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Tag: soteriology

Only one will not do…How many have you?

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Today, February 9th, is the birthday of notable historical figures such as the 9th President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, and the 18th century philosopher and political agitator – not to mention inveterate infidel – Thomas Paine. Contemporary figures such as Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, the diminutive actor Joe Pesci, and the actress Mia Farrow were also born on this date. More pertinent to my situation: 38 years ago today I was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA. This birth was somewhat surprising because I arrived 3 months early (I’ve always been partial to dramatic entrances!) The local doctors looked at this scrawny baby who weighed a mere 2 pounds 7 ounces and opined that I only had a 30% chance of surviving. Happily, there is a God who rules over all and determines the times appointed for men. Thus, in His sovereign mercy He spared my life.
A Mother’s Faith & A Faithful God
Although premature and suffering from cerebral palsy – which would go undiagnosed until I was nearly two – I enjoyed many blessings. My chief advantage was to be born into a household where the parents were devout Christians who had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and knew the value of intercessory prayer. Anyone who has met my parents knows that my father is louder, larger, and much more forceful than my mother. Nonetheless, in the early moments of my life it was my faithful Christian mother who offered a “Hannah prayer” to the Lord. Those unfamiliar with this great woman of faith, Hannah, can consult 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2. Hannah prayed that the Lord would give her a son so that she could give him back to the Almighty for His service. Similarly, my mother said, “Lord if you spare the boy’s life, I’ll give him back to You for Your work”. I did not learn of this prayer for many years. It was only after I began preaching and teaching from the Word of God that she told me of her “bargain” with the Lord. In His grace, He honored that prayer and I have now been preaching His Word for over 20 years, spending nearly 12 of those in full time service for His glory.
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The Death Of A Son

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32
The well-known boxing promoter Bob Arum recently lost his son, John, in a climbing accident on Storm King Mountain in Washington state. Although his public persona normally exudes the bravado associated with the boxing world, Arum’s feelings were poignantly revealed to the New York Times interviewer by this statement: “When you lose a child, I don’t care what anybody tells you, you lose part of yourself…It does not get easier over time.”
His words express just a small portion of the tremendous sorrow of a parent losing a beloved child. Mr. Arum was close to his son. They shared a common profession as lawyers, and loved to fish and watch the New York Giants football team. Like his father, John was a driven person, passionate about certain causes such as environmentalism. In keeping with his love of nature, he was an ardent mountaineer, but this dangerous hobby led to his death. His father disliked this arduous form of recreation, always dreading the day when he would hear of a fall. The reporter continues the tale: “Shortly after John Arum’s death, Bob Arum vented to his family, asked the questions everybody asks. How could he have done this? Put himself in that position?
To which Richard told his father: ‘Because he’s just like you.’” The same drive that made him a success in professional life also impelled him to brave great dangers in following his interests.
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Guest post: Repentance – By: Jim McKendrick

“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”Acts 20:21

The gospel is the heart of the Christian message. Without the gospel Christianity has nothing of value to offer this world. The world can attain a certain degree of health, education and welfare but only the gospel offers true hope beyond this world and changes people so they can be a help to others in this world. If we get the gospel wrong we have no real message. Paul would take this further by saying if we get this message wrong then we are accursed (Gal. 1:8.) He told the Ephesian elders the message he preached both publicly and from house to house was “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is my observation both personally and by reading others that one of the characteristics of the gospel that is sadly missing or misunderstood today is the first aspect of the preaching of the gospel – repentance toward God. If we fail to understand repentance then we have a nonexistent belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. For if we do not repent then there is no need for, nor understanding of, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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Guest Post: A Gem from the past

Since I’m on the road, & unable to post a new article, I present this excellent meditation on John 8:1-11 by the 19th century Bible teacher, John Nelson Darby. JND is notoriously difficult to read, but this piece is remarkably lucid. This version comes from biblecentre.org . Enjoy!

“A Just God & A Saviour”
There is in all persons a certain knowledge of good and evil; such and such things they say are good, and such and such things are evil. But perhaps no two persons fix exactly the same standard either of good or evil. What people do is to fix such a standard of good as they can come up to themselves, and such a standard of evil as shall just exclude themselves, and include others.

For instance, the drunkard thinks there is no great harm in drinking, but would consider it a great sin to steal. The covetous man, who is every day perhaps practising some cheating or deception “in the way of trade,” satisfies himself by thinking “it is necessary and customary to do so in business, and at all events I do not get drunk or curse and swear as others do.” The profligate person prides himself upon being generous and kind-hearted to others, or, as he says, “he does nobody any harm but himself” The upright moral man, and the domestic amiable man, satisfies himself with doing what he calls his duty, and looks round and pities the open sinners that he sees; but he never considers how many an evil thought, how many a sinful desire, he may have cherished, unknown to others, in his bosom: and that God judges the heart, though man looks only at the outward conduct.
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Let Freedom Ring: Thoughts On Galatians – Part 4

“As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:9-10.

When is a gospel not a gospel? According to Galatians the answer is: “When someone tampers with the original gospel given to the apostles by Christ.” Paul declares that the new message being proclaimed by the Judaizers in their midst was a gospel of a fundamentally different type (vv. 6-7.) Its proponents apparently referred to it as a “gospel,” yet it was not actually “good news” for it could not deal with man’s sin problem or satisfy the holy God. Instead it was a message tailored to human preferences, calculated to win over spiritually undiscerning and fleshly religionists. It had a veneer of morality and Biblicism, but it was a counterfeit gospel. Pleasing God or pleasing men is the fulcrum on which a true message stands or falls. The genuine gospel enables the Judge of all the earth to righteously forgive, justify, and reconcile sinful people to Himself. False variations on the glad tidings merely enhance the religious reputations and self-righteous pride of deluded, fallen men.
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Let Freedom Ring: Thoughts on Galatians – Part 3

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Gal. 1:6-8
What could possibly surprise the veteran apostle who traveled across the Roman empire preaching to Jews and Gentiles from all walks of life and belief systems? Surely interacting with people from so many diverse cultures and having many varied experiences would prepare Paul for anything. Yet Galatians 1:6 registers his astonishment on account of the commencement of their sudden defection from the Lord. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon…” reveals both the apostle’s perplexity and the illogical behavior of his Galatian converts. With very little struggle – “so soon” – they were beginning to embrace an aberrant counterfeit of the genuine glad tidings of the Lord Jesus. This was not merely an alternate strain of Christian thought; rather, the Galatians risked losing the truth of Christ entirely by dabbling in a false Gospel.
If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It
New teachers arrived in Galatia propounding a “new and improved” gospel, which differed significantly from the original version that they heard from Paul. True, they had not deleted anything from the message: they apparently still professed to believe in the deity of Christ and the inspiration of the Bible. The error lay in what they had added to the glad tidings. They suggested that the Mosaic Law was necessary for justification and sanctification. In other words, salvation depended on faith in Christ plus adherence to the law (especially circumcision and kosher food laws.) Tampering with the Gospel is extremely dangerous. John 17:3 explains the momentous issues involved: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Since its truths bring one into a living relationship with the Lord Himself, altering its tenets destroys the possibility of such a connection. In other words, adding to the gospel transforms it into spiritual cyanide.
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Death: The Obsolete Relic Of A Fallen World

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8-10
Recently the Japanese conceptual artist known as Arakawa died. What makes this stand out on the obituary page is that his wife Madeline Gins and he were determined not to die. Through extreme avant-garde architecture they planned and sometimes constructed houses that were supposed to enable the occupant to live forever. As one reviewer describes their style: “They build buildings with no doors inside. They place rooms far apart. They put windows near the ceiling or near the floor. Between rooms are sloping, bumpy moonscape-like floors designed to throw occupants off balance. These features, they argue, stimulate the body and mind, thus prolonging life. ‘You become like a baby,’ says Mr. Arakawa.” Another adds:
Their most recent work, a house on Long Island, had a steeply sloped floor that threatened to send visitors hurtling into its kitchen. Called Bioscleave House (Lifespan Extending Villa), it featured more than three dozen paint colors; level changes meant to induce the sensation of being in two places at once; windows that seemed too high or too low; oddly angled light switches and outlets; and an absence of doors that would have permitted occupants even a modicum of privacy. All of it was meant, the couple explained, to lead its users into a perpetually ‘tentative’ relationship with their surroundings, and thereby keep them young. ‘It has to do with the idea that you’re only as old as you think you are,’ Steven Holl, the Manhattan architect, said of the couple’s work, which he said was deeply rooted in Japanese philosophy.
Gins herself described the intended effect of this strange domicile: “Comfort is rife with anxiety. Elation comes when you erase that. In Bioscleave House, you are practicing not to die.” Obviously Arakawa’s death at the age of 73 is a setback to their ideas. His wife noted this fact in one of his obituaries: “Madeline Gins subsequently promised to continue her campaign to prove that ‘ageing can be outlawed’ but resignedly admitted that ‘this mortality thing is bad news’.”
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