Leaving Laodicea
454 - God Responds to Repentance

454 - God Responds to Repentance

April 18, 2020

Another Sunday is upon us and the church is still having to figure out how to worship together while practicing self-distancing.  Awkward and uncomfortable, I know.  But I believe our choice to forgo our right to assemble and worship for the sake of the least of these (those who are at greater risk), is proper and prudent.  And I believe the Lord will honor the free sacrifice of our own rights for the sake of others.

With that said, the following message is from the first two chapters of the book of Joel.  In fact, as we go through Joel together, I think you'll be amazed and comforted at how the crisis in Joel's time (locust invasion) parallels the crisis we are facing as a church and a nation today.  For me, the most encouraging truth from Joel is the solution to their locust problem then is the same as the solution to our coronavirus problem now.  And that solution, as always, is repentance.

We will specifically focus on Joel 2:12-13, which reads:

"Now, therefore," says the LORD, "Turn to Me with all your heart, (how) with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning."  So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, (why) for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

Note, the first sentence is a statement by God.  The second is the application from Joel.  And Joel's words are timeless.  They are just as valid and true in his generation as they are today.  So take them to heart.


Two Truths About God from Joel

If you read the small book of Joel, you will discover there are two unchanging truths the Lord wants us to know about Himself.  It is almost like He is presenting these as an encouragement to His children when they go through trying times and He wants us to rest in these eternal truths.  The first one deals with God's sovereignty.

God is in control of all situations we may face - government intrusion, war, illness, heartache, financial ruin, swarming locusts and the coronavirus.  Name your catastrophe, it doesn't matter.  God is in control.

And the second one is even more encouraging.

God responds to repentance.  Always and forever.  Without fail.  No matter how horrible the sin that prompts the repentance.

Or, to put it another way, God loves us as least as much as the best human father we could imagine would love his children.  Howie Cunningham, Ward Cleaver, James Dobson, Andy Taylor, Carl Winslow, Philip Banks, you name it.  They are great fathers, maybe better than the ones you had as a child.  But God is off the charts!  Beyond comprehension.  So there is no comparison.  Period.

As we face an uncertain future, let's confidently hold fast to our certain God.  Rest in Him.  Trust Him.  Grow in a likeness to Him.  And when you do, you'll find His promises to be true.

My brethren (put your name here), count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (why) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4).

And remember, you are "complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10).

The following is a study on Repentance, Old Testament Style, as revealed in Joel 1-2.

449 - The Limitations of Apologetics

449 - The Limitations of Apologetics

February 18, 2020

As the Scriptures claim, one of the greatest signs of the end is the mass defection or apostasy from the Christian faith by those who once claimed to be believers.  Paul, in his letter to Timothy, warns that the "Spirit expressly says that (when) in latter times (who) some (what) will depart from the faith, (how) giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).  This great apostasy is characterized by a rebellion or revolt against God and His Word.  And it is promoted by those who once claimed Jesus as Lord but are now "giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."  Peter says "scoffers will come in the last days" (2 Peter 3:3-4).  Jude calls them "mockers" (Jude 17-19).

So what are we to do in the face of this great apostasy?  How do we answer skeptics when they demand we "prove our God exists?"  How do we defend our faith in the unseen God?  What are we to do?  Historically, the answer has been to study up on apologetics and be prepared to go toe to toe with those who demand answers from us void of faith.  But is that the real purpose of apologetics?  I'm not so sure.

For the message (or, preaching) of the cross is foolishness (mōría - folly, absurdity, moronic, stupid, senseless, foolhardy, insane) to (who) those who are perishing (or, being destroyed completely, to render void), but to (who) us who are being saved (to deliver, make whole, preserve safe from danger, loss, or destruction) it (the message of the cross) is the power (dúnamis) of God - 1 Corinthians 1:18.

Our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic to those who are perishing.  Period.  And apologetics won't change that fact.  Think about it, our God doesn't need defending.  He can take care of Himself.  And you cannot lead someone to Christ by logically answering all their questions about faith and the Scriptures to their satisfaction.  Why?  Because faith in Him is a gift from God and, before God imparts faith to the individual, the lost are incapable of believing the Gospel.  To them, our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic.

So, is apologetics important?  Absolutely.  But not necessarily in the way you think.


Apologetics

The purpose of apologetics is for you to have all your questions answered about God and salvation and to allow your faith to grow strong.  It is not for the direct benefit of the lost.  This is what 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 shows in graphic detail.  It has always been God's plan to thwart man's wisdom by revealing Himself through something man considers foolish.  He does this to bring to nothing the wisdom of this world and, in turn, exalt faith in Him as the key that opens the door of salvation.  Consider the following from 1 Corinthians 1:21-22:

Question:  Where is the wise (or, respected, learned philosophers and experts)?
Question:  Where is the scribe (or, writers, scholars)?
Question:  Where is the disputer (or, debater, reasoner, influencer) of this age?
Question:  Has not (who) God made (what) foolish the wisdom of this world (kósmos)
Answer:  Absolutely!

But why?

For since, in the (what) wisdom of God, the world through (its) wisdom did not know (ginōskō - or choose to know) God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached (foolishness to those who are perishing) to save those who believe (faith).

The reason for apologetics is for you to be secure in your faith and not necessarily to convince someone by the power of your arguments to receive Christ.  That is a sovereign act of God alone.  And prior to the impartation of faith in the elect, our most important argument is foolishness (stupid, ridiculous, moronic, insane) to those who are perishing.  Jesus never gave signs for others to believe in Him. So let me ask you just a few questions about your belief vs. God's wisdom.

  • Do you believe in the creation account in Genesis?
  • Do you believe in the virgin birth?
  • Do you believe in the floating ax head?
  • Do you believe in the lion’s den or the fiery furnace?
  • Do you believe in the fall of Jericho?
  • Do you believe a good God sometimes does things that don’t seem so good to us today?
  • Do you believe God rewards faith and punishes unbelief?

Are there parts of His Word that you don’t believe?  If so, you are on very dangerous ground.  Why?  Because Jesus said the deception in the last days would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24).  And that includes you and me.

As we see the day of His return approaching, it is vital to know what we believe to be true.  For help in securing your belief against apostasy, keep listening.

The following is a study on the Limitations of Apologetics as found in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

440 - Taking God at His Word

440 - Taking God at His Word

December 8, 2019

One of the attributes of becoming a Faith Prepper is learning how to trust God as His Word.  I know many of us will say that we do.  When pressed, almost all believers will state the mantra, "I believe everything God says, start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation."  After all, that's the expected answer.  To say anything less would make us seem like a lukewarm believer.

But the truth is, most believers, maybe ever you, don't truly take God's Word as the final authority in your life.  How can I say that?  Because God's Word speaks to just about every issue we face today yet the church seems to be divided up into various opinions that differ greatly from one another.  If God's Word doesn't change and is always true, how can that be?  If God's Word says something is wrong, for example, how can any believer who claims God's Word as the final authority in their life, have a different opinion than what the Word says?  It seems inconsistent, doesn't it?  Hypocritical.

As the adage goes, the Scriptures are true about everything it teaches.  And it teaches about everything.

To test whether God's Word molds your opinions or whether your opinions are determined independent of God's Word, I have listed a number of controversial issues below.  What is your opinion on these?  And whatever your opinion is, does it line up with the Word of God?  If it doesn't, who is wrong, and what are you prepared to do about it?


My Opinions

Let's see how you would answer the following:

  • Abortion - Does a woman have the right to end the life of her unborn child under any circumstances?
  • Homosexuality - Is it a sin? Or did God create people both heterosexual and homosexual?
  • Sex - Is premarital sex always a sin?  Always?
  • Divorce - Is it proper to divorce a spouse?
  • Education - Whose responsibility is it to educate our children? Or, is it proper to send our children to government (public) schools?
  • Tolerance - Is it true that Jesus never judged any one and neither should we as His followers?
  • Children - How many children should a family have?  Is birth control or family planning ever in God’s will?
  • Church - Should women be pastors?  Should women have leadership roles that involve men?
  • Friends - Should a believer have friends that are non-believers?  How close should they be?
  • Home - Should a man be a stay at home dad?  Or should a woman go to work outside the home and put the kids in daycare or public school?
  • Spiritual Leadership - Whose responsibility is the spiritual leadership in a family?  Father?  Mother? Church?  Someone else?
  • Environment - How concerned should a Christian be about the environment?  And what should they do about it?
  • Politics - Should a believer ever vote for a Democrat?  Should a believer ever vote for a Republican?  Should a believer vote at all?
  • Dating and Marriage - Should a believer ever marry an unbeliever?  Should they date an unbeliever?
  • Dating vs Courtship - Should a believer date at all?
  • Islam - How is a believer to view the god of Islam?
  • Drinking - Should a believer drink alcohol?
  • Entertainment - Should a believer watch or listen to media that includes profanity, nudity, or sex?  Should a believer watch or listen to media that promotes anything contrary to sound Biblical teaching?
  • Money - How much money should a believer accumulate?  And how much of their income should they give away?

How many of your opinions were just that, opinions?  How many of your views or convictions were based on Scripture?  And those that weren’t based on Scripture, does that bother you at all?  Are you willing to change?  Right now?  Today?  No matter the costs?

To find out more about becoming a Faith Prepper, keep listening.

The following is a study on Trusting God's Word and becoming a Faith Prepper.

429 - Signs of the End:  Deception

429 - Signs of the End: Deception

July 3, 2019

In this message, we begin a deep journey into the prophetic words of Christ found in Matthew 24.  Why?  Because we are truly living in the last of the last days and it would do us well to see what our Lord has to say about the events that precede His coming.  And we will especially look at the first sign Jesus told us would point to the beginning of the end, deception.  That's right, deception is planáō in the Greek and means "to cause to wander, to be led astray, to mislead, to seduce, to cause to err."  Or, simply put, good old-fashioned deception.

Which raises just a few questions.

How are we being deceived today?
And, if we are being deceived, how would we know?
Are there other places in the Scriptures that warn us against deception?
What kind of deception can we expect?
And what was the specific focus of the deception Jesus spoke about?


How Important is the Coming (and Present) Deception

To see how rampant deception is in our society, and as a sign of the end, look at how many times Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 24:

And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many." - Matthew 24:5.

"Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" - Matthew 24:11.

And how powerful will that deception be?

"For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" - Matthew 24:24.

Did you catch that?  If it were possible (and we know that it's not), even the elect, those chosen and sealed by Christ, would be deceived.  It's gonna be bad.


Who Do You Trust?

One final question regarding trust and deception.  Ask yourself this one question:  Who do you trust?  If you're honest, your answer may shock you.

Do you trust your government?
The media?  Hollywood?
Do you trust what you read in the news or on Facebook?
Do you trust what you are taught in school?
Do you trust our economic system in this country?
Do you trust the church?
The family?
Do you trust your friends or spouse?

There is so much more to talk about regarding deception.  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 24:1-4.

418 - What Happens When Our Prayers Go Unanswered

418 - What Happens When Our Prayers Go Unanswered

September 18, 2017

Some of the hardest questions in the Christian life have to do with God not answering our prayers— no matter how much we pray or how much faith we can collectively muster.  Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?  Why didn’t God do what I prayed He would do?  Why doesn’t God love me?  Because if He did, He would not have let happen what happened?  Where was God during my time of deepest need?  I prayed to God for ________ and it did not happen.

Which inevitably leads us to ask this:  Why God?  Is the problem with me?  Am I not doing enough to get my prayers answered?  Or is the problem with You?  Are You showing favorites and am I on the bottom of Your list?  What's the problem?  Help me understand this, God, because this is hurtful and doesn't make any sense.


You're Right, It Doesn't Make Much Sense

And the reason for that is our reliance on Cliff Note theology.  We grab a few Scriptures, usually out of context, and hold on to them like a life preserver vainly trying to get them to say something they don't.  Consider these:

1 John 5:14-15 - Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Did you notice something?  The key, according to this verse, is praying "according to His will."  When that happens, badda bing, badda boom, prayers get answered.  But when we ask for something not according to the will of God, all bets are off.  The answer will be, "Not today, not ever."

Matthew 18:19 - “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven."

First, this statement by our Lord has nothing to do with prayer, but with dealing with a sinning believer.  And even if it did give us a prescription for prayer, can two people agree for world peace and the end of all wars, and it be a guarantee from the Lord?  I think not.  Why?  Because God has already revealed to us that in the future we "will hear of wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6).  God has already spoken prophetic truth to us and won't violate His Word because of our prayers.

Do you want to know the reason God often doesn't answer our prayers?  Because the reason will change the way you look at God and prayer from this point forward.  If you want to know more, then keep listening.

The following is a study on prayer.

413 - The Importance of Baptism

413 - The Importance of Baptism

August 17, 2017

Baptism has fallen out of favor in the church today.  Many people are confused about baptism. And since there seems to be such a wide diversity of opinion about what baptism means and how important it is, many in the church have relegated it to an archaic, antiquated ritual and not much more.  And that is a grave mistake.  Why?  Because baptism is your first act of obedience as a Christian.

Many in the church who call themselves Christians have not been baptized according to the New Testament baptism.  That may include some of you who are listening to this podcast.  But think, if we are unfaithful to the first command of obedience to our Lord who saved us, it makes it much easier to disobey His other commands.  Does this describe you?

The question we ask today is why don't people get baptized?  And there are at least five reasons: ignorance, pride, indifference, rebellion, or because they are simply lost.  In this message we will look at each of these in detail.

Are you confused about baptism and why it seemed so important in New Testament times but not so much today?  If that describes you, then keep listening.

The following is a study on baptism.

390 - Sometimes History Hurts

390 - Sometimes History Hurts

March 12, 2017

When we try to determine the exact day that Jesus was crucified, either Friday or Wednesday, we come face to face with an ugly fact about the history of the church.  That ugly history shows the depth of the church’s hatred for the Jews during the first and second century, much like the church’s hatred of the Jews today.  Church councils were called to try to determine a uniform date for Easter in order for it to not correspond with the Jewish Passover (the 14th of Nisan), even if they are, in reality, intrinsically tied together.

For example, the Council of Nicea (325 BC) unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox (March and September); and if the full moon should occur on a Sunday, and thereby coincide with the Passover festival, Easter should be commemorated on the following Sunday.

Why try so hard to make sure no Christian festival corresponds to its Jewish counterpart, even if by accident?  Antisemitism.  But there’s so much more to this debate.  You have the two Passovers during the passion week, the rantings of Emperor Constantine, and the excommunication of the Quartodecimans.  Sound intriguing?  Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 19:31-37.

372 - The Myth of Biblical Objectivity

372 - The Myth of Biblical Objectivity

November 13, 2016

We all assume we are totally objective when it comes to things in the Scriptures.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

We often believe, not what the Scriptures say, but what we’ve been taught they say and why - all confirmed by our experience. In essence, the main reason we, as Bible-believing Christians, do not believe in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit is simply this: We have not seen nor experienced them.  And our theological traditions support our lack of belief in them.

These are the top three reasons much of the church in the West refuses to believe in the more miraculous gifts of the Spirit.

One, we have not personally seen nor experienced New Testament quality miracles in our Christian lives.
Two, we don’t see New Testament quality miracles in the later history of the church and they are not part of our theological traditions.
Three, we are repulsed by the misuse of those who claim to possess New Testament quality gifts of the Spirit in contemporary churches and healing movements.

But none of these are based on Scripture. They are based on personal experience.  Do you want to know the truth?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Spiritual Gifts found in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28, and Ephesians 4:11.

361 -  What is Truth?

361 - What is Truth?

September 1, 2016
Great question: "What is truth?"  It's the question Pilate asked Jesus and the same question our culture asks of the church today.  But there's more to that question than is readily apparent.  For example:

Is there such a thing as absolute truth?
And if so, what is that truth?
How do we know that absolute truth is absolute?
What about the changing times in which we live?
Does truth change to meet the culture?
Is truth living and active?  Does it evolve?
Why is truth for yesterday truth for today?
Doesn’t each generation need their own truth?

Jesus addressed these questions in His first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7.  Let's take a look at His answer together, shall we?

This is a study on Matthew 5:17.

355 - Can Jesus’ Words be Taken at Face Value?

355 - Can Jesus’ Words be Taken at Face Value?

July 13, 2016
When we look at the teachings of Jesus, there are a few questions we must, at some point, ask ourselves.  Consider the following:

Can Jesus’ words be taken at face value?
Does He really mean what He says?
And do the words of Jesus apply to me today?
All of them?  Or just part of them?
And how can I tell which do and which don’t?
Or, were His statements and promises meant only for those who lived in New Testament times?
And again, how can I tell?

The answer to these questions will have a profound impact on how you understand the Sixth Beatitude.  There Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, (why) for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:8.