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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Did God fail at delivering us from sin?

God got pretty upset with fallen humanity after "the sons of God saw the daughters of men" and procreated with them. "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and was grieved in His heart" (Gen. 6:1-6). So what did God do? He wiped 'em all out, except for, of course, Noah and his family. That was the world wide flood. And that took care of that, right? Nope, wrong answer.

In fact, nothing God has done from the beginning of time to the baptism of the Holy Spirit has put an end to man's ability to sin. Nothing He has done has ended our appetite for sin.

The spiritual and physical deaths of Adam and Eve that we have all inherited, their banishment, the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the covenant with Abraham, the plagues, Israel's deliverance from slavery, the parting of the Red Sea, the miracles in the wilderness, the giving of the law, the giving of the Scriptures to His chosen people, the prophets, priests and kings, the defeats and captivities of the Hebrews, the signs and wonders, the birth of Christ, His life, death, resurrection and ascension, the fulfilling of God's promises, the baptism/outpouring/indwelling and gifting of the Holy Spirit, the new birth, the new creation, the New Covenant, the giving of the gospels, the New Testament letters, and 2,000 years of preaching the gospel, repentance and the return of Christ did nothing to end humanity's ability to sin. So, did God fail? Did something unforeseen go horribly wrong? Does He need to go to Plan C?

The answer is there was never a Plan C ... or a Plan B. There was just Plan A. And God is sticking with it.

So if God hasn't been able to stop human beings from sinning, even His own people, those who by His grace have come to faith in His Son, then this must somehow be a part of Plan A. And to be fair and Biblically accurate, we cannot say that He hasn't been able to pull it off; He is able. But to step in and stop humans from being able to sin would be to make them something other than human, certainly something other than what He originally created. We would be changed in such a way while still in these bodies that we would be automatons, lifeless passionless beings.

It's been Plan A from the beginning.
Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,' 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

It has to be that what is is what God ordained from the beginning. And why? That in all things He might be glorified.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. *Remember vv.3-5

Ephesians 1:12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

It is what it is in order that we, His beloved, might trust in Him and Him alone and give Him all the glory for our justification, our forgiveness, our redemption, our sanctification, both the one time sanctification by which He set us apart for Himself, and our on-going sanctification by which life in the Spirit is conforming us to the image of God's own Son, aiding us as we struggle daily with our corrupt old selves.

So, no, God has not failed at delivering us from sin. That was never His plan for us in this life on this earth in this age. This life with its spiritual warfare and our moaning on account of our present state cannot be compared with what awaits us in our final glorified state.

To the praise of the glory of His grace.

*Check out Romans 7:21-25 and 8:18-30


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Part 17: The "if" factor

The little word "if" is a really important word in the word of God, occuring over 600 times in the English version of the New Testament alone. By far, most of those occurences are irrelevant to our study on eternal security. And of those that are pertinent to our discussion, I have selected a few that are representative of them.

If is a preposition that always introduces a conditional clause of some kind. And it is vital to our understanding of the text that we determine what kind of condition occurs. For instance, in the Koine Greek of Paul's day there were three conditional sentences, simply referred to by grammarians as a First Class Condition, a Second Class, and a Third Class. Like I said, "simply referred to." And looking to see which kind is being employed will help us rightly divide the word of truth. The authors of the New Testament and their readers knew this stuff, we have to work to get it.

The First Class Condition is introduced by "if" and has to do with the reality of the idea being set forth in a verse (the indicative mood is used in this case, being the mood of reality). The idea is set forth and assumed as true. For example, Romans 8:31b, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" This verse can be translated this way, "Since God is for us." That is the sense of the First Class Condition. We could read it this way, "If God is for us, and He is, who can be against us.?" That is great! And most of the time the First Class Condition can be seen simply by observing the context.

The Second Class Condition is the very opposite of the first, it lets us know that what is being proposed in the conditional clause is in fact not true. Again, context will be important in catching the Second Class Condition. An example of that class is found in Mt. 11:23b, "for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." The reality is, of course, "the mighty works done in you" were not "done in Sodom." Therefore, Capernaum, since you have rejected the works and the One doing them by exalting yourselves to heaven, the reality for you will be eternal destruction. And the little two letter preposition "if" lets us know this.

The Third Class Condition is the really "iffy" one. This is the condition that is set forth as being possible determined by human response. Note that it only presents a condition that would be possible if all things were equal. For instance, if the ungodly were able to be justified by keeping the law, then they could be justified by works. But the ungodly cannot be justified by keeping the law. Romans 2:25-29 drives this point home to the Jew. We see that by the recurring use of the Third Class Conditions preceded by "if" (v.25a, v.26, v.27). Cf. Galatians 2:15-16.

Lets examine several of the "if" verses that have given all of us at some time pause.

John 15:6, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

We can translate this Third Class Condition sentence this way, "If it should be (that's the subjunctive idea of this verb) that anyone is not abiding in Me (the verb "does abide" with the negative adverb "not" is present tense, thus the translation "is not abiding"), he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up..." Now without all the clutter, "If it should be that anyone is not abiding in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." In other words, all who are not in Christ will be gathered up and burned.

The Lord makes a very clear distinction between His disciples and those who are not in this chapter. In v.2 He says "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away," referring back, of course, to His Father who is "the vinedresser." Jesus is "the true vine" and it just stands to reason that the vinedresser is going to do what is best for the vine. The unbelieving Jews are the fruitless branches; the disciples of Jesus are the branches that have already been pruned or are "already clean" (v.3). That's the clear distinction drawn here between the pruned and fruitful branches and the dead branches.

If the unfruitful branches were able to make themselves fruitful then they wouldn't be cast away and burned. But, in fact, they are incapable of doing so.

Another example.
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
This is an example of a First Class Condition dealing with reality in the negative sense in the first half of the verse and in the positive sense in the last half.

"For if you are living according to the flesh you will die (that's the negative reality)." This is a fact. "For if in reality, if indeed, you are living according to the flesh, then you who are so living are going to die." That's a fact.

"But, in contrast to those who are living according to the flesh, you are by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." That's a fact.

Two spiritual states are set forth here, another clear distinction, those who are living according to the flesh and are therefore yet dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 8:5-8), and those who are made alive by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 6:63; Rom. 5:4; Eph. 1:13-14; 2:4-10).

One final example that also makes the distinction clear between those who belong to Christ and those who do not.

Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

This verse says more than one might ordinarily see, and the "if" is our first clue. Notice the fact stated in the first part of this verse, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit." That is in fact a fact. And it's followed immediately by a First Class Conditional clause, "if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." We can read this part of this verse this way, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in you." That's what the First Class Condition does.

This verse makes sense especially after discovering the First Class Condition. And that makes the last part of the verse clear. Here is that clear distinction again. There are those who have the Spirit of God and there are those who do not.





Monday, December 17, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Part 16: Dying with unconfessed sins

God's side of the question

I have asked congregations in times past "What do you as a Christian do when you sin?" The answer is always "Well, I repent and confess my sins." And that's a good answer. I don't believe half the folks who say that really do it. But it's a good answer. Now I want to ask a question that deals with the believer's sins in a different way, from a different perspective, "What does God do when you as a Christian sin?"

Does God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit cringe every time we sin? (Yes, I believe that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God). Are they surprised or disappointed that you sinned? Do you really think for a moment that they thought better of you? That they thought you were above sinning?

Do you believe that He deals with your sins on a "as-they-happen" basis? What if you forget to repent and confess? Does that mean you've blown it and you're going to hell? What if you commit a sin, say, in your car on the way to work or the grocery store and your mind is so occupied with that jerk who cut you off in traffic or blew his horn at you that you don't remember later that you cursed him in your heart and maybe made a rude gesture at him in your anger? What if you died today or tonight with unconfessed sins, sins that you simply didn't pay any attention to or forgot about? What would happen to you as a believer? There's a simple and Biblical answer to that question, and this is it, "Are you under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant?" Are you saved by works or by grace?

If you have, by the grace of God, come to faith in Jesus Christ as the One who paid for your sins, bought forgiveness for you by His sacrificial life, death, and resurrection, then you, beloved, are now under the New Covenant. Period.

The New Covenant doesn't make one perfect. The New Covenant doesn't make one sinless. And neither does justification, sanctification, reconciliation or forgiveness. Nothing God has done for us in, by, and through His Son has made it so that we are free from acts of sin in this life in this world. God in His infinite wisdom has ordained it so for His glory, and, believe it or not, for our good (1 Cor. 1:26-31; 2 Cor. 4:6-7,16-5:5).

We are still corruptible and corrupted even though we have been delivered from that corruption.
2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-56.

Salvation under the New Covenant does not mark the end of our ability to sin or our propensities toward sinning.

New Covenant salvation/justification rather removes every appearance of our having done anything that would even suggest that we have somehow earned it while at the same time making it abundantly clear that it is all of God and all of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That's the New Covenant.

Hebrews 8:8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- 9 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." 13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

And finally for this post, the result of the finishing of the New Covenant in Christ's blood is this blessing for all who trust Jesus Christ:

Romans 4:5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin."

Beloved, unconfessed or confessed, God does not impute our sins against us.

Those of you who want to abuse grace and the blood by which God redeems, have at it.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

An open letter to the SBC concerning their presence on TBN

The following is a letter written by Johnny T. Helms.

Jeremiah 5:30 "An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?


To whom it may concern,

Recently on TBN, the president and founder, Paul Crouch, celebrated his birthday. A friend of mine sent me the video of the event over the internet. Two or three leading SBC pastors were featured offering praise to Paul Crouch for spreading the gospel around the world. I have been watching TBN for years now in order to keep on top of what is going on in the world of the word faith movement and other movements that identify themselves with the Christian church. So seeing men such as Charles Stanley and Ed Young and James Merritt was not really a surprise, I have seen them on TBN for years. The thing that bothered me on this occasion was that it was the first time I have seen them thanking this man and praising him for the great work he is doing. I was absolutely disgusted with what they were saying about TBN and Paul Crouch.

Clearly, the SBC does not know what takes place on TBN (or perhaps, worse, they just don’t care). If they did I would think that they would want to disassociate themselves with it immediately. Surely, men of God such as Dr. Stanley would have the spiritual discernment to recognize the blatant heresies that continually parade across the screen portraying themselves as Biblical, Christian, orthodox, and sound. The historical Christian faith has always had its heretics claiming to be a part of the family, but when we can see them in our day lined up on the television one after the other, we must recognize the new danger brought to the world by this media. The false teachers and false prophets of the 21st century are able to spread their teachings to more people than has ever been possible before. So, just in case the SBC and its pastors who have freely chosen to air their services on TBN are not familiar with the people with whom they are sharing a platform, I am providing a brief overview. I pray that you will bear with me and examine the following facts.


Our Lord Jesus, as you know, said in Matthew 24 that many false christs, false prophets, and false teachers will come and will deceive many. But He did more than just tell us that they were coming and what they would do, He commanded us to “take heed that no one deceives you.” The phrase “take heed” comes from a single Greek word meaning to “watch,” “look out for.” This warning or commandment was not meant solely for the disciples with Christ at the time He spoke these words, but also for all those who would be taught by these disciples and all who would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ throughout time. The responsibility for taking heed and watching out for false teachers falls to all Christians but especially to Christian leaders.


In the book of Acts and chapter 20, we read the true, historical account of the apostle Paul calling for the “elders of the church” in Ephesus (v.17). There were matters to be taken care of and Paul did not want to leave until he was sure that the elders understood the seriousness of the tasks at hand and the life and death struggle facing the church. He begins where every pastor should be able to begin and that is with a reminder to the elders of the exemplary life he had lived while he was among them. He could say this with confidence and the elders knew it was so. There were no lingering doubts among them as to whether or not this man had taken their money by fraudulent means or had been inappropriate with any of their women. In our day and time this might be difficult for some pastors to do and difficult for some elders to believe should their pastor say such things about himself.

The apostle reminds the elders that he “kept nothing back that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you” concerning “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (vv.18-21). And why? Why did the apostle give his life for the Ephesians in such a manner that it cost him in great suffering? Was he getting paid well for his services? Did he do it because it brought him fame? In verse 24 he says, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” And in verse 26 he could say with all confidence, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.”

My brothers in the Lord, will there come a day when you will know without a doubt that you can stand before all the souls you have spoken to in your churches and over television and say to them without flinching that you are innocent? While you taught and preached in the company of false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, false bishops, false believers and false leaders of all manner, will you confidently say that your association with these people did no harm to your people? “Guilt by association” is sometimes not a just charge, but will it be a just charge against you as you preach side by side with the worse deceivers the church has ever witnessed?

Paul continues speaking to the elders, the leaders of the church, to warn them of the “ravenous, savage wolves” who will “come in among you, not sparing the flock.” He tells them to beware because “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” He tells them twice with the same word the Lord Jesus used, v.28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves,” but not only to yourselves, “and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” And v.31, “Therefore watch.” Paul warned the Ephesians and therefore the church in the 21st century, that there would come enemies from without and from within. Peter declares the same truth in his second letter (2:1-3). And the pastors and leaders of the local church are given the responsibility to guard the flock from these predatory mongrels who now have access to their homes.

Brethren, you are standing in the midst of these “savage wolves,” these enemies from without and from within, and not only are you not warning the blood bought church of the dangers; you are giving the appearance of your approval of their damnable heresies. You “congratulated” one of the leading false teachers and false prophets and false leaders in the world today for his hard work in “spreading the gospel!” Unbelievable! Are your hands “innocent of the blood of all men?” Are you taking heed over the church to which the Holy Spirit has given you charge? Do you not realize that now through your television broadcasts you have taken upon yourselves the responsibility of millions of souls who are watching you preach along side the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, and other notorious liars? Are you taking heed for these souls as well as your individual congregations? And you thanked a man who on his broadcast has denied the deity of Jesus Christ?

When the Lord Jesus warned us that many of these false leaders would come, and when Paul and Peter and John and Jude followed in the Holy Spirit with the same warnings, they revealed a progression in the unfolding of these events plainly declaring that times would get more difficult as we draw closer to the end of times (2 Tim.3:-4:5; 2 Pet.1:19-2:3; 1 Jn.2:18-19). We, my brothers, are not ministering the gospel in easy times, in spite of the fact that America has many “megachurches.” We minister the gospel of grace, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the last days.


Many deceivers are with us now, those from without and those from within, and they have all found a home on TBN, both the deceivers and the deceived. My concern is, does your presence on TBN in any way, give legitimacy to their activities? Paul and Jan Crouch, the president and founder of TBN and his wife, like to frequently mention Billy Graham on their programs just to give the audience the feeling that everything is perfectly orthodox. Just as Robert Schuller has a statue of Mr. Graham in front of his “crystal cathedral.” Dr. Oral Roberts used to drop Mr. Graham’s name occasionally for the same purpose. It helps to cover up the bizarre by presenting a familiar face. “Surely, if Billy Graham endorses these people, they are okay.”

But Paul wrote to the Galatians and told them that if he or an angel preached another gospel, let them be accursed. If Billy Graham (and he in fact has, as has Dr. Stanley, James Merritt, Ed Young, Ronnie Floyd, and of all people, Dr. D. James Kennedy) gives approval to these people, that does not by any means equate to God’s approval. It does say something about those who give their approval. Will these other preachers follow in the steps of Mr. Graham and visit Jan and Paul in order to express their appreciation the way Mr. Graham did also with Oprah? Is there no spiritual discernment among any of you? A four year old child could see the heresies so blatantly portrayed on TBN.


In May or June of 2004, Paul Crouch announced that anyone, including Muslims, could get saved just by reading the Qur’an. I had been tuning in to keep up with current events on TBN and had witnessed him holding a copy of the Qur’an and making various flattering remarks about Islam. He referred to Muslims as “our brothers.” This only makes sense since Crouch also refers to theology as “doctrinal doo-doo.” His theology apparently does not need Jesus Christ dying on the cross and rising again because Muslims deny the incarnation, the deity, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the stated goals of Islam is to destroy this belief (The Beliefnet Guide to Islam, pp.19, 147). If they can be saved through Islam, then Crouch has found a “new Way” to heaven.


In a broadcast featuring Kenneth Copeland, Crouch affirms, “I have his name. I’m one with him. I’m in a covenant relationship. I am a little god.” This is certainly good company to be in, isn’t it? And Copeland gave what was received as a “prophecy” saying, “They crucified Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn’t claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me.” Later as Copeland explains this he says, “He hadn’t come to earth as God, He’d come as man. He’d set aside His divine power.” There are numerous sources where one can find the videos and audios that record this transaction between Copeland and Crouch and more (see Hank Hannegraff’s “Christianity in Crisis,” and “Counterfeit Revival” and any number of sites on the web).

Something to think about: Crouch and Copeland can proclaim themselves to be little gods (along with many others) while denying the deity of Jesus Christ. In other words, “Jesus was not God, but I am.” This may be innocuous to you but it is deadly to me. If we are all “little gods” and can do as the word faith teachers proclaim, then we actually don’t need the “big” God. After all, as Joel Osteen teaches, “our words prophesy our future.” We can “create” our own reality. We can “name it and claim it.” We can be like Abraham and “confess things into being that are not” (a very gross misreading of Romans 4:16-18).


Brethren, as I have already stated, these heresies are not new. These contemporary false teachers did not invent them; Satan did. But in the early years of the developing theology of the church they would have been promptly, and rightfully so, condemned by men of God who gathered in a “counsel” to put a stop to such absolute nonsense. What the early church fathers sought to do was, as Barney Fife would suggest, “nip it in the bud.” Remember Arius? What the church needs today is a “new reformation.” And not so much a new reformation as much as a return to the Reformation led by Calvin, Zwingli, and Luther (which was initiated by the Holy Spirit).

Heresy is a cancer in the body of Christ; a cancer that can be stopped by the proper treatment administered at the right time. While the brethren are preaching ear-scratching “cotton candy” sermons (as someone described Osteen’s “talks”), their congregations are starving to death as a result of the cancerous growth that is destroying the body. This cancer removes the desire and appetite for the real and substantial meat of the Word of God. And it is the meat of the Word that will heal this festering illness. The congregations that are listening to this “fluff” that passes for preaching, are so lively and “happy clappy” (to use a phrase used by Dr. MacArthur), yet they are “whited sepulchers, full of dead men’s bones” and unaware of the diagnosis of their true condition.


A brief reading of TBN preachers reads like an advertisement from a “Heretics Are Us” store: Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Rod Parsley, Jesse Duplantis, R.W. Schambach, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Robert Schuller, Eddie Long, Frederick K.C. Price, Creflo Dollar, Tommy Tenney, Clarence McClendon, John Hagee, Juanita Byrum, and Mark Cherona. There are others, but this should suffice. What astounds me about the so-called “ministries” of these people is that they can say literally anything and no one is bothered by it. Do truth and integrity matter to anyone? Does anyone care? Apparently the “no one” includes the evangelicals who broadcast over TBN.

In the early 90’s Benny Hinn prophesied “by the Spirit of the Lord” that Fidel Castro would die in 1994 or 1995, the mid-nineties; I guess the Holy Spirit wasn’t quite sure about an exact date. During that same period Hinn again prophesied by the Spirit that the entire homosexual community in America would be destroyed by fire sent from God in the mid-nineties. Did anyone notice that neither prophecy came to pass? Apparently not. Did he lose his following? Absolutely not. Does this matter to the SBC or its pastors?

I was watching with my son-in-law and my wife one night when Hinn stopped a conversation and said, “Wait a minute! The Holy Spirit is telling me something. Now, I don’t know if this is true or not.” And he continued with something that I couldn’t hear for the laughter coming from my family. How can a man say such bizarre things and no one protest? How can a man who is so clearly deceived continue to influence millions over the airways and in packed auditoriums around the world? Does anyone care?

On another occasion we were watching when Hinn announced that a woman had prophesied that Jesus Christ Himself would appear on stage with brother Benny when he went to preach in Africa. Benny later made the prophecy his on the same broadcast that night saying very boldly, “I tell you by the Spirit of the Lord that this will come to pass.”

(The woman died weeks later and Jesus never made an appearance). Paul Crouch and the studio were overcome with excitement, Paul, beside himself, declaring that they would have “footage” of Christ on stage with Hinn. Now there’s a video I would buy. (and the video of this broadcast can be found just by going to Google and typing in “Benny Hinn”). *At this re-publishing I can't be sure that it's still available. Much footage has been removed from TBN.

Did Hinn’s ministry diminish after this? No, his crusades are as popular as ever. And what about his prophecy on a broadcast with Paul Crouch that people would be raised from the dead while Hinn’s broadcast was on the air? Hinn said that people would bring their dead loved ones into their homes, “in their coffins,” and sit them in front of the tv and they would be raised from the dead during a Benny Hinn show. Now that would make headline news around the world! Did anybody check to see how many cemeteries had been vandalized due to relatives digging up loved ones and carrying them home to watch a little tv? Did anyone really believe this and follow through on what Hinn said was a word from the Lord? Probably not. Do they still follow Hinn whenever he is in town? Yes, they do. Do believers care? Do Christian leaders care? Apparently not.

Benny Hinn is by far the most bizarre of the false prophets on TBN, but just a few steps behind him are the Copelands and their traveling companion, Jesse Duplantis. Copeland and several other word faith teachers teach that Jesus was “born again in hell” after he had gone there and suffered for our sins and “whipped Satan.” According to the Copelands, Jesus was killed by the demons of hell as they tormented Him but God came through and raised Him up by the Holy Spirit, thus making Jesus the “first born again man.” It doesn’t concern the word faith teachers that this has no basis in Scripture, but comes from the demented minds of such people as Kenneth Hagin and E. W. Kenyon.

In my early years as a believer a friend of mine was “really into Kenyon” and persuaded me to buy a couple of his books. It did not take long for me, a babe in Christ, to recognize the horrible heresy I was holding in my hands. How could I catch that truth at such an early stage in my faith? I was devouring the Word of God instead of this garbage like so many of my charismatic friends were doing. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice….”

Kenneth Copeland adds a little twist to the born again Jesus theology in a story he has related on his broadcast several times. On a Sunday morning broadcast of the “Believer’s Voice of Victory,” Copeland says that one morning while he was shaving, Jesus (or “God”) came to see him in his bathroom. Ken, of course, was not shocked, scared, terrified, or humbled by his buddy’s appearance, he just kept on shaving. During their conversation Jesus told Ken that He was able to defeat Satan because He was a “born again man.” Ken said, “What! You don’t mean to tell me.” And Jesus said, “Yes, that’s right. You could have done the same thing.” So Copeland concludes that he could have done the same thing Jesus did because he is also a born again man. And that was the point of Jesus’ visit. Not only does Copeland conclude this but he says that Jesus confirmed his conclusion. Does anyone care that this nonsense is being passed as truth?

Now follow Copeland’s line of thought here as we also follow it to its logical conclusion. Everything that the Lord Jesus Christ did for us was planned before the foundation of the earth, before time began. All of the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament point to Jesus, the Messiah. Does Copeland understand that what his jesus told him means that the prophecies pointing to the Messiah could have pointed to him just as well. All God had to do apparently was wait. The coming of Jesus then, was to do something that anyone could have done, if it is true that Copeland could have done the same thing? This is nonsense at its worst. This may very well be what Peter had in mind when he wrote his second letter saying that false teachers would come “even denying the Lord who bought them” (2:1-3).

Why did God even bother? Kenneth Copeland could have done the same thing Jesus did. All we needed was a born again man. Copeland is saying to jesus as jesus has just said to him, “If I had been around back then I could have done the same thing. I could have whipped Satan. And, if Satan needed whippin’ right now, I could do it.” “Yes,” said Copeland’s jesus, you could.”

Herein lies a three-fold problem with Copeland’s story. First, the Bible never says that Jesus was “born again.” This theology is the creation of twentieth century deceivers. Jesus Christ is the “God-man,” “Immanuel, God with us.” John tells us that “in Him there is no darkness at all.” The writer of Hebrews says that He faced temptation “yet without sin.” Jesus did not have to be born again. Second, Copeland’s story is absolutely absurd, asinine, ludicrous and impossible! Has anyone considered the obvious fact that Jesus had to do what He did in order for it to be possible for anyone to be born again in the first place? Unless Copeland was born two thousand years ago as the only begotten of the Father, he could not have done what Jesus did because in fact, Jesus did what He did two thousand years ago and Copeland did not. It is that screwy! Jesus did it first…and only. What Copeland’s jesus was suggesting is completely and utterly irrational!

Furthermore, and third, in the land of fruits and nuts, this story begs the question, “Jesus (or “God,” the story changes with the telling), told Copeland that he could have done the same thing that Jesus did? Jesus or God told Copeland this?

Was this the same God who spoke from heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration and said, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him?”

Was this the same God who, through the prophets, gave hundreds of prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God?

Was this the same God who promised the “seed” to Abraham that Paul tells us was indeed Jesus?

Was this the same God who through the prophet Isaiah foretold and described the suffering of the One who was to come?

Was this the same God who through the prophet John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?”

Was this the same God who revealed to Peter that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God?”

Was this the same God who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life?”

Was the God that Copeland says spoke the God of the Bible? The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?

If this was Jesus, was he the same Jesus who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me?” And should Copeland say “yes, this was the God of the Bible and the Jesus of the Bible who told me these things,” then the church has a few matters that it must consider concerning the person of Kenneth Copeland and all of his kind.

Before Jesus Christ could overcome the devil, death, hell and the grave, He had to “suffer many things” (Mt.16:21). Before Jesus could redeem us from sin and save us from eternal damnation He had to (dei, “it was necessary”) suffer the rejection of His own people and be betrayed into the hands of the Jewish leaders and the Gentiles. AND, before God could offer Jesus on the cross Jesus had to be without sin, the “spotless Lamb of God.” Can any of this be said of Kenneth Copeland? Setting aside just for the moment the insanity of Copeland’s obvious lie, does this deceiver consider himself just as qualified as Jesus to do these things?

Who receives the glory when Copeland says that God told him that he could have done the same thing that Jesus did? And if a born again man was all that was required, then Copeland’s followers must necessarily believe that they also could have done the same thing. Imagine, a world full of born again “Satan whippers.” What a wonderful world this would be. So why hasn’t Copeland put Satan in his place? Maybe because he doesn’t want to hurt his father. Maybe because he can’t.

Was Copeland virgin born? Did God prophesy about Copeland? Has Copeland suffered the things that were necessary for the Messiah to suffer before going to the cross? Is Copeland qualified to whip satan by being sinless? Do Copeland and all who follow him not realize that innocent and pure blood had to be offered, sacrificed, in order to defeat Satan and death and the grave and hell and eternal damnation? Do they not see that being “born again” does not qualify anyone for Messiahship? And far and above all that, do they not realize that Jesus came to do more than just defeat Satan; He came to forgive sin. Does the blood of Jesus Christ which bought the church mean absolutely nothing to these people? And does anyone care?

To paraphrase John Owen; Whatever man thinks that he can do on his own that God hath required is to make nothing of the cross of Jesus Christ.


According to Charisma magazine, Bishop Clarence McClendon is one of those lucky brothers who has heard from the Holy Spirit concerning his marriage. He left his wife for a younger woman because the Spirit told him to. Now isn’t that convenient? Read the article made available on the web; it is a hoot. Arthur Blessitt had the same word from God while carrying the cross around the world, Richard Roberts had the same word while vacationing by himself in Florida, and the list could probably go on and on. That’s typical of the Holy Spirit, isn’t it? If the Holy Spirit tells you to leave your wife for a newer model then it can’t possibly be adultery. And if God can not only condone but suggest adulterous behavior why not gay marriage? Does anyone care that these men with flourishing ministries are living in adultery and idolatry and teaching others to do the same by their lifestyles?

When challenged by “brothers in Christ” concerning his doctrine and the doctrine of the majority of those who preach alongside him, Paul Crouch angrily responded that these people are hung up on doctrine, referring to doctrine as “doctrinal doo doo.” I heard this with my own ears, brothers. Is your doctrine “doo doo?” Is the warning of Jesus Christ about false teachers and false prophets doctrinal doo doo? Are Paul’s many warnings about deceivers and false apostles and false teachers and false prophets doctrinal doo doo? Is the incarnation doctrinal doo doo? Is the doctrine about the Trinity doctrinal doo doo? When these people take the “holy” out of Holy Spirit and the holy out of their daily lives and rob God of his infinite holiness by making Him partner in adultery, does it bother you that you are standing shoulder to shoulder with these liars?


Southern Baptists have always stood up for the inerrancy of the Bible. The written word of God in its original manuscripts was flawless, without error of any kind from Genesis to Revelation. The ancient manuscripts that exist now provide us with a completely reliable record of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The canon of Scripture is closed. The Word of God is complete. God has gifted his people with the person of the Holy Spirit to guide us as we study and preach and teach from His word. Yet in this very area that is so vital and precious to us, TBN again shows its disdain for truth. And we are sharing the platform with them.

One of the best selling authors in America is Tommy Tenney. Tenney wrote a blockbuster book entitled “The God Chasers.” It was on the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. He has since come out with a “God Chasers For Youth” edition as well as several other books. In his book “The God Chasers,” Tenney writes that the Bible is “dusty old love letters” and that no one wants to hear from them anymore. He writes that “the Bible is where God was, revelation is where he is now.” Not biblical revelation, but direct revelation from God, separate from the Bible. If revelation is where God is now then anyone can claim to have a “revelation” and who is there to question it? Is it any wonder that false teachers, prophets, and so-called “apostles” can say the most outlandish things and have their audience jump up and down and whoop and holler? They have just heard a word directly from God. And a “new, fresh word” I might add.

I saw a lady I know only as an acquaintance carrying Tenney’s book and I asked her if she knew that Tenney was going to be in town that weekend. She said that she was so disappointed to hear that and that Tenney was her “man.” “I just love him so much.” Tenney has lulled the undiscerning into believing that they no longer need to read the Bible for God’s guidance but can be led by inner voices and feelings and “words” from anyone who comes to town in a nice suit and great fanfare. Reading his book was one of the most disturbing experiences I have had as a Christian. I not only read it, I re-read it taking notes and studying Tenney’s theology (real doctrinal doo-doo). Does it matter? Does anyone care? I pity the church fathers who died while trying to spread this boring old collection of “dusty love letters.” Don’t you?

Does anyone care that the Word of God is being perverted around the world by the likes of Tenney, Hinn, Copeland, Osteen, and that idiot Jesse Duplantis? Does it matter at all that men such as Copeland and Crouch are antichrist? Yes, they deny the deity of Jesus Christ, which means by necessity that they deny that He has come in the flesh (1 Jn.4:1-3; see, “What’s wrong with the faith movement? Part two). Do our SBC leaders who actually believe in the risen Lord Jesus Christ and his substitutionary atonement think that these people are harmless? Does it matter to anyone that the most influential people on TBN are blatant heretics. Or that the loudest voices in our nation supposedly representing Christianity are those of televised heretics? (T.D. Jakes was presented to America as our “next Billy Graham?”)


Do we realize that many of our Southern Baptist members believe that these people are wonderful, God-called preachers? Does it matter that the names and faces of the most prominent leaders in the SBC are blended in with the likes of these false teachers? Does it matter to anyone that the reason so many believers think that TBN is legitimate Christian television is because of the presence of a few SBC pastors? Does it matter that people who are followers of Charles Stanley hear absolute garbage after his broadcast and never miss a beat in their admiration of these “men of God?”

I have talked with many people in our churches over the last thirty years who think Robert Schuller is wonderful. They think that Benny Hinn is a little unusual but nothing more than that. Our people go to Hinn crusades, Copeland crusades, Joyce Meyer meetings, T.D. Jakes rallies, and give generously to them. Does anyone care? They buy their tapes and books and other products they sell at their meetings while giving to the local church continues to fall.

False prophecy after false prophecy! False teaching after false teaching. Bizarre antics! Bizarre stories! And a constant emphasis on money instead of the holiness of God, the blood of Jesus, the Word of God, evangelism, discipleship, suffering for the cause of Christ, living for the glory of God rather than the pleasures of this world. And we are sharing the platform with them. We are possibly and very likely, legitimizing the very people of whom Christ said that on that day he will say to them, “Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity, for I never knew you.”

My brothers, just a few years ago you voted to disassociate with the World Baptist Alliance citing its liberal tendencies and whatever. I have asked several Baptists folk if they are familiar with the WBA and not one, not one could tell me anything about this organization because not one had heard about it until I brought it up. It does not make any sense that you would be so concerned about being aligned with the WBA, an organization that our people have never even heard of, when you are partnered with the greatest purveyor of heresy in the history of the world, next to the Roman church., and which most of our members are all too familiar with, TBN. Why?

I hope someone in the SBC has bothered to read this letter. I hope that you will prayerfully consider separating yourselves from this abomination called TBN. You really need to ask yourselves if it is worth it. As many times as we read in the Bible “do not be deceived,” and “do not let anyone deceive you,” we should understand the ease with which our people can be deceived. We also need to view this network as an enemy of the cross, an enemy of the truth, over running with false and damnable theology.

I know you stand to lose some viewers and some money. But there are viable alternatives that I am sure you are more aware of than I. And you may think you have a perfectly good argument as to why you should stay on TBN (“we’re reaching more people with the Good News”). But to be associated with this network that is now being rightly referred to as a “circus” is to make nothing more than clowns out of our brethren who supposedly love the truth of God’s word, His Son, and who seek His glory and not their own. Paul Crouch is the “ringmaster” and our people are jumping through his hoops.

Perhaps you should take some time to watch TBN (I hate to think you already do) around the time your program airs. If you can still feel clean of other men’s blood then …

In Christ and for His glory,

Johnny T. Helms


P.S. I can hear some of you now pointing to Paul in jail as he wrote to the church in Philippi, 1:15-18. Please! Do you for one moment think that there is any similarity between men who for whatever reason were actually preaching the gospel and the heretics who are not actually preaching the gospel on TBN?


I decided to re-publish this old blog post because of a tweet (12-11-12) by Pastor Jack Graham saying how excited he was to be appearing on TBN with Dwight Thompson.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Once saved, always saved?" Part 15: Opposing Scripture?

It is a common thing for Christians to doubt their salvation. Awareness of one's sins is usually what triggers our doubts. "How can I sin like this and be saved?" But the leading culprit in the believer's doubts about his or her remaining saved is not the shock of the fact of life that we all sin after being justified, but the under lying dissatisfaction with the work of Jesus. We live and think in a manner that says "Jesus didn't do all that is necessary for my salvation, else I wouldn't sin now that I'm saved. There is more to do and I have to do it; I have to finish the work of my justification. And I'm a failure."

And as if that isn't detrimental enough to one's faith, add to that the other matter of our taking Scripture out of context and you have a crumpled mess of a Christian. Navel gazing tends to focus one's attention in the wrong place, doesn't it? But the practice emphasized by the Reformers of "interpreting Scripture with Scripture," the "analogy of Scripture," if recovered in our time can resolve many a troublesome passage.

Turn to the New Testament letter called The Epistle to the Hebrews. Martin Luther said of the book of James that it is "a right strawy epistle," meaning that it is hard and blunt. The letter to the Hebrews is to most readers even "strawier." Lets see why.

The title of this letter isn't there simply to distinguish it from other letters. It is there because this letter was indeed written to 1st century Jews. Realizing that is step #1 to understanding Hebrews. Now turn to chapter 4 and v.11, "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."

Isn't that verse saying that we have to "be diligent" in order to keep ourselves saved? Isn't it saying that believers have to be diligent in order "to enter that rest?" No, it is not. And here is why I say that.

We enter that "rest" through faith (v.3). We have heard the gospel (v.2) and by the grace of God believed it. The "promise" that "remains of entering His rest" is to those who have not yet entered it (v.1). Those Jews to whom this passage is addressed are Jews who have only flirted with believing the gospel; they were at the time of reading it seriously considering returning to the Old Covenant sacrificial system and were disobedient to the word of God concerning the Messiah; they did not believe (3:1-19; 4:2).

Throughout this epistle the author argues the superiority of Jesus which is precisely what the as of yet faithless Jews had missed:

Hebrews 1:4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

7:18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

7:22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

9:23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Can't you see or hear at this point the words of Jesus from the cross, "It if finished?" That is the message of this epistle to the Hebrews.

We will continue looking at Hebrews next time and a couple of really difficult verses that aren't so difficult ... in context.










Monday, December 10, 2012

"If saved, always saved?" Part 14: Opposing verses?


The grammar used in the word of God is used as it is for a reason. And every word found in the original manuscripts of the Bible is there solely because "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter. 1:19-21). Every part of speech we find in the Bible comes into play and is essential to our understanding the word of God. There is structure, order and logic in Scripture. That means that the disciple of Christ who seeks to "rightly divide the word of truth" is obliged to study the word diligently, seeking to present God's truth to the body of Christ and those outside (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-4:5). The Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts must be used by students of the word even if that student has never formally studied the original languages. With the study tools and helps available these days there is no excuse for any disciple to ignore the languages that God chose to use in the transmission of His word.

There are four moods, or "modes," in the Greek common in the Lord's day, the indicative mood, the subjunctive, the imperative, and the optative mood. Each mood is used deliberately, intentionally by the authors of New Testament Scripture and must be considered as the student of the word seeks to find out what the author meant and what the original audience understood him to mean.

There are also two important expressions of thought related to verb moods that are not moods but are used in such a way that they are like distant cousins to verbs. They are infinitives and participles. They must be taken into account when studying the word of God.

Is this heady? Yes, it is. Is it really necessary to know this stuff? Yes, it is. Does one have to have a college degree or a seminary degree to be able to use this stuff? No, one does not. But one should consult folks who have studied this stuff at a reputable institution or are self-taught and godly. A.T. Robertson, Kenneth Wuest, and Gleason Archer are just a few of these men who can shine the light on Biblical languages in a simple and concise way. I have also found The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key To The Greek New Testament extremely helpful, possibly my favorite tool.

And now that you have trudged through this article, I will stop here while you meditate on these truths. I will take up the opposing verses to eternal security next and one will understand why I brought this stuff up in the first place.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Once Saved, Always Saved?": Part 13: Opposing arguments and Scripture?

"Salvation is conditional!" Everything about that is offensive to me.

"You can lose your salvation." Everything about that is offensive to me as well.

Both statements are man-centered and works-centered, rejecting the notion of the sovereignty of God and His grace and the absolute necessity of grace in both saving sinners and then keeping them saved.

These two false statements also ignore the meaning of the term "eternal life." Eternal life is eternal. I have pointed this out before but it bears repeating. If God meant that eternal life is a gift that is kept by the sinner and contingent on whether or not he or she holds on to it, then my guess is He wouldn't have called it eternal life. Rather He would have called it "contingent life."

And furthermore, if our justification and forgiveness and reconciliation aren't sealed in us and for us by the Holy Spirit, and if our God-given belief that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, doesn't mean we have eternal life, then God is no god at all but an ogre, and a very cruel ogre. Remember the verses from First John we recently read? "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God" (5:13). God has blessed us with "every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ," those gifts including the Holy Spirit Himself, faith in Jesus, His love, and eternal life (Rom. 5:1-11).


Keep in mind that anytime we study a book of the Bible or a passage or a verse, context must be included in that study. That means we must examine the grammar used by the Holy Spirit through the author. And when necessary we should also include historical context. Without context one will have a pretext, a view that is based on what the student thinks the Bible is saying. That's what happens when we take a verse out of context and make it say what we want it to say. This is also called interpolation or eisegesis, reading something into the text. Lets begin with of few of the "if" verses that seem to put a condition on our salvation.

First, John 15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

John 15:6 VEa.n mh, tij mei,nh| evn evmoi,( evblh,qh e;xw w`j to. klh/ma( kai. evxhra,nqh( kai. suna,gousin auvta. kai. eivj to. pu/r ba,llousin( kai. kai,etaiÅ

Bear with me and be sure to check this our for yourself. "If anyone does not abide in Me." The main verb in this sentence is "abide," and it is in the subjunctive mood, the mood of contingency. We can translate this sentence this way, "If it should be (that's the subjunctive) that someone does not abide in Me." Then, that one ("he") "is thrown away as a branch, and dries up..."

The construction of this sentence in the Greek text of John 15:6 is what is called a "third class condition." This removes any doubt as to what will happen to those who do not abide in Christ. The "if" is not the if of possibility but the if of fact. It's not "if  they don't do this they might have a chance." But those who do not abide or remain in Me will be cast away and destroyed. Those who do not abide are those who receive the word but then depart for any number of reasons (Mk. 4:3-20). Cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-3 where Paul distinguishes between those who "depart from the faith" and "those who believe and know the truth." Again, check out 1 Jn. 2:18-19.

In John 17, the real "Lord's Prayer," Jesus tells the Father that those whom the Father has given the Son have "kept Your word," they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Jesus keeps them. The Father gave us, everyone who will believe (v.20), to the Son and not one has been lost, except Judas who was never the Father's gift to begin with.

Remember, too, that Jesus had already declared His true disciples clean (Jn. 15:3). The Lord is clearly distinguishing between the true and the false disciples.

Second, 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
Gnwri,zw de. u`mi/n( avdelfoi,( to. euvagge,lion o] euvhggelisa,mhn u`mi/n( o] kai. parela,bete( evn w-| kai. e`sth,kate( diV ou- kai. sw,|zesqe\ ti,ni lo,gw| euvhggelisa,mhn u`mi/n( eiv kate,cete( evkto.j eiv mh. eivkh/| evpisteu,sateÅ
There was never any doubt in the apostle's mind that there were those in the churches where he had
preached and the churches that he had planted who were not saved. But he differentiated between the two. Cf. 2 Cor. 13:5 and Galatians 1:5-9; 5:1-4 and 1 Tim. 4:1-4; 6:3-5.

Paul writes of the reality of the salvation of those in Corinth who are indeed saved, "by which also you are saved." What we miss in this phrase is the fact that the verb "you are saved" is perfect passive indicative. Perfect is the tense of the verb letting us know that this salvation is a state that now exists because of a past action. It is a past action with present results. Passive means that someone else saved us, that someone being God through the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). Indicative is the mood of the verb, the indicative mood being the mood of reality. We have really been saved through and by the preaching of the gospel and we are now saved.

Next, the "if" and the "unless."





Thursday, December 6, 2012

Once Saved, Always Saved?: Part 12

"Salvation is conditional." I have really been stunned by the number of times I've heard this since beginning this series. It goes against everything I've believed and been taught as a disciple of Jesus. And what this statement means, I believe, is keeping one's salvation depends on the believer. Here is an example of one who holds to this belief. I have regular fellowship with a dear friend who has said this to me several times over the last few weeks. Salvation is conditional. And I argue and protest that it is not. At least not conditioned on anything we do either before or after our justification. For a briefly stated example of the belief that a Christian can lose his/her salvation but get it back later, go here.

All the necessary conditions, those conditions that had to be in place before salvation could be freely offered to the ungodly, were met in and through and by Jesus Christ (Jn. 19:30; Mt. 5:17; Rom. 3:19-26; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; 2 Cor. 1:20-22; Eph. 1:3-6; Jn. 6:63; Rom. 5:1-4).

Salvation that is conditional is not of grace but of works and is therefore no salvation at all. The lives of those supposedly saved through faith in Jesus that can point to their deeds as the reasons for their remaining saved are not lives that glorify God but self. And conversely, lives that continue in the ways of the world and the devil are lives that have not known the salvation and grace of God (Rom. 6:1-3; Gal. 2:14-16; 1 Jn. 3:4-9). See once again, Ephesians 2:1-10, especially vv.8-10.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Who is the "who" in v.5? It is "you" at the end of v.4. We are those who are "kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." The word "kept" comes from the Greek word phrouroumenous, frouroume,nouj ,  as it appears in this verse. It is a perfect passive participle meaning that we are being guarded, protected, kept by the power of God through faith. It is something that God is doing for us and in us. We are being kept. And the Holy Spirit inspiring the apostle Paul says this, "...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).

This "faith" in 1 Peter 1:5 is the same faith we find in Ephesians 2:8-9; it is saving faith that has done its job; it has saved us. It is the gift of God whereby we know that Jesus is the Son of God, Savior, Messiah, Redeemer and Lord (Mt. 16:13-17; 1 Jn. 5:1, 5, 10-13; Heb. 11:1).
There's certainly more to come, but read and meditate on the following verses.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'

2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

10:13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

1 Peter 4:18 Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Holy Spirit in the life of the believer: Part 1

The Christian life is nothing if it is not life in the Spirit.

That explains a lot, doesn't it? It explains the absence of life and light and power and love in the visible church. It explains the absence of zeal and excitement for the things of God. It explains the absence of the gospel and the preaching of the word of God in churches that are bursting at the seams with people who have come to have their ears tickled. And it explains the capitulation of many in the visible church to the ways of this world rather than their being "transformed by the renewing" of their minds.

To be consistently, regularly filled with and by the Spirit is to be drastically and radically different from the ways of this present age. It means that we won't be the most popular kid on the block ... or the most popular adult. It means that we will butt heads with those in opposition to the gospel, the Bible, and the exclusivity of the Way. It means we will stand out among our fellow students and co-workers. And it means that we will manifest the light that we now are.

(Someone who professes faith in Christ while living the lifestyle that they lived before their supposed conversion should sit down with the word of God and a disciple of the Lord Jesus and exam him or herself through prayer and a study of what it means to be born again. Those who continue to live in the flesh and according to the desires of the flesh showing no fruit of repentance and the new birth, probably aren't born again, born of the Spirit, born from above. I would go further and say that they are not in Christ. There is a new life for the new creation in Christ Jesus).

There are significant areas in the believer's life where life apart from submission to the Holy Spirit leads to failure, defeat, and the deepest kind of frustration and self-loathing. These same areas are where submission to the Holy Spirit can and will bear fruit and victory and joy. I want to address at least a few of those areas and the Holy Spirit's leading role in them. Remember, Jesus said "Apart from Me you can do nothing."


Yes, we all sin. Christians sin and non-Christians sin. However, our similarities concerning our acts of sin stop there. I am a Christian saved by the grace of God, given faith and life and light and declared by God Himself to be right with Him on account of my faith in His Son. I was given the Holy Spirit when upon hearing the gospel I believed (Ephesians 1:13-14). All of my sins have been forgiven (1:7-8; Col. 2:13-14). And God has made glorious and gracious provision for my present sins and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ, repentance, confession, and One who intercedes on my behalf (1 Jn. 1:5-2:1; 1 Tim. 2:5-6). But there's more.

The Holy Spirit is the witness Who bears witness with my spirit that I'm a child of God (Roms. 8:14-17). But that's not enough. And that's not all the Holy Spirit does. With just a witness giving me assurance that I'm joint heirs with Jesus, I am still able and often willing to let sin have his way in my life. I need a power outside of myself (meaning other than myself) to work with me in my fight against my remaining sinful flesh, my remaining corruption (1 Cor. 15:50-56). And I have just that. It isn't a distant power source but a very personal and intimate indwelling Person who gives me and every believer the innate ability to be putting to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13: the verb "put to death" in this verse, following the "if," is present active indicative, informing us that this is reality, this is something that the child of God both can and will be doing throughout our lives on this earth in these bodies. It is a verse of assurance, not doubt. Paul is saying that those who are in fact living a life of putting to death the deeds of the body show that they do indeed have the Holy Spirit and are living accordingly. The verb following "if" in v.13, "you live," "if you live according to the flesh," is also present active indicative, "if you are living according to the flesh," pointing to a vastly different reality for those who are so living, meaning that you who are so living will die. Remember John 11:25-26? This section of Paul's letter includes those who do "believe this" as well as those who don't).

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:12-17).