James Thomas wrote: Thanks for the recommendation John. Although, nondenominational usually means its just a baptist church with a cool website.
It begs the question, James, What is a denomination?
Obviously you are opposed to denominations as unbiblical. You are opposed to apostolic succession. You believe in the autonomy of the local church. Great! So let's see how that works out when everyone gets on board.
In a certain district, there must only be one assembly of Christians, and they are the local church.
All the denominational churches within that district are to repent and disband: Methodist, Baptist, Presby, Adventist, RCC, Lutheran, Reformed, JW's, Church of God, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, and all the others.
All the people from those groups are to now attend the only biblical church in town, which Jesus is not ashamed to call "Brethren" Hebrews 2:11-12. So the church is called "The Brethren" in Biston, Florida.
Who chooses the overseer in that church? Is there to be a membership? Who has the right to preach and teach in that church? What do you do with people who claim to be Christian yet disagree on interpretation? Would you permit the mass and transubstantiation? How will you baptise converts?
Frank wrote: John, your comment was absolutely perfect and so discerning. Thanks for posting brother; it was a blessing to me.
Amen brother. It is my belief and contention that in the last days (which we seem to be in right now), the "accuser of the brethren" will make mincemeat of the church of Jesus Christ, and cause a great falling away, for lack of simple strategy in the warfare against the forces of darkness. Too often we are sloppy and fall fast asleep in the pew (figuratively speaking) and think ourselves mighty fine, our worship is fine, our doctrine is sound, and we have no need of any repentance; there is no need to be serious-minded or sober, or fight for our life, all is well.
The apostle was not so, as we can see from his exhortation below, which teaching I am determined to follow, by the grace of God.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 KJV)
Frank wrote: Good morning Pilgrim! The other day my wife and I took our grandson out to dinner. He is 27 and it was shocking, although I already knew, how little he actually thinks on his own. IOW, peer pressure is what drives him. His friends believe something and in order for them to stay his friends, has to believe the same things. Have a great day brother.
Good morning Stranger! And Alien!
What you say is too true. The programming is almost complete, and the zombies vainly imagine themselves clever dickies and sooooo modern. But it is the mind-control liberals who are the clever dickies, who run the humanoids from their high tech battlements. The sovereign Lord chooses to permit this, as it is all part of his overall plan of justice.
It always, without fail, causes me to pause and give thanks, for HIS great grace and mercy, which HE showers upon some, out of HIS own good will and purpose, without reference to anything within them, such as good works (which they have not) or faith in Jesus Christ (which they also have not) or repentance (in which they are not interested); yet they come to Christ as little lambs, believing on HIM and are SAVED - to the glory of God's amazing grace!
James Thomas wrote: But is it any different today where the doctrines of denominations dictate what God said as opposed to allowing Scripture alone to speak to those who are His?
James, I commend to you a nondenominational group of Christians, whose position is exactly what you just mentioned; find your nearest local one in Florida and check it out. They are called Brethren. And because all the brothers use only the Bible and not a commentary or creed, they can all minister the word during the Breaking of Bread assembly, because they all believe exactly the same, because they all use only the Bible. The Bible explains itself, so all you need is the Bible. A newly converted young man can minister the word of God at the Breaking of Bread because he is ministering a word not a creed; and God's word is easy to understand, whereas a creed or confession can take years to grapple with, being compiled by deep theologians and such like (John Owen for eg.), whereas the word of God is only given by inspiration of God, who, after all, is not much different to us, seeing as we are made in his image, and we have the mind of Christ. And so on, and so forth.
In John 3:5-8, Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus what being born again is all about, it is Spirit giving birth to spirit. It is spiritual life on top of physical life. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in a sinner's heart. Nicodemus ought to have known all about this, but...
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? (John 3:9-10 KJV)
Jesus proves that he ought to have known these things from scripture by his reproof. After all, an ordinary man called Simeon, observing a father, mother and baby together at the Temple, proclaimed the baby to be the Christ, the Messiah. How so? He was a born again man, full of the Holy Ghost, and with revelations from God the Father.
If an ordinary man knew these things, Nicodemus ought to have known more, being a teacher of Israel. But he was dead, spiritually dead. He could not understand these things of the Spirit, because they need to be spiritually discerned.
It is the same today. Many, many souls, multitudes of them, profess faith in God, some even are teachers, but they are not born again; they are clouds without water. They have the words but no experience. Dead! Dead! Dead!
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (John 3:4 KJV)
Nicodemus is puzzled, this is a great puzzlement to him.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 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. (1 Corinthians 2:13-14 KJV)
However, we can gain something from these words of his. Firstly, he is old. He thinks of himself when he asks, "How can a man be born when he is old?" It is foolishness to him, he can't make head nor tail of it. He is a natural man, and an old man at that. Surely this shows us how patient God is with people, and we must needs also be patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Is God waiting for something?
Not at all, he knows what he does, even if man does not. Nicodemus is chosen as per Ephesians 1:3-6. And God will bring him to new birth after Jesus has taught him about it. Just as faith is authored by Jesus himself.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 KJV)
Ah, what a bombshell for Nicodemus. He was a great teacher in Israel, well respected, a member of the Sanhedrin, a descendent of Abraham, a believer of sorts (because he saw the miracles of Jesus), a Pharisee (who were regarded highly in ecclesiastical circles), and he called Jesus "Rabbi".
BTW, God already saw him as one of his elect, because it was God who had chosen him to salvation, and God has been very patient with Nicodemus through all the years of him teaching incorrectly. God's patience and longsuffering is oftentimes of a greater magnitude than that of mortal man, even those with a doctorate.
Now, at last, God, in his Son, is showing to Nicodemus the truth. It is truth he knows nothing about; he is totally ignorant of the new birth, even though as a teacher he ought to have known it, and he ought to have been teaching it to others.
Herein is the sovereignty of God, concerning when is the right time for revelation, quickening, conviction and conversion. Always we must keep in step with the Spirit, and hope for conversion as we witness.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:1-2 KJV)
Now here is a remarkable thing. A Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus, a man who is part of the Sanhedrin and high up in ecclesiastical circles, is coming to visit Jesus at night. For secrecy. He wants instruction, but he doesn't want his peers to know he is seeking it from Jesus.
Nicodemus is very respectful towards Jesus, calling him Rabbi, acknowledging that he is a teacher come from God. He has accepted the miracles which Jesus had already done (John 2:23 possibly) and claims that if God was not with him, he could never have done those things.
The Jews were awaiting Messiah, and one thing expected of Messiah was the working of miracles.
It sure looks as though Nicodemus was a believer already. For sure, something is happening within him, which is not happening to the others in the Sanhedrin. Is Nicodemus one of God's elect? Sure looks like it.
He has made a good start to the convo between himself and the Lord.
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. (Romans 9:21-26 KJV)
The useage of the potter, who makes pots from clay, just as he wishes, to do with as he desires, or break up as he determines, by his own will, not the will of the pot, which has no will, being an inanimate object, is very apt, and shows us the sovereignty of God over his creation, including his goodness and mercy in them that are redeemed and brought to salvation, and justice in them that perish because their sins.
Next post will return to Nicodemus and new birth. Later...
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:18-21 KJV)
Paul anticipates more grumbling at God.
It is most unwise to grumble at God. Study Job for an example of non-grumbling.
What does Paul see as coming as a result of what God is saying here?
He sees people accusing God of unfairness, in this way: "Look, you are having mercy on some, and hardening others! How can you then find fault with them? Your will is being done, is it not? Most unfair!"
Paul tells them how stupid they are, as created beings, for accusing their Creator. Then he uses the illustration of a potter at his wheel.
The potter has a lump of clay which he divides into two identical pieces. From one piece he will throw a pot to be nicely displayed in his kitchen. From the other piece he will throw a rough pot which he will use for target practice. His choice, not the pot's.
The other alternative, and one which I am sure many genuine Christians have experienced or are experiencing, is one for which I can empathise, and I do so most sincerely.
One who is born again has a definite love of God's word, and finds in it both milk in the early stages, and then meat later on, when able to digest the deeper things.
Those who can study it without distraction, will inevitably observe the biblical doctrines of free and sovereign grace. Now different Christians will react differently, but because the old man is arminist and humanist by nature, a fairly new Christian may find this discovery rather perturbing, even distasteful. He may even entertain bad thoughts about God, about his character, his ways, his dealings. Yet he does not deny the things he is learning, rather his love for God may decrease for a while.
It is at such a time, that he needs assistance, and to be shown the truth in a better light. He needs to arrive at a position where he can say without doubting, that "God is good". Once this revelation is firmly rooted in his mind, all else will spring from this base, and he will no more have any problem with the sovereignty of God or the way he deals with men.
There is an alternative to accusing God and branding him as a sinner, and this alternative is made use of by a great number of people. It is simply to wrest scripture, misinterpret scripture, deny scripture, and thereby produce a God whom they can worship, if worship is the correct word.
It is a technique used by every cult and false church. In many cases their motto is, "Yea, hath God said?" which reveals to the remnant the source of their religion.
For example, certain cult leaders were brought up in Christian families, but hated the very thought of eternal punishment in hellfire. So instead of dealing with this matter, they simply began a new religion which claimed annihilation instead of everlasting punishment. This may have helped them to sleep at night, but where are they now? They are eternally tormented in that very lake of fire they were determined to eradicate from Christian doctrine. The God which they produced, and which would never eternally punish anyone, they eventually met at death and heard those awful words, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his disciples."
God is a sovereign God, and his word is true. Men wrest it at their own peril, and they need to be warned.
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Romans 9:13-16 KJV)
Some will say (anticipated by the apostle), "What a terrible God! He loves some and hates others, even before they have come forth from the womb!"
They say, "God is unrighteous!"
To be unrighteous is to be a sinner. And these wicked people are accusing God of being a sinner.
Such hatred, such pride, such self-righteousness. Little wonder that they shall experience the torments of hell, the blackest of darkness. They rebel as a pot against the potter, the creature against their Creator, the sinner against the Perfect Being.
God shows mercy to some, and they say that God is being unfair to the others. God has compassion on some, and they accuse God of favouritism. They shake their fist at God, as though he will not hurt them. But he will hurt them. Their understanding of God is warped, unbiblical. They have been deceived and their will cannot save them.
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (Romans 9:14 KJV)
This is a slight break in the passage, because Paul knows for sure that there will be some who will accuse God of unrighteousness, and he wants to address them and show them where they go wrong. And very wrong it is, to accuse God of sin. What!?
Paul's question and his desire to put the record straight, proves that some of the things he is saying will enrage his hearers, in just the same way that some of the things Jesus said enraged his hearers, such as telling some of Abram's descendents that they were not Abram's children.
Is the Bible God's word? Sure. So that what Paul says, is what God says. Okay, so what is God saying that could enrage someone so much that they accuse God of sin?
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; (Romans 9:11 KJV)
It is self-explanatory, showing that God loved one and not the other, irrespective of their future life, purely by his choice and election, with no reference to their works or faith.
Some hate that, and so they hate God and refer to him as a sinner.
Just as an aside, before I focus all my attention on working out James 1:27 in practice, which thing I love doing, here is Paul showing us some of the key components of what is known today as humanism, which in part is a hatred of God because of his sovereignty.
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:14-21 KJV)
God saves souls whom he calls. These were predestinated, as it says in Romans 8:30.
Some of those he saves he calls to be preachers (by his choice not their's). Romans 10:14-15.
God has already chosen from eternity whom he will save and what their giftings in the church are to be.
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 KJV)
The design of the gospel is not so that God can sit back and watch for any who will call upon him, because he knows that "there is none that seeketh after God".
The humanist's god is at the beck and call of sinful men, and he must do their will. The humanist hates the living God and seeks to demote him, while all the time exalting mankind.
The end of the humanist is to eventually appear before the true God of the Bible.
A humanist CAN be saved, but only if they are elect, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
I would estimate that most humanists will perish in their sins.
Is there a difference between Jew and Gentile. No, certainly not.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:12-13 KJV)
It is the same Lord Jesus Christ who is over all, and he is "rich unto all that call upon him". God says that "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved".
What does this mean?
It means that God is willing and able to save all that cry out to him.
However, do not imagine that God has done all needful, and is now sitting back, waiting in anticipation for sinners to take him up on his offer, so that he will give eternal life to those sinners who believe. Not at all. Why not? Because by nature "there is none that seeketh after God".
So mankind is in a very severe predicament. No-one will seek after God, therefore no-one will get saved. That's the way of it. And God knows that. And he has made provision for that.
If "by nature" man will not seek after God, the obvious thing is to "change his nature" so that man WILL seek after God. And God will do that WITHOUT man's permission.
And for that, humanists hate God. And Christians love him.
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:9-12 KJV)
Paul here is making some bold assertions, and he uses verses from the OT in support of what he claims, that all (both Jews and Gentiles) are under sin, all are unrighteous, all do not understand, all do not seek God, etc. I have put the context into a paragraph style to show this most clearly, and the passages in the OT are found in Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3.
This is the state of man by nature.
But every day, men are seeking the Lord, so why does it say, "there is none that seeketh after God"?
Ah, foolish man, there is no-one who seeks God by his own nature. But once by spiritual revelation a man sees his terrible state, that he is a sinner under God's wrath, hell-bound, then he will tremble and shake, considering the darkness and the "worm that dieth not".