Truth

truthWriters who post on WordPress receive an annual report on the progress of their blog including number of articles, readers and comments. It is personally satisfying to see good stats, but I decided early on that Messiah Gate would continue to publish as long as God permits, and even if it is read by only one person.

Articles are posted as I am inspired by the Holy Spirit. Before they are composed I say this prayer:

LORD, grant me the wisdom and strength to do this work. I am just the vessel — the Holy Spirit is the inspiration and author. May this article sow good seed, in good soil, to bear good fruit.

I usually devote one day to write a two thousand word post. It is exhausting labor, and my eyesight is failing. Outside work is very demanding, and my request to reduce hours has not been granted. Articles of shorter length may post less frequently, but my zeal for the LORD does not wane.

With age and dimming eyes I may become even more zealous like a man I admire greatly, J. Vernon McGee, who said:

My wife tells me that I should be nicer on the radio. Well, I don’t feel like being nice. You may want to turn me off. You may not like what I say, but I have to tell the truth. A fella said to me, ‘McGee, you think I’m going to hell because I play golf on Sunday.’ I told him, ‘You’re not going to hell for playing golf — you’re going to hell because you don’t believe in Jesus Christ.’ Friends, there are some people coming to church every week who’d be better off  going for a Sunday drive.

Of course, J. Vernon was referring to this passage in James:

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).

There are a lot of people who go to church on Sunday, but live in the world the rest of the week. McGee recalled an elder in the church who had season tickets to the stadium, and one week the man invited him to attend a game. “Well,” McGee said, “I never saw a man behave like that elder. In church he acted like a saint, but at the game he was loud and profane.”

People, like that elder, live in condemnation for it would be better for them to not know the truth than to willfully sin as Jesus said to the Pharisees:

If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains (John 9:41).

People want to be popular. Sometimes I’ll read another blog where a one sentence post gets fifty likes and two dozen comments. I might have spent ten hours composing a 2500 word draft that goes completely unnoticed. Doubt starts to arise as to whether my effort is being wasted, but I know those thoughts are from the enemy. And I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that I don’t write to be popular, but to serve the LORD. If just one person reads Messiah Gate (and is blessed) then my toil will not have been in vain.

What is the purpose of life, really? To figure out what your talent is and use it to glorify the LORD. Albert Barnes commented if you don’t use your talent because you dread a loss of popularity then you are guilty of sin before God.

The prophets of the LORD were hated by men because they told the truth. The truth is not ugly — only the sin it reveals. People want the pastor to tickle their ears, and make them feel good about themselves. If that is all you are seeking then you might do just as well going for that Sunday drive, or playing golf.

So I will continue to write as the LORD has gifted me, and will do so with the zeal of J. Vernon McGee. The truth will not be restrained even though stats reveal that writing the truth is not very popular. But, then again, Messiah Gate does not exist to please men, but to glorify God.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

I am Elijah

elijah-cave1a

Are you Elijah? The underlying theme of Scripture is that God will keep for Himself an elect remnant. Elijah, when he feared that all had forsaken the LORD, fled to the shelter of a cave to escape the enemies who sought to kill him.

Jehovah told Elijah that there were 7,000 faithful who had not bowed down to the false god. And so it will be on the last day when the winnowing fork of the Lord separates the chaff from the wheat. He has allowed the weeds to grow with the grain until the harvest is gathered (Matthew 13:24-30).

Weeds can choke a healthy plant, and absorb the nutrients needed to produce good fruit. The church of Jesus Christ is like a field of wheat. Apostasy and false teaching are tares that were sown even before the death of the last apostle.

There are two schools of thought as to how this unfolds. Either things will get better due to the influence of the church, or conditions will deteriorate as the body of Christ becomes marginalized by an increasing secularization.

If we don’t understand that Revelation is unfolding in this age then it will only embolden the Satanic assault that seeks to take advantage of a church that is not fully dressed in the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

I am utterly stunned at the outpouring of support within the church for social changes that are inconsistent with a Christian worldview. I am told that I must be reeducated or rehabilitated — that my thinking is wrong and I don’t possess the love of Christ. I will restate once more: Christian love is corrective — not permissive. Yes, Jesus loved sinners. But He exposed their sin with the admonition to go and sin no more (John 8:11).

After 2,000 years liberalism has become deeply rooted in the church. People don’t like to be admonished. So the church — in a vain effort to stay relevant — has conformed to the world. No one wants to sit and listen to a fiery condemnation and then be hustled for a donation. That’s why upwards of 7,000 churches close their doors every year.

A prominent Midwest pastor who was defrocked for moral failings was asked if he ever went to church. “No,” he said. “I don’t need to go and be told that I’m a sinner. I already know that.” He added that he watched Robert H. Schuller because his sermons made him feel good. Schuller authored the Ten Commandments of Possibility Thinking which was a hodgepodge of motivational, humanistic, metaphysical, New Age concepts that entranced the laity and pulpit. Think Fulton Sheen and Norman Vincent Peale. Where is the Crystal Cathedral today? So we simply anoint new faces who will tickle our ears and make us feel good (2 Timothy 4:3).

Of course, the genesis of our devolution began in the Garden of Eden. The serpent was the first liberal, but evil suffered a monumental defeat at the Cross; and Satan knows his time is measured. This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ for those who have ears to understand. The papacy has given ground in the midst of ongoing spiritual warfare, but the church in Rome remains a steadfast defender of the sacrament of marriage and the sanctity of life.

The fruit of Reformation has been pornography, divorce, drugs, abortion and gay marriage. At the heart of the Reform movement was a liberal rejection of Rome’s conservative tenets. Granted, some of these were extra-Biblical (or based on tradition), but they were the cohesive glue that maintained unity. Understand that only the Spirit of God can keep the church together, and even then only a remnant will be saved. Some Catholic, some Protestant, but not all. It has always been about a remnant, or the elect few.

In his article, Why the Gay Marriage Debate was Over in 1950, Joel Miller suggests that psychotherapy supplanted religion. The 50’s generation that grew up with Freud and Spock (not the Vulcan) were essentially taught that they could obtain joy and peace without the Bible. This may offend you but until 1974 the American Psychiatric Association (as codified in DSM-11 — Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. At the APA convention in San Francisco (1974) gay advocates were able to overthrow the classification. Homosexuality was deemed “normal” behavior by politics — not medicine.

And the church has bought into this “new religion” that love overrides all else. This is the crux of the matter. If love is the greatest commandment then the church must be tolerant of abortion and gay marriage. My friends, God does not tolerate sin. Indeed, unrepentant sin will be judged.

Calvin and Luther were branded heretics because they both denied that marriage was a holy sacrament as defined by the Council of Trent. Okay, so the Catholic Church does translate the Greek word mystērion (μυστήριον) — as used by Paul in Ephesians 5:32 — to mean sacrament rather than mystery; but this doesn’t alter the doctrine that God, not men, invented marriage as a typology of the sacramental relationship between Christ and His church.

Calvin went so far as to equate marriage with agriculture, architecture, shoemaking and hair-cutting. [1]

Luther could have written the Court’s majority opinion:

No one can deny that marriage is an external, worldly, matter, like clothing and food, house and property, subject to temporal authority, as the many imperial laws enacted on the subject prove. [2]

Marriage is a civic matter. It is really not, together with all its circumstances, the business of the church. [3]

… marriage is outside the church, is a civil matter, and therefore should belong to the government … [4]

I feel that judgments about marriages belong to the jurists. Since they make judgments concerning fathers, mothers, children, and servants, why shouldn’t they also make decisions about the life of married people? [5]

God is the ultimate judge — isn’t He. Where are the 7,000, as Elijah, who will stand with me in defense of God’s truth?

Editor: The tone of this article is in no way a blanket defense of Catholicism, but an indictment of the Protestant church for its liberal interpretation of essential Christian doctrine which has sown division, and deviancy from the true Word of God. The seed of the Reformation has produced the fruit of so much of the false teaching that is preached today. Prosperity gospel?

Notes:

1. Institutions, John Calvin, IV, xix, 34.

2. What Luther Says, CPH 1959, Vol. 46, page 265.

3. Ibid, Vol. II, page 885.

4. Ibid, Vol. 54, page 363.

5. Ibid, Vol. 54, page 66.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Love Wins

agape

Love Wins is a headline proclaimed across the nation following a recent Supreme Court decision that judicially alters the fundamental precept of marriage. (See our post, Marriage.)

Frankly, I am stunned — even disoriented — at the course of events that have transpired in our generation. God has been expelled from our public schools … millions of babies have been sacrificed upon the altar of choice … and, now, the bedrock of our society — marriage and family — has been discarded or, at least, redefined. I submit that mortal man, while he has the right to choose this course of action, will do so under condemnation and judgement.

So, the man who was elected will say that ours is not a Christian nation; and (because of the Court ruling on marriage) that we have become a more perfect union. Well, I would agree in the one sense we are not a Christian nation, but there are a present remnant as the LORD spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19:18).

In that vein please allow me one other digression. 1 Samuel 8 is an interesting study how man attempts to exert his will over God. The prophet was aged, and the people clamored for a king to rule over them. I won’t spoil your study except to say that sometimes God releases you to the desires of your own self-will even to your unintended detriment.

If this were a truly Christian nation would it not reflect the will of God?

Today, people are celebrating the victory of love. But the love they are confessing is a romantic or desirous kind of love — eros as it was understood by the ancient Greeks. Biblical love, however, is expressed by these Greek words — agapē (ἀγάπη), a Godly love; and philadelphia (φιλαδελφίᾳ), a brotherly love.

It is critical to understand that Biblical love is not a sentiment or a feeling, but an action. (It is not the clammy hands of a teenager on her first date.) The action taken is a selfless act done for the benefit of another.

In Mark Dever’s acclaimed study The Message of the New Testament (Foreword by John MacArthur): Promises Kept the author states that, more than an action, love is a disposition of the heart toward God and others which then shows itself in our actions. [1]

Dever then characterizes Biblical love with some of the most treasured words in Scripture — from Paul’s letter to the assembly at Corinth:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love is the missionary doctor who flies to Africa to help save those who are suffering and dying from Ebola. Love is not marching in a colorful parade loudly proclaiming the fruit of  flamboyant, self-willed pride.

Dever queries his readers:

Could this be more clear? Love is not self-seeking.

John MacArthur expounds on this distinction between the Biblical and worldview of love:

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians may be, from a literary viewpoint, the greatest passage Paul ever penned.

Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament. Unlike our English love, it never refers to romantic or sexual love, for which eros was used, and which does not appear in the New Testament. Nor does it refer to mere sentiment, a pleasant feeling about something or someone. It does not mean close friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term the King James translators carried over from the Latin and which in English has long been associated only with giving to the needy. This chapter is itself the best definition of agape.

The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire.

Self–giving love, love that demands something of us, love that is more concerned with giving than receiving, is as rare in much of the church today as it was in Corinth. The reason, of course, is that agape love is so unnatural to human nature. Our world has defined love as “romantic feeling” or “attraction,” which has nothing to do with true love in God’s terms.

The supreme measure and example of agape love is God’s love. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  Love is above all sacrificial. It is sacrifice of self for the sake of others, even for others who may care nothing at all for us and who may even hate us. It is not a feeling but a determined act of will, which always results in determined acts of self–giving. Love is the willing, joyful desire to put the welfare of others above our own. It leaves no place for pride, vanity, arrogance, self–seeking, or self–glory. It is an act of choice we are commanded to exercise even in behalf of our enemies: “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44–45). If God so loved us that, even “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:4–7), how much more should we love those who are our enemies. [2]

The Holy Spirit has been pressing me to love more like Christ. If I say, love is … the Spirit replies, love does … 

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

Notes:

1. The Message of the New Testament (Foreword by John MacArthur): Promises Kept, by Mark Dever, Crossway Publishing, (November 16, 2005).

2. Is Biblical Love a Feeling or an Action?, COPYRIGHT ©2015 Grace to You, All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Credits:

Scripture — New American Standard Bible, Lockman Foundation, 1995. Used by permission.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate