Mark 16:15-16

“You seem to disagree with the words of Jesus when He says ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved’”

No Christian in his right mind would disagree with anything the Scriptures says. Usually it’s our interpretation and understanding of the text that people disagree with. And when we disagree, we must give good reasons for why which I will do my best. When it comes to being saved, the emphasis is on “belief” first and foremost, this is because the Gospel is what saves us. Nothing is more clearer than Mark 16:15-16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; [but he who does not believe] will be condemned.” Note the emphasis on “believe.” This is clearly illustrated in Acts 16:25-34, “…Sirs, what must I do to be saved? … [Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ], and you will be saved…” And speaking of baptism, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?.. Philip said, ‘If you [believe] with all your heart, you may…’” (Acts 8:36-38)

Drawn by God

How did God the Father drew Paul to Himself? By pointing him to the Law? By telling him that he fell short here and there, and that he needed to try harder? No, but by revealing His Son to Paul (Galatians 1:15-16), by way of illuminating the heart (2 Corinthians 4:6). To say it another way: Paul was taught by God (John 6:43-45). Apart from the excellence knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:8), men can not know God as He truly is (John 17:3, 8:19, 14:6-7; 1 John 2:23), and therefore can not worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). In other words, apart from the knowledge of God, he can not live rightly as he ought (cf. 1 Peter 1:14; Luke 23:34; John 16:3; 1 John 5:20-21). Those ignorant of God (Romans 10:3-4) will naturally focus on their so-called “good works” (John 6:28) that can not save (Isaiah 64:6).

Before his conversion, Paul was blameless according to the law, and above reproach in the eyes of men. He was circumcised in the flesh (Philippians 3:5), but there was one problem: His heart wasn’t (cf. v.3), because a Jew is not one who is outwardly circumcised and physical, but inwardly, a matter of the heart, by the Spirit (Romans 2:28-29). Paul was one of those “who handle the law” but “did not know Me” (Jeremiah 2:8). And “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:5-7). He had zeal, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2). He was taught by men (cf. 2 Timothy 3:7), and not by God (John 6:45 [cf. Galatians 1:11-12; Matthew 16:17]).

This is why we must be born again, and receive the kingdom of God as little children (Mark 10:15), and not as learned men, or religious men. Come as a child, abandoning what we know and were taught by men about being right with God. Lay aside all filthiness (cf. Isaiah 64:6) and as newborn babes let us desire the pure milk of the word so that we may grow! (1 Peter 2:1-3). We become what we treasure the most in our hearts; we become what we set our eyes upon (cf. Psalms 115:4-8), what we think, study and trust in. In other words, we conform to the image that we are seeking after. For this reason, we must set our eyes upon Christ and seek to grow in our knowledge of Him if we are to be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus says in John 17:3, that eternal life is to know God (first and foremost), and down in V.17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” We are sanctified by His truth, and a sanctified life flows out of a right relationship with God, a true knowledge of Him, and not by rules and regulations (Matthew 15:1-9,13), but proceeds from a loving Father-Child relationship (1 John 4:19).

Be Not Quick to Conclude

Things are not always that simple when doing theology. Regardless of which theological system you subscribe to, there is [always] a verse or passage that seems to oppose or contradict your system. As faithful students of Scriptures, we must not hide verses that go against our system and pretend that they don’t exist, but rather, we must work out the nuances and do our best to reconcile them. It is abundantly clear that salvation can not be lost, but what do we do with warning passages, and verses that seem to teach otherwise? On the other hand, those that oppose the Eternal Security of true believers will be quick to point out all the warning passages, but then conveniently ignore the faithfulness of God and His promises to preserve those that are His. A lot can be said on this topic, but the point here is that we must do our best to reconcile them (for and against passages), and to give an answer for why we arrived at such a conclusion after having looked at both the [for and against].

We who know better should not be quick to condemn other Christians. One can teach truth that is incomplete, and if so, take him aside (Acts 18:24-28) and explain the way of God more accurately and fully.

It is also written

There was a time when I read through the book of Matthew and noticed how Christ defeated Satan: “It is also written.” We must take these four English words to heart! Why is this? Proverbs 18:17 counsels us, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examine him.” (ESV). This is one of the ways for us Christians to be wise as serpents in the realm of truth (Matthew 10:16). People tend to present only one side, and this is why it’s beyond foolish to draw a conclusion (notice I didn’t say listen) based on what the mainstream media is telling us, considering the fact that they’re censoring all the other voices.

Honest discussion, honest truth seeking requires that both sides be presented faithfully and honestly and leave it to the seeker to decide. Very often we have to do the hard work of seeking for the other side ourselves because the MSM is not doing its job, and our opponent(s) in a theological debate didn’t consider the passage(s) that contradicts his view. And seek we must because “the simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15).

God very often speaks in ways that seem to be difficult or contradictory. This is to get our attention, and to draw us in. To make us ponder and to think deeply about His truth. It is in the process of considering both sides that the Lord gives us understanding (cf. 2 Timothy 2:7). The unfaithful will either walk away (cf. John 6:65-66) or twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Don’t be duped by the god of this world, and his servants of righteousness, nor the MSM. It is also written!

Phenomenological Believer

“Phenomenological Believer” describes a person who gives every [appearance] of being a “Christian” but in reality isn’t one. There are phenomenological believers in the Body of Christ, which is why warning passages such as [2 Peter 2] uses “Christian language” to describe these phenomenological believers.

In case you’re wondering, we do use phenomenological language today (cf. Psalms 104:19) when we say “Sunrise” or “Sunset” (for example), even though the Sun is stationary. Yet when we observe with our eyes, it gives the [appearance] of being in motion. The writers of the NT were inspired and could speak with precision, but sometimes spoke phenomenologically. This is needed because it sets an example for us since we’re not inspired and could not speak with divine authority. When it comes to dealing with “Christians” in general, take the advice of Conrad Murrell:

“Some people are obviously lost. Others are manifestly saints of God. But there are multitudes of marginal cases in which it is impossible for mortal man to discern or detect what their state in grace may be outside of special divine revelation. When a person is obviously a child of the devil, he ought to be treated and witnessed to as such. When a person is an obvious child of God, he ought to be received as a brother. When we have no definite proof either way, we are to receive one who professes to be a Christian as one until he gives reason to believe otherwise. And then we are not bound to make conclusions, but to warn him to forsake the error of his way and to give diligence to make his calling and election sure.”

No minister or Christian today can know the hearts of men fully. This is one of the reasons why the Parable of the Four Soils and many warnings, admonitions, and exhortations are given. The key to understanding apostasy, or any kind of falling away, lies in the Parable of the Four Soils: “And He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable [the four soils]? How then will you understand all the parables?’” (Mark 4:13)

“Why Are You Complicating Things?”

Q: Why are you complicating things? Can’t you just read it and accept what it says? ‘the world’ means ‘the world.’ How hard is that? Or how about this: Believe in the Son and you will have Eternal life. Belief comes first, then Life/Regeneration. See? Not that hard. Read John 20:31.

One of our main goals as students of Scriptures isn’t to complicate things but to clarify through the careful handling of God’s word faithfully. When Christ says “This [is] My body,” you might not take that literally but the Catholics do. And if you think the word [is] is not a big deal, you’ll find out when you have a discussion with them. Men of the past have fought over one single letter, the letter ‘i’: homoousios vs homo[i]ousios in defending the Deity of Christ (think about that for a moment). Scriptures is of divine origin, and it’s to be handled as such—carefully and diligently studied. And that takes a lot of work, which is one of the reasons why your pastor or elder who [labor in the word and doctrine] is to be counted worthy of double honour (1 Timothy 5:17).

The Sadducees rejected the resurrection of the dead because they failed to notice what God said to Moses: “I [am]” (present tense) “the God of Abraham…” He did not say “I [was]” (past tense). This is a prime example of what can happen to us when we don’t pay close attention. Paul makes a distinction between “seed” (singular) and “seeds” (plural) in Galatians 3:16 when he says, “He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” There are plenty more Scriptures that can be shown to prove my point, but all this is to say: We’re not out to complicate things, but to carefully and rightly divide the word of truth with precision, by God’s grace.

Being a Witness

I have been in churches, and have seen how Christians are taught to evangelize. It all seems very mechanic: People are taught a formula, steps to memorize and go through, get into a small group and practice the formula, and some probably forget it all a month later. I am not saying that formulas are useless, but it does in a way condition and move us toward pragmatism. Spurgeon is right on when he said, “A man who is really saved by grace does not need to be told that he is under solemn obligations to serve Christ. The new life within him tells him that.”

The Gospel has both the [objective] truth and the [subjective] experience. To be saved, one must affirm and stand on the objective truth of the Gospel—that Christ died for our sins, was buried, was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. Not everyone who affirms the Gospel truth will have the same experience. But those that affirm and believe in it will be saved (regardless of our educational background). For the porn addict, he might no longer be a porn addict. For the one with a hot temper, he might no longer has a hot temper. Both are saved and [experienced the Gospel] differently, and personally. We must keep this in mind lest we wrongly judge another believer for not having the same experience or zeal as ours.

What’s in you will ultimately flow out. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. The key to being a witness is not a specific formula or doing it out of guilt, but the Gospel: “Whoever [believes in me], as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38). As our faith in Him increases (“whoever believes in me”), out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water. Or to put it another way, “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” (Luke 7:47). Paul Washer once said something along this line: A reporter came up to me saying, “why you always talking about sins.” I said, “because I want you to love God.” He said, “what do you mean you want me to love God?” I said, “have you never read ‘she loved much because she was forgiven much’? Sir, you don’t love God much because you don’t know how much you have been forgiven. And the reason you don’t know how much you have been forgiven is because no one ever told you have sinful you are.”

It’s not possible to have the living Christ in us and not have a heart that is flowing with rivers of living water. That’s what we have forgotten, and when that happens, we turn to the wisdom of man and pragmatism. We need to give people the biblical Christ in all of His glory so that the Spirit can move in his or her life organically. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak. A person whose heart is filled with Christ won’t be able to keep his or her mouth shut. It will come out, one way or another, sooner or later (Jeremiah 20:9).

How the NT Quotes the OT

There are times the NT quotes the OT directly, and to give just one example: John 6:45 quoting Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:33-34. We should get into the habit of asking for a Bible verse, but we also must keep in mind that the Scriptures sometimes don’t quote directly when referring to the other parts of Scriptures. For example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:34, “Let your women keep silent in the churches… as the law also says.” Which law? Where in the OT can we find this teaching? You won’t find a single passage that teaches this in the OT. Reason? The OT [taken as a whole] teaches this. This is why sometimes it’s not possible to give a single reference. Apostle John understood this when he writes 1 John 1:5, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, [that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all].” What John is doing here is summing up the essence of Christ’s message that they all have heard. If we take everything that Christ taught and summarize it into one short sentence, it would be 1 John 1:5! God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If God is light, then we are darkness because we’re not God, which means we are sinful. And if there’s no darkness in Him, not even a small hint of it, then sinful men can never be near this God, and on and on it goes.

I can give plenty more examples, but let me get to the point: It’s not enough to just ask for a biblical passage (even though we should) because anyone can do that, even a fool and lunatic. We need to know our Bible, and this comes by daily reading, meditation and studying.

The Flesh is the Obstacle

When we approach the Scriptures, we must keep in mind the reality of our sinful flesh. We must be fully aware that the Scriptures is not the problem, but us and that we are quick to forget and slow to understand (Luke 24:25). The heart is the problem, that’s why Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures… But you are not willing to come to Me… I know..that you do [not have the love of God in you].” (John 5:39-42). That’s why Peter exhorts us to deal with our hearts, “laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,” and then, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word…” (1 Peter 2:1-3). James says the same, “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive [with meekness] the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (1:21). The author of Hebrews agrees, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus.” (12:1-2).

When our hearts bend in the wrong direction, it will toss us to and fro and be carried by every wind of doctrine that is out there. Why will some depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-2)? Paul tells us, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” that’s why “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7). Remember the Pharisees in John 5:39-42—they didn’t have the love of God in them? Loving money leads a person away from the truth (1 Timothy 6:10), because one can not serve both money and God. Paul makes all this clear in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “but according to [their own desires], because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth…”

We’re dictated by our hearts, for better or for worse: “they have walked [according to the dictates of their own hearts] and after the Baals…” (Jeremiah 9:14). “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but [followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts], and went backward and not forward…” (Jeremiah 7:21-27). “each one [follows the dictates of his own evil heart], so that no one listens to Me.” (Jeremiah 16:12). “This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, [who follow the dictates of their hearts]” (Jeremiah 13:10). “So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one [obey the dictates of his evil heart].” (Jeremiah 18:12).

So God will send a strong delusion, and those without the love of God in their hearts will follow the dictate of their wicked hearts. Let us be fully aware that our hearts is the problem when we approach the Scriptures, knowing that we are dependent on God for clarity, we cry out, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law… Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to covetousness.” (Psalms 119:18,36), “Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,” (Psalms 141:3-4).

Directing Government to its Duty

I have been praying on and off for many months now (since late of last year), for God to grant His churches and people wisdom and understanding. And the way He answered that prayer is by directing my attention to James Coates and his sermon on Romans 13:1-4 recently! Check it out. I have sensed earlier on that something isn’t right with the way churches here in the West are handling the pandemic. Now it’s a lot clearer.

Head Coverings (1 Corinthians 11)

As a single man, the two topics that don’t really concern me that much are head coverings and divorce-remarriage. I just didn’t want to waste time studying a topic that doesn’t really affect me that much, so I didn’t really bother. I took the default position: “You can wear it if you want to, but it’s not a big deal. No need to fight or divide over it.” This is usually the position people take by default when they don’t know much about a particular topic.

Phenomenon of Resistance

Have you ever wondered and asked yourself why the Jehovah Witnesses don’t like the Cross? They say Jesus died on a Stake. Or in exorcism, demon(s) scream when you put a Cross in front of them? Is there magic or power in the Cross? Should we use religious item(s) to scare them away? Read on and find out.

Discernment in these Last Days

Thomas Brooks once said, “Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter.” And I wholeheartedly agree!

In these last days, what we need is not more information, but [discernment]. Satan is the great Deceiver and he works through the sons of disobedient, unbelievers (Ephesians 2:2). Pause for a moment and really think about the ramification of that. Really think about it. We do not war against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), but against spirits and ideologies. In other words, doctrines of demons (2 Timothy 4:1). This is why we need to have the mind of Christ. This is why we need to bathe ourselves in the Scripture of Truth. Satan will tell us a lot of truth through his servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15), with a bit of poison injected into it. And it is the little poison that will lead us astray. That’s why Spurgeon rightly said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”

These four things must be diligently studied:

  • Christ (Ephesians 4:13; 2 Peter 3:18),
  • the Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15),
  • your own hearts (Psalms 139:23-24),
  • and Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8)

And with that last one, I highly recommend this short book by Warren W. Wiersbe: The Strategy of Satan. In another post (God willing), I’ll talk briefly how I use this book.

Quote

“There’s another Nobel Prize winner out there, his name is Sir John Eccles. He also received a Nobel Prize for his research on the brain. And he describes the brain as ‘a machine that a ghost can operate.’ What he means by that is in a normal state of consciousness, you are operating your brain. But in an altered state of consciousness, the normal connection between you and your brain is loosened. That allows another entity to interpose itself and begin to tick off the neurons in your brain and create an entire universe of illusion. And … it leads down a particular path that ultimately denies the basic teaching of the Word of God. And I’m very concerned about who these entities are. And they are not solving the problem of sin and guilt in the human heart.” —Dave Hunt

https://youtu.be/sKHY9TSFdUQ?t=3647 || Transcript

The Alien (U.F.O Cult) Deception

Educate yourself and stay informed. Of Planet Earth, and only Planet Earth, God said, “Who formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18). Of the stars, He said, “God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:17-18). The vastness of the Universe is there to declare His glory and to show His handiwork (Psalms 19). They exist to point us to Him, the Creator, not to demonic spirits pretending to be Aliens. Be not deceived by what’s coming.

Quote

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus said (Matt. 28:18). The winds and sea recognized that (Mark 4:39). So did disease, death, the demonic, and heaven itself. It took the disciples far longer to understand. It still does. Our default belief is that God is involved in the brilliant but is far from the tragic. There is more than a little whiff of paganism about that, isn’t there? And if we give that conviction any ground, we will be anxious and discouraged preachers. —Lewis Allen (The Preacher’s Catechism)

How I Take Notes, and Why We Need an OmniOutliner Alternative

We’re all wired differently. Some people like to write out their thoughts nicely on paper, but for me I can’t seem to do that. Also, I find the process to be slow and tedious (on paper), not to mention that my writing isn’t that neat. It would also slow me down (if I’m listening to a sermon) because Scriptures fly through my mind and pops up out of nowhere very often. If I’m busy writing I might miss the opportunity or forget to capture them because connections vanish from my mind if I don’t record them down. So I’m more interested in seeing how Scriptures connect, how they’re linked and related, and I record that instead. I can give an example of this in another post.