En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Reassuring Voice of Psalms: Book Review!

Posted by Scott on February 20, 2010

This book is a wonderful early morning resource during prayer. I enjoy the Psalms and this book has a beautiful approach to them.

Each day as times seem to be tough I enjoyed reading another Psalm and then the commentary along with it. You can almost hear David singing praises to his God as he embarked on battles, hiding out in caves from his enemies, and times of rescue and much needed rest. Yes, the Psalms are just relivant today as they were when written several thousand years ago.

This is a great book to read along while drinking the morning coffee or just before turning out the lights at night. Start the day with the Word of God and hide the Psalms in your heart at nice.

After further review, however, I am not as sure about the need for such theological diversity. God’s Word is alway relevant regardless what society thinks and He has only one theology built around the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I did find the words easy to read and did not seem to water down the meaning too much. As long as the theology can be supported biblically I find this book a good read. My warning is to know your theology and know it well.

Overall, I would recommend the book as a resource, but be sure to keep reading your Bible as well.  Never replace the Scriptures for someone elses opinions or attempt at making it easier to read or understand.

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Lost in the Woods

Posted by Scott on November 30, 2009

Lost in the woods: An adventure of two old cowboys searching for lost calves!

It was the spring time of the year when Harold and I were working cattle for days without much sleep. Our job was to move over four hundred head of cows, calves, and bulls from one section of pasture to another which happened to be on the other side of the canyon. The distance between these two pastures was over thirty miles. Harold and I along with about fifteen other hired hands could move these “beeves” about 15 miles a day.  It could be dusty, wet, and sometimes sleepless, most of the time a thankless job. This particular morning it was briskly cold. A sharp chill would cut right through my jacket which seemed to pierce my skin going directly into my bones. At times the chill seemed to get into my blood stream and would make me shiver from my head to my toes. I shouted to Harold, “I can’t get warmed up this morning. I wish that north wind would calm down.” I spotted in the camp hot tar black coffee on the fire and I thought to myself, “That will warm me up for the long day ahead”. You see, a cowboy almost has coffee running through his veins rather than blood. We live off of coffee in order to stay awake, alert, and when it is cold, it provides warmth for our soul.

The pastures we were working were in the valley down below the Sunhill Mountain range in southwestern Colorado. You could travel through hot ninety degree days in the valleys and enter thirty degree nights in the mountain area. Great area to run cattle, but the weather could change on you within minutes it seemed. Mr. Garret owned this cattle ranch called “Running Bar Ranch” and the ranch has been in his family for three generations. So, we all took great pride in tending to Mr. Garret’s cattle.

It was Harold and I’s job to see to it that every single cow, calf, and bull made it safely to the next pasture. We did not leave one calf behind if it was at all possible. Leaving a calf behind to die was like losing money and Mr. Garret frowned on that, plus he would dock our pay one days wages if he found out we had not tried to retrieve a lost calf. From time to time a calf would stray off into the woods at the foot of the mountain range. When that happened we would go into the woods after them. However, the calves would do this when no one was watching and we would find a cow not wanting to go with the herd. She would stand at the edge of the herd bawling towards the woods. That was our indicator a calf was in the thickets of the woods. Sometimes the momma cows would bed them down in the woods and other times the calves would simply wonder off in curiosity. Either way, our job was to go in after them.

I remember one balmy late spring afternoon just after the morning chill had finally given into the sunny warmth. We were driving our beeves north to far end of the pasture. We noticed about five momma cows refusing to follow in with the rest of the herd. They kept running towards the thickets to our west bawling loudly, but no calves could be seen or heard. I looked at Harold and motioned for him head towards the thicket after the calves and I would be there shortly.

I road my big fifteen hand brown horse on up towards the front to let one of the hired hands know where Harold and I would be and to keep moving the herd forward and we would catch up with them later that evening. So, I caught up with Harold and we moved slowly and methodically into the thicket. The trees and vines were so thick at times we had to get off our horses and go further on foot. Harold hollered out to me, “Where in the world could those five calves be?” I looked at him and just shrugged my shoulders in bewilderment myself. I had no clue. What some of these momma cows will do is take their babies off into the woods and bed them down together. But usually one momma cow would stay with them like a baby-sitter. However, this time it seemed all the calves were alone.

My thoughts immediately started thinking about how wolves or mountain lions possibly could have gotten some or all of the calves. No matter though, Harold and I would not stop until we had found all of the calves safe and sound or what was left of them as proof of their whereabouts.

It started getting late as the sun was just barely peeking over the mountain peak and we had been hunting for these calves for hours. It was starting to get cold again and a small thunder shower had formed just above us over the mountain range. Fortunately, we had packed our rain slicks for such an occasion. As the rain pelted our heads and soaked our boots, Harold heard a faint bawl of a young calf. We hurried in the direction of the cry over large rocks and around enormous boulders. There just on the other side of a jagged boulder he found two of the calves hung up in some of the thickest vines and trees we had encountered. Since we found them, what would we do with them? It was no easy trip up into the mountain range to start with. Harold or I could take these two calves back, but what about the other three. About that time two of our riders from the herd came clapity-clopping up next to us. “Do you guys need any help finding the calves?” one of the hands yelled. “Yes, you can take these two calves back to their mommas with the herd while Harold and I look for the other three calves.” One of the hands yelled back, “We figured with it getting so late and we had not seen you guys yet, you probably needed help.” So, they put the calves across their saddles right in front of them and off on their horses they went.

As Harold and I climbed higher and higher into the mountain area the thicket was extremely dense. The darkness seemed to fall like dark chocolate running down the sides of an ice cream cone. It was thick and heavy darkness. I pulled out an old flashlight I had stuck in my saddle bag hoping it would still work. It has been at least 6 months since I last used it. Sure enough, the flashlight worked, when all of the sudden, Harold let out an “eek” loudly. I yelled over to him to find out what was the matter. When from high above us on rock cliff was the biggest mountain lion I had seen in decades. The sound from this mountain lion would make your skin crawl. The big cat was positioned to jump on top of Harold. I grabbed the 30-30 Winchester from my saddle holster took aim and fired. I nicked the cat right on his behind. The cat took off up the trail above the rock cliff out of sight. I hurried over to Harold to make sure he was alright and of course he was.

About the time we were starting to head up and around the rock cliff, I heard something off in the distance. A faint but steady bawl from a young calf. Apparently, Harold and I had gone too far up in the mountains not realizing where the calves might be. So, back down the trail we went and found the other three calves safe and sound. Harold grabbed one calf and stretched it across his lap while I took the other two smaller calves and stretched them across my lap on the saddle. Off towards the herd we went.

As we traveled down the mountain side we came across a good trail that lead us right out of the thicket in the valley below. The herd was bedded down for the night about twenty minutes ahead, so we should be able to get back in time for supper. I looked over to Harold and said, “You know Harold, you and I out searching for these five calves tonight through the thicket, the vines, the boulders, the jagged rocks, and all reminds me of how Jesus seeks us out to save us for eternity”. I quoted Jesus from Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus’ mission all summed up in a few words. We came out into the mountain range to seek and to save that which was lost. The result was we found those calves and saved them from danger. Jesus does the same for his own people. “You see Harold; these calves were not looking for us. They may have known they were not in the right place, but did not know who to be looking for”, I spoke plainly to Harold. “People are the same way you know”. People don’t seek after to God. In their lost sinful state of being, they have not a clue they need Jesus”, I confidently exclaimed.

I pondered further about the subject for the next fifteen to twenty minutes until we got back to camp. Finally, arriving at the camp we put the calves back with their momma’s. All the bawling stopped as the calves and momma cows we joined together again. Thinking back over a Sunday-School lesson I heard about a son running off on his own lost to the world. The father speaking to the son’s brother quoting from Luke 15:32 says, “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.” About that time one of the other hired hands came wondering up to me and asked what I was thinking about. So, I simply told about how Christ had come to seek and to save the lost of this world. How Jesus talked about in Luke 15:4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” I told the hand Jesus would come after the one lost no matter what. I then turned to him and asked him simply, “Have you put your complete trust in Jesus Christ as your only Lord and Savior?” He just wrinkled his face in an expression of “I don’t know”. We left it at that. But the day’s affairs had made me think more about Jesus seeking out His lost people and how He would go through the thicket, across the rocks and boulders engaging Mountain Lions and all in order to save His own.

by scott bailey (c) 2009

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117 Scriptural Names for Christ!

Posted by Scott on December 30, 2008

1. Adam (the last Adam)

1 Cor. 15:45

2. Advocate

1 John 2:1

3. Almighty

Rev. 1:8

4. Alpha

Rev. 1:8; 21:6

5. Amen

Rev. 3:14

6. Angel of the Lord

Gen. 16:9-14; Judg. 6:11-14

7. Anointed

Ps. 2:2

8. Apostle

Heb. 3:1

9. Author

Heb. 12:2

10. Babe

Luke 2:16

11. Beginning of creation

Rev. 3:14

12. Begotten of the Father

John 1:14

13. Beloved

Eph. 1:6

14. Bishop

1 Pet. 2:25

15. Blessed

1 Tim. 6:15

16. Branch

Zech. 3:8

17. Brazen serpent

John 3:14

18. Bread of life

John 6:35

19. Bridegroom

Matt. 9:15

20. Bright morning star

Rev. 22:16

21. Captain

Josh. 5:4

22. Carpenter

Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3

23. Chief Shepherd

1 Pet. 5:4

24. Child

Isa. 9:6

25. Christ

Matt. 1:16; 2:4

26. Commander

Isa. 55:4

27. Consolation of Israel

Luke 2:25.

28. Cornerstone

Eph. 2:20

29. Dayspring from on high

Luke 1:78

30. Day star

2 Pet. 1:19

31. Deliverer

Rom. 11:26

32. Desire of nations

Hag. 2:7

33. Door

John 10:9

34. Door of the sheepfold

John 10:7

35. Emmanuel

Matt. 1:23

36. Everlasting Father

Isa. 9:6

37. Express image of God

Heb. 1:3

38. Faithful witness

Rev. 1:5; 3:14; 19:11

39. First fruits

1 Cor. 15:23

40. Forerunner

Heb. 6:20

41. Foundation

Isa. 28:16

42. Fountain

Zech. 13:1

43. Friend of sinners

Matt. 11:19

44. Gift of God

2 Cor. 9:15

45. Glory of God

Isa. 60:1

46. God

John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:16

47. Good Samaritan

Luke 10:33

48. Good Shepherd

John 10:11, 14

49. Governor

Matt. 2:6

50. Great Shepherd

Heb. 13:20

51. Guide

Ps. 48:14

52. Head of the Church

Col. 1:18

53. Heir of all things

Heb. 1:2

54. High Priest

Heb. 3:1; 7:1

55. Holy child

Acts 4:30

56. Holy One of God

Mark 1:24

57. Holy One of Israel

Isa. 41:14

58. Horn of salvation

Ps. 18:2

59. Jehovah

Isa. 26:4; 40:3

60. Jesus

Matt. 1:21

61. Judge

Mic. 5:1; Acts 10:42

62. King of Israel

Matt. 27:42; John 1:49

63. Lamb of God

John 1:29, 36

64. Lawgiver

Isa. 33:22

65. Light of the world

John 9:5

66. Lion of the tribe of Judah

Rev. 5:5

67. Lord of lords

Rev. 19:16

68. Man

Acts 17:31; 1 Tim. 2:5

69. Master

Matt. 8:19

70. Mediator

1 Tim. 2:5

71. Messiah

Dan. 9:25; John 1:41

72. Mighty God

Isa. 9:6; 63:1

73. Minister

Heb. 8:2

74. Nazarene

Mark 1:24

75. Only begotten Son

John 1:18

76. Passover

1 Cor. 5:7

77. Physician

Matt. 9:12

78. Potentate

1 Tim. 6:15

79. Power of God

1 Cor. 1:24

80. Prince

Acts 3:15; 5:31

81. Prophet

Acts 3:22

82. Propitiation

1 John 2:2; 4:10

83. Purifier

Mal. 3:3

84. Priest

Heb. 4:14

85. Rabbi

John 3:2; 20:16

86. Ransom

1 Tim. 2:6

87. Reaper

Rev. 14:15

88. Redeemer

Isa. 59:20; 60:16

89. Refiner

Mal. 3:3

90. Refuge

Isa. 25:4

91. Resurrection

John 11:25

92. Righteousness

Jer. 23:6; 33:16

93. Rock

Deut. 32:15

94. Rod

Isa. 11:1

95. Root of David

Rev. 22:16

96. Rose of Sharon

Song of Sol. 2:1

97. Sacrifice

Eph. 5:2

98. Savior

Luke 1:47; 2:11

99. Second Adam

1 Cor. 15:47

100. Seed of Abraham

Gal. 3:16, 19

101. Seed of David

2 Tim. 2:8

102. Seed of the woman

Gen. 3:15

103. Servant

Isa. 42:1; 49:5-7

104. Shepherd

Ps. 23:1

105. Shiloh

Gen. 49:10

106. Son of David

Matt. 15:22; 20:30; 21:9

107. Son of God

Luke 1:35; Matt. 16:16

108. Son of Man (his favorite name for himself)

Matt. 18:11

109. Son of Mary

Mark 6:3

110. Son of the Most High

Luke 1:32

111. Stone

Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:32-33; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6-7

112. Sun of Righteousness

Mal. 4:2

113. Teacher (Master)

Matt. 26:18; John 3:2

114. True vine

John 15:1

115. Way

John 14:6

116. Wonderful

Isa. 9:6

117. Word

John 1:1; Rev. 19:13

Willmington, H.L.: Willmington’s Book of Bible Lists. Wheaton, IL : Tyndale, 1987, S. 160

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Is It Real? By John MacArthur

Posted by Scott on December 30, 2008

Is It Real?
11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation

John MacArthur

Is it Real? In 1746, about six years after the Great Awakening, in which Jonathan Edwards was the primary instrument of God to preach the gospel and bring about the greatest revival in American history thus far, Edwards wrote A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections. He wrote it to deal with a problem not unlike one we face today: the matter of evidence for true conversion. Many people want the blessings of salvation, especially eternal security, but no more.

In the explosive drama of the Great Awakening, it seemed as though conversions were occurring in great numbers. However, it didn’t take long to realize that some people claimed conversions that were not real. While various excesses and heightened emotional experiences were common, scores of people didn’t demonstrate any evidence in their lives to verify their claim to know and love Jesus Christ, which led critics to attack the Great Awakening, contending it was nothing but a big emotional bath without any true conversions.

Thus, partly in defense of true conversion and partly to ex­pose false conversion, Jonathan Edwards took up his pen. He came to this simple conclusion. The supreme proof of a true conversion is what he called “holy affections,” which are a zeal for holy things and a longing after God and personal holiness. He made a careful distinction between saving versus common operations of the Holy Spirit. Saving operations obviously produce salvation. Common operations of the Holy Spirit, he said, “may sober, arrest and convict men, and may even bring them to what at first appears to be repentance and faith, yet these influences fall short of inward saving renewal” (lain H. Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography [Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987], p. 255).

How can you tell whether the Holy Spirit has performed a saving operation? As the principle evidence of life is motion, Edwards wrote, so the principle evidence of saving grace is holy practice (pp. 262-63). He said true salvation always produces an abiding change of nature in a true convert. Therefore, whenever holiness of life does not accompany a confession of conversion, it must be understood that this individual is not a Christian.

In the very year Edwards’ treatise was published, popular teaching asserted that, to the contrary, the only real evidence of true salvation is a feeling based on an experience–usually the experience at the moment of the alleged conversion. That teaching introduces the prevalent but erroneous concept that a person’s true spiritual state is known by a past experience rather than a present pursuit of holiness. Edwards flatly contradicted that notion: “Assurance is never to be enjoyed on the basis of a past experience. There is need of the present and continuing work of the Holy Spirit … [in] giving assurance” (p. 265). This is no esoteric theological debate: the substance of your assurance is at stake.

A number of New Testament writers, of course, were very concerned about this matter of true salvation, as was our Lord Jesus Himself. The apostle John dedicated his first letter to the subject, stating his theme at the end: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don’t pass these tests, you’ll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you’ll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.


Have You Enjoyed Fellowship with Christ and the Father?


This is an essential element in true salvation and the first test John presented. Look with me at chapter 1, which begins: “We [John and his fellow apostles] have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us–what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (vv. 2-3). Obviously he was going beyond just the earthly acquaintance he had with Jesus because he had no such earthly acquaintance with the Father. Rather, he was presently enjoying communion with the living God and the living Christ.

Now at first you might be tempted to think, Well, good for John, but his was not an isolated experience. In 1 John 5:1, he says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him” (emphasis added). It is characteristic of any believer to love God and Christ. It is a sign of the holy affections Jonathan Edwards spoke of. A relationship with God is basic to salvation. It is what we as believers were called to. “God is faithful,” Paul says, “through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).

Paul described what that fellowship meant to him personally: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). There’s something very experiential about that truth–it’s not just a cold fact that we as believers have divine life living in us; there’s an experience to be enjoyed in knowing God intimately.

Jesus implied as much when He said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10: 10 ). If He had just said, “I came that you may have life,” we could conclude He was talking only about His gracious provision of eternal life. By adding that life could be abundant, Jesus was moving into the dimension of experience. The Christian life is a rich life. We’re meant to experience joy, peace, love, and purpose. When someone who’s about to be baptized testifies about coming to Christ, you won’t hear, “The fact is, folks, I’m saved, and I’m just here to announce that.” Invariably the person will describe to you the feeling–the overwhelming sense of forgiveness and purpose in his or her life.

Here’s a taste of the abundant life Scripture describes in terms of our fellowship with the Lord. The “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3); “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10); the God who supplies all [our] needs according to His riches in Christ (Phil. 4:19); the God who leads us to speak to one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to Him (Eph. 5:19); the God to whom we cry “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15 ) like little children to the daddy we adore; the God we draw near to in time of trouble (Heb. 4:16 )–He Himself so greatly enriches us. Our fellowship with Him is the abundant life we experience.

Have you experienced communion with God and Christ? Have you sensed Their presence? Do you have a love for Them that draws you to Their presence? Have you experienced the sweet communion of prayer–the exhilarating joy of talking to the living God? Have you experienced the refreshing, almost overwhelming sense of grace that comes upon you when you discover a new truth in His Word? If you have, then you have experienced the fellowship of salvation.


Are You Sensitive to Sin?


Let’s go back to chapter 1 of John’s first epistle, to this declaration in verse 5: “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” John was saying that the message the Lord sent to us is about Himself, specifically that He is absolutely sinless. The Greek text literally says there’s not a single bit of darkness in Him. Therefore, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do notpractice the truth” (v. 6).

Light and darkness do not coexist. One drives the other away. John went on to develop that theme: “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (vv. 7-10).

Some people make some pretty amazing claims that hold no water. They claim to have fellowship with God–to be Christians (v. 6), to have no sin (v. 8), and even to have never sinned (v. 10). They think they are walking in the light when actually they are walking in darkness. It is characteristic of unbelievers to be oblivious to the sins in their lives. The individuals mentioned in verse 8 are not dealing with their sins because they think they’ve reached a state where they have no sin. But they are deceiving themselves. Those mentioned in verse 10 have never even confessed or acknowledged sin. With that attitude they are in fact denigrating God because God says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, emphasis added). Since unbelievers are so insensitive to the reality of their condition, human sinfulness is the right starting point in sharing the gospel.

Believers, on the other hand, “walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light” (v. 7). We walk a virtuous walk, and what’s more, “we confess our sins” (v. 9). True believers have a right sense of sin. They know if they’re going to commune with God they have to be holy. When sin occurs in their lives, they know it must be confessed.

John takes this teaching a step further in the next chapter. “My little children,” he explained, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (v. 1). True believers realize they don’t have to sin. But when they do, they know whom to go to–Jesus Christ, the believer’s advocate. The intercessory work of Christ is one of the great trinitarian securers of our salvation. That’s an encouraging reality to hang onto when confronted with personal sin.

The person who is truly saved is sensitive to the sinful realities in his or her life. That’s the example Paul left us in speaking of his heightened awareness of sin’s work in his own life (Rom. 7:14-25). Consider how that applies to you. Are you very much aware of the spiritual battle raging within you? Do you realize that to have true communion with God, you have to live a holy life–that you can’t walk in darkness and claim to have fellowship with Him? Are you willing to confess and forsake any sin in your life as you become aware of it? Do you realize you can choose not to sin–that you’re not fighting a battle you’re obliged to lose? But when you do fail, do you go to your divine advocate? Do you sometimes cry out with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24 ) because you’re so weary of the burden of sin in your flesh? If so, you are obviously a Christian. And since salvation is secure, you might as well enjoy it and be fully assured.


Do You Obey God’s Word?


First John 2:3 couldn’t be clearer: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” If you want to know whether you’re a true Christian, ask yourself whether you obey the commandments of Scripture. That’s how Jesus described a true disciple when giving His Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:20). Obedience to the commands of God produces assurance–the confidence of knowing for sure “that we have come to know Him.” The Greek word translated “keep” in verse 3 speaks of watchful, careful, thoughtful obedience. It involves not only the act of obedience, but also the spirit of obedience–a willing, habitual safeguarding of the Word, not just in letter but in spirit. That’s supported by the word translated “commandments,” which refers specifically to the precepts of Christ rather than laws in general. Legal obedience demands perfection or penalty, whereas 1 John 2:3 is a call to gracious obedience because of the penalty Christ has already paid.

Verse 4 presents a logical contrast: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” That person is making a false claim. “But whoever keeps His Word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (v. 5). How can you determine if you are a true Christian? Not by sentiment but by obedience.

If you desire to obey the Word out of gratitude for all Christ has done for you, and if you see that desire producing an overall pattern of obedience, you have passed an important test indicating the presence of saving faith.


Do You Reject This Evil World?


We now come to John’s fourth test of what characterizes the true Christian: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15 ). This love speaks of our deepest constraints, our most compelling emotions and goals. Christians won’t feel that way toward anything in this world because they know that until Christ returns, this world is dominated by God’s enemy. John said, “We know that we are the children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 , niv). Satan, for now, is “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).

The evil one has designed a system that the Bible simply calls “the world.” The Greek term (kosmos) speaks of a system encompassing false religion, errant philosophy, crime, immorality, materialism, and the like. When you become a Christian, such things repel you, not attract you. Sometimes you may be lured into worldly things, but it isn’t what you love; it’s what you hate. That’s the way Paul felt when he fell into sin (Rom. 7:15 ). As frustrating as it is to fall like that from time to time, we who are believers can be grateful that sin is something we hate and not love. That’s because our new life in Christ plants within us love for God and the things of God.

“All that is in the world,” John specified, “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:16-17). The world and its fleshly preoccupations are but temporary realities. The true believer, in contrast, has eternal life and will abide forever.

Jesus said those who follow Him are not of the world just as He was not of the world. We still move about in it to do His will as long as we are alive, but we are not of it. That’s why Jesus prayed specifically for the Father to keep us from the evil one (John 17:14 -16). We’re vulnerable to being sucked into this evil world’s system now and then, but our love is toward God. That love is what will draw us out and redirect our focus toward heavenly priorities.

Do you reject the world? Do you reject its false religions, damning ideologies, godless living, and vain pursuits? Instead, do you love God, His truth, His kingdom, and all that He stands for? That doesn’t come naturally to any man or woman because the human tendency is to love darkness rather than light to mask evil deeds (John 3:19-20). Unbelievers are of their father the devil, and want to do the desires of their father (John 8:44). If you reject the world and its devilish desires, that is an indication of new life in Christ. And since that new life is forever,


Do You Eagerly Await Christ’s Return?


Further along in 1 John, we come across a fifth test of salvation: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And every one who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (3:2-3). If you’re a true Christian, you will have hope in your heart, and your hope will be focused on Christ’s return. That hope will purify your life.

Do you love Christ so much that you eagerly await to see Him face-to-face at His return and be made like Him? Scripture tells us that is the Christian’s blessed hope and supreme joy. Romans 8 declares that the whole creation groans in anticipation of the glorious manifestation of the children of God. First John 3 says that it involves three things: Christ appears, we see Him, and we’re instantly made like Him.

“Our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul said, “from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). Are you waiting for that? Do you despise the sin in your fallen flesh and long to be like Christ? Can you feel the thrill of Paul’s saying, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly”? (1 Cor. 15:49)

Such a hope has ethical power, for John said it purifies the one possessing it. Paul implied as much to Titus: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:11-13). This is a sensible hope leading to sensible living. It is not an inordinate kind of anticipation in which you are irresponsible with your earthly responsibilities. Being so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good is a contradiction in terms. The hope of Christlikeness will compel you to act more like Christ in reaching out to others and fulfilling all that God has set out for you to do.

If you find yourself longing for the return of Jesus Christ, that’s evidence of salvation. It’s an indication of a new nature within, which longs to be delivered from a body of sin while becoming like the perfect Christ. If you have such holy longings and affections, you’ve passed an important test indicating the reality of your eternal salvation.


Do You See a Decreasing Pattern of Sin in Your Life?


Another manifestation of holy affections is a decreasing pattern of sin. First John 3:4-10 spells out this sixth test:

Every one who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that [Christ] appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God.

Unbroken patterns of sin are characteristic of the unregenerate. No matter what a person claims about being a Christian, if he or she continues in sin, it is only a claim and not a reality. When you became a Christian, the pattern of sin was broken and a new pattern came into existence. Holy affections took over. Does that mean there’s no sin in your life? No, because your unredeemed flesh is still there. But the more you pursue those religious affections, the less you will sin.

Sin as a life pattern is incompatible with salvation. That’s because to experience salvation is to be saved from something, and that something is sin. If a person could continue in sin after being saved from sin, that would mean salvation is ineffective. John therefore discussed the work of Christ to demonstrate just how effective it is.

He began by noting that there are people who practice sin and lawlessness (v. 4). Then Christ “appeared in order to take away sins” (v. 5). To say someone had the work of Christ applied to him or her, yet continues in the same pattern of sin is to deny the very purpose Christ came for, which was to take away sins. Continuing in sin is not consistent with Christ’s work on the cross. If a saved person could keep on sinning, that would mean Christ’s death–while having some efficacy in eternity–is in fact useless in time. Perish the thought! Christ’s death served the very useful purpose of taking away not only the penalty of sin, but also the pattern of sin in the believer’s life.

John went on to talk about Christ’s work through the believer’s union with Him: “No one who abides in Him sins” (v. 6). That cannot mean true Christians never sin because John just said, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8). Rather, the next two verses in chapter 3 explain, “The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil” (vv. 7-8). John’s first epistle is consistent in warning against a pattern of sin.

Now let me clarify something here. I frequently receive letters from anguished Christians who doubt their salvation because they can’t seem to break a sinful or unwise habit. They most often write about smoking, overeating, and masturbation. They fear their struggle with such things means they are locked into a pattern of sin. But John is not saying that the frequent occurrence of one particular sin in a person’s life means that person is lost. Rather, he clarifies his meaning in saying that a true believer cannot practice lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The Greek term used there (anomia) literally means living as if there were no law. A person who rejects God’s authority doesn’t care what God thinks about his habits, and is obviously not a Christian.

A Christian, however, has a drastically different way of relating to God. He or she is no longer a slave to sin, but has offered himself or herself as a servant to the Lord (Rom. 6:14, 17-18). A true Christian can still sin, and may even do so frequently, but sinning frequently is not the same as practicing sin. In 1 John we see that a true believer can do the first, but not the second.

Why is that the case? Because the true believer “abides in Him” (1 John 3:6). Not only does Christ’s death take away our sin, but also His ongoing life in us breaks the sin pattern. No longer are we perpetual sinners in thought, word, and deed–as we were before we were saved. We now have the option to do good. If we find ourselves sinning, contrary to the good we desire to do inside, we are much like the apostle Paul in Romans 7–and he’s a great person to be associated with! Yet because of the abiding presence of Christ, our struggle will decrease as time goes on. We will always be acutely sensitive to sin, for as we have seen, that’s one of John’s tests of saving faith, but sin will be less of a pattern in our lives. Christ lives in union with us to provide a new pattern–a pattern of righteousness.

A pattern of sin, however, signals a union with the devil: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (v. 8). The devil is a sinner and nothing but. Everyone who is associated with the devil is a sinner and nothing but. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil by rescuing people who are in bondage to sin. That means those who’ve really been rescued will not continue in the state they’ve been rescued from. A habitual pattern of sin indicates that a rescue has never taken place. To claim otherwise is to denigrate Christ by implying His death didn’t accomplish what He set out to do–destroy the works of the devil by rescuing people from sin.

In addition, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: any one who does not practice righteousness is not of God” (vv. 9-10). The believer has been born anew by the Holy Spirit. The seed He plants is a new nature, a new life principle, a new disposition. just as a seed planted in the ground produces a distinct kind of life, God’s seed produces a righteous life in us that breaks the pattern of sin. And don’t worry: that seed cannot die, for the Word of God tells us it’s imperishable (1 Peter 1:23). Born of the Spirit of God, the believer cannot continually sin.

John just provided us with four viewpoints in analyzing the sin in our life: the work Christ accomplished in His death, His ongoing life in the believer, His destruction of the devil’s works, and the regenerating work of the Spirit. Every way you look at it, the pattern of habitual sin is broken. What does that mean to you personally? If you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life, that’s evidence of holy affections. The difference between the children of God and the children of the devil is, as John said, “obvious” (v. 10). If you practice righteousness, you’re of God. If you don’t, you’re not. Plain and simple. If you see victory over sin in your life, if you see righteous motives, righteous desires, righteous words, righteous deeds, and if you’re not all you ought to be but certainly not what you used to be, then you have eternal life, so enjoy it.


Do You Love Other Christians?


In 1 John 3:10, John mentions two obvious facts. One, as we just saw, is that “anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God.” The other is that neither is anyone “who does not love his brother.” To amplify that point, let’s go back to a key section we missed in our progressive study of John’s letter: “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (2:9-11).

To say you’re in the light–or you’ve seen the light–is to claim to be a Christian. If so, your life would certainly show some of the life patterns of Christ. Loving fellow Christians is one very basic pattern. To be in fellowship with Christ is to experience and express love. If you claim to be a Christian but do not even like Christians, your claim is a sham. You are in fact walking in darkness, not in the light.

Loving fellow Christians comes naturally to the believer. As Paul said to the Thessalonian church, “[Regarding] the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). Nevertheless, he went on to encourage them to “excel still more” in their love for one another (v. 10). As believers, we haven’t loved as fully as we ought to love, but we have loved. And we don’t need to be taught to love because it’s instinctive, implicit, and inherent within our new nature. As we learned in Romans 5:5, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts.”

Jesus went so far as to say, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). It is basic to our Christian life that we have the capacity to “fervently love one another from the heart,” as Peter expressed it (1 Peter 1:22). And it’s a love that goes beyond mere feeling to encompass dutiful responsibility, sacrificial service, and sensitive concern.

So here comes the test: Do you characteristically love other believers? If you claim to be a Christian but have no love in your heart for those in the church or any track record of meeting their needs, then the apostle John says this to you: You’re in the dark in spite of your claim to be in the light. Love is a test of divine life. It signifies you have crossed over from darkness to light. This is how 1 John 3:14-15 putsit: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Do you honestly care about other believers or are you cold, uncaring, and indifferent? Do you have a desire to reach out and meet their needs? Those who don’t care are spiritually dead, characterized by an ongoing hatred. In our sophisticated age, that is manifested not so much in vitriolic hostility as in an utterly self-centered approach to life. People who continually focus on themselves and couldn’t care less what happens to anyone else are of their father the devil, who “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). As believers, however, “we know love by this, that [Christ] laid down His life for us” quite the opposite of the devil’s murderous character. Therefore, “We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

John defined love as making sacrifices for others, perhaps even to the point of martyrdom. How do you respond to the opportunities you typically have to sacrifice your time, treasures, and talents? Are you happy when you come across a person or ministry in need, and you’re able to provide money, time, prayer, a commodity, a skill, or a sympathetic ear?

What about enjoying the privilege of fellowship in general? Do you look forward to being with fellow Christians and talking with them, sharing with them, discussing the things of God with them, studying the Word with them, and praying with them? Do you have a desire to take the resources God has given you and apply them to someone else in the family of God? That’s evidence of love, as John went on to explain: “Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (vv. 17-18).

Note the result of such a practical approach to love: “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (vv. 19-21). The assurance that you are a Christian–that your faith is the real thing–will come by your love. The Greek word translated “assure” (peitho) means to pacify, tranquilize, soothe, or persuade. You can soothe yourself as you stand before God that you’re a true Christian if you see love in your life.

Now your love won’t be perfect, but it will be there. Let that bolster your assurance, for John warned that your heart or conscience may try to incriminate you and make you doubt. The fallen flesh has the capability to play games with your mind. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, may seek to exploit that tendency. In whatever your heart condemns you, you can be assured if you see love in your life. You may doubt your salvation, but God never does because He is greater than your heart and knows all things.

Perhaps you’re going through doubt and struggling with your assurance. Do as John said and go back to the love of your life: Examine whether you love other Christians as evidenced by deeds of kindness and sacrifice. If that’s characteristic of your life, be soothed, be pacified–for no matter what your heart may do to condemn you, you can be sure of your salvation. A condemning conscience can rob you of your assurance because it looks only at failure. But God is greater than your conscience; He looks at your faith in Christ.

The apostle Peter, after denying Christ three times, had a worse time than any of us can imagine with a condemning heart. Jesus came personally to assure him. Three times in a row He inquired gently about Peter’s devotion. In desperation, Peter replied, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (John 21:17). We too can appeal to the love God sees in our hearts. It’s not perfect but, again, it’s there. And it will express itself through deeds of kindness and sacrifice to others. Jesus told Peter to reveal his love by taking care of the church. It’s natural for the Christian to “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). Your love for fellow Christians is a benchmark of the Christian faith, and solid grounds for assurance. Refuse to let your heart condemn what God does not.


Do You Experience Answered Prayer?


Another source of confidence and assurance is this: Whatever we ask of God “we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22). You can know you’re a believer if God answers your prayers. The only way that can happen is if you keep His commandments, and the only way you can do that is if you belong to Him. As John says in verse 24, “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him.”

In a similar passage John said, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (5:13-15). God always answers prayers that are according to His will. Obedient believers know His will as stated in His Word, and tailor their prayers accordingly. The answers that result bring about confidence and assurance.

God is more eager to answer the prayers of His children than they are to ask. I suspect there’s a certain disappointment in God’s heart because He would do so much more than we ever ask Him to do. Think of the blessings and assurance we miss out on!

Now there are many people who pray to God, but don’t even know the God they’re praying to or what His will is. God is under no obligation to answer such prayers. We learn from the Psalms that He doesn’t even hear them (cf. Ps. 66:18). But those of us who see answers to our prayers can know we have eternal life. One of the many good reasons to pray fervently and faithfully is to enjoy the assurance that answered prayer brings.

Some believers struggle with being assured of their salvation because they have scant experience concerning answered prayers. That comes from a skimpy prayer life. What a tragedy! If you’re in that situation, reverse it immediately. I don’t want you to miss out on the blessing and comfort that answered prayer brings. Looking back on my life, one of my greatest sources of assurance is seeing that God has answered many of my prayers through the years. That He answered is evidence that He hears me, which is evi­dence that I abide in Him and He in me.

Have you had your prayers answered? Is that a pattern of life for you? If so, you have eternal life. Have you prayed for an unbeliever and seen that person come to Christ? Have you prayed for someone in great distress and seen God turn the situation around into blessing and joy? Have you sought God about a void in your life and seen Him fill it? Have you prayed for forgiveness in a clear conscience and received it? Have you asked God to enable you to present His truth to an individual or group and experienced His grace to do so with great clarity? Have you sought power in proclaiming the gospel and experienced it? Have you asked that God would help you lead someone to the Savior, and He did? Have you sought contentment amidst trying circumstances and experienced God’s peace as a result? Have you asked the Lord to help you know Him better and experienced greater intimacy with Him after going through some hard lessons? Those are all indications that you belong to Him and He to you.


Do You Experience the Ministry of the Holy Spirit?


First John 4:13 develops that theme of belonging to God: “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” The first thing the Spirit did was “testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (v. 14). If you confess that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and have committed your life to Him, that was the Spirit’s doing. Apart from the Holy Spirit, you wouldn’t know who Christ is and you certainly wouldn’t confess Him as Savior and Lord. Have you experienced that ministry of the Holy Spirit? If so, that’s evidence of being a true child of God.

Another vital work of the Spirit is His illuminating your understanding of Scripture. John, speaking of the Spirit, said, “The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and … teaches you about all things” (2:27). Paul explained that “the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God … that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:10, 12). When you read the Word of God, is its meaning illuminated to you? Do you understand what it says? In fact, do you sometimes understand it so well you wish you didn’t understand quite that well because of the obvious implications? Is it relatively clear overall? Now I’m not talking about obscure passages that we all struggle with, but consider the effect that reading the Word has on you. Ask yourself, Does it convict me when I’m sinful? Does it make me rejoice when I’m worshiping God and seeking to advance His kingdom? Those are signs of the Spirit’s illuminating work in your life.

Let’s look at other ministries of the Spirit. What about fellowship with God? It is the Spirit who leads you to cry out “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:6) as a sign of your intimacy and communion with God. What about praise? Who is it that lifts your heart to praise and adore God? Who is it that compels you to sing with meaning and devotion? In Ephesians 5:19, Paul explains that the filling of the Spirit leads to “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” What about the fruit of the Spirit, which Paul describes as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control”? (Gal. 5:22-23) Those attitudes are spiritual graces. Have they graced your life as a whole?

Have you ever ministered in a spiritual way through helping someone, giving to someone, or speaking to someone about Christ? Those are evidences of the Spirit of God. Do you actually experience His ministry in your life? In Romans 8:16, Paul explains that “the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Now don’t expect Him to whisper into your ear, “You’re a Christian, you’re a Christian, believe Me you’re a Christian!” There’s no audible voice, nothing esoteric or mystical, but something very concrete. He bears witness by providing you with evidence of His presence in your life–by illuminating Scripture to you, drawing you into fellowship with God through prayer and praise, producing spiritual fruit to grace your life, and enabling you to minister effectively to others.

If the Spirit is in your life, that’s evidence that you abide in God and He in you (1 John 4:13). So be assured. Don’t let your heart condemn you, damn you, tell you you’re not a believer. Recognize the Spirit’s work in you. There’s no reason to doubt and be unstable.


Can You Discern between Spiritual Truth and Error?


So far we’ve taken nine tests for determining the presence of saving faith. In the tenth is the one time John actually used the word test: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:1-3).

Every false religious system in the world violates that test. Adherents of such systems consistently attempt to undermine the biblical truth about who Jesus Christ is and what He accomplished–that He is Savior and Lord, who came in human flesh to be “delivered over because of our transgressions, and … raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Can you tell when someone is presenting false teaching about the person and work of Christ? That is the watershed issue of the Christian faith.

False teachers “are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:5-6). John was saying a true believer will listen to the truth and not deviate into error about Christ’s glorious person and work. Suppose someone says, “I used to believe in Jesus Christ, but now I’ve seen the light: Christ really was an angelic being–or an emanation from God, a divine spirit without the human element, or just a man and not divine.” Any such heresies reflect an unregenerate heart.

From the moment of your salvation, there’s one thing you’re clear about and that’s who Christ is and what He did, or you wouldn’t be saved. It’s the Holy Spirit who made that clear to you. This test is not moral or experiential but doctrinal. True believers know truth from error because the Spirit of Truth indwells them. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ,” John says, “is born of God” (1 John 5:1). That’s the same doctrinal test again. When you believe the right thing about Christ, you’re born of God.

It’s good to be a believer, but it’s also good to be skeptical. As John says, “Do not believe every spirit” (4:1, emphasis added). For the sake of your spiritual life and health, don’t believe everything you hear, see, and read. Instead, “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” That requires the ability to think biblically. The Greek text implies conducting a rigorous, ongoing examination of whatever and whomever you expose yourself to. Why go to all that trouble? “Because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

The conquering of the city of Troy is one of the most famous stories of antiquity. Greek soldiers had laid siege to the city for over ten years, but were unable to conquer it. In exasperation Ulysses, a brilliant strategist, decided to have a large wooden horse built and left outside the city walls as a supposed gift to the unconquerable Trojans. The Greeks then sailed away in apparent defeat. The curious and proud Trojans brought the wooden horse inside their fortified walls. That night Greek soldiers hidden inside the horse crept out and opened the city gates to let their fellow soldiers into the city. The soldiers massacred the inhabitants, looted the city, and burned it to the ground. Ever since, the Trojan horse has been a symbol of infiltration and deception. Throughout its history, the church has embraced many Trojan horses filled with false prophets.

Satan has effectively used enemies disguised as gifts to lure people away from the truth of God and into destructive error. Today’s church is in a particularly severe state of confusion because of its weak doctrine, relativistic thinking, worldly methodology, inaccurate interpretation of Scripture, lax internal discipline, and spiritual immaturity. What is sorely needed is spiritual discernment–the skill of separating divine truth from error (1 Thess. 5:21).

Perhaps you are discerning in the everyday affairs of life. You read nutritional labels because you want to be healthy. You read the fine print of the stock market report before making financial investments. If you need surgery, you carefully select the right doctor. Maybe you’re highly analytical about politics and can accurately assess a plethora of domestic and foreign issues. Or maybe you’re an armchair quarterback who evaluates offensive and defensive strategies. All that is fine, but can you discern between divine truth and error?

To do that, John said to test for two things: confession of the divine Lord (1 John 4:2-3) and commitment to the divine Word (vv. 4-6). If you study the cults, you’ll detect a pattern. Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and the like attack the person of Christ and then postulate a substitute or addition to the Bible, such as Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, The Book of Mormon, or The Pearl of Great Price. True believers won’t believe such lies. They have a resident truth teacher in the person of the Holy Spirit (I John 2:27).

I listened to a radio program recently where a man was propagating a religion I never heard of before. It didn’t take me long to discover he was not representing the truth. I was immediately put on guard by the way he skewed one brief biblical statement at the beginning of his message. I continued to listen rather intently until he was finished, whereupon he declared the existence of a great prophet who is the instrument of God to bring great truth to humanity. What he said did not square with Scripture. I knew it was error because the Spirit of God has convinced me about salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone and the veracity of Scripture. I knew I didn’t need some prophet of modem times to give me the truth.

You don’t have to be a seminary graduate or an expert on cults and world religions to distinguish truth from error. If you aren’t swayed from the basic truths of Christ’s divine person, work, and Word, that’s evidence of genuine saving faith.


Have You Suffered Rejection Because of Your Faith?


This eleventh and last test is painful: “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Cain hated Abel and murdered him. Why did Cain do that? “Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (v. 12). Have you experienced animosity, hostility, rejection, bitterness, alienation, ostracism, prejudice, or outright persecution from representing and advocating what is right? If so, that’s a sign that you belong to One who suffered the same way for the same reason.

The fact is, to the worldly, you as a Christian “have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things” (1 Cor. 4:13). You’re a threat to their belief that this world is all that’s worth living for.“They are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4). However, Scripture says, “[Be] in no way alarmed by your opponents–which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you” (Phil. 1:28). When suffering on account of your faith, don’t say, “Can I really be a Christian? Things are going so badly–I wonder if God cares.” Rather, if the world is persecuting you, say, “Isn’t this truly wonderful! It’s pretty clear who I am.”

I’ll never forget one night many years ago when I was called to the church office to deal with an emergency. I arrived to find one of our elders struggling with a girl who was obviously demon possessed. She was evidencing supernatural strength. She flipped a heavy steel desk over onto its top and the two of us together were unable to restrain her physically. Voices that were not her own were speaking out of her. The first thing they said when I arrived was, “Not him! Get him out! Get him out! We don’t want him here.” It encouraged me to know that the demons knew I was not on their side.

That was a very confirming night for me. When the world and the spirit of Satan behind it come after you, you too have the right to be confirmed if you’re hated because of righteousness. Now, if you’re hated because you’re obnoxious, there’s no virtue in that! “But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:20). Part of that favor is being assured of your salvation.

The apostle John gave all the tests that he did to give the true believer a biblical basis for confidence. Let’s review his spiritual inventory: Do you enjoy fellowship with God and Christ? Are you sensitive to sin in your life? Do you obey the Scriptures? Do you reject this evil world? Do you love Christ and eagerly await His return? Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? Do you love other Christians? Do you receive answers to your prayers? Do you experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Can you discern between spiritual truth and error? Have you suffered on account of your faith in Christ?

If you pass those tests, you can have confidence before God. After all, John wrote what he did so “you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). There’s no reason for you to go through your spiritual experience in the dumps, yet thousands of Christians do. Please don’t be one of them.


Copyright 2004 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved. All Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, and are used by permission. Adapted from Saved Without a Doubt, by John MacArthur (Victor Books, 1992).

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Ten Indictments for the Modern Church-Paul Washer

Posted by Scott on December 1, 2008

Paul Washer delivers a timely message on the plight of the church today.  I have witnessed as Paul has said here younger men all over the world that are digging deep in the Word of God, studying and reading the old theologians like Spurgeon, Tozer, Ravenhill, Lloyd Jones, Whitefield, Edwards, Owens, Boston, Augustine, Campbell, Flavel, and more.  Young men are being drawn back by God to the core foundations of the faith.  Many young men all over the world proclaiming authentic Christianity are not pulled into the humanistic lie of the Emergent and Seeker friendly philosophies.  They are pulled into a God centered biblical theological doctrine sometimes called Reformed Theology or 5 Point Calvinism…either way, it is the truth of God’s Word.  Watch and listen carefully.  Come back to see it over and over.  Personally, I will watch and listen many times as well.  I need the constant reminder of the direction God is taking us and what His Scriptures are telling us.  Search, dig, and act accordingly.

 

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Critique of “The Shack”!

Posted by Scott on September 26, 2008

THE SHACK, “Elousia,” & the Black Madonna

IMAGINATION, IMAGE, AND IDOLATRY

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Herescope

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant “The Shack” wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”
description of The Shack on www.amazon.com

God is Truth. That He is Truth distinguishes Him from idols which are false. Of the Lord, the prophet declared, “There is none like Thee, O Lord; Thou art great, and great is Thy name in might,” and explained of those who create idols, “But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!” The prophetic commentary which follows then states, “Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, And gold from Uphaz, The work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith; Violet and purple are their clothing; They are all the work of skilled men. But the Lord is the true God . . .” (Jeremiah 10:6-10, NASB).[1] In this vein, A.W. Tozer once wrote: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”[2]

But idols arise out of human imagination. Humanoids make god however they want him/her/it to be. In the description of the declension into idolatry, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man (Emphasis mine, Romans 1:21-23a, KJV). Imagination creates images — even idolatrous images — and the images can either be material or mental, actual or verbal.[3]

Words can create mental pictures. Someone once said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In an image-oriented age where people watch more and read less, this statement makes its point. But words can also create images. Through the mind’s eye, we see. Someone once defined idolatry as thinking wrong thoughts about God. So the question becomes, with the stroke of his verbal brush and in his bestselling novel The Shack, what picture of God does William P. Young create? I am fearful that the book’s painting of God, even though fictional, might promote the wrong image of Him.

The novel tugs at the emotional strings of its readers, and for just that reason the book has become a bestseller in the fiction category. I am therefore aware that I am about to tread where angels might not dare. This pastor realizes he is about to enter the personal and emotional space of the human heart. People feel very deeply about this book and its author. I ask only, as you read Young’s book with an open heart, that you might also read this theological review of the book with an open mind.

We now proceed to look at the theology of The Shack.[4] We turn to the ideas presented in the book about God. The god of The Shack (In this reference, I refuse to spell God with an upper case “G.”) is an imagined hermaphroditic trinity, consisting of a retreat center owner and hostess who goes by the name of “Elousia,” a carpenter-handyman by the name of “Jesus,” and a gardener who goes by the name of “Sarayu.” In order, we consider the three main characters, and another omniscient and sensual lady who goes by the name of “Sophia,” or Wisdom.

THE FIRST PERSON — At first mention, and according to Mack’s wife Nan’s understanding, the first person of the godhead goes by the name of “Papa” (perhaps alluding to the Apostle Paul’s designation of Him as “Abba,” Romans 8:15). But upon Mack’s arrival at The Shack, “Papa” morphs into a large and loving African-American woman named “Elousia” (i.e., a combination of the Hebrew name for God the Creator, “El,” and the Greek word “ousia” suggesting a Platonic meaning of “being” or “existence”).[5] Among other characteristics, “Elousia” describes herself as, “the Creator God who is truly real and the ground of all being.”(The Shack, 111).

This name for God appears to be borrowed from the writings of theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965), who referred to God as “the Ground of Being.” By so designating deity, Tillich meant that, “God is not a being alongside others or above other but God is Being-itself or the Ground of Being.”[6] Likewise, to Tillich, “God is not a being, not even the highest of all beings; he is being itself, or the ground of being, the internal power or force that causes everything to exist.”[7] This conception of God compliments the conception of deity amongst devotees to the New Age/New Spirituality.

Even though Tillich’s assertions about deity were esoteric and complex, Young presents a Tillich-like scheme of deity who describes herself as “the ground of all being” that dwells “in, around, and through all things . . .” (The Shack, 112). Such a view of God is acknowledged to be panentheistic (i.e., God dwells “through all things”).[8] This may explain why, toward the end of his life, Tillich no longer prayed. He only meditated. To him there existed no personal or transcendental God to pray to. God was immanent only, his “ground of being.” So like an airplane, which is refused take-off for reason of mechanical failure, the concept of god in The Shack never gets off the “ground.” However, according to The Shack’s picturing of God, there may be a similarity even more startling.

Having finished reading The Shack, and while surfing the Internet, I was quite smitten when inadvertently, I ran across an internet article by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, The Return of the Black Madonna: A Sign of Our Times or How the Black Madonna is Shaking Us Up for the Twenty-First Century. Fox’s description of the Black Madonna (or the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis as she is alternately understood) included her supposed leading of distressed people to find emotional healing within themselves. This description seemed to possess, at first glance, an eerie parallel to the black goddess character (“Elousia”) created by William Young. The comparison upon further reading, study and thought, revealed that their similarity was more than just color. In both writings, two similar personages emerge. I proceed to note a few of the analogies between Fox’s Black Madonna and Young’s “Elousia.”

First, Fox states that, “The Black Madonna invites us into the dark and therefore into our depths. This is what the mystics call the ‘inside’ of things, the essence of things. This is where Divinity lies. It is where the true self lies. It is where illusions are broken apart and the truth lies.”[9]

In The Shack, we note the word “darkness” occurs frequently. It is as if darkness is archetypal to Mack’s Great Sadness. This is especially noticeable in his appearance before “Sophia.” In the chapter “Here Come Da Judge,” darkness is the dominant aura surrounding Mack’s experience. As he entered the cave, “with his hands outstretched in front of him, he ventured a couple of steps into the inky darkness and stopped.” (The Shack, 151). To create Mack’s experience, Young heaps up references to amplify “darkness”—“deep shadows . . . inky blackness . . . dim light . . . darkened room.” Similarly, in Fox’s words, the Black Madonna “invites us to enter into our grief and name it and be there to learn what suffering has to teach us.”[10] By entering the darkness, Mack dealt with his sadness. In contrast, 1 John 1:5 informs us that “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (KJV).

Second, Fox also notes, “The Black Madonna calls us to Grieve. The Black Madonna is the sorrowful mother, the mother who weeps tears for the suffering in the universe, the suffering in the world, the brokenness of our very vulnerable hearts.”[11] Fox goes on to say, “To grieve is to enter what John of the Cross in the sixteenth century called the ‘dark night of the soul.’ We are instructed not to run from this dark night but to stay there to learn what darkness has to teach us.”[12]

In The Shack, at the climactic moment when “Papa” (AKA “Elousia,” the black goddess) enfolded Mack into his/her arms and gently invited him to “Let it all out,” the story records that in a moment of emotional catharsis Mack “closed his eyes as the tears poured out . . . He wept until he had cried out all the darkness, all the longing and all the loss, until there was nothing left.” (The Shack, 226).

Third, Fox explains that “The Black Madonna calls us down to honor our lower charkas [sic] . . . The Black Madonna takes us down, down to the first charkas [sic] including our relationship to the whole (first chakra, as I have explained elsewhere is about picking up the vibrations for sounds from the whole cosmos), our sexuality (second chakra) and our anger and moral outrage (third chakra). European culture in the modern era especially has tried to flee from all these elements . . . in religion . . .The Black Madonna will not tolerate such flights from the earth, flights from the depths.”[13]

To those unacquainted with eastern religion, Fox’s words appear as mumbo-jumbo. But according to Yoga teaching, chakras are, “vortices that penetrate the body and the body’s aura, through which various energies, including the universal life force, are received, transformed, and distributed.”[14] It is believed that there are seven points of entry for the energy; among others, they include,

  • “The root (muladhara) [which] is located at the base of the spine and is the seat of kundalini . . .
  • The sacral (svadhisthana) [which] lies near the genitals and governs sexuality . . . [and]
  • The crown (sahasrara) [which] whirls just above the top of the head.”[15]

The experience of the entrance of energy into the body, which can happen spontaneously, is called kundalini (Sanskrit for “snake” or “serpent power,” named as such because of the belief that it lies coiled within the body ready to strike at any moment). Kundalini describes the mystical experience when energy enters the body and arouses the “sleeping serpent” (Shouldn’t we compare this to Genesis 3:1?). When that happens, wham . . .! This transient moment of arousal is defined to include, “physical sensations . . . clairaudience, visions, brilliant lights . . . ecstasy, bliss, and transcendence of self.”[16] With this description in mind, let’s look at one incident in The Shack to see if Mack, the novel’s main character, experienced kundalini.

Upon hearing the sensual Sophia ask him, during his journey into the darkness, “Do you understand why you’re here?” the novel records that, “Mack could almost feel her words (clairaudience) rain down on his head first (the 7th chakra) and melt into his spine (the 1st chakra), sending delicious tingles everywhere (the 2nd chakra). He shivered (physical sensations) and decided that he never wanted to speak again (transcendence of self). He only wanted her to talk (bliss) . . .” (The Shack, 153). What do you think? Did Mack experience kundalini? If so, then it came to him at a spontaneous moment in the darkness via the voice of the goddess-like Sophia.

Fourth, Fox states that, “The Black Madonna calls us to our Divinity which is also our Creativity.” He goes on to state that The Black Madonna “expects nothing less from us than creativity. Hers is a call to create, a call to ignite the imagination.”[17] On the next point Fox again states, “The Black Madonna calls us to Diversity. There is no imagination without diversity — imagination is about inviting disparate elements into soul and culture so that new combinations can make love together and new beings can be birthed.”[18] His Black Madonna calls us to a magical consciousness that has nothing to do with Scripture.

Likewise, when the goddess-like Sophia calls upon Mack to role play as The Judge, to sit in judgment over all other persons including God, she notes his pensiveness about assuming such an awesome responsibility. Sophia says to Mack: “‘Your imagination,’ she interrupted his train of thought, ‘is not serving you well at this moment’.” (The Shack, 160). In the Front Matter of the book, Greg Albrecht informs the potential reader, “You will be captivated by the creativity and imagination of The Shack, and before you know it, you’ll be experiencing God as never before.” Young’s novel itself serves to ignite the imagination, something Fox writes that the returning Black Madonna is also doing.

Other parallels between Fox’s Black Madonna and The Shack’s Elousia — their gender diversity, nurturing of hurting hearts, emphasis upon developing personal relationships, concern for the environment, and so on — form archetypal metaphors around which the mystery of life and suffering can be probed and explained, and upon which transcendent values can be formulated and applied for the social welfare and unity of the world’s diverse and divided population. These ecumenical metaphors are increasingly making their way into the evangelical church, especially via the Emergent Church.

The feminization of deity extends back to time immemorial. The Egyptian goddess Isis, in which Matthew Fox finds his precedence for the return of the Black Madonna, was likely the source for all the female deities of ancient Middle Eastern religion, including the idolatrous “queen of heaven” worshiped by the women and men of ancient Israel (Jeremiah 7:18-20; 44:15-19). The Black Madonna and “Elousia” find themselves in company with an idol goddess that Yahweh could not, and did not, tolerate before His face (Exodus 20:3-4). We now consider the second person of Young’s trinity.

THE SECOND PERSONThe Shack describes Jesus to be a quite human person, a relatively unattractive Middle Eastern Jewish man with a “big nose” who functioned as the retreat center’s repairman. (The Shack, 111). As regards Young’s portrayal of Jesus’ humanity, there is little disagreement. The author’s portrayal of Jesus in a literary symbolic sense seems reasonable and within the bounds of Scripture (See Matthew 1:1-17; Romans 1:3; Isaiah 53:2; Mark 6:3).

Nevertheless, the author leaves the door open for the idea that Jesus originated from “Papa-mama.” In explaining the derivation of woman from man, The Shack‘s Jesus tells Mack: “We created a circle of relationship, like our own, but for humans. She out of him, and now all males, including me, birthed through her (Eve), and ALL originating from God” (capital emphasis mine, The Shack, 148). Seemingly, this dialog makes Jesus’ birth to be as profane as the rest of humanity, thus calling into question His being the “only begotten of the Father” (meaning unique, or only one of His kind, John 1:14). Theologically, doubt is also aspersed upon Jesus Christ’s eternal generation.[19] After this assertion, the novel pictures Jesus’ desire to join all humans in “their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.” (The Shack, 182)[20] In this regard, never once in the novel is Jesus (His human name) ever referred to as “Christ” (His self-chosen messianic and divine name, Matthew 16:16).

Young presents his readers with a very human Jesus who comes up short of being Christ. We turn now to the third member of The Shack’s trinity.

THE THIRD PERSONSarayu, the retreat center’s gardener — perhaps referring to Spirit’s production of fruit for Christian living (Galatians 5:22-23) — is the character meant to represent the Holy Spirit. Just after his introduction to her, Mack asks The Shack‘s Jesus, “Speaking of Sarayu, is she the Holy Spirit?” Jesus answers, “Yes, She is Creativity; she is Action; she is Breathing of Life; she is much more. She is my Spirit.” Mack responds, “And her name Sarayu?” Jesus explains, “That is a simple name from one of our human languages. It means ‘Wind,’ a common wind actually. She loves that name.”(The Shack, 110)

Sarayu is likely a Sanskrit word (the language that is the most important religious and literary language of India). It might also be construed to compare to the blowing of the wind in the necessary new birth spoken of by Jesus (John 3:8). But by naming the Spirit Sarayu, there seems to be allusion to the Rig Veda, the Hindu scriptures, for Sarayu bears semantic and phonetic resemblance to Vayu.[21] In so naming the Spirit with the Indic word for “wind,” is the author making overture to eastern religion?

Nevertheless, the novel’s impersonation of the Holy Spirit as female contradicts Jesus’ clear statement that the Spirit is neither an “it” nor a “she,” but “He” (John 16:13).

Is there a fourth member of Young’s polymorphous trinity? Maybe . . . we are left to our imagination.

WISDOMSophia, though separate from the trinity, but secluded not far away from the resplendent retreat center, is a divine-like lady-judge, who is wise in all the ways in which “Papa” conducts his/her affairs (See Proverbs 8:1-36; 1 Corinthians 1:24.). In her verbal exchanges with Mack, she clearly possesses clairvoyant, if not omniscient, perception. (The Shack, 156, 160)

IN CONCLUSION, The Shack, under the cover of biblical allusion, presents a god which may be likened to a deity of eastern mythology and mysticism. The reader ought to beware lest biblical allusion be used to peddle theological illusion. But you ask, “How can that happen?” How can scriptural allusion promote spiritual delusion? I would point out that Satan used biblical allusion to tempt Jesus. In the second phase of the temptation of Christ, Satan alluded to Psalm 91:11-12, to which Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (See Matthew 4:5-6, KJV.). Presenting a potpourri of spirituality combining biblical allusion with mystical illusion and mythological delusion, The Shack will surely resonate with an Emergent Christian mindset that attempts to flirt with the New Age/New Spirituality of postmodernism. The fact that the novel is fiction makes no difference — it communicates wrong ideas about God. As A.W. Tozer wrote,

Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.

“Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear. The long career of Israel demonstrates this clearly enough, and the history of the Church confirms it. So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards decline along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.

“Before the Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, ‘What is God like?’ and goes on from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is, and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.” [22]

THE TRUTH:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

ENDNOTES
1. The Apostle Paul also remarked of the reputation of the church at Thessalonica how they, “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:9). Scripture also records that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also Truth (John 14:6; 1 John 5:7, 20). In this vein, one must note John’s closing word: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
2. A.W. Tozer,
The Knowledge of the Holy, The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1961) 12
.
3. The word “imagination” (Greek, dialogismos) literally means, “the thinking of a man deliberating with himself” (Romans 1:21, KJV). On this point, it is appropriate to note that
William P. Young accounts for the origin of his novel for reason of personal and private conversations he had with God on his daily work-commute from Gresham to Portland, Oregon. World magazine reports that, “Young used 80 minutes each day . . . to fill yellow legal pads with imagined conversations with God focused on suffering, pain, and evil.” (See Susan Olasky, “Commuter-driven bestseller,” World, June 28/July 5, 2008, 49.) Paul, the apostle states that idolatry germinates out of people “deliberating” within themselves. This is gnosis spirituality which is ever in contest with the Logos spirituality of the Bible. The Word finds its origin with God (John 1:1, 14). Gnosis, the basis of the New Age/New Spirituality, finds its origin in the mind of man, or perhaps might even be received from demons (1 Timothy 4:1).
4. In that in the Front Matter The Shack book receives rave theological kudos, it is not unfair to investigate and evaluate the book’s theology, especially the doctrine of God known to systematic theologians as the category of Theology Proper.
5. On this point, I find it interesting that the novel has not yet been accused of racial stereotyping, i.e., that God is pictured as being a “large” or “big black woman” (The Shack, 84, 86), and that Jesus comes from a Jewish nation of people with “big noses” (The Shack, 111).
6. John P. Newport, Paul Tillich (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984) 108. Newport also observes that in the “grounding” of God, Tillich “seems to synthesize the pantheistic element of immanence with the theistic element of transcendence in a way that leans toward pantheism.” (110). Newport’s assessment may be too generous. At the end of his life, Tillich might have been an out and out pantheist. Of Tillich’s book, Courage to Be, Erickson remarks that it “appears to have more in common with Hinduism than it does with historic Christianity.” See Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998) 334.
7. Erickson, Theology, 333.
8. For sake of explanation, pantheism teaches that God is all things while panentheism holds that God dwells in all things. For sake of analogy, a tree is not God (pantheism), but the sap which is the “life force” in the tree is. God is “in” the tree, but the tree is not God. See Erickson, Theology, 333.
9. Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, “The Return of the Black Madonna: A Sign of Our Times or How the Black Madonna Is Shaking Us Up for the Twenty-First Century,” Friends of Creation Spirituality, January 2006, Article Number 1 (
http://www.matthewfox.org/sys-tmpl/theblackmadonna/).
10. Ibid. Article Number 8.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid. Article Number 3.
14. Rosemary Ellen Guiley, “Chakra,” Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991) 86.
15. Ibid. 86-87.
16. Guiley, “Kundalini,” Encyclopedia, 319.
17. Fox, “The Black Madonna,” Article Number 6.
18. Ibid. Article Number 7.
19. When it acknowledged Jesus to have been “begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead,” it might be construed that the Chalcedonian Creed (AD 451) allows for a concept that God originated Jesus (See
http://www.carm.org/creeds/chalcedonian.htm). However, to imagine the mystery surrounding the Trinity to be analogous to some kind of human begetting (i.e., as in the Mormon doctrine of God) is improper. The relationship of the Father and Son to each other is their personal relationship, and it would be well for us creatures not invade their privacy (i.e., mystery). Their relationship is theirs alone. Though the unity for which Jesus prayed may be compared to that of His with the Father, it is only similar to (“as”), but not the same as their unity (John 17:21).
20. In this regard, one can note the capitalization of “Beloved.” When used in the NASB translation of the Bible, “Beloved” is capitalized as when Paul wrote of the grace God bestowed upon the believer “in the Beloved” (in Christ, Ephesians 1:6, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, 1901 ASV). Thus when the “Jesus ” of The Shack said he desires people to be transformed “into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved” (The Shack, 182), it is as if Jesus envisions that humans can achieve a theotic state of “being” that morphs into divinity. While believers are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), we are not consumed of it (Romans 7:14ff.).
21. “Word Mythology Dictionary: Vayu,” Answers.com (
http://www.answers.com/topic/vayu-2).
22. A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy,
9.

Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor. This article used with permission.

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Holiness A Way of Life…For the Authentic Believer!

Posted by Scott on September 16, 2008

A couple of mornings in my quiet time I was reading and studying through the Heroes of the Faith in Hebrews 11:1-40 and continuing on into chapter 12 as well.  Something interesting was shining through each verse and my awareness of God’s strong calling for us men to return to a holiness the world has not seen or heard of for centuries…these men of old lived by a faith in someone that was unknown in that day and time and unseen…the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.  These early faithful fathers considered a strange life to be worth more than all the wealth in the world.  Many were willing to sacrifice everything they had in order to follow the commands of God.  We must ask ourselves if we are willing to give up our wealth, our job, our golf game, our constant trips away from the family, our social life, and so on in order to be obedient to call of God on our lives.  Not many are willing, but some are.

All these people spoken of here were living out their faith in God and the coming Messiah at the time of their death.  They did not waiver in their faith.  They desired to be holy and not compromise their holiness for anything less than their very best for God.  Each one of them considered themselves to be strangers or aliens while on earth.  They had not conformed to the world’s way of living…they stayed the course.  These men and women understood their role as being made after the image of God. 

Any of us that are today striving to live our lives in holiness, set apart for the service and work of God our Father must ask ourselves if we are really walking in faith daily?  We live in the greatest nation on the face of the earth in the way of safety, security, freedom to worship as we please and where we please and even the ease of life.  However, conformity to the world is even easier here.  It is much easier to live as everyone else does.  It is much easier just to go along with what everyone else is doing.  Send the kids to public school that teach them to be everything but a holy Christian, so you don’t have to answer those questions that homeschool parents get asked.  Put the kids in every sport and activity known to man so they don’t have be pressured by their peers at school or church..just conform to the world’s way of life and it will be much easier.  Remember, only have two children…if you have a boy and a girl you now have the “perfect” family…I mean you must know better than God how man kids you can handle…us guys we surely know what is best for our families, God just pushes us out here and kind of lets us go in all directions and hopes we end up where He planned.  Play golf every weekend because your buddies do and they might laugh at you for being a “family man” if you did not join them.  Guys, it is much easier to just conform to the ways of our society than it is to live a holy life…we must admit this to ourselves.  Now, guys you you know all that sounds absurd, but that is how many Christians live and wonder why they have no impact for Christ.  Let’s stop and think about the early Christian’s and what they went through for the cause of Christ.  Stop and think about your life and whether it is pleasing to our heavenly Father who has told us to be “holy”.

“…others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned[a]; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated…”  Hebrews 11:35-37

These early Christians were our examples of how an authentic Christian should live.  The difference Christ has made in our lives should be obvious to those around us.  It could lead to beatings, ridicule, imprisonment, torture, etc., but in our society today most likely just very opinionated people lashing out is what will happen.  How may of us are willing to live in holiness with a threat hanging over our heads, because of our faith.  The Scriptures tell us that “the world was not worthy of these.”  Can this be said of you and me?  Are we living such a life that we are willing to take the jeers from others including other so called believers?  Are we willing to be an alien in this world to the point of being taken to court over it or even imprisoned for the Christ sake?  These are serious questions we all must ask ourselves.

Holiness was worth going through some of the most horrible torture the world could think of to many of the early Christians.  Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of the coming Messiah of greater value than all the treasure in all of Egypt.  Rahab was willing to risk her and her families life to assist the godly men of God.  Enoch was rewarded for being the one who pleased God and was taken away to heaven without experiencing death…holiness was evident in his obedience to God’s word.  He understood that it was impossible to please God without being obedient to Him.  Noah built the ark in holy fear of God who commanded him to build it.  Each of these people and many more were considered holy before a perfectly holy God.  They understood the risk, but also believed in the reward…God Himself!

To be disciplined by God is to be loved by God.  He must sanctify us before He uses us and He is disciplining us to experience in His holiness.  These hardships and disciplines are brought upon us to produce a holy righteousness and a peace that surpasses the masses understanding.  In this quest for holiness, God intends on training us so that we can share in His holiness.  He intends the bride of Christ (the Elect, the Sheep, the Chose ones) to be holy when He returns.

In conclusion, this life is worth living only if it is lived out for God and Him alone.  Everything we do in this life should be for the glory and honor of our most holy God.  Our holiness is important to God in pointing the way for others to an authentic faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  We must ask ourselves a question each and everyday…what am doing today that is showing my holiness before our almighty God?

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”   -Hebrews 12:14

(c) Scott Bailey 2008

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Reformation Preaching by John MacArthur

Posted by Scott on September 9, 2008

A great message by John MacArthur on Reformation Preaching.  This is about a 6 minute message on the conrast between todays preaching and the preaching of the Reformers like Calvin & Luther.

Listen Here:  Reformation Preaching

Posted in Theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Comparison of Christianity and Islam!

Posted by Scott on June 19, 2008

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Islam or Christianity? Jesus or Mohammed? Bible or Koran?

Islam or Christianity?
Jesus or Mohammed? Christian Gospel or Muslim Koran?

Islam, Mohammed, and the Koran compared to Jesus Christ, the Bible, and Christianity. A study of Moslem teaching compared to the gospel. What should a Christian believe?

The religion of Islam claims that Mohammed was as great a prophet as Jesus Christ, that the Koran succeeded the New Testament, and that Muslim (Moslem) teachings should be followed instead of Christianity. In this study we compare the evidence for Islam to the evidence for Jesus as revealed in the Bible: fulfilled prophecy, miracles, and the resurrection. Was Jesus the Divine Son of God crucified to save us from our sins, or is there just one individual Being in God (Allah)?

Introduction:

The purpose of this study is to examine the beliefs of Islam and the teaching of Mohammed in the Koran, comparing these to the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Brief Summary of Islam

“Islam” is the proper term for the religion revealed by Mohammed in Arabia in the early 600’s. “Islam” means “submission” (to the will of God). Adherents are called Muslims (“one who submits”) (often one sees the word as “Moslem”). Arabians are descendants of Ishmael, so Islam claims to be a renewal of the ancient religion of Abraham traced through Ishmael.

Mohammed was born in Mecca, Arabia, about 570 AD. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by his grandfather and then his uncle. His family was aristocratic and influential. He grew up in times of religious and political confusion and uncertainty. At age 25 he married a wealthy 40-year-old widow named Khadijah.

At age 40 he began claiming to receive dreams and revelations, but was unsure of their source. He quoted these revelations to others who wrote them down. His wife convinced him these were messages from God, as Muslims today believe. But non-Muslims believe he developed such a deep religious fervor, out of concern for the needs of the people, that he began having dreams about religion and attributed them to God.

Rejected at first by the people of Mecca, he fled to Medina where he became a religious and political leader. By a series of violent battles he obtained income and converted people to Islam. Eventually he returned to Mecca and captured it by force.

When he died at age 63-65, a power struggle developed regarding who should succeed him. Several sects resulted, the major two being Sunni Muslims and Shi-ite Muslims. We will mainly consider Sunni Muslims (by far the larger group), though many of the same points would apply to other forms of Islam. Nevertheless, we should remember that there are wide variations among Muslims, just as there are among those claiming to be Christians.

Relationship of Islam to Judaism and The Gospel of Christ

Islam claims to believe in the same God as Jews and Christians, the God of Abraham, revealed in the Old Testament. Muslims generally claim that “Allah” is just their name for the God of the Bible. Significant differences exist, however, regarding how the religions view Jesus Christ. 

All three religions began from the work of major individual prophets. Jews’ beliefs were revealed by Moses, Christians’ by Jesus, and Muslims’ by Mohammed. Islam recognizes both Moses and Jesus as prophets (along with other Bible prophets), but it claims that Mohammed is the last of the prophets and his revelation supercedes those of Moses and Jesus.

All are based on written revelations claimed to be infallibly inspired by God. The Jews accept only the Old Testament, Christians also accept the New Testament, and Muslims accept the Koran (they also have great respect for Muslim traditions). Just as Christians believe the Old Testament was inspired but was replaced by the New Testament, so Muslims believe the Old and New Testaments were inspired but were both replaced by the Koran.

For these reasons many similarities exist among Judaism, the gospel, and Islam. Yet we will see that essential differences also exist.

Note – In this study we have mainly relied on the following sources about Islam:

The Koran (page numbers refer to the printing I own)
Encyclopedia Britannica (abbreviated EB), articles on “Islam,” “Mohammed,” and “Koran.”
World’s Religions (abbr. WR), article by Norman Anderson.
Christian’s Response to Islam, (abbr. CRI), William Miller.

Also other miscellaneous sources as noted.

(Note: This study refers several times to a lesson about “Evidences,” which summarizes the evidence for God, Jesus, and the Bible. It can be accessed from our website at www.gospelway.com/instruct/.)


Part I: Basic Doctrines


Since Islam claims to accept the Old and New Testaments, if its doctrines are true then they ought to harmonize with the Bible. So let us examine some basic doctrines of Islam and compare them to the Bible.


I. The Doctrine of God


Islam correctly opposes idolatry and teaches that there is only one God. But more is needed (James 2:19). So consider further:

A. Islam Says Jesus Is Not Divine.

Mohammed taught there is only one Divine Being in God. He denied the Deity of Jesus, saying He was just a man – a great prophet, but not the Divine Son of God. (Koran, 4:160-171 – pp60,61; 6:90-100 – pp77,78; 9:130; 19:135 – p168)

The Bible says Jesus is Divine.

John 1:1,14 – Jesus (the Word) was God, was with God in the beginning, and became flesh to dwell among men a man.

Colossians 2:9 – In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

John 20:28,29 – Thomas called Jesus “my Lord and my God.” Jesus pronounced a blessing on all others who believe the same (cf. vv 30,31).

How can Muslims deny these teachings and yet claim to believe the Bible is true and Jesus was a prophet?

[Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 1:8,9; Tit. 2:13; Isa. 9:6; John 8:58; 5:23]

The Bible says Jesus is the Only-Begotten Son of God.

Matthew 16:13-17 – During His lifetime many people believed what Muslims today believe: that Jesus was a great prophet like other prophets. But Peter confessed that Jesus was not just a man but was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus Himself affirmed that Peter’s statement had been revealed by God.

John 10:35 – Jesus plainly admitted that He had said, “I am the Son of God.”

Matthew 17:5; 3:17 – Twice God spoke from heaven and claimed Jesus as His beloved Son. Bible writers claimed to be eyewitnesses that these things were true (2 Peter 1:16-18).

Romans 1:4 – The resurrection declared Jesus to be the Son of God.

To believe that Jesus was just a great man and a prophet is to belittle Him and to deny His own statements. To believe some other man was as great as Jesus is to blaspheme Him. If Jesus spoke the truth, then He was more than a prophet.

Muslims must either admit that Jesus was the Divine Son of God, or else they must admit they do not believe that Jesus and the Bible are true.

[John 3:16; 1:14; 3:18; 1 John 4:9; Colossians 1:15,18; Eph. 1:19-22; 1 Corinthians 15:23-28]

The Bible says Jesus has Divine characteristics.

He was eternal – Micah 5:2 [Isa. 9:6]

He was all-knowing – John 16:30; 21:17

He was all-powerful over created things – Matt. 28:18; Rev. 19:16; 17:14; Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:12; John 3:31; Rom. 9:5.

How could these characteristics be possessed by a mere man? Are these things true of Mohammed? If not, then how could he be as great as Jesus?

The Bible says Jesus is the Creator of the universe and the Judge of mankind.

John 1:3 – All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. [Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:16,17]

John 5:22,23 – The Father has committed all judgment to the Son.

2 Corinthians 5:10 – Jesus will be our judge; we must all appear before Him. Jesus will be Mohammed’s judge! How can Mohammed be as great? [Acts 17:31; Matt. 25:31ff]

What mere human prophet could create the universe or judge all mankind? Mohammed makes no such claims. These are the claims of a Divine Being. How can Muslims deny these teachings and yet claim to believe the Bible is true and Jesus was a prophet?

The Bible says Jesus accepted worship.

Jesus taught that no one but God should be worshipped (Matt. 4:10). Both men and angels in the New Testament refused to allow people to bow in worship to them (Acts 10:25,26; Rev. 22:8,9).

Matthew 28:9,17; Hebrews 1:6 – However, Jesus’ disciples worshipped Him, and angels are commanded by God to worship Him. [Cf. Rev. 5:12-14; Luke 24:52]

Jesus accepted worship such as was forbidden to man. How can Islam believe the Bible and believe Jesus was from God, while denying that He deserved worship? When they claim that Jesus was just a human prophet and that Mohammed was as great a prophet as Jesus, the Scripture says they are unbelievers (John 20:30,31; 8:24; Mark 16:16).

Islam is like a man who views a building from a great distance. He can tell there is only one building, but a closer view would reveal that it has three stories. So Islam correctly affirms there is only one God, but the greater revelation of New Testament shows that this one God consists of three separate and distinct individual spirit Beings.

(Note carefully:  Further evidence can be obtained about the claims of Jesus, the evidence that those claims are true, and the number of individuals in the Godhead from the links at the end of this study.)

B. Islam Says Men Cannot Conceive What God Is Like because He Has Not Revealed Himself.

Of course we cannot grasp fully the infinite nature of God, but Islam says it is impossible to have even a general concept of God’s character [WR-115; CRI-44,74]. But the Bible says:

John 1:18 – Though man has not seen God, Jesus knows Him and has declared Him.

John 14:9,10 – We can know what the Father is like because Jesus and His Father are perfectly united. To know what Jesus is like is to know what the Father is like.

Hebrews 1:3 – Jesus is the express image of the substance of His Father. [Col. 1:15; Matt. 11:27]

The fuller knowledge of God, which Islam lacks, is found in the revelation given by Jesus Christ.

Although Islam teaches there is one God, it still teaches error about God, for it denies the Deity of Jesus and ignores the Bible revelation of God’s nature. How can Muslims deny these teachings and yet claim to believe the Bible is true and Jesus was a prophet?


II. The Doctrine of Revelation


Mohammed said the New Testament and Jesus were from God, but his own teachings were better and replaced the New Testament. However, note the claims of the New Testament regarding itself.

A. The New Testament Is a Complete Revelation of All God’s Will.

John 16:13 – Jesus promised His apostles would receive all truth. Any teaching that a man claims to reveal from God, if it is not in the New Testament, it is not a part of God’s truth. [John 14:26]

2 Peter 1:3 – God’s power has granted all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Jesus. What is left for Mohammed to provide?

James 1:25 – The gospel is the perfect law of liberty.

The teachings of Islam claim to be superior to the gospel. But how can one improve on that which is perfect and which contains all truth and all things pertaining to life and godliness. [Acts 20:20,27; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; Matt. 28:18-20]

B. The New Testament Universally Meets the Needs of All Men.

The gospel provides what all men of all ages need in order to have a proper relationship to God.

Mark 16:15 – It is to be preached to everyone in all the world. [Matthew 28:19]

Romans 1:16 – It is God’s power to save everyone who believes, Jew on non-Jew.

The gospel of Christ is sufficient to give all men eternal life (John 20:30,31; Acts 2:39; 10:34f). No man in any future age will need any further revelation than the gospel. What more could Mohammed provide?

C. The New Testament Is God’s Final Revelation to Man.

The Old Testament predicted that another testament would replace it (Jer. 31:31-34). This promise was fulfilled in the New Testament. However, the New Testament does not, in turn, predict that it will be replaced by the teachings of Mohammed or any other Divine revelation. Instead it teaches that it is itself the final revelation. [Heb. 13:20f; 7:11-28; 8:6-13; 12:18-29]

1 Corinthians 13:8-11

This passage discusses spiritual gifts, which were the means by which prophets received revelation (cf. chap. 12). It says these gifts, including prophecy, would cease when “that which is perfect is come.” They would cease because they were “in part” – incomplete and imperfect.

Note: “That which is perfect” is contrasted to the spiritual gifts, which were “in part.” “That which is perfect” refers to something that completes or perfects what was incomplete or imperfect about spiritual gifts.

In what way were the gifts (including prophecy) “in part”? The only Scriptural answer is that, at the time Paul wrote, the gifts had only partially accomplished their purpose. They had been given in order to reveal or deliver the will of God. But that delivery was not yet complete when Paul wrote – the will of God had not all been revealed and recorded.

“That which is perfect,” therefore, must be the completion of that which was lacking in the spiritual gifts: it must be the completed revelation of truth. When the process of revelation was complete and all truth had been completely delivered and recorded in writing, then the gifts of prophecy would no longer be needed and so they would cease. But we have already shown that this happened during the lifetime of the original apostles (see above and note the “perfect law of liberty – Jas. 1:25).

The gift of prophecy was needed in an age when people did not yet have the complete written word to guide them. When the word was completely recorded by Jesus’ apostles and prophets, then prophecy would have completed it purpose and so would cease. By the time Mohammed lived, the gift of prophecy was no longer needed and had long since ceased.

Jude 3

The faith was “once for all delivered to the saints” (NKJV). “Once” is “used of what is so done as to be of perpetual validity and never need repetition” (Thayer). The same Greek word describes Jesus’ death in Heb. 9:26,28; 10:10; 7:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:18, which teach that Jesus’ death will not be repeated.

Old Testament sacrifices did not completely remove sins, so they had to be repeated. But the death of Jesus was perfect and sufficient to completely remove all sin for all men of all ages; so it happened only “once.” There was no repetition.

Likewise, the true faith was delivered only “once.” The gift of prophecy was needed as long as God’s perfect testament had not been perfectly and completely revealed. But that perfect testament was completely delivered to men in the first century. It does not need to be delivered again, so it never will be delivered again. Therefore, the spiritual gifts by which it was delivered have ceased.

Everything Jesus did was perfect. He not only gave us a perfect sacrifice for sin, He also gave us the perfect New Testament to tell us how to receive forgiveness (Heb. 1:1,2; Jas. 1:25). Neither His sacrifice nor the revelation of His will can ever be repeated or improved.

To claim that Mohammed or any other man received later revelations or a better revelation is to deny the perfection of the New Testament.

Galatians 1:8,9

Having completely revealed His will in the first century, God preserved it for all future generations (1 Pet. 1:23-25; 3 John 2; Matt. 24:35; John 12:48). God’s word here says that if any man preaches a different gospel, he stands under the curse of God.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a perfect and complete revelation, given by God to guide all people until the end of time. So God forbids anyone to teach a different religious doctrine. (Matthew 15:9,13; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13)

Men have always wanted to change God’s will, hoping they could improve it or make it more suitable to themselves. Men who attempt this have often claimed to be prophets from God, but God has always warned us to beware of false prophets and resist them (1 John 4:1; Matt. 7:15ff; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; etc.).

So we have evidence that God authorized the New Testament to replace the Old Testament, but we have no such evidence that God authorized the teachings of Mohammed to replace the New Testament. Since Mohammed’s revelation is different from the gospel, the above passages show that we must resist his message, for the curse of God is on it.


III. The Doctrine of Salvation


A. Islam Denies the Sacrificial Death of Jesus and His Resurrection.

Islam denies that Jesus was crucified, that He died as a sacrifice for sin, and that He arose from the dead. (Koran 4:156 – p60)

The Bible teaches Jesus did die by crucifixion as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.

Matthew 20:17-19 – Jesus predicted He would be crucified, then rise again.

Matthew 26:28 – He claimed that He would shed His blood for the remission of man’s sins. [20:28]

John 19:31-35 – John claimed to be an eyewitness to Jesus’ crucifixion. [Acts 2:23]

Ephesians 1:7 – Redemption and forgiveness are through His blood.

1 Peter 2:24 – He bore our sins in His body on the tree.

Hebrews 2:9 – He tasted of death for every man.

If Islam denies these statements from Jesus and the Bible, how can it yet claim to believe the Bible is from God and Jesus was a true teacher?

[Mark 8:31; Matt. 16:21; Rev. 1:5; 5:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:18f; Isa. 53:5-9; 1 Cor. 15:3; John 1:29; Heb. chap. 9:24-28; 10:9-13; 13:20f; Rom. 5:6-11; 2 Cor. 5:14,15]

The Bible teaches that Jesus was raised from the dead, as proved by the testimony of eyewitnesses.

Matthew 20:17-19 – Jesus predicted He would be crucified and then rise again. [Matt. 16:21]

Luke 24:44-46 – Jesus taught that His death and resurrection was a fulfillment of prophecy.

Romans 1:4 – Jesus is declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 – He died for our sins, was buried, and arose as prophesied and as testified by eyewitnesses who saw Him alive.

The resurrection of Jesus is absolutely fundamental to the claims of Jesus and the gospel. The apostles repeatedly affirmed it to be true on the basis of eyewitness testimony. This is proof such as neither Islam nor any other religion can offer.

[Romans 10:9,10; 6:4-13; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:1-26; John 20:24-31; Acts 2:23-36; 17:30,31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Peter 1:3,4; 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Ephesians 1:19,20; Colossians 2:12,13]

The Bible teaches that salvation can be obtained only through Jesus.

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Acts 4:12 – “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We can only be saved through Jesus, no other way. Islam denies salvation through Jesus. Therefore, Islam cannot save and Muslims have no way to be saved.

The Old Testament had animal sacrifices. The New Testament has the superior, perfect sacrifice of Jesus. But, Islam has no sacrifice for sin at all. Without a sacrifice for sin, there can be no remission (Heb. 9:22). It follows that Islam not only is not a superior system, but it cannot save at all.

B. Islam Teaches Salvation by Law-Keeping without Sacrifice.

Islam offers only a vague concept of how man is saved. Evil is balanced against good, and if good outweighs, a person might be saved. Outward obedience is emphasized, not faith, love, or the condition of ones heart. [CRI-81f,84f]

The Bible teaches that all have sinned, and even one sin leads to eternal punishment.

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

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

James 2:10 – For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

This is why we need a sacrifice. No matter how much good we have done, it can never outweigh the evil of our sin.

Islam’s approach to righteousness is even less effective than that of the Old Testament.

Galatians 3:10 – Under the Old Testament, anyone who disobeyed in any point was under a curse.

Galatians 5:1,4 – The law was a yoke of bondage in which we should not again be entangled. To seek justification by the law is to fall from grace.

The law itself provided justification only for those who lived without ever sinning, and no one did that (except Jesus). This is why God replaced the Old Testament with the New. But Islam, like the Old Testament, is a system of strict law keeping. Islam does not even have the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament.

So Islam claims to be better than the New Testament, when in reality it is worse than the Old Testament! To accept it is to return to a yoke of bondage, having no hope for salvation.

[Romans 3:20; Gal. 2:16; Heb. 8:6-13; 10:1-18; Acts 15:10]


Part II: Mohammed vs. Jesus


Since Islam claims that Mohammed is a prophet like Jesus, but his revelation replaces Jesus’ gospel, let us compare their character, claims, and proofs.


I. Claims


A. Islam

Muslims claim that Mohammed was the last of the prophets and his revelation replaced that of Jesus. Islam claims that the exact words of the Koran were given to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel, and therefore the Koran is verbally inspired. [CRI-46-50,33; WR-99]

Islam claims Jesus was a great prophet, but not Divine and not the unique Son of God. It admits Jesus did miracles, but denies He died as a substitutionary sacrifice to save people from their sins or that He arose from the dead. (Koran, 4:160,169; 6:90) [WR-100f; CRI-49,77]

B. The Gospel

We earlier studied passages where the gospel claims Jesus was more than a prophet: He was in fact the Divine Son of God who died to save men from their sins and then arose from the dead. The gospel of Jesus offers eyewitness testimony as proof.

Note that, whereas Mohammed made the general claim to as great as Jesus, the actual specific claims of Jesus were greater than any Mohammed ever made.

Furthermore, if Jesus really made these claims, then Islam must be untrue. If Jesus’ claims are true, then Mohammed cannot be as great as Jesus, as he claimed. On the other hand, if Jesus’ claims are false, then Islam is still untrue, since it claimed that Jesus was a true prophet. Either way, if Jesus made these claims, Islam is untrue.

Islam, therefore, denies Jesus ever made these claims. We have cited passages where He made the claims, but Islam denies those passages are genuine. So we must consider whether or not the Bible is an accurate record. And we must compare the evidence for Mohammed’s claims to the evidence Jesus’ claims. Anyone can make claims. What proof is there?


II. Character


A. Jesus

The New Testament repeatedly claims Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; etc.).

Muslims generally admit Jesus never sinned. The Koran nowhere claims that He sinned. [CRI-47ff].

So we have complete agreement that Jesus was a person of pure morals, wisdom, courage, love, and every other quality of goodness.

B. Mohammed

Many Muslims claim that Mohammed also never sinned. But compare his life to Jesus’ life:

Broken treaties

While ruling in Medina, Mohammed made a treaty not to attack Mecca for ten years. He then attacked them the very next year. [CRI-33f]

Violence and assassination

Mohammed used violence, including assassination, to defeat and convert men to Islam [WR-98; EB, XV-648]. Jesus converted people by teaching, persuasion, and example. He never used force, nor would He allow His disciples to use force, even when His enemies attacked Him.

Polygamy

Mohammed had 12 wives and 2 concubines at the time of his death. [CRI-32]

Revelations for personal convenience and benefit

* Mohammed revealed that men could have plural wives, but not more than four at a time (Koran 4 – p48). However, a special revelation said that he himself could have more than 4 wives. He had 12 when he died. (Koran 33:50,51 – p228)

* He revealed that no man could marry his own daughter-in-law. Then a special revelation allowed him to take the wife of his adopted son. (Koran 33:37 – p227)

* Arabs once starved him, because they opposed his teaching against idolatry. He then received a “revelation” condoning idolatry. As soon as they released him, he reversed the revelation and again said idolatry was wrong. [EB, XV-647]

Mohammed himself never claimed to be sinless.

In fact he admitted he and other prophets committed sin. But he never claimed that Jesus sinned. [CRI-26,50; WR-99]

So, whereas Christians and Muslims agree Jesus was sinless, there is much reason to doubt Mohammed’s sinlessness. Based on their character then, who was greater: Mohammed or Jesus?


III. Fulfilled Prophecy


Jesus unquestionably fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies, and He Himself accurately predicted future events (see study on evidences). What about Mohammed?

A. Islam Claims that the Bible Was Changed to Eliminate Prophecies of Mohammed.

Some prophecies, that Muslims claim refer to Mohammed, were actually fulfilled in Jesus. But Muslims claim that Mohammed fulfilled other prophecies, but Jews and Christians changed their own Scriptures to remove these prophecies and destroy the evidence. [CRI-27,49f,70f,78; WR-101]

For example John 16:7 predicts the coming of the “Comforter.” Muslims claim this originally used the word “praised,” which is the meaning of Mohammed. But to cover it up, the Scriptures were changed. [CRI-78; WR-101]

But where is the proof of these changes in the Bible? As noted earlier, Muslims also argue that the Bible was changed to make it appear that Jesus was the Son of God, that he died for our sins and arose from the dead, etc. Where is the proof of these changes? There is none. However, there is much proof for the accuracy of the Bible.

The claims of Islam would require wholesale changes in the Scriptures.

As cited earlier, numerous Scriptures claim Jesus was the Son of God, etc. If the Bible did not originally teach this but did prophesy of Mohammed, then wholesale changes must have been made.

For example, the context of John 16:7 plainly states that the “Comforter” is the Holy Spirit (John 14:16f, 26; and 15:26). If this originally referred to Mohammed, major changes must have been made in the text.

The same is true for the many other teachings we have listed on which the Bible contradicts Islam.

The Bible promises that God would preserve His word forever.

1 Peter 1:23-25 – God’s word is incorruptible seed that will live and abide forever. It will not be like grass that grows and then fades. [Isaiah 40:8]

2 John 2 – The truth will be with us forever.

Muslims say that God failed to keep these promises, but He allowed the Bible message to become thoroughly corrupted. [Matt. 24:35]

Interestingly, the Koran contains similar promises that God would preserve it from corruption (15:9 p141). If Muslims believe God preserved the Koran without corruption, why would He not do the same for the Bible, which they also agree is from God?

Further, the Koran claims to confirm the Scripture that Jews and Christians had (2:89 – p18). Since the Bible we have today is the same as existed in Mohammed’s day, did the Koran confirm that which was corrupted?

The Bible repeatedly rebukes those who change its message.

Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Galatians 1:8,9; Revelation 22:18,19 and many other passages condemn changing the Scriptures. If Jews and Christians changed their Scriptures, as Muslims claim they did, then they knowingly and repeatedly violated these passages in their own Scriptures.

Rather, because of these warnings, both Jews and Christians have shown great care in making copies of their Scriptures through the centuries. Work was checked repeatedly, counting numbers of words and letters on each page, and proofreading each page to make sure no changes occurred.

The result is that many ancient manuscripts verify the accuracy of the Bible as we have it today.

* Several copies of the New and Old Testaments date before the time of Mohammed.

* Some translations of the Scriptures date long before the time of Mohammed.

* Scriptural quotations exist in the writings of many men who lived long before Mohammed.

If the claims of Islam are true, then all these writings should read as Islam claims that they originally read. But instead, all these ancient sources read just like modern copies of the Scriptures. There is no evidence of any kind that changes were made after Mohammed lived.

How could it be that all the copies of the Scriptures that existed in Mohammed’s time were found and changed, all at the same time and all in the same way, just to disprove Islam? Why can’t Muslims produce some manuscripts that still contain the passages Islam says existed? Why didn’t ancient Muslims find some of these manuscripts and save them? Why is it that we have so much evidence of the ancient content of the Bible, and none of the evidence agrees with Islam?

If the Jews changed their Scriptures to eliminate prophecies of Mohammed, why did they not do the same with the prophecies of Jesus?

Old Testament prophecy is one of the strongest proofs of Jesus’ identity. Christians do not have to claim that these prophecies once existed but were removed. They are all right there in the Old Testament!

Jesus and His apostles respected and used the Jews’ Old Testament Scriptures. They claimed the Scriptures were from God and quoted them just as they were. To prove their case, they never needed to claim that parts of the Scriptures were changed.

Why can’t Muslims do the same? What motive would Jews have for removing the prophecies of Mohammed but not the ones of Jesus?

The fact remains that Christians have proof of hundreds of prophecies in the Jews’ Old Testament as it exists now that Jesus fulfilled. Yet Muslims can find no prophecies fulfilled by Mohammed anywhere in the Bible. They claim Mohammed is as great as Jesus. Why then do they not have evidence as great as what we have for Jesus?

(For further discussion of the accuracy of the preservation of the Bible, see a link to our article on that subject at the end of this study.)

B. There Is No Evidence Mohammed Could Predict the Future.

Unquestionably Jesus accurately predicted the future. Even Islam admits Jesus was a prophet. The ability to predict the future is one proof of a prophet. Yet Mohammed rarely attempted to predict the future, and when he did he failed.

Mohammed once predicted there would be 73 sects of Islam, of which only one would survive. But Muslims admit there have been far more than 73. And today many sects, not just one, still survive. [EB, XII-711]

Deuteronomy 18:21f – When a man predicts the future and the prediction fails, he is not from God, so do not be afraid of him.

Islam claims that Mohammed is a prophet like Moses and Jesus. Both Moses and Jesus made prophecies, all of them came true, none failed. Mohammed made few prophecies, yet even so at least one of them failed. How then can Mohammed be a prophet like Moses and Jesus?


IV. Miracles


A. Many Eyewitnesses Testify that Jesus Did Miracles.

The Bible records many testimonies from people who saw His miracles (see study on evidences).

Even Jesus’ enemies and opponents during His lifetime admitted He did miracles.

The Koran confirms that Jesus did miracles (2:250, p31).

So, there can be no doubt that Jesus did miracles. But remember that the purpose of His miracles was to confirm that all His claims are true.

B. What Evidence Is There that Mohammed Worked Miracles?

No eyewitnesses testify seeing Mohammed do miracles.

Usually, there are no serious claims that Mohammed did miracles to confirm his message. When people do make such claims, they base them, not on eyewitness testimony, but on tradition or fables written years after the alleged events.

For example, one night Mohammed was allegedly carried to Jerusalem and from there ascended into heaven to see wonderful visions. However, no one saw it happen. His wife says he never left the bed. [CRI-24]

There is absolutely no eyewitness testimony to confirm any miracles done by Mohammed.

Muslims commonly claim that the writing of the Koran is a miracle.

We will see later that it is entirely possible for someone to write such a book by human wisdom.

Nevertheless, this is an invalid use of miracles. True miracles are events, in addition to the delivery of a revelation, done for the purpose of confirming the revelation to be from God (see references under evidences). While we should examine the revelation itself for evidence, that is a separate argument from miracles.

When one claims that the revelation itself is a miracle to confirm the revelation, he proves that he does not understand the purpose of miracles.

Others claim the rapid growth of Islam is a miracle.

Islam did grow very rapidly, but much of it came by military conquest. If that proves Islam is from God, then consider the military conquests of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler, and Nebuchadnezzar? Do the military conquests of these men confirm that their religious beliefs were revealed from God?

Islam claims to believe in Moses and the Old Testament and in Jesus and the gospel. We have overwhelming evidence that Moses and Jesus did miracles to confirm the Divine origin of their revelations – evidence so clear even their enemies and Muslims admit the miracles. If Mohammed’s teachings replace Moses’ and Jesus’ teachings, then Mohammed must also have done miracles like Moses and Jesus did. But Mohammed’s evidence is insignificant compared to that of Moses and Jesus. How then can Mohammed be a prophet like Moses and Jesus?


V. Resurrection from the Dead


A. Jesus’ Resurrection Is the Greatest Miracle of All.

Many eyewitnesses testify to Jesus’ resurrection (see article on evidences). Muslims admit Jesus did other miracles, but deny He arose. Yet the evidence for the resurrection is far more abundant and convincing than the evidence for any other miracle He did.

This evidence is recorded in many ancient copies of the Scriptures written before Mohammed’s time. There is no evidence whatever that these records were corrupted in later years. Yet Muslims, who came some 600 years after Jesus, deny the eyewitness testimony.

B. Muslims Do Not Even Claim Mohammed Arose from the Dead.

Muslims hope someday they and Mohammed will be raised from the dead, but their hope is based on the teaching of a man still in His grave. The Christian hope is based on the example of one who arose to prove that we will all be raised. Muslims try to discredit the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, but that evidence is far more conclusive than any evidence that Mohammed did any miracles. How then can Mohammed be a prophet as great as Jesus?


VI. Unity of Scripture


A proof of the Bible is the unity of its teaching. Though some 40 different men penned its various books, yet these writings are completely harmonious with no contradictions. This is evidence that it is all the product of the mind of God, just like it claims.

There are no conflicts in history or geography between the Old and New Testaments. Gospel writers often use Old Testament prophecy and teaching to confirm that the New Testament fulfilled the Old.

A. Mohammed’s Teaching Often Contradicts with the Bible.

We might expect some difference in doctrine, since Muslims claim the Koran replaced the gospel. But there should be no conflict of history or eternal principles. Note some examples: [CRI-48; WR-95; EB, XIII-483]

* Mohammed said Jesus’ death was not a crucifixion, He did not die as a sacrifice for the sins of others, and He did not rise from the dead (4:157-159). The Bible teaches all these as fact (see above).

* Mohammed said Jesus was not Divine and not the Son of God (9:130; 19:135 – p168; 6:100 – p 78; 4:171 – p61), but the Bible teaches that He was (see above).

* Mohammed thought Christians believe that the Godhead consists of the Father, Son, and Mary, whereas actually it is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. [CRI-73; WR-101]

* The Koran says one of Noah’s sons drowned in the flood (11:42 – p121), but the Bible says all his sons were spared (Gen. 7:1-7; 1 Peter 3:20).

* The Koran says Lot’s wife stayed behind and perished among the people of Sodom (26:171 – p202), whereas the Bible says she fled but looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:15f,26).

* The Koran says John the Baptist’s father was speechless for 3 days as a sign from the angel (3:41 – p37; 19), but the Bible says he was speechless from before the time his wife conceived till the baby was born (Luke 1:13,20,24,57-64).

* Mohammed referred to Haman as the minister of Pharaoh, whereas the Bible says he was minister of Ahasuerus, king of Persia in the book of Eshter. [WR-95; EB, XIII-483]

* Mohammed confused Miriam the sister of Moses with Mary the mother of Jesus. [EB, XIII-483]

* The Koran teaches men today may practice polygamy and divorce for any cause (4:3,20 – p48; 2:229-232 – pp29,30). Jesus said this was allowed under the Old Testament only because of the hardness of men’s hearts, but would not be allowed under the New Testament (Matt. 19:3-9). Islam claims Mohammed’s revelation is greater than Jesus, yet its moral standard is clearly inferior.

* The Koran teaches there will be marriage in heaven (52:5 – p284; 44:54 – p268), but Jesus said there is not (Matt. 22:30).

Muslim’s try to rationalize by claiming that the Koran has been preserved accurately but the Bible has been perverted. Hence, whenever there is conflict, the Bible is wrong and the Koran is right.

Yet consider again how much of the Bible this means has been corrupted. And remember that God promised He would not let His word be destroyed. There is no historical evidence that the Bible has been corrupted and much evidence that it has not been. If God can preserve the Koran without allowing it to be corrupted, why can he not preserve the Bible in the same way? (See above).

Christians also claim to believe the Old Testament, but in order to prove our case we never need to argue that the Old Testament has been corrupted. On the contrary, Jesus and His apostles and all Christians take the Old Testament, just as it is, and use it to substantiate our case (Acts 17:1-3,11; see article on evidences).

Islam claims to believe in both the Old and New Testament. Yet to make their case, they must repeatedly claim that the Old and New Testaments are corrupt. Why can’t they prove their claim, using the Bible as we have it, like Christians can do using the Old Testament? Why must they discredit the very messages they claim are from God?

B. Mohammed’s Teaching Contradicts Itself.

The Bible does not contradict itself, despite being written by 40 different men from widely different circumstances. Just one man wrote the Koran so, if it had no self-contradictions, it would prove little. However, it turns out that this one man did contradict himself.

* Mohammed commanded his disciples to use violence against those who reject Islam, yet he said violence should not be practiced in the name of religion (Koran 9:5,29 – pp102,111; cf. 2:256 – p32) .

* He forbade the use of images, then under threat of starvation he excused it, then later he again condemned it (see above).

* He first taught men to pray facing Jerusalem, then later said they must pray facing Mecca. [EB, XV-647]

* In fact Mohammed admitted having changed his doctrine at times. Muslim commentators themselves admit some 5-50 examples of such. [EB, XIII-483]

Jesus’ teachings harmonize with all previous Divine revelation, without arguing that it has been corrupted. But Mohammed’s teaching conflicts with previous revelation that he admits was from God. Jesus never changed His teaching and never contradicted Himself (1 Cor. 1:13), but Mohammed contradicted himself and changed his teachings several times. How then can Mohammed be a prophet as great as Jesus?

Conclusion

The evidence confirms the gospel of Jesus, not Islam.

Muslims make many claims for Islam, but there is no real proof that Islam is true. Anyone can make claims. Proving them is another matter.

Christians accept Jesus and His gospel, but reject Mohammed and Islam, on the basis of proof. The evidence is that:

* Jesus was sinless but Mohammed committed sin.

* Jesus fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies, but Muslims cannot prove Mohammed ever fulfilled any.

* Jesus made predictions of the future that came true, but Mohammed made none that were fulfilled and at least one that failed.

* Jesus performed miracles as attested by eyewitnesses, but there is no eyewitness proof that Mohammed ever did any miracle.

* Jesus arose from the dead as attested by witnesses, but Muslims do not even claim that Mohammed arose.

* Jesus’ teaching agrees with itself, but the teachings of Mohammed contradict themselves.

* Jesus’ teachings harmonize with, and His claims are substantiated by, all Divine revelation that went before Him. He and His followers never discredit previous revelation. Mohammed’s teachings are not substantiated by prior revelation but contradict it, so Muslims repeatedly discredit prior revelations, while still claiming that those revelations were from God.

The evidence proves, not just that Mohammed was not a prophet like Jesus, but that in fact Mohammed was not a true prophet of God at all. His teaching bears none of the proofs of true prophetic teaching, but it does bear all the earmarks of being the work of a false prophet. (Matthew 7:15-23; 15:14; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; Titus 1:9-14; 2 John 9-11; Romans 16:17,18; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter chap. 2)

Philippians 2:9-11 – Jesus has a name that is above every name. To Him every knee will bow and every tongue confess. It follows that Jesus is greater than Mohammed and someday every Muslim will confess it. Everyone ought to confess it now while they have the opportunity to be saved.

Note: If you would like to study further about related Bible topics, we have a number of other study materials on our web site that should interest you. Please see the links listed below.

(C) Copyright 2000, David E. Pratte
Local churches and individuals may, within limits, distribute this Bible study guide for free, but not for sale.  Web sites may link to this page but not reproduce it. For details click here for our copyright guidelines.

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Topics for further Bible study

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What Claims Did Jesus Make?
Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible
Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection
The Inspiration of the Bible
The Preservation of the Bible
Number of Individuals in God
Why So Much Religious Confusion and Disagreement?
The Importance of Bible Knowledge

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“Whosoever will….”

Posted by Scott on June 11, 2008

Just a response to things I have heard for nearly 40 years in the church:

I have heard many pastors, teachers and evangelist make statements when asked about Election…”What do you do with ‘Whosoever will…’?”  The claim is that “Whosoever will…” is the balancing act of “You did not choose me, but I-God chose you”.  There is no balancing act in this…both of these are on the same side.  I have read and heard stated a comment C.H. Spurgeon made one time…it goes something like this and may be paraphrased:  “we enter heaven through a door that says “Whosoever will come..” then as we enter we look on the other side and above the door it says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…”  They ask this as though it is in conflict with Reformed Theology (Calvinism).  The fact is “Whosoever will come…and God chose us” is not in conflict with the Calvinist Theology at all…this is the same door, they are both on the same side, not some balancing act. 

As preachers, pastors, evangelist, and teachers we are to simply present the entire gospel truth found in God’s word to all.  The ears that hear and hearts that are regenerated (Born Again) is up to the Holy Spirit…whosoever hears the word of God and comes to God for salvation may come.  Where is the conflict there?  Fact is that the ears that hear and act upon what they have heard with a regenerated heart will come and those that act in this fashion are of the Elect (Chosen)!  Those that come with a repentant heart, given faith by the Lord, ready to believe, may come to God for salvation…whosoever!  I have never found the conflict that so many seem to have with John 3:16 and the Calvinist Theology….nothing in conflict at all.  The call goes out to all, but only those chosen will come.  It is a narrow way that leads to the narrow gate to access to our heavenly Father…this narrow gate is Jesus Christ alone taught by scripture alone!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“For God…” salvation starts with God.  God is the initiator of our salvation!  As sinful depraved men we will not come to God unless He starts the process first.  He will draw us to Himself.

“…so loved…” this was His design not mans.  This love is a special kind of love for a special kind of people…His chosen people from all parts of the world.  His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts.  God designed this before the foundations of the Universe came into existence.

“…the world…” this was His design for His people from all over the world.  It was a call to all kinds of people…Jews and Gentiles alike.  This salvation message was not just for the Jews, but for all who hear His call to salvation.  His people are all over the world not just in Israel, Jerusalem, America, or any other part, but all over.

“…that He gave His only begotten Son…” this is Jesus Christ the only Son of God…not an adopted son or daughter as we are.  This was a special and most important distinction so that we would not confuse Christ sacrifice on the cross as being just anyone on the cross…it was the one and only Son of the living God…God the Son Himself on that cross!  This was also fulfillment of prophecy from the Old Testament.

“…that Whosoever believes in Him…” those that hear His calling and act in true belief will be saved.  This belief cannot occur without being Born Again (regenerated) first, repentance of sins, then faith and belief.  This is not the free will of man, but the Sovereign Will of a gracious God.  This is not a cheap statement…God’s grace shown in this simple verse is not cheap nor should we cheapen it by dumbing it down so that anyone who blurbs out a few words can think he is saved…the true believer’s life will change in the direction of God not man’s desires.  Not everyone will come to a true faith and belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Many will pray a prayer, walk an isle, get dunked ’til they bubble in some Baptistery, many will claim they are saved because their family was “Christian”, but they are just as lost as any atheist, agnostic, or skeptic.  Actually it is even worse to have come so close to Christ yet be so far from Him to not be known by Him though one may have went to church all their life, sung in the choir, taught Sunday School, prayed out loud in church, etc.  

“…shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  this is a promise.  As a chosen child of God we can rest upon this promise that if we sense the openness in our hearts to receive the Word of God, humbly come before an awesome God in true repentance at our sinful depraved life absolutely torn that we have acted this way before God, prayerfully ask for forgiveness of our sinful being, and believe in Jesus Christ that He is Who He says He is..this is a life changing belief that permeates our entire being, then we can live on that promise that we are saved…permanently saved!  We can live on the fact that we will not perish in hell, but will live on forever with God in heaven someday.  We can stand firm on this fact although millions will tell us we are stupid and uneducated to believe in such…count this as joy! 

To be chosen by God without any effort on my part is the most awesome fact in scripture.  This is true grace.  The fact that I was wondrously miserably going through life without God.  Yet, in God’s Sovereign plan I had been chosen before the beginning to be saved.  He knew that my depraved sinful evil wicked heart would not desire Him nor would it ever come to Him on its own…so, the Holy Spirit went to work on me years ago to regenerate my heart, so that at the proper time of His choosing and for His purposes I would receive the Word of God in my heart and accept the fact that I was and am a sinful person.  The fact that the only way out of such bondage was to ask for God to forgive me of this sinful state of being and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  Without God going to work on me first I would still be wondering aimlessly through life rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell.  You see, man loves his sin.  Think about it…before God radically saved you or someone you know, the love of this sinful life permeated every part of them or us.  Only God can changed that.  This was the life of being a dead man spiritually walking through life…a dead man cannot revive himself…God must grant the spark of spiritual regeneration. 

This is where people jump off the good ship….this spiritual regeneration will only be sparked in those to whom God has Elected!  We do not know who these people are, but God knows His own and He will not allow one of His chosen ones, His sheep to be lost.

“Election is the act of God whereby in eternity past He chose those who will be saved.  Election is unconditional, because it does not depend on anything outside of God, such as good works or foreseen faith (Romans 9:16).  This doctrine is repeatedly taught in the Bible, and is also demanded by our knowledge of God.”    John MacArthur “Considering Election”

Remember this, God will not give up His Sovereign Will at anytime in order to give way to man’s free will if He so intends to save a particular man.  If God gives man over to his own depraved free will that is tragic and means that the man is hell bound without hope.  Man’s free will is at war with God’s Sovereign Will, yet by the grace of God, man’s free will is beaten down in order for God to save His own. 

-Scott Bailey (c) 2008

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