baconBefore I travel to a new country I investigate if there are any peculiar laws I need to observe. Luckily I have never had to verify any of these for myself – but they are on the internet so they must be true, right?

In Thailand it is illegal to leave your house without wearing any underwear. In Israel it is illegal to bring bears to the beach. Ireland has prohibited its citizens from pretending to perform any type of witchcraft, enchantment, or occultic practices. It’s not against the law to actually perform them, just to pretend to perform them.

In Canada you may not pay for an item that costs 50c using only 1c coins, you may not water your garden if it is raining, and citizens may not remove bandages in public.

The local law in Chelsea, UK prohibits impersonating an elderly person. (That’s not preventing rude youth from mocking old people, it’s because pensioners are entitled to a housing subsidy, so pretending to be one is considered fraud.)

There’s much confusion among Christians as to which laws in the Bible apply to us. When we decry homosexuality (which was condemned in the Mosaic Law) but still eat bacon (which was also condemned in the Mosaic Law), are we just being arbitrarily selective?

THREE QUESTIONS TO UNDERSTAND LAW CODES & HOW THEY APPLY TO US…

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Clouds without Water

For more than four decades, John MacArthur has led the fight for the supremacy of the truth and of sound doctrine—not only within the walls of his own church, but also throughout the evangelical church at large. Surrounded by other defenders of biblical teaching, Pastor John has devoted his ministry to safeguarding the inerrancy of Scripture, the lordship of Christ, and the literal truth of the creation account in Genesis. But perhaps the most far-reaching and pernicious error that our he has battled against is the damning doctrine of the health, wealth, and prosperity “gospel.”

Three years ago, Grace to You hosted the Strange Fire Conference at Grace Church in order to defend the truth against the heresies of the Word of Faith movement and other Charismatic aberrations. Faithful pastors like R.C. Sproul, Steve Lawson, and Conrad Mbewe stood alongside Pastor MacArthur to declare the absolute sufficiency of the written Word of God.

Another of those faithful men was Justin Peters, a longtime friend of The Master’s Seminary and Grace Community Church. Justin suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Believing he could be healed by a Word-of-Faith faith healer, like thousands of others he became disillusioned when he was not healed. This launched him into critical study of Charismaticism, and today his ministry is devoted to exposing the damaging and damning effects of the doctrine and practice of the Word of Faith movement, sounding the call for discernment among Christ’s flock.

Justin will be with us again on July 29–30 as the featured speaker of a weekend conference hosted by the GraceLife fellowship group. Entitled “Clouds without Water: A Biblical Critique of the Word of Faith Movement,” the conference consists of four seminars that explore such topics as the biblical definition of discernment and common objections against it, the cultic origins of the Word of Faith movement, a critical evaluation of Charismatic practices (e.g., abusing tongues, being slain in the Spirit, supposed visits to heaven, etc.), and the question of whether it is always God’s will to heal.

Jude calls the false teachers troubling the early church “clouds without water” (Jude 1:12), because they promise spiritual benefit (as clouds promise rain) but never deliver, leaving the church hopeless and disillusioned. We must be on guard against such teachers, and must be equipped to help others be discerning as well. We are confident that our church family will be served by Justin’s ministry. If you’re in the Los Angeles area this next weekend, we hope you’ll join us for what will be a special time of practical instruction from God’s Word.

Clouds Without Water Conference

July 29–30 • Grace Church Family Center
Cost: $15 (includes breakfast and lunch on Saturday)

GraceLife is partnering with the Logos Bible Institute for this event, so those who would like to attend this conference for Logos elective credit may do so.

For more information or to register, visit, https://www.gracechurch.org/logos/posts/960.
Note: Registration closes Monday, 7/25 at 11:59pm, so be sure to register right away.
Note also that childcare is not available for this event.

There are two major prophecies concerning the advance of the gospel that remain unfulfilled at this very moment: that Israel would embrace the Messiah, and that the good news of Jesus would reach every tribe and ethnic group in the world.

These are not just isolated prophecies. Instead, they are repeated often, and play a significant role in how the believers are to think about the future.   Continue Reading…

GIFSec.com

GIFSec.com

You’ve probably heard it many times. “We just need to get back to the days of the early church.” “You know, things would be so much better in contemporary Christianity if we were more like the early church.”

While there were some great things happening then, I’m not so sure that I am eager to get back to the early church days. They, too, had their problems. Here are a few reasons why we might put the brakes on the glamorization of the early church.

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Every once in a while, a leader, whether it be a judge, a king, or a Czar, tries to do the impossible and shut down the Gospel.

All throughout history many have attempted this impossible feat. Perhaps one of the most famous attempts occurred in 1673. The Lord Judge Magistrate of Bedford was fed up with John Bunyan and his preaching of the Gospel. John Bunyan was reaching thousands with the truth of scripture, and the judge obviously hated sound preaching. But when John Bunyan was told to stop, John Bunyan famously answered, “If I am freed today, I will preach tomorrow!” And so the judge sentenced him to jail and said,

“At last we are done with this tinker and his cause. Never more will he plague us: for his name, locked away as surely as he, shall be forgotten, as surely as he. Done we are, and all eternity with him.”

A sillier statement has never been spoken.

John Bunyan went on to write The Pilgrim’s Progress, along with other books that the Lord has used for centuries to lead men and women to himself. That chief magistrate was not only wrong about John Bunyan, but he believed that he could put a stop to the Gospel. By sentencing Bunyan, he ended up spreading it further than even Bunyan himself thought possible.

The Gospel cannot be stopped. No one on earth has the power to shut up a man or woman consumed with it.

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Buyer’s remorse often grips people just after they indulge in an expensive purchase. It’s a cognitive dissonance of the “what if” factor. What if what I bought isn’t as good as what I didn’t buy; what if I can’t afford it and will regret the expense later? Marketing pundits have come up with ways to ease the buyer’s distress. There are two main ways to do this.a bag of regret

The first tactic is to offer a reasonable exchange policy. If you regret your choice and change your mind you can simply return the item or exchange it for a different one. It’s the old “take the puppy home and if you want, just return it in a couple of days” routine.

The other method is a bit more crude, but just as effective: you remove the chance of buyer’s remorse caused by too many choices by limiting the choices. Apple does this. They don’t have 100 different laptops they have the Macbook –Air or –Pro in one color and two sizes. And when a new model hits the rack, the former choices evaporate into oblivion. You get what you get and you don’t get upset. But for this to work, you need a superior product.

In your spiritual life God has made your choice simple: the true, living, loving, all-powerful saving God, or dead idols who can’t save.

Joshua’s parting words to the nation of Israel was a simple case of choose your love, and then love your choice.

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Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
– 2 Corinthians 5:9 –

AmbitionThe relationship between this verse and the previous is instructive. The “therefore” signals that this is a consequence of the preceding truth. What is the necessary consequence of having the settled preference to depart from this life and be with Christ? What is the necessary consequence of longing for unhindered, sin-free, face-to-face communion with Jesus? If the open enjoyment of Christ’s glory is the great hope of your life in the future, then that means your supreme ambition will be to be pleasing to Him in the present.

Ambition

This phrase, “We also have as our ambition,” speaks to the intensity of Paul’s desire to please Christ above all else. It is the all-consuming, driving force behind all he does. Usually, the concept of ambition has a negative connotation, speaking of someone who is wholly preoccupied with self-promotion and self-glory. A young man enters the corporate world with designs of running the company one day, determined to climb the corporate ladder no matter who he has to step on to get to the top. A politician strategizes and schemes and conspires as to how he can put himself forward, undermine his opponents, and portray himself in the best light, so that he can win the favor of the electorate. A young man has the ambition of playing professional sports, and he shapes his entire childhood around receiving the proper training and coaching, putting in the necessary workouts, watching his diet, getting good grades to go to a Division 1 university—he eats, sleeps, and breathes his game, all so he can wear that uniform and play in front of thousands of fans.

With that same all-consuming passion (albeit expressed positively rather than negatively), the Apostle Paul says: My supreme ambition is to always be pleasing to Christ. Charles Hodge comments, “As ambitious men desire and strive after fame, so Christians long and labor to be acceptable to Christ. Love to him, the desire to please him, and to be pleasing to him, animates their hearts and governs their lives, and makes them do and suffer what heroes do for glory” (500).

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The violence that gripped the United States last week was a jarring reminder of the importance of authority. It seems that too many Americans—and that should probably be broadened to include the entire Western world—see themselves as above authority. The concept of respecting authority has eroded, and the result of this erosion can only be a flood of violence.

Our society prides itself on being post-Christian, and in so doing it declares that all divine truth is irrelevant. But in discarding God’s decrees about marriage, life, and morality, we also throw away a biblical concept of authority.   Continue Reading…

pulpit

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It happened again. Another pastor has fallen. From Mark Driscoll, to Darrin Patrick, Bob Coy, Tullian Tchividjian, and now Perry Noble; the past few years have witnessed more pastoral disqualifications than any of us would like to see.

As a young man with eight mere years of senior pastor experience, I have been attempting to learn and re-learn a few basic-but-essential lessons from these tragedies. A few thoughts for some of us young men in positions of church leadership:

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It was 1856 and things could not have been going better for Spurgeon.

spurgeonTwenty-two years old, married for about a year, already with twin boys, Spurgeon was also experiencing great blessing in ministry. He was preaching to thousands. On October 19, 1856 some say almost 14,000 gathered to hear him preach, even though only 10,000 fit in the building. They were eager to hear this young pastor who preached the Bible. But there were many jealous people.

That night during the service at around 6 o’clock some people started shouting “fire!”

A stampede broke out, and in the midst of the panic, people trampled over each other causing the death of seven people.

There was no fire.

Because Spurgeon was so distraught over the events that occurred, he was unwilling to preach the next Sunday, he even thought about quitting the ministry altogether. And it wasn’t until the Sunday after that that he was willing to return to the pulpit. Here were his first words as he got up to preach that morning,

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