Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Manger or the Cross? - Which Will It Be?

There he is!  Father Christmas!  Every December millions the world over embrace the warm, vibrant and exciting sentiments of the Christmas season, past and present embodied by "Father Christmas."  Children, family, festivities, songs, gifts, carols, eggnog, sugar plums, ornaments, snow, holly and mistletoe all "dance in our heads."  As the song goes; "it's the most wonderful time of the year!"
 
But...can Father Christmas save you?  Will one's attention to the manger bring salvation?  The answer is disturbing.  The answer is......NO.
 
Each year the debate rages.  Was Christ really born on "Christmas Day," December 25?  Not likely.  "Shepherds guiding their flocks by night" occur in Israel only in the spring and fall...never winter.  We can debate the origin of "Christmas" till the cows come home.  One thing is certain...no such holiday ever was celebrated by the early Christian community, identified in the New Testament as "The Way." There is no such command to celebrate in the New Testament, there is no example of any of the Apostles (or anyone else for that matter) celebrating it and there is not even an inference anywhere in Scripture that anyone had even a thought of so doing.
 
The origins of the holiday we call Christmas are medieval, pagan, catholic, pragmatic and extra biblical.  As a religious celebration it is clear that Christmas ("Christ - Mass") is what God has clearly decreed as an addition to the Word.  While the celebration of Christmas in the United States is "as American as apple pie," it has no connection whatsoever to the revealed Christian faith described in the New Testament.  In fact, Jesus is VERY specific as to how He wants to be remembered.  It is celebrated, not on December 25, but on every "first day of the week" around what is known as the "Lord's Table."  Here's what revelation, not speculation, says;  "Do this in remembrance of me." - I Corinthians 11.24 - 25.
 
We must ask ourselves this question; "Why, then, is Christmas so embraced by so many as the most prominent "Christian" celebration of the year?" 
 
People are told that Christmas is the most holy day (the origin of our word "holiday") of the year in all of "Christendom."   This is a true statement!  However, "Christendom" is NOT "Christianity!"  Christendom is a one world military, political and economic system centered in Rome and headed by a one man dictator commonly known as the "pope."  Popes over the years have changed EVERY aspect of New Testament Christianity and corrupted it so that it no longer has anything in common with Revelation.   
 
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wine is a Mocker & Strong Drink is Raging

Can or should the Christian purchase and consume beverage alcohol?  One is, first of all, reminded of a conversation in Jurassic Park.  While discussing the "merits" of "bringing back" the dinosaur, it was noted that "just because we can doesn't mean we should."

We can apply this principle to the Christian's consumption of "Noah's folly."  "Technically," a Christian can purchase and consume beverage alcohol within certain guidelines outlined by Paul in Romans 14.  These principles apply to eating meat, drinking wine or anything else that causes a brother to stumble (14.21)  Here they are:

  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as he does not "despise the one who abstains." 14.3
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as he does so "to the honor of God."  14.6
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as he is "ready to give an account to God" for so doing.  14.12
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as he is 100% absolutely certain that by so doing that it will not place a "stumbling block" before any other Christian.  14.13
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as he is 100%  absolutely certain that by doing that it will not cause a "hindrance" to any other Christian.  14.13
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as he is 100% absolutely certain that by so doing no other Christian is "grieved."  14.15
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long "as what he regards as good is not spoken of as evil."  14.16
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as that pursuit "makes for peace and mutual upbuilding."  14.19
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as it "does not destroy the work of God."  14.20
  • A Christian can consume beverage alcohol as long as he "has no doubts" and that the act "proceeds from faith."  14.23

There we have it!  A Christian can, in fact, purchase and consume beverage alcohol when in compliance with biblical guidelines described by the inspired apostle Paul.  Having said that, the guidelines are stringent and nearly impossible.  The legal limit of blood alcohol in most states is .08%.  Many people can meet that mark with as little as one can of beer or one glass of wine.  What is the Christian who wants to consume wine with their meals to do?

 For those Christians who want to protect both their conscience and their ambassadorship, there is a wine alternative.  It is called NON - alcoholic wine!  One vendor that provides such products is none other than Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).  Check it out for yourself at http://maddvirgindrinks.com/ or, better yet, just pick you up some Welch's (TM) http://www.welchs.com/products/sparkling-cocktails sparkling grape juice products at your local grocery store.
 
Dear Christian friend; "Why consume poison when you can have the flavor MINUS the poison?"   "Why risk your conscience before God?"  "Why place your ambassadorship at risk?"   

 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Salvation According to the Pope and to the Savior!

 
(3)
In an interview published October 1, 2013 by the Washington Post with an Italian atheist, the pope made the following statements regarding the RCC's new position on salvation and grace:
 
“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good . . . Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.” (1)
 
Francis tells the atheist reporter that the holy quality (grace) “is the amount of light in our souls, not knowledge nor reason. Even you, without knowing it, could be touched by grace.” (2)
 
Apparently, the pope is now a universalist, anyone can be saved!  If the parameters of the pope were applied to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Napoleon, Pol Pot and Edi Amin even they can claim entrance to heaven!
 
1.  These men had a "vision of good and evil."
2.  These men "moved toward what they thought was good."
3.  These men had their "own idea of good and evil."
4.  These men "chose to follow the good and fight the evil as they conceived them."
5.  These men thought they were "making the world a better place."
 
The central issue here is not what the pope says.  The central issue is "what does Jesus say?"  Here is what Jesus says about salvation:
 
1. "...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." - Luke 13.3, 5
2. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 10.32
3. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." - Mark 16.16
 
There we have it, dear reader.  In whom will you put your trust?  Francis or Christ?  Heaven and hell literally hang in the balance!
 
(2) Ibid.
(3) Public Domain photo courtesy of Wikipedia
 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Old Testament 101 - A Survey - Lesson 1

6th Century B.C. Medallion Found in Jerusalem Recently (1)
 
 
On September 10, 2013, an Old Testament Survey began at 7 p.m. at 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC.  Our text is the iconic Gleason Archer A Survey of Old Testament Introduction.(2)  Here are our notes from this first session:
 
 
Guidelines
 
 
1)  Our study will provide simple and useable material for ongoing use.
 
2)  Our study will adhere  to a consistently conservative and orthodox view of total inerrancy.
 
3) Our study will fully address the skepticism of unbelievers. 
 
 
General Purposes
 
 
1)  To relay that the Bible is unique among books.
 
2)  To relay that the Old Testament is 100% revealed truth of God for our learning, example and warning.  (I Corinthians 10.1 - 13)
 
3)  To relay the many proofs of the Old Testaments veracity.
 
4)  To relay the many prophetic fulfillments contained in the Old Testament.
 
5) To relay the meaning of the various passages of the Old Testament exegetically.
 
 
 
Specific Purposes
 
 
1)  To understand that the Old Testament is essentially a set of instructions for a certain people for a finite period of time that now "school master" us to Christ.
 
2) To understand the questions that all men have always, and always will, asked:
          A)  "Why are we here?"
          B)  "What makes us different?"
          C)  "What is our purpose?"
 
3)   To understand that there are only two possible answers to the above questions:
           A)  We exist to glorify and serve God.
           B)  We exist to glorify and serve ourselves
 
4)  To understand and appreciate the necessity of man's free will in God's Old Testament plan.
 
5)  To understand that the Bible is the only book that answers man's most pressing questions.
 
 
Prediction and Fulfillment as Proof of Divine Inspiration
 
 
1)  The test of prophesy and fulfilled prophesy is found in Deuteronomy 18.
 
2)  The fact that the Old Testament is replete with examples of prophesy and fulfilled prophesy makes it unique among all "religious" books.
 
3)  False prophets and false prophesies are exposed in Jeremiah 28
 
4) Approximately 200 Old Testament texts (not just single verses) are predictive.
 
5) J. Barton Payne assembled nearly 600 examples of predictive prophesy in his 754 page Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophesy published by Harper and Row in 1973.

 
6) The schematic of redemption is the focus of biblical prophesy:
          A)  Genesis 3.15
          B)  Genesis 15.13 - 16
          C)  Leviticus 26.44
          D)  Deuteronomy 28.36
          E)  Deuteronomy 28.68
          F)  Isaiah 13.19
          G)  Isaiah 52.13 - 15
          H)  Isaiah 53.1 - 12
          I)  Daniel 9.25 - 26
 
The Scope of Analysis for this Survey
 
 
1)  Extant language
 
2)  Extant History
 
3)  Extant Religion and Culture
 
4)  Authorship of the Various Books
 
5)  The Date of the Various Books
 
6)  Contemporary Situations and Problems
 
7)  The Text of each Book
 
8)  The Integrity of the Extant Texts
 
9)  The History of the Transmission of the Text
 
 
You and your friends are invited to attend our next class session on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m., September 24, 2013.  Sessions are held at the Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210.


 

 
(2) Archer, Gleason L.  A Survey of Old Testament Introduction.  4th Ed.  Chicago:  Moody Publishers, 2007.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Crisis of Our Times - Ignoring Apostolic Authority


If you recognize either the song, the lyrics or the artists...you MAY be as old as me!  The 1960's were characterized by many things.  One such thing defining that time was "snappy tunes and dark messages."  One of the snappiest tunes in the history of rock and roll teamed up with one of the darkest messages of that era. 
 
In 1965 the writing team of Roger Atkins and Carl D'Errico penned the lyrics to "It's My Life" sung by Eric Burdon and the AnimalsThe lyrics are 100% narcissistic and existential.  The song defies authority and assumes that one can predict, control and demand one's own future.  These ideas were not in vogue in 1965 but those who mindlessly sang the song over and over came to adopt the philosophy of existentialism subconsciously and now, nearly 50 years later, live their lives by the songs dark madness.  Here's the ending refrain of the song:
 
(It's my life and I'll do what I want.)
Don't push me.
(It's my mind and I'll think what I want.)
It's my life.
(It's my life and I'll do what I want.)
I can do what I want.
(It's my mind and I'll think what I want.)
You can't tell me.
(It's my life and I'll do what I want.) (1)
 
Fast forward to 2013.  Pro football star, Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots (R) is accused, though not convicted, of a serious crime.  One of the areas the police are interested in are his disturbingly dark minded tattoos.  One tattoo goes down vertically on one of his forearms and reads, "If it is to be - it's up to me."  Some time ago, Hernandez was questioned as to its meaning in a media interview.  His reply: "Whatever I want my life to be, it's up to me...the life I want to live is in my hands." (2)  The tattoo philosophy?  Existentialism - I control my own life. 
 
Existentialism has many dark and sinister components. Create your own future.  Deconstruct the past so as to reconstruct the future.  Truth evolves over time.  Truth is unobtainable but nobility is found in it's pursuit.  The best way to pursue truth is by contradiction.  The more contradiction, the faster society evolves.  Societal evolution takes place faster when chaos is interjected into it.  "Make it up and you go."  "Don't know what we will have when we get there but won't the ride be fun?!"

A key component of existential "thought" is the deconstruction of all authority based on anything in  the past.  The 21st century man or woman is statistically certain to reject the Bible as authority as it is from the past.  Those wanting to "have it both ways" debunk all the New Testament books except the gospels.  It is "assumed" that since Jesus did not "directly" make any statements about many issues widely discussed in the rest of the New Testament, the non-gospel portions of the New Testament are just so much commentary and not to be taken seriously.  Many theological skeptics debunk most, if not all, of the non-gospel New Testament.  In other words, these skeptics reject the authority of most of the New Testament.  This is precisely why we hear such statements as noted below from wayward members of the church of Christ:

"Jesus never taught about instrumental music in worship, so what's the big deal?"

"We are Christians only, but not the only Christians."

"We are part of the Stone-Campbell Movement and are as much a denomination as many others."

"Jesus never taught against homosexuality, so why should we make such an issue of it?"

"Jesus never said we couldn't hold the Lord's Supper on Saturday night, so why can't we?"

"Female leadership in the church is a subject ignored by Jesus in the gospels.  We can improvise today."

"Our times and circumstances are different than the 1st century and so we must approach matters differently."

What drives such statements? 

These sentiments all have their foundation in a rejection of apostolic authority. 

 The Acts, the Epistles and the Revelation address and teach clearly regarding all these issues but the skeptic is more interested in the "tail wagging the dog."  The existentialist rejects anything "old" as pretty much useless for today's modern man.  When this nonsense becomes the  centerpiece of one's defining philosophy, the apostles become just so many dusty dead men from the insignificant and distant past.  Paul, especially, is the target for the skeptic for it was he who penned most of the New Testament.  The skeptic sees Paul as a homophobic, sexist, unreasonable, confrontational and a belligerent old man. He therefore automatically rejects the words he penned as just so much opinionated nonsense.  If we were discussing Shakespeare or Homer none of this would matter.  But we are not.  We are discussing the very breathed out Word of God.

As in the 1st century, we in the 21st must accept the authority of the apostles completely or reject it completely.  The decision will have eternal ramifications.  Are the writings of the apostles, especially Paul, Scripture or not?  Do the apostles have Divine authority to speak or did they not?  Did Jesus Christ delegate His authority to the apostles of did He not?  Is the entire New Testament authoritative or is it not?

It is our assertion that the New Testament writings of the apostles are Scripture, that they do have Divine authority to speak, that Jesus did delegate His authority to them and that the entire New Testament is authoritative...then and now.
 

According to Strong's, the word translated "authority" is used 35 times in 32 different verses in the New Testament.  It comes from the Greek word exousia.  Among other definitions, Strong's asserts the following meanings for exousia: "..privilege, capacity, competency, mastery, jurisdiction, power and right."  We can conclude, then, that anyone being said to possess excousia in the New Testament possesses these qualities.  Jesus boldly claims and asserts His exousia with privilege, capacity, competency, mastery, jurisdiction, power and right!  No assertion has ever been more clear!

"All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me." - Matthew 28.18b (ESV)


To borrow a phrase from that country song; "What part of ALL don't we understand?!"  Jesus possesses, present tense, ALL authority in Heaven and on earth!  All realms are included in these two places.  There is no place in the universe left outside of His authority!  Granted, the existentialist can deny this reality and "create" his own fictional "alternative universe" but God will still call that person and his "alternative universe" into Divine judgment. 

Jesus Christ did not self-announce this authority.  Prior to His death, burial and resurrection, God the Father confirmed the authority of Jesus Christ while calling the previous authority of the Law and the Prophets to an end. On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter enthusiastically concocted a tri-level system of "authority" with Moses, Elijah and Christ all having equal parts in it.  Though well meaning, Peter just did not know that Moses and Elijah were subservient to Jesus Christ!  While Peter was still speaking his misguided thoughts, a Voice from Heaven, God the Father, interrupted him and said;
"This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." 
 - Matthew 17.5b (ESV)
The Holy Spirit added emphasis to the total authority of Jesus Christ in the opening words of the Letter to the Hebrews;
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days  he has spoken to us by his Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. - Hebrews 1.1 - 2 (ESV)
Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, claimed ALL authority in the most bold, precise and passionate terms.  His claim was confirmed by God the Father literally speaking from Heaven.  These assertions were then further emphasized by the Holy Spirit.  All these assertions are recorded for posterity in the inspired Word of God known as the New Testament of Jesus Christ!
 
We can rest assured that Jesus Christ HAS ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH THEN, NOW AND FOR EVER MORE.  In addition to "sustaining all things through the Power of His Word" and "holding all things together," what has Jesus Christ done with His authority?

Jesus Christ used, and is still using, His authority to delegate His Great Commission to His apostles who spoke, and are still speaking, it to every generation until the end of time.  In the 18th chapter of Matthew, verse 1, the disciples came to Jesus and asked; "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  He first explains that the greatest is the one who becomes as a little child.  Secondly He explains that it is His mission to "seek and save the lost."  [vs. 11]  He then goes on to illustrate that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is he who "leaves the ninety and nine" to seek the one who has gone astray.  The one who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven is he who confronts sin privately, and if needs be, even before the church.  Finally, in vs. 18 Jesus says this to His disciples:
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  (ESV)
He details this delegation of authority to the apostles even more precisely in the 20th chapter of John, verses 19 through 23.   This text takes us to the most powerful delegation of apostolic authority in all the New Testament!  The now resurrected God Incarnate actually breathes upon the apostles and says to them; "Receive the Holy Spirit."  [vs. 22]  That delegation is POWERFUL!  How do we know Jesus is delegating here?  He says so in vs. 21; "As the Father has sent m, even so I am sending you."  What does all this entail?  It entails a divine message delegated to the apostles by the Creator of the Universe!  That message? The message of salvation; "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.  If you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."  [vs. 23] 
The apostles were given authority to speak the words of salvation from Jesus Christ Himself!
These same apostles not only spoke the words of salvation, they wrote them down by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that people of all ages can know how to obtain salvation and keep it!  All the apostles spoke the words of salvation but only a few wrote them down; namely Matthew, Peter, John and Paul.  Other inspired non-apostles also wrote books in the New Testament, Mark, Luke, James and Jude.  One book, Hebrews, was written by a man unknown.  Of all the 27 New Testament books, the largest number were written by one apostle...Paul.  He penned 13, over half of the total!  Not only was Paul an apostle writing with delegated apostolic authority, his apostleship was the most unusual of all the apostles as one "born out of due season."  After all was it not our Lord who said that; "...the last shall be first and the first the last?"  The very last apostle gave us the vast majority of the New Testament.

To be continued...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Nation Built on Forgiveness? YES! It's OUR'S!

Words mean things. New Testament words have original, permanent and unchanging meanings.  Despite this fact, many forget the true meaning of words and embrace later false and allegorically "assigned" meanings.  One such a word is "liberty."  Today, www.Merriam-Webster.com defines "liberty," among other ways, as "...the power to do as one pleases, the power of choice, an action going beyond normal limits..."  In short today's post-modern existentialist man or woman, when hearing "liberty" really hears "license."  In today's fallen culture, "liberty" is license to do as one pleases despite consequences or impact upon others.  That was NOT the case in 1776!

The New Testament use of the word "liberty" is found it two primary passages, one spoken by Christ and the other spoken about Christ under apostolic authority.  Quoting Isaiah 61, Christ says the following: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." - Luke 4.18 - 19 (ESV)

Paul also conveys the same thought: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace..." - Ephesians 1.7 (ESV)

The words "liberty" in the Lucan passage and "forgiveness" the Ephesian passage are BOTH translations from the same Greek word, aphesis.  "Aphesis" means literally; "from letting" or "sent forth."  "Aphesis" means, according to Thayer, "...release from bondage or imprisonment, pardon of sins, letting them (sins) go as if they never were committed, remission of the penalty."  "Aphesis / aphesin is found 15 times in the New Testament.  It is translated either "liberty," "forgiveness" or "remission" in all 15 cases. 
Liberty is Forgiveness and Forgiveness is Liberty!
Though WE may have forgotten what "liberty" means, the Founders did not!  One such Founder was the governor of Connecticut during the War for Independence.  He made several proclamations to his state, to General Washington and to the entire nation.  He had a larger than would be thought likely platform for he was one of but a few colonial governors that did not support the tyranny of the crown.  Most colonial governors in 1775 were Tories and were opposed to independence.
 

In February of 1775, Gov. Trumbull issued the "For a Day of Fasting and Prayer" proclamation:

By the Honorable Jonathan Trumbull, Esquire, Governor of the English Colony of Connecticut, in New England in America; To offer up fervent Supplication to GOD, for His gracious Presence with us--to give us true Repentance and Reformation and to make us fully sensible that our Dependence must be on His Power and Grace alone, to deliver us from all the Evil that we feel or fear;---that He would not leave us to trust in an Arm of Flesh;--(1)
 
That summer the United States Congress (Yes, CONGRESS!!) proclaimed that July 20, 1775 was to be a National Day of Prayer and Fasting.  In response, Gov. Trumbull issued a proclamation to General George Washington upon his assumption of command of the Continental Army at Boston, MA.  He urged the commander that:
 
...the English Colonies on this continent to stand before the Lord in one day, with public humiliation, fasting and prayer, to deplore our many sins, to offer up our joint supplications to God, for forgiveness and for his merciful interposition for us in this day of unnatural darkness and distress(2).

This proclamation was not just a proclamation to the general personally, it was "carbon copied" to the entire nation!  The American nation and her leadership clearly understood the meaning of "liberty" and used it prominently in the Declaration of Independence the very next summer on July 4, 1776.  Many revisionists have said that the Founders were just "channeling" John Locke and Edmund Burke.  That assertion could not be further from the truth!  The Founders were avid Bible readers and knew the Book far better than many today would dare to suppose.  The principles found in both the Declaration (a biblical case for separation from the crown) and the Constitution (implementation of a biblical government) are replete with allusions to Scripture.  In reality, our Founding documents are some of the finest examples in human history of biblical exegesis!  This is why the profoundly biblical word LIBERTY is so prominent!

Liberty is Forgiveness - Forgiveness is Liberty!

The Founders believed in something they called "Natural Law."  Natural laws were laws that descended from Heaven itself and could not be changed by the whims of mortal men.  Our Lord brings Natural Law to bear on Pilate in His own trial; "So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me?  Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?"  Jesus answered him, "You have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above..." - John 19.10 - 11c (ESV)  The Apostles understood that Natural Law could be usurped by men and therefore had to be opposed.  In Peter and Johns trial before the Sanhedrin, they said this when they were "ordered" to cease speaking in the Name of Christ; "So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." - Acts 4.18 - 20 (ESV) 
 

The Founders applied Natural Law to the Declaration for they would rather have had forgiveness from God (LIBERTY) than the favor of a usurper and his parliament! 

Yes, there was a revolt in 1776, there was revolution against Natural Law, there was a munity against the English Constitution.  The revolutionaries and mutineers were King George III, his Parliament and his minions led by Lord North and others of his ilk.  Some 27 +/- of thier crimes against Natural Law are presented in the Declaration.  Here again the words of our Founders who sought forgiveness from God;

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation...


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...


...it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...


A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, us unfit to be the ruler of a free people...


We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown...  


And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


This is why Founder John Adams said regarding our Republic, "Our form of government is suitable for a moral and religious people and none other."  Our Republic was founded upon the eternal principle of LIBERTY!  The opposite is very true as well...when our people become immoral and irreligious we will lose our liberty, our forgiveness!

Liberty is Forgiveness - Forgiveness is Liberty!

Postscript: Ironically and sadly, history has come full circle.  The Connecticut statehouse that under Gov. Trumbull led the Nation in Repentance, Confession of Sins and Humiliation before God in 1775 is now attempting to lead our Nation in the opposite direction - libertinism.  Just last week on June 25, the sitting governor of the state of Connecticut ordered the so-called "rainbow flag" flown over the state house upon the usurping by the Supreme Court of God's Natural Law concerning marriage as being only between one man and one woman.  Were that the sitting governor could spend just five minutes with Gov. Trumbull and learn about Natural Law!  Roe vs. Wade usurped God's Natural Law over Life and now the overthrow of a Constitutional Vote in California disavowing homosexual marriage will together destroy America's opportunity to "pursue happiness." 
 

The SCOTUS is now standing with Pilate, the Sanhedrin, King George III, Lord North and his Parliament.  Where do YOU stand?  Once again, it is time to "Rise Up O Men of God!"

Do you want forgiveness and liberty?  There is only one way to receive it!  When convicted in their hearts regarding the murder of the very Son of God, the Jews called upon the Name of the Lord for salvation asking "What must we do?!"  Here's what Peter told them; "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness (remission) [aphesis] (Liberty!) of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2.38 (ESV)

Christians are 100% liberated people regardless as to what kind of government they live under.  Won't you be liberated today?
 

Happy Independence Day - 2013!                      - Russ McCullough



NOTE: Flag image courtesy of www.bing.com/images
(2) Ibid.
NOTE: Trumbull portrait courtesy Wikipedia.com
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Just What Is Biblical Preaching?




A  Bible question deserves a Bible answer!  Paul clearly and emphatically states:

 

“For if I preach the gospel, there is nothing for me to boast about, for necessity is pressed upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” – I Corinthians 9.16 (EMTV)

 

It is very and abundantly clear that Paul was under a tremendous focus to preach the gospel, the proclamation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is preached for the express purpose of saving those “who call upon the Name of the Lord for salvation” by repentance and baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.  (Acts 2, Acts 9, Acts 22 et. al.)

 

Today marks what would have been the 117th birthday of my grandfather, Clyde Larimore Taylor.  He was born on June 6, 1896 in Beech Grove, KY.  Brother Taylor was a Christian, a missionary and a gospel preacher.  He was and IS my mentor.  Being able to see him again in Heaven continually motivates me to always “preach the gospel both in and out of season.” He once said to me; “Russell, if I can take my lesson down the street to the denominational church and get “amen’s,” its NOT gospel!”  It is fitting, therefore, to explore the question; “Just what is biblical preaching?” on this,  his 117th birthday.

 

ANY sermon that proclaims this gospel is by default…biblical!  Sadly, ALL denominational preaching is non-biblical for it is accursed as Paul asserts in Galatians 1.6 – 9.  Preaching within the Fellowship of the Saints, as well, often falls short of the high standard of biblical preaching.  Let’s examine some examples of this kind of preaching:

 

Biblical preaching is not a topic in search of a text.  Biblical preaching is not shallow.  Biblical preaching is not “story telling.”  Biblical preaching is not a text in search of a meaning.  Biblical preaching is not just social commentary.  Biblical preaching is not just a review of current events.  Biblical preaching is not pop psychology.  Biblical preaching is not selective.  Biblical preaching is not random.  Biblical preaching is not just reflective.  Biblical preaching is not simply engaging.  Biblical preaching is not entertaining.  Biblical preaching is not relevant for relevance’s sake.  Biblical preaching is never pragmatic.  Biblical preaching is not a mantra or a narrative.  Biblical preaching is not without an application.  Biblical preaching is not without a call to action.  Biblical preaching does not play on one’s emotions for emotions sake.  Biblical preaching is not man generated or man focused.  Biblical preaching is not allegorical.  Biblical preaching is not without a clear text within context.  Biblical preaching is not without a contextual theme.  Biblical preaching is not without a contextual thesis.  Biblical preaching is not without a conclusion.

 

Even among the most faithful of congregations in the Lord’s church, one often finds sermons that are random, shallow, without theme, without thesis, lacking direction, void of purpose, out of context.  Essentially lukewarm spiritual rice water is often fed to the flock while steaming hot “meat and potatoes” remain left behind in the kitchen.

 

What characteristics, then, would we ascribe to biblical preaching?

 

·       (Biblical preaching) express(es) exactly the will of the glorious Sovereign – allow(ing) God to speak, not man.

·       (Biblical preaching) brings the preacher into direct and continual contact with the mind of the Holy Spirit who authored Scripture (through the Scripture.)

·       (Biblical preaching) frees the preacher to proclaim all the revelation of God, producing a ministry of wholeness and integrity.

·       (Biblical preaching) promotes biblical literacy, yielding rich knowledge of redemptive truth.

·       (Biblical preaching) carries ultimate divine (and apostolic) authority…

·       (Biblical preaching) transforms the preacher, leading to transformed congregations.[1]

 

When the gospel is proclaimed BIBLICALLY, individuals are saved, families are reunited, congregations are revived, communities are transformed and nations are restored!

 

-        Russ McCullough – 6 June 2013

Happy Birthday bro. Clyde Taylor!



[1] John MacArthur (Rediscovering Expository Preaching, W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN), Introduction, pg. XV


Friday, March 1, 2013

Worship the King in Public Prayer


We are studying through what the New Testament teaches regarding the congregant worship of the Lord’s church assembled each Lord’s Day.  We have established the fact that no one will engage in any activity this side of eternity more urgently important than worship to God Almighty.  We begin with prayer.  Congregant prayer is at the very core of worship, in fact every aspect of public worship involves prayer in some way or another.  We all pray – or should pray – during the Lord’s Supper, during the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, during the giving of our means, during the reading of the Word and during the proclamation of that Word.

Daniel’s prayer in 2.19 – 23 is both inspirational and instructive.  Daniel’s faith is unwavering in this context of what “appears” to be a life ending crisis for both him and his companions.  Daniels faith expects an answer from the Lord and he receives it during the night in a vision.  God reveals to Daniel both the dream itself and it’s interpretation – just as the king demanded.  His prayer is iconic and powerful –

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.  He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.  To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter.

This prayer has nine major components:

1.     Vs. 20 – Daniel ACKNOWLEDGES God for who He is -    14 times the Name of God is named either directly or indirectly in this very short yet very spiritual prayer.
2.     Vs. 20 – Daniel PRAISES God for His eternal existence.
3.     Vs. 20 – Daniel acknowledges God for His SUSTAINENCE.
4.     Vs. 21 – Daniel acknowledges God’s SOVERIENTY.
5.     Vs. 21 – Daniel acknowledges God’s POWER.
6.     Vs. 22 – Daniel praises God for His REVELATION.
7.     Vs. 22 – Daniel praises God for giving him KNOWLEDGE.
8.     Vs. 23 – Daniel gives THANKSGIVING to God.
9.     Vs. 23 – Daniel praises God for his BLESSING of being heard.

As we consider these components, we observe that congregant prayer in worship has seven focuses.  Prayer in worship is: Public, Private, Purposeful, Planned, Praiseworthy, Powerful and Pure.  Let’s observe these focuses.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS PUBLIC:  Since public worship is, after all, public – the publically led prayer is very much a proclamation.  The publically led prayer proclaims that there is but one God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  It proclaims, not only who God is, but who we are - sinners worthy only of death and damnation.  It also proclaims the Love the Mercy, the Grace AND the Judgment of God to surely come.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS PRIVATE:  Ironically, public prayer is also intensely private as well.  When a man prays publically he reveals his private meditations, not only to God, but to all those assembled.  This is necessary for in order for the individual worshipper to pray in public worship, one must be led.  A public prayer is one man’s surrendering his private worship to God in a public forum, inviting all hearers to follow his lead.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS PURPOSEFUL:  The public prayer is, more than most anything, an address to the King of the Universe.  The leader must be constantly aware that our public prayers must glorify God, His Majesty, His Awesomeness and His Perfection.  Secondary purposes should also be met as well.  The saint should be comforted and the sinner should be disturbed.  Finally, the public prayer is the purposeful place and time to petition the favor of Heaven for those known and loved by the congregation as well as to ask for blessings on the leaders of the land.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS A PLANED PRAYER:  As one anticipates leading in public prayer it is a more than appropriate to plan what is to be said.  Planning for prayer begins with meditation upon what is needed to be said and how best to say it.  It therefore goes without saying that one should pray about his upcoming opportunity for spiritual leadership in prayer.  It is always appropriate to “pray the Scriptures” as well as much of the Word is either in prayer form already or suitable for prayer use.  As thoughts gather, taking notes about what one ones to say is very useful so that memory will not fail.  As  things come together, a written outline or even a complete text will fine tune what is needed for the real event.  It goes without saying that rehearsal is a good final touch in preparation.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS FULL OF PRAISE:  As Daniel praised God, so should we.  The public prayer acknowledges Gods sovereignty, sustenance and total provision is all things.  Our public prayers, as did Daniel’s, should be in a mindset of total humiliation before God.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS A POWERFUL PRAYER:  It is universally acknowledged that “prayer changes things.”  Why?  It is the simple fact that prayer is powerful.  The powerful prayer must come from a righteous man (James 5.16) or it will avail little or nothing.  Not only that, the man who leads the public prayer in worship must have a broken and contrite heart before God regarding both his own sins and the sins of the greater society as well.

THE CONGREGANT PRAYER IS A PURE PRAYER:  All the above is a mockery if the man leading in the public prayer does not have a pure motive.  The public prayer that leads the congregation in pure worship is one that prays from pure motive.  That pure motive?  The “mind of Christ” that says “not my will but thine be done.”

Our Most Kind and Loving Father in Heaven;

Blessed be your Name forever and ever.  You possess all wisdom and all might.  You change times and seasons throughout history.  You remove rulers and establish rulers.  You give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.  You reveal deep and hidden things to Your children.  You know what is in the darkness.  All light dwells within You.  To You, Oh God of our fathers, we give thanks and praise, for You have given us wisdom and might.  You have made known to us the plan and pathway to eternal life through Your Sacred Word.  Bless us all in You will, forgive us of our many and grievous sins.
In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray - AMEN

Ephesians 6.5 - 9 - Slaves, Bondservants, & Christ

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