Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

Letter to the Editor: I Was A Cultural “Christian” But Was Not Born Again

To Lighthouse Trails:

. . . having a form of godliness but denying the power there of.

I was a cultural Christian, and I was baptized in the Baptist church that I was raised in. I was not born again. Sadly, it was departing from the faith; however, God used my evil for good. I was convinced that I was a Christian until I was convicted of my sin by the Holy Spirit. No one was present in my living room except the two of us. I was driven to my knees in repentance and pleading for a Savior.

I could have just as easily kept attending and kept up the appearance of acting like a Christian. I fear for the millions in this boat who are represented in Matthew 7: 21-23.

This explains why so many self-identified Christians, even evangelicals, believe so many false doctrines.

This explains why so many churches embrace humanism in sheep’s clothing. They would rather do good deeds to be seen of men than witness and make disciples.

This explains the currently trending missional wave.

This explains the eagerness to embrace the contemplative movement. They do not have the Holy Spirit so they embrace the counterfeit spirit instead.

T. Miller

LTRP Note: If you are reading this account above and believe you too may only be a cultural Christian and not a born-again Christian, we would be happy to send you a free booklet on salvation. Please e-mail us at editors@lighthousetrails.com. Your name and address will remain confidential.

Related Article:

What Does It Mean to Repent and Be Saved? by Harry Ironside

 

WILL A LOVING GOD PERMIT ANY ONE TO BE ETERNALLY LOST?

By Harry A. Ironside

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shalt not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)

Will a loving God permit anyone to be eternally lost? The only place we can find an answer to that question is in the Word of God. These poor minds of ours are utterly helpless in answering such a question. Men may reason as they will, but their reasonings will not change facts.

Apart from the revelation that God has given in His Word, we know nothing about what He will do in the eternal ages. One man may come to one conclusion, and another may come to a different one. We may say, “I think,” or “I do not think,” but our thinking will not alter the facts of the case. It is in the Word of God alone that this question is answered. Even if we fall back on mere human reason, it seems to me that no thinking person could come to the conclusion that a man could live in sin and die in sin, without suffering for his sins. “Be sure your sin will find you out” is an unalterable law of nature and of God.

Any argument that might be brought against a loving God permitting men and women to suffer throughout eternity because of sin, could also be brought against a loving God permitting men
and women to suffer in this life because of sin.

Joseph Cook, that stalwart New England fundamentalist, said something like this: One might imagine two angels talking together before the creation of the world, when they learned the divine secret that God was shortly to bring a universe into existence, and saying to each other:

“You have heard that God is going to create a world?”

“Yes.”

“That He is going to have moral and intellectual beings in that world?”

“Yes.”

“Not purely spiritual beings like ourselves, but beings with material bodies, and yet with minds and wills even as we angels have minds and wills of our own?”

“Yes, I have heard that such is His purpose. But can you answer this question? Do you think that our God will ever permit unhappiness to come into that world that He is going to create?”

“Oh, He certainly will not. Our kind, loving God will never permit unhappiness to come into the world that He is about to create.”

“Do you think He will ever allow any of those creatures that He is going to bring into existence to act contrary to His holy will? Do you think He will ever permit sin to lift up its unholy head in the universe He is about to create?”

“Certainly not! Our God, our loving God, our holy God will never permit unholiness. He will never permit unrighteousness or wickedness to spoil that world that he is going to create.”

“Do you think that God will ever allow man to suffer in pain and anguish in that world?”

“Oh, no! The world that God is going to create must of necessity be forever the abode of happy beings.”

Can’t you imagine angels reasoning something like that? But what are the facts? Six thousand years of human history, according to the chronology of the Hebrews, prove that a loving God did permit sin to come into the world, did permit wickedness to enter into this fair creation, and did permit pain, suffering, sorrow, broken hearts, unspeakable anguish, and even death to mar His fair creation.

The Reasonings of Men

bigstockphoto.com

Now just as holy beings might have reasoned before the creation of the world that God, because He is loving, because He is good, and because He is holy, would never permit sin to spoil this world, and would never permit suffering and sorrow and anguish to come in, so men reason today that a good God will not allow the effects of sin to go on for eternity. But how can you and I tell what God will permit unless He is pleased to reveal Himself in His own Word?

People say today, for example, reasoning from man up to God, “You are a father; would you ever put one of your children in a place of intense suffering, if you could help it? Would you ever,  illingly expose a child of yours to a fiery flame?”

Of course I answer, “No.”

Then they ask, and they think they have good ground for what they are about to say, “If you as an earthly father would not allow a child of yours to suffer in this way, can you believe that a loving God will cast people into everlasting fire because of their sins?”

And I have to answer, “The only way I have of knowing what God will do is by observing what He has done, and by turning to the Word to see what He has to say.”

He has permitted men and women and even little children, during the ages of time, to suffer unspeakable anguish. He has permitted innocent little children to be born into the world, the victims of incurable diseases handed down from their parents, and these diseases are often the result of the sins of their forebears. Many of these little children come into the world and grow up never  knowing a moment without suffering and pain. Would you have expected that of God, from your idea of who God is and what He should do? Yet here are the facts, and we have to face them.

The only way we can account for these facts is that God hates sin, and in order to make men realize what a fearful thing it is to sin against Him, He allows dreadful consequences to befall those who commit sin, consequences affecting not only the one who commits the sin, but affecting generations yet to be born.

Men object to the statement in the law, “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Deuteronomy 5:9). And yet the facts prove that the Word of God is right, for He does this very thing. Sin must be a fearful affront to a holy God, or He would never have allowed the awful sufferings and horrors that have darkened the history of mankind. He wants us to understand that sin is the vilest, the blackest, the most dreadful thing in the universe. His Word says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Right in this world some men’s sins are open, going before them to judgment. Some men suffer unspeakably during this life because of their sins, but, on the other hand, there are other men of
whom this is not true. There are others who sin just as grievously, and yet there is no evidence that their sin is followed with anything like proper judgment in this world. There are men who
live in luxury and pleasure upon the earth, utterly indifferent to the conditions of those around them, living selfishly for themselves alone, and indulging in all kinds of sins. Yet as far as this life is concerned, the punishment does not fall upon them, but if they are not reaping the due punishment in this life, depend upon it that in another world there will be a straightening up of the account, for it is written, “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” What does this sentence mean if God did not intend us to understand that men are not through with Him when they leave this world impenitent? Some men’s sins follow after them, and like the blood-hounds of hell which they are, they will track men down and drag them to the judgment bar of God where they shall give account of all the deeds done in the flesh.

The Time Element Involved

But some say, “What sin can a man commit during his brief years on earth to deserve eternal judgment?” Have you ever stopped to consider that a man can commit a heinous crime in a very
short time for which we think he deserves to be punished for all the rest of his natural life? Not very long ago a man of over seventy years of age came out of a prison in New England. Fifty
years before he had been sentenced to that penitentiary for the horrible crime of murder. Because of his youth, the law did not want to condemn him to be hung, so he was sentenced to prison.
Because of his desire for gain, he was stirred to anger, and in a moment, murdered a man, and no doubt he had many a month and year in which to repent of that crime. Yet society felt that it was
only right that he should be shut away for fifty years. You see there may be no connection between the amount of time in which a man can commit a crime and the punishment that befits it.

Down in Kentucky, there lived one of those fine southern gentlemen who had been left a widower. His wife, as she slipped away, left a darling baby who became all in all to him. He watched that child grow till she was a beautiful girl, and then on to budding young womanhood. By and by, she returned from college, and was the very idol of his heart, and the apple of his eye. Then there came into that home a man who won the affection of that young woman and basely deceived her, luring her into grievous sin, ruined her sweet young life, and then cast her off, a poor brokenhearted girl.

That father had been what is called a Universalist, but when that poor girl came sobbing, brokenhearted, seeking her father’s house after weeks of wandering, during which she had been afraid
to go home, and told him what had happened, and when he saw the wreck that had been made of the idol of his heart and life, he exclaimed, with an oath, “If God Almighty hasn’t a hell for
fiends like the one who has wrecked my happiness and ruined my child, He ought to make one!” And this Book says He has one, and it declares that “whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars” shall have their part in it for all eternity.

Why is eternal punishment the result of impenitent sin? Our Lord Jesus has told us in Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 3:28, 29, we read, “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the
sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” There you have it, the man who dies rejecting the Holy Spirit’s testimony as to the Lord Jesus Christ is guilty of an eternal sin. That is why Scripture holds out no hope for his salvation in another world. The man who refuses the testimony the Holy Ghost has given concerning the Savior’s love, His marvelous atonement, and His wondrous grace has no other hiding place by which he may escape the wrath of a sin-hating God. And so I come back to the text with which we began, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

People say, “Oh, Paul or John or Peter may have believed this doctrine of eternal judgment for sin, but give me the words of Jesus—Jesus, the loving, gentle, tender, gracious, Galilean teacher—let me hear what Jesus says; His Word will be enough for me.” Listen, my dear friends, no one ever spoke as seriously and as solemnly of the eternal consequences of sin as Jesus did. It is He who said:

If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:9)

It is Jesus who speaks so solemnly over and over again of that awful pit of woe, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). It is Jesus who said of Judas, “It had been good for that man if he had not been born,” but if there is any possibility of Judas ever being saved, even after the lapse of countless ages of misery, I submit that It would be good  for him that he had been born. But Jesus said, “it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” That man sold his Savior! Suppose you do the same thing? That man companied with Jesus for three and one-half years, and yet sinned against the Holy Spirit in rejecting Christ.

You have heard the Gospel over and over again, and if you should reject Him too, could it not be said of you: “it had been good for that man if he had not been born”?

But now, it is Jesus again who utters these words, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” You cannot find fault with the love of God, for it gave Christ, and thereby
provided a way of salvation. God is not holding you responsible because you are a sinner; you were born a sinner. You are not responsible because you have a sinful nature; you cannot help
that. God is not going to cast you away from His presence simply because that corrupt nature has manifested itself in sin, for Christ has put away sin, and any man who will may be saved
from his sin through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive a new nature. Why are men lost? The answer is clear: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” You observe how this one sentence plucks up by the very roots two modern forms of error in regard to mankind.

There is Universalism. Is there any hope for a man who dies rejecting Christ in this life, being saved in the life to come? “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Jesus Himself could not have put it more plainly than that. In this world, God is pleading with sinners; He is offering them salvation, but if men reject His Son, it is the solemn declaration of Holy Writ, they shall not see life. There is no hope in another world for men who reject Christ in this.

 

God meant men to understand, and it seems to me there can be no question about it, that if men die in their sins, there is no hope that they will ever be brought into a state of harmony with Him whose grace they have spurned, or with the Savior whose blood they have trampled under foot. And so we read, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). I know we live in a namby-pamby age when men make light of iniquity, but according to the Word of God, sin is a fearful affront to the Divine Majesty. To be uncleansed from sin means to die in sin, exist forever in sin, and be banished eternally from the presence of a holy God.

But, thank God, this is still the day of His grace. One would shrink from proclaiming a truth like this, if he were not permitted to proclaim the other truth: “He that believeth on the Son hath  everlasting life,” and so today, if you are unsaved, you may have eternal life by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. To believe on Him is to trust Him, rest your whole soul upon Him as your Savior. and take Him as your Redeemer.

My Redeemer
None but Jesus in His glories
Shall the honored title wear;
My Redeemer I oh, how sweet to call Thee mine.
Sunk in ruin, sin and misery,
Bound by Satan’s captive chain;
Guided by his artful treach’ry,
Hurrying on to endless pain,
My Redeemer plucked me as a brand from hell.

You can say this if you will come to Christ today.
***

(Harry Ironside’s writings are in the public domain. You may read more of them at www.harryironside.com.)

A Story of Death to Life: From Catholicism to Christianity

By Barbara

I was born into a devout Catholic family and culture, knowing only one non-Catholic family until I entered high school. As a baby of just a few weeks old, I was baptized by sprinkling with water. My parents, who simply knew no better just as I did not for so many years, believed that this baptism meant that I was “ born-again.” I went to a Catholic school where I counted an old Franciscan priest as a dear friend. So devout was I that I consistently went to novenas, nine-day prayer vigils to honor Mary. On Saturdays, it was customary to go to weekly confession (now called the sacrament of penance) where I would confess my sins, whether venial (minor) or mortal (punishable by hell), to the priest so he could grant me absolution(cleansing). Normally, he would then have me say penance that my repentance would be deemed valid – possibly say two Our Fathers or 5 Hail Marys or say a rosary. Every Sunday would find me at Mass; every day of the 40 days of Lent period would also find me at Mass even if I had to get up at 5 o’clock to make my first college class. I wore a Miraculous Medal in reverence to Mary and a scapular so that Mary would rescue me from purgatory when I died.

A Catholicism confessional booth

A Catholic confessional booth (bigstockphoto.com)

Yet in spite of all my attempts at holiness, there was a lack of peace within me and an emptiness I could not fill though I tried to appease it with food and alcohol to a certain degree. My prayers to fill my emptiness and to give me peace were often accompanied with sobs as I cried out to a God who seemed always just beyond my grasp, behind a wall (a veil) I could not penetrate. Then one day, in His mercy, the Lord Jesus had a friend invite me to an evangelical prayer breakfast. For the very first time in 35 years, I heard the gospel of salvation, the gospel of eternal life. When the speaker asked those present who wanted to receive Jesus into their hearts to stand, my friend was amazed at how quickly I got up. I sobbed as peace flooded my heart and filled up the emptiness that had been in me all my life. Now, now I was truly born-again:

[Born anew] to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4-5)

For over two years, I daily read this book called The Bible— devoured would be a more apt expression—and then the Lord led me to take a course on Catholic doctrine from a Catholic institution. Now, I could view Catholic doctrine through the lens of truth. (As the years went on, I read additional Catholic-produced books including the official Catholic Catechism, approximately 800 pages long). How amazed I was to discover what my former church believed! As an example, as a former devout believer in Mary, I had been told according to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that Mary herself was born sinless. That would mean she didn’t need a Savior. Yet she herself proclaimed in the Bible that she did

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (Luke 1: 46-47)

And there were so many more conflicts. Had I really been led to believe all those years as a Catholic so many things at odds with Scripture? My only excuse? I just didn’t know. And I don’t think my dear Franciscan priest did either. Like myself and all my relatives he simply believed what he had been taught.

No one comes to the Father but by Jesus. All these years Catholics have been told it was through the Catholic Church, by Mary’s intercession, by going to Mass, and by receiving communion that they come to the Father. I trusted what I was taught and was told that the Catholic way was the way to eternal life. Yet, John 14:6 says there is only one way to eternal life. His Name is Jesus.

I rejoice in the fact that before they died, both my parents came to know the truth of eternal life. In fact, it was the very uncertainty of the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on eternal life and the absolute certainty of 1 John 5: 13 on the topic of eternal life (see below) that opened my mother’s eyes.

In reading this and sharing it with others, know that the information in it truly is a story of death to life—mine, yours, and others.

The Bible says, “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” With all my heart, I want to see those who are Catholic set free. Catholics need to know the truth of real salvation, and we Christians need to know the truth about Catholicism that we may witness to them meaningfully so that they may know the true love of Jesus and have eternal life.

In 1980, New York Cardinal O’Connor said:

(Catholic) Church teaching is that I don’t know, at any given moment, what my eternal future will be. I can hope, pray, do my very best—but I still don’t know. Pope John II doesn’t know absolutely that he will go to heaven, nor does Mother Teresa of Calcutta. (New York Times, February 1, 1980, B4)

In 1992, Cardinal Ratzinger, formerly Pope Benedict XVI, headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which is the watchdog of Catholic orthodoxy, otherwise known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition. In that position, he headed the commission that wrote the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. This Catechism was approved by Pope John Paul 11. In that Catechism, that same uncertainty of salvation and eternal life is stated. (Death of a Pope: Dave Hunt of The Berean Call; http://mmoutreachinc.com/cult_groups/pope.html)

Yet those of us who are born-again know with absolute certainty what eternity holds for us:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that ye [already] have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13)

Related Information:

My Journey Out of Catholicism

A Former Nun Speaks Candidly About Pope Francis, Deception, and Mind Control in the Catholic Church

 

Praying for Flood Victims and For “the Light of the Glorious Gospel” to Shine Unto Them

As we remember  and pray for the flood victims in Texas, let us pray that many who do not know Him will turn their eyes and hearts toward the Lord, finding lasting comfort and His salvation through Jesus Christ. While great numbers of people throughout the world are spiritually blind, it is our prayer that many who are suffering during the earth’s present “birth pangs” humbly come before Him, acknowledge their sinfulness and need of salvation and receive Him as Lord and Savior. And we know that if they do, He will bring them comfort and peace, even in the midst of hardship and tragedy.

“. . . in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

As Harry Ironside said below in his essay about salvation, “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).

rp_BKT-IR-WHO-2.jpg“For God So Loved the World . . . That Whosoever!”

By Harry A. Ironside

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).

Why do so many people think this is the greatest text in the Bible? There are other wonderful texts that dwell on the love of God, that show how men are delivered from judgment, that tell us how we may obtain everlasting life; but no other one verse, as far as I can see, gives us all these precious truths so clearly and so distinctly. So true is this that when the Gospel is carried into heathen lands, and missionaries want to give a synopsis of the Gospel to a pagan people, all they find it necessary to do, if they are going to a people that have a written language, is to translate and print this verse, and it tells out the story that they are so anxious for the people to hear. If they do not have a written language, invariably one of the first Scriptures they are taught to memorize is John 3:16.

I have a slip of paper sent to me by a friend in China. In those odd characters, this same message is written, and that message put into the hands of the Chinese has often been used to lead a soul to Christ. Not immediately, of course, for he does not understand it all at once, but it has led him to ask upon what authority is this statement based, and so eventually he is led to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many Truths in One Verse

How many truths are wrapped up in that one verse! In the first place, there is the personality of God—”God so loved.” A God who can love is personal. We had a woman in the United States who invented a religion a few years ago, and she said it was all love, and yet she said that God is impersonal. But that is not possible. Just imagine loving a cloud or thinking that a cloud is loving you! It is something utterly impossible; you cannot do it. Behind love, there must be a person with a warm, loving heart. “God so loved.”

This Chinese translation, which my friend sent me, says, “God so passionately loved the world, that he gave.” It was a divine passion, a heart in heaven throbbing in loving sympathy with men in all their trials and difficulties here on earth. What a wonderful revelation that is, and it is all wrapped up in this one verse.

Then there is the truth of the divine Fatherhood. This God so loved men “that he gave his only begotten Son.” There cannot be a son without a father. If God gave His Son, God Himself is a Father, and that is a revelation of which the pagan world never dreamed.

Then again, there is the lost condition of mankind. God gave His well-beloved Son, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” An unsaved man is in grave danger. You, dear unsaved one, are in grave danger of being so utterly lost that you may be banished from the presence of this God of love forever, and yet He has provided a means whereby His banished ones may return to Him. God gave His Son up to a sacrificial death on Calvary’s Cross for all men, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The universality of the offer of mercy is also here. It is a “whosoever” message, and what does “whosoever” mean? A gentleman came one time to my former home city and took an entire week for a series of lectures on John 3:16. During that time, he labored every night to prove that the world that God loved was the world of the elect and that “whosoever” was simply the “whosoever” that God had chosen from the foundation of the world. No wonder it took him a week to try to make out that kind of a thing. Any child can see the difference between a doctrine like that and that which is revealed in this text. Any one of school age knows the meaning of “whosoever.”

You may have heard the story of the old Scotchman who had been brought up with the idea that God had predetermined just so many people to be saved, and all the rest were created to be damned. He felt that he ought to be willing to say, “O God, if it is Thy will to damn me, I do not want to be saved”; but he did want to be saved and was in the deepest agony of soul about it. But still they all said, “If you are not one of the elect, you cannot be saved.”

One day he was out in the field plowing, when he found a piece of paper with a large text on it. He tried to spell it out, but he was not very good at reading, and so he read slowly: “For—God—so—loved—the—world—that—he—gave—his—only—be-got-ten—Son—that—who-so-ever.” He wondered what that meant, but as he did not know, he passed on to the next part. “That—who-so-ever—be-liev-eth—in—him—should—not—perish—but—have—ever-last-ing—life.”

“Man !” he said, “here’s good news for somebody. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who-so-ever! I wonder who is meant by that word. Here is somebody who can have everlasting life, elect or not elect.” And while he was pondering the question, he saw a lad going by with a bunch of books under his arm. He called to him, “Here, laddie, can ye read ?”

“Aye, that I can,” he replied.

“Well, will you read this ?”

Wanting to impress the old man with his great ability, the boy read like a race horse; “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.”

“O laddie, laddie, don’t read it so fast; read it again, and read it slowly so I can get every word, and be careful with that long word,” said the old man. And so the boy read it again.

“Does it really say there that somebody can be saved by just believing?” the old man asked. “What does that long word mean?”

“Oh,” said the boy, “whosoever means you, or me, or any other body; but there goes the bell, I have to run,” and away he went.

The old man stood there, and read it again, “For God loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that you, or me, or any other body believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“Man !” he said, “that’s good news for a sinner like me; I don’t need to find out whether I am elect or not,” and he dropped down between the plow handles, and there confessed himself a sinner for whom Jesus died. He took God at His word, and his soul was saved.

One Text for a Whole Week

One of the earliest stories I ever heard about D. L. Moody was one with which some of you are familiar. When he was in Great Britain, he met a young Englishman by the name of Henry Moorhouse. One day Moorhouse said to Moody “I am thinking of going to America.”

“Well,” said Moody, “if you should ever be in Chicago come down to my place, and I will give you a chance to preach.”

Now although Mr. Moody was not two-faced, he was merely trying to be polite, for mentally he was saying, “I hope he won’t come.” There are so many people, you know, who want to preach, although God never meant them to, and Mr. Moody was not quite sure of Mr. Moorhouse. He was rather taken back one day when, just before leaving for a series of meetings, he received a telegram, “Have just arrived in New York. Will be in Chicago on Sunday.”

“And now,” thought Moody, “I am going away, and I told him he could preach here.” So he said to his wife and to his committee, “Here’s this young Englishman coming; let him preach once, and then if the people enjoy him, put him on again.”

When Moody returned, he said to his wife, “Well, what about that young preacher?”

“Oh,” she said, “he is a better preacher than you are. Why, he is telling sinners that God loves them.”

“He is wrong !” said Moody, “God doesn’t love sinners.”

“Well,” she said, “you go and hear him.”

“Why, is he still preaching?’ asked Mr. Moody.

“Yes, he has been preaching all week and has taken only one text, John 3:16,” was her reply.

When Mr. Moody went to the meeting, Moorhouse got up, and said, “I have been hunting and hunting all through the Bible, looking for a text, and I think we will just talk about John 3:16 once more.” Mr. Moody always testified that it was on that night that he got his first clear understanding of the Gospel and the love of God. Think what it meant in Moody’s life, and in the lives of tens of thousands who were reached through his ministry, to know that God loves sinners. Are you one of those who has been saying, “If I were only a little better, I could believe that God loves me?” O dear friend, hear it again:

“Sinners Jesus will receive; Sound this word of grace to all Who the heavenly pathway leave, All who linger, all who fall.”

“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).

Just Like African Boys

I remember when I was a boy, going to a missionary meeting. A missionary was there from Africa and was showing us a whole lot of curious things, and then he said, “Now boys, I want to tell you the kind of Gospel we preach to the people in Africa. How many good boys have we here? A lot of us thought we were good, but our mothers were there, and so not one of us dared hold up his hand. “Well,” said he, “not one good boy here; then I have the same message for you that we have for the heathen in Africa; God loves naughty boys!”

“My,” I thought, “he is getting all mixed up,” for you see, I had heard people say, “If you are good, God will love you.” But, dear friends, that is not true. God is not waiting for you to be good so He can love you; God loves sinners and has proven His love for them by the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. “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). Instead of waiting for people to be good, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you believe it, dear friend?

The difficulty is that men have this wrong idea about God and are always trying to make out that they are better than they are. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6). You will find people down in the depths of sin, but they are always ready to compare themselves with other folk, saying, “I am as good as they are.” But God has no message and no blessing for men who are trying to justify themselves.

As long as you try to make a good name for yourself, God can only condemn you; but when you come into His presence and confess yourself a lost, guilty sinner, God has a message and a blessing for you. “God so loved the world”—a wicked, corrupt, and ungodly world, and you and I belong to it. “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man” (Proverbs 27:19). God’s Word declares that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10). Yet, knowing all the wickedness of which my heart and your heart is capable, God loves us and gave His Son to die for us.

My! What a Gospel this is; what a message to bring to poor, needy sinners! We do not come to men and say, “Turn over a new leaf; quit your meanness; give up this, and give up that.” We do not ask any one to give up anything; we ask you to receive the gift of God, and when you receive that gift, “the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of Christ’s glory and grace.”

A lad tried to preach on John 3:16 one day. He was asked to give his testimony but thought he had better get up a sermon. He divided his text into four heads:

God loved. God gave. I believe. I have.

Could you make a better division than that?

A Girl’s Horror of God

A little girl who lived in Luther’s day had been brought up with a perfect horror of God. She thought of Him as always watching her, taking note of every wrong thing she did, and just waiting to visit judgment upon her. Her parents could not get that fear out of her mind. Her father was a printer and was working on Luther’s first German Bible. One day she was in his shop, when just a comer of one of the sheets of the Bible caught her eye. She looked at it, and as she read it, her whole attitude toward God changed, and she said, “Mother, I am, not afraid of God any more.”

“Well, my dear,” said the mother, “I am glad of that, but why are you not afraid of God?”

“Oh,” she replied, “look what I found, a piece of the Bible, and it says, ‘God so loved, that he gave.'” It was just a part of two lines.

“Well,” her mother said, “how does that take away your fear of God ? It doesn’t say what He gave.”

“Oh, but if He loved us enough to give anything, I am not afraid,” said the child. And then her mother sat down and opened up the whole truth to her.

People are stumbling over the simplest things. Take, for instance, that word believeth.  What is it to believe in Him? It means to put your soul’s confidence in Him, to trust in Him, God’s blessed Son. When in Toronto, I picked up a copy of a broad Scotch translation of the New Testament, and the first thing I noticed was that this word believeth is not found there at all. Instead of beIieveth, there is the Scotch word, lippen, and it means to throw your whole weight upon. This is the way it reads, “Whosoever lippens to Jesus should not perish, but have the life of the ages”—the life that runs on through all the ages.

Just Lippen to Jesus

One day Dr. Chalmers spent hours with a poor, anxious soul, trying to lead her into peace, but she could not understand what it was to believe, and finally he had to leave her. On the way home, he had to cross a creek with a shaky old bridge over it, and as he was feeling his way across in a very careful manner, one of his parishioners who saw him, called out, “Can you nae lippen the bridge?” Immediately he said, “That’s the word for the old lady I have just left,” and he went back to her, and said, “I have got the word for you, can you nae lippen to Jesus ?”

Lippen?” she said. “Is it just to lippen? Aye, I can lippen to Him. He will never let me down, will He?”

“Yes, that is it,” he replied, “He will never let you down.” Have you been struggling, trying, working; have you been promising and trying to give up this and to do this, that, and the other thing? O dear friend, hear it, “Whosoever lippens to Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Another “Whosoever”

But now notice the alternative. They who trust in Jesus will not perish, but what about those who do not trust in Him? There is another whosoever. In Revelation 20, where we have that solemn picture of the last judgment, we read, “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up, the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

Listen to it, sinner, whosoever in the day of judgment “was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Who are found written in the book of life? “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” There they are, those who believed, and those who did not believe; those who received the gift of God, and those who spurned the Gospel, trampling under foot the grace of God. They stand in the judgment as poor, lost, trembling souls to hear their dreadful sentence. You may be saved now without money and without price.

“There is life for a look at the Crucified One,

There is life at this moment for thee;Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,

Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.”

Look, sinner, look to Jesus just now and be saved.

This sermon by Harry Ironside can be printed from this blog, or you may  order copies of “For God So Loved the World . . . That Whosoever!,”here.

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.

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).

Buried in Unmarked Graves

By Roger Oakland

Credit: Bigstockphoto.com

Vast are the burial grounds resulting from man-centered Christianity. When men follow men rather than the Good Shepherd, they seek after wealth, kingdoms, power, and illicit sexual relationships—anything to feed the flesh, which we know is never satisfied. When this happens, it is no longer Christianity but rather another “Christianity,” a dead and harmful religion (which is man’s invention) promoting another Jesus. Religion robs the innocent from true freedom in Jesus. The temples, the cathedrals, the shrines, and the modern day megachurches often testify to the accomplishments of man more than they speak of the wonders of God, who sent His Son to redeem us from our sins.

Further, study the hierarchies that humans construct—the popes, the cardinals, the bishops, and the priests. Or replace the “Holy Catholic Church” with the “Protestant” counterparts, and you find the same thing. While there may be a different configuration, the end results are the same. Followers are abused and misused by the power brokers that control them.

Many are those who have been beaten and hurt. They are buried in unmarked graves without tombstones covered over by time. Those responsible for their demise continue from generation to generation. They are abusive powerful despots who boldly proclaim “how dare you touch God’s anointed” as they bury more and more. They believe their threats have a scriptural basis.

Such is the case for many in a fellowship of pastors I was once involved with. For this reason, two Norwegian brothers (myself being one of them) felt led to warn these men, many of whom got their focus off the Good Shepherd.1 Sadly, they started out right but ended up wrong. As the Bible states, it is not how you start but how you finish that counts.

This group lost their moorings. Many of them were so encapsulated by power, success, and church growth, they did not realize they had become lukewarm and then cold. While the Good Shepherd warns them in His Word, they chose to ignore the warnings. Just like the Bible proclaims, Ichabod (meaning God’s glory departed) became a reality and an era of struggle that should have been laden with victories for Christ ended with the death of this group’s heart-broken founder.2 Isn’t it interesting how history repeats itself? Whatever has happened before can and does happen again.

The Word of God is light. The Word of God shines into the darkness, and the darkness hates the light. Often those in darkness think they are in light and do not see the light when the light shines.

Nevertheless, the God of the Bible always wins. Sometimes the scenario plays out with a very unhappy ending. God is a God of justice, and justice always prevails. The good news for the deceivers is that God is also a God of mercy, and He gives man the opportunity to repent until the day he takes his last breath. God does not desire that any should perish but wants all to come to repentance.

Endnote:

  1. http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c190finalwakeupcall.shtml
  2. You can read about Roger Oakland’s years in the Calvary Chapel churches in his biography Let There Be Light, 2nd ed.

(This is an excerpt from Roger Oakland’s book, The Good Shepherd Calls)

Related Video:

(From Roger Oakland’s emerging church lecture series)


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