On This Reformation Day…

Let us be grateful for such a moment in the history of the church in which we come to understand justification by faith. Although it was already established in the Bible, it was far from a reality during Martin Luther’s time. Many (even today) believe that by one’s works, justification is earned rather given graciously. But like Luther before realizing this truth, many are overburdened and weary of their works. They labor and toil without realizing that the perfect work of Christ completes it all, as He says “it is finished” as a sacrifice  “once and for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Jesus Christ not only gives justification, but He is our justification! Without a grasp of this truth, diminishes the gospel altogether for justification the doctrine by which ‘‘the church either stands or falls.” as stated by Luther

Secondly, let us be grateful for the spread of the Bible for the layperson. For too long, it was merely relegated to the clergy. But thanks to individuals such as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and Martin Luther, various translations of the Bible were being put out and then some. We need the Bible now more than ever, especially in an age where biblical truth is either questioned or neglected altogether. Many cry for revival, but the truth is that you can’t have a revival without a reformation. We must get back to the Word of God as the source God has given us to proclaim! It is absolute truth. Without it, we wouldn’t come to an understanding of justification by faith and the Gospel. We would not see God’s redemptive plan throughout both Testaments. We wouldn’t know of our sin and radical depravity.  Moreover, we wouldn’t know God as He truly is in the Word. The Word of God therefore, is indispensable to reformation. No other source comes close. I don’t care how creatively, or well researched it is, or how prophetic it sounds. God’s Word is final and it is sufficient! (2 Timothy 3:16)

Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est secundum Verbum Dei”(The church Reformed and always reforming according to the Word of God)

 

Happy Reformation Day!

Discernment and Desire

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” John 7:17

Hello brothers and sisters, this verse spoke volumes to me today so just wanted to share my thoughts! God’s will is discerned/desired by His people. True desire and true discernment go hand in hand. First, God’s will is to be discerned by His people. It is in His objective Word in which we refute falsehood. When preachers fail to discern true and false, they fail to warn God’s people as anything goes. Heresies and doctrines of demons are invited without caution. Such lack of discernment is poisonous and destructive. But when the Word is rightly handled, so the truth is outspoken against all falsehood. This is a must! No preacher should preach should they choose not to discern nor encourage discernment.

Second, God’s will is to be desired by His people. Those coming to know Christ are driven by a desire for His Word. In doing so ,they seek to know Him more, and desire to make Him known. Such desire God grants to His people in which they hold fast to without compromise. Therefore, through their desire for the Word, they likewise discern with the Word! For it is from God. May the saints cry, “I need Truth ”!

Famine in the Church Worldwide

““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.” Amos 8:11-12

The greatest famine of the day is beyond food or water but the famine of God’s Word. Spiritual famine leads to spiritual poverty that leads to spiritual destruction. Not that the Word of God is void in itself, but it is void in the sense that it is underutilized. Who bothers preaching the Bible anymore? Many view God’s Word, better yet, God’s eternal Word as outdated and obsolete.

I can’t help think of the parable of the seed/sower in which the seed is God’s Word. But here’s the thing, that seed isn’t being sown by today’s preachers. Let that sink in folks. If the Word of God isn’t being preached, then how can believers grow in their faith in Christ? Oftentimes, many discouraged people share how their pastor doesn’t share from the Word of God. Most sermons today can be lined up with self-help talks and be no different! Just put the name Jesus on to make it Christian. But there is no transformation, no conviction, and is no exposition of sound biblical truth. Moreover, how can anyone be saved without hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:17)? Think about that, no one will be able to be saved without hearing the Good News. Instead there is easy believism, and false converts. Let us therefore, return to Scripture for it is God’s means of grace to His church and it is sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16). And don’t fret, there is abundance of His Word to be consumed.

 

Through the Lens of Sola Scriptura

Scripture is no longer sufficient in the eyes of many professing Christians. It may be acknowledged and affirmed. It may be quoted and preached. But when it boils down to priority, Scripture is no longer at the top. It may be secondary or not even regarded at all. “We need more” the people cry out. But is that what it really boils down to nowadays, what the people want? Sadly, I’d have to say yes.

I believe that the greatest conflict from the church is from within not without. It’s blatantly obvious that we’ll be persecuted for our faith as the world hates Jesus first (John 15:18). But inward apostasy, that’s a whole another story. It may creep in subtlety and sincerely(Jude 4),  but it blows up overtime. It’s bad enough to see some believers who are deceived but when an entire congregation follows this along with the leaders who unapologetically preach nonsense each week?? That is when it becomes troubling.

Friends, since Scripture isn’t seen as sufficient, other influences are sought out. Imagine that! Churches being influenced by worldly means but also by heresies. Sounds preposterous I know, but we are guilty of incorporating it ourselves. For instance, the music is easily a first step. Most churches today sing songs from the most popular groups and artists of today (i.e Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, etc). “Oh but the music is good”, they say. But just because it sounds good, doesn’t mean it is good, especially with the underlying false theology. It is a bait a switch to propagate heresy through playing the music. Moreover, it allows for the teaching to permeate the church. “If the music is good, so must the teaching” , is the justification for many people who rather go by the trend instead of the Word of God.Let us consider the following verse:

Matthew 6:22-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!

In other words, you’re influenced by what you intake spiritually. Basically, the intake changes from solid food (Scripture) to junk food (heresy). It may “feel good” in the moment, but there is no genuine growth nor discernment. That matters for us individually and corporately. And when a church is taking in darkness, then it will be consumed by it. But by God’s grace, He will separate the sheep from the goats, or the wheat from the tares. That also applies to teachers who will be judged more harshly (James 3:1). For judgment must begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

What we must get back to is the Word of God as our sufficient source (2 Timothy 3:16). Nothing else was ever needed nor will never be necessary. That is the lens that we need, one that takes in the light of God given Scripture. In doing so, we renew our minds (Rom 12:2), bear fruit (Psalm 1:3), having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Most importantly, it is necessary in Gospel proclamation, “for faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of Christ” (Romans. 10:17). Notice how this is all based from Scripture. It is never by some outside influence. And it is definitely nothing that portrays itself as another Gospel, lest one be accursed (Gal. 1:9). Let this be the lens in which the church sees. Let this be the perspective in which the church lives/dies by. Most importantly, let this be the resource in which the church proclaims the a dying world. Sola Scriptura! Scripture alone!

 

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Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ by John MacArthur (Book Review)

 

Understanding who Jesus is is essential in understanding the good news that is the Gospel. Without Him, there is no Gospel! So not only does it begin with Him but it ends with Him. Christ is the Gospel through and through in which the church must know. Pastor-teacher John MacArthur looks at several aspects of Christ that verify who He is. That being said, its Christological focus is the book’s greatest strength in which all other alternatives fall by the wayside. This is not an exhaustive book by any means for the scholarly but for the layperson. As a matter of fact, there is no chapters for introduction/conclusion. It is short but sweet.  Christians would consider picking up this book in understanding more about Christ. It would especially be good to read alongside new believers in the faith as it is a short book. “Who do you say that I am?” is what Jesus asks for all of us as His people and we must answer! It is crucial to our salvation in Him, our relationship to Him and our witness about Him. It is Good News after all.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Highlights

“The right understanding of Jesus Christ is essential to understanding many other vital truths, particularly the gospel and salvation. There’s no good news apart from Christ.”

“Clearly, how you answer the question “Who is Jesus?” has significant and ultimately permanent consequences. The right answer alone can lead to salvation. Yet one can be very close to the right answer and still miss it, resulting in eternal disaster.”

“The glorious realities of Christ are like the numberless stars of heaven. Each feature of His life shines with blazing brilliance, and there are so many they’re almost incalculable.”

Be sure to give me a follow and stay tuned for my upcoming posts as well as reading all my previous ones.

Truth or Territory- A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare By Jim Osman (Book Review)

Spiritual warfare is often a hot topic in the church today. This book addresses two views on spiritual warfare: Truth (Scripture) or Territory (beyond Scripture), hence the title. Deliverance ministries are all the rage these days. With the latest strategies, methodologies, and revelations, non-discerning people are sure to be swept off their feet. Yet these preachers say “thus saith the Lord” to come off as legit. If you attempting to challenge or refute the message, you are labeled a religious spirit or heretic (how ironic). Not this book! This addresses spiritual warfare as a “battle for truth”.

What I enjoyed about the book is how it stays true to God’s Word. True spiritual warfare focuses on Christ; not trying to talk to Satan or his demons as deliverance ministries would tell you. Additionally, many proof texts in the spiritual warfare movement are refuted with its biblical context. What I would like to see is how demon possession is dealt in real life, not involving deliverance ministries. The solution is preaching the Gospel of course, but I have yet to see that with my own two eyes. What if you are walking down the street and someone who is demon possessed approaches you? What are you going to do? What if nothing works? Nevertheless, spiritual warfare is a hot topic that is a battle for the truth. Not only does this book succeed in defining it but also offering thorough explanations. It is worth reading and re-reading. I give this book a solid 5 stars.

There’s a playlist on Youtube in which Jim Osman and Justian Peters discuss more on the book. Check it out!

Notable Quotes

“Spiritual warfare is the most widely misunderstood subject in modern evangelicalism. When most Christians hear or read the words “spiritual warfare,” they envision some sort of mystical hand-to-hand combat that is waged with demons by certain types of prayers, mantras, incantations, or practices such as binding Satan, praying a hedge of thorns, exorcisms, or rebuking demons in an attempt to take territory from Satan and claim it for Christ.”

“We are at war over truth! Spiritual warfare is a truth war. We fight lies by advancing truth. When truth advances, God is glorified and the forces of darkness suffer defeat.”

“The gospel and the Word of God are the means of waging true spiritual warfare. Once we understand that true spiritual warfare is a war over the truth, then we are left with little doubt as to the identity of our weapon. It is the gospel of truth contained in the Word of Truth.”

“Ironically, while the modern church seems preoccupied with battling demons, it has developed complete apathy toward the truth. The modern church’s reckless disregard for truth has handicapped its ability to wage real spiritual warfare. The church has laid aside its one God-given weapon in favor of fleshly man-made weapons which can never tear down the mental fortresses in which men are held captive.”

 

 

 

Our Shining Savior

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it” John 1:5

Happy Monday everyone! Today I will announce that I will write devotionals every Monday! What better way to start the week with a brief devotional to get your minds upon the things of God. Today I want to share a verse that speaks so powerfully to me and it is found in John’s prologue in chapter 1. What better way to begin John’s Gospel by exalting Christ!

Jesus Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12). It is the light that has come from God and is God Himself (John 1:1). He is the eternal logos of God. Thus Christ is our Present Light who is always shining. The verb “shines” is present tense so there is no end. There is never a break or hiatus. There is never a substitute or replacement. Jesus Christ is our ever shining light. Like a lighthouse leading boats to shore, so Christ leads us to Him amidst the fog of darkness. Christ shines as our present light. Anytime. Anywhere!

He is also our Permeating Light. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men”  (John 1:4). O how our lives were consumed by darkness. So much so that it was our light. We couldn’t see outside of it, only in it. Yet the light of Christ comes bringing to light of our sinfulness, depravity and rebellion. And only through the Gospel can the light of Christ comes through. It won’t be through self-realization, epiphanies, or resolutions. How can we since we won’t? The depraved sinner chooses to be cloaked in darkness , yet Christ exposes the darkness with His light so that He “takes us out of the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Lastly, He is our Persistent Light. As long as we live in this fallen world, darkness is always present. Yet it can never prove superior to Christ our Light. Thus it can never be snuffed out nor extinguished. Thus we can hold fast to Christ for He always shines bright no matter how dark it is! Amidst the pressing darkness, Christ is our persistent light and the darkness cannot overcome it.