Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Faithfulness to God

The Fruit & Proofs of Authentic Christianity

The following is taken from the MacArthur Study Bible.  This is good to show people who profess to be going to heaven, disciples of Christ while living in blatant sin.  I have been encountering such people much lately in evangelism.

  1. Love for God (Psalm 42:1; 73:25; Luke 10:27; Romans 8:7)
  2. Repentance from Sin (Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13; Romans 7:14; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:8-10)
  3. Genuine Humility (Psalm 51:17; Matthew 5:1-12; James 4:6, 9)
  4. Devotion to God’s Glory (Psalm 105:3; 115:1; Isaiah 43:7; 48:10; Jeremiah 9:23-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31)
  5. Continual Prayer (Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 5:16-18)
  6. Selfless Love (1 John 2:9; 3:14; 4:7)
  7. Separation from the World (1 Corinthians 2:12; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17; 5:5)
  8. Spiritual Growth (Luke 8:15; John 15:1-6; Ephesians 4:12-16)
  9. Obedient Living (Matthew 7:21; John 15:14; Romans 16:26; 1 Peter 1:2, 22; 1 John 2:3-5)
  10. Hunger for God’s Word (1 Peter 2:1-3)
  11. Transformation of Life (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And I would add a few more to that including holding firmly to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:13-14; 1 John 4:1-6; 5:2; 2 John 9) and to forsaking a life of sin (John 5:14; 8:11; Romans 6:1-4, 11-14; 8:12-17; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 12:21-13:5; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 2:1-2; 3:4-10).  I know that some would see repentance as forsaking a life of sin and I would agree but I believe that this point is not clear in the MacArthur Study Bible.  

Watch Out For Antichrist or Antichrists?

Note: The purpose of this post is not to debate the issue related to whether there will be a future leader named by many as “the Antichrist.”  I know many godly people believe this to be true.  I respect their view while I do not hold to that view.  The purpose here is not to elaborate upon the debate over the antichrist as a person.  I am simply wanting to make a point that deception is current.

The word “antichrist” appears only in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3 and 2 John 7.  In fact, the antichrist is not even called “the antichrist.”  Notice 1 John 2:18:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Notice that John doesn’t say, “the Antichrist” but antichrist.  It lacks the definite article to be translated “the antichrist.”  1 John 4:3 goes even further about antichrist:

And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

Notice that John says that antichrist is already in the world!  That is 2000 years ago and John says that antichrist is now in the world.

2 John 7 tells us who the antichrist is:

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

These antichrists then were people who were heretics.  They were false teachers (1 John 2:19).  They claimed to be preaching the apostle’s doctrine (Acts 2:42) but they did not abide in their teachings (2 John 9-11).  They forsook the faithful teachings of the apostles (Jude 3-4).

Many in our day want us to be careful to avoid “the Antichrist” but I believe we should avoid antichrists.  The world, since the dawn of the Church, has been full of false teachers.  Jesus warned His disciples in Matthew 24:4-5 that many would come in His name.  His warning is not for a far off generation but those to whom He was speaking to (Matthew 24:34).  Even among His own apostles, Jesus was warning them to know that false teachers and false christs would come (antichrists).  These antichrists would come in the power of Satan to deceive many (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

I pray that our heart would be careful to search all things.  No teacher is above error.  I enjoy listening to various Bible teachers and reading their works but we must test all things by the Word of God.  Scripture must be the final authority for it alone is the inerrant and infallible truth of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  The Word of God is the truth of God (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17).  Jesus told us to abide in His Word (John 8:31-32) and His Word keeps us saved (James 1:21).  The Word of God protects us from doctrinal error (1 Timothy 4:16) and from sin (Psalm 119:11).  The Word of God cuts us and exposes us before God (Hebrews 4:12-13).  The Word of God convicts us of sin and reveals to us the path of righteousness.  How vital for us to love the Word of God and to abide in its truth!

As we abide in the Word, the Word keeps us focused on the Lord Jesus.  We hear His voice (John 10:27).  Scripture is the voice of God.  The Bible should be how we question all things.  I don’t care if the teaching comes from your favorite trusted theologian.  Turn to the Word of God to test their teachings.  Don’t accept blindly what a teacher tells you.  Turn to the Word of God to make sure they are faithful to the Word of God.  Don’t be deceived by a teacher who quotes a lot of Bible verses without also opening the Word of God to make sure what the teacher is saying is faithful to the Word of God.  Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans examined Paul’s teachings by Scripture to make sure what he was saying was true.  The Bible calls them “noble-minded” for this.

Instead of looking for “the Antichrist,” we should be looking for antichrists.  Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29-30 that wolves would arise from among them to deceive the church.  These antichrists among us are whom we should be careful to avoid.

My advice: abide in the Word.  This is the only sure guard to keep us from falling.  We can know truth from error by learning and hiding the Word of God in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15-16).  The Word of God alone is able to protect us from antichrists and I am thankful to God for His holy Word.

True Christians As The Majority

Many in the American Church are lamenting the fact that our nation is corrupt.  We are now a nation where abortion is rampant, where homosexuality is being encouraged and defended, where divorce is now up to 50% of all marriages, and where whatever sin you prefer, who are we to suggest that you are in sin?  The only absolutes I see in our culture is that one cannot be absolutely against what culture deems correct.  Whatever the culture likes, we are not to question.  The Christian idea that God hates sin or that He will judge sinners or that His wrath is against sin is not to be heard.  The only God of secular culture today is a tolerant god who judges none and allows sinning for all while loving all the same.

This thought got me to thinking though that the true Christian, the faithful disciple of Jesus who hates sin and loves righteousness (1 John 3:4-10) and who pursues holiness (Hebrews 12:14), has been a minority since the dawn of time.  The entire story of the Bible presents many who did love God and who feared Him and obeyed Him but the vast majority of people in the Bible did not love God nor pursue His will.  Even the nation of Israel shows a people who did not follow the Lord God but disobeyed Him as we see in Romans 9:30-33; 10:19-20; 11:7-10.  Paul the Apostle even wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:5, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”  

The fact is that true disciples of Jesus have always been a minority.  One could argue that at times a culture reflected more biblical worldview than at other times (this could be true of many Western nations such as Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, South Africa, the United States, Canada) but true Christianity has always been a minority.  Those who preached repentance and holiness have always been a minority.  Those who preached turning away from sin (1 John 2:1-2) have always been a minority.  Those who lived faithful lives to Christ have always been few.  Those who labored in prayer and in the Word have been few.

Jesus tells us about how few those would be who faithful follow Christ as Lord in Luke 13:22-30.  Here we read:

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Notice that Jesus says that we are to strive to enter through the narrow door (v. 24).  The road of faithfulness to Christ contains few.

The fact is that people will always hate the truth of God (Romans 3:10-18).  The fact is that the faithful disciple of Jesus must make our aim to please God and not to “convert” culture.  Jesus alone saves sinners (John 14:6) and He alone will be exalted as we preach His saving gospel to the lost (Romans 10:14-17).  Our aim must be to glorify Jesus in all that we say or do (Colossians 3:17) through His grace (Titus 2:12).  Our aim must be holiness in the midst of a wicked world (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2:9-12).  In Revelation 17:14 we find those who are with Jesus and John writes that they are “called and chosen and faithful.”  I pray that I am those thing by God’s grace.  I want to faithful to Jesus always (2 Timothy 3:12).

As we look around and see our culture becoming wicked, let us bear in mind that people have always chosen to rebel against God (Romans 1:18-32).  Yet our goal should not change: we want to exalt Jesus.  We have His promises that the world would hate us (John 15:18-25).  We have the promise of 2 Peter 3.  We will one day be the majority (Revelation 21:7-8; 22:14-15) but this will come in God’s timing and by His power.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/15/2013 at 4:41 PM

To Keep Them Alive in Famine

Psalm 33:18-19 jumped off the page from my Bible as I was reading this text.  It reads in the NKJV:

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

Let us briefly work through the text.

1.  The Eye of the LORD Is On Those Who Fear Him.

Our text says that God’s eye is upon those who fear Him.  Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  We fear God for who He is.  He is a holy God.  He is a transcendent God.  He is a God who does not delight in sin but rejoices in the truth.  He is a loving and good God but He is a God who is to be feared (Hebrews 12:29).  As we fear God, we grow in wisdom because we hunger to obey His Word and follow His ways.

2.  Those Who Hope In His Mercy.

It was mercy that saved us (Titus 3:5-7).  God has shown Himself merciful to us all.  Consider Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. God could have wiped them out and either started over or He could have just ended it and been content with Himself.  Yet God was rich in mercy toward Adam and Eve despite their sins and He not only provided a covering for them from the animal’s skins (Genesis 3:21) but He also promised a Messiah to come Who would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14-15).

In Exodus 34:6 the Lord passes before Moses and we read in the NKJV:

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.

Notice that the first thing God says about Himself as He passed before Moses was that He is merciful.  And praise God that He is!  I live because of His mercy and I was saved because of His mercy.

3.  To Deliver Their Soul From Death.

Praise God that Jesus has delivered us from death.  I just went to pray with a man who is dying from cancer.  Three weeks ago this man was fine.  Now he is dying in his bed.  I asked him, “Sir, are you born again?”  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said yes.  I rejoiced with that brother who has this rotten cancer because I know that Jesus has already overcome.  We don’t have to fear death.  Jesus has already fought that battle for us and He has won (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).  We have the assurance of Psalm 23:4 that even though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not fear for He is with us.  Charles Spurgeon said that it is ironic that David viewed death as but a shadow.  For the child of God, death is simply leading us to glory (Romans 8:18).

4.  To Keep Them Alive in Famine.

This last verse from Psalm 33:18-19 is what captured my attention the most.  We live in dark times (2 Timothy 3:1-5).  But praise God that God has promised that He will keep us even through famine.  I am not worried about a food famine.  Nor am I worried about a money famine.  I am worried more about a spiritual famine I see in our day.  Preachers are not preaching the truth of God to the lost nor to the saved.  This famine is wreaking havoc on the spiritual condition of our world.  But God has promised that He will always have His people (Matthew 16:18).  Romans 11:5 promises us that there will always be a remnant of grace.  God will preserve His saints who fear Him and obey His gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8). As we abide in Christ by faith (2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:5), we have the blessing of knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).  Our God is greater (1 John 4:4) and He is more than able (Ephesians 3:20-21) to keep His remnant of grace.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/16/2013 at 12:04 PM

The One Who Practices Righteousness Is Righteous

1 John 3:4-10 are powerful verses aimed at those who would teach that we can abide in sin and claim Christ.  These verses are not about whether those who don’t remain faithful are saved or not.  1 John 3:4-10 are simple, clear calls to holiness, to forsake sin, and to be righteous.  1 John 3:7 is clear: the one who practices righteousness is righteous.  Let us not be fooled by those who claim Christ but do not practice righteousness.  There are countless people around us who would claim heaven as their own, would claim Jesus saved them, but they are not saved from sin.  Their lives show that Christ has not mastered them but they are their own masters (2 Peter 2:10).  Their lives are marked by sin, ruled by sin, controlled by sin, and their wages from their sin will be death (Romans 6:23; James 1:12-15).  True disciples, however, are marked by the rule of Christ over their lives (Luke 6:46-49) and holiness (Romans 6:1-4; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Peter 2:11-12).  True disciples exalt the grace of God which saves us from sin (Titus 2:11-12) and avoid abusing His grace to allow for our own willful rebellion against a holy God (Jude 4).

Let us read 1 John 3:4-10 and be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/12/2013 at 9:39 AM

The Warning of James 1:15

James 1:12-15 gives strong warnings concerning abiding in sin.  It reads:

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

There is a sharp warning.  James could not be addressing the sins of unbelievers since they are already dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1).  James is clearly addressing those who have been born again, who know the power of God’s grace to forgive them and help them overcome sin.  His warning then is clear: sin produces death.

Now I have various viewpoints regarding this.  Dr. John MacArthur states that the death here is physical death and not spiritual death.  In other words, God will kill the sinning saint (1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 John 5:16).  Some view this as God’s love, that He would take out the sinning saint before allowing them to bring more shame to His name.

The problem with such a view is that it seems sinning then would cause the believer to go to heaven faster.  If that is the case, sin!  If the only fear we have is that we have to leave this fallen earth faster for glory then sin it up!

Adam Clarke writes about James 1:15:

Sin, being brought forth, immediately acts, and is nourished by frequent repetition, till at length it gains such strength that in its turn it begets death. This is the true genealogy of sin and death. Lust is the mother of sin, and sin the mother of death, and the sinner the parent of both.

I hold that James 1:15 is referring to spiritual death.  While James does not state either spiritual or physical in the text, the power of sin must not be diminished in the life of the child of God.  The believer is called to be holy (Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and to forsake sinning (1 John 3:4-10).  The believer is called to follow and obey Christ and not sin nor the members of our flesh (Romans 6:1-23).  The believer is to consistently walk in the light as Jesus is in the light (1 John 1:7) and confess our sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9).  We are not to sin but praise God that we have Advocate with the Father if we do sin (1 John 2:1-2).

For the child of God, we have the precious promises of God that He will help us overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).  We have the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin (Ephesians 1:7).  We have the blessed assurance of His forgiveness as we live in the Spirit and not the flesh (Romans 8:1-4, 12-13).  We have the promise of God that He will keep us (Jude 24-25) as we abide in His love (Jude 21; cf. 1 Peter 1:5).  All of this overcoming, victory, holiness comes through faith in Christ Jesus and abiding in Jesus by faith (John 15:1-11).  We have no fear of sin, of Satan, of the flesh, of the world if we are in Christ Jesus through faith.

I do urge you to hate sin.  I once heard a powerful sermon from David Wilkerson on hating sin and he stated in his sermon about praying for God to give you a holy hatred for sin.  I begin to do this on a regular basis and have been praying this way for many years now.  I praise God that He does give us a hatred for sin as we abide in Him.  The closer I get to the Lord Jesus the more I hate sin (1 John 2:15-17).  I pray often, “God help me to hate those things You hate and to love the things that You love.”  I have seen the Spirit of God putting a yearning in my heart for holiness and a holy hatred for sin.  I am not perfect but I long to be like Jesus in every single way (Colossians 3:17).  I long to love what He loves and hate what He hates.

I fear for any person who believes that they can sin against God and get away with it.  Mark Galatians 6:7-9 and realize that you cannot go on sinning and get away with it.  The judgment of God is coming against your rebellion (1 Corinthians 10:1-21).  However, praise God that He is a God who does forgive sins and He does help us to overcome our sins.  There is no sin that is more powerful than the blood of Jesus and He is able to not only forgive us of our sins but He empowers us to be holy.

 

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