Posts Tagged ‘sin’

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

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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.)

This is Not a Review of “The Shack”

Cedric Fisher

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

I’m not going to write a review or detailed critique of William P. Young’s book or movie both titled The Shack. The reason is because there are already a number of good reviews available. You can access plenty of information on Lighthouse Trails Research. What I will do is present a warning.

First, I want to point out that there are some heresies and deceptions that one should not need a review to recognize and reject. The televangelist selling God’s favor, which increases with the size of the donation, is one. Another one is a preacher smoking pot or getting drunk on video while claiming that it is the way to get closer to God. One more is the preacher that declares that God has entrusted only him with new revelation essential to understanding the Bible. Likewise, does anyone really need to inform a true Christian about what is wrong with The Shack?

Now for the warning. God’s word declares that the end times will be very dangerous for Christians. There will be many spiritually wicked individuals masquerading as servants of God. They will present heresies and other lies for the purpose of deceiving God’s people. However, some professing Christians declare that it is impossible for Christians to be deceived and apostatize. If that is true, then who is Satan deceiving and who is apostatizing? The lost are already deceived and cannot apostatize from faith that they do not have.

Obviously, the deception has to be very clever. If it were disguised as an orange, it would appear exactly as a genuine orange. Therefore, we can expect lies disguised exactly as truth. However, if people accept enough false oranges loaded with a mind-numbing drug, it stands to reason that false oranges will no longer be needed. Then whatever is being disguised by the falseness will be offered without pretense. Click here to continue reading.

Come Back to the True Living Water

By David Dombrowski

In previous articles, we have demonstrated how the Gospel is the greatest of all treasures. Throughout the ages, man has been out digging for treasure. From the earth, we have been able to extract much of the things that we prize most highly including silver, gold, diamonds, gems, metal ores for making innumerable things made of iron or steel, copper or brass, and aluminum, while massive amounts of oil and coal have been extracted propelling us into an industrialized world. Yet, the human heart remains empty, and only God can fill that void.

Scripture likens our need for the Gospel to our need for water. The psalmist wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). And just as a deer is driven by thirst to drink of the cool water brooks, so we, like the psalmist, should hunger and thirst after God. But for most Christians in the Western world, that thirst drives us elsewhere, and what we attain never really satisfies because it is not the living water that is able to give us life and renew us.

bigstock-Chital-old-illustration-Axis--31118537The Gospel has been with us for a very long time, but of the world’s population, relatively few have chosen to dip into that water of life. The Scripture beckons, “the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Though the offer is made to all, there are so few who seem to listen. Consequently, so many choose to live in a perpetual drought, fearing the water of life that is able to save men’s souls.

Now, how long has the Gospel been with us? Paul tells us that Abraham received the Gospel:

And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Galatians 3:8)

God made a covenant with Abraham based on a promise to send a “seed” (namely Christ), and in that seed, the promises would be fulfilled (see Galatians 3:16). It is here that a date is given of four hundred thirty years before God gave the Law to Moses. And while the date is of no real significance, what is significant is that the New Covenant (the Gospel) came before the Old Covenant (the Law). Paul’s letter to the Galatians vividly portrays how the Law was never given to save anyone; rather it was given to lead us to the Savior:

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)

Abraham was justified by faith and faith alone as Paul recounts that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6). Paul then emphatically states that no one is justified by the law when he says, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11, emphasis added). In fact, the Law was an impossible system for salvation because to break any of it even only once meant to break the whole Law:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)

James reiterates the power of the Law when he states: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). It is clear, therefore, that the Law has power, but not the power to save – unless of course a person keeps all of the Law, at every point, perfectly, and no one has ever done that (except Christ). The power of the Law is to show us that because of sin, our righteousness is as filthy rags and consequently we remain under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. The Law demonstrates that, without question, we are in need of a Redeemer, and that is why in Old Testament law, lambs and bullocks were sacrificed year after year, not because they saved at all but because they served as a continual reminder of the need of a Savior who was to come. One teaching that is spread abroad today is that the Jews are exempt from the Gospel because God gave them the Old Testament. But if that were true Paul would not have written “no man is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3:11). On the contrary, it was to the Jews first that the apostles preached the Gospel until later when God showed them that it was to be preached to the Gentiles also. The Gospel is for all people everywhere, Jew or Gentile. This is why the proclamation of the Gospel is so very important because, under God’s plan, the way of salvation comes in only one way.

For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:18)

And when we think about it, the religions of the world think that we can be saved by our own goodness or that we already have God’s divinity within and consequently have no need of a Savior. But God chose to show Abraham a different way, and all who come to God must come to Him in the same way:

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:4)

So, when God made Abraham a father of many nations, He made it clear that this covenant, based on faith in a promise (i.e., Christ the Redeemer), was to be available to all people everywhere. Then came the Law four hundred and thirty years later to direct everyone, like a schoolmaster, to their need of a Redeemer as it exposes our sinfulness. In this sense, the Law can be likened to the test equipment in a doctor’s office. After performing various tests, the doctor is able to identify a particular ailment, but the tests themselves have only exposed the problem and done nothing to render the cure. The doctor can then prescribe the proper medicine or refer the patient to a surgeon. Once that prescription or surgeon’s referral has been made, the patient is bound rather than cured by his doctor’s orders until the proper steps have been taken. Likewise, we remain bound under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. Then He, as the Great Physician, cleanses us from our sin and imparts new life in us. That is why the Scripture says:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is also why Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well:

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

This woman was acquainted with the problem, but now she had found the cure.

Likewise, Jesus’ offer of “living water” (John 4:10) goes out to all people as He explained “whosoever” may come and drink of this water of life (Revelation 22:17). I find it rather puzzling, though, that while countless numbers from all over the world have found that water, many have the tendency to go back to the Law to find comfort and assurance there. Like the patient who is now cured but feels compelled to stay indefinitely in the doctor’s office or the hospital when all that doctor can really do is to test and prescribe. If the Great Physician has already cured us, why would we want to go back into the Law that was designed to diagnose but not to cure. Furthermore, the Law can never be fulfilled by adherence to a set of rules; that is why Paul said, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Somehow, we get to thinking that mechanically observing a set of rules pleases God, but God is concerned with the condition of our hearts. So, while we can fulfill the Law by love, we cannot do it by merely observing a set of rules. Like the patient holding the prescription, the Law is for those bound by sin, directing them to the Savior. The Law is good insomuch as it exposes our sin and brings us to our Savior, but it has no power to save. This is why Paul was so startled in hearing that the Galatians were going back into the Law and why he was compelled to write:

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)

Contrary to what many might teach, Paul was not offering the Galatians a license to sin, but a fundamental truth of Scripture – that the Christian life can only be lived out as that well of living water springs up from our hearts. It is imperative, however, that we be found in Christ because Jesus alone is that well from which the springs of life flow.

Jesus is that well of living water, offered freely to whosoever will invite Him into their lives and hearts to be Lord and Savior. To the unbeliever, He is the invitation, “let him that is athirst come” (Revelation 22:17). To the new believer, He is that new life where, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But to those who have known Christ for awhile, even a long while, He is the reminder to come back and be refreshed again to the only water that “shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). When we partake of that water, it does us much good. And when we share that water with others, it does no harm to our neighbor. It is the only water that is clean and pure and flows from the throne of God.

The Way it Used to Be

By Cedric Fisher

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. – Psalm 42:4

We have all heard and engaged in conversations about how life used to be.  The elders can tell some fascinating tales of no running water, of walking miles on a dusty road to the store, of freezing cold winters, frost so thick that it looked like snow, and a single pot-belly wood stove for heat.  But those were still the good ole days, deemed such because life seemed simpler and better.  The elders were respected, children more obedient, people were kinder, compassionate, honest, and hedonism existed only in the largest cities and only at night.  There wasn’t as much on TV, but there was more of what mattered in people’s hearts.

Today, the world is a dangerous place, and wickedness rules the night as well as the day.  Our children and young people are under a vicious attack by liberalism’s ripening and poisonous fruit.  There is virtually no sector of society that has not been invaded and infected by the toxic atmosphere being made ready for the Antichrist kingdom.

It is a perilous time, a time of great stress.  Professing Christians who are casual and passionless in their relationship with God cannot accept the reality, much less endure the weight of it.  The specter of a brutal future is too much for them to consider and prepare for.  Innumerable people, including a vast number of professing Christians, are buying into the lies of psychiatry and psychology that label every spiritual malady as a disease.  Some have become legal drug addicts.

Churches are founded, and in a few months, grow exponentially with stress-free preaching and world-centered entertainment.  Truth is being banned as the glaring factor hindering not only world peace and unity, but also the brass ring prize, a human-contrived utopia.   In a number of venues today, declaring oneself as a Christian is to become a social pariah.  Jesus is the most hated name in the world.  Sin is honored—godliness is cursed.  Political leaders now lie so profusely that they create a fantasy world each time they speak.  Up isn’t up any longer and down isn’t down, unless it is convenient.  Traditional morals are being rolled in the mud of tolerance and political correctness.  And it’s not going to get better.

In the midst of this caldron of diabolical influences and sin’s consequences, there are people who refuse to relinquish what they know is true for the obviously evil new social paradigm.  Good for them.  That paradigm is composed of several tenets.  Here are a few of them:

  1. There are no absolutes, especially moral absolutes.
  2. Humanity does not need a god. We can solve our own problems.
  3. Christianity and Judaism are the remaining hindrances to world peace and unity.
  4. Global Socialism is the panacea to all of society’s ills, including poverty and war.

The world’s societies are merging because of the Internet and digital technology.  Thus, the new paradigm requires a New World Order.  To succeed in establishing a New World Order, forces in the secular and religious world are systematically breaking down the old order.  The fact is, they will accomplish what they are attempting to do, because eschatological prophecies must be fulfilled.  There will be an Antichrist heading a global government, and a False Prophet leading the one-world religion.  No one but God can stop that from happening.  It will come on the heels of a cashless economy, which in the hands of evil people will bring every individual on this earth under submission to a ruler. Click here to continue reading.

 

Legalism or License Versus the Greatest of All Treasures

LTRP Note:  Over the past several years, we have talked, either through e-mail or by phone, to thousands of people. A good number of these people have come out of churches whose pastors have been trained in the seminaries and Christian colleges, which have, in large part (with some exceptions), become havens for unbiblical teachings. These ill-equipped, misled pastors have brought their unscriptural teachings with them to the churches. We have heard the stories from so many of our readers of Christians they know who became caught under the bondage of legalism and then went to the opposite pole of turning grace into a license for sin. Many times when this happened, these confused Christians began practicing contemplative prayer and/or joined emerging churches, thinking these experiences were from God, especially when they compared them to their legalistic backgrounds.

While we do not claim to be theologians here at Lighthouse Trails, we desire to address this issue in this short essay, with the hopes it may draw some back to the true living water that only Jesus Christ can give. Perhaps these words can alleviate some confusion to those who are held in bondage by either of these extremes.

“Come Back to the True Living Water”

By David Dombrowski
Chief Editor at Lighthouse Trails

In previous articles, we have demonstrated how the Gospel is the greatest of all treasures. Throughout the ages, man has been out digging for treasure. From the earth, we have been able to extract much of the things that we prize most highly including silver, gold, diamonds,  gems, metal ores for making innumerable things made of iron or steel, copper or brass, and aluminum, while massive amounts of oil and coal have been extracted propelling us into an industrialized world. Yet, the human heart remains empty, and only God can fill that void.

Scripture likens our need for the Gospel to our need for water. The psalmist wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). And just as a deer is driven by thirst to drink of the cool water brooks, so we, like the psalmist, should hunger and thirst after God. But for most Christians in the Western world, that thirst drives us elsewhere, and what we attain never really satisfies because it is not the living water that is able to give us life and renew us.

bigstock-Chital-old-illustration-Axis--31118537The Gospel has been with us for a very long time, but of the world’s population, relatively few have chosen to dip into that water of life. The Scripture beckons, “the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Though the offer is made to all, there are so few who seem to listen. Consequently, so many choose to live in a perpetual drought, fearing the water of life that is able to save men’s souls.

Now, how long has the Gospel been with us? Paul tells us that Abraham received the Gospel:

And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Galatians 3:8)

God made a covenant with Abraham based on a promise to send a “seed” (namely Christ), and in that seed, the promises would be fulfilled (see Galatians 3:16). It is here that a date is given of four hundred thirty years before God gave the Law to Moses. And while the date is of no real significance, what is significant is that the New Covenant (the Gospel) came before the Old Covenant (the Law). Paul’s letter to the Galatians vividly portrays how the Law was never given to save anyone; rather it was given to lead us to the Savior:

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)

Abraham was justified by faith and faith alone as Paul recounts that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6). Paul then emphatically states that no one is justified by the law when he says, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11, emphasis added). In fact, the Law was an impossible system for salvation because to break any of it even only once meant to break the whole Law:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)

James reiterates the power of the Law when he states: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). It is clear, therefore, that the Law has power, but not the power to save—unless of course a person keeps all of the Law, at every point, perfectly, and no one has ever done that (except Christ Who was sinless: e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:21). The power of the Law is to show us that because of sin, our righteousness is as filthy rags, and consequently we remain under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. The Law demonstrates that, without question, we are in need of a Redeemer, and that is why in Old Testament law, lambs and bullocks were sacrificed year after year, not because they saved at all but because they served as a continual reminder of the need of a Savior who was to come. This is why the proclamation of the Gospel is so very important because, under God’s plan, the way of salvation comes in only one way.

For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:18)

When we think about it, the religions of the world think we can be saved by our own goodness or that we already have God’s divinity within and consequently have no need of a Savior. But God chose to show Abraham a different way, and all who come to God must come to Him in the same way:

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:4)

So, when God made Abraham a father of many nations, He made it clear that this covenant, based on faith in a promise (i.e., Christ the Redeemer), was to be available to all people everywhere. Then came the Law four hundred and thirty years later to direct everyone, like a schoolmaster, to their need of a Redeemer as it exposes our sinfulness. In this sense, the Law can be likened to the test equipment in a doctor’s office. After performing various tests, the doctor is able to identify a particular ailment, but the tests themselves have only exposed the problem and done nothing to render the cure. The doctor can then prescribe the proper medicine or refer the patient to a surgeon. Once that prescription or surgeon’s referral has been made, the patient is bound rather than cured by his doctor’s orders until the proper steps have been taken.

Likewise, we remain bound under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. Then He, as the Great Physician, cleanses us from our sin and imparts new life in us. That is why the Scripture says:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is also why Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well:

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

This woman was acquainted with the problem, but now she had found the cure.

Likewise, Jesus’ offer of “living water” (John 4:10) goes out to all people as He explained “whosoever” may come and drink of this water of life (Revelation 22:17). I find it rather puzzling, though, that while countless numbers from all over the world have found that water, many have the tendency to go back to the Law to find comfort and assurance there. Like the patient who is now cured but feels compelled to stay indefinitely in the doctor’s office or the hospital when all that doctor can really do is to test and prescribe. If the Great Physician has already cured us, why would we want to go back into the Law that was designed to diagnose but not to cure. Furthermore, the Law can never be fulfilled by adherence to a set of rules; that is why Paul said, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Somehow, we get to thinking that mechanically observing a set of rules pleases God, but God is concerned with the condition of our hearts. So, while we can fulfill the Law by love, we cannot do it by merely observing a set of rules. Like the patient holding the prescription, the Law is for those bound by sin, directing them to the Savior. The Law is good insomuch as it exposes our sin and brings us to our Savior, but it has no power to save. This is why Paul was so startled in hearing that the Galatians were going back into the Law and why he was compelled to write:

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)

Contrary to what many might teach, Paul was not offering the Galatians a license to sin, but a fundamental truth of Scripture – that the Christian life can only be lived out as that well of living water springs up from our hearts. It is imperative, however, that we be found in Christ because Jesus alone is that well from which the springs of life flow.

Jesus is that well of living water, offered freely to whosoever will invite Him into their lives and hearts to be Lord and Savior. To the unbeliever, He is the invitation, “let him that is athirst come” (Revelation 22:17). To the new believer, He is that new life where, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But to those who have known Christ for awhile, even a long while, He is the reminder to come back and be refreshed again to the only water that “shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). When we partake of that water, it does us much good. And when we share that water with others, it does no harm to our neighbor. It is the only water that is clean and pure and flows from the throne of God.

“They will believe the lie”

By Sandy Simpson
Deception in the Church

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

This has always been an interesting passage to me for a few different reasons. What is “the lie” that is talked about here in verse 9? What are the ways that “wickedness deceives those who are perishing” and how long has this been going on or does this only begin to happen at the coming of the lawless one? In what way does “the lie” cause those who do not believe the truth to “delight in wickedness”?

To briefly answer those questions, the lie is the lie of Genesis 3:5 which we will look at in a moment. If this verse were only specifically about the lie the antichrist tells about claiming to be “God” then it would have likely read “they will believe his lie”. Notice that the passage says “wickedness deceives those who are perishing” and not “those who will perish” under the rule of the antichrist. So apparently this “lie” has been affecting mankind for a long time because the phrase “are perishing” is present tense when this was written by Paul being guided by the Holy Spirit. The fact that the “lie” causes men to “delight in wickedness” also seems to indicate that this is not simply talking about the time of the antichrist but all those who believe the lie and do not believe the truth.

There have been many varying explanations for this passage in 2 Thes. by some of the best commentators of the past, though no real specific agreement is reached by them. John Gill focuses on this being brought to fruition in the Pope, the so-called “Vicar of Christ” who has historically summed up what the Antichrist will be revealed in claiming that he is Christ. Some state more generally that those who reject the truth are rejecting who Christ is. JB Philips says that the lie is that Antichrist claims to be God. Matthew Henry says it is a rejection of the Gospel of grace with parallels to the passage on blasphemy (Matthew 12:31) where Henry claims that rejection of Grace is what constitutes blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Matthew Poole names a number of lies such as lying wonders, false doctrines, false prophecies, idols etc. as constituting “the lie”.

These are all good explanations and certainly play a part in our search for “the lie”. But I have come to the conclusion that “the lie” is a root cause, not a symptom as I see in most explanations. So where can we find out what this “lie” is? I believe we have to go back to the beginning to find it.

Genesis 3:5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In the Genesis account we know that the serpent lied to Eve and then she and Adam decided to disobey God. But the enticement was not so much the sight of the fruit (lust of the eyes), or the taste of the fruit (lust of the flesh), but was the false notion that they could be “like God” (pride of life) and that the knowledge of good (they already knew that) and evil was a thing to make them be like God. The pride of life temptation of Satan has always been the strongest appeal to the free will of man. The devil tempted Jesus with these three sins that, since Adam and Eve, plague the sinful human condition. I will list them out of order to make my point (Matt. 4:1-11). Click here to continue reading.

Legalism or License – Versus – the Greatest of All Treasures

LTRP Note:  Over the past several years, we have talked, either through e-mail or by phone, to thousands of people. A good number of these people have come out of churches whose pastors have been trained in the seminaries and Christian colleges, which have, in large part (with some exceptions), become havens for unbiblical teachings. These ill-equipped, misled pastors have brought their unscriptural teachings with them to the churches. We have heard the stories from so many of our readers of Christians they know who became caught under the bondage of legalism, and then went to the opposite pole of turning grace into a license for sin. Many times when this happened, these confused Christians began practicing contemplative prayer and/or joined emerging churches, thinking these experiences were from God, especially when they compared them to their legalist backgrounds.

While we do not claim to be theologians here at Lighthouse Trails, we desire to address this issue in this short essay, with the hopes it may draw some back to the true living water that only Jesus Christ can give. Perhaps these words can alleviate some confusion to those who are held in bondage by either of these extremes.

“Come Back to the True Living Water”

By David Dombrowski

In previous articles, we have demonstrated how the Gospel is the greatest of all treasures. Throughout the ages, man has been out digging for treasure. From the earth, we have been able to extract much of the things that we prize most highly including silver, gold, diamonds,  gems, metal ores for making innumerable things made of iron or steel, copper or brass, and aluminum, while massive amounts of oil and coal have been extracted propelling us into an industrialized world. Yet, the human heart remains empty, and only God can fill that void.

Scripture likens our need for the Gospel to our need for water. The psalmist wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). And just as a deer is driven by thirst to drink of the cool water brooks, so we, like the psalmist, should hunger and thirst after God. But for most Christians in the Western world, that thirst drives us elsewhere, and what we attain never really satisfies because it is not the living water that is able to give us life and renew us.

bigstock-Chital-old-illustration-Axis--31118537The Gospel has been with us for a very long time, but of the world’s population, relatively few have chosen to dip into that water of life. The Scripture beckons, “the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Though the offer is made to all, there are so few who seem to listen. Consequently, so many choose to live in a perpetual drought, fearing the water of life that is able to save men’s souls.

Now, how long has the Gospel been with us? Paul tells us that Abraham received the Gospel:

And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Galatians 3:8)

God made a covenant with Abraham based on a promise to send a “seed” (namely Christ), and in that seed, the promises would be fulfilled (see Galatians 3:16). It is here that a date is given of four hundred thirty years before God gave the Law to Moses. And while the date is of no real significance, what is significant is that the New Covenant (the Gospel) came before the Old Covenant (the Law). Paul’s letter to the Galatians vividly portrays how the Law was never given to save anyone; rather it was given to lead us to the Savior:

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)

Abraham was justified by faith and faith alone as Paul recounts that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6). Paul then emphatically states that no one is justified by the law when he says, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11, emphasis added). In fact, the Law was an impossible system for salvation because to break any of it even only once meant to break the whole Law:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)

James reiterates the power of the Law when he states: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). It is clear, therefore, that the Law has power, but not the power to save – unless of course a person keeps all of the Law, at every point, perfectly, and no one has ever done that (except Christ). The power of the Law is to show us that because of sin, our righteousness is as filthy rags and consequently we remain under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. The Law demonstrates that, without question, we are in need of a Redeemer, and that is why in Old Testament law, lambs and bullocks were sacrificed year after year, not because they saved at all but because they served as a continual reminder of the need of a Savior who was to come. One teaching that is spread abroad today is that the Jews are exempt from the Gospel because God gave them the Old Testament. But if that were true Paul would not have written “no man is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3:11). On the contrary, it was to the Jews first that the apostles preached the Gospel until later when God showed them that it was to be preached to the Gentiles also. The Gospel is for all people everywhere, Jew or Gentile. This is why the proclamation of the Gospel is so very important because, under God’s plan, the way of salvation comes in only one way.

For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:18)

And when we think about it, the religions of the world think that we can be saved by our own goodness or that we already have God’s divinity within and consequently have no need of a Savior. But God chose to show Abraham a different way, and all who come to God must come to Him in the same way:

As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:4)

So, when God made Abraham a father of many nations, He made it clear that this covenant, based on faith in a promise (i.e., Christ the Redeemer), was to be available to all people everywhere. Then came the Law four hundred and thirty years later to direct everyone, like a schoolmaster, to their need of a Redeemer as it exposes our sinfulness. In this sense, the Law can be likened to the test equipment in a doctor’s office. After performing various tests, the doctor is able to identify a particular ailment, but the tests themselves have only exposed the problem and done nothing to render the cure. The doctor can then prescribe the proper medicine or refer the patient to a surgeon. Once that prescription or surgeon’s referral has been made, the patient is bound rather than cured by his doctor’s orders until the proper steps have been taken. Likewise, we remain bound under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. Then He, as the Great Physician, cleanses us from our sin and imparts new life in us. That is why the Scripture says:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is also why Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well:

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

This woman was acquainted with the problem, but now she had found the cure.

Likewise, Jesus’ offer of “living water” (John 4:10) goes out to all people as He explained “whosoever” may come and drink of this water of life (Revelation 22:17). I find it rather puzzling, though, that while countless numbers from all over the world have found that water, many have the tendency to go back to the Law to find comfort and assurance there. Like the patient who is now cured but feels compelled to stay indefinitely in the doctor’s office or the hospital when all that doctor can really do is to test and prescribe. If the Great Physician has already cured us, why would we want to go back into the Law that was designed to diagnose but not to cure. Furthermore, the Law can never be fulfilled by adherence to a set of rules; that is why Paul said, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Somehow, we get to thinking that mechanically observing a set of rules pleases God, but God is concerned with the condition of our hearts. So, while we can fulfill the Law by love, we cannot do it by merely observing a set of rules. Like the patient holding the prescription, the Law is for those bound by sin, directing them to the Savior. The Law is good insomuch as it exposes our sin and brings us to our Savior, but it has no power to save. This is why Paul was so startled in hearing that the Galatians were going back into the Law and why he was compelled to write:

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)

Contrary to what many might teach, Paul was not offering the Galatians a license to sin, but a fundamental truth of Scripture – that the Christian life can only be lived out as that well of living water springs up from our hearts. It is imperative, however, that we be found in Christ because Jesus alone is that well from which the springs of life flow.

Jesus is that well of living water, offered freely to whosoever will invite Him into their lives and hearts to be Lord and Savior. To the unbeliever, He is the invitation, “let him that is athirst come” (Revelation 22:17). To the new believer, He is that new life where, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But to those who have known Christ for awhile, even a long while, He is the reminder to come back and be refreshed again to the only water that “shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). When we partake of that water, it does us much good. And when we share that water with others, it does no harm to our neighbor. It is the only water that is clean and pure and flows from the throne of God.


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