Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mourning a Death. . .

It's been said to me by a dear old friend that mourning for the death of others is common in ministry. I'm new to this. Oh, I've mourned over the loss of those for whom I've given care as a nurse's aid. I've mourned over the loss of my brother. And if you've been tracking my blog since the early days, you recall my dad died in November of 2006.

But this was different. And, it was unexpected. For it was a mourning over what would appear to be the death of one who yet walks, breathes and talks. And it took me totally by surprise. I wasn't a bit prepared.

It was 1982. September. I had flown from my home in Illinois to L.A. to attend Logos Bible Institute at John MacArthur's church. And I made too few friends. See, I was there as a false convert. I thought I was saved, but wasn't. I was yet unregenerate. But it would appear I wasn't the only one.

Since those days, the Lord let me slip but by His grace and incredible mercy, showed me my sinful state and my need for Christ. There are others who, sadly, have not.

One was another Logos student whom I heard about through Rick Holland. Rick was also a Logos student but is now an elder at Grace Community Church, among other things.

The other is an old friend whom I had come to know well. We had rented opposing bedrooms in home on Foothill Boulevard in, I believe, Lakeview Terrace.

After Logos, I wouldn't see my friend again until 1998. My wife and I were on our honeymoon and had traveled to the Phoenix area for a few reasons. My wife had spent part of her childhood there. Also, we wanted to visit a dear friend who was the dean of Logos turned pastor of Scottsdale Baptist Church. And then there was my old friend from Logos. Yes, we were able to reconnect. And it was great to see my old friend again.

Over the years, I've thought of him often. And it was a couple of months ago that I tried to look him up. His dad had written and self-published a book, a copy of which I still have. There was just enough information there to, in theory, locate his father. But when I tried to contact him, the number was out of service.

Then over a week ago, I get a friend request on Facebook. "Is that really you?". It was my friend. "Good days be comin'" I thought to myself.

Well, you probably already know where I'm going. I've certainly thrown enough hints around. So I'll cut to the quick.

My friend told me in plain language that he is now "secure and content" in his skepticism. And from the discussion I had with him, both on Facebook as well as a conference call from a fellow brother in Christ, he appears to be totally apostate. Of course, I can't determine if he has "crossed the line" and has been abandoned by God but if he ever comes to faith it is going to be an extremely obvious work of God. And I pray this to be the case.

After my conversion, I struggled with doubts. Very strong doubts. But I always, always, always knew it was "doubt leaning toward belief". In other words, "Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief". My friend has doubt which is decidedly leaning toward unbelief.

He has read all the "experts" and has convinced himself that the Scriptures are not reliable. Yet, having done so, he wanted me and my friend to convince him (against his will?) that the Bible can be trusted.

While he clearly said he is "secure and content" in his skepticism, he also said "I want to believe, I really do!" Well, the two are mutually exclusive. If you are content and secure in your "faith", you don't want to abandon it. Pure, clear thinking rules out reconciling the two statements. Unless, of course, his heart is crying for what he knows to be true while his intellectual pride locks him from reaching out and grabbing what he knows he needs. And pride is the origin of all sin.

My *saved* friend and I did all we could. In the spiritual sense, we even tried "the paddles", hoping to give him a jolt. But he was totally unable to suspend his unbelief for even ten minutes while we tried to get him to listen to his conscience in light of God's Law. We told him "Let's just try surmising that the Scriptures are true...Have you ever told a lie? Lusted?". . ."what would that make you", etc, trying to get him to see that he, as all of us, are guilty of breaking God's law and are thus guilty before God. But, for whatever reason he couldn't (or wouldn't) do it. Conviction? I hope so. Salvation doesn't come without repentance. And without conviction of sin and guilt there is no perceived need for repentance.

He appears to have closed the door on faith, welded it shut, and put every imaginable piece of furniture in front of the door. I have found myself struggling against the conviction that he is merely going around looking for Christians to debate. It is certainly possible but I pray it isn't. He *did* say that he enjoys debating. And normally, I'd take it that such a person is arrogant enough to presume on my time for his own entertainment. Certainly possible but I resist accepting it in this case although, as I said, this would be my normal conclusion.

It was a hard time for me to go through this. And I'm glad my friend was there to help me speak with this guy because it helped me keep some objectivity. I've had tons of debates with unbelievers over the years. But never with a friend who has shown himself to be a false convert.

But I mourn, and have been mourning, over what most certainly awaits this old friend. Many of the feelings that I have experienced while watching someone die physically are close if not identical to watching this person die spiritually. And I never expected it.

To know what awaits him, knowing that he is not guaranteed one more breath. He hangs over the mouth of hell by the thinnest of strands, weighed down by the immensity of his sin. Yet he can't feel it because a corpse feels nothing. And he is a spiritual corpse.

And it was hard to read one of his closing comments to me, calling me "brother". No. He has a different father (John 8:44). But, rightly or wrongly, I just couldn't get myself to address that. It was just too painful.

Beyond hope? Only God knows where that line is crossed by any particular person. So, I mourn yet I pray.

And I ask you to pray as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paul Washer on Wretched TV

Maybe it sounds trite, but it is so true. I'm thankful for Paul Washer's ministry. He tells it like it is. He forces me to view myself Biblically and examine myself in the light of God's Word. Yet at the same time, I often get great comfort from what he has to say because I see many of the marks that he strongly proclaims as part of a genuinely saved person.

I recommend with great cheer the following:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

John MacArthur: God's Plan for the Gay Agenda

From Grace To You:

"If you've been watching the headlines over the last couple years, you may have noticed the incredible surge of interest in affirming homosexuality. Whether it's at the heart of a religious scandal, political corruption, radical legislation, or the redefinition of marriage, homosexual interests have come to characterize America. That's an indication of the success of the gay agenda. And some Christians, including some national church leaders, have wavered on the issue even recently. But sadly, when people refuse to acknowledge the sinfulness of homosexuality--calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)--they do so at the expense of many souls.

How should you respond to the success of the gay agenda? Should you accept the recent trend toward tolerance? Or should you side with those who exclude homosexuals with hostility and disdain?

In reality, the Bible calls for a balance between what some people think are two opposing reactions--condemnation and compassion. Really, the two together are essential elements of biblical love, and that's something the homosexual sinner desperately needs.

Homosexual advocates have been remarkably effective in selling their warped interpretations of passages in Scripture that address homosexuality. When you ask a homosexual what the Bible says about homosexuality--and many of them know--they have digested an interpretation that is not only warped, but also completely irrational. Pro-homosexual arguments from the Bible are nothing but smokescreens--as you come close, you see right through them.

God's condemnation of homosexuality is abundantly clear--He opposes it in every age.

- In the patriarchs (Genesis 19:1-28)

- In the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)

- In the Prophets (Ezekiel 16:46-50)

- In the New Testament (Romans 1:18-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Jude 7-8)

Why does God condemn homosexuality? Because it overturns God's fundamental design for human relationships--a design that pictures the complementary relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33).

Why, then, have homosexual interpretations of Scripture been so successful at persuading so many? Simple: people want to be convinced. Since the Bible is so clear about the issue, sinners have had to defy reason and embrace error to quiet their accusing consciences (Romans 2:14-16). As Jesus said, "Men loved the darkness rather than the Light, [because] their deeds were evil" (John 3:19-20).

As a Christian, you must not compromise what the Bible says about homosexuality--ever. No matter how much you desire to be compassionate to the homosexual, your first sympathies belong to the Lord and to the exaltation of His righteousness. Homosexuals stand in defiant rebellion against the will of their Creator who from the beginning "made them male and female" (Matthew 19:4).

Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by homosexual advocates and their futile reasoning--their arguments are without substance. Homosexuals, and those who advocate that sin, are fundamentally committed to overturning the lordship of Christ in this world. But their rebellion is useless, for the Holy Spirit says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; cf. Galatians 5:19-21).

So, what is God's response to the homosexual agenda?

Certain and final judgment. To claim anything else is to compromise the truth of God and deceive those who are perishing.

No matter what the sin is, whether homosexuality or anything else, God has provided forgiveness, salvation, and the hope of eternal life to those who repent and embrace the gospel.As you interact with homosexuals and their sympathizers, you must affirm the Bible's condemnation. You are not trying to bring damnation on the head of homosexuals, you are trying to bring conviction so that they can turn from that sin and embrace the only hope of salvation for all of us sinners--and that's through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Homosexuals need salvation. They don't need healing--homosexuality is not a disease. They don't need therapy--homosexuality is not a psychological condition. Homosexuals need forgiveness, because homosexuality is a sin.

I don't know how it happened, but a few decades ago someone branded homosexuals with the worst misnomer--"gay." Gay used to mean happy, but I can assure you, homosexuals are not happy people. They habitually seek happiness by following after destructive pleasures. There is a reason Romans 1:26 calls homosexual desire a "degrading passion." It is a lust that destroys the physical body, ruins relationships, and brings perpetual suffering to the soul--and its ultimate end is death (Romans 7:5). Homosexuals are experiencing the judgment of God (Romans 1:24, 26, 28), and thus they are very, very sad.

First Corinthians 6 is very clear about the eternal consequence for those who practice homosexuality--but there's good news. No matter what the sin is, whether homosexuality or anything else, God has provided forgiveness, salvation, and the hope of eternal life to those who repent and embrace the gospel. Right after identifying homosexuals as those who "will not inherit the kingdom of God," Paul said, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

God's plan for many homosexuals is that they come to salvation. There were former homosexuals in the Corinthian church back in Paul's day, just as there are many former homosexuals today in my church and in faithful churches around the country. With regenerated hearts, they sit in biblical churches throughout the country praising their Savior, along with former fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, coveters, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Remember, such were some of you too.

What should be your response to the homosexual agenda? Make it a biblical response--confront it with the truth of Scripture that condemns homosexuality and promises eternal damnation for all who practice it. What should be your response to the homosexual? Make it a gospel response--confront him with the truth of Scripture that condemns him as a sinner, and point him to the hope of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Stay faithful to the Lord as you respond to homosexuality by honoring His Word, and leave the results to Him."

Original article is here...