Holy Land – Jerusalem

We spent the final three days of our Israel journey in the city of Jerusalem which means “City of Peace”, and as we consider the tremendous turmoil and fighting that has taken place in this area I really have to consider what it means to have peace.  True peace can only occur when we are in right relationship with God, not peace in the terms that so many think (Matthew 10:34-39).  There will be peace someday, but that will only occur once Jesus returns.

Jerusalem sits atop a mountain, and in the Old Testament it is said to be the place where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2), we know this to be accurate as we look at 2 Chronicles 3:1 and we see Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.  This really gives context to our reading when Jesus tells His disciples they are going “up” to Jerusalem when they are actually north of Jerusalem in the region of Judea after having come out of Galilee (Matthew 19:1).  In our modern vernacular we generally refer to up and down by the direction of north or south.

Matthew 20:17-19 Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify, And the third day He will rise again.”

imageJerusalem is an incredibly busy and thriving city.  It is a mix of Jewish, Muslim, Christian and pagan all living together in a hodge podge of interesting interaction.  You would never know this by the news accounts.  As we traveled from one section to another the contrast is stark.  It’s pretty easy to identify the Muslim neighborhoods.  To put it plainly they are trashy.  They do not believe or care about keeping their neighborhoods clean.  There is trash everywhere you look.  I’m not saying this to be critical, even though the Jewish neighborhoods might be cleaner; they are both worshipping a false god, but to our minds we somehow want to equate external cleanliness with internal cleanliness.  We know the Lord didn’t see it that way.

Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.”

There is so much to say about Jerusalem and all of the false worship that occurs in this city, and as the Jewish people rejected Christ as the Messiah they became idolaters.

Where Jesus laid
Where Jesus laid

Jesus’ words are so incredibly true and clear, when He said the road was narrow and that very few will find life, He meant it (Matthew 7:13-14)  It’s overwhelming to me to see so many have missed the Savior and have invented a religion that attempts to gain favor with God by their own hands.

I was humbled to be able to pray where Jesus prayed as He knew what was before Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then to stand on the stones where the Roman guards cast lots for His clothing and see the road He would have bled.  That precious blood that has washed away my sin is almost too much for me to consider.  As Pastor’s Tim, Mike and Voddie prayed in that location there was not a dry eye as we considered the horrible price He paid to redeem His people.  Then as we had an opportunity to see Golgotha and the spot He was crucified and the Garden Tomb where He laid, what else can I possibly say?  His plan is perfect and we must submit to this God, the One True God.  Satan can distract us so easily with shiny things and with religious systems that are really close to the truth, but are not the complete truth.

Golgotha
Golgotha

It was an amazing experience to see the Bible come to life and to see the incredible accuracy which the writers of the Scriptures have written.  These were not simplistic and less sophisticated people, as so many want you to believe, but inspired men of God that wrote as the Holy Spirit inspired them (2 Peter 1:19-21).

I walk away from Israel with a desire to share the news of the One that came to earth and humbled Himself to His Father’s plan.  I must share the Good News, because it’s “news” and it’s “good”.  I must tell people that their sin separates them from a Holy God and that separation produces death, but God has provided a way for those that will place their trust in Him.

That is the Gospel.  And that is what I learned in Israel.

Kevin

Holy Land Day 3 – True or False

imageI had the best of intentions to post each day on our trip to the Holy Land, but REALLY bad internet connections, and super busy days seemed to win out.  Since it was such a valuable experience I’ve decided to go back and post a few quick articles to summarize the trip.  I might blend a couple together but I want to share the experience and encourage those who may consider a trip someday to definitely do so.

Each day has held a theme and today’s theme was true or false worship.  There are many people that are very sincere in their worship; the problem is they are sincerely wrong.  What is the difference between something that is true and something false?

God has given His people very specific guidelines for true worship.  Believers must worship in Spirit and in Truth, so it is imperative that worship is done according to God’s plan not our own, no matter how that “feels”.

God has provided His word, the Bible, as the guide for how we are to worship.

If your church gathering is more concerned about pleasing people than it is about preaching with authority the word of God you may want to dig deeper into what is true worship.

When Jesus took his disciples up to Caesarea Philippi to reveal Himself to them, He took them to the center of pagan worship, the place pagan’s believed a cave was the entrance to the gates of hell.  Jesus shows His disciples He is the source of true worship.

Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

Matthew 16:15-16 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

In ancient times and in modern times, those that depart from God’s commands for worship are either punished or chastened, having worship done correctly is a matter of life and death and Jesus took them to this region to show them the difference.

Kevin

The Terrors of Hell – Part 2

KnockatTheDoor

This morning I was on my way home from Starbucks and heard a man on the radio discussing Jesus standing at the door of our hearts and He wanted us to let Him in.  To this man’s credit, it was being used as a poor method of evangelism, and it was said, “Did you notice there is no handle on the outside of the door, the handle is on the inside and you must open it up.”

Friends that is NOT biblically accurate, nor is it good evangelism!

The path to salvation is to understand you are DEAD in your sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1); you are without hope and headed toward hell.  The wide road of modern day evangelism has a poor effeminate Jesus sitting around with His head in His hands, just gently hoping you will make a decision for Him.

Today we are going to look at what awaits those that do not turn from their sin, fall to their face and beg for mercy and repentance.  This may seem cruel or harsh to some, but this is biblical and repeating a prayer and incantation of a method is not only inaccurate, it is damning.

Some may read this today and mock the idea of hell and just as in the days of the Puritans preaching on hell was unpopular.  It’s unpopular, because man loves the darkness and he desires to live in blissful ignorance, rather than face the reality of his eternal soul.  Let’s look at some teaching about hell from the Puritans.  All quotations come from A Puritan Theology (2012 – Beeke & Jones)

Is There a Hell?

[John] Bunyan call attention to Luke 16:23, “And in hell [the rich man] lift up his eyes, being in torments.” From this phrase he concludes that “there is a hell for souls to be tormented in when this life is ended…after he was dead and buried.”

He denies that Christ uses the word figuratively to represent the grave or some concept of torment “in this life.”  He then warns those who make a “mock” of preachers who tell them of hell that they will “find such an hell after this life is ended, that thou wilt not get out of again for ever and ever.” [1]

This is not something to be mocked, as so many do.  We all must consider this reality if there is hope for salvation, and Believers must continue to live in holiness, to make their call and election sure (1 Peter 1:10).

Why Must There Be a Hell?

First, “because of the filthy nature of sin,” as sin against an infinite God, necessitating proportionate punishment in the world to come.  Second, because Christ did not satisfy the justice of God for the wicked, who must therefore bear the wrath of God themselves in hell.  Third, the terrors of conscience that afflict the wicked in their dying days “demonstrate that there is a time of torments to be endured.”[2]

When you consider the price the Lord Jesus Christ paid on the cross, that He endured the wrath of God and drank it down fully, you must realize there is a cost to sin.  No matter what you think of your sin, or how small you believe your sin might be, God views it as vile and nasty, and His justice demands payment.  The “good news” is only for those that understand this statement.  The question today is “do I understand?”

What is Hell?

This place in which “the bodies and souls of wicked men are tormented” can be described by the following characteristics from Scripture: unquenchable fire, never extinguished (Luke 3:17); a furnace of fire (Matt, 13:42), recalling Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace (Dan. 3:21-22), where only the godly were not affected; a lake of fire (Rev. 19:20),  with an abundance of torments as the plentiful waters of a lake; eternal fire (Jude 7), with everlasting torment; outer darkness (Matt. 22:13), where we are “deprived of the light of God’s countenance”; the blackness of forever (Jude 13), as a place of terror that ought to cause men to tremble now; chains of darkness (2 Peter 2:4), referring to its binding nature and the impossibility of escape; the damnation of hell (Matt. 23:33), from which none will escape; this place of torment (Luke 16:28), a “dreadful expression” for what takes place there; the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10), as the wrath of God expressed there; prison (1 Peter 3:19), referring to the way the pre-incarnate Christ, through the ministry of Noah, preached to men who are now imprisoned in hell; Tophet (Isa 30:33), referring to the fire of the god Molech, into which children were cast as sacrifices and from which shrieking and howling were heard; the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:1), “out of which you shall never come”, the second death (Rev 2:11); destruction (Matt. 7:13); everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46); and corruption (Gal. 6:8), as the reaped for “sowing to the flesh.”[3]

hell

I have literally been squirming in my seat as I quote this writing and consider the Scripture that has been referenced.  This doctrine is forever and “Hell has No Exits” (Leonard Ravenhill).  If you are a non-believer please consider this today.   Hell is not a place where you will play cards with your friends.  Hell is devoid of “anything” you can ever take pleasure in.

The torment will never end.  It will go on forever and ever and ever…  Does that scare you, because it should?  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

I beg with you today if you are a Believer to consider who in your family or your friends doesn’t understand this?  You might be their only hope.  Tell them today about this terrifying doctrine.  Urge them to repent and be reconciled to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Part 3 we will discuss “Is God is Just in Damning Men Eternally?”

 

Kevin


[1] John Bunyan, The Miscellaneous Works of John Bunyan, ed. Roger Sharrock (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976-94), 1:246-47, 261, 266, 267.

[2] Love, Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1671), 226-227

[3] Love, Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1671), 230-34.

I Don’t Believe in Atheism

“Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice.” -C. H. Spurgeon

Beautiful_Sunset_by_BradyB&W

I don’t believe in atheism.

I don’t believe people, when they say they don’t believe in God.

I don’t believe God is a mystery that cannot be known.  He’s real, He’s alive, and all are responsible to know Him.

Of course I realize people claim to be atheists; it seems to be somewhat popular these days.  Atheists say they don’t believe in God or a god.

For today’s discussion I’d like to say that nobody really believes what they say because the Holy Scriptures contradict them.  I realize this is a circular argument in their eyes but for me the argument ends there, it’s just that simple.

A so-called atheist might say, “you can’t prove there’s a god” and since I’ve come to this conclusion, I don’t believe it, or we can’t see God so we don’t believe it.

God has revealed himself to mankind and just because we say we don’t believe it doesn’t make it so.

Romans 1:19-23 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Pressing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the in corruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds, and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Man is without excuse.   God has revealed Himself through nature.

Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

Man is without excuse.  God has revealed Himself through His Son.

Luke 1:1-4 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and minister of the word delivered them to us.  It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainly of those things in which you were instructed.

Man is without excuse.  God has revealed Himself through His Word.

Opponents of God are free to believe or not believe as they wish but they must know that won’t release them from accountability.  Every human in all of history will stand before God and give account of their life.  Nothing will be left hidden.  Every sin you’ve ever committed will be brought before the Just Judge and a verdict will be rendered.

You might say well my sin isn’t that bad, or I’m a relatively good person compared to that guy….

You need to compare your life to the life of Christ and see how you measure up to His standard.  Perfection is the measuring stick by which you will be judged.  Every thought, word and deed for the entirety of your life must be perfect.

You may not like this, you may not believe this and you may not accept this as truth, but that won’t change it.

You can laugh, you can scoff, you can ridicule but what you can’t do is escape it.  I must warn you today not to take that chance.

Ezekiel 3:17-19 “Son of man.  I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel: therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:  When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Yet, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”

So why are there people that call themselves atheists?  Again the answer is simple.

No accountability.

If they say they don’t believe what the Bible says, they don’t have to give account for their sin.  They can live guilt free and never have to answer for how they lived their life.

Turn to Christ, see Him as the only One that can save and cast your cares upon Him.  Matthew 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…

 

Kevin

A Sure Guide to Heaven – Part 3 – The necessity of conversion

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

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This statement is every bit as shocking to people today as it was to Nicodemus at the time Jesus spoke these words.  John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”  Here was a leader of the Jews, a religious man, with lots of training and he missed the simple fact that he needed to be converted to enter the kingdom of God.

Conversion is necessary.  That is exactly what Jesus is telling us today, just as He did when He walked this earth, just as Joseph Alleine is explaining to us in this remarkable third chapter of his book.  There is a “disconnect” among evangelicals today about what it means to be converted.

Conversion is radical and violent.  It comes at a great cost because there is pain involved, pain at the recognition of your sin.  Imagine your heart being ripped out of your insides and being replaced with a new heart.  This is major surgery and without anesthesia.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

The conversion described is not a high attainment of some advanced Christians, but every soul that is saved undergoes this change…

What is it that you count necessary?  Is your bread necessary?  Is your breath necessary?  Then your conversion is much more necessary.  Indeed, this is the one thing necessary.  Your possessions are not necessary; you may sell all for the pearl of great price, and yet be a gainer by the purchase.  Your life is not necessary; you may part with it for Christ, to infinite advantage.   Your reputation is not necessary; you may be reproached for the name of Christ, and yet be happy; yes, you may be much more happy in reproach than in repute.  But your conversion is necessary; your salvation depends upon it; and is it not needful in so important a matter to take care?  On this one point depends your making or marring to all eternity.  But I shall more particularly show the necessity of conversion in five things. Page 50-51

Does this resonate with you today?  If not I plead with you to read it again and meditate on these words.  It is all that really matters.  Your conversion is necessary.

1: Without conversion your being is in vain

Verily you are in vain, except you are for God.  It were better you had no being than not be for Him.  Would you serve your end?  You must repent and be converted; without this you are to no purpose; indeed, to bad purpose. Page 51

Did he really say that?

What a blow to our self esteem…

This is a reality check…

2: Not only man, but the whole visible creation is in vain without conversion

O dreadful thought! That God should build such a world as this, and lay out such infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness thereupon, and all in vain; and that man should be guilty, at last, of robbing and spoiling Him of the glory of all!  O think of this.  While you are unconverted, all the offices of the creatures are in vain to you. Page 54

3: Without conversion your religion is vain

O soul! Do not think when your sins pursue you, that a little praying and reforming your ways will pacify God.  You must being with your heart.  If that is not renewed, you can no more please God than one who, having unspeakably offended you, should bring you the most loathsome thing to pacify you; or having fallen into the mire, should think with his filthy embraces to reconcile you. Page 55

4: Without true conversion your hopes are in vain

The hope of comfort here is vain.  It is not only necessary for the safety, but comfort of your condition, that you be converted.  Without this, you shall not know peace (Is. 59:8) Page 56

Spiritual sloth is but a scurvy in the mind, and carnal security a mortal lethargy. Page 57

Now, to say God is merciful and to hope that He will save us without conversion, is in effect to say, ‘We hope that God will not do as He says.’  We must not set God’s attributes at variance.  God has resolved to glorify His mercy, but not to the prejudice of His truth, as the presumptuous sinner will find to his everlasting sorrow. Page 58

5: Without conversion all that Christ has done and suffered will be, as to you, in vain

That is, it will in no way avail you to salvation.  Many urge this as a sufficient ground for their hope, that Christ died for sinner; but I must tell you, Christ never died to save impenitent and unconverted sinners, so continuing.  A great divine was accustomed in his private dealings with souls to ask two questions.  What has Christ done for you?  What has Christ wrought in you?  Without the application of the Spirit in regeneration, we have no saving interest in the benefits of redemption.  I tell you from the Lord, that Christ Himself cannot save you if you go on in this state. Page 59

It would be dishonourable to God to bestow His choicest riches on them that have more pleasure in their sins than in the heavenly delights that He offers.  God would lose the praise and glory of His grace, if He should cast it away upon them that were not only unworthy but unwilling. Page 61 & 62

Are you unwilling? 

Hear then His own words; ‘Except ye be converted, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.’  ‘Ye must be born again.’  ‘If I was thee not, thou hast no part in me.’  ‘Except ye repent ye shall perish’ (Mt xviii 3; Jn iii 7; Jn xiii 8; Lk xiii 3).  Page 63

These are powerful words.  Very few preachers say these things anymore because it seems so harsh to the listener.  Yet imagine if your child was playing on the train tracks and a train was coming.  How would you want me to communicate the impending disaster that was coming his way?  Should I do it in a gentle easy tone or scream at the top of my lungs to “GET OUT OF THE WAY!”  So why would those living a life that will condemn them to hell be any different?

If you don’t have testimony of your conversion, maybe you aren’t converted.  Do you know when God removed your heart of stone and placed in you a heart of flesh?  Do you know the day you were born again?  If not do something about that.  I suggest get on your knees and beg Him to show you your sin and then beg for His converting grace.  This is sorrow not to be regretted.

Kevin