Thursday, 28 February 2019

Why Doesn't My Church Teach Repentance?

There are many reasons for why churches don't teach repentance. I'll list a few of them here.

Popularity is one reason that churches don't teach the plain and simple fact that all humanity is doomed to hell. When Jesus called for total commitment to his teachings, he lost his fickle fans. John 6:66 (KJV) records, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."

Many churches also preach doctrines designed to feed the lusts of their congregants. In turn, they rake in large donations from their flocks. Titus 1:10 and 11 (BBE) reads, "For there are men who are not ruled by law; foolish talkers, false teachers, specially those of the circumcision, By whom some families have been completely overturned; who take money for teaching things which are not right; these will have to be stopped."

Some churches, like those of the Pentecostal denomination, are fixated on signs and wonders. They appear to believe that the purpose of spiritual gifts is to wow unbelievers. But Jesus said in Matthew 7:22 (BBE), "A great number will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, were we not prophets in your name, and did we not by your name send out evil spirits, and by your name do works of power?'"

Then there are those which don't hold that the Bible is infallible and inerrant. Jude 1:4 (KJV) warns, "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."

Some churches value human traditions on par or even more than the Bible. Look at what Colossians 2:8 (KJV) says. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

But no matter what these apostate denominations teach, God's word is true. That's why I'm working on a book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Biblical authority is paramount and overrules any notions of human wisdom.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Why Must We Persevere to the End?

I'm sure that some people thought they meant to be faithful to Christ when they "made a decision" but is that all there is to Christianity? By no means. New believers need discipleship so they won't turn back to their old way of life.

Jesus commanded  in Matthew 28:19 (KJV) that his disciples must, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"

We are also called to teach others what we were taught. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3 (KJV), "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;"

Additionally, we are continually tempted to sin. That's why James 1:12 (KJV) says, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."

We all need each other to encourage and help one another. Romans 14:19 (KJV) reads, "Let us therefore follow after the things which  make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."

But aren't we always saved? Yes, but sometimes we stray into sin. That's why Jesus said in Revelation 3:5 (KJV), "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

I could point out so many more encouraging verses but I'll save that for You Think You're Going to Heaven? My book will deal with perseverance and why we need to fight sin in our lives daily.

On Thursday, I'll deal with why churches are, for the most part, reluctant to preach repentance.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Saturday Song: Paul McCartney, "Teddy Boy"

One sad reality about our age is single parent families. Usually it's women who must bear the load of responsibility their husbands or boyfriends leave them. I haven't the time to look it up but studies have been done to determine the effect on children of one-parent families. They show that children do much better scholastically and economically when raised with both a mom and a dad.

Paul McCartney recorded a song on his first solo album about a boy and his mother trying to make a go of life after losing  a father and husband.

Listen to the song here.

I'm glad that the Bible has comfort for those who lack a dad in their lives and for women who lack husbands. Psalms 68:5 (KJV) is one reassuring verse. "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation."

Our Lord also provided for widows in the law which he gave to Israel. Deuteronomy 24:19 (KJV) instructed that some grain be left behind at the harvest. "When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands."

This act of charity also applied to other crops beside grain. Deuteronomy 24:20 (KJV) instructs, "When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow."

Widows also had protections built into the law. Look at what Exodus 22:22 (KJV) says. "Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child."

Even in the New Testament, believers were instructed to help less-fortunate folks. James 1:27 (KJV) says, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

Please feel free to comment on this song and what I wrote.

On Monday, I'll post about why Christians must stay faithful until they die or Christ returns. Some denominations teach that we're always saved so why strive to stay righteous? I'll answer that on Monday.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Is Repentance for Modern People?

One modern movement in Christendom is called the Emergent Church. It goes by other names as well. Its leaders believe they need to accommodate the worldly folks in order to bring them into church. Doctrine is frowned upon because it divides people. But that's exactly what it must do.

Repentance is the first step toward salvation. But instead of confessing and forsaking sin in order to follow Christ, they preach that everybody's all right as they are. This is absolutely wrong.

First of all, nobody is ever good enough. Isaiah 64:6 (KJV) states, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

No matter how "nice" somebody is, they need to see how wretched their minds are. As Luke 11:39 (KJV) reads, "And the Lord said unto him, 'Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.'"

Just as we need to clean our physical bodies, so must we, through trust in Christ's cleansing us from sin, be clean spiritually. As Paul wrote about former sinners in 1 Corinthians 6:11 (KJV), "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

And here is proof that salvation, including repentance and following Christ, is for all generations. Peter explained in Acts 2:39 (KJV), "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

So we see that nothing has changed about repentance. It was the same in the beginning and still applies today. I'll be writing more about this important step in our spiritual journey in You Think You're Going to Heaven? My book focuses solely on what Scripture says, not what people want it to say. Emergent folks are in the latter category but they're wrong.

Departing from the theme of repentance briefly, I'll post on Saturday about single mothers and the difficulty of remarriage. I'm sure you'll be touched by the song.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Why Doesn't My Receiving Jesus Count?

In many churches, people are invited to come to the front and pray to "receive Jesus" into their hearts. But what exactly does this mean? The answer might surprise you.

Following Christ isn't like following somebody on social media. It means, in the context of discipleship, that we learn Christ's teachings and obey him. We can't say, like one man said, that we'll follow later. As our Lord declared in Matthew 8:22 (KJV) to one man who wanted to attend a funeral, "But Jesus said unto him, 'Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.'"

Furthermore, following Christ can cost you. One disciple was a tax collector who could have been well off all his life. But we read in Matthew 9:9 (KJV) how he gave it all up. "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, 'Follow me.' And he arose, and followed him."

Being a disciple is a serious business. It could mean persecution or even martyrdom. Look at what Matthew 16:24 (KJV) states. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'"

When Jesus walked in Israel, he had many followers but they weren't genuine. Those folks just wanted free food and to make him an earthly king. So Jesus used metaphors to show them that they had to give him total allegiance. When the crowd left him, John 6:67 and 68 (BBE) records, "So Jesus said to the twelve, 'Have you a desire to go away?' Then Simon Peter gave this answer: 'Lord, to whom are we to go? you have the words of eternal life;'"

Jesus also warned the crowd in John 6:27 (KJV), "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed."

As we see in Matthew 6:24 (BBE), Jesus must be exclusively our Lord. "No man is able to be a servant to two masters: for he will have hate for the one and love for the other, or he will keep to one and have no respect for the other. You may not be servants of God and of wealth."

So merely ticking a box on a card or walking to the front of a church doesn't indicate salvation. We must learn his teachings and obey him daily. I'll emphasize this in my You Think You're Going to Heaven? Book. As Romans 10:10 (KJV) explains, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

On Thursday, I'll point out that repentance is for everybody and in every time throughout history.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Saturday Song: Elvis Costello, "Watching the Detectives"

I must admit that I enjoy songs which aren't about the joys and vicissitudes of love. This is a song about the coarse and often immoral world of detectives. The woman under suspicion also shows her callous side in this song as she files her nails while they're dragging the lake for a body or bodies.

Hear "Watching the Detectives" here.

So, how does a person become heartless? It comes from stifling one's conscience until it no longer afflicts one with guilt. Even professing Christians can become heartless. The Apostle Paul explained how this can happen in 1 Timothy 4:1-2 (KJV). "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"

This is an apt analogy. Once nerve endings in flesh are dead, pain can't be felt. Once the conscience has been cauterized, lying and other sins are only evaluated by such people for their effectiveness in getting them what they want. In Paul's example, it was for gaining a following. In other folks, sinning is their way of gaining power and riches.

How glad I am that God promised an end to this madness. Christ will return to crush Satan's rebellion totally. It can't happen too soon for me but people who haven't repented and given their lives over to Christ will wish they had more time.

If you enjoyed this song and what I wrote, please leave a comment in the box below. But if not, have a great weekend anyway.

On Monday, I'll post about why merely "receiving" Jesus isn't good enough to save sinners.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Why Repent Now?

I've heard quite a few folks say that they want to live it up now and "get religion" when they've had their fun. They assume that Christians live drab lives of unending and tedious rectitude. If only they could understand the joy of being in the family of Christ and the assurance of a home in heaven, they wouldn't say such things.

Consider what 1 Peter 1:8 (KJV) says about knowing Jesus personally, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:" That doesn't sound like drudgery to me.

We who have the assurance of eternal life with Christ also feel glad with, and about, one another. Look at what 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (KJV) says. "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"

Additionally, the result of belonging to Christ far outweighs any supposed benefit one can obtain from sin. Galatians 5:22 (KJV) reads, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,"

And contrary to popular belief, Christ wants us to be joyful. Look at what John 16:24 (KJV) says. "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

Even God, who some think is a grumpy old man intent upon ruining people's fun, wants us to be glad. Psalms 5:11 (KJV) declares, "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee."

So why wait for later when you can have all this joy today? Life on earth is so brief and we don't know the hour of our deaths until it happens. James 4:14 (KJV) warns, "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

Jesus could return at any time as well. After giving a parable about a householder returning from a long journey, he said in Mark 13:35 (KJV), "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:"

I'll examine this subject in greater depth in my next book called You Think You're going to Heaven? People think they have all their lives ahead of them when they could die today from so many different causes. I hope what I write will help encourage undecided people to choose life so they will live eternally.

I'll be posting on Saturday about people with hardened hearts. The song is by one of England's New Wave artists and my personal favourite.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Do Good Folks Need to Repent?

Many churchgoers automatically assume they're "good people" and they don't need to repent. I know this from personal experience. Until I gave my life to the Lord in 1969, I had never heard of repentance. Naturally, I thought I was all right.

The best example of a religious person being told he had to start all over was when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. John 3:3 (BBE) says, "Jesus said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, Without a new birth no man is able to see the kingdom of God.'"

Nicodemus was no ordinary ruler of the temple but the chief teacher. A man in his position had to be outwardly blameless. As our lord pointed out in John 3:10 (BBE), "And Jesus, answering, said, 'Are you the teacher of Israel and have no knowledge of these things?'"

At our physical births, we did nothing to cause it. We were just there when it happened. So it is with the spiritual birth. As a result, nobody who hasn't been transformed by repentance and following Christ can understand this truth. Paul wrote about this dichotomy in 1 Corinthians 2:14 (KJV). "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."

Furthermore, it was the Pharisees who gave Christ the most grief when he ministered on earth. His greatest complaint against them was their blockade of heaven to all who sought it. Look at what he said in Matthew 23:13 (KJV). "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."

False ministers are ever present in our midst, attempting to destroy the work of Christ. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:15 (BBE), "Be on the watch for false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inside they are cruel wolves."

But how are these wicked people able to mislead those who are mere churchgoers and not truly followers of Christ? Paul gave the answer in 2 Corinthians 11:14 (KJV). "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."

So we see that there are no "good" people, just those dead in sin and those alive in Christ. I'll be focusing on this division of humanity in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? People need to understand the peril they face by rejecting the gift of salvation in no uncertain terms.

On Thursday, I'll post about the need to repent now rather than when we're old. Many folks figure they'll live for decades when tonight might be their last.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Saturday Song: Inner Circle, "Bad Boys"

This is one of my favourite reggae songs. The American TV show, "Cops" used it as their theme song, an apt choice as far as I'm concerned.

I found the full length version of the tune on YouTube. Take a listen to it.

I'm glad that God is the ultimate police officer and judge combined. This saves us the trouble of seeking revenge on those who wronged us. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12:19 (KJV), "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

We couldn't take perfect revenge even if we tried. We only see a person's exterior so we don't understand why they did what they did. But Jeremiah 17:10 (KJV) quotes God as saying, "I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."

Furthermore, God always knows what people are up to. Revelation 20:12 (KJV) says, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

People figure God can't see them if they do their sins in secret. But Jesus tells us in Luke 8:17 (KJV), "For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad."

And as God spoke through his prophet in Jeremiah 23:24 (KJV), "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD."

What a relief it is that God will repay the crimes against us by the wicked. Does this song and what I wrote make you glad? Please let me know in the space below.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Why Must We Repent?

To understand this requirement for salvation, we need to consider that we're dealing with a perfectly holy being. Our sinful nature makes us incompatible with the Lord, just as filth is incompatible with cleanliness.

Sin is an affront to God, just  as slander or libel is an affront to an honest person. Unless we are made holy through Christ's imputed righteousness, we're rebels in the sight of the Almighty. This is why the Bible says in Joshua 24:19(KJV), "And Joshua said unto the people, 'Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.'"

Joshua said that because the people claimed they'd worship and remember the Lord for all the great things he did in freeing their parents from Egypt. But Joshua knew that their hearts were still wicked and that they would return to idolatry.

Repentance must start in the heart, that is, in a person's will. Just like the joke about the psychologist changing the light bulb, we must want to change.

A good example of this needing to change one's inner desires and beliefs is mentioned in Psalms 95:8 (KJV). "Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:"

In those instances, as well as in all times of testing, God is teaching us to depend upon him and trust him fully. Even when we suffer, we lean upon him. Paul knew whereof he spoke in 1 Timothy 4:10 (KJV). "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."

And as Peter, no stranger to suffering, wrote in 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV) about our Lord's love, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

Since God does care about us, why not rid ourselves of wickedness which offends him? Hebrews 12:14 (KJV) explains why. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"

So we who love the Lord must reject any sin, no matter how tempting it is to us. This is why I'm working on my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? If people really want to go there, they must know the entrance requirements.

On Saturday, I'll post about a song used on an American TV show called Cops and how it applies to us sinful humans.

Monday, 4 February 2019

What is Repentance?

This is a basic question but, sadly for most Christians, people have confused ideas about what repentance means. I hope I can clear it up with this and future blog posts this month.

In its simplest form, repentance means to change one's ways. Jesus, while arguing with the Pharisees about his outreach to unsaved people, explained in Matthew 9:13 (KJV), "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, 'I will have mercy, and not sacrifice:' for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

This quote from Mark 1:4 (KJV) sheds more light on what exactly repentance means. "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."

Neither is our pedigree any use when it comes to seeking forgiveness and foresaking sin. Luke 3:8 (KJV) quotes John the Baptist telling the Pharisees, "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, 'We have Abraham to our father:' for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."

This wonderful forgiveness of sin is granted to anybody and everybody who truly seeks it. Look at the joyful words of Acts 11:18 (KJV). "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, 'Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.'"

Repentance is a change of heart. As the Bible in Basic English renders Luke 15:7, "I say to you that even so there will be more joy in heaven when one sinner is turned away from his wrongdoing, than for ninety-nine good men, who have no need of a change of heart."

Additionally, the Apostle Paul explained in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (KJV) about the difference between godly and worldly sorrow. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."

How wonderful it is that God, who could easily vaporize the earth in his wrath, has rather given us the great privilege of forgiveness. Through Christ, we become part of his family and share in blessings way beyond numbering. This is what I'll be emphasizing in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? People need to know how magnanimous our Lord is and what they'll miss out on if they continue to refuse his astonishing gift.

On Thursday, I'll be posting about why we must repent. I touched on that a bit in this post but I want to go deeper into the matter.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Saturday Song: The Electric Light Orchestra, "Mission: A New World Record"

Being a science fiction fan, this song naturally appealed to me when I heard it in January of 1977. In it, an alien is sent to the planet Earth to be an observer. He takes up his position at a place called the Mission of the Sacred Heart and notes the unfortunate humans coming there.

Hear this beautiful song here.

To some folks, it seems like God is just sitting and watching the world go to hell. Because he permits all sorts of inequities to occur, they assume he doesn't care.

But we see that he does work in ways mysterious to the unsaved world. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV), "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."

Paul also mentioned this mystery in Colossians 1:27 (KJV), "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"

Additionally, we have a privilege which the prophets of old never had. Look at what 1 Peter 1:10 (KJV) reveals. "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:"

What a privilege being saved is! To the world, it's foolishness but to us it's the height of wisdom. No wonder Satan works so hard to keep the world blind to such a magnificent truth. They'd reject his lies if they only knew.

On Monday, I'll post about repentance and what the Bible says about this important step of Christian life.