Archive for the ‘On Christian Faith’ Category

Sorceries or Salvation—Which Will It Be?

Ray Yungen

By Ray Yungen

God’s Desire

Just what exactly is God’s desire for mankind? Does He want to send people to Hell? Does He want anyone to live eternally without Him? Scripture is very clear about this when it says:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

God makes a strong plea to all people, giving them every opportunity to receive Him. It is God’s desire that none should perish eternally. That’s why He offered His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—the only perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sin:

Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (Romans 5:18)

What it comes down to is the preaching of the higher self (as taught in contemplative spirituality) versus the preaching of the Cross. The New Age says that God is the higher self in man—that God is just a meditation away.

Many people are turned off when they think Christian teaching says we are bad and worthless. But this is not an accurate depiction of Christianity. It may teach that man is bad  (i.e., sinful) (which is evident) but certainly not worthless. The fact that Christ died for the “ungodly” to “reconcile” them to God shows God’s love toward man. In contrast to karma, the Gospel of grace is better in that if you accept its provision, you are complete (perfect) in Christ Jesus.

This is why Christianity is so steadfast on these issues. If a belief system is not preaching the Cross, then it is not “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). If other ways are correct, then Christ died in vain, His blood shed unnecessarily.

A Warning and a Plea

It is very true that God loves mankind, so much so He sent His Son to save all who receive Him by faith. The Lord is very patient with man, and as “the day of the Lord” draws nearer and nearer, He continues beckoning humanity to Himself.

However, while God’s love, mercy, and patience are very enduring, His warnings about a great judgment coming upon the earth are to be taken very seriously. Those who refuse to bow their knee to Jesus Christ will suffer severe and eternal consequences—make no mistake, that day will come:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)

Jesus said, in referring to His return “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36). But He also said that while we will not know the exact hour and day of His return, we should be watching for the signs of the coming tribulation period. Throughout the centuries, Christians generally thought they were living in a time when Christ’s return was imminent based on natural disasters, wars, upheaval, and prominent military leaders (e.g., Napoleon). But never in the history of humanity has occultism and mysticism been unleashed as it has now.

Many think that the New Age movement is only a fairly recent manifestation of the last few decades. But I believe that the words of the prophet Isaiah reveal that New Age spirituality was even around back then, although not called that. And he links this Ancient Wisdom in with the end of the age period. Isaiah issues a stern and fearsome warning:

Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth, if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. (Isaiah 47:12-13)

The next verse describes the judgment that these will be subjected to:

Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame. (Isaiah 47:14)

And in Revelation 9:20-21, it discloses:

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries.

The Book of Revelation explains that there are those who in the latter times “blasphemed the name of God” and “repented not to give him [God] glory” (Revelation 16:9) and again, “repented not of their deeds” (vs. 11).

These verses that speak of sorceries portray the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7) that is being judged during the tribulation period because its adherents are claiming to be God, and they refuse to give Him the glory but rather take it upon themselves. This will be the ultimate test revealing who the real God is.

This word “sorceries” used in Revelation comes from the greek word pharmakaia. The word is translated into four meanings.:

1) the use or the administering of drugs
2) poisoning
3) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it
4) metaphorically the deceptions and seductions of idolatry

I want you to realize the significance of this. The Bible is clear that sorcery will be a pervasive practice, to the point of being epidemic during “the day of the Lord.” And this is what is now called the Ancient Wisdom by its proponents! The occultist Alice Bailey said that the Ancient Wisdom would be at the very root of her new vital world religion, which she proudly proclaimed would be universal.

Scripture is very clear that sorceries are practices that will be judged by God. Traditionally throughout the centuries, sorcery has been practiced by a very small number of persons (i.e., occult or kept secret). But now we have a virtual explosion of sorcery through various practices and pronouncements (Yoga, contemplative, meditation, Reiki, Oneness Blessing, etc). What I am talking about is a whole world like the psychic slave girl in the Book of Acts.

From Genesis to Revelation, the pages are filled with God’s warning to mankind when he refuses to acknowledge that the Lord is God and man is not. And throughout these pages are stories of those who mocked and scorned the warnings brought by God’s messengers. The apostle Peter referred to this scenario:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3: 3-4)

Many people today believe that it is wrong to talk about and warn of an endtime, apocolyptic time period. Rather, they say, we should spend time meditating and employing our higher powers to reach happiness and enlightenment in life. We each have a choice to make. Do we seek after this consciousness, or do we humbly call upon the living God and accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life?

If you don’t already, I pray you will come to know the true Christ (Jesus Christ) before it is too late. I cannot emphasize enough the vital importance of understanding and believing the following verse:

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

By saying this, Jesus made clear that it was by Him and not a mystical consciousness that we are saved. Let me leave you with this. Compare these four views below. I pray you will see the difference as I did so many years ago!

I AM GOD! This is THE most basic tenant of metaphysical spiritual understanding.1—A metaphysical teacher

You are God in a physical body.. . .You are all power. . . . You are all intelligence. . . . You are the creator.2—The Secret

[T]here is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:21-22)

He that hath the Son [not higher consciousness] hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:12)

Many people have not grasped what “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13)  is all about—which can be summed up by the following verses:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one [Adam] many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Romans 5:15)

Salvation is having personal faith and trust in the person and finished work (sacrifice) of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have “peace with God” (Romans 5:1), are “forgiven” (Ephesians 5:4), and are “reconciled” to God (2 Corinthians 5:18) only by Him. That’s where our faith or trust is to be directed.

The notion of achieving Christ consciousness (as offered in the New Age) is just not compatible with being redeemed by Christ’s precious blood. The two just don’t mix. Romans 5:6 says:

For when we were yet without strength [spiritually impotent], in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

A consciousness can’t die for anyone—only a person can. If you “receive not the love of the truth,” as Scripture says, your eternal destination will be determined:

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)

Endnotes:

1. “I AM,” Communicated through Kathy Wilson (The Light of Olympia Newspaper Vol. 1, Number 8, August 1988), p. 7.
2. Rhonda Byrne, The Secret, p. 164.

NEW BOOKLET: God’s Help and Comfort Through It All

NEW BOOKLET: God’s Help and Comfort Through It All by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of God’s Help and Comfort Through It All, click here.

God’s Help and Comfort Through It All

By Warren B. Smith

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:7)

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

Henry Francis Lyte completed the lyrics of his hymn Abide With Me shortly before his passing in 1847. Aware that death was near, he directed his hymn to God who he described as the “Help of the helpless.”

Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me!

The 1719 hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts and William Croft, reminds us that God has been our help in the past and will continue to be our hope in the years to come:

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come; Be Thou our guide while life shall last, And our eternal home.

The following Scriptures refer directly to the help and comfort God brings to those who put their faith and trust in Him:

God’s Help

God is Our Helper
Behold, God is mine helper. (Psalm 54:4)

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Hebrews 13:6)

God Helps Us
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:7)

God is Our Help and Our Shield
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

God is Our Help and Our Deliverer
But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. (Psalm 40:17)

But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying. (Psalm 70:5)

God Helps Deliver Us From the Wicked
And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him. (Psalm 37:40)

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. (Psalm 94:16-17)

We Pray to God for Help
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. (Psalm 108:12)

Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it. (Psalm 109:26-27)

Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. (Psalm 12:1)

O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help. (Psalm 71:12)

Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation. (Psalm 38:21-22)

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. (Psalm 40:13)

Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD. They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold. (Psalm 59:2-4)

God is Our Help in Times of Trouble
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. (Psalm 60:11)

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. (Psalm 116:5-6)

We Rejoice in God’s Help
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. (Psalm 63:7)

God Helps With Our Infirmities
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)

Our Help is in the Name of the Lord
Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:6-8)

God’s Comfort

God is the God of All Comfort
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

God Comforts His People
I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass. (Isaiah 51:12)

Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. (Isaiah 49:13)

God’s Holy Spirit is Our Comforter
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

God’s Holy Spirit Abides with Believers Forever
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16-17)

God Comforts with His Word
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

God Comforts Those Who Are Cast Down
Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus. (2 Corinthians 7:6)

God Comforts in Our Tribulation
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

God Comforts in Times of Despair
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

God Comforts on Every Side
Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee! Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side. (Psalm 71:19-21)

God Comforts Those Who Mourn
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound . . . to comfort all that mourn. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

God’s Comfort Can be Maternal
For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:12-13)

God Comforts us With the Promise of His Return
. . . we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Forty Helpful and Comforting Verses

The Lord is Around His People
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. (Psalm 25:2)

He Goes Before Us
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

He Never Leaves Us or Forsakes Us
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)

Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

He Has Given Us His Word
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

His Word is Quick and Powerful
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

His Word Never Passes Away
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

He Gives Us Wisdom
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

He Will Guide Us Continually
And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Isaiah 58:11)

He Will Direct Our Paths
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

He Supplies all our Needs
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

The Lord’s Compassion Never Fails
It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

He Gives Strength to the Weary
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

He Gives Us His Peace
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

He Keeps Us in His Peace
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

His Peace Keeps our Hearts and Minds
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

He is Our Refuge
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)

He Delivers Us From Affliction
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)

He Gives Us Rest
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

He Perfects His Strength in Our Weakness
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Us
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

He Works All Things For Good For Those Who Love Him
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

He is Able to Keep Us From Falling
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 1:24)

He Protects Us
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (Isaiah 43:2)

He Lifts Up a Standard Against the Enemy
When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

No Weapon Shall Prosper Against Us
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)

He Gives Us the Victory Through Jesus Christ
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

He is Faithful to Complete His Work in Us
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

He is Our Guide Unto Death
For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:14)

He Gives Us Eternal Life
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Eternal Life is a Gift from God
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

God Sent His Son to be the Propitiation for Our Sins
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

If We Confess Our Sins He Forgives Us
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Whoever Calls Upon the Lord’s Name Shall be Saved
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

By Grace We Are Saved Through Faith
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

He Has Prepared a Place for Us
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

He Will Raise Us Up
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. (2 Corinthians 4:14)

His Glory Will be Revealed in Us
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

He Will Wipe Away All Tears
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

What God Has Prepared For Those Who Love Him
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Our Helper and Our Comforter

Lines from the following two hymns echo what the Bible makes very clear. God is our rock, our hiding place, our refuge and defense—our helper ever near. He is our shelter in the time of storm, our wonderful Savior and comfort sweet. In good times and in bad, He is our Helper and our Comforter through it all.

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide, A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night, A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright, A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat, A Shelter in the time of storm;
We’ll never leave our safe Retreat, A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear, A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be thou our helper ever near, A Shelter in the time of storm.

 Shelter in the Time of Storm
Vernon J. Charlesworth (1878)

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.

Near to the Heart of God
Cleland B. McAfee (1903)

To order copies of God’s Help and Comfort Through It All, click here.

Discernment Ministries Not Needed? Would the Apostle Paul Agree?

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

This week, someone sent us an online article, written by a pastor who said that the church does not need discernment ministries  anymore. While the pastor’s comments that such ministries are making great money by doing this kind of work were erroneous, it was the pastor’s rationale and conclusions about discernment ministries as a whole that were most troubling. His rationale was that discernment ministries should not be criticizing and challenging leaders and teachers within the church (but rather outside the church; e.g cults, Mormonism); his conclusion was the church does not need discernment ministries and people should stop listening to them. He lumped all discernment ministries together, suggesting that they are all jealous of each other and spend a lot of time fighting amongst themselves. (By this reasoning—that discernment ministries are invalidated because of fighting and jealousy—then there also should be no marriages, families, churches, organizations, or virtually any human institution because institutions are made up of sinful humans who do at times fight and struggle between each other.) He suggested that many of these discernment people will end up dying early anyway because of the high level of stress involved. Needless to say, we found such an article very sad because we knew there would be people who would read it and would be persuaded by the pastor’s words.

There is one thing true in what this pastor stated, and that is that there can be quite a bit of stress involved with discernment. But, again, his rationale is faulty. It would suggest that since being discerning (or having a discernment ministry) is stressful, it must be wrong. But if we look at the lives of the apostles, the Old Testament prophets, and many martyrs who have lost their lives over the last 2000 years for standing for truth, no doubt, their lives were stressed and difficult. To speak the truth is not easy, and to speak the truth within the church is downright tough. Few knew this more than the apostle Paul:

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11: 25-27)

Even though Paul determined to put his trust in the Lord and serve Him only, what he went through sounds pretty stressful. Why was he willing to go through those sufferings and persecutions? Because he had full

The Martyrdom of Paul (Illustration by Joseph Martin Kronheim, public domain)

confidence that he was called to warn and to preach for the edifying and exhorting of the body of Christ:

[I]f ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  who now rejoice in my sufferings for you . . . warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Colossians 1: 23-24, 28-29; emphasis added)

At Lighthouse Trails, we by no means claim to be of the caliber of the apostle Paul. Nor do we want to be looked upon as such. We are just one part of the body of Christ, working diligently in a work we believe God has called us to do. We do not claim to be anything special, but we do claim that God in His wisdom has a place in the body for such a ministry as ours (Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 12; vs 21:  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you”).

We know there are some who name themselves among “discernment ministries” who are guilty of not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit when writing and reporting. They are at times vitriolic, unkind, practice mean name calling, and go after a figure’s personal effect rather than staying focused on the teachings, doctrines, beliefs, and promotions. It has been a criteria of Lighthouse Trails from our beginning that any author or writer we publish is allowing the fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, gentleness, goodness, meekness, etc., Galatians 5:22-23) to be prevalent in his or her work.

Scripture says that as the days on this Earth grow darker and darker, spiritually speaking, more and more proclaiming Christians will turn away from the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g., “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” 1 Timothy 4:1). Lighthouse Trails and the authors we represent are determined to continue in the work in which we have been called in spite of the fact that we are often falsely accused, unjustly discredited, and misjudged. Whether the Lord takes us home early or allows us to live long lives, it is our prayer that we will endure faithfully until the end. Perhaps, in time, people will stop listening to discernment ministries all together. If and when that day comes, we pray there will be enough pastors and churches who are speaking the truth and warning “night and day.” In the following passage by Paul, we can see that his heart was for the building up of the body of Christ, no matter the cost to him. May we all, as believers in Jesus Christ, whether “discernment ministry,” pastor, or neither, strive to have this same attitude:

 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, emphasis added)

CONCLUSION

The following is a list of discernment ministries that Lighthouse Trails has come to know and look to over the past fifteen years; they are ones that meet the biblical criteria described above. Though these particular ministries may not agree with each other on every aspect, we have seen no greed, worldly ambition, jealousy, mean spiritedness, or dishonesty in these ministries. While they, like Lighthouse Trails, do not claim to be perfect or infallible, they always point readers back to the Word of God and uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there a need for discernment ministries in today’s church? We believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” And we believe the apostle Paul would agree.

Trusted Discernment Research Ministries

The Berean Call

Deception in the Church
Sandy Simpson

Forcing Change
Carl Teichrib

Guarding the Flock Ministries

Herescope Blog

Kjos Ministries
Berit Kjos

Learn to Discern Granny

Let Us Reason Ministries
Mike Oppenheimer

Lighthouse Trails Research Project

ReachOut Trust

Spiritual Research Network

Understand the Times,
Roger Oakland

Ironside: What Does it Mean to Repent and Be Saved?

LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails believe that one of the reasons so many proclaiming Christians are turning to contemplative mysticism is because they have been following a non-biblical “Gospel” that has kept them from a true born of the Spirit (born-again) relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus, mystically-induced experiences take the place of that relationship. The following article by Dr. Harry Ironside explains what repentance (a requirement for salvation and being born-again – “except ye repent” – Luke 13:3-5) entails. It may surprise a number of people when they discover what repentance really is.

bigstockphoto.com

By Dr. Harry Ironside
(From his book, Except Ye Repent)

More and more it becomes evident that ours is, as once expressed, an “age of sham.” Unreality and specious pretense abound in all departments of life. In the domestic, commercial, social, and ecclesiastical spheres hypocrisy is not only openly condoned, but recognized as almost a necessity for advancement and success in attaining recognition among one’s fellows.

Nor is this true only where heterodox religious views are held. Orthodoxy has its shallow dogmatists who are ready to battle savagely for sound doctrine, but who manage to ignore sound living with little or no apparent compunction of conscience.

God desires truth in the inward parts. The blessed man is still the one “in whose spirit there is no guile.” It is forever true that “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” It can never be out of place to proclaim salvation by free, unmerited favor to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it needs ever to be insisted on that the faith that justifies is not a mere intellectual process — not simply crediting certain historical facts or doctrinal statements; but it is a faith that springs from a divinely wrought conviction of sin which produces a repentance that is sincere and genuine. Our Lord’s solemn words, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” are as important today as when first uttered.

No sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor were any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” “I came not,” said our blessed Lord, “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

One great trouble in this shallow age is that we have lost the meaning of words. We bandy them about until one can seldom be certain just how terms are being used. Two ministers were passing an open grocery and dairy store where, in three large baskets, eggs were displayed. On one basket was a sign reading, “Fresh eggs, 24 cents a dozen.” The second sign read, “Strictly fresh eggs, 29 cents a dozen.” While a third read, “Guaranteed strictly fresh eggs, 34 cents a dozen.” One of the pastors exclaimed in amazement, “What does that grocer understand ‘fresh’ to mean?” It is thus with many Scriptural terms that
to our forefathers had an unvarying meaning, but like debased coins have today lost their values.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate and, thus, of his need of grace. Yet there are not wanting professed preachers of grace who, like the antinomians of old, decry the necessity of repentance lest it seem to invalidate the freedom of grace. As well might one object to a man’s acknowledgment of illness when seeking help and healing from a physician, on the ground that all he needed was a doctor’s prescription.

Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on “all men everywhere to repent,” results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that “faith without works is dead”; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God. We need to reread James 3 and let its serious message sink deep into our hearts, that it may control our lives. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” No man can truly believe in Christ, who does not first repent. Nor will his repentance end when he has saving faith, but the more he knows God as he goes on through the years, the deeper will that repentance become. A servant of Christ said: “I repented before I knew the meaning of the word. I have repented far more since than I did then.”

Undoubtedly one great reason why some earnest Gospel preachers are almost afraid of, and generally ignore, the terms “repent” and “repentance” in their evangelizing is that they fear lest their hearers misunderstand these terms and think of them as implying something meritorious on the part of the sinner.

But nothing could be wider of the mark. There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing. But in order to clarify the subject, it may be well to observe carefully what repentance is not and then to notice briefly what it is.

First, then, repentance is not to be confounded with penitence, though penitence will invariably enter into it. But penitence is simply sorrow for sin. No amount of penitence can fit a man for salvation. On the other hand, the impenitent will never come to God seeking His grace. But godly sorrow, we are told, worketh repentance not to be repented of. There is a sorrow for sin that has no element of piety in it— “the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In Peter’s penitence, we see the former; in the remorse of Judas, the latter. Nowhere is man exhorted to feel a certain amount of sorrow for his sins in order to come to Christ. When the Spirit of God applies the truth, penitence is the immediate result and this leads on to repentance, but should not be confounded with it. This is a divine work in the soul.

Second, penance is not repentance. Penance is the effort in some way to atone for wrong done. This, man can never do. Nor does God in His Word lay it down as a condition of salvation that one first seek to make up to either God or his fellows for evil committed. Here the Roman Catholic translation of the Bible perpetrates a glaring deception upon those who accept it as almost an inspired version because bearing the imprimatur of the great Catholic dignitaries. Wherever the [King James version] has “repent,” the Douay-Rheims translation reads, “Do penance.” There is no excuse for such a paraphrase. It is not a translation. It is the substituting of a Romish dogma for the plain command of God. John the Baptist did not cry, “Do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Our Lord Jesus did not say, “Do penance and believe the gospel,” and, “Except ye do penance ye shall all likewise perish.” The apostle Peter did not tell the anxious multitude at Pentecost to “Do penance and be converted.” Paul did not announce to the men at Athens that “God commandeth all men everywhere to do penance” in view of a coming judgment day. No respectable Greek scholar would ever think of so translating the original in these and many other instances.

On the contrary, the call was to repent; and between repenting and doing penance, there is a vast difference. But even so, we would not forget that he who truly repents will surely seek to make right any wrong he has done to his fellows, though he knows he never can make up for the wrong done to God. But this is where Christ’s expiatory work comes in. As the great Trespass Offering, He could say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Psalm 69). Think not to add penance to this—as though His work were incomplete and something else were needed to satisfy God’s infinite justice.

In the third place, let us remember that reformation is not repentance, however closely allied to, or springing out of it. To turn over a new leaf, to attempt to supplant bad habits with good ones, to try to live well instead of evilly, may not be the outcome of repentance at all and should never be confounded with it. Reformation is merely an outward change. Repentance is a work of God in the soul.

Recently, it was the writer’s privilege to broadcast a Gospel message from a large Cleveland station. While he was waiting in the studio for the time appointed, an advertiser’s voice was heard through the loud speaker announcing: “If you need anything in watch repairing go to” such a firm. One of the employees looked up and exclaimed, “I need no watch repairing; what I need is a watch.” It furnished me with an excellent text. What the unsaved man needs is not a repairing of his life. He needs a new life altogether, which comes only through a second birth. Reformation is like watch repairing. Repentance is like the recognition of the lack of a watch.

Need I add that repentance then is not to be considered synonymous with joining a church or taking up one’s religious duties, as people say. It is not doing anything.

What then is repentance? So far as possible I desire to avoid the use of all abstruse or pedantic terms, for I am writing not simply for scholars, but for those Lincoln had in mind when he said, “God must have thought a lot of the common people, for He made so many of them.” Therefore, I wish, so far as possible, to avoid citing Greek or Hebrew words. But here it seems almost necessary to say that it is the Greek word metanoia, which is translated “repentance” in our English Bibles, and literally means a change of mind. This is not simply the acceptance of new ideas in place of old notions. But it actually implies a complete reversal of one’s inward attitude.

How luminously clear this makes the whole question before us! To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. And this is what God commands. John came preaching to publicans and sinners, hopelessly vile and depraved, “Change your attitude, for the kingdom is at hand.” To haughty scribes and legalistic Pharisees came the same command, “Change your attitude,” and thus they would be ready to receive Him who came in grace to save. To sinners everywhere the Savior cried, “Except ye change your attitude, ye shall all likewise perish.”

And everywhere the apostles went they called upon men thus to face their sins—to face the question of their helplessness, yet their responsibility to God—to face Christ as the one, all-sufficient Savior, and thus by trusting Him to obtain remission of sins and justification from all things.

So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejector realizes and owns his need of a Redeemer, and so believes unto life and salvation.

Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture, we read, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Yet, we find true believers exhorted to “repent, and do the first works.” So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before
God. And this is repentance.

Perhaps it will help us if we see that it is one thing to believe God as to my sinfulness and need of a Savior, and it is another thing to trust that Savior implicitly for my own salvation.

Apart from the first aspect of faith, there can be no true repentance. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” And apart from such repentance there can be no saving faith. Yet the deeper my realization of the grace of God manifested toward me in Christ, the more intense will my repentance become.

It was when Mephibosheth realized the kindness of God as shown by David that he cried out, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Samuel 9:8). And it is the soul’s apprehension of grace which leads to ever lower thoughts of self and higher thoughts of Christ; and so the work of repentance is deepened daily in the believer’s heart.

“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.”

The very first evidence of awakening grace is dissatisfaction with one’s self and self-effort and a longing for deliverance from chains of sin that have bound the soul. To own frankly that I am lost and guilty is the prelude to life and peace. It is not a question of a certain depth of grief and sorrow, but simply the recognition and acknowledgment of need that leads one to turn to Christ for refuge. None can perish who put their trust in Him. His grace superabounds above all our sin, and His expiatory work on the cross is so infinitely precious to God that it fully meets all our uncleanness and guilt.”

(Dr. Harry Ironside’s writings are in the public domain. You may read more articles by him at: www.harryironside.com).

NEW BOOKLET: Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day

NEW BOOKLET:Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day by Maria Kneas is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day, click here.

Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day

By Maria Kneas

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I know something about fighting fear because I’ve had a problem with fear all of my life. My dad was sent home from World War II in a hospital ship after attempting suicide, and my Mom was always afraid he would try it again.

Fear is contagious. Children pick up what their parents are feeling. Every night, I had a nightmare about being chased by something horrible, but I didn’t know what it was.

When I was fifteen years old, Mom told me to let Dad know that dinner was ready. I found him lying in bed unconscious from an attempt to commit suicide. Mercifully, we discovered him soon enough, and he recovered at the hospital.

I married a strong, healthy young man, and three years into our marriage, he had a massive heart attack. He needed a quadruple bypass but wasn’t strong enough to get the surgery because of the damage done to his heart. After a year of living with painful and debilitating heart problems, he died. During that year, every day when I was at work, I never knew if I would find him dead on the floor when I came home.

There have been other fearful things in my life, including cancer. The point is, even without persecution, we have to deal with fear. Drastic things can happen suddenly, without warning.

I had to overcome some fear in order to write my book How to Prepare for Hard Times & Persecution because the people who hate Christianity would not appreciate seeing it published. Some of those people work in our government. According to official government documents, I would be classified as an “extremist” and a “potential terrorist” because I am an evangelical Christian; I take what the Bible says about the end times seriously, and I believe that unborn babies should not be killed.1

The Bible says love is an antidote to fear. Therefore, anything we can do to increase our love for God and for one another will help get rid of fear. The Bible says:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

Our natural human love is inadequate. However, we can ask the Lord to give us His love, to enable us to love the way He does. The Bible says He can do that:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5, emphasis added)

God can enable us to do things we would never be able to do in our own strength. We are weak, but He is strong. And He is faithful to help His own. The Bible says:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. (Psalm 73:26)

A good antidote to the fear of what men can do to us is the “fear of the Lord.” This involves more than just reverence. It also includes the fear of God’s punishment. If our love isn’t strong enough to enable us to do what is right, then the fear of the Lord can give us the strength to do it.

According to the Bible, the fear of the Lord also gives us wisdom and understanding. It enables us to be rightly related to God.

It’s good when we can do the right thing because we love God. But when we are unable to do that, then we can recognize God’s power and authority, salute Him, and say, “Yes, Sir!”

After my dad became a Christian, he used to talk about the importance of “taking God seriously.” That includes the fear of the Lord. The Bible talks about how important it is:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy. (Psalm 33:18)

The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. (Psalm 34:7)

There is a song based on that last Scripture about the angel of the Lord protecting those who fear Him. One night I had to walk through a dangerous neighborhood, and I was afraid. As I walked, I quietly sang that song. I started out feeling afraid, but as I kept singing, the fear decreased. And God protected me.

Another antidote to fear is keeping the big picture in mind—eternity. This world is not really our home. We are citizens of the kingdom of God. Our true home is Heaven, and our true king is Almighty God.
The apostle Paul said we are “ambassadors” for Jesus Christ:

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Think about what it means to be an ambassador. You have to leave your native land and live in another country, surrounded by people whose customs and values are different from yours. They may even be cruel and barbaric. (Can you imagine what it would be like to be an ambassador in a place like North Korea or Saudi Arabia?) You are only there temporarily, representing the government of your own country. At some point, your ruler will call you back to your native land.

The book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan describes us as being pilgrims on a journey through this world, on our way to Heaven. An old spiritual hymn has the same theme. Sometimes I sing this song when I read distressing news about what is going on in the world:

POOR WAYFARING STRANGER
(19th century)

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe
But there’s no trouble, toil or danger
In that bright land to which I go.

It helps to remember that our time here on earth is only temporary and that this world is passing away. Here are two Scripture passages that give us the eternal perspective. I often think about this. The one from the book of Revelation is one of my favorite passages in the Bible:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. (Revelation 21:4 5)

Sometimes worship can dispel fear. About twenty years ago, a mammogram showed signs of possible cancer in both of my breasts, and I had to get a biopsy done. I asked my surgeon to use a local anesthesia because that is less stressful to the body, and he agreed to do so. I wound up with two doctors cutting on me at the same time (one working on each breast). Evidently, they forgot I was awake because they were talking about seeing things that looked like cancer.

That was a frightening situation. The more they talked, the greater my fear became. Then I remembered a Scripture passage:

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)

They were playing music in the operating room. I asked them to turn it off, which they did. Then I began to sing a worship song based on Scripture. By the time I finished singing the first line of that song, the fear just drained away.

All during that procedure, I kept on singing. One of the nurses knew the songs, and she sang along with me. I was at peace, focused on God instead of my ailing body. I was thinking about God’s love and faithfulness instead of worrying about my future. (As a result of that biopsy, I had a double radical mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy. The hardships I went through brought me closer to God. Being faced with your mortality changes your priorities, and it makes you know that you need God.)

No matter what happens to us, God is always worthy of our praise. The Bible says:

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)

When we “magnify” the Lord, we don’t make Him bigger. He is already much greater than we can possibly comprehend. What we do is make ourselves more capable of recognizing His greatness. When we do that, God seems larger to us, which makes our problems seem smaller by comparison. Here are some Scriptures that remind us of how great and mighty our God is:

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. (Isaiah 66:1)

I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. (Isaiah 46:9-10)

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalm 19:1)

One thing that can cause fear is sins we have not dealt with. That puts a barrier between us and God, which makes it more difficult for us to turn to Him and to trust Him. Therefore, it is good to habitually invite God to search our hearts and show us if there is anything we need to repent of. King David said:

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

America has become a sex-saturated society. As a result, much of our entertainment contains things intended to incite lust. So do many commercials. Jesus warned us:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Obviously, that principle applies to women as well as to men. Our society takes such things lightly, but God takes them very seriously:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [lustful], Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance [contentions], emulations [jealousy], wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

We know that nobody is going to be perfect this side of Heaven. We will sin. The point is, when we sin, are we distressed about it? Do we repent? Do we make a serious effort to stop doing it? Do we keep asking God to help us overcome it? Are we doing it more and more and getting hardened to it? Or are we doing it less and less? What direction are we moving in?

When it comes to repenting from sins, abortion can be a real stumbling block because the world keeps telling us that what a pregnant woman has inside her is not a baby. The problem is, how can you repent for something you think is not a sin?

This is a strange double standard because the world will put Americans in jail for destroying an eagle’s egg. They know there is a baby eagle in there. Everybody knows that a pregnant cat has kittens inside her, and a pregnant dog has puppies inside her.

The world tells us that what a pregnant woman has inside her is only a “fetus.” Well, the word “fetus” is just a Latin word that means “child.” Doctors like using Latin terms for things.

There are many photos of babies in the womb who are sucking their thumbs. They are obviously babies and not blobs of tissue. Even sonograms can be clear enough to show that.

The Bible makes it obvious that what a woman carries inside her is a baby. In the Gospel of Luke, we are told that Mary became pregnant supernaturally when the Holy Spirit came upon her. Then she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist.

As soon as Mary walked into the room, carrying her recently conceived baby in her womb, the baby inside Elizabeth’s womb recognized Jesus and leaped for joy. We are also told that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still inside his mother’s womb:

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. (Luke 1:41-44, emphasis added)

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15, emphasis added)

God can call a person to ministry before they are born. We see this with the prophet Jeremiah. God told him:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

If you have had an abortion or have encouraged anybody else to have one, then please repent. God will forgive you. He loves you.

You might find it helpful to read Psalm 51. David wrote it after the prophet Nathan confronted him about committing adultery with Bathsheba and setting up her husband Uriah to be killed, which in essence was murdering him. The Bible says that David had a heart for God, and he repented (1 Kings 11:4). In the Gospels, Jesus is called the “son of David” (Matthew 9:27, 15:22; Mark 10:47-48).

One thing that can cause fear is the fact that occultism is becoming mainstream. Satanists and witches desire to put spells and curses on Christians. In case you think such things are not real, the Bible says they are:

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. (Exodus 7:10-12)

Notice that Aaron did something supernatural in the power of God, and then Pharoah’s sorcerers did the same kind of thing, using “enchantments” (spells). However, Pharoah’s sorcerers were not able to harm Moses or Aaron because Aaron’s serpent ate (“swallowed”) the serpents of the sorcerers.

The bad news is that occult power is very real. The good news is that God is infinitely greater, and He takes care of His own. He is willing and able to protect us.

When you drive down a country road, you can go off that road on either side and wind up in a ditch. When it comes to the occult, we can fall into two ditches.

One ditch is to deny the existence and power of the devil and his demons. This means denying the Bible because Jesus is often shown casting out demons. And according to Mark 16:17, Jesus gave those who believe in Him the power to cast out demons. We see a number of examples of this in the Book of Acts.

The other ditch is to “see a demon behind every bush,” as the saying goes. Here’s an example from my life. I’m overweight. One day, I was eating a candy bar, and a woman who claimed to have a deliverance ministry tried to cast a “demon of chocolate” out of me. That kind of nonsense gives Christians a bad name.

When God confronts the devil, it is not like a wrestling match. It is more like squashing a bug with your finger, or flicking a fly off your shoulder. Almighty God has absolute power over the devil. God allows him to do some things, but the devil is on a leash, and eventually he will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). Look at what Jesus said:

But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (Luke 11:20, emphasis added)

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19, emphasis added)

We see a physical example of this when the apostle Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake. The natives knew this snake was deadly, and they expected Paul to die, but it didn’t harm him at all:

And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. (Acts 28:3-6, emphasis added)

What happened to Paul demonstrates God’s protection from deadly physical things. However, the “power of the enemy” means spiritual dangers as well as physical ones. God is able to protect us from curses and spells.

God protects us. However, the Bible also tells us we should protect ourselves by putting on the “armor of God.” We are to be active, not passive:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

According to this passage, we are not to be passive. God expects us to love the truth, have faith, get the Word of God in us (develop a working knowledge of the Bible by reading it and studying it), and pray “always.” Obviously, we can’t be on our knees praying all day long, but we can have a spirit of prayer. We can be aware of God and stay in communication with Him throughout the day.

Before my husband died, we could be in the same room, doing different things, and not talking to one another. However, we felt one another’s presence. We were aware of the other person even when we were intensely focused on something else. There was an awareness of the one we love, and it was easy to talk from time to time.

We can be the same way with God. We can have times of intense prayer, but we can also talk with Him as we go about our daily routines—when we are cooking, or walking somewhere, or driving, or eating a meal.
God has ways of communicating with us. One of them is bringing Scriptures to mind. Another is nudging us, like a sheep dog nudges the sheep to get them to go where they need to be:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

A good example of God leading us (or nudging us) is the Christian mother whose son is a soldier in Afghanistan. One night she wakes up, feeling an urgent need to pray for her boy, so she prays her heart out for him. Then several weeks later, she gets a letter from her son, saying that his unit was ambushed. Some men were killed, and others were wounded, but he was not harmed. The mother looks at the date when the ambush occurred, and she realizes it happened during the time she was praying for her boy.

For an excellent study of the armor of God, I recommend the website by Berit Kjos, The Shepherd’s Way. Look at the section titled “The Armor of God” (www.shepherd.to).

In addition to this article, under the section titled “Bible Studies” there is a more in-depth study of this called “A Wardrobe from the King.” This is a series of studies (one for each piece of the armor).

The Bible tells us to “cast” our cares (fears, anxieties, worries, and concerns) on God because He cares for us (loves us and takes good care of us). That means giving our cares to God, and leaving them with Him—not taking them back again:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

This is easier said than done. We have to learn how to do it. Like many things in life, it takes practice. We can ask God to enable us to do it, to give us the grace for it, and to help us appropriate and work with the grace He gives us.

This morning, a prayer came to me. I would like to share it with you. The prayer is based on some Scripture passages, so I’ll give them first:

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15, emphasis added)

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13, emphasis added)

O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18, emphasis added)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14, emphasis added)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, emphasis added)

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:15, emphasis added)

PRAYER: Lord, how do I let Your peace rule in my heart? You told me to do it, which means it is possible to do it, and You expect me to do it. However, I have fear and anxiety in my heart, which means that Your peace is not ruling in me. Please forgive me for not doing what You told me to do.

Lord, I don’t know how to do it. Please show me how. Teach me. You are the Creator. I’m just a creature. You are my Father. I’m just a child. You are the potter. I’m just the clay. Please change me. Make me into a person who does it as a way of life.

Lord, please give me the grace to do it. Deal with anything in me that hinders Your peace, that blocks it in any way. Be glorified in my life. Fill me with Your peace and Your love in a way that gives You glory.
You said that perfect love casts out fear. But I have fear in my heart. That means I don’t have enough love for You or for others. My love isn’t good enough. It isn’t strong enough. Please put Your love in my heart. Let Your love be shed abroad in my heart.

You told us to be lights in the darkness. Showing Your peace and Your love in the midst of trials and tribulations is one way of doing that.

I want to bear good fruit for Your Kingdom, and this fear and worry are getting in the way. Please set me free from them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

To order copies of Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day, click here.

Endnote
1. Jack Minor, “Military Warned ‘Evangelicals’ No. 1 Threat: Christians Targeted Ahead of Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Quaida, KKK” (WorldNetDaily, April 5, 2013, www.wnd.com/2014/04/military-warned-evangelicals-no-1-threat); Steve Ahle, “Colorado State Police and Homeland Security Target Christians As Anti-Patriots” (April 6, 2013, http://beforeitsnews.com/economics-and-politics/2013/04/breaking-news-colorado-state-police-and-homeland-security-target-christians-as-anti-patriots-2451594.html); Leigh Jones, “Army Reserve Presentation Calls Christians ‘Extremists’” (World Magazine, April 5, 2013, www.worldmag.com/2013/04/army_reserve_presentation_calls_christians_extremists); “Pro-Lifers Should Be Concerned About Obama Assassination List: Judge Napolitano” (February 6, 2013, Life Site News, www.lifesitenews.com/news/will-pro-life-errorists-be-names-to-obamas-assassination-list); Michael Snyder, “72 Types Of Americans That Are Considered ‘Potential Terrorists’ In Official Government Documents” (The Truth, August 26, 2013.http://thetruthwins.com/archives/72-types-of-americans-that-are-considered-potential-terrorists-in-official-government-documents).

To order copies of Fighting Fear in a Fearful Day, click here.

Lighthouse Trails Sends Out 5th Letter to 145 Christian Leaders

Lighthouse Trails began mailing out booklets and short letters to over 100 Christian leaders in the spring of 2016. This month we are mailing out the 5th letter along with two booklets – Yoga and Christianity: Are They Compatible? by Chris Lawson and A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen. Our list of leaders’ names is now at 145. Below is the letter we are including with the two booklets.

Dear Christian Leader:

We can’t tell you how many Christians have contacted our office and told us that their churches are doing “Christian” Yoga. But according to one Hindu professor who e-mailed us a number of years ago, there is no such thing as “Christian” Yoga. He said Yoga is the heart of Hinduism. It would be like a Hindu saying he is going to hold a Hindu communion service. In Chris Lawson’s booklet that we have sent you, he explains what Yoga really is and why Christians should not practice Yoga.

We are also including an important booklet by Ray Yungen about the contemplative prayer movement that was initially introduced to the church via Richard Foster (author of Celebration of Discipline). We know that many people find “naming names” uncomfortable. We assure you, we have no animosity toward Mr. Foster himself, but we are compelled to warn the church about a dangerous and unbiblical practice that has taken a foothold in many of our seminaries, colleges, and churches.

We hope you will find these two booklets helpful in your ministry. Thank you for taking the time to study these matters.

Humbly in Christ,

The Editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing

bigstockphoto.com

If you would like us to add the name of a leader to our Christian leaders list, please send the name and mailing address to us at: editors@lighthousetrails.com. Because of time restraints, we will not be able to add a name without an address. Plus, because we cannot send out these letters and booklets to every pastor in the country, we ask that you only submit names of pastors and/or church leaders who have written at least one book (you can check Amazon) thus moving him or her into a place of influence throughout the church at large.

We wish we could send booklets to every Christian pastor in North America. However, here is an idea given to us from one of our readers for anyone who feels compelled to reach the pastors in his or her denomination and/or state: Earlier this year, a woman from Mississippi who learned that we were sending out booklets to Christian leaders and pastors contacted us. She said she was burdened for Southern Baptist pastors in her state and asked us to put together a mailing of two booklets and a letter and mail it to every Southern Baptist pastor in Mississippi.  Our reader paid for the list (which we purchased for her), the booklets, the postage, and our labor. At her request, we sent each pastor a copy of 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book by Warren B. Smith and 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen. If you have a group you would like us to reach in this manner, please contact our office.

If you would like to view and/or print a list of the Christian leaders we are currently sending booklets and short letters to 3-4 times a year, click here. Perhaps you would like to pray for these men and women who, in total, influence millions and millions of people throughout the world. Incidentally, just because a name is on this list does not necessarily mean that leader is in deception. We have included a wide assortment of names in this list. There are many pastors and Christian leaders who may not be part of the deception but, for various reasons, are not aware of what is happening in the church today.

Note: Chuck Swindoll’s name is no longer on our list of Christian leaders as his ministry office requested we remove his name.

Emerging Church Lesson for the Day: What Did Paul Mean That He Became All Things to All Men?

By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
What did the apostle Paul mean that he became all things to all men for evangelism? This is his summation after he describes his goal and those people whom he wanted to reach. He adapted his teaching to their thought in their culture to reach them. He divides the world into the religious with the law (Jews), and the Gentiles, without the law.
According to 1 Corinthians 9:20, Paul was emancipated from the law as a means of salvation, yet he knew how to speak to them because of his former beliefs and life with them (Galatians 4:21). He knew how to put the Gospel to them without compromise and without offence.1
To the Jews, he would observe the Mosaic customs as long as it did not affect his duty to Christ. There was no compromise of principles or the law though Paul was a Jew among Jews. He did not act as a person obligated to the law with the Jews, nor as a lawless person to the Gentiles, but always made it evident he was serving them under the law of Christ.
In Acts 17, Paul showed the philosophers they were wrong from logic, their own history, and the Bible and explained to them what is right. He used what the Athenians did not know, an altar to an unknown god, to make known to them what he knew. Paul was not complimenting their religious worship as they were idolaters. These religious men of prestige were offended as he told them they would be judged by a man who came back to life. Yet, Paul’s continual quest was to persuade men to turn “to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Paul certainly made a distinction (as did Jesus) between those who knew what God required and those in ignorance. Paul even pitted the Gentiles against the Jews to humble them from pride. Romans 2:14-16:
[F]or when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (giving the same summation as he did in Acts 17).
In 1 Corinthians 9:22, Paul said, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
If this statement by Paul were isolated from the rest of Scripture, one could assume Paul was willing to do anything to reach the lost, including adopting their lifestyle and compromise his ethics, morals, and beliefs. This is a doctrine that is popularized among the seeker-friendly, emerging church evangelism crowd today. If we use this logic, then for one to reach a drug addict, he must become one; one cannot reach a drunk unless he becomes a drunk, etc.
When we compare Scripture with Scripture, we find that Paul did not mean this. In order for a doctrine to be biblically sound, it cannot contradict other verses. Paul taught that believers are to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Paul would not have done anything contrary to Christ and His ways in his own life and ministry. Remember he rebuked Peter for compromising of the Gospel when Jewish brethren came to visit him in Antioch. Galatians 2:11-13, speaking of the Judaizers: “for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.” Saying to Peter in Galatians 2:14: “If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

So Paul did not mean that we can act one way with one group of people and another way with another group to win them.

We have good examples that Paul did not act lawlessly among the pagans who were outside the Mosaic law: Romans 2:14, 1 Timothy 1:9-10. Paul simplified the message, knowing his audience, so they could understand and receive.
Paul explains that he is always under the law to Christ, and he is never free to do things that would be contrary to the new covenant. And in Galatians 5:13, he says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
Paul’s liberty in his evangelism was not a freedom to sin or to serve the flesh in any way. Paul was always strict in regard to sin, and he did not allow anything in his life that would bring the result of sin by spiritual carelessness.
Notes:
1. From Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament.

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