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations".

How can a true Christian support homosexuality? God clearly is against this lifestyle, yet the Democrats are attacking anyone who does not support it. The “tolerant” party is not so tolerant of the beliefs of Christians.

1 Timothy 1:9-11 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, … for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, … and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

How can a true Christian support the party that took God, prayer and the Bible out of public schools and other government institutions? How about the art shows that are receiving federal grant money? They are so perverse it’s sickening. Yet the Democrats love it!

No, a true Christian would never belong to the Democratic Party, or ever vote for a politician of that party. The evils of abortion and homosexuality trumps any good that might come out of that group.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gospel Presentation

To know who Jesus is and to understand what and why He did what He did, I have to go back to the beginning. God created all there is, including the earth and everything on it. God made mankind to be perfect in every way and to have fellowship with Him. God didn’t want little robots running around, so He gave people a free will, the ability to make decisions, good or bad, so that they could decide for themselves if they wanted to be God’s friend and follower.

Adam and Eve were the first two people, God created them with His own hands; but before they had any children, they chose to disobey God, to use their free will to commit sin, by doing the one thing God told them not to do—eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they disobeyed God, a sin nature was developed in them, and that sin nature was passed down from parent to child until this day. Sin means “missing the mark”; it’s both the actual act of disobeying God (such as stealing, lying, murder, etc) and the result of that disobedience.

Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Even though humans sinned and caused a separation between themselves and God, God still wanted that companionship He established in the beginning. But by being a Holy God, by His very nature, He is unable to even being the presence of sin. Think of the nastiest, most disgusting place you can think of, multiply that times a million and that’s not even close to what God thinks of sin.

But, because He loves us so much, He came up with a way for us to come to Him and reclaim that fellowship. He needed someone to pay the penalty for our sin. We couldn’t do it because we have committed sin and are an unclean payment. God says that the penalty of sin is death, and that the only payment He will accept is blood, but not just any blood, clean, holy blood, to wash away the sin of the world.

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is where Jesus comes in. God is a Triune Being, He is one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Son, Jesus, left His heavenly home, took on human flesh, and was born to a virgin, Mary. He grew up as a normal child and became a man but with two exceptions: He was fully God and fully man at the same time, and He never sinned! Although He was tempted to sin just as we all are, not once did He submit to any temptation, thereby becoming the perfect sacrifice for our sin. God accepted Jesus as a substitute for all of us.

2 Corinthians 5:15 - And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

God will now let us into His heavenly home, to live with Him for all eternity, if all we do is simply believe in Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, that He lived a totally sinless life, that He died and shed His holy blood in our place, that He arose from the dead 3 days after His crucifixion and that He then ascended back to heaven to become our mediator before God the Father. If we ask God, our sin will be covered by Jesus’ blood! We will be redeemed and seen as holy if only we truly believe.

Romans 10:9-11 - That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame'.

John 3:3 - In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again'.

Being “born again” is what happens when one believes in what the Bible says about Jesus and agrees to make Him their Savior and Master.

John 14:6 - Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Studying the Bible

Last night, my pastor and I started an adult Bible study with other members of the church I attend; a small group of others were there, and we met at one of the member's house. It was the first meeting, so a lot of time was taken up with introductions and getting to know each other better.

I've been attending this church now for about 3 months and find it a nice place to be. It's small with only about 40 adult regulars, although there's been maybe 60 adults several times. I'm not the kind of person who just sits in the pew and is passive when it comes to church activity; I told told the pastor that I liked to teach and asked that if, after we got to know each other, I could lead a Bible study; so here we are and the first class has happened.

The pastor asked me what I wanted to teach to start with, and immediately I said, "How to study the Bible". I've taught adult Sunday School and classes for many years and more than once, I've been asked to teach a "How to study the Bible" class. Once I even asked the pastor of a large 4000+ member church I attended to let me do this (because of a request) and he said "No, all teachers must follow the same curriculum".

(I think that a lot of the large churches forget why they are even there, they lose touch with the spiritual people's needs and solely concentrate on the "numbers game", getting more and more people to show up on Sundays. Basketball, camping trips, the choir, etc. have replaced Bible study and helping people grow in Christ.)

So now, in this smaller church (which I prefer), I'm finally getting a chance to do this. Most every person at the class last night said two things: "I've been a Christian for a long time" and "I'm here because I don't know how to study what the Bible says". I've found this in a lot of churches over the years. As I told everyone, reading the Bible is different than studying the Bible.

The Bible is our primary source for discovering who God is and what He expects from us. If we can't correctly understand what His Word says, how can we ever move from milk to meat? Not everyone can go to Bible college, so it's the church's responsibility to teach its member to study the Word.

I'm excited about this class and expect good things to happen because of it. I thank the pastor for this opportunity and, as always, to God be the glory.