Are You Almost or Altogether a Christian? Lessons from Felix and Agrippa

Paul Before Agrippa

King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. ~Acts 26:27-29

The fateful words of verse 28, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,” were uttered by King Herod Agrippa II at the end of Paul’s testimony before him, Festus the governor and other high profile guests. [1] As far as we know, Agrippa never became a Christian, and so is eternally regretting these words. Earlier in Acts, Paul also stood before the governor Felix, who trembled with conviction as Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come,” [2] but shook it off and never repented. So, even though the word is never used regarding Felix, we could say he also was “almost” a Christian, experiencing conviction but not repentance. If you want to make sure that you are not merely almost, but altogether a Christian, then please keep reading, as we see what we can learn from these two cases.

A book I highly recommend to discover if you are an altogether Christian – other than the book of 1 John – is The Almost Christian Discovered by Puritan Matthew Mead. In it he exhorts the reader [3] to “examine yourselves, [to see] whether [you] be in the faith,” [4] to “make your calling and election sure.” [5] He talks about the dangers of being an almost Christian and gives several illustrations from Scripture. Please allow me to give you a couple of examples from the book:

  • A man may hate sin, and yet be but almost a Christian. [6]
  • A man may have great hopes of heaven, great hopes of being saved, and yet be but almost a Christian. [7]

Following are a few lessons we can learn from almost Christians Felix and Agrippa in the same style as Mead. May we heed their warnings.

Continue reading

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Atheists’ Memes Refuted: Repentance and the Gospel

Timmy Gospel

The above image is obviously meant to make fun of Christianity and the Gospel, but it actually demonstrates what’s so amazingly beautiful about the Gospel: that anyone through repentance and faith can be forgiven! It’s available to all. I’ll demonstrate from two instances in the Bible.

  1. Joseph was hated by his eleven brothers. They wanted to kill him, but they decided to sell him into slavery, so he ended up a slave in Egypt. Years later, there is a famine, and they come to Joseph, now second in command in Egypt, looking for food. Joseph recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him, believing him to be dead. Does Joseph harbor resentment, bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness towards them? No, Joseph forgives them and they have been in heaven together for about 4,000 years. [1]
  2. A man named Stephen gets up and preaches a sermon. A mob then attacks him, falsely accuses him and stones him to death. Saul, a Pharisee and likely the ringleader of the mob, held the garments of those who stoned Stephen. Saul then went on a rampage persecuting and killing Christians wherever he could find them. As he was on his way to Damascus to continue his rampage, Jesus appears to him and he becomes that which he hated most: a Christian. Now, Saul (now known as the Apostle Paul), and those he murdered – including Stephen – have been in heaven together for about 2,000 years. [2]

Here is what an early church father had to say about Stephen and Paul’s current relationship:

Now Paul rejoices with Stephen, and together they delight in the glory of Christ, together they exalt, together they reign. Stephen went first, killed by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This is surely the true life, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. Stephen’s love prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and Paul’s love covered the multitude of his sins; for both of them it was love that won the kingdom of heaven.” ~Fulgentius of Ruspe (468-533) [3]

Such beautiful reconciliation because of the Gospel.

The above meme also takes a subtle jab at the justice of God, that God is somehow unjust to allow both a murderer and an innocent child into heaven. But as we saw in another refutation of an atheist meme, the Gospel satisfies God’s justice. If the hypothetical murderer of the meme did indeed repent, then his sins were paid for by Jesus on the Cross. And the young boy will be delighted to see him in heaven, as there is always joy in heaven when a sinner repents. [4]

Many unbelievers love to say that for God to sentence people to an eternity in hell is too harsh of a punishment, but then this meme makes fun of the Gospel message which if a murderer believes, he can be forgiven and go to heaven. You can’t have it both ways!

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. [5]

Endnotes

[1] See Genesis 37-50

[2] See Acts 7-9

[3] A monk who became bishop of Ruspe in North Africa. He was persecuted and forced to flee numerous times under Arian political powers. He wrote frequently against Arianism and Pelagianism. Excerpt taken from the reading “Stephen and Paul,” #216 Daily Devotions from the Early Church

[4] Luke 15:10

[5] 1 Corinthians 1:18

Happy Reformation Day – Still Protesting: Top 20 dangerous heretics to be marked & avoided.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17-18)

For Reformation Day, we want Christians around the world to consider who they think are the most dangerous heretics in the world today undermining Christianity. The Pope will always be the most serious threat to Christianity since at the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church anathematized the gospel.

5 SOLAS Symbol Credit to PirateChristian.Com for the 5 Sola symbols…

In this article, we list our top 20 most dangerous heretics that Christians world-wide must mark and avoid (Romans 16:17) for the sake of Christ’s people and Christ’s gospel. We have also color-coded the heretics so people can identify what modern-day cult they represent.

They are marked in order from the more dangerous to the less dangerous, addressing the following:

  1. Evidence either gathered on them (which can be accessed in our archives).
  2. Their influence on Christianity globally or people’s perception on what Christianity is because of them’
  3. Who they target and how effective…

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Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi?

Dealing with the tough questions. Short, succinct and Biblical.
Rest in peace, Nabeel Qureshi.

THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM

If you haven’t heard yet, many of us are mourning the loss of Nabeel Qureshi. If you don’t know who Nabeel was, here is a nice bio of his life and the impact he had.
Frank Turek recently wrote this article called 
Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi? I think Frank is spot on.

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The Dangers of Interfaith Dialogue

Interfaith dialogue (IFD) has been a huge topic within certain Christian circles over the last couple of months. It has mainly resulted from the James White-Yasir Qadhi dialogue which occurred in January 2017 in Memphis (discussed previously). A question that has been asked is, “Is interfaith dialogue a spiritual threat to the Church?” How one defines terms will determine how one answers that question.

Is IFD a spiritual threat to the Church such that it will destroy it? No, Jesus said He will build His Church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. [1] Is IFD a threat to the eternal security of Believers? No, Jesus said again, “I give unto them [My sheep] eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” [2] So a truly born again Christian will not convert to a false religion through IFD. So there’s no danger there. Christian advocates of IFD think that because it is not a spiritual threat to the existence of the Church or to the eternal security of Believers, we are therefore free to engage in it. But just because we can answer both of these questions in the negative, doesn’t mean IFD poses no spiritual threat to the Church.

By saying that Islam, or any other false religion, is dangerous to the Church, I mean that it threatens the Church’s spiritual health. Think about it on a personal level. Are all my sins forgiven by faith in Christ’s blood? Yes (praise God!). Am I secure in Christ? Yes (again, praise God!). Is my eternal future with Him secure forever? Yes! Since that’s the case, then why not let my guard down and begin to expose myself to all kinds of worldliness and sin? You may recognize this reasoning from Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” I am dead to sin, so why should I think that I am free to expose myself to it? Instead, I am to guard my heart [3], as Scripture commands, and hide God’s Word in my heart so I won’t sin against Him [4]. I am to always be on guard against the Christian’s three great enemies: the world [5], the flesh [6] and the devil [7]; who, roams about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour [8]. Why would God give all these Scriptural admonitions if these stumbling blocks are not a threat to me? It is because they can negatively impact my relationship with God and my fruitfulness for Christ.

Now, applying that to the Church, if false religions aren’t a threat to the health of the Church, then why does God command us to guard sound doctrine? [9] Why do we have to contend earnestly for the faith? [10] Why does God appoint elders to guard the flock? [11] Why does Jesus warn about false teachers as wolves in sheep’s clothing? [12] Again, I contend that it is because they are a threat, not to the existence of the Church, but to the fruitfulness, witness and overall health of the Church. This is illustrated in John 10:12. Because the hireling neglected his duty, there were dire results for the sheep; they were caught by the wolf and scattered. Sounds like wolves are a threat. And wolves in sheep’s clothing are that much more of a threat.

So what are some of these dangers? Continue reading

Blogging Through Acts: Duties of Elders

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. ~Acts 20:28

“There is nothing more moving in the records of human suffering and patience than the story of Paul’s Ephesian experiences as he summoned the elders of the church upon the shores of Miletus in his parting address to them.” [1]

Acts 20:17-38 is indeed a very moving account of Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the church at Ephesus. Over the course of Paul’s three year ministry among them, their hearts had become knit together with his. Now, as Paul meets with them on his way to Jerusalem, he gives them these admonitions, believing he could possibly be seeing them for the last time.

In addressing these elders, he instructs them of their duties. First among them is to pay attention to their own personal walk with God. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves…,” he says in verse 28. Paul also wrote to Timothy, pastor of the church at Ephesus, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. [2] So elders are to watch over their own souls.

Their next responsibility is to watch over and feed God’s flock. “…[A]nd to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, [3] to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,” the verse continues. Take heed is a verb that means to pay attention to, or to apply one’s self to. They were to pay attention to not only themselves, but also the church of God. How do they take heed to the flock? By feeding it. Feed here actually means to tend a flock, to be like a shepherd; to do everything a shepherd does, like ruling and governing, nourishing, cherishing, and supplying everything the sheep need. [4]

The epitome of a shepherd is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, the Good Shepherd. In John 10 the behavior of a good shepherd is contrasted with that of a hireling, who has no interest in his duty and is unfaithful in discharging it. A good shepherd, on the other hand, will lay down his life for his sheep, if necessary, to protect them from wolves. Jesus says that the hireling will flee at the sight of danger because the sheep aren’t his and he cares nothing for them, while the good shepherd cares for his own. The wolves here – and in Acts 20 – represent false teachers, or anyone whose goal it is to slaughter the sheep. So a true shepherd will protect his sheep from those who want to devour them. Jesus is that Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for us, His sheep.

Continue reading

Atheists’ Memes Refuted: Is the Gospel a Loophole?

boden meme2

Heresies of modalism and/or patripassianism aside [1], the Gospel is not a “loophole,” an attempt on God’s part to evade justice, as Mr. Boden states. On the contrary, it declares the righteousness (justice) of God. [2] One might think the Gospel is a loophole because it seems to put God in a bind. That is, how can God be both just to punish sin AND merciful to sinners? I will explain how both God’s justice and His mercy are reconciled in the Gospel.

The substitutionary atonement of Christ [3] is not a loophole, but is a beautiful demonstration of both the justice and the mercy of God. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness (or justice) and peace have kissed each other.” [4] This happened at the Cross.

God is holy, and one must obey His righteous Law to go to heaven. Our problem is that we all are sinners by nature.[5] Therefore we break God’s Law by sinning, and the punishment is eternity in hell. Since we have offended an eternal and infinitely holy God, the punishment must be eternal, fitting the crime. The Son of God Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, is the only One to live a perfectly sinless life, never breaking God’s Law in thought, word or deed. The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death.” [6] But Jesus never sinned, so when He died on the cross, He vicariously bore the sins of everyone who would ever trust in Him – along with the wrath of God the Father against those sins – and His sinless life is attributed to them as well. A simple way to think of it is like this: on the cross God the Father treated Jesus as if He had lived the life of every believing sinner through all time so that those sinners can be treated as if they lived Jesus’ perfect life and share in an eternity with God.

This way, God can be merciful to sinners without breaking His Law or compromising His justice. Christ’s sacrifice demonstrates God’s “righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” [7]

So we did not get by on a technicality, rather God’s Law is fully upheld [8], not abrogated; His wrath against sin is appeased, and His mercy is extended to those who believe. The Cross of Jesus Christ solves the apparent dilemma mentioned in the first paragraph. God did not create the problem of sin, but He does solve it.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [9]

Endnotes

[1] The meme is a straw man because it is not even criticizing orthodox Christianity, but for the purposes of this post, I will focus on whether or not the Gospel is a loophole.

[2] Romans 1:17

[3] See here and here

[4] Psalm 85:10

[5] Romans 3:23

[6] Romans 6:23

[7] Romans 3:26

[8] Romans 3:31

[9] Romans 5:1

Atheists’ Memes Refuted: Heaven

Photo

This is the first in what will likely be a series “‘Atheists’ Memes Refuted,” where we will tackle a meme posted by professing atheists and refute some of the logical fallacies, contradictions, inconsistencies, outright lies and other flaws contained in them. The goal is to correct any misconceptions about Christianity by teaching it. If unbelievers are going to reject and mock Christianity, they should at least know what they are rejecting! Ultimately, however, I’m hoping they repent.

The short response to this meme is: neither is the Christian. This gets to the heart of the Gospel. The Christian is not kind because he is trying to get into heaven. That would be salvation by works, which the Bible condemns. Scripture clearly teaches that we are saved by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, not by any works we perform. [1] To believe that we contribute anything to our salvation is a damnable heresy. [2] So no one gets to heaven by being kind, or by any other good works.

So why is the Christian kind? In Scripture, whenever it commands Christians to be kind, it’s in light of the kindness which God has shown to us. [3] The cited reference quotes Jesus: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” The Christian has had his heart changed, and the love of God now fills it so that he can love even his enemies and the unlovable. The same principle applies to loving other Believers as well. [4]

So if you’re an unbeliever and a Christian is kind to you, think of the kindness of God, which is for the purpose of leading you to repentance. [5]

 

Endnotes

[1] Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:3-7; Acts 15:11; Romans 3:24-28, 4:16; Galatians 2:16

[2] Galatians 1:6-9

[3] Matthew 5:44-45

[4] Ephesians 4:32

[5] Romans 2:4

Boldness Then and Now

Nine times in the Book of Acts, the word “bold” in its various forms is used to describe the Apostles and their associates. [1] Indeed, the entire book chronicles the bold acts of the Apostles, primarily those of Peter and Paul. One only need to read Peter’s address to the Pharisees in chapter 4 to observe this. Peter stands before the Pharisees – the very same ones who barely two months prior had Jesus crucified – and (filled with the Holy Spirit) says, “…by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this [formerly paralyzed] man stand before you whole.” [2] Boldly proclaiming the truth and exposing error, they were following in the footsteps of Jesus, Who called the Pharisees “hypocrites,” “sons of hell,” “blind guides,” “fools and blind,” “whited sepulchres,” “serpents,” and “generation of vipers.” [3]

The Greek word translated as ‘bold’ is a compound word which could be translated literally as all outspokenness; that is, frankness and bluntness. We typically think of boldness as the demeanor of a person, someone who is fearless, confident, or sure of himself. But its definition and the passages cited below link the Apostles’ boldness moreso to their speech than to their comportment, though the two are related. They knew what they believed, and they spoke it plainly and clearly.

Let’s look at some Scriptures and note the tie between the Apostles’ boldness and their speech. Continue reading

The Baphomet Agenda EXPOSED

With the 2015 Supreme Court decision in favor of homosexuality and the ongoing practice of abortion – together with the emerging agenda of transgenderism – many think our country is headed to hell in a handbasket. (1) Meanwhile, others applaud the direction our culture is going. If you’re reading this, and you agree with what our country is becoming, I hope to show you whose side you’re actually on. Although, whether you agree with where we’re headed as a nation or not, I hope to point to the root of the problem.

The homosexual agenda, transgender agenda, transhumanism, and even the pedophilia and bestiality agendas, (2) all have their root in one entity: Baphomet, the androgynous, goat-headed deity worshipped by Satanists and occultists of all flavors, including the Knights Templar and the Freemasons. Also known as the Goat of Mendes, the image of the Baphomet comes from occultist Eliphas Levi’s depiction of the devil. In my opinion, it/he is the root of all these agendas (and more!).

Baphomet

Image taken from Wikipedia

The Homosexual Agenda

There is nothing explicitly in the Baphomet image that pushes homosexuality per se, but the mentality, or the spirit behind the image does. We will tackle this later in this post, but the zeitgeist behind the Baphomet is a do-what-you-want, don’t-let-anybody-tell-you-what-to-do, push-and-cross-boundaries-without-considering-the-laws-of-God type of attitude. Essentially, it is one of rebellion. God created sex and defined that it should be between one man and his wife. Not only is homosexuality not between a man and his wife, it’s not even between a man and a woman! Romans 1 describes the degression of a mind hostile to God:

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient…” (v. 26-28)

The chapter continues on to list more sins. The depravity described here is represented by the image of the Baphomet; it is against nature, a combination of things that don’t mix. Just as homosexuality is an unholy mixture of genders that don’t naturally go together.

The union of entities that don’t belong together will be a common thread throughout this piece because that is the main thrust of the Baphomet. Including the ones we will explore, the Baphomet is also a union of opposites like light and dark, black and white, and up and down, among others. Continue reading