But Can’t we Still Fall Away from Christ?

Am I Really His?

I have seen this question consume people, and I’ll bet you have too. Am I really saved? Do I believe enough in the Lord Jesus Christ, or is my belief just an illusion? Why is there still sin in my life if I am a Christian? Does my baptism really count if I walk away from the church? How much repentance do I have to have to know I’ve really repented? Am I really an adopted, regenerated, justified child of God, or am I a deluded enemy of Christ, being fattened for the slaughter? The Word of God has answers for you and me – we do not have to live in fear. Let’s dive into this question with confidence.

Blind Eyes in a Sunny Field

Picture the Christian life as a literal walk through a big field. The goal of reaching the presence of Jesus is on the far end of the field, and we begin many miles from it.sunny field Only now imagine if our eyes did not work, and yet we were to be led by the shining of the sun (Son) out in front of us. This is the walk of faith – it is our walk through this life, this world of shadows. We do not yet see Him – our eyes are closed! Yet He calls us to walk towards Him in repentance. As baby Christians we begin to totter and feel our way through the field, eyes closed but smiling – we know our Lord and best friend is shining on us from the other end of the field. We feel the warmth of the sun on our faces as we are facing Him, walking towards Him in repentant faith.

Yummy Remembrances of the Death we are Escaping

Sin is a lot like a distraction in this analogy. We are sidetracked by the smell of something tasty off to our left or right, so we deviate from the path that Christ calls us to walk. We sniff our way over into the bushes and begin to eat poison berries because they just taste so good. We know they are poison, but we figure we’ll have some anyways, because we’re hungry. While we’re in the berry bush, we fall asleep under the effects of the poison, and lie down in the shrubs and grass. What happens when we awaken? We’re disoriented, we feel around in the grass, and we immediately think of the sun – where is He? He is yet still in the same place He was when we went off course – shining down His warmth and love on us, but in our nap time we lost track of which direction we were going. Sin disorients us, and messes with our faith in Christ. Yet we get back up by His grace, feel the heat of the sun, and begin walking toward Him again. Many Christians begin to doubt they are in the field (the church) at this point. “How could I be so blind as to eat the berries?” How could I truly be facing the correct end of the field if I’m off the path eating poison? In His love for us, our Father allows us to make our sinful mistakes, to taste the bitterness when we have not trusted Him – and to feel the disorientation of being off of His path. All of the consequences of sin are used by the Father to discipline His children (Heb. 12:5-11), and to keep us from ultimate, eternal destruction. His promises given to us in our baptism are extended forever – there is nothing but grace for those who are His (Rom. 8:28-39)

We Cannot be Lost if we Are in His Field

This is the bottom line of the Christian gospel given to us in Christ Jesus. This is the sure foundation underneath all of our experience – that we receive warnings such as Hebrews 3:12-13 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” as a part of the means that God uses to confirm His elect people in their salvation, as the next verse assures us “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14 NKJV). May we not force a rationalistic reading of these texts wherein we negate the clear promises of God to preserve infallibly each of His regenerate, justified people. Allow the tension to stand: God gives dire warnings to His people who cannot be lost that they ought to hold fast to Christ so as not to be lost. Thank You, Father, for Your wisdom and love for us.

So Abide in Him

We’re in His field, walking toward the sun. We’re His beloved, chosen people. And right there in Hebrews 3:14, we see the completion of our analogy: We have truly begun walking toward the sun/Son if we continue walking toward Him. By converse, if one does not continue holding fast the confidence in Christ, he has not begun to trust Christ in the first place. So then, abide in Him my dear friends.

The Field of Salvation is a Globe

It turns out that from God’s perspective (in our analogy) – no matter what direction we are walking in His field, the sun will shine on our faces, drawing us to His warmth and love. The blessed mystery of the faith is that our Father in heaven has set us in a path which cannot but lead to eternal life. All of our stumbling and unbelief will have been part of the gracious means God uses to preserve His people, for Jesus promises “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out (John 6:37). By. No. Means. All who fall from grace, therefore, are falling away from a relationship to Christ that was never true, never really begun in the first place, though it would appear so to us (think wheat and tares). So as you walk, dear Christian, through this world of sorrows and darkness, know you are in a field that is a globe. You may walk 10,000 miles in a direction that is not perfect, but you have only circled the world of Christ’s keeping power – He is still right there in front of you. You cannot be lost. Meditate on this – Jesus will not lose even one of His weakest sheep. This is the joy-producing, love-emboldening, endurance-creating, and selflessness-promoting grace of God in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection for you. He has set you in a broad path, one from which you cannot be lost and destroyed. Believe it, and rest assured in Him. Thanks for reading, -Adam

Receive God’s Sabbath or You will Never Find Rest

A family friend of ours is dying of cancer, and she is a lifelong Roman Catholic. Will she “Rest in Peace” if she dies trusting in the Roman Catholic teachings?

Hill Cumorah

Near to where I live, each July thousands of people stream into Palmyra, New York to see the Hill Cumorah pageant put on by the Mormon church. The festival goers are being drawn into the promise of eternal godhood – the possession of a planet and the peace of the celestial kingdom. Will these fine people find their rest in the doctrines of the prophet Joseph Smith and his scriptures?

Recently my wife and I had a married couple of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to our house for a discussion about the Bible.

JW tract

They smilingly shared with us of how Jehovah God is creating a paradise earth for all who will obey him and keep fellowship with their religion only. Will these sincere people eternally harvest corn, fruit, and soybeans on the new earth?

I’ve known scads of professing evangelicals who are relying on their own sincerity and obedience to God in hoping they can pull it off – hoping they might be good enough Christians (stay away from bad movies, respect your elders, and don’t drink alcohol) to please God and be found faithful on the last day… Continue reading

Justin Martyr on Israel, Jews, Christians, and the Old and New Covenants

The second-century saw a young Christianity getting her legs, and forming a more catholic, firm identity as the new covenant people. I recently researched early second-century father Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, a Jewish philosopher. The debate is representative of the friction between Jews of Judaism and the Christian Church. Fascinating in its depth, the dispute between them is revealing for Christians today who are seeking to learn more of their roots… in other words, the early fathers have a value that we must mine out and share with one another if we are to survive the vapid, materialistic Western culture pervading the American version of Christianity.

The following is my recent seminary paper reviewing the Dialogue. I encourage you to read it all, and to look up the references. If you’re like me, you need some depth and history behind your Christian life. Grace to all of you who love the Lord Jesus, our new Lawgiver.

Introduction: The Relationship between Israel and the Early Church

The early Church believed itself to have inherited the Old Testament promises given throughout the Old Testament narrative to ethnic Israel. Extant apologetic works from the first few centuries prominently feature Christians arguing that the new covenant was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, both for Jew and Gentile. The Church after the ascension “regarded itself as a continuation and development of Judaism,” and so the second-century Apologists like Justin Martyr examined the relationship between the old and new covenants.[1] In Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, his contention was that Christianity was the natural continuation of Judaism as branch is to root (c.f. Rom. 11:17-18).[2]

Continue reading

What a Crazy Idea: Tuesdays with Uncle Athanasius

Athanasius

I was actually a black guy 🙂

Athanasius (c.297-373), my favorite early church father, fought heretics with all of his soul. I am brought to tears reading his glorious writings. Please indulge with me each Tuesday as we sit at the feet of our forefather in the faith – a warrior for Christ who relentlessly pursued truth in all the churches. I’ve been posting quotes from his magnum opus “On the Incarnation of the Word” each Tuesday so far.

Uncle Ath?

Yes, kids?

 

What was the strategy of God in sending His Son as a peasant man?

Well…

…That mystery the Jews [stumble over], the Greeks deride, but we adore; and your own love and devotion to the Word also will be the greater, because in His Manhood He seems so little worth.

For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on Him,

so much the more does He make His Godhead evident.

The things which they, as men, rule out as impossible, He plainly shows to be possible; that which they deride as unfitting, His goodness makes most fit; and things which these wiseacres laugh at as “human” He by His inherent might declares divine.

Thus by what seems His utter poverty and weakness on the cross He overturns the pomp and parade of idols,Christ Crucified and quietly and hiddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize Him as God.

My favorite uncle.

The divine Son of God became a lowly human in order to blast the elitist sensibilities of the proud. He’s winning over the mockers and unbelievers through His utter poverty and weakness at the cross – counter-intuitive, counter-culture. I love it.

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

Jesus Claims to be God: Prophesy Fridays

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy (that’s sarcasm, folks), so I’d better throw in a dash of red-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to light up your life.

Prophesy Friday is my attempt to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God.

Picking on Poor Old Mark

One of the more intense opponents of Christianity is Bart Ehrman, a prolific author and scholar of the Bible. Ehrman works tirelessly to disabuse Christians of the notion that the Bible is a reliable historical record of anything that actually happened in first-century Palestine. In his critique of the four Gospels, Ehrman (along with the majority of modern scholarship) notes that the Gospel of Mark appears to be the earliest of the four. A part of this conclusion is the “underdeveloped” Christology of Mark – in other words, Mark sees a rather plain, human Jesus. Mark’s Jesus, according to Ehrman, is a man, nothing more, and perhaps had some extraordinary signs surrounding his ministry, but by the time the Gospel of John is written decades later, the plain-Jane Jesus of Mark has been morphed into a God.

For Ehrman and his ilk, the true Jesus was more like the one found in Mark than anywhere else. I have even watched as Muslim critics of Christianity have begun to take up Ehrman’s arguments against the historicity of the Gospels on this very basis.

shabir allyShabir Ally, a gentleman from Canada, in debating against Dr. James White, used Ehrman’s theory of a developing Christology from Mark through John to try and debunk any true witness to Jesus’ deity in the Gospel accounts. Never mind that if Shabir and the modern Muslim apologists used the same exact critical tools against the Quran, that it would be even more so than the Bible vulnerable to being debunked… but that’s another story.

So, are they right? Does Mark present the more authentic Jesus? I mean, being authentic is the greatest virtue of our age, and being a fake the worst sin, right?

Jesus Sets the Record Straight

Without delving into a major critical response to Ehrman/Ally, I must say that their thesis is empty. Even if we allow that Mark is the earliest account of Jesus’ life and ministry, there is no less the deity of Christ here than in the other two synoptic Gospels.

Let me give you one clear example (among many) of the witness of Jesus’ deity in Mark, and then a clear fulfillment of a key prophetic picture from the Old Testament (because it is Prophesy Friday after all).

A Clear Example of Jesus’ Godhood

A paralytic guy needed to be healed, and he knew Jesus could do it. His friends brought him out to see Jesus, but instead of just *shazam* healing the man, Jesus says “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mark 2:5b NKJV).

Now, the folks in the house knew exactly what kind of claim that was, “and some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'” (Mark 2:6-7).

Got it? Every Jew knows that only God forgives sins.

Also, note that the scribes were reasoning in their hearts – not out loud. Watch this.

But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:8-12)

Jesus did not shy away from the claim to be God in flesh. He proved it.

Jesus Claims to be Fulfilling Prophecy

He isn’t done. A few years and 12 chapters later, the high priest is interrogating Jesus, who has been arrested and is facing charges of.. blasphemy. So he snarls at Jesus “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61b).Trial

He doesn’t really think it possible that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) – it’s a question meant to lead to execution. The answer, however, is not that of an intimidated man. He isn’t scared of death, or the authority of the high priest.

Jesus said, “I am…”

Step 1: use the designation that belongs to God alone. Exodus 3:14.

“…and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power,”

Step 2: claim to be the divine figure from Psalm 110:1 who has the rightful place of authority at the right hand of God.

“…and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Step 3: claim to be the figure from Daniel 7:13-14 who inherits the universe as His own creation and right. Claim to be the Son of Man who was prophesied over 500 years before – the One who stands above the creation as its Master. Jesus was not afraid to die for the truth.

-Cue the wrath of the little inquisitor-

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?”

And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands (Mark 14:63-65).

Now that is a Man who knows His identity. He is not trembling before the opinions of His enemies. He has no hesitation to claim the divine rights He has always owned, from all eternity. He has no problem claiming that the Bible is all about Himself. Do you know Him?

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Pre-Incarnate Christ: Paul Washer on Saturday Theovideo

My favorite spiritual mentor Paul Washer talks about the gospel by discussing the pre-incarnate Son of God in glory with the Father.

Who was it in the manger in Bethlehem?

Who was it on the Roman death cross 33 years later?

Who is He?

Watch at least the first few minutes, and see if it’s even possible to turn it off afterward. This is the steak and potatoes of Christianity.

With butter and sour cream.

Thanks for watching,

-Justin

Scads of Gospel Power: Prophecy Fridays

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy (that’s sarcasm, folks), so I’d better throw in a dash of red-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to light up your life.

Red Pepper

Prophesy Friday is my attempt to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God. Today I am going to recap the posts I’ve written in this series so far. I’m so entirely excited about Prophesy Fridays so far – it is some of my best writing I have done in over a year of blogging.

I could really use your words of feedback, support, or challenge if you disagree with something. I put a lot of work into this series, and have little indication if it is beneficial to anyone! So check them out…

Jesus Drops in on Samson’s Parents

Isaiah sees the Atonement 740 Years Out

The God of Israel will be Pierced

Poetic, Prophetic King David and Blind (Tour) Guides

Staycation in Babylon and Glimpsing the New Covenant

Maybe pick one of these and read it carefully – I hope the people of the Lord Jesus are fed and drawn to Him through these posts.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thanks for reading,

-Adam