Archive for the ‘The Word of God’ Category

NEW BOOKLET: Sound Doctrine Through It All

NEW BOOKLET: Sound Doctrine Through It All by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Sound Doctrine Through It All, click here.

By Warren B. Smith

Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. (Deuteronomy 32:1-2)

How precious is the Book divine, by inspiration given! Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine, to guide our souls to heaven.—John Fawcett, How Precious is the Book Divine (1782)

Doctrine and Dogma

It is not very popular these days, but the Bible tells us to study and to rightly divide the Word of God:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Scripture tells us that the Word of God is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword”:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Scripture assures us that God’s Word really is God’s inspired Word, and that it is profitable for doctrine:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
But in the deceptive times in which we live, doctrine has become, for many, a harsh and even hated word. Yet, according to Strong’s Concordance, the word doctrine in Greek simply refers to “instruction” and “teaching.” Webster’s New American Dictionary defines doctrine as “something taught as the principles or creed of a religion, political party, etc.; tenet or tenets; belief; dogma.” The word dogma also takes a bad rap and is similarly defined by Webster as “a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted.” These definitions are very straightforward, but the words doctrine and dogma still carry heavy negative connotations—even in the minds of many believers. If someone holds to doctrinal truth and refuses to compromise, they are frequently regarded as being too “dogmatic” and “hung up on doctrine.”

Spiritual Experiences

Today, spiritual experience is taking precedent over sound doctrine, and it is leading to great deception in the church. Having an “encounter” with God has become more of a priority than knowing and rightly dividing the Word of God. And in the process, deceptive spirits have moved into the lives of undiscerning believers as they temptingly offer counterfeit spiritual experiences—all in the name of “God,” “Jesus,” and the “Holy Spirit.” And this is exactly what the Bible said would happen in these last days:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
The word doctrine is specifically cited in the New Testament forty-nine times. Any teaching—especially whatever comes through personal experience as seemingly “new revelation,” “new truth,” or “new doctrine,” must always be measured by God’s Holy Word (Acts 17:11) and spiritually tested for truth and authenticity (1 John 4:1-3). Not every spiritual encounter is from God. There is a deceiver. The following selected Bible verses underline the importance of sound doctrine and the necessity of keeping, abiding, and holding fast to God’s Word.

God’s Bible Doctrine

All Scripture is Profitable for Doctrine
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Jesus Taught Doctrine
And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine. (Mark 4:1-2)
And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces. (Mark 12:38)
The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. (John 18:19-21)
People Were Astonished at Jesus’ Doctrine
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)
And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. (Mark 11:18)
And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. (Luke 4:31-32)
Jesus’ Doctrine Was God’s Doctrine
Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (John 7:14-16)
God’s Doctrine was Delivered to the Church
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Romans 6:17)
God’s Doctrine is Good Doctrine
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. (Proverbs 4:1-2)
God’s Doctrine is to be Understood and Learned
They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. (Isaiah 29:24)
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah 28:9-10)
God’s Doctrine Nourishes
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. (1Timothy 4:6)
God’s Doctrine Edifies
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
Laboring in Doctrine is Honorable
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
Good Works Come From Good Doctrine
In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity. (Titus 2:7)
We Are to Attend to Doctrine
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (1 Timothy 4:13)
We Are to Speak Sound Doctrine
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)
We are to Exhort with Sound Doctrine
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9)
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:3)
We Are to Adorn Doctrine in All Things
Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. (Titus 2:10)
We Are to Teach No Other Doctrine
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine. (1 Timothy 1:3)
We Are to Beware of the Doctrines of Men
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. . . . How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6, 11-12)
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23)
We are Not to Teach the Doctrines of Men
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:7-9)
We Must Beware of False Doctrine
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:9-11)
We Are to Continue in Doctrine
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:41-42)
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:16)
We Are Not to be Carried Away with False Doctrines
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. (Hebrews 13:8-9)
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. (Ephesians 4:14)
We Must Remove Ourselves From Those Who Teach False Doctrines
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-6)
Sound Doctrine Will Not be Endured
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
We Must Not Give Heed to Seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)
We Must Abide in the Doctrine of Christ
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1:9-11)
We Must Beware of Doctrines of Vanities
But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. (Jeremiah 10:8)
We Must Repent of False Doctrines
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:14-16)

Conclusion

In a period of time when the Word of God is being discounted, denigrated, and deconstructed, it is especially important that we hold fast to the Word of God and the doctrines it espouses. The Bible states that “blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28). The Bereans were commended by the apostle Paul because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily” to see whether the things they were being taught and told “were so” (Acts 17:11). May God bless and keep you as you search the Scriptures and endeavor to stand fast on the Bible’s inspired teachings and inspired sound doctrines.

Prayer

I will not forget thy word. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. (Psalm 119:14-17)

To order copies of Sound Doctrine Through It All, click here.

Other Titles in Warren B. Smith’s Through It All Series
Rejoicing Through It All
Praising God Through It All
Trusting God Through It All
Being Thankful Through It All
Remaining Hopeful Through It All
Blessings Through It All
Remaining Faithful Through It All
Standing Fast Through It All
To order copies of Sound Doctrine Through It All, click here.
To see a list of all Warren Smith’s books, booklets, and DVDs, please visit his website at www.warrenbsmith.com.
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How to Find a Bible-Believing Church

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We have often been asked, “How do I find a good Bible-believing church?” There are many believers who are struggling to find one in their own communities. To start with, we usually recommend they make phone calls to potential churches and ask a few concise questions such as:

“Do you have a Spiritual Formation program at your church?” or “Has your church implemented aspects of the Purpose Driven Movement anytime in the past 10 years?.”

Since thousands of churches would answer yes to both or at least one of these questions, they are worthwhile to ask, and it would certainly narrow down the scope of one’s search. Here are a few other questions that could be asked:

1. Is the pastor using The Message “Bible” in his sermons and studies? Because this paraphrase is very often used by pastors and teachers who promote contemplative spirituality or emerging spirituality (as the language in The Message helps support these false teachings), it is another indicator that a church is going in the wrong direction.

2. Is the church affiliated in any way with the Willow Creek Association? Oftentimes, a church has not implemented the Purpose Driven Movement but is, rather, hooked up with Willow Creek. This is as problematic as Purpose Driven. See our article on our website titled, “No Repentance from Willow Creek—Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”

3. Is the church connected at all with Bethel Church of Redding, California? Bethel’s hyper-charismatic influence is huge today, and many churches are getting on board with the Bethel craze. That would include Jesus Culture too, which is an offshoot of Bethel. Before starting your search for a church, make sure you understand what the Word of Faith/NAR, hyper-charismatic movement is. Lighthouse Trails has several trustworthy authors who write about these issues. You’d be surprised to learn how extensive this influence has been in North American churches, even in ones that do not consider themselves charismatic.

3. Ask a potential church if it would mind mailing you a few recent Sunday programs. When you get them, look for some of the key terms used within the contemplative/emerging camp: missional, servant leader, soul-care, spiritual formation, transformation, transitioning, silence, organic, authentic, reinvent, spiritual disciplines, Christ follower (the term Christian isn’t typically liked too well by contemplatives and emergent) Christian formation (or Christian spirituality) (a term often meaning the same as Spiritual Formation). Just using these terms alone doesn’t suddenly make a church contemplative or emerging, but it does show that at least one person in leadership at that church is reading books of that persuasion, and eventually that person’s influence will affect that church adversely.

In addition to those three questions, be sure and visit a church’s website as there you may be able to find the answers to these questions without making the phone call. When on a website, see if there is more talk about unity, “culture,” social justice, and relevancy than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can check out the doctrinal and mission statements but be on guard—a church can have a solid-sounding doctrinal statement and be actually going in an entirely different direction. Listen to an interview called Beware the Bridgers for some information on that. And by the way, remember who some of the more popular ”bridgers” are, closing the gap between “rightly dividing the Word” and spiritual deception in millions of people’s lives: Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Tim Keller, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and/or emerging spirituality.

When on a church’s website, you can usually find out which conferences the church is involved with or recommending to their church members. The IF: Gathering conferences are growing tremendously in popularity all across North America, but as Cedric Fisher has documented in his booklet IF It is of God—Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering,  IF is an avenue through which emergent theology is entering the church. There are many other conferences and events, usually with high attendance, taking place yearly that are pumping up Christians with heretical ideas and “theologies.” If you find out a church you’ve been researching is involved in any of these, that is a big warning sign.

Also, once your search for a new church has narrowed down to a few churches, a weekday visit to those churches’ bookstores would be important. Look for books by Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and other authors discussed and critiqued on the LT website. Chris Lawson from Spiritual Research Network has a booklet that provides an extensive list of authors who fall within the contemplative, emerging camps. It’s an excellent resource.

While searching for a good church, it would be important to find out where a particular church is at in relation Jesus Calling and The Shack. Many churches have been allowing New Age ideas into their congregations through such books. Be sure to read former New Age follower Warren B. Smith’s materials which will help you identify what the New Age is and how it can disguise itself as a better, newer “Christianity.”  You might ask about women’s and men’s Bible study groups and which books are being used at these meetings. That will tell you a lot.

When all this has been done to find a Bible-believing church, if there are any in your community that have passed the contemplative/emerging/seeker-friendly/hyper-charismatic test, maybe it’s safe to take your family for a Sunday visit. Are many of the people walking in carrying Bibles? Seeker-friendly and church-growth churches discourage that because it might “offend” unbelievers (or as they say unchurched) coming to church. Does the pastor at some point in his sermon talk about the Cross (the atonement) and salvation (and mention of hell)? These are subjects that many churches avoid because of the “offensiveness” of that message. Better to offer an espresso drink and a little rock n roll music during the service and a psychology-based, feel-good message that appeals to the carnal senses (sensual) rather than build up the spiritual man.

Once you have found a church that seems to be sound, you should not stop being discerning. That must be ongoing. That might seem like a ”paranoid” or overly concerned attitude to have, but if we remember the many verses in Scripture that talk about spiritual deception (right from the Garden of Eden all the way to the Book of Revelation), we will realize it is the responsibility of the Christian to be discerning and watchful. And the Bible frequently talks about the latter days before Christ’s return where deception will run more rampant than ever before. Roger Oakland gives a list of signs to look for to see if a church is becoming or has become contemplative/emerging. As you begin to attend a new church, this list may be helpful to you and your family:

Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

The centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.

An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be re­invented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.

Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace—claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.

Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.

Roger has these signs listed in his booklet/article How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging into Your Church.

May God bless you and guide you in your search. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but we know there are still good churches out there because we often hear from pastors who are staying the course and are aware of the times in which we live. May God lead you to find one of these churches.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

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Native American Men Who Longed For “the Book” and Were Denied

LTRP Note: The following is a story from the book Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires. The book was written by Egerton Ryerson Young, a young Canadian missionary in the late 1800s, who, with his wife and small children, spent years with the Native people in Canada, living among them, loving them, and sharing the Gospel and the Word of God with them. This is one of the unforgettable stories from the “Wigwam” book. While some of the terms and writing would be considered “unpolitically” correct today, Young’s great respect, love, admiration, and acknowledgment of the value and worth of the Native people is above reproach.

While the emerging “new” Christianity has joined the secular ranks in trying belittle and marginalize biblical mission efforts, we believe what the Bible teaches when it says to go into the world, preach the Gospel, and make disciples.

By Egerton Ryerson Young

THE VISIT OF THE FLATHEAD INDIANS & THEIR REQUEST FOR THE BOOK DENIED

Long years ago, in the depths of winter, there appeared in the city of St. Louis four Flathead Indians. They carried in their persons the evidences of many hardships and of the severest privations. Bronzed and scarred were they by the summer’s heat and winter’s pitiless blast, for many moons had waxed and waned since they had commenced their long and dangerous journey from their own land, which lay not far from the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Their trail had led them through the domains of hostile Indian tribes. Thrilling indeed had been their adventures, and many had been their risks of losing both their scalps and lives. For weeks when crossing the broad ranges of the Rocky Mountains, where gloomy defiles and dark recesses abound for hundreds of miles, they had ever to be on the alert, lest in an unguarded moment there should spring out upon them the panther or mountain lion or rush upon them the more dreaded grizzly bear.

But although their very appearance bore pathetic evidence of their privations and sufferings, yet very little had they to say about themselves or their personal sorrows. An all absorbing longing had got into their hearts to be the possessor of one thing, and this passion had dwarfed into insignificance every thing else to them. There had been implanted by some chance seed-sowing such a craving for something to satisfy their spiritual natures that in order to get this for which their souls now longed they had unflinchingly faced all the storms and dangers of that fearful journey. Yet to the thoughtless white men to whom they first addressed themselves, very strange and meaningless seemed the importunate request or petition of these gaunt, wearied red men. They came, they said, from the land of the setting sun; across the great snow-clad mountains and the wide prairies for many moons they had traveled; they had heard of the white man’s God and of the white man’s book of heaven; a stranger had visited them and had told them things that had excited the whole tribe. He had told them of the great God who had made all things, and that the white man had a book which told all about him and what they were to do to have his favor. So that they might obtain this book they had come from their home far away across the Rocky Mountains. Thus strangely they pleaded for a copy of the word of God.

Some persons, becoming interested in the appearance of these strange Indians and their remarkable request, took them to the commanding officer of the military post in that city, and to him they told their simple story and besought his aid. Unfortunately for them, although the general was a kind-hearted man, he was a Roman Catholic, and so when he took them to the bishop and priests of his Church, while they were received with the greatest hospitality and shown the pictures of the Virgin Mary and of the saints, they were steadily denied their oft-repeated request for the Bible. Caring for none of these things, importunately did they plead for the book, but all in vain. So exhausting had been the journey that two of the Indians died in St. Louis from their sufferings and hardships. The other two after a time became discouraged and homesick and prepared to return to their far-off home. Ere they left the city a feast was gotten up for them and speeches were made, and the general and others bade them “Godspeed” on their journey. During the addresses at the close of the feast one of the Indians was asked to respond. His address deserves not only to rank among the models of eloquence, but should be pondered over as an expression of the heart-cry of very many of the weary, longing souls who, dissatisfied with their false religions, are eagerly crying out for the true. They want the book. In this English version, like all of these highly figurative poetical Indian orations, it loses much in the translation. He said: “I came to you over the trail of many moons from the land of the setting sun beyond the great mountains. You were the friends of my fathers, who have all gone the long way. I come with an eye partly opened for more light for my people who sit in darkness; I go back with both eyes closed. How can I go back blind to my people? I made my way to you with strong arms through many enemies and strange lands, that I might carry back much to them. I go back with both arms broken and empty. Two fathers came with us. They were the braves of many winters and wars. We leave them asleep here by your great water and wigwams. They were tired in many moons and their moccasins were worn out. My people sent me to get the white man’s book of heaven. You took me where you allow your women to dance as we would not allow ours, and the book was not there. You took me where they worship the Great Spirit with candles, but the book was not there. You showed me images of the good spirits and pictures of the good land beyond, but the book was not among them to tell us the way. I am going back the long, sad trail to my people of the dark land. You make my feet heavy with gifts, and my moccasins will grow old and my arms tire in carrying them, yet the book is not among them. When I tell my poor blind people after one more snow in the big council that I did not bring the book no word will be spoken by our old men or by our young braves. One by one they will rise up and go out in silence. My people will die in darkness, and they will go on the long path to other hunting grounds. No good white man will go with them, and no white man’s book to make the way plain. I have no more words.”

1985_66_145_1a

George Catlin painting #207.
“Hee-Oh_’Ks-Te-Kin,” (The Rabbit Skin Leggings)

How sad and pathetic are these words, and how unfortunate it was that these Indians should have fallen into the hands of the members of that Church which refuses to give the blessed book to the people! However, a young man who was present was so impressed with the address of this Indian that he wrote to friends in the Eastern States an account of this strange visit and the pathetic appeal of the Indians for a Bible. Some earnest Protestants became much interested in the matter, but it was two years before a missionary started with the Bible for that land which then lay many hundreds of miles beyond the most western shores of Anglo-Saxon civilization.

Meanwhile what had become of the two remaining Indians? After leaving St. Louis for their western home they fell in on the plains with George Catlin, the celebrated Indian artist. But although they traveled with him for many days, whether it was from Indian reserve and stoicism, or that they had become disheartened and discouraged, they did not mention the object of their visit to him. However, he painted their portraits, and in his famous collection they have become historic and are to be seen numbered 207 and 208. After leaving Catlin, one more of the Indians died, and so there was but one survivor of the four to return and announce to the Great Council the death of his companions and that the white man had refused them the book. The tribe was embittered, and gave up all hope of aid and comfort from the white man’s God. From a condition of eager longing to hear and accept the teachings of the good book they swung over to the opposite extreme, and so when the missionaries at length found these Indians they received no welcome from them, and found it almost impossible to overcome the feelings of despair and bitterness which had sprung up in their hearts against the white man. However, other tribes in that same land were more docile, and a church and manual labor schools were established, and many of the Indians become Christianized. Rome refuses the Bible. Our glorious evangelical Protestant Churches love to give to all tribes and nationalities the blessed book. With the open volume in their hands our missionaries go forth, and at many a camp-fire and in many a wigwam they read and expound its blessed truths. Many are their trials and discouragements, but glorious are their triumphs and genuine are the rewards won.

Other inspirational excerpts from this book:

The Story of Mask-e-pe-toon – A Murderous Native American Who Found His Savior

He Wished to Leave the “Old Way” and Follow the Christian Way – A True Story

Foreword by Nanci Des Gerlaise (and Front Matter)

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NEW BOOKLET: Broken Vessels for Christ

NEW BOOKLET: Broken Vessels for Christ by Harry Ironside is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet.  The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet.  To order copies of  Broken Vessels for Christ, click here. 

BOOKLET: Broken Vessels for Christ by Harry IronsideBroken Vessels For Christ

By Harry A. Ironside

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10,11)

This fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians is the apostle Paul’s statement of power for ministry. He  shows us in these stirring verses that God is not looking for brilliant men, is not depending upon eloquent men, is not shut up to the use of talented men in sending His Gospel out in the world.

God is looking for broken men, for men who have judged themselves in the light of the Cross of Christ. When He wants anything done, He takes up men who have come to an end of  themselves, and whose trust and confidence is not in themselves but in God.

There were those who were calling in to question the apostleship of Paul himself, for he did not  seem to them to be what an apostle, according to their estimation of the office, ought to be. There was not the pomp nor the dignity they would expect; he did not come to them with great swelling words, there was no making anything of what he was after the flesh, no drawing attention to his natural ability or education; and in this the method of the apostle Paul was in very vivid contrast to the method pursued by many today who pose as servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. This man went through the world a broken man, a lowly man, a man seeking only the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing of souls, a man who might have occupied a very high place among the great and distinguished of earth. But he was a man who for Jesus’ sake had turned his back upon all that and could say:

God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14)

That Cross spoke of the deepest shame and ignominy, and Paul gloried in it because through the work that took place upon it, his soul had been saved, and he had learned that the preaching of the Cross, while it is “to them that perish foolishness,” is “unto us which are saved . . . the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). And so he went forth, content to be broken in order that the light of the grace of God might shine out. You will notice in verse 6 that

. . . God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:6,7)

It is easy to see what he has in mind. He is thinking  undoubtedly of that very striking incident of which we read in Judges, when Gideon and his three hundred men took their lives in their hands, were delivered unto death, as it were, and  went forth against the vast armies of the Midianites. Surely, no other army was accoutered [equipped] as this one. They carried in one hand a trumpet and in the other a pitcher, and in this pitcher was a lamp. The light of the lamp was not seen though it was already lit. It was not seen as long as it was in the earthen jar. They surrounded the army of the Midianites in the middle of the night, and suddenly at the command of their leader, the jars were crashed to earth, and the light shone out, and the Midianites sprang up startled. They heard the crash and saw the light, and thought they were surrounded by a tremendous army, and they turned their swords upon one another. It was God through Gideon that led the army to victory. A broken pitcher in order that light might shine out! The apostle says, as it were, “That is it! If you want to be a light for God in a world like this, be content to be broken, to have your hopes, your ambitions, all dashed to pieces, and then God can take you up and use you in order to carry the light of Christ to darkened hearts.”

How are we broken? By affliction, by trouble, by the discipline of the Lord, sometimes by sickness, by pain, and anguish. All these are the divine methods for breaking God’s pitchers in order that the light may shine out to His praise and glory. Men may misjudge us, misrepresent us, persecute us bitterly; we may not have enough food to eat or water to drink; we may be cast down; we may suffer all kinds of sorrows; but it is all right if it breaks us in order that God may be able the better to use us. And so he says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9); for in all these experiences, we are simply “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.” He “came from Godhead’s fullest glory down to Calvary’s depth of woe.”

We sometimes sing a little hymn that always stirs the heart. I remember hearing Dr. Torrey say  he believed of all the hymns that were used in his meetings around the world, it was the one that seemed to be most blessed of God to the people. It is:

I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

But that hymn never had the appeal it ought to have for my own heart until one day I found myself changing that chorus. I was thinking of Him who though He was

. . . in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)

He surrendered all,
He surrendered all,
All for me, my blessed Savior,
He surrendered all.

And then my heart said, “O Lord, it will be easy to sing it the other way now, for what have I to give up, to surrender, in comparison with what Thou didst give up in order to redeem my guilty soul from going down to the pit?” It is as you and I realize from day to day what it all meant to Him that we can bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Dying day by day to our own hopes and ambitions, dying to the good opinion of people, dying to human praise and adulation, to everything that the natural heart grasps, dying in the death of Jesus to it all,  because He died for us in order that “the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.”

You will notice that in 2 Corinthians 4, verses 10 and 11 are very much alike, and yet the great difference is this: verse 10 suggests something that we do deliberately, consciously, whereas verse 11 is something that God does for us. What is it we are called upon to do? “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus”—reminding ourselves every day that Jesus died for us, “bearing about in the body” and because He died for us, we are gladly to put ourselves in the place of death for Him.

Looking back to the Cross, the apostle Paul could say:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

But this has to be put into practice daily by putting my tastes and ambitions in the place of death. That is my part. But here is God’s part:

We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:11)

You tell God that you are willing to take the place of death with Christ, and He will see that it is made good; you tell God you are going to trust Him, and He will test your faith and show you what it means to trust Him; you tell Him that you are ready to surrender everything to Him, and He will put you in the place where you will begin to find out what full surrender really means. I do not know of anything that it seems should have such an appeal to the Christian heart along this line as the frequent remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ in His death, and I think it is because He realized it is so easy for us to forget that He said to His disciples when He gave them this memorial feast,

This do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)

And the Holy Spirit said:

As  often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Every time we are called upon thus to remember the Lord, it is a new challenge to ask  ourselves, “Am I simply remembering Him in a cold, formal, intellectual way because it is customary, or am I truly in my heart remembering the One who went down beneath the dark waters of death for me, and am I truly ready now to always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus?”

What a poor thing it is to come together in assemblies to participate in the communion of the Lord’s Supper and then go out from the building and forget what it all really means, forget that our Savior died, that we are linked up with the One who died, and that He has left us an example that we should follow His steps—that is, we should always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. This seems to me to be linked very intimately with several Old Testament references to which our attention is drawn in Hebrews 11. We read:

By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)

Did you ever stop and ask why the Holy Spirit selected that particular incident to dwell upon? He has instanced something that you and I would probably have passed over altogether. What did Joseph do? “Gave commandment concerning his bones.” In Genesis 50:25, we read where Joseph, talking to the children of Israel, says:

God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

That is the close of Genesis. What an odd way to close the book! But God wants us to think about the bones of Joseph. They are there in a coffin in Egypt, but they are to be carried to Canaan.

In Exodus 13, we find that the children of Israel who have been sheltered by the blood of the Passover lamb are starting out for Canaan, and we read:

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. (Exodus 13:19)

Who was Joseph? He was the savior of Israel. If it had not been for him, they had all been destroyed in the famine, but he was their savior, and now he says, “When you leave Egypt to go to Canaan, you carry my bones with you.” When they left, they were very careful to do as they were told, and all the way across the sands of the desert wherever that great caravan went, they were always bearing about in the body the dying of Joseph.

I think I see that great procession winding its way up over the hills; and the Amalekites and the Midianites looking at them in wonder say, “What is that strange dark casket?”

Presently, they call an Israelite and ask him, and he says, “We were once in greatest distress; if God had not had mercy upon us we would have been left to die, but He raised up a savior for us, one of our own people; his name was Joseph and he delivered us; Joseph saved us. But our savior died, and we are marching on to the land that our God has given us, and until we get there, we carry with us the memorial of death, the bones of Joseph. We can never forget him; he died, but we have the memorials still.” And by-and-by when they reached the land, when they arrived at the place that God Himself had selected for them, we are told that after everything else was properly attended to,

The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. (Joshua 24:32)

There was no need to carry the bones of Joseph through the wilderness any more, for they were at home now. And, beloved, you and I are passing on through the wilderness of this world, we will soon be at Home, but until we reach there, we are called upon to bear about in the body the dying of Jesus, and as we remember Him in the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup, we should challenge our own hearts: Are we simply looking objectively toward that Cross and saying, “There our Savior died,” or are we seeking day by day to practically make it manifest that His death means more to us than all that this world glories in?

To order copies of  Broken Vessels for Christ, click here. 

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The Job Description of a Good Shepherd

By Roger Oakland

Bigstock; used with permission

Both the Old and New Testaments consist of numerous references that provide the guidelines required for a leader to be classified as a good shepherd. It makes sense that we would look to the Scriptures for guidance because the Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and should be our ultimate authority when it comes to discussing this topic.

First, the Psalmist describes the Good Shepherd as the one who goes ahead of the flock to lead the sheep. He is a true leader always on the lookout for their safety.

Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. (Psalms 77:20)

But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. (Psalms 78:52-53)

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. (Psalms 80:1-2)

Second, a good shepherd is constantly aware of where his sheep are in relationship to himself and concerned about their well-being. He is always searching them out when they are lost or remaining behind and does all he can to bring them back to the flock.

For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (Luke 15: 4-6)

Third, a good shepherd shows tenderness for the weak, the ewes, and the young lambs. He attends those who are sick and in need of special care.

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. (Ezekiel 34:16)

And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. (Genesis 33: 13-14)

So he [David] fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. (Psalms 78:72)

While many other characteristics of a good shepherd are found in the Bible, there is one more in particular I want to include. A good shepherd watches out for and protects his sheep from wild beasts or predators such as wolves that feed upon the sheep. The good shepherd will lay down his life to protect them with a strong dedication and commitment as we see here:

And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock . . .Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. (1 Samuel 17:34, 36)

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:11-15)

There is a connection between the term good shepherd and the well-known term pastor. While Christians have made this connection and given this title to leaders who stand behind pulpits, oftentimes these leaders are not being true to the biblical qualifications. Walking in the flesh (human nature) rather than the Spirit, these men are driven by man’s fallen nature which seeks power and attention thereby corrupting what it means to be a pastor. This, of course, has impacted Christianity throughout the ages, but over the past several decades the problem has accelerated to the point where we are now witnessing this present apostasy ravaging churches throughout the nations.

Addressing this topic is not easy nor will it be welcomed by many. Efforts to be helpful will be met by an avalanche of opposition. So many of today’s Christian leaders believe they are above reproach and should not be challenged. In fact, they find biblical correction useless and unnecessary, especially when headed down Apostasy Road. However, the Bible is clear that God has serious concerns about those who pervert the Word of God and lead the sheep astray. For such, serious consequences lie ahead.

Jeremiah’s warning to the spiritual leaders of his day is a good reminder for us today. Consider the similarities to what is happening at present:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. (Jeremiah 23: 16-17)

As in Jeremiah’s day, our modern-day prophets speak of peace and prosperity. But if they were truly speaking for the Lord, they would be preaching of repentance from sin and faith toward God as becomes apparent below:

For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. . . . Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. (Jeremiah 23:18-25, 27)

The prophet Jeremiah concludes this passage with an urgent appeal to the shepherds of the land not to speak falsely but to proclaim the Word of the Lord. We have a powerful Gospel that needs to be proclaimed to an increasingly godless world, but the words of peace and prosperity we hear are only vanity, while God’s Word shall never return void:

The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. (Jeremiah 23: 28-30)

While we have the Good Shepherd to follow—a Shepherd who is faithful and true—our own earthly shepherds and leaders should remember with soberness that leaders will be judged more strictly than others (James 3:1). It is a calling that should never be taken lightly.

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

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New Booklet: Substitution—He Took Our Place!

NEW BOOKLET: Substitution—He Took Our Place! by Harry Ironside is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet.  The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet.  To order copies of Substitution—He Took Our Place!, click here. 

Substitution—He Took Our Place!

By Harry Ironside

Although the word substitution is not in the Bible, it stands for a great truth that runs through the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. That is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, in infinite grace, took the place of poor, lost, guilty sinners, and made it possible for a holy God to reach out in mercy and save all who would come to Him in the name of His beloved Son.

I do not have one particular text in mind, but I have been thinking of five different passages in the New Testament where we get the same expression—He “gave himself”; and I want you to think with me of these Scriptures. The One who gave Himself was our Lord Jesus Christ, and I should like you to notice what it was for which He gave Himself.

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME
In the Epistle to the Galatians, the apostle Paul writes:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20; emphasis added)

Note the individuality of it. Paul, who had been a bitter persecutor of the people of God, who had been an enemy of the Cross of Christ, one day had his eyes opened, and he suddenly realized that the One who had died on that Cross went there for him, that He had taken his place, that it was love that led Him to go to that shameful death. From that moment the heart of Saul of Tarsus went out in adoration gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ; and until the very end of his days, he found his greatest joy in trying to give some evidence, by a life of service, of his love for the One who had thus loved him.

THE WORD IS NOT IN THE BIBLE—BUT THE DOCTRINE IS
Notice how Paul speaks of Him: “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” There you have the very heart of the Gospel—“Himself for me.” That is substitution. Some people tell us, because we do not find the actual word “substitution” in the Bible, that the truth of it, the fact of it, is not there. And so they talk of atonement by other means than by substitution—atonement by example or atonement by reconciling love, that leads men to turn to God adoringly, simply because of the goodness that He showed in seeking them out in the person of His Son. But no, the Word of God makes it very definite. The work that took place on Calvary was a substitutionary transaction. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s own blessed, eternal Son, who became man for our redemption, giving Himself on our behalf.

“The Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.” That is the language of faith. When a poor, needy sinner looks at that Cross and sees, as it were, the blessed Savior hanging there, he says, “He was there for me; it was my sins that put Him there; it was in order that I might be fitted for the presence of God that He went into the darkness and endured the judgment of God. He is my Substitute. The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR US
But it is not only for me, it is also for us. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, we read:

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. (Ephesians 5:2; emphasis added)

I am so thankful that in my thinking I do not have to limit the gift of God’s grace in the person of His Son to just some little group, as though it were just for a small elect company that Jesus died. “He gave Himself for us.” I can look out over the whole wide world, whether men are saved or unsaved, and say to them on the authority of the Word of God that “He gave himself for us”—for everyone of us. Whether you be Jew or Gentile, whether you be very religious or have no time for religion, I would say to you, “ The Son of God gave himself for us.” He saw us in our lost condition, and He went to Calvary’s Cross in order to redeem us. That is how the prophet Isaiah puts it. He looked on down through the centuries, and by faith he saw the very scene of Calvary, and he cried out, “[H]e was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

THE GOSPEL FOUND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: ALSO, “YOU KNOW THE GOSPEL, DON’T YOU?”
I remember a number of years ago, I went over to a town in Minnesota to hold some meetings. My wife and our eldest son, just a little child at the time, went with me. When we got there, a big, burly highland Scotsman met us. He said, “Now you come along with me; I am going to take you to my house. We are going to sleep you there, and then across the way at the McKenzies, they will eat you.” Of course, I new he didn’t mean anything cannibalistic, and I was glad to accept the provision made. We went to his house and settled ourselves and then went over to the McKenzies for our meal.

I remember one Sunday we left to go down to the meeting in the afternoon, and it happened that there was one daughter in the family who had not yet received the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. The mother said, “Will you pray for Jean? She knows the way, but somehow she doesn’t seem to want to come. She says she is young yet, and she wants to have her fling before she settles down.” Well, we did pray for her, and some way or other as I preached that afternoon in the big tent, I couldn’t help seeing Jean way in the back, eagerly listening to the message. When it was over, I thought she might be one who would move to the front when the invitation was given, but instead of that, I saw her get up and hurry away, and I felt a little bit disappointed. When I finished speaking, I felt a little bit disappointed again.

When I finished talking with those who had come forward, I went on home, and when I got there, I found, as I opened the front door, my wife was sitting with an open Bible and Jean beside her. My wife turned to me and said, “Come and join us. I am trying to show Jean that Christ died in our place, but someway or other she can’t seem to grasp it.” So I sat down with them and said something like this: “Jean, you know the Gospel, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she said, “I think I do.”

“What is the Gospel?”

“Well, it is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”

My wife said, “I have been showing her Isaiah 53.”

The Bible was open at that chapter so I said, “Look, you have it right here, ‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.’ Don’t you see, Jean? Christ died for you, He took your place, He bore God’s judgment against your sins.”

“I see what is written there,” she replied, “but somehow I can’t get hold of it for myself. It doesn’t seem to mean anything to me.”

So we got down on our knees and prayed that the Spirit of God Himself might make the great truth of the substitutionary work of the Cross real to her; and then I said to her, “Jean, while we are here on our knees, I want you to read the words for yourself, and we will pray that the Holy Spirit will open them up to you.”

And so she read them: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Then she said, “Yes, I see it, but I don’t seem to be able to make it my own.”

CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE GOSPEL?
“Perhaps it would be different now if you will just read it again and change the pronoun, putting it into the first person singular. Read it like this: ‘He was wounded for my transgressions’; because you see, Jean, it really means that. He was wounded for the transgressions of all of us, yours and mine. Read it that way.”

She started to read, “He was wounded for my transgressions.” She stopped as the tears began to flow. She wiped them away and read on, “He was bruised for my iniquities,” and again she stopped; and then she read, “The chastisement of my peace was upon Him,” and then she fairly shouted, “Oh, I see it! With His stripes, I am healed.” And in a moment, the light had shone into her darkened heart. She saw that the Lord Jesus was her substitute; He had taken her place. We gave thanks, and then she said she must go and tell her mother. She didn’t know that all the while her mother had been standing outside the window and had heard the whole thing. Out the front door she went and down the garden path and around to the side, and she ran right into that mother’s arms, “Oh Mother, Mother, I’m saved; by His stripes I am healed.” What joy that brought to the mother’s heart, and what a happy time of rejoicing we all had then!

You see, that is substitution. That is the very pith and marrow of the Gospel. He gave Himself for our sins.

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR THE CHURCH
Next we do have a special group mentioned for whom He gave Himself. In the last part of the fifth chapter of Ephesians, we read:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25; emphasis added)

When we get home to Glory, when we who have been redeemed to God by His precious blood are presented faultless in the presence of our heavenly Bridegroom, we shall look up into His face, and we shall be able to say, “The Son of God loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.”

You remember the story that is told of one of the generals of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, and the one who overthrew, in God’s providence, the mighty Babylonian Empire. One of his generals came home from a campaign and was shocked to find that in his absence his own wife had been arrested and was languishing in prison, charged with treachery against her country, and the trial was to be held that very day. The general hastened to the court of Cyrus, and the guards brought in his own beloved wife. She, poor woman, pale and anxious, tried to answer the charges brought against her, but all to no avail. Her husband, standing near, heard the stern voice of the Persian ruler pronounce the death sentence. In a moment, as they were about to drag her away to behead her, he ran forward and threw himself down at the feet of the Emperor. “Oh sire,” he cried, “not she, but me. Let me give my life for hers. Put me to death, but spare my wife.” And as Cyrus looked down upon him, he was so touched by his deep devotion and his love for his wife that his heart was softened. He remembered, too, how faithful this servant had been, and he gave command that the wife should go free. She was fully pardoned. As her husband led her out of the room, he said to her, “Did you notice the kind look in the eyes of the Emperor as he pronounced the word of pardon?”

She said, “I did not see the face of the Emperor. The only face I could see was that of the man who was willing to die for me.”

Oh, when we get home, when we see the face of the Man who did die for us, how our hearts will praise Him! How we will rejoice in His presence as we say, “The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR OUR SINS
We need to realize that He died not only to deliver us from the judgment due to our sins, but He died for us in order that we might be delivered from the power and pollution of sins right here and now in this life. In Galatians 1:4, we have these words:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. (emphasis added)

He gave Himself for our sins, not simply that we might have our past sins forgiven, nor that we might stand justified before Him as to the future, but in order that the power of sin might be broken in our lives, that we might no longer be subject to Satan’s authority, that we might be free men and women, living here to the glory of the Lord Jesus.

This is one of those truths I do want to press upon you who have but recently been brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. Dear young Christian, do not be satisfied to know that you are saved from Hell, blessed as that is, but oh, go on day by day to a fuller walk with God, that you may be saved from sin, and that your whole life may be lived to His glory.

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR ALL
Somebody might raise the question, “Well, it is perfectly true that it says He gave Himself for us, and He gave Himself for the church, and He gave Himself for our sins; but are you really sure that it applies to everybody? May He not, after all, have had just some particular elect company in view when He thus gave Himself, and if we do not belong to that company, what right have we to come to Him at all and to expect Him to do anything for us?” For the answer, will you look at the first Epistle to Timothy, chapter 2, verses 5 and 6:

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (emphasis added)

Oh, dear friends, do not allow anything to narrow down your conception of the inclusiveness of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. “[He] gave Himself a ransom for all.” Do not try to read into that what it does not say. Some people say, “Well, of course, you know we must understand the words ‘the elect’ to come in there. He gave Himself a ransom for all the elect.” Oh no, God does not need you and me to help Him out. He knows what to say, and He means what He says. When He writes, “He gave Himself a ransom for all,” He means us to understand the words exactly as they are written.

They used to tell a story about a certain professor of theology at Princeton Seminary in the days when Princeton was pretty rigid as to what they called “a limited atonement.” One day, one of the students looked up and said, “Professor, just what is our stand in this seminary on the atonement?”

The teacher replied, “Well, we stand with Dr. _____; we preach the theology of Dr. _____, and he taught a limited atonement—that Christ died only for the elect.”

Then said the student, “And over at New Haven, Connecticut (At that time New Haven was a very sound seminary), what do they teach there? What is Dr. Taylor’s theology?” The professor said, “Over there they teach that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“Oh,” said the student, “well, I’ll accept that because that is what the Bible says. That is not just Dr. Taylor’s theology nor New Haven doctrine; that is the Word of God.”

And so we say to you, whoever you may be, the Lord Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. On Calvary’s Cross, He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. In other words, when He presented Himself there as a substitute for guilty humanity, He finished the work that satisfied every righteous demand of the throne of God and met all the claims of His holy nature, so that on the basis of it, any poor sinner in all the world who comes to Christ and puts in his claim will be saved on the basis of the substitutionary work of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the doctrine of the atonement as we have it in the Bible. There is no other in this blessed Book, and so we put the question to you: have you put in your claim? There are a lot of people who know all about it, but they have never believed and acted upon it.

THE TRAGEDY OF FAILING TO CASH IN GOD’S PROMISES
There is a story of a veteran of the Civil War who was found living in wretched poverty. The city authorities found him in such a deplorable state that they thought all they could do was to take him to the county poor farm. One of them happened to notice something on the wall. It wasn’t exactly a picture; it looked more like a document of some kind. He took it down and looked at it, then he asked, “What is this, my friend?”

The poor old man replied, “That was sent to me by Abraham Lincoln himself, and I kept it because it has his signature on it.” It turned out to be a check. I forget the amount of money, but it was really a pension check signed by the President and sent to this man years ago. Instead of cashing it, the poor man had kept it all the time and had framed it and hung it there on the wall. In the meantime, he got poorer and poorer, until he was a candidate for the county farm. They found that the government at Washington would still honor the check, although it was years old, and so they had enough to take care of the man comfortably until he died.

Oh, do not be content just to have the statement of the substitutionary work of the Lord Jesus, but come to Him for yourself, trust Him as your own Savior. Cash in on it. He gave Himself a ransom for all.

To order copies of Substitution—He Took Our Place!, click here. 

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“Thinking Outside the Box”

By Tamara Hartzell
(Author of Reimagining God and In the Name of Purpose)

“Thinking outside the box”

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Timothy 4:16)

The importance of the Word of God simply cannot be overstated. Without it, we do not have the truth, faith, or salvation of God. And without the truth, faith, and salvation of God, we do not have God. Scripture is replete with teachings and warnings that make this perfectly clear. One example of many is 2 John 1:9:

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

Where do we get the doctrine of Christ in which we are to abide to have God? From the Word of God.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:14-16)

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25)

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

It is the faith of God that comes by the Word of God. Not only does the Word of God give us the truth and faith we are to believe in order to have God, but it also gives us the truth and faith we are to obey in order to please and serve God. And yet people in today’s Christianity are no longer willing to accept this faith as is. Rather than simply believe and obey, people want the freedom to “rethink” and “reimagine” God and His Word into a fashion that they are willing to accept and, incredibly, even go so far as to claim that God’s own Word of truth puts God in a “box.” In other words, they want the truth and faith of God set “free” from the Word of God. Thus, they do not see the Word of God as the truth but as merely a “story” with “changeable” and “debatable” “metaphor” that can be interpreted and retold however anyone chooses. This then gives people their desired freedom to “think outside the box” where they can conveniently “reimagine” their own “story” of who they “rethink” God to be.

Naturally, whether or not these stories line up with God’s Word is irrelevant to those who prefer to “think outside the box” of God’s Word. In fact, if they did line up with the Word of God, then it would defeat their purpose of “thinking outside the box.” And since “rethinking” and “reimagining” God and His Word is what people today actually want, they are turning to fables for their faith and “truth.” Fables are not the truth, and the truth is not a fable. This is why God’s Word warns that people are turning away from the truth and unto fables. Nevertheless, more and more people are trying to turn fables into the truth—i.e., “reimaginings” into reality—and are dancing around in circles desperately trying to bring the two together as one in a harmonious relationship. This is, in essence, turning the light off to look for “truth” in the corner of a dark round room.

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)

“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)

The light of God’s Word is just too bright for today’s light-intolerant eyes. More and more people are seeking relief outside the “box” and are intentionally turning away from the Word of God, away from the truth, away from the faith, trying to “find God” in the darkness. However, in the darkness people can no longer tell the difference between what is true and what is false, even when it is obvious. And as a result, they are blindly bearing with those who present them with “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” that deceptively affirm their shift from light to darkness, and even lead them astray to another “God.” But they don’t see it that way. Since people imagine that God’s Word of truth is just a manmade “box” from which God and His truth need to be set free, they see it as simply a matter of “finding God” wherever they choose to look. Sadly, this rapidly increasing deception is clearly seen in today’s shifting Christianity.

“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Corinthians 11:4)

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.… But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7, 11-12)

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Since more and more people in today’s shifting Christianity are rejecting the Word of God as the word of man, and even accepting the word of man as the word of God, one needn’t go far to see the many counterfeits being sold to the eager buyers who see no need to beware. In fact, since people now imagine that outside the “box” of God’s Word is the “genuine” and inside the “box” of God’s Word is the “counterfeit” they will only see a need to beware of God’s Word inside the “box.” Thus, reviling those who believe the genuine is the genuine and the counterfeits are the counterfeit, they are heeding those who believe the counterfeits are the “genuine” and the genuine is the “counterfeit” because the counterfeits are the “genuine” they are willing to accept. But, naturally, those who prefer to “think outside the box” don’t see it that way.

Many people are likewise choosing to see man’s fables as the “truth” about God because man’s fables are a “reimagined” “truth” they are willing to accept. Absurdly, those who seek to justify “reimagining” God and His Word even claim that Jesus taught parables in order to teach truth to the multitudes. This claim in itself “reimagines” God’s Word in order to justify “reimagining” God’s Word. Jesus Himself gave the reason for His parables, which is the opposite of man’s imaginations in more ways than one. He spoke in parables to keep the truth away from those who did not have ears to hear and had already chosen to close their eyes and ears to the truth. Sadly, some things never change.

“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:4)

“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.… For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13:9-13, 15-16)

If that isn’t clear enough:

“And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.… Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” (Luke 8:10, 18)

Those who have chosen to turn their ears away from the truth and unto fables only seem to have the truth. The truth is “Thus saith God,” “Thus saith the Lord,” and “It is written.” This is the settled truth of God, which He has recorded for us in His Word. God’s truth is what it is and never changes despite man’s never-ending vain attempts to “rethink” and “reimagine” God’s Word for God. Truth tells us what is and what is right or wrong. Stories are the opposite. Stories are relativism and allow each person to decide for themselves what they want the meaning to be. This is exactly the freedom desired by those who are shifting from truth to fables. They want the freedom of uncertainty rather than the what is of certainty. Since having ears to hear the truth is necessary to be able to hear the certainty of its meaning, it was to His disciples and not to the multitudes that Jesus told the meaning of His parables:

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.… And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” (Mark 4:23-24, 33-34)

Because the Lord Jesus Christ is God, even His parables to the multitudes are “Thus saith God” and “Thus saith the Lord.” And since even the meaning of His parables has been recorded in God’s Word of truth, for us the meaning is not relative as many now think, but rather, “It is written.” On the other hand, man’s imaginative fables are nothing more than “thus imagines man.” Contrary to the popular opinion of those blinded in the darkness, they are not the truth and not the Word of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings are not a “style” to emulate. He is the Lord, Whom we are to believe and obey.

“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalm 138:2)

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.… From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:63-64, 66-68)

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Too many people in today’s shifting Christianity are seeking to set the truth of God free from the “box” of God’s Word rather than seeking to be set free themselves by God’s Word of truth. Instead of looking for “truth” in the corner of a dark round room they would be far better served looking for truth in a corner of the “box.” But, sadly, those who are shifting from the light of the narrow way of absolute truth to the darkness of the broad way of relative “truth” are doing so on purpose, albeit blindly, along with their eyes closed and ears covered. They feel “boxed” in by the narrow way, and the broad way gives them the freedom outside the “box” to “rethink” and “reimagine” God and His narrow way into a broader “truth.” With this freedom, people can have a relationship with God however they choose, right?

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48)

(This is an excerpt from Tamara Hartzell’s book, Reimagining God: Turning the light off to look for “truth” in the corner of a dark round room; used with permission.)

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