Category: Defending the Faith

Apostle’s Creed (Our Essential Creed)

Apostle’s Creed (Our Essential Creed)

Below, you will find the foundational statement of faith of all Reformed Christians. Officially codified in AD 390, this is a concise statement on the essentials of Christian Orthodoxy.

 

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

The third day he rose again from the dead:

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

I believe in the Holy Ghost:

I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

The forgiveness of sins:

The resurrection of the body:

And the life everlasting. Amen.

Cardinal Doctrines: the Non-negotiables of Our Faith

Cardinal Doctrines: the Non-negotiables of Our Faith

Our Foundations of Doctrine series laid out foundational doctrines for the Christian faith. We find it needful to expand upon that and to lay out 9 Cardinal Doctrines of True Churches: the Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, Original Sin, Salvation by Grace, Salvation by Christ Alone, The Resurrection, Monotheism, the Holy Trinity, and the Gospel. 

These are not only foundational teachings but they are doctrines that cannot be negotiated upon as being requisite for the Christian Faith. These particular doctrines, in fact, are so important that they transcend denominations. A repudiation of any of these doctrines is considered anathema to Biblical Christianity. That may sound harsh but, given the widespread nature of false teaching, we must encourage Christians to take a firm stand.

We hope the coming series will be helpful to you. To begin, here is a summary

The Deity of Christ

John 8:24, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”

This is where Jesus clearly taught what you cannot deny and you must affirm.

Jesus is God in flesh (John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14). See also John 1:1, 14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8

Salvation by Grace

“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Gal. 5:4).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Both these verses show salvation is by grace through faith and not by works, and that to add works is to not be saved.

The Resurrection of Christ

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith,” (1 Cor. 15:14). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17).

These verses clearly state that if you say that Jesus did not rise from the dead in the same body He died in as he prophesied in John 2:19-21, then your faith is useless.

The Gospel

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:8-9, NIV).

1 Cor. 15:1-4 defines what the gospel is: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Monotheism

There is only one God (Exodus 20:3; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8)

“You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  (Exodus 20:3-6).

Jesus is the only way to salvation

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'” (John 14:6)

Jesus declared that he was the only access to God the Father.  To deny this is to deny what Jesus said.

Jesus’ virgin birth

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” (Matt. 1:23).

Without the virgin birth, we cannot substantiate the doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus being God in flesh.  This would put at risk what Jesus said above in John 8:24 where he said, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”

Doctrine of the Trinity

Matt. 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”  (See also, Matt. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6.)

This doctrine is not represented by a single verse per se though it is hinted at.  The doctrine of the Trinity is arrived at systematically by looking at the totality of Scripture.  It is, nevertheless, the proper representation of scriptural revelation concerning the nature of God.

Original Sin

 Sin is not just murder, rape, or robbery. “Sin” is a word that describes any thought, word, deed, or state of being that fails to meet God’s standard of holiness and perfection. The Bible unambiguously proclaims that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). While the notion of generational curses and spirits is foreign to the text of Scripture, there is a sense in which all people are cursed as a result of an ancestor’s sin. Adam’s rebellion brought death to us all and tainted every aspect of our being (Genesis 3; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; cf. Ephesians 2:3). God, however, has provided redemption through the atoning work of the “Second Adam,” Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12–21).

We will go into more detail in coming lessons. Until next time, Grace to you.

 

Inspecting the Fruit (Are you really saved?)

Inspecting the Fruit (Are you really saved?)

Are you really a Disciple of Jesus? Can you prove it? Your answer to the questions, below, will help you to examine your fruit and ensure that you really are saved…

 

  • Do you have a lack of passion / desire for God?
  • Do you have a distaste for the Bible?
  • Do you find yourself constantly lacking passion for the local church?
  • Do you constantly find yourself angry with the preaching of God’s Word?
  • Do you have a greater passion and desire for your job or other worldly things than you do for God?
  • Do you find yourself entertained and passionate about the things that God hates?
  • Do you have a lack of love for the things that God loves?
  • Is learning the Bible and things about God boring to you?
  • Do you find it easier to spend money on yourself or to buy worldly things rather than investing it in ministry and missions through your local church?
  • Is your mouth full of gossip and does your heart find joy in rumors and other negative stories about others?
  • Do you spend more time criticizing your pastors than you do praying for them?
  • Do you have a rebellious attitude towards pastoral leadership and a resistance to authority?
  • Do you find yourself doubting your salvation at times only to escape such thoughts by reminding yourself that you once prayed “the sinner’s prayer” and stood before a congregation while making a public commitment of your faith?
  • Do you constantly find yourself looking for something more exciting in your worship service that will please you and satisfy you because the preaching and singing of the gospel isn’t enough?
  • Do you perpetually miss the observance of the Lord’s Supper and it doesn’t seem to matter too much to you?
  • Do you have a lack of desire to pray?
  • Do you have a lack of urgency in sharing the gospel with unbelievers?
  • If asked, would you be able to explain the gospel?
  • Do you believe that it’s possible to please God by doing good deeds?

 

If you find yourself discouraged by your answers, all is not lost. Email the ministry and we will help you to correct the problem.

There’s a Wolf in the House: Signs of Apostasy

There’s a Wolf in the House: Signs of Apostasy

Actually, there are many wolves in the house, alleged teachers who intentionally teach heresy which attempts to rob Christ of the glory due Him.

Matthew 10:16
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves…

As we explore the truth of Scripture, it is important to recognize the marks of an apostate, a person who at one time knew and maybe even taught the truths of the Bible but walked away. Jude, the Lord’s youngest human brother, points out several signs of an apostate. (This is not a total exposition of the entire book but covers the essentials)

Jude
1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

1 Ungodly (v. 4)
When the New Testament writers say that a person is ungodly, it does not simply mean that the person does not know God, it also means that the do not have character that is consistent with the revealed Person and Nature of God.

2 Morally perverted (v. 4)
In the NIV, promiscuity is translated as license to commit immorality. Among other things these apostates teach that there is no need to struggle to overcome sin. The Greek word rendered as contend, or contend earnestly (NKV, NASB) is agonizomai from which we derive the word agonize. Because our sinful nature will not easily be transformed into Christlikeness, it can seem agonizing, at times to give up that sin in order to be more like Christ.

Many, many apostates teach instead that God will give you all the things you want: health, wealth, posessions, influence, etc and all you have to do is “sow the best offering that you can” without any call to true repentence or humility. These ignore the command of Jesus to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). One of these so called teachers has even gone so far as to say that anyone who tells you to deny yourself is a messenger of Satan.

In truth, you do not even have to teach grace as license to sin however you please to turn grace into license, all you have to do is refuse to teach the truth of God’s grace, that it saves you from sin and its power not simply that it saves you from hell. And just in case you were going to object and say that such things are not perverted, the definition of perverse is something that is contrary to the generally accepted standard or practice. Since the Bible is our standard, anything contradicting the Bible or anything taught in the pulpit that does not match Scripture is, by definition, perverted.

 

3 Deny Christ (v. 4)
Ultimately, this leads to a denial of Christ; the Jesus taught and embraced by the apostates simply is not the Jesus of the Bible.

5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

4 Defile the flesh (v.7& 8)
As we are seeing today, apostates defile the flesh in ungodly and

unbiblical ways. Some of my evangelical brethren will immediately point to homosexuality but what about other sins: drunkenness, gluttony (I think I have only heard one sermon on gluttony in 25 years), fornication, domestic violence (yes the Bible actually addresses this topic which I have never in my life heard addressed in the pulpit).

Defiling the flesh refers primarily to sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18) which is a sin against one’s own body. Remember that Jude’s oldest half-brother, the Lord Jesus Himself, even went so far as to equate contemplating the sin with the actual sin itself (Matthew 5:27-28). When is the last time you heard a sermon about sexual lust (lust of the flesh), greed (lust of the eyes), or counteracting the boastful pride of life by being poor in spirit.

5 Rebellious (v. 8)
By not teaching what the Bible actually says, these apostates live in and encourage rebellion in others. A pastor once told me that 1% out of submission is equal to being 100% in rebellion against God. To deny a doctrine, the reality of hell for example (Rob Bell) and to teach that denial to others is absolute rebellion against God. To refuse to yield to the Authority of Scripture is to refuse to yield to the Author. They go hand in hand; authority entails submission .

6 Revile holy angels (v. 8)
This is a mark against many Pentecostals if I ever saw one. Growing up Pentecostal, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen pastors “bind” satan or command him to do this or that; both of which are patently absurd. If Michael, the highest angel (archangel means chief angel) dares not speak against the devil, what in the world possesses a “Christian” to do so?

7 Ignorant (v. 8)
The behavior we have discussed so far demonstrates and

absolute willful ignorance of both the Things of God and His Person. To know Him as He is is to submit to Him.

8 Having vain ideas (vs. 8-10)
Continuing with the idea of ignorance, apostates have vain/foolish ideas. Word of Faith teachers, for example, tell you that you can name and claim your promise from Scripture and activate a response from God based on your faith. This is hubris and is no different than the idea of “binding satan.” I have heard them justify this nonsense by saying all the promises of God are yea and amen. That is only half the truth and is therefore not the truth. All of God’s promises are yea and amen but only in so far as to the person(s) they apply to. I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you is a very true promise but it only applies to the Nation of Israel for that is whom God made the promise to.

It is utter vanity and foolishness to presume anything upon Him Who sits upon the Throne

9 Self-destruction (v. 10)
What is the natural end result of apostasy? Self-destruction. God does not have to directly do anything to these, all He has to do is say to them, “thy will be done” and step aside. How many ministries have been damaged and even destroyed by ministers who thought they could get away with this or that? I would list names but that is impractical.

I can say from personal experience, getting your own way can be deadly, to your soul as well as your body. After all there is a way which seemeth right unto a man and the end thereof is destruction. (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25)

11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for

reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

1 Grumblers (v. 16)
2 Fault finders (v. 16)
3 Self seeking (v. 16)
4 Arrogant speakers (v. 16)

5 Flatterers (v. 16)
I will deal with all of these together: they are person centric and

reflect the oldest sin in the book, pride. Pride is that sin which caused Lucifer to lose his place in heaven and it will do you the same favor. Pride looks at another, finds his/her deficiency and then exalts self because you don’t have that particular deficiency. It causes one to puff up and think of oneself more than he/she really is. Pride, the oldest known sin, is the truest and surest mark of the apostate. No matter what other signs you see, the Christian that demonstrates pride is on treacherous ground and in real danger of going where one does not want to be, apostasy.

17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

5 Mockers (v. 18)
2 Peter 3:4, They will say where is the promise of His coming. I would add to that, they will say things like no serious Christian believes in Hell or, no loving, tolerant Christian rejects gays, or they will dismiss the creation account as a myth/a metaphor. Mark it out, every single apostate has some passage or doctrine that he does not like and by dismissing it, they make a mockery of God…for now.

19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

6 Cause division (v. 19) 7 Worldly minded, 8 Without the Spirit(v. 19)

 

Apostates cause division in the church because they are worldly minded and they are worldly minded because they do not have the Holy Spirit and they do not have the Holy Spirit because they are worldly minded.

It’s a vicious cycle once you walk away from the truth of Scripture and only the Holy Spirit can bring you back.

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Beloved, these are wicked days in which we live. (I personally believe the End of Days is nearer now than ever before.) We, therefore, must guard our hearts and ground ourselves on the sure word of Scripture so that we may stand our ground. The old

hymn says it best:

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the Throne

May mercy, grace, and peace be multiplied unto you. Amen.

Chosen for Salvation

Chosen for Salvation

There is a teaching, which I have come to embrace, that may well be the most divisive in the church, that of Unconditional Sovereign Election or as I call it, being chosen for salvation. On both sides of the soteriological coin, we see that God chooses some to be saved from wrath and damnation, so that is not debated. What is debated however, are the twin doctrines of election and grace. I would like to look, briefly at these…

The Belgic Confession teaches us:

  1. Of Eternal Election

We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just: Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.

The Scriptures Declare:

  • II Thessalonians 2:13: God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
  • Matthew 24:24: There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
  • Matthew 24:31: And they (the angels) shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
  • Mark 13:20: For the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened those days (at the destruction of Jerusalem).
  • I Thessalonians 1:4: Knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election.
  • Romans 11:7: The elect obtained it, and the rest were hardened.
  • I Timothy 5:21: I charge thee in the sight of God, and Jesus Christ, and the elect angels.
  • Romans 8:33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?
  • Romans 11:5: (In comparison with Elijah’s time) Even so at the present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
  • II Timothy 2:10: I endure all things for the elect’s sake.
  • Titus 1:1: Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect.
  • I Peter 1:1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect.
  • I Peter 5:13: She that is in Babylon, elect together with you.
  • I Peter 2:9: But ye are an elect race.
  • I Thessalonians 5:9: For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Acts 13:48: And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
  • John 17:9: I (Jesus) pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me; for they are thine.
  • John 6:37: All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me.
  • John 6:65: No man can come unto me except it be given unto him of the Father.
  • John 13:18: I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen.
  • John 15:16: Ye did not choose me, but I chose you.
  • Ps 105:6: Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones.
  • Rom. 9:23: Vessels of mercy, which He afore prepared unto glory.

Further…

Ephesians 1:3-15

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

 

Romans 9:11-14

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

I almost feel like commenting further would be to presume upon the Scripture as if I, who am less than the least of the righteous, could add anything to the Word of the Lord. On many occasions, I have heard Dr. Sproul say that the question should not be “Is Jesus the only way? or Why is Jesus the only way? but that the question, rather, ought to be, “Why should there be any way of salvation at all?” I would say the same of election. It is no marvel that God should save some and allow others to be damned; it is a marvel that He should save any at all.

We believe and teach that man is totally depraved and unable to choose to do right; in our flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18), there is none who does what is right on his own (Romans 3:10). In Isaiah 64:6 we see that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Now let me be blunt; that is the very cleaned up version that you will see in your Bible. What it actually says is that all our righteousness is like menstrual cloths, not a pretty thing to think about. We are, basically, hopeless and helpless. But…

“God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have chosen to save all men (He certainly has the power and authority to do so), and He could have chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10-24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8).” {gotquestions.org}

I would be a first rate liar if I said this wasn’t difficult, especially since I am fairly certain that some people, who were very close to me in life, were most probably not elect. Being absolutely 100% honest with you, beloved, I have not a clue why God saves some and not others; neither do I have even the tiniest fraction of a clue how He decided whom He would elect. There are certain things which God keeps only to Himself and, while we may someday get a clue and understand why He allows things to be thus and so, we sometimes must do what is, honestly, difficult sometimes and that is to trust that the Holy God knows exactly what He is doing and will get the glory due Him alone.

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