John 3:18… Already Condemned?

Innocent until proven guilty.

That is one of our favorite clichés in the American system of justice.  Too bad it fits into the social media category #thingsjesusneversaid.

As in… there will be a judgement at the end of this age, the sinner will be on trial and considered innocent until the plethora of sins, misdeeds and crimes will be presented, and only then will he be judged and condemned.  Too bad that is not biblical.

In a twist that only a God who foreknows future events and who actually ordains them, John 3:18 reveals a shocking statement:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Condemned already?

This verse poses two problems for the humanists who criticize biblical faith

1. It tells us that there is only one way to avoid eternal judgement.  There is only one way to avoid condemnation at the final judgement in front of the white throne: to believe in Jesus Christ now.  Such concept runs against the inclusivity of today’s modern humanistic thought.  The world hates us because we are an exclusive faith.  There are no multiple ways to heaven.  There is one Way and His name is Jesus Christ

2. Future condemnation is foreordained for those who do not believe.  How is it possible to condemn someone before his sins are even judged? They ask this question because they do not know God.  They do not acknowledge His infinite and timeless attributes.  At any point of our earthly time dimension, God knows all facts and events… past, present, future.  God reserves the right to condemn an unbeliever even before he commits sin. Understanding and believing such attributes makes sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” all the more effective.

 The message of the Gospel is best news for those who believe it and the worst news for those who do not.  Condemnation to hell, as abrasive as it sounds not only in the world, but even in lukewarm churches, must be part of any Gospel presentation.  Without it the Gospel is incomplete which makes the Gospel a false gospel.

Eternity has been sealed.  

Believers in Christ and His atoning work stand redeemed, and those who will not believe have already been condemned.

Humanity Knows Truth

Just because unregenerate humanity suppresses the truth, that does not mean that they do not know the truth, at least on some level.

Apostle Paul makes reference to pagan Greek poets who make truthful statements in their writings, and their words will forever be found in God’s word.  Paul makes it clear that people who do not know God have a basic understanding about Him.

God has placed the longing for eternity in our hearts, and He has revealed Himself to every person in a general way. Everyone sees His majesty in creation, and everyone knows that there is something wrong with humanity and creation in general.

Take for example the following lyrics from the anger-driven rock band Linkin Park (I advise youth to not listen to this genre of music):

“I don’t know what’s worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream.
I don’t know why I instigate
And say what I don’t mean.
I don’t know how I got this way
I know it’s not alright.
I’m breaking the habit tonight”

In medicine we deal with symptoms which lead to a diagnosis and then a solution.

These lyrics provide the symptoms of a serious problem, but they do not provide the diagnosis nor the solution for this problem. These are the symptoms of the corruption sustained by humanity as a result of original sin. Everyone knows that humanity “it’s not alright,” but not everyone is willing to accept the reason why we do evil acts and the reason for the existence of death.

Paul tells us the diagnosis in Romans 5:12

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”

And he tells us the solution in Romans 5:18-19

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

Paul is of course talking about the sacrifice of Christ in place of sinners who believe in Him.

It is not enough to know that we are “not alright.”  That is the first step in acknowledging a fundamental truth, but it must be followed by two other steps: accepting the diagnosis of sin and embracing the solution.

The solution is none other than Jesus Christ.

In Him we receive righteousness by justification!

How to Evangelize When Challenged by Unbelievers

In my post yesterday (here) I advocated an approach to evangelism which tackles the sinfulness of man head-on, and challenges the unbeliever to see and explain his depravity, and therefore see his need for a Savior.

A more systematic way of applying this concept was developed by the Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron team from The Way of the Master.  It is a brilliant way to target the sinner’s depravity and get him to admit it.

Ray Comfort developed an acronym based on four questions WDJD (described here)

Would you consider yourself a good person?

Do you think you have kept the Ten Commandments?

Judgment by the Ten Commandments: If you were judged based on those 10 commandments, would you be guilty or innocent?

Destiny: do you think you will go to heaven or hell?

A typical conversation starts with the presentation of a “little” sin like lying or cursing using God’s name.

Have you ever lied?  Have you ever taken God’s name in vain?  Have you ever lusted in your heart, or have you ever committed adultery in your heart?

The sinner will say yes. The admission of guilt is the first step in Redemption, and this is one of the strengths of Comfort’s system.

The system concentrates on the unbeliever’s sin and his admission that an action like lying is wrong.  Once the sinner admits he has lied, he is presented with the concept of a holy and just God who cannot accept anyone who is sinful.

An admission of guilt leads to the next question: do you think you can enter heaven after you have committed these sins?

At this point many unbelievers will try to justify their sin by saying they are a good person and they have done many good things in their life, ie. an attempt to gain universal salvation by works.  Like in a “Karma” system.

The unbeliever now is cornered into basically saying: “I am a liar, all liars go to hell, but… I think I go to heaven because I have done many more good things.”  This is a logical absurdity.

At this point the Gospel makes a grand entrance.

The substitutionary sacrifice of God Himself, Jesus Christ makes it possible for liars to go to Heaven if they believe and obey Him. 

The strength of WDJD is that it confronts sin as an introduction to presenting the Gospel.  This is in stark contrast to the Gospel of Love presented in many circles today… God is love, God accepts you as you are…

WDJD way of evangelizing is effective if the unbeliever accepts the Gospel after he is presented with his sinfulness.  It is logical and recommended especially in those situations where unbelievers may have a Judeo-Christian background, but they have ignored its teachings.

An evangelist must understand that exposing sin is extremely important in presenting the need for Jesus, and that is why I think WDJD is useful when you are challenged by unbelievers.

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What to Do When You Are Faced With the Opposite of the Gospel

It was an early Saturday afternoon when we decided to take the kids for a walk and some lunch on beautiful Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

As we were walking we heard a strange chant and percussion-type music behind us.  It was  a procession of Krishna worshippers coming through.  In Hinduism and other eastern religions, Krishna is an avatar, or a physical representation of the supreme god Vishnu.

One of the members of this faith came over to me to invite my family to their family friendly temple.  Having studied the Bible and Christian apologetics more intensely in recent years I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to engage in theological discussion and see where these folks come from.

From the very beginning I told her that I worship the One and only Triune God as revealed in the Bible.

This led to a startling revelation.  The woman informed that she too is a Christian (Catholic) and that she worships Krishna and Christ… and that Krishna and Christ really come from the same “root word.” This of course is the opposite of truth.

She went on to explain how their supreme god is incarnated in different avatars, our Savior Jesus Christ being an example, and how they invite everyone to worship their personal avatar collectively with them.  Everything was about positivity and love, blah, blah, blah… Again the opposite of biblical truth.

Whenever a syncretic discussion of this sort ensues, I highly recommend to Christians to focus on one part of the Gospel: the depravity of man.  

I am referring to the fallen state of man, the evil that men do, the suffering and depravity that exists in the human race.  Expose their way of tackling this most central issue and how man can be redeemed.

She said she believes in the purity of the human soul (whatever that means) and that our mind is merely under influence.

Really?  If that is so, if the human soul is that pure, how is it that a Boston Marathon bomber or a Newtown shooter premeditated and carried out such evil acts out of his “pure” heart?  Why can’t one’s purity overcome such “influences?”

Of course she had no coherent answer, because the real answer lies in human hate and disobedience toward the Real God, our Creator. These people are blinded and they are not able to see their fallen nature.  If they stopped for two minutes to analyze the anger, the jealousy, the adultery, the greed that we all harbor in our hearts, they would realize that we are not pure at all.  They would realize we are in dire need of a perfect Savior.

There is no faith or religion on this planet that is able to resolve this depravity of man, other than the faith that claims that the perfect God Himself redeemed us via His Own sacrifice.

The most ironic thing is that the various avatars and incarnations of the gods of their religions suffer from the same shortcomings as humans: sexual desire and sin, jealousy, hate, war, etc. The very beings they worship are not perfect beings.

Be aware that they quickly turn the discussion to extremely abstract terms.  Instead of wrestling with real issues like why murder and adultery exist, they will go off on abstract tangents of dualism influence, mind over matter, meditation for purity, and such.

Instead of wasting precious time in discussing things in complex philosophical terms, be simple, and be direct.

Man was created in the image of God, but man fell due to disobedience and deserves eternal death.  In His Sovereignty and by grace, God made possible the redemption of man only by believing and obeying Christ, the perfect God-Man who redeemed us by His sacrifice.  Believers in Christ are saved from damnation and are made perfect again in the image of God upon their glorification.

That is the simple and direct gospel that non-Christian worshipers must hear.

How much more simple is this “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1) compared to thousands and millions of gods and their stories and abstract explanations?

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Intolerance by Progressives in American Schools

Picture this.

You are a 14-year-old honor student in your German high school class.

Through circumstances beyond your control the class discussion turns to the issue of religion and homosexuality.

You are a gospel and Bible-believing Christian, and during the course of the discussion you state your view that homosexuality is wrong.

As a result of your statement you receive a three-day suspension.  Because you are intolerant.

This is exactly what happened at Western Hills High School in Texas.  Student Dakota Ary was suspended for stating his view on a subject that perhaps should not even have been discussed in a German class.

He faced the possibility of missing lectures, tests, and a football game.

What would you do?

His family reached out to the Liberty Counsel for legal representation, and after a meeting with the lawyer, the school district rescinded the suspension. The school had no comment when contacted by the Christian Post.

This story paints a disturbing picture in our schools.  We know that our colleges are infiltrated by anti-Christian, anti-American, atheistic faculty, but now it appears that our high schools are following suit.

The Liberty Counsel said that they are seeing this happening across the country, as the progressives pushing the gay agenda are becoming increasingly intolerant toward people who do not agree with their lifestyle.

The very people who preach tolerance are the most intolerant when it comes to differences based on morality, or when the name of Jesus is mentioned.  They are perfectly okay with mentioning “god.”  No one is upset with a generic “god.”  But watch out if you bring to the table Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible…

Delight in Truth has previously pointed out that with respect to homosexuality and gay marriage the battle in society has been lost, but Christians must continue to be a voice for the truth.  We must also continue to stand up for our constitutional rights to practice our faith, and hold to our opinions which are grounded in the Bible.

This is how can continue to shine a light in dark world.

A Blood Washed Iraq: Update From Narcis

Narcis and his family have moved to a very hostile environment to extend the Kingdom of God in that place.  Keeping specific names of cities censored for their safety, here is an update from them:

Temperature Rising

As we move into the Spring the weather steadily increases in Iraq.  We’ve already hit quite a few 90+ degree days this month and it will only increase from here on in.  The temperature is also rising in a couple of other ways.

There have been widespread protests in Iraq over the last 4 months or so between differing sects and political parties.  This has unfortunately caused violence in the forms of shootings, roadside and suicide bombings.  At least hundreds have been killed!  This tension has recently taken a turn for the worse when …, a city just an hour south of us became one of the focal points of the uprising.  Prompted by certain acts of violence, government officials fired on protesters a couple of days ago, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

What seemed to be happening only in the distant southern part of Iraq now seems to be getting closer to the north.  This is raising fears in many, that with similar sectarian uprisings in Syria and previously other places, these events might invite radical parties to join and devolve into a revolution.  However, as these temperatures rise, one thing is certain.  Our God is an All Consuming Fire and Jesus the Life Giving Spirit still holds the office of Baptizer in the Holy Ghost and Fire!

We believe this region is in the cross-hairs of God’s end-time purposes of filling all things with His Son, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!

What’s Been Happening 

F… and I just arrived back home a few days ago from a trip to Baghdad.  It was wonderful being with brother A W, he and his church are a real source of divine life, presence and relief to Baghdad and Iraq.  We were also able to minister in one of the local churches and meet with several of the Pastors from Baghdad to discuss what we might do together towards building the Church and advancing the Kingdom there.  After hearing about the planned House of Prayer and Mesopotamian School of Ministry, they asked us if we would be willing to do something similar with them in Baghdad.

We are praying about how we can partner with them in facilitating a network of prayer for Revival along with training that we can do via modular courses and in various other ways.  On the home-front, we are still working to get registered in the North and finding a location that would suit our needs.  At this point we still need a financial push to be able to do so.  Please let us know, if you or someone you know would be potentially interested in sponsoring this project for Jesus’ Glory!

Getting Involved

One of the things we feel in our spirits as a team, is that God is going to draw more and more attention to the Middle East in these coming days and years.  The same principalities that opposed Daniel in this region are still around, working their best to deceive the nations and sweep literally millions into a Christ-less eternity.  One of the ways we would love your involvement is in the place of prayer.  We host different “prayer sets” for the region and would more than welcome anyone (preferably a few at a time), that would want to stream in with us and join in agreement for God’s manifest Glory in Iraq and beyond.

If you think of us, please pray for God’s tangible abiding presence, grace, wisdom and favor, signs and wonders, and souls souls! If you are interested in learning more about that please email me back and we can contact you back and see how we can connect.  Thank you all precious saints of God for loving Jesus and doing His will.  We are so grateful for all of your friendships, prayers and support and pray that God would deeply mark you all with His precious Life, Death, Burial and Resurrection Glory!

15 Truths About Abortion

1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother’s womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15.Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

by John Piper via DesiringGod via TheResurgence

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How to Overcome Lustful Temptations

The primordial sin of the flesh according to apostle Paul in Galatians 5 is lust and the sexual sins associated with it.

It is the number one struggle of young men and women, and it is magnified in the information age when they are bombarded by all sort of immoral digital data.

After a long and admired pastoral career, John Piper offers relief for young believers who struggle with this problem in an interview transcribed by the Christian Post.

“Why does lust, I’m thinking mainly men but not just men, why does seeing have such a force to draw us to click on pornography or linger over some bathing suit issue of Sports Illustrated or to linger over some ad for a movie. What is it about us?” asked Piper.

“And my answer? It’s like drunkenness,” he said.

“In the same way drunks need designated drivers to help them out when they are too inebriated to function, Christians should have friends in their life whom they can count on to help them through lustful addictions.”

“My question is, is there something like that that we should do for each other? If ‘psycho-erotic euphoria’ is as powerful as drunkenness and I think it is, then we need people in our lives who will break our arm. Paul says I pummel my own body; you should pummel me,” said Piper.

“Look, if you’re drunk and you’re about to kill yourself, you better be glad there is somebody in your life to throw you in the backseat of the car,” says Piper.

“But this lust thing is much more like drunkenness than it is like anything else and so we may need this kind of personal accountability.”

Piper endorses accountability partners and relationships within a very close circle of friends (2-3 people) who can keep each other accountable by close monitoring from many aspects.  This is a physical and emotional approach.

To this I would add that fighting lust and its derivatives (such as pornography) must be done “BY THE SPIRIT” as commanded in Romans 8:13

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

BY THE SPIRIT means by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life:

  • The believer must allow the Holy Spirit to continually point him to Christ and to the cross when temptation comes.  Looking at the precious sacrifice of Christ will help the believer realize the suffering that Christ endured for him and for his sin.  Such an approach will make the believer realize the importance avoiding the trap of sin, and ask “will I crucify my Savior willingly again by indulging in sin?”
  • The believer must allow the Holy Spirit to remind him of Scripture.  Just like Jesus fought the devil using Scripture while tempted in the desert, so must the believer fight using “It is written” Luke 4:8
  • The believer must be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to receive power for witnessing to the world (Acts 1:8) which will inherently shift focus away from lust and unto the Kingdom of God.

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Who Raised Jesus from the Dead?

The straight forward answer is that God raised Jesus from the dead as Acts 2:24 states: “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

But I love the trinitarian implications found in Scripture with respect to Christ’s resurrection.

Most references to God raising Jesus up refer to God the Father.  Even the mockers testified truth when they said in Matthew 27:43: “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” The Father-Son relationship was validated by the resurrection, and God the Father proved to be faithful in resurrecting Jesus.

Scripture also gives us evidence that Christ’s power was involved in the resurrection, as Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity.  In John 11:25 Jesus makes the powerful statement “I am the resurrection and the life,” assuming to Himself the power to life.  Jesus also said in John 10:17-18, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again…  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

The Father has assigned the task of life to the Son.

The Holy Spirit is also closely implicated in the greatest and most important event to ever grace the face of the universe.  Romans 1:4 says that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.”  And Romans 8:11 makes it clear that the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to life is similar to the work of resurrecting Jesus: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit have achieved the greatest and most glorious act in this work of redemption when Jesus was resurrected.

And we rejoice as we look forward to God resurrecting up His saints in a similar fashion!

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Theology 101: Did Christ Descend Into Hell Prior to Resurrection?

There is a heretical view of Christ’s atonement that encapsulates a theory commonly referred to as Ransom Theology or Ransom Theory, which states that Christ paid a ransom to Satan in His death in order to buy the rights to save humanity which has fallen captive to Satan.

Throughout the ages, this view became increasingly recognized as heretical as it is readily apparent that Satan is himself a rebel who cannot hold any claim on humanity, and therefore God does not owe him anything but eternal punishment.

The problem is that certain peripheral aspects of Ransom to Satan Theory have persisted to this day in some denominations.

Some hold that after His death on the cross, Jesus descended into hell to proclaim victory (possibly evangelize) to those who perished in ancient times, based on 1 Pet 3:18-20

“18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah…”

This view is not acceptable for the following reasons:

1. Christ’s work of redemption was finished on the cross for EVERYONE to see: God the Father, angels, heavenly creatures, humans, demons, and Satan.  In John 19:30, Jesus proclaims in the final seconds of His life: “IT IS FINISHED.” There is no other work to be done for proclamation of victory or redemption.  Heaven and hell were witnesses.  There is no need for Christ to descent into hell for any proclamation or evangelism.

2. When Jesus died on the cross, He went straight to the Father.  Again, in the final seconds of His agony, Luke presents the following:  “Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last (Luke 23:46).

3. A descend by Christ into hell opens the door to heresy.  Proclamation of victory or evangelism in hell presents similar ideas to purgatory and possibility salvation of unrepented sinners after death.  This is against sound Christian doctrine which views death as a final decisive event with respect to outcome of salvation or damnation.

So what did Peter mean when he said that Christ went to proclaim to the “spirits in prison?”

A close examination of 1 Peter 3 shows that the context of this affirmation is linked to the preaching of Noah in the pre-flood era.

Here is the ESV commentary explanation:

a. Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5 ), where “herald” represents Greek kēryx, “preacher,” which corresponds to the noun kēryssō, “proclaim,” in 1 Pet. 3:19

b. Peter says the “Spirit of Christ” was speaking through the OT prophets ( 1:11 ); thus Christ could have been speaking through Noah as an OT prophet.

c. The context indicates that Christ was preaching through Noah, who was in a persecuted minority, and God saved Noah, which is similar to the situation in Peter’s time: Christ is now preaching the gospel through Peter and his readers (v. 15 ) to a persecuted minority, and God will save them.

Christ finished His work on the cross and did not need to descend into hell for any further work.

He said it “IT IS FINISHED.”

And it was finished.