Watch “There are Many Deceived Church Goers – Paul Washer” on YouTube

I’d note that all “church goers” are deceived. The true church, the ekklesia of Christ, is not deceived. They hear His voice and follow. 

I’d like to point out, too that any so-called pastor who doesn’t obey the Lord in declaring the gospel is to be accursed (Paul’s words in Galatians, not mine). In other words, they are wolves, not undershepherds. 

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What is the Unpardonable Sin?

There’s a debate among evangelicals known as the Armenian vs. Calvinist debate. For those who don’t know Christianese, it relates to Free Will vs. Election. If I’m still getting the head-tilts of confusion I’ll explain this way: Free Will holds that Christ died for everyone’s sin, paid the debt for each person. It is each person’s responsibility to accept that gift of their own Free Will to be saved. Election refers to the divine plan for the elect, those who were chosen by God’s sovereign Will before Creation itself.

Both sides point to many of the same passages. They just interpret them differently.

Rather than parse out the two sides, I’m going to keep this short and address something that is at the center, the real question, IMO: Did Christ die for someone’s sin of not believing in Him as Lord?

I’ve heard John MacArthur, among others, claim that if Jesus bore the wrath of God for the sin of every human on earth and across time, but every human didn’t receive Him through faith, then those people would have to pay the penalty of God’s wrath for their sin. This would be, according to MacArthur, double-jeopardy. Two punishments for the same sin.

I’ll note that MacArthur is attempting to apply our understanding of legal justice to a God who is outside of our Created realm, time, and concepts of justice. I suspect our ideas of justice–when compared to God’s understanding–are about as accurate as a young child’s understanding of what his or her parent does for a living.

When I was studying the book of John, however, I came across this passage:

Joh 16:8  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

Joh 16:9  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;

Now, some will say that their sin remains because they didn’t pick up the free gift of Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf (the Free Will argument). Or, that Jesus didn’t pay for their sin because they were not of the elect (the Election argument).

Before I move on, I’ll quote another passage:

Mar 3:28  “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,

Mar 3:29  but whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”

This is the famous “unpardonable sin” passage. Jesus clearly states that “all sins will be forgiven the children of man…”

I’m sure there are various interpretations of this, but for the sake of brevity, I won’t delve into them. The plain meaning, to me, is that Jesus’ sacrifice will provide the basis for forgiveness of all sin, all blasphemy, except blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.

What does that mean? That’s the clincher, really. What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Remember, God is One, so we shouldn’t fall into modalism, or defining each member of the Trinity like a separate God.

The Holy Spirit is the work of God in the world. The Pharisees were trying to say that Jesus miracles–specifically casting out a demon–was the work of Satan. They denied the nature of Christ as the Son of God, and His work as the work of the Holy Spirit.

My reading of this is that the unpardonable sin is unbelief. They rejected Christ and all His work as the work of the devil and for such a sin, there is no sacrifice.

Here’s another applicable passage:

Heb 6:4  For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,

Heb 6:5  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,

Heb 6:6  and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Many find this to support the Free Will position, which holds that people can lose their salvation. Instead, I feel this supports the basic premise that our judgment will be based on the sin of unbelief, not the underlying sinfulness of our race.

To understand how this works with the other two passages, I look at a few key phrases: heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come.

The heavenly gift is Christ, the bread of heaven that is true food to us. Those who have “tasted” of Christ would be like those who hear the gospel and respond (like in the parable of the sower).

The Holy Spirit would refer to the work of God among His people, not the indwelling of the Spirit in the life of these people. This would refer to those who say “Lord, Lord, we did all these things in your name!” and yet be told to depart from Him as workers of lawlessness. They share in the work of the Holy Spirit without being truly sealed by His indwelling.

The goodness of the word of God refers to understanding the scriptures. Many false Christians affirm that the Bible is good, but ultimately will not sacrifice their own comfort or advancement in its defense.

Similarly, the powers of the age to come means they understand God’s promise of the resurrection and the new heaven and new earth.

These are those who ultimately “fall away” as the seeds that start to sprout, but are choked out, burned and do not prove to be true converts. They fail because they do not believe God.

Our salvation ultimately depends on one thing: Believing God. This was the basis for Abraham’s righteousness, and it is the basis of ours, as well. We, of course, have far more information about God than our spiritual ancestor.

When someone holds to earthly applause instead of becoming an outcast for the testimony of Christ, it says what they believe about God. If someone is loath to surrender a popular ritual or even some religious ordinance because there is too much sentimentality or tradition attached to it, it says something about their belief in God.

Essentially, when we become the judge of what is right and wrong, rather than humbly submitting to the words of Christ, we join Satan in saying, “Did God really say?” We refuse to enter the Promised Land because we reject the idea that God will deliver the giants and warriors into our hands and allow us to occupy the land. We leave Ur, but settle in Haran.

We need to ensure we listen to the voice of the Lord when He calls us out of Haran to the wilderness. We need to travel forth into a land of godless warriors, pitching our tent and laying claim to a promise that is entirely absurd by earthly standards.

If we fail to do so, if we defame God’s character by rejecting His promise and His way, we reveal that we don’t believe Jesus is Lord. We reveal we don’t believe God’s power.

Can someone who has passed through the Red Sea, eaten of the heavenly bread, drank of the water from the rock, followed the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, then reject God’s nature of goodness, holiness, faithfulness, mercy and grace?

If they do, they have likely committed the unpardonable sin and there is no additional sacrifice to cover that.

Daily Devotional: Warrior Babies!

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. Psalm 8:2

We often think God should act immediately. We have visions of how He should put people to shame when they commit evil, or do wrong.

Who hasn’t been treated unfairly, or been wrongfully accused? Which of us has not had our pride stepped on or our feelings dragged through the mud?

In those instances, we might cry out and expect God to reveal Himself in a show of force.

But our understanding is like a small child’s compared to a wise parent. Our sense of justice amounts to a sneering face with a protruding tongue directed at the offending party.

God, on the other hand, works in ways that seem slow to us. They seem long in arriving, as if God uses ancient sea vessels to deliver His goods when there are jet planes available!

Often, we fail to see our own guilt and should pray, along with the Psalmist for God to point out our faults and judge us.

Ultimately, we rest on God’s given righteousness, not our own. We don’t have any righteousness to claim.

Our trust is in God, but also in His timing. Our faith rests in His strength, which is established from the mouth of infants. God defeats His foes with babies, not grizzled warriors.

Specifically, God defeated the great foe, Sin, through one baby, Jesus. Our savior was born to a poor couple–outcasts on a weary road, holed up in a stable. No guards to protect this tender life. No supernatural show of force. Just a warning from an angel and a long, arduous journey to Egypt, away from home and family. Just a looming threat of a mad king who murdered hundreds of babies in Israel to wipe out the Messiah.

God is not mocked. And He doesn’t act according to the wisdom of His creatures. We need to trust His strength … which is established in what we’d consider foolishness.

Is Negativity Actually Good?

Don’t judge! Don’t be so negative! If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

We’ve all heard those statements. I’ve cautioned myself and my kids with those words. There’s truth in them.

Truth, however, is only true when applied correctly. So, if someone is only looking on possible problems that don’t exist and are not very likely, they might be responding negatively, or judging for no good reason.

Other times, people will turn up their nose because of pride, thinking they are better than someone else.

Sometimes, negativity is good. In fact, in certain cases, it’s desperately needed.

I heard about a woman that was extracted from her home by a team of rescue workers after a friend called to inform them that she was no longer able to get out of her chair.

Oh, and that had been the case for months!

This woman put the morbid in morbidly obese. It was incredibly sad. She sat in the same place, relieving her bodily functions where she sat, relying on her friend to bring her food. I’m guessing the food probably didn’t include fresh vegetables, either.

At this point, I think we’d all agree that some intervention was long overdue. I mean, how many visits to a friend who is urinating and defecating in her chair would it take to say, “Suzie, I’m going to get you some help!”?

This friend had to make a judgment, for sure. He was judging the fact that ‘Suzie’ was incapable of taking care of herself on a basic, human level. In fact, they found her bones had suffered from lack of calcium and the overbearing weight of her flesh to the point that, even if she wanted to, she could not get up or walk.

Someone needed to tell her that she was in a very dire condition. She needed to be confronted with the reality that she was trapped by her gluttony and sloth, literally sitting in a cesspool of filth.

Her friend needed to judge the situation rightly and bring the negative news of truth.

The same is true if we go to the doctor. How would we react if we found that our doctor didn’t want to be negative, so he/she didn’t tell us that we had cancer? What if, instead, the doctor just encouraged us to try to eat a few pieces of broccoli or add a healthy smoothy to our diet?

Then, a few months later we end up in the hospital with untreatable cancer. It’s too late. there’s nothing medicine can do.

I think that doctor would have a law suit on his/her hands!

People might think true Christians are negative because we proclaim that no one is good. No one can stand before the measure of God’s Righteousness and not be found wanting. We all deserve eternal punishment for our rebellion and spite against our loving Creator God.

That negativity, that judgment, comes with a treatment. Jesus died to pay the debt we could not pay. He bore the wrath that we deserved. He was buried. Then, after completing that work, He picked up His life and was resurrected, giving us hope of eternal life through the same power of resurrection.

Why does this work? Well, death couldn’t keep Jesus because He died without sin. The “wages” of sin is death. Remember from Genesis where God told Adam that in the day that he ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree, he would die. Sure enough, Adam died. As did all of his descendants (except, perhaps Enoch, but that’s another blog to discuss that).

When Jesus died, He had remained spotless. He didn’t owe those wages, so death couldn’t hold Him. He resurrected.

He is referred to as the “first-born of the dead.” Meaning He is the first of a “new race,” just like Adam was the first of the human race.

Because Jesus defeated death, all who call on His name, or nature, who call out to Him as Lord and Savior, will be given righteousness.

Abraham believed God, believed His nature, and righteousness was credited to him.

This is how it works. We don’t have the righteousness. We can’t work up to enough righteousness. We can’t get out of our chair because we’re stuck with decaying bones and sitting in our own filth! Or, to use the Biblical example, we’re dead! Dead men and women don’t get up.

But, by faith, calling out to Jesus after recognizing the horrible truth of our condition, God clothes us with something we could never earn or deserve: His Righteousness.

Because we’re then clothed with His Righteousness, death will not be able to hold us any more than it held Jesus. We will be resurrected to eternal life.

That is the hope. But true hope doesn’t come from warm fuzzies that ignore the truth, or mask it with silly fantasies about dancing in the sky as a spirit or experiencing some ecstatic revelation.

I’ll leave off with this. Daniel in the lion’s den. Did he see the angel standing guard next to him? Was it bright, like in the pictures we’ve all seen? Or was it dark? Was he alone in a smelly cave, no light to see, and growling beasts all around?

I think it was the latter. Daniel states that the Lord sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths. But he never said he saw the angel. It’s possible he did see the angel. But the Bible doesn’t say that.

Similarly, his three friends never said they saw the fourth person walking in the flames. It was the king who saw the fourth person.

We are never promised to see signs and wonders. We are called to walk by faith, obeying when it seems that to do so would be the worst possible thing for our future. That’s real faith. And it will make us seem negative, or judgmental. It won’t win popularity contests in the world. But we’re not here to please the world.

We’re called to glorify the Lord.

Is The Shack Even A Christian Movie?

I applaud anyone who sets out to write a book. Particularly fiction. It’s hard work. When someone takes on the task of self-publishing, it’s an even bigger job, and my hat tips to them.

William P. Young did this with The Shack and, a year after publication, it started selling faster than lifeboat seats on the Titanic.

The book garnered support from Evangelical pop stars such as Michael W. Smith, and more. It grew to be a phenomenon selling 30 million copies. I’m not sure if that’s on par with 50 Shades, but it’s the same type of hype.

My wife tried to read it (The Shack, not 50 Shades) and couldn’t get far before laughing out loud and pitching the piece of crap (in fairness, her reaction to 50 Shades would probably be identical).

It’s a unique privilege for a book to get that response. She never does that. She will usually slog through it. One other book got that treatment, The Harbinger. But that will be for another blog post.

It’s clear, however, that The Shack has captured the “Christian” market. But here’s the question: Does it even deserve to be called Christian?

Continue reading →

Do Witches Actually Have Power?

President Trump has been targeted by witches. No, really. The hexing kind. Evidently, they will be casting ‘binding’ spells each month during a certain phase of the moon. I assume they used the term ‘binding’ to differentiate from all those spells they cast that don’t work? Just a thought.

So, they’ll march around, chanting against the President and I assume anything negative that happens will be claimed by these women as fulfilling their hex.

Rolling Stone has a story about this how Trump is awakening the rivalry between Christians and witches. CNN covered this story, too. It’s all over the place. I heard that, in some instances, Christians are marching with the witches. So, apparently the President is bringing people together, too.

witches_lffc_web480-480x309

I’m wondering if that circle on a pole is the same as Ted Dekker’s “circle series” logo. Just a thought. Maybe.

Here’s my problem with this: Do people actually think witches are doing anything? If they are, then maybe we just need pails of water.

For a moment–just a moment–let’s consider what the Bible says about witches.

I Samuel 28:7-15 contains an account of King Saul when he sought the Lord’s guidance, but couldn’t get any answer:

Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”

So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.”

The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

But Saul swore to her by the LORD, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”

Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.”

The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.”

He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.”

A little background: Saul had been killing witches to prove how righteous and obedient he was to God. Of course, God hadn’t commanded him to do that, he just threw it in. In fact, he’d openly disobeyed the command of God (while claiming to be obedient). Saul is an example of a worldly man, tall, powerful, good-looking, religious … but rebellious against God and cut off from God’s counsel.

He sought the Lord’s counsel when he was in trouble. The Philistines were surrounding him. His doom was sure. But when he sought the Lord, the Lord was silent.

At this point, he might have been humble and repented of his willful disobedience and sought the mercy and Grace that God offers to all. Instead, he seeks out a medium, or witch.

Remember I said Saul was killing them as he found them? That’s because the Law said they were to die. God warned His people that they were to have nothing to do with witches or mediums or sorcerers (Deut. 18:11-12, Lev. 20:27). They are an abomination to the Lord.

The key thing we should consider is this: Was God warning His people away from witches because they actually did things with magic? 

No. God warns us away from things that are false hope for us and dishonoring to Him. Our only hope is in Christ our Lord, not in empty incantations, moons, rituals and the like. Our purpose is to honor our Creator God. When we seek supernatural solutions from each other, believing we can be like God if we say certain words, kill certain animals, or invoke some spell under an alignment of the stars or phase of the moon, we’re blaspheming.

This is why I wrote the blog asking if God’s people should find Doctor Strange entertaining. Why would we find open depictions of sorcery entertaining? Do we find any other named sin entertaining? Maybe that’s a bad question to ask.

Back to the witches. They don’t affect anything with their words. Only God can curse or bless. His omnipotence is indisputable (though often hard to understand).

If we believe witches can invoke some curse against someone by saying words under a crescent moon, are we to believe this is outside of God’s sovereign rule of the cosmos?

Is God afraid of witches? What’s the qualification of witches, anyway? In movies and stories they need to find some object that imbues them with some special power. Or, perhaps they’re just born with it? Maybe they have a mole on their nose? Perhaps a special hat?

It’s absurd. They are to be pitied for actually believing in what they’re doing. And Christians should be ashamed for believing they have any power whatsoever. Rather, we should be treating them like the “good witch” in The Wizard of Oz and say, “Be gone, you have no power here.”

Or, to go back to the Bible (a far better source than the Wizard of Oz, by the way) we might consider Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

1Ki 18:27  And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

1Ki 18:28  And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.

Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal. They cried aloud, cut themselves, did all kinds of incantations and … nothing happened.

Was God stopping Baal from doing something? No. God didn’t have to stop Baal any more than parents have to stop the monster under their toddler’s bed.

Still not convinced? Take a look back at the incident of the witch at En-dor. When she called for Samuel, she cried out when Samuel rose up from the ground. She immediately realized that something different was occurring. She also realized that only Saul would want to talk to Samuel. She was first terrified that a spirit was really appearing in front of her (because she was used to doing cold-readings on people and making stuff up). Then, she was aware that only Saul would want to talk to Samuel, and Saul was killing witches.

This account tells us that spirits don’t rise or speak to mediums. This should be no surprise to anyone. How many exposes do we need to have on these spiritually sensitive charlatans before people realize that they’re all frauds. They’re not getting voices. They’re not in touch with the spirit world. They’re in touch with how to fool people and draw out details to fill in their spooky narrative.

President Trump has nothing to fear from the witches. Rather, he should fear the Lord. This is the same fear we should all have. We should never give more credit to the enemy than he deserves. Satan is far more clever and destructive than the obvious things like statues of Baphomet, witches marching on Washington, or even the Satanists with their spooky emblems and incantations.

Satan’s victory is getting people to believe that incantations and spells actually do anything. Satan wins when Christians believe that walking around a building seven times creates a blessing on that building. Or when Christians say things like, “this room is soaked in prayer,” as if we create spiritual energy by praying.

Satan wins when someone turns to Benny Hinn for healing. Satan wins when people follow a so-called minister who tells everyone he/she got a direct message from God (and it so happens to reinterpret or replace Scripture).

Remember, Satan is a defeated foe. His power is broken. His head has been crushed. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (1John 4:4).