Archive for the 'Articles' Category

The current KJV controversy

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I wasn’t planning on posting anything on this topic because I know some who read this will take it the wrong way and completely miss the point, but last week my pastor asked me if I had heard about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I am bothered by it – but not by what you may think. First, a little background.

Pastor Jack Schaap wrote a book, Where Are We Going, in which he made comments about the King James Version and its inspiration and preservation. There was a teacher from Hyles-Anderson College (from what I have heard it was Streeter), that visited a church in Lexington, KY pastored by Jeff Fugate. This teacher made a statement to the effect of “don’t let anyone tell you the King James is inspired.” This comment along with Schaap’s book motivated Fugate to call Schaap and discuss the issue to clear up any possible misunderstanding. Fugate wasn’t satisfied with these phone calls and thus in the most recent issue of his publication, The Church Bus News, stated publicly his disagreement with Schaap. The disagreement is that Fugate believes the KJV is the inspired and preserved word of God while Schaap believes it is the preserved word of God (not inspired).

Schaap responded in an issue of his church’s publication, The Voice. In Schaap’s response, he referred to the statement of faith of another publication, The Sword of the Lord, whose editor is Shelton Smith. Smith felt like he was misrepresented by Schaap, so he wrote a letter weighing in on the issue.

Gail Riplinger, who received an honorary doctorate from Hyles-Anderson College for her work on defending the King James, decided to weigh in on the issue as well with a 75 page article. I used to be a fan of Riplinger and used to recommend her books, but I have since learned that she has twisted quotes and taken things out of context in attempts to bolster her case. She is not a trustworthy source for evidence.

However, the strangest thing in all this is the letter written by Russell Anderson who co-founded Hyles-Anderson College with Jack Hyles. He addressed his letter to Schaap, the students, faculty, and alumni of Hyles-Anderson, AND to Hyles – even though Hyles passed away 8 years ago. A large section of this letter was specifically addressed to Hyles. Anderson states in the letter he believes God has blessed Hyles-Anderson because of their teaching that the KJV was inspired and preserved. However, Hyles-Anderson was founded in 1972. In 1967, Hyles published a book on Revelation in which he corrected the King James. Also, there were students who were expelled from Hyles-Anderson in the late 70’s or early 80’s who were pushing the teaching that the KJV was inspired and preserved. It was in 1984 that Hyles switched his position to that of King James Only and even wrote in a book that an English-speaking person could not be saved unless that person heard scripture from the King James (he later softened his stance and said other translations had enough truth in them for a soul to be saved). The college was not founded with the KJVO position as Anderson portrays. Hyles was not always King James Only and neither were his friends John R. Rice or Curtis Hutson, both editors of The Sword of the Lord. (Note: providing this info is not intended as a slam on Hyles or any of the others mentioned – I am just stating the history as background info similar to what Schaap did in The Voice.)

This whole disagreement boils down to one side believes the King James is inspired and preserved whereas the other side believes it is preserved but not inspired. I would have to say that Schaap’s position is closest to the historic, orthodox position. To believe that the King James is inspired means you believe in double inspiration and that the English is the same as the Hebrew and Greek. (There are some who think the English is better than the Hebrew and Greek, but I don’t think anyone involved in this disagreement falls into that camp.) In the end, however, both sides in effect believe the same thing about the KJV: that it is the word of God and it is error-free.

So what is inspiration? Inspiration speaks of the origin of the scriptures and we see in 2 Peter 1:20-21 how the scriptures originated: it was men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Let me give an illustration. I can draw a picture on a piece of paper. I can then take that paper and run it through a copier and get duplicates of my drawing. However, the copies were not drawn by me. Only the original was drawn. That is the same with the scriptures. The originals were inspired, but the copies just duplicated the words, not the inspiration. Inspiration only applies to the originals.

What is preservation? Preservation speaks of the transmission of the scripture from generation to generation. The originals – the actual manuscripts written by the apostles and prophets – have long since disappeared, but God has preserved those inspired words through the thousands of copies. We can rest assured that we have the exact inspired words of God as they were first recorded. God has preserved his inspired word. Does that mean the King James is inspired and preserved? Well, can things different be the same? No. English is not the same as Hebrew and Greek. For something to be preserved, it has to maintain the exact same qualities. Since English is not the same as Hebrew and Greek, it cannot be preservation. The King James is an accurate translation of the inspired, preserved word of God. Now, before you go and say something I haven’t said, when I hold in my hand my King James, I am holding the word of God. It has everything I need to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It does not contain errors. It is not part man’s word and part God’s. It is God’s word. It is a faithful and accurate translation of the originals.

So what bothers me the most about this whole situation which really boils down to a shouting match about semantics? Part of it is how I will be treated for writing the preceding paragraph. Some will focus on those two or three sentences I just wrote and miss the big picture. I will no doubt be castigated by some for saying the King James is not inspired and preserved. I will be portrayed as a liberal bible corrector or something similar. Some will say I don’t believe my bible. Some will say I am on a slippery slope to all things liberal and apostasy and that I will lose my children to the devil. All of that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love my bible. I read, study, and meditate upon it everyday. I try to teach it to my children. The teaching that the KJV is inspired and preserved is a more recent development. There have been plenty of godly men and women who believed the KJV was a faithful and accurate translation of the word of God.

This whole situation is a perfect example of a major problem with those who have involved themselves in it. Jack Schaap is being castigated for his more orthodox position on the King James, but his extremely unorthodox, if not heretical, positions on other things raised nary a peep from these others, much less a letter or special issue of a publication to call him on the carpet and bring his teachings back in line with orthodoxy. He has several books where he presented unorthodox teachings. In Divine Intimacy, he put forth the idea that the Lord’s supper is akin to sexual intercourse between a husband and a wife, and he attributed the slang sexual meanings to the words “laid” and “stuck” in a couple verses from Psalms. In another book/sermon, he portrayed God as an old man that his church could wear out and force to call the rapture because they were making God work too hard. He also put forth a fantasy dialog between Jesus Christ and God the Father where the crucifixion was the result of things not going so well when Jesus came to earth and Jesus was angry and wanted to send everyone to Hell. Did we hear anything about these unorthodox (and dare I say heretical) teachings in The Church Bus News or The Sword of the Lord? I don’t recall seeing anything. Did we see these pastors writing letters and making phone calls to correct Schaap? No. And that is what bothers me. If you say the KJV is the inspired, preserved word of God, you get a free pass to teach unorthodox things, but once you deny the KJV is inspired and/or preserved, you get thrown under the bus.

These things ought not to be so. While there are some who do not believe this, the teachings (the doctrines) of the word of God are what is important (I’m currently working on a post dealing with the importance of right doctrine). If a man believes the KJV is the inspired and preserved word of God but doesn’t teach the contents of the book correctly, shouldn’t that cause more of an uproar? Aren’t we commanded in scripture to mark false teachers? Aren’t we commanded to prove all things and to earnestly contend for the faith? Weren’t the Bereans commended for searching the scriptures to see if what was preached was true? It’s time we stood up for orthodoxy and separated from false teachers.

Some may argue the teachings of another church are none of our business. However, we are told to earnestly contend for the faith. The letters to the seven churches in Revelation are recorded for all to read (making their business our business). Plus, Hyles-Anderson College is training pastors and missionaries who come into our churches to preach. Are you willing to stick your head in the ground and let future generations be misled by unorthodox teachings? It is our business.

As I said earlier, it won’t be long before I’m thrown under the bus for saying the King James is a faithful and accurate translation of the preserved and inspired word of God rather than being inspired and preserved. I used to say that the King James was inspired and preserved, but the scriptures and evidence have changed my mind. If you think I am wrong, then show me your arguments and let us reason together. Don’t just blast me and throw me under the bus.

Let us hold accountable those who are unorthodox and heretical. Don’t give them a free pass just because they say the KJV is inspired and preserved. Contend for the faith.

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

Every story whispers his name

Thursday, February 14th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Over the past year or so of listening to many sermons, reading many articles and books, and listening to many podcasts, I’ve come to the conclusion that many others have already reached: a big problem exists in many churches. It is not a problem in just Baptist churches, but in churches of all denominations. The problem is that many sermons are man-centered rather than Christ-centered. It is not just sermons that leave Christ out altogether, but also sermons that may mention Christ but do not center on Christ. If we are to be followers of Christ, then all of our preaching and teaching should center on Him. If we do not center on Christ, then we are no more a Christian church.

Moralistic, therapeutic, deism

I heard one man describe this problem as moralistic, therapeutic, deism. By this he means:

  • Moralistic: teaches good morals – how to be a good a person.
  • Therapeutic: God/religion exists to improve our lives, to solve our problems, to make us feel better.
  • Deism: God does not interfere in lives unless He is needed to solve a problem or give us something we want.

That is a very good summary of the content of many sermons and lessons heard in churches today. We will hear the stories about various characters in the Bible. We will be told the good and bad about those characters and what parts we should emulate to be good people and to have a happy, prosperous life. However, we won’t hear anything of Christ in these passages, or if we do, it will merely be passages where Christ said do this or don’t do that. There will be no mention how the passage relates to the redemption of mankind. If it is an Old Testament passage, there will be no mention of how it points to the coming Messiah. If it is a New Testament passage, there will be no mention of how Christ is the fulfillment of the promises or how Christ redeemed us or sanctifies us. The messages will be man-centered, moral lessons on how to be better, how to overcome your problems.

Every story whispers his name

I recently bought a children’s Bible storybook. The sole reason I bought it was because part of the title: Every Story Whispers His Name. That is so true yet sadly so forgotten in so many sermons. Most sermons today are delivered on the false premise that “every story is about how to have a better life.” Every story does whisper his name. The following quote is from the introduction of The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name:

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is – it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see beautiful picture.

That is a great introduction to the Bible! If only every Bible college and seminary would teach that every story is not so much about the characters in it, but that every story whispers his name! Every sermon and lesson would be centered on Christ who is our strength, our nourishment, our wisdom, our everything. We don’t need so much to learn about the characters’ virtues and vices as we need to learn about Christ. In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Moralistic preaching has at least two additional problems. If the preaching focuses on living better by altering behavior (doing more good things and fewer bad things), the preaching is not addressing the heart. As with raising children, I can set all kinds of great rules and require a certain behavior from my children, but they will only be conformed outwardly to the rules. Their hearts will remain unchanged and unconformed to Christ. A child with a rebellious heart is completely capable of keeping all the rules, and yet remain rebellious. Requiring conformity to the rules does not change a heart. Only Christ can change a heart. If the sermon does not center on Christ (and that means more than just tacking on a 1 minute gospel presentation on the end), then the heart is not being targeted.

The second problem with this man-centered, moralistic preaching is the outcome achieved is not really what is desired. The outcome is summed up nicely in the following quote from Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ From All The Scriptures:

Consequently, contrary to legalists’ expectations, attempts to motivate obedience through making God’s favor (and favors) contingent on human performance actually work against the law’s central objectives, love of God and neighbor, by encouraging self-trust, judgmental competition, and legalistic pride (on the one hand) or instilling self-condemnation, unrelenting guilt, and hopelessness (on the other).

Don’t let the word “legalist” trip you up on this great quote. There are two types of legalists: one who teaches you have to earn your way to Heaven and one who teaches God’s favor is earned through keeping the law. The quote is dealing with the second type of legalist – those who teach you can earn God’s favor (another word for favor is grace which many teach means “God’s riches at Christ’s expense”). If God’s favor is at Christ’s expense, then Christ earns/earned God’s favor for us. We cannot earn God’s grace.

The moralistic preaching that tries to compel people to earn God’s favor through obedience will result in either pride-filled people or guilt-ridden people. It does nothing to address the heart.

Why Christ-centered preaching

So why should preaching be all about him? Jesus said “learn of me.” When Christ was on the road to Emmaus with two disciples, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27). It wasn’t just some of the scriptures; it was all the scriptures. All does mean all, doesn’t it? Jesus told the legalists of his day, the Pharisees: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Jesus said the scriptures testify of him. Why don’t our sermons?

Paul said that he determined not to know anything among them except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Does that mean Paul’s sermons only consisted of telling them that Christ died on the cross? No, because Paul also said he declared unto them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Paul preached Christ from all the scriptures. He didn’t just preach moral lessons.

If we are going to grow as Christians, we need to learn of Christ. If we are just going to learn moral lessons, we should stop saying we are Christians for even non-Christians can teach and learn moral lessons. Christ should be proclaimed in every sermon and in every lesson. Every story relates to him in some way. The Bible is not just our guidebook on how to have a happy, prosperous, successful life. The Bible is about Christ. Christ is our food. We cannot grow or live without him. No matter how great the moral lesson is, if Christ is not the center, it is not Christian.

Preach and teach Christ and him crucified. Every story whispers his name.

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

Did Jesus suffer in Hell?

Thursday, April 13th, 2006 at 9:16 am

I recently heard a preacher state that Jesus died and then went to Hell for three days to suffer for our sins. This is absolutely wrong! Let’s look at a few scripture passages to see what really happened.

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? Ephesians 4:8-9

Jesus did in fact descend into the lowest parts of the earth. Does that mean he did suffer in Hell? Or is there something else besides Hell that is located in the lowest parts of the earth?

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. Luke 16:19-30

The rich man died and went to Hell – a place of torments. Lazarus also died, but he neither went to Hell to be tormented nor went to Heaven to be with God. Lazarus was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom where there was no suffering. Lazarus was comforted in Abraham’s bosom. Where is Abraham’s bosom? In the scripture we see that it is next to Hell and the two are separated by a gulf. The rich man could see Abraham and Lazarus. In the lowest parts of the earth, there were two places: Hell and Abraham’s bosom. The lost went to Hell and the saved went to Abraham’s bosom.

Now we know that there are two places in the lowest parts of the earth. So how can we tell if Jesus went to Hell to suffer for three days or if he went to Abraham’s bosom?

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:39-43

According to the scriptures, when did Jesus tell the repentant thief he would be with him in paradise? Today! Not after three days. The day Jesus died, he went to paradise. Would you call a place of torments paradise? Doesn’t it sound more like a description of Abraham’s bosom where people are comforted?

So if Jesus did not go to Hell to suffer for our sins, when was God’s wrath poured out on him as the penalty for our sins?

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30

Right before Jesus died, he said “It is finished.” He must have suffered all of God’s wrath before he died. Do the scriptures support this?

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Matthew 27:45-46

For three hours, from the sixth to the ninth hour, God turned the lights out on the earth because he didn’t want anyone looking in when he poured out all of his wrath on his son – when he bruised the son for our iniquities. It was during these three hours that God the son had become sin for us and he could not call God, Father, as before. The son was forsaken by the Father. It was during these three hours that Jesus suffered in our place. Jesus did not have to go to Hell to suffer the torments of those flames.

Have you been born-again? The wrath that God poured out on Jesus for your sins was so horrible that God darkened the whole earth so no one could see how horrible it was. If you reject the price that Christ paid for you, God will repay you with the same wrath. Jesus was able to suffer the eternal wrath of God in three hours because Jesus is an eternal being. Since you are not an eternal being, you will have to suffer God’s wrath for all of eternity. You are a transgressor of God’s laws. You have lied. You have not honored your parents. You have not loved God with your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your might. You have murdered in your heart if you have ever hated another. You are an adulterer in heart if you have ever lusted. You are guilty. Justice demands punishment for your transgressions. Jesus has paid your penalty. To receive God’s mercy, confess and forsake your sins today. Trust in the finished work of Christ.

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

The parable of the sower

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006 at 10:08 am

Because Jesus said that understanding this parable was key to being able to understand all the other parables (Mark 4:13), we should not look at any other parable until we understand this one. It appears twice in the scriptures: once in Matthew 13 and once in Mark 4.

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Matthew 13:3-8

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. Mark 4:3-8

Jesus’ Explanation

Thankfully, since understanding this parable is key to understanding all the other parables, Jesus took the time to explain it.

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Matthew 13:18-23

And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? 14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. Mark 4:13-20

We need to remember that when the gospel is preached, there will be those who do not respond and there will be both true converts and false converts – the net will catch every kind, both good and bad.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. Matthew 13:47-48

In this parable, we see 4 types of people that heard the gospel: the way side hearer, the stony ground hearer, the thorny ground hearer, and the good ground hearer. How did each of the hearers respond and which of the hearers were soundly saved?

The easiest to understand is the good ground hearer. This person obviously was saved because he brought forth fruit. Continuing the analogy of sowing seed, farmers first prepare the ground before sowing the seed. Farmers work to ensure that the ground is in optimal condition to produce the best results. Good ground will obviously produce the intended results.

The way side hearer is someone who has not been prepared at all. Because of the lack of preparation, Satan quickly comes and takes the seed away. When a farmer is sowing, occasionally some seed is spilt. Since this seed does not fall on prepared ground and is just laying on the surface, the birds easily spot it and come and devour the seed. The way side hearer is not saved.

The thorny ground hearer is someone who cares more about worldly things – riches, fame, power. Notice the parable says these worldy cares choke the word and the word becomes unfruitful. It says the word becomes unfruitful – not the person. The worldly cares of the thorny ground hearer prevents the word from producing fruit – from producing a conversion. It does not say that the thorny ground hearer was saved and then became unfruitful. The thorny ground hearer is not saved.

Finally, we come to the stony ground hearer. Notice this hearer receives the word immediately with joy or gladness. This hearer also endures for a time – I’m not sure how long a time is – it could be one month, one year, five years, twenty years – I don’t know. Because this hearer receives the word and endures for a time, we have this hearer in our churches today. Is this hearer a true convert or a false convert? There are a couple of clues to help us determine this. The first clue is that they immediately received the word with joy or gladness. In Acts 2, we see those that were added to the church gladly received the word. We are also told that these converts in Acts are true converts. But there is a difference between the gladness of those converts and the gladness of the stony ground hearer. In Acts, the gladness came after they were pricked in their hearts. Their gladness did not come immediately. It followed conviction and sorrow. Enduring for a time is the second clue to understanding what type of convert the stony ground hearer is. Consider this:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:19

If the stony ground hearer was a true convert, he no doubt would have continued in spite of the persecution. The stony ground hearer is a false convert. These false converts are in our churches today. These false converts have never been convicted of their sins; they’ve never experienced the godly sorrow that works repentance unto salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).

So what are we supposed to learn from this parable? Was Jesus just trying to teach us that when we preach the gospel that there would be unconverted, false converts, and true converts? There is something even more important. Because it is only the good ground hearer that is a true convert, we need to do all we can to make sure that the hearers are good ground hearers. We need to break up the fallow ground. Like the converts in Acts 2, we need to prick their hearts with the conviction of sin. We need to tell people the bad news before we tell them the good news. We need to preach the law which brings the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20, Romans 7:7) and the law will bring the hearer to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Only when the ground has been prepared in this manner will the seed be able to fall and produce fruit.

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

Salt

Friday, February 24th, 2006 at 1:06 pm

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Matthew 5:13

For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. Mark 9:49-50

You won’t be in church very long or read the Bible very long before you learn that Christians are to be salt. Most of the time, you will hear that we are likened to salt for two reasons. One is that salt makes people thirsty and we are to live in such a way that lost people see our lives and become thirsty for what we have – thirsty for a drink of living water. The other reason we are likened to salt is that we are to act as a preservative – to take the saving message of the gospel to the lost so they may receive eternal life and thus be preserved. Both of those are good, but there are also two other reasons Christians are commanded to be salt. Salt makes wounds sting and in the Bible, salt is linked to death. As Christians, we are to make the wounds of the lost sting so the lost desire to be healed (saved), and we are to die to ourselves.

Make wounds sting

Back when I was nine or ten, my family traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousins. Their backyard is next to a canal which is connected to the ocean. We were swimming in the canal and as I was climbing the ladder on the dock, my foot slipped and my leg smacked into a barnacle. A barnacle is a sea creature with a hard shell and it usually attaches itself to the bottom of boats and other submerged surfaces. Many times, their shells have very sharp edges. When I hit the barnacle, it put about a 4-inch gash in my leg. As soon as that salt water entered the wound, I felt excruciating pain. Salt causes pain to wounds.

Lost people are wounded. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30), the man who was beaten and left half-dead is a picture of a lost man. He was wounded. We need to make the lost painfully aware of their wounds so they desire to be healed (Isaiah 53:5). How do we make them aware of their wounds? The law – the Ten Commandments – brings the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). Keep reminding the lost about the Ten Commandments. Show them how they’ve transgressed God’s law. That will make their wounds sting.

Die to oneself

Throughout the Bible, salt is linked to death. We read about the salt sea which cannot support life (Genesis 14:3, Numbers 34:3, 34:12, etc.). We read about the valley of salt where David smote the Syrians (2 Samuel 8:13), Joash slew Edom (2 Kings 14:7), Abishai slew the Edomites (1 Chronicles 18:12), and Amaziah smote the children of Seir (2 Chronicles 25:11). We read about Lot’s wife who died and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).

We also see salt connected to barren places – where no life is:

And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: Deuteronomy 29:23

For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Jeremiah 17:6

But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. Ezekiel 47:11

Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them. Zephaniah 2:9

We also read about the covenant of salt:

All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee. Numbers 18:19

Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? 2 Chronicles 13:5

A covenant of salt is in effect forever – or essentially until death. Back in Old Testament times, people would have a small pouch of salt they would carry. When people made agreements that they intended to last, each person would take a pinch of salt of the pouch and put it in the other’s salt pouch. In effect, they were saying, “The agreement is in effect until I can figure out which grains of salt in your pouch are mine.” A person could search until he died and still never be able to sort out which salt was whose. Thus, a covenant of salt was in effect until death.

Our speech is to be seasoned with salt:

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6

If we die to ourselves, if we reckon our flesh to be dead indeed unto sin, then our speech will always be with grace.

So many of the problems in our lives today, in our churches too, are because we are not salt – we do not die to ourselves. Too often, we let others hurt our feelings, but if we would die to ourselves, our feelings wouldn’t matter. We would see more being done for Christ if we died to ourselves.

We are to daily take up the cross. That means we are to crucify the old man every day. Each and every day we are to reckon ourselves to be deed indeed unto sin. Have you killed your old man today?

Pass the salt, please.

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

The Battle

Sunday, January 1st, 2006 at 12:31 am

Galatians 5:13-17 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Romans 7:17-23 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

As Christians, we are in a battle – actually, we are in two battles: one against powers and principalities, and another one that is personal – a battle between our flesh and our spirit. Until we die and leave the flesh behind, we will be in this battle. It is a battle that we must fight every day – every minute of every day. It is not a battle that we can win by accident or by chance. It is a battle we can win, but we must determine to win and we must do what is required to win.

Let us look at the combatants, the keys to winning the battle, and what happens when we win the battle.

Read the rest of this entry �

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

See if you can pass the test no one else has

Monday, November 28th, 2005 at 4:42 pm

Many have tried, but no one has passed this test. Can you?

Take the test now – just 10 short questions.

by Gordy

Some Important Questions

Friday, September 30th, 2005 at 12:49 pm

We often are told that the Bible is a book of answers. It does in fact answer some of the greatest questions: how did life start, what is our purpose, how do we get to Heaven to name just a few. The Bible also asks many great questions. Fortunately for us, it provides the answers to those questions. Some of those questions are found towards the end of Romans 8.

The First Question: Romans 8:31

What shall we then say to these things?

To understand the answer to this question, we must first back up and find out what "these things" are.

Read the rest of this entry �

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

Strife

Sunday, September 18th, 2005 at 10:14 pm

James 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

Where there is strife, there is every evil work. Is strife in your church? In your home?

  1. Strife leads to

    Separation of friends

    Proverbs 16:28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

  2. Who causes strife?

    1. The Proud

      Proverbs 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

    2. The Angry

      Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

    3. The Wrathful

      Proverbs 15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

    4. The Froward

      Proverbs 16:28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

    5. The Contentious

      Proverbs 26:21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

    6. The Fleshly

      Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

    7. The Carnal

      1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

  3. How do we get rid of strife?

    1. We should separate from those causing the strife (first mention in Bible)

      Genesis 13:7-9 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

    2. We should be to slow to anger

      Proverbs 15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

      In other words, someone who is slow to get angry can appease strife. Are you slow to get angry? If not, you are not able to appease strife.

    3. We should cast out the scorner

      Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.

    4. We should get rid of the talebearer

      Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Posted in Articles
by Gordy

Darkness

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005 at 10:27 pm

A few weeks ago, I was studying to find some words of encouragement for a couple in our church whose 11 year old daughter has been battling cancer. I recalled hearing a message at a camp meeting a few years ago in which the preacher spoke about a few good things about the dark. I began studying passages related to darkness and dark times. A few days into the study, another lady in our church called and talked to me about some tough times her son was having and I gave her a couple of the passages I found and they encouraged her. As I was studying, I was also trying to think about what I should speak to the Best Years Club. That’s when I came across Ecclesiastes 11:8 and knew the topic of dark times was a good topic – not only for the Best Years Club, but for everyone.

Remember the dark times

Ecclesiastes 11:8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

What strikes me most about this verse is that a man can rejoice in all his years even though the days of darkness shall be many. And to top it all off, God tells us to remember those days of darkness! Why in the world would God want us to remember the dark times?

Read the rest of this entry �

Posted in Articles
by Gordy