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Monthly Archives: March 2019

We need to make some important distinctions about the biblical meaning of “fearing” God. These distinctions can be helpful, but they can also be a little dangerous. When Luther struggled with that, he made this distinction, which has since become somewhat famous: He distinguished between what he called a servile fear and a filial fear.

The servile fear is a kind of fear that a prisoner in a torture chamber has for his tormentor, the jailer, or the executioner. It’s that kind of dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by another person. Or it’s the kind of fear that a slave would have at the hands of a malicious master who would come with the whip and torment the slave. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward a malevolent owner.

Luther distinguished between that and what he called filial fear, drawing from the Latin concept from which we get the idea of family. It refers to the fear that a child has for his father. In this regard, Luther is thinking of a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.

I think this distinction is helpful because the basic meaning of fearing the Lord that we read about in Deuteronomy is also in the Wisdom Literature, where we’re told that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The focus here is on a sense of awe and respect for the majesty of God. That’s often lacking in contemporary evangelical Christianity. We get very flippant and cavalier with God, as if we had a casual relationship with the Father. We are invited to call Him Abba, Father, and to have the personal intimacy promised to us, but still we’re not to be flippant with God. We’re always to maintain a healthy respect and adoration for Him.

One last point: If we really have a healthy adoration for God, we still should have an element of the knowledge that God can be frightening. “It is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). As sinful people, we have every reason to fear God’s judgment; it is part of our motivation to be reconciled with God.

By Ligonier Ministries

A couple of weeks ago I was at a bible study which went over 1 Peter 3:18-20. Now what I found interesting is the speaker who was leading the Bible study raised the issue regarding this chapter. Apparently, there is some dispute among scholars and fellow believers as far as what happened in this event.

  • Did Jesus descend to save the Saint?
  • Did He descend to talk to demons?

This is what I hope to explain in this article. Let's start with the first argument.

Some people would argue that Jesus descended to save the souls that never head about Him. This sounds like a plausible idea at the surface, but what does the Bible say about salvation?

Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved by the grace of God, through our faith in Him.

It then goes in to explain that faith in the Lord, is a gift from Him. Our faith is not produced by our own mental choice but the sovereign grace of God He gives us faith.

Hebrews 11:4-40 then explains what faith in the Lord looks like. Faith at its core is a special trust in the Lord and all He is.

Genesis 15:6 tells us that it was Abraham's faith that was counted as righteousness.

Since God is a god that never changes, he is always the same yesterday, today and forever. Then so too are his principals. They are perfect. Then even among the time of Jesus, it was faith that saved.

We also know through the story (possibly not a parable, this is the only story Jesus tells that has named characters) of Lazarus, found in Luke 16. That a man who repented of his own sins, after being condemned was informed by Moses that there is no hope for him to receive forgiveness and enter the kingdom of God.

Man is destined to die once, then face judgement.

This comes from Hebrews 9:27. after our physical body dies, we then face the throne of God in judgment. This is our final judgment. If Jesus did indeed go down to preach His gospel to save souls, then Hebrews 9:27 would not be true.

Is it demons?

Another argument people would assume justifies the idea that Jesus descended to testify could be found in Matthew 27:52 "May bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised" (ESV). But it is important to note, this account refers to saints, which are the people of the Lord, while our passage in question speaks of spirits, being that this is a general term we can conclude 1 Peter 3:19 is talking about demonic spirits.

Bakers Commentary writes:

The "imprisoned spirits" (3:19) are not the souls of dead human beings but fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). According to Jewish tradition (1 Enoch 6-20), they deceived and corrupted the generation who lived before the flood, teaching them the arts of sin (Genesis 6:4). As a result, they were locked up in prison at the time of the flood, "to be held for judgment (2 Peter 2:4). They were the counterparts of the angels, authorities, and powers (3:22) still active today.

Jesus' preaching to these spirits was not an offer of salvation but a proclamation of his victory - in fact, the announcement of the judgment hanging over them. The spiritual forces behind the greatest corruption the world has ever seen have received their final condemnation at Jesus' hands! Having dealt with them, He finished his journey to heaven and took His place at God's right hand, in full authority over the powers behind the suffering experienced by Peter's readers. However much they may feel themselves to be victims, Christ is the victor!

I hope this has helped you to grasp a better understanding of the biblical interpretation, as well as the spiritual government, I know as I was pondering this verse, before compiling this blog I began to think of other passages that give insight to how the spiritual realm works. It truly is a fascinating thing to think about!

Posted in Theological Dangers |

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.

Matthew 5:23-25
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Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men*

Matthew 4:19
*Anthropoi, this Greek word is used to refer to both men and women.

There is no doubt in my mind that when the Gospel of Jesus, according to Matthew was written, that God directed his hand perfectly to write down the first command, a call to repentance (Matt. 4:17), then our second command we have this week, is a command to follow.

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Article originally by Matt Slick at CARM.org


Does the Roman Catholic Church function as an idol to Catholics?  I believe it does.  Of course, Catholics will say that it does not.  They will say that the Catholic Church is the original church set up by Christ and that they are simply following what Christ has revealed in his church.  But, the problem is it puts itself at such a high level of authority to which it requires submission, that asking if it serves as an idol is a valid question.

So, it is my opinion that the Roman Catholic Church functions as a type of idol to Catholics. Notice, that I said "a type of idol." Catholics don't bow to the Church, nor do they pray to it.  But, they look to it for their truth, salvation, and comfort. 

Let's take a look at some of the teachings of the Catholic Church and see how it views itself.

  • The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation (CCC 846)
  • The Roman Catholic Church has spiritual authority (CCC 88, 553, 2034)
  • Interpreting the Bible is only possible through the Roman Catholic Church (CCC 85)
  • Believing the gospel is only through the authority of the Roman Catholic Church (CCC 119)
  • Salvation is found through the Roman Catholic Church alone (CCC 816)
  • Catholics must go to the priest in the Roman Catholic Church for the forgiveness of sins (CCC 1495)
  • Only in the Roman Catholic Church is the totality of the means of salvation (CCC 868)
  • Catholics "receive the life of faith through the Church" (CCC 169)
  • To obtain grace, the Catholic must follow the Catholic Church's sacramental requirements (CCC 1129, 1598)
  • To go to Jesus, the Catholic must go through Mary (Vatican Website: Encyclical of Pope Leo 13th on the Rosary, Octobri Mense, Pope Leo 13th, 1903-1914)
  •  The Roman Catholic must believe what the Roman Catholic Church says concerning scriptural interpretation. (Trent, Session 4, "Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books)

What is idolatry?

There are different definitions of idolatry.  Here are three quotes.  One is from a Protestant source.  One is from a Catholic source.  The third is from a church father (for the Catholics).

  • Idolatry "(Gr. eidōlolatreia, from eidōlon, “image,” and latreia, “worship”) The worship of a false god or image of such, a practice prohibited by the law of God (Exod. 20:4–5). Figuratively, any obsessive concern that turns away worship from God can become idolatry(Eph. 5:5Col. 3:5)."1
  • Idolatry  "Literally “the worship of idols,” it is giving divine honors to a creature. In the Decalogue it is part of the first commandment of God, in which YHWH tells the people, “You shall have no gods except me. You shall not make yourself a carved image [Greek eidolon, idol] or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Exodus 20:4–5).2
  • "Most men regard idolatry as being limited to these practices alone: burning incense, immolating a victim, giving a sacrificial banquet, or being bound to some sacred functions or priesthoods. . . . [However, idolatry] can be practiced outside of a temple and without an idol.3

Idolatry is something that occurs in the heart. When a person gives "obsessive concern that turns away worship from God" or gives "divine honors to a creature," then there is idolatry.  But, in addition, you don't need a physical object for it to happen.  It is an attitude and a practice that stems out of that attitude.

Idolatry and the Roman Catholic Church

When we consider idolatry as an act of adoration to a created thing that really belongs to God, then we can more easily identify it. Again, in my opinion, the Roman Catholic Church exalts itself to a position dangerously close to being an idol. I say this because the Roman Catholic Church claims that it is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, that it has all spiritual authority, that it alone can interpret the Bible, that believing the gospel is through the Roman Catholic Church, and that salvation is found only in it. Such things, and more point to the exaltation of the Roman Catholic Church.

Conclusion

Now, this is subjective, and I don't offer it as proof. But, I listen to Catholic radio quite a bit when I'm driving. I have been doing this for years. I listen and learn. And one of the things that I've noticed is that those who are on Catholic radio (EWTN), are always talking about salvation found in their church, the Roman Catholic Church. Coming to Christ is rarely mentioned. But coming to "The Church" is frequently mentioned. In fact, I hear more about Mary and the Catholic Church's authority, than I do about Jesus. I hear them say that people need "to come home to the church." It isn't Jesus that they need to find. It's the church. Now again, this is subjective, but over the years it has become obvious to me that the adherents of Catholicism point to their church as the source of salvation and authority, rather than Christ. Because of this, as well as what the RCC says about itself, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church functions as an idol to many Catholics.

Citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Citations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be found at scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

  • CCC 85, "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."
  • CCC 88, "The Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these....."
  • CCC 119, "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgment. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God." But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me."
  • CCC 169 "Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation." Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.
  • CCC 553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The "power of the keys" designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: "Feed my sheep." The power to "bind and loose" connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.
  • CCC 816, "The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God."
  • CCC 846, "How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it."
  • CCC 868, "The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is "missionary of her very nature."
  • CCC 1129 "The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. The Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior."
  • CCC 1495 Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ."
  • CCC 1598 "The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men (viri), whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders."
  • CCC 2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice." The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.
  • 1.McKim, Donald K., The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded . Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
  • 2.Hardon, John. Catholic Dictionary: An Abridged and Updated Edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary (p. 218). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  • 3.Tertullian (c. 200, W), 3.62. Bercot, David W., editor. Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (p. 350). Hendrickson Pub. Kindle Edition.
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Repent. This is one of the first commands the Lord gives us in His ministry. This is also one of the first commands we will be sharing as we continue the challenge we offered out to our followers.

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Matthew 4:17

For those of you who missed our last broadcast HERE, towards the end, I issued a challenge to all the listeners to go back into the Gospel of Matthew and write down all the command and instructions Jesus gives, and think about how they can apply to your own life.

What is repentance and why is it important?

Repentance is one of the most important aspects of the Christian faith. One can not enter into the Kingdom of God without first repenting of their sins, and turning to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.

Sourced by Google

Repentance is not just a biblical idea, but in our human nature, we find moments in our life when we should do and must repent. This could be caused by an offense we may have committed on a loved one. Or even realizing our criminal actions, and the punishment that awaits us if we continue a life of crime.

It is the idea of feeling deep sorrow for our condition, and the desire to fix it or be free from it. Realizing that our own failures deserve a just response of discipline or resolve.

The bakers bible dictionary shares this...

The act of repudiating sin and returning to God. Implicit in this is sorrow over the evil that one has committed and a complete turnabout in one's spiritual direction: turning from idols - anything that pulls away the affection that we owe God - to God. (1 Samuel 7:3; 2 Chronicles 7:14, Isaiah 55:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, James 4:8-10).

Bakers Bible Dictionary

Repentance is more than just asking for forgiveness, it is more than deciding to go to church on a Sunday morning, it is more than just recognizing God as the creator. It is a complete turn around from an old sinful way of life.

What are the Elements of Repentance?

This is where it gets scholastic. How we can recognize if we have had a period of repentance can be viewed in this way...

  1. A recognition of one's sin, its damaging effects on life and nature, its affront to God's word and authority, and its dire consequences (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 3:23; 8:19-22; Revelation 21:8).
  2. Personal outrage and remorse over one's sin, grief at one's helplessness, and a deep longing for forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration.
  3. A personal response to God's grace in choosing a new spiritual direction by breaking with the past and returning to God. This includes confession and renunciation of sin, and prayer for God's forgiveness (Leviticus 5:5, Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9).
  4. In some circumstances, repentance may require restitution (Exodus 22:1-15; 1 Samuel 12:3; 2 Samuel 12:6; Luke 19:8).
  5. At its core, repentance is a rejection of the autonomous life and surrender of oneself to the lordship of Christ (Jeremiah 3:22; Mark 8:34-38)
  6. The proof of true repentance is the worthy fruit of a changed life (Luke 3:7-14; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 1:10).

If you have not gone through this process, this does not mean it is the end. In fact, this is just the beginning. Christ offers forgiveness to any and all people who would realize their sins and turn from them. If this is you, I would like to encourage you to take a moment to turn off any distractions, find a quiet place and process your sins to the Lord.

Faithful preaching is expositional, which means that it explains a biblical text in its context and applies the text to the hearers. There have been times, however, when I've heard expositional preaching that makes little or no mention of the Lord Jesus Christ (sadly, I've done this myself). If an unbeliever had been sitting among the hearers, he would not have heard enough of the gospel to be saved. Furthermore, saints would not have heard enough of Christ to move them to live and obey out of love for Him. Scripture teaches that every expository sermon should be Christ-centered.

  1. An expositional sermon, even from a New Testament text, without mentioning Christ except in an evangelistic appeal at the end.
  2. A sermon filled with illustrations and humor, while only nominally mentioning a text, or Jesus Christ Himself, occasionally.
  3. A "practical series" on marriage, joy, etc., without explaining how the person and work of Jesus Christ applies to marriage, joy, etc.
  4. A running commentary on a passage of Scripture without preaching Christ because He is not mentioned explicitly in the text. 

None of the above measures up to the Bible's requirement for preaching. Scripture gives us clear instructions about how to preach. Consider the following.

1. Our Lord Jesus and His Apostles practiced Christ-centered preaching. Every word our Lord uttered ultimately was about His own person and work as our prophet, priest, and king, even when He expounded Old Testament texts, which did not always mention Him explicitly. Christ's Apostles followed His example in their preaching. Every evangelistic sermon in Acts and every epistle was centered on Jesus Christ. The epistles were read to churches in their entirety, including the parts about Christ and the gospel. In every application of the epistles, there is always a reference to Christ, His person and His work. I am not saying that Jesus Christ was mentioned by name in every text of His preaching and the Apostles teaching. What I am saying is Christ was the foundation and goal in the proclamation of every word of God. 

2. The Bible mandates preaching Christ to unbelievers and believers.

First, it is clear that the Apostles preached Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to unbelievers (Acts 5:428:3511:20). Jesus was the center of their message. When Paul first came to Corinth to preach the gospel to the unconverted, he said, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). Jesus Christ was the substance of Paul's evangelistic preaching in Corinth. Peter also preached Christ on the day of Pentecost as well as in the other evangelistic messages of Acts (Acts 2; 10; 17).

Second, the Apostles preached Christ to believers. The Apostles constantly tied their rebukes, exhortations, and doctrinal instructions to the person and work of Christ, past, present, and future. It's impossible to read the epistles without seeing that the person and work of Jesus Christ is the center point of salvation and sanctification. To the Colossians, Paul described his preaching and teaching to Christians: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ" (Col 1:28). It takes little research to see how Paul tied his exhortations to the Corinthian Christians to the person and work of Christ for them. For instance, when warning against adultery, Paul said, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor 6:19-20). Paul based his warning against adultery on Christ's work. Christ Himself was the substance of Apostolic preaching, both to the unconverted and the converted. The Bible mandates Christ-centered preaching both to the unbeliever and believer.

3. The Bible mandates preaching Christ in every sermon from every text. In Genesis 3:15, Jesus Christ is declared the center of God's revelation to man. Adam represented all of his posterity and fell into sin, breaking the covenant of works, which required perfect obedience for life. But Jesus Christ, the last Adam, is the only mediator between God and man. Christ satisfied God's just wrath in the covenant of redemption and did what Adam failed to do. Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Lord of all who believe in Him. The Old Testament records the unfolding of the promise of redemption in Christ found in Genesis 3:15. And the New Testament reveals how Christ came to fulfill that first promise in Genesis 3:15. The Bible's own structure provides us with a theological mandate to preach Christ in all the Scriptures because both the Old Testament and the New Testament are theologically centered in Jesus Christ.

Preachers in the New Testament did not preach in the manner that has become customary to us. They did not take a text out of the New Testament, analyze it, expound it, and then apply it. What did they preach? They preached the great message that had been committed to them, the great body of gospel truth, the whole doctrine of salvation revealed from Genesis to Revelation. My argument is that this is what we should always be doing, though we do it through individual expositions of particular texts. That is the relationship between theology and preaching.

So, dear brothers, are you preaching the Lord Jesus Christ in every expository sermon? Could an unbeliever be saved through your exposition? Can a believer hear enough of Christ to be moved to love Him more and obey Him by faith working through love? May God help us to proclaim Him!

By
Fred A. Malone - Founders Ministries Blog

“That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (v. 30).- 1 Corinthians 11:27–34

The Lord’s Supper is the sign of Christ’s presence among His people and of their unity in Him. As Paul chastised the Corinthians for their factionalism, he called attention to the fact that by warring with one another, they were abusing the meaning of the central ritual of the church (1 Corinthians 10–11).

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