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The Authority of Scripture

Have you ever wondered what originated the rise and fall of every false religion in the world? The answer may surprise you, because it’s the single most common pitfall of the masses. It’s the “freewill” doctrine of man, which puts man in charge of his own salvation and when it’s taken to its logical conclusion; it ALWAYS shipwrecks faith in God’s word. Because if man’s will was absolutely free, the Bible message would be altered, for it would mean that God chose to have it written down by men that could have supposedly resisted His will.
But this is impossible, “For who hath resisted His will?” “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (Rom.9:19, 2Pet.1:21). God’s in control NOT man, for He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph.1:11). “Of His own will, begat He us with the word of truth” (Ja.1:18), which reveals the truth about creation, Christ’s Deity, His virgin birth, perfect life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension to save us from sin. And “Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn.10:35).
Yet, the freewill doctrine leads to believing it was altered because it was penned by flesh, which then leads to doubting Jesus Christ who came in the flesh (Jn.12:48). But Jesus said, ““It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63). “The Word was God”….”And the Word was made flesh” (Jn.1:1, 14). All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2Tim.3:16). “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Mt.24:35).
The freewill doctrine teaches that “God gives us a will that can reject Him, because He wants us to love Him willingly and freely.” But saints in heaven aren’t given a will that can reject Him and yet…. they TOTALLY love Him willingly and freely!! For its ONLY by being born again by the Holy Spirit, thru the merits of Christ, that we can truly love Him, NOT by an unregenerate will that loves sin (e.g. Rom.5:5).
The Garden of Eden scenario is also used to try to prove that God allowed sin to be offered so we’d have freewill and not be robots. But that’s like saying we’ll be robots in heaven, for God doesn’t allow sin there! Besides, mankind already had freedom of choice before sin was offered by the devil and they were NOT robots. First of all, the fear of being a robot for God is nothing more than complete rebellion, which shows that if left to our own fallen “free” will, we’d rather be a robot for the devil. Besides, “freewill” to choose sin is NOT true freedom at all, or else God wouldn’t be free, for He’s Holy and cannot choose to sin.
Ironically, the Garden scenario actually proves the freewill doctrine is a complete sham. In the sequence of events leading up to the Fall of mankind, three faculties of Eve’s soul were involved when she chose to eat forbidden fruit; her mind, heart and will….. IN THAT ORDER (Gen.3:1-6). The act of her will was preceded by the thoughts of her mind and the desires of her heart, proving that our will doesn’t determine our choices. The act of our will is preceded and determined by other factors, which are now tainted with sin. So our will no longer has the ability to choose God, unless the cleansing regeneration of the Holy Spirit brings our mind, heart and will into harmony with God’s will thru the merits of Jesus’ blood (Titus 3:5).
So remember friend, we can’t faithfully love God unless He intervenes in our lives with an irresistible love that breaks every barrier—-even the barrier of a fallen will that’s a slave to sin (Rom.6:20; 8:35-39). And once we’re saved we can’t brag that He saved us because we loved Him, for its “not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” We can only “love Him, because He first loved us” (1Jn.4:10, 19). “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil.2:13). So pray for His mercy today.

Lee Anne @ gospel4life@live.com

A False Gospel—called the “Water Gospel”

Many are believing what’s called Baptismal Regeneration, or the “water gospel,” (basically a “watered-down gospel”) where baptism is added as a requirement for salvation. But we must “try the spirits” behind this doctrine, as we’re commanded to do in 1John 4:1. And two signs of deceiving spirits are when “contradicting and blaspheming” of God’s word occur (Acts 13:45). For example, one may say it’s not our works that save us, but then turn around later and contradict themselves by saying faith and baptism are works we do to be saved.

I found another example recently in a “House to House” pamphlet (vol. 18) sent out by a local church. It claims the thief on the cross was saved without being baptized because he was still under the Mosaic Dispensation. Yet, their website contradicts this by claiming Jesus told Nicodemus (who was ironically also under the Mosaic Dispensation) that he must be born again by being water baptized (John 3:5). So we must ask, “Why the double standard?” Besides, baptism isn’t even mentioned here, which is embarrassingly ironic, for they claim to be “silent where Scripture is silent.” The context here and 1John 5:6-8, even make it obvious that Jesus was explaining the difference between natural and spiritual birth.

Scripture also reveals that saving faith is the means God uses to bring His sheep home. Even Mark 16:16 doesn’t say, “he who isn’t baptized will be damned,” but it does say, “he that doesn’t BELIEVE shall be damned.” Also in 1 Pet.3:20-21 Noah’s family was “saved by water” only in the sense that it was a figure of the true (Jesus Christ), for it symbolized His death, burial and resurrection, just as baptism does today. The water itself didn’t save, or else those outside the ark would’ve been saved. As Peter even says here, baptism itself can’t put away the filth of the flesh, for a symbol can’t purge a guilty conscience, it’s only an outward testimony of what’s already occurred inwardly. Baptism is a figure of the true, whereas faith is the substance (Heb.9:9, 14, 26; 11:1, 7).

Yet, promoting baptism as a requirement for salvation turns the one who “administers” the “requirement” into a human mediator, which is blasphemy. There’s only one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus (1Tim.2:5). Only He can administer what’s necessary for our salvation (saving faith), for He obtained it and all other spiritual blessings that accompany salvation (repentance, obedience, etc.), so that those who are His don’t try to add their own works to the sufficiency of His sacrifice (Rom.8:32, Eph.1:3, 4:8, Phil.4:19).

Still, many go to great lengths to exalt man and his works, such as twisting Acts 2:38 to mean we’re baptized “in order to get,” remission of sins, rather than baptized “because” believers sins have already been remitted by the shedding of Jesus’ blood (Heb.9:22). Common sense even tells us that one doesn’t take medicine FOR a headache “in order to get” a headache. One takes medicine FOR a headache “because” they’ve already got one!

 Matt.3:11 uses the same Greek word in connection with baptism, as Acts 2:38. And clearly it can’t mean “in order to get” repentance, for John told the Pharisees they had to first “produce fruits worthy of repentance” like the Ethiopian, Saul, Cornelius, his family and thousands of others did in Acts, AFTER God had purified their hearts by faith (Acts 15:8-9), BEFORE they were baptized. Yet, if these verses meant baptism “obtains” remission of sins and repentance, then one would have to confess, no one needed that more than the Pharisees, yet John refused to baptize them! To be consistent with the “water gospel,” one would also have to confess that the Israelites were baptized “in order to get” Moses to be their leader, rather than “because” he’d already led them out of Egypt, for the same Greek preposition is used in conjunction with baptism in 1 Cor.10:2.

There are many more infallible, biblical proofs that Baptismal Regeneration is a false gospel, but may have to be covered in upcoming articles. Until then, just remember friend, Jesus didn’t shed His blood in vain. True believers don’t feel they have to make His blood effectual by doing something, for they simply trust that His blood atonement is effectual for those it was intended for, based on the effectual working of HIS power, not theirs (2Cor.4:7, Eph.3:7; Heb.13:12, 20, 21).

Sis Lee Anne—-readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

Therapy or Theology?

In the last article we seen how Scripture proves God is sovereign in all things, including suffering. We also touched a little on the deistic view of suffering. Yet, we need to take a closer look into deism, for it’s the view of the whole world, which lies in wickedness (1Jn.5:19).  It attempts to put man or “mother nature” in charge and portrays God as a helpless bystander. But Scripture clearly shows that God’s hands are not tied by His laws of nature or even by the so-called “freewill” of man (e.g. Dan.4:35, Eph1:21).

For example, Jonah wasn’t willing to do what God called him to do. Far from it, Jonah tried to run from God and found out that he couldn’t. Why? ….because God always catches up with His own. He never leaves them to themselves, but seeks them and rescues them, which is why God prepared the fish to swallow Jonah and spew him out on land again. God knows how to incline His people to be willing to obey! His hands are NOT tied!!

Even in Ezekiel 2:1-2 we see that God grants His people what He commands, for He knows we’re helpless. Yet, the motto of deism is “God helps those who help themselves,” when Scripture clearly shows the opposite. God helps those who CAN’T help themselves (e.g. Isa.64:6, Lk.18:10-14).  Sin has so corrupted our nature, we must be born again by the Holy Spirit, Who alone can quicken us from being dead in sin and make us alive in Christ (Eph2:1-10).

Much of our suffering (even as Christians) is due to the sin that dwells in the flesh. Many times even depression begins with sin (worry, impatience, doubting God, believing the devils lies), not low self-esteem. Yet, therapeutic deism turns people to therapy, rather than to God for mercy. A Savior can never be truly treasured as long as one thinks they’re basic “goodness” can attain salvation. When in reality the only part we play in salvation is the sinning. God does all the saving and He does it effectually and completely, leaving none of it to us, because “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” “For when we were yet WITHOUT STRENGTH in due time Christ died for the ungodly”(Rom.3:10-12, 5:6). 

Deism is a self-help religion that downplays how terrible sin is and labors to boost self-esteem. But 2 Tim.3:2 shows us that’s the last thing we need. We already love ourselves too much! We’re naturally selfish and every other bad thing. So our greatest need is to have a Savior Who can cover our sins, reconcile us to God and love us more than we could ever love ourselves. We need the blessed assurance that we’re saved from the eternal damnation our sins deserve.

Deism also idolizes the mind by claiming the gospel can be grasped by natural reason, rather than supernatural revelation by God. But “the natural 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” (1Cor.2:14). So the only “freewill” the natural mind has is “freedom” from righteousness, for “when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness” (Rom.6:20). But God never leaves His people to their own fallen “freewill,” but opens their understanding and grants them repentance so they CAN recover themselves from the snare of the devil (2Tim.2:25-26). 

So friend, “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (Jn.8:36). Jesus even delivered someone possessed by a legion of demons, not due to an ability to choose Him with their natural mind, because it wasn’t until AFTER Jesus delivered him that he was even in his right mind to follow Jesus (Mk.5:15). So take comfort fellow-sufferer, one can even be out of their mind and still be saved and delivered by God, who gives the spirit of a sound mind (2Tim1:7) ….because nothing is impossible for God. Sis. Lee Anne—e-mails welcome at gospel4life@live.com

Jesus’ Birth

During the holiday season, I can’t help but be moved by thoughts of Jesus’ birth.  Not because it was the “reason for the season” or a “birthday” in the worldly sense, but because it was when the long awaited promise of the new covenant of grace was presented as blessed Bread from Heaven.  Just think of the theological significance of God placing baby Jesus in a feeding trough within the little town of Bethlehem, which meant “House of Bread” in Hebrew.

Yet, there are two sides to God’s divine providence. First, Jesus is living bread to those who upon realizing their starving sin sickness, begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness (John 6:51).  Yet, He says those who are whole don’t need a physician, only the sick, and that He doesn’t call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matt.9: 12, 13).  He also said to go and learn what this means, which may seem to be a no-brainer for believers, but the self-righteous who haven’t had their understanding opened by God to realize the extent of their fallen condition, can’t even begin to grasp this truth. 

The truth is that Jesus becomes a sword to the wicked, but food to the weary who mourn over their sin against God.  In Matt. 10:34-36 Jesus says, “think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword”……”And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”  Wow, not something we’d like to think about around the holidays, with all the family gatherings!  Yet, Jesus makes it clear that He only brings peace to those who are His, and those who aren’t will be turned against us.  Jesus does the dividing, for we can only be united by the true gospel, not by false religion.  And all of this is a revelation so spectacular that even angels desire to look into it (1Pet.1:12, 13, Gal.1:6-8).

So while appearing to common field shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth, rather than “high society,” the heavenly angels gave all “Glory to God in the Highest!” Far beyond a commercialized celebration that exalts the basic “goodness” of man.  And rather than prompting people to “be good” for “goodness sake,” they brought tidings of great joy and peace to God’s fallen (not so good) people, from every tongue, tribe and nation, by revealing GOD’S GOOD will toward all the recipients of His mercy. 

How great is our God to regard the weak and lowly spiritual state of His people by granting them what He commands.  For what God requires, Christ provided thru His virgin birth, virtuous life, vicarious death, victorious resurrection and vigilant intercession!  Praise be to God who is worthy of all honor and year-round celebration of the highest caliber! Words fail me to express the magnitude of God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ.  His free gift far exceeds all the material gifts in the world.

So dear friend, apart from this gracious work of God, you can never know the power and joy of the true gospel and the true meaning of peace (Eph.2:14-17).  And no amount of “kumbaya” singing, Christmas caroling, shopping, feasting, decorating, giving, getting, church attending, candle lighting or card sending will ever make up for it in all eternity.  Therefore, by the grace of God, along with the Lord Jesus Christ, thru the Holy Spirit, I plead with you to lay down any work-righteous, superstitious, religious idols and seek first the kingdom of God and His peace, which are NOT of this world (John 14:27, 16:33, 18:36).

Sis Lee Anne —-Readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

God’s Sovereignty

Many think that if they’re seeking what only God can provide, they must be seeking God. But Jesus told a multitude that they were only seeking Him for His earthly benefits, not for the heavenly miracles that proved His Deity.  In other words, they weren’t really seeking God. And Jesus explained why by saying, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:26, 44, 66).

 Jesus’ words were so offensive, many walked away.  Because like today, many admit God is sovereign over nations and temporal life, but they can’t handle the fact that God is sovereign over all things, including eternal life.  They’d rather make up a god they’re more comfortable with, because “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” which is why “it’s not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jer.10:23, 17:9).

So why does God command us to seek Him and proclaim the gospel? Since only God changes hearts and draws sinners to Jesus to be saved, why should we take action at all?  Obviously, the answer is simple. He commands us to.  For He already knows that although some won’t obey in spirit and truth, some will.  Just as God commanded light to shine out of darkness (Gen.1), everything didn’t become light, but what God ordained to be light, obeyed His command. That’s why there’s a universal call of the gospel but not a universal redemption, “for many be called, but few chosen” (Matt.20:16, Acts 13:48).

Although fallen humanity has the “light of conscience” and the “light of creation” to prompt them to an outward performance of God’s commands, they can’t seek Jesus from a pure heart unless God commands the “light of the gospel” to shine into their hearts.  A mere outward response isn’t the deciding factor, God is. In fact, God’s sovereignty in salvation is so obvious that Jesus recaps this point in John 6:65 by saying “No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of the Father.”

Yet many are believing what’s called “decisional regeneration,” where trust is placed in a “decision for Christ” rather than Holy Spirit regeneration, where the Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we’re His (Tit.3:5, Rom.8:16). For believers “have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us” (2Cor.4:3-7), because those who receive God’s free gift aren’t those with more “willpower” but those whom God has given the power to become His (John 1:12, 13).  “For it is not of man who wills or runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom.9:16). 

“For who maketh thee to differ from another” (1Cor.4:7)? Are Christians different because they’re better than others?  Are they able to receive, repent, believe and obey the gospel due to having more common grace of character, conviction, morality, or ability to choose the things of God? Absolutely not! Or else they wouldn’t need a Savior and could do without God’s sovereign saving grace.

So dear friend, although many turn away from such a sovereign God, you don’t have to become a statistic. And you don’t have to try to be better than others.  Just cry out to God for mercy, confessing your desperate need of a Savior.  He never turns away those who are truly brokenhearted over sin (Ps.51:17), for He sent Jesus to seek and save an endless multitude of people who are poor in spirit.  So be encouraged, no one is closer to God’s free grace than when they finally realize the poverty of their own sinfulness and powerlessness compared to God’s sovereign, majestic holiness.

Sis Lee Anne—-Readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

Justified by Faith

Many try to discredit the Bible based on its supposed “contradictions.” But the truth is that God purposely uses such things to confound those who are wise in their own eyes (1Cor.1:27, Luke 10:21).  In fact, He gives the proud just enough material in His word for them to build a case with.  In other words, they have “just enough rope to hang themselves.”

A great illustration for this point is the seeming contradiction between Apostle Paul and James.  In Rom.3:27-28 Paul says, “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”  But James in 2:24 says, “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”  And yet they both mention Abraham to prove their points and both even use the same Greek word for “justified.”  However, they don’t use it in the same sense, for they are both addressing two different matters.  Paul was addressing work-righteousness and the false belief that one could earn salvation, whereas James was addressing false professions of faith and those who try to use God’s grace as an excuse to sin.

For example, in Rom. 4:3 Paul appeals to Gen. 15:6, where Abraham is “justified” (counted righteous) by simply possessing the gift of faith God had freely given him….BEFORE he had performed any works of obedience.  Whereas James in 2:21 appeals to Gen. 22, where Abraham’s faith is “justified” (proved) by being granted the power to exercise it in the offering of Isaac on the altar…… a work he was enabled to perform.…..AFTER he had already been justified by God’s grace.

Did you catch that?  Both Paul and James are actually presenting two sides of the same coin.  Like all the other supposed “contradictions” in the Bible, they are actually in perfect harmony. Both make it clear that works are not the means of salvation, but the outgrowth of salvation.  Likewise, true God-given faith always manifests itself in works of obedience and in the ability to trust Jesus alone for salvation.  However, a faith that doesn’t work proves to be the “faith” of devils, for it contains no God-given power to prove its claim.  And it can only trust in its own powerless works rather than fully trusting in Jesus alone and His finished work on the cross.

Perhaps this is why James 2 becomes a “noose” for those who want to try to establish their own righteousness.  And since they lack the ability to harmonize their case with the rest of Scripture, they often end up trying to prove that Paul was only addressing the Jewish “oral law” rather than God’s law.  But ironically, by still subtly trying to establish the principle of law for their justification, they only dig themselves deeper by promoting a “do more, try harder” moralism that makes God’s grace seem like something that just “helps those who help themselves.”

That is not a saving grace, but a fall from grace that makes it look like we have to meet God halfway by somehow contributing to the finished work of Calvary by “cooperating” with His grace, where Jesus just merely “fills the gap.” This version of “grace” is a faulty foundation that’s built upon the sinking sand of humanistic philosophy rather than the solid Rock of Jesus Christ, who actually “fills all things” (Eph.4:10).

So friend, remember God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1Pet.5:5).  Repent by turning away from your own futile attempts of trying to justify yourself and put your trust in Jesus alone to save you.  For only Jesus’ merits have perfectly satisfied God’s holy law, so that guilty sinners who come to God for mercy can be made righteous through Him.

—Readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

A New Heart and a New Spirit

Theological Thoughts 

     Just recently Ezekiel 18 was brought to my attention by a loved one who felt these verses proved that we should be able to conjure up faith, repentance and obedience to God in our own power.  Of course these verses came as no surprise, since I too had struggled with them and many others, most of my life.  Coming from a legalistic background, I would read all the do’s and don’ts in God’s word and despair of ever being able to live up to them all.  It wasn’t until God opened my blind eyes that I could finally understand that He actually wanted me to despair of ever being able to live up to His standards, so that confidence in my own self-sufficiency would be shattered and so I could finally realize my desperate need for a Savior (2Cor.3:5). 

 

     Ezek.18 is actually a perfect example of how God deals with His people.  He commands them to do the impossible.  In verses 30-31 He commands His people to “turn themselves” and make themselves a new heart and a new spirit.  He tells them to do what He already knew they could never do apart from His divine intervention.  Even in Ezek. 3:7 God tells His prophet from the very start that these people wouldn’t listen, for they were hard-hearted.  So why did God even bother telling them to do what He already knew they couldn’t? 

 

     By reading the whole book of Ezekiel in context, the answer becomes obvious.  He did this so they would realize they didn’t have the power to do the very things that would save them.  And when they accused God of being unfair, He revealed even more of His glory by making it clear that He could destroy them all and still be just, because like all of us, they deserved hell for sinning against their holy Creator (Ezek.18:25,29).  “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

 

       But in Ezek.36:22 we see that God is full of mercy and grace and He shows us that He can change the most repulsive sinner in order to reveal His glory.  Again in vs.26 and 27 God tells them He is the One who gives a new heart and a new spirit.  Even as early as Ezek.11:19-20, God tells them they will become His people only because He Himself will put a new heart and a new spirit in them and that only then would they have the power to obey His commands.  For no one has the natural power within themselves to do this, because we can only “believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ (Eph.1:19, 20). 

 

     The book of Ezekiel is just another beautiful reminder of how God’s mighty power can triumph over our sin nature.  Just as Jesus commanded Lazarus’ dead body to come forth, He still commands sinners who are dead in their trespasses to do the impossible, to repent and believe the gospel.  And just as Jesus gave Lazarus the power to come, He still gives His people the same power to come today.

 

     So friend, that which is impossible for you, is not impossible with God.  Come to Him today and confess your helplessness and place your trust in Him alone (not in yourself) to give you the new heart and new spirit that you so desperately need to be saved.  And keep coming to Him.  Pray, read God’s word, worship and commune with God’s people until you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has forever changed you and that you are forever His.    

 Lee Anne