Apostasy Now!

We often tend to have short memories, but many segments of the broader professing church have been slouching towards Sodom for many years.

Below is a sampling:

From 2010 – “Presbyterians continue to be divided over gays as leaders split on 2 gay-friendly measures.”

“I think we’re seeing acts of desperation by those who feel their way of life is slipping away,” the Rev. Ray Bagnuolo, the openly gay pastor of Janhus Presbyterian Church in New York City, said after the marriage vote. “Progress takes time. But to gay and lesbian people, it says their relationships, who they are, does not matter to this church. I don’t call that Christian or loving.”Fox News

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. – Lev. 18:22

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. – Rom. 1:24-27

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Rev. 21:8

“The church was not yet ready to make a decision,” said 219th General Assembly Moderator Cindy Bolbach during a press conference following adjournment. “This kind of thing happens at every assembly.”

While many people will see the vote simply as winning or losing — “that’s human nature,” the Moderator said — Bolbach said more helpful thinking involves “trying to figure out where God is leading the church. Women’s ordination took us years and years to decide.”PC(USA) News & Announcements

PC(USA) makes great strides with ecumenical, interfaith relations

‘Christians and Jews’ paper referred back for more work; Christian-Muslim paper moves ahead, but calls for more study – PC(USA) News & Announcements

The full Assembly seemed quite satisfied with the deliberation in the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee as members needed just one hour to move through its business, including the two interfaith papers of which they referred one and approved the other.

With a vote of 529-135-9, the 219th General Assembly (2010), approved item 08-09, which referred “Christians and Jews: People of God” back to the Offices of Interfaith Relations and Theology and Worship.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them [the Jews] is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. – Rom. 10:1-4

No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. – 1 John 2:23

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” – Rev. 3:17

Christ condemns the church at Laodicea for being lukewarm and self-deceived. The religious person thinks he is something when he’s not. Notice the contrast in verse 17 between “thou sayest” and “knowest not”: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing ….” Does that sound like the statement of a Christian? Not at all. That’s the statement of a religious hypocrite. Verse 17 then says, “… [thou] knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” You say, “Couldn’t God have used just one of those words to cover the situation of the hypocrite?” That’s true, but He used them all to cover the scope of their lostness. – John MacArthur from “The Apostate Church”

Phil Johnson on The Patience of Job

Job is the Biblical archetype of the patient, suffering saint. Like me you’ve probably heard people use the phrase, “He [or she] has the patience of Job!” Perhaps [like me] you’ve even used it yourself. But having studied Job at some length I’ve come to realize what a flippant, throw-away rimshot line that little cliché really is.

Let’s be honest, you and I have never met anyone with the patience of Job. Job’s patience truly is the stuff of legend. Here was a man who the Scriptures testify was “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (1:1)—”none like him on the earth” (v.8).

Phil Johnson does a yeoman’s work in succinctly expositing Job and capturing the essence of the book in an amazing economy of words and ideas. Phil’s editorial skills shine as brightly here as I’ve ever seen them. Do yourself a big favor, and treat your spirit to this excellent article.

The Patience of Job – Living by Faith, Not Feelings

by Phil Johnson

Sensual Worship — A Sign of Impending Apostasy

By Iain H. Murray

See also:

Music in New Testament Worship – Part 1

Music in New Testament Worship – Part 2

When interest in the churches begins to centre round the visual and the sensual it is commonly a sign of impending apostasy. By ‘sensual’ I mean that which appeals to the senses of man (sight, smell, hearing), as opposed to ‘spirit’, that is, the capacity that belongs to those born of the Spirit of God. Hence the antithesis, ‘sensual, having not the Spirit’ (Jude 19). ‘Sensual’ is also translated ‘natural’ or ‘worldly’; the meaning is the same. It does not take regeneration to give the sensual or the aesthetic a religious appeal to the natural man or woman.

In the Old Testament the people of God were in measure taught by their senses as God imposed the form of worship. As a check against any misuse of that means of teaching no additions to or subtractions from it were allowed. But with the finished work of Christ, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, a momentous change took place. The church was raised to the higher privilege of worship in ‘spirit and truth’ (John 4:24). She belongs to the ‘Jerusalem which is above’ (Gal. 4:26).

In the words of John Owen, ‘the naked simplicity of gospel institutions’ was established in the place of ‘the old, glorious worship of the temple’; Levitical choirs, incense, vestments, etc. — all were gone. Yet not gone permanently; for as church and world gradually came together in the rise of the Papacy, worship that appealed to the senses was reintroduced. Presuming on Old Testament practice, what the gospel had ended in the apostolic age was restored, and the difference brought in by Pentecost disappeared.1 Instead there developed a form of worship in Roman Catholicism which made impressions on the senses at the natural level and which did not need the Holy Spirit.

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Here I raise my Ebenezer

Ebenezer: Machrie Moor standing stone, Scotland

One of my favorite hymns is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. It’s a beautiful homage to the gracious longsuffering of the One True and Living God. The hymn reaches back in time, drawing strength from His Old Testament covenant faithfulness, and rejoices in the present new covenant sealed in His blood, even as it looks forward to the day when all the redeemed will sing their glorious King’s praises in heavenly courts above.

Biblically speaking God frequently encourages His people by reminding them of His past faithfulness when they are discouraged, dismayed, disillusioned, or anxious about their present and future circumstances. Like the ignorant and foolish sheep we are we tend to wander, and therefore we constantly need our Faithful and True Shepherd to tend to our many and varied needs, moment by moment.

Recently it has come to my attention that one of the original verses of this classic song of praise has frequently been the helpless victim of modernization within a number of our hymnals. Here’s the stanza in question:

“Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood”

The reference to Ebenezer comes from 1 Samuel 7:12; Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.”

The back story to this endearing bit of scripture ought to encourage us to follow in the old paths, not only in our scripture reading, faith, and piety, but also in our worship. As was all too often the case, Israel had experienced a long and sorrowful period of trouble resulting from their disobedience to God’s commands, yet happily national repentance came under the judgeship of godly Samuel.

To commemorate this restoration Samuel set up a stone and dedicated it as a memorial to God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel. This stone served as a visible reminder of God’s great love, compassion, longsuffering, and kindness toward those who turn to Him in repentance.

‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ – Numbers 14:18

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Something worth noting, however, is that just as repentance is the mark of a true God-fearer, so unbroken patterns of sin and rebelliousness mark unbelievers as can be seen from Numbers 14:18b above, as well as 1 John 3:6-9:

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

God’s holy justice must punish sin, and God punishes sin in one of two ways. God either punishes sin in Christ on the cross where He suffered and died as the substitute for all those who believe on Him as their Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38), or else God will punish the sin of those who reject Christ in hell forever.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38

Sinners are called unto salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and become believers by regeneration. It is through regeneration that believers are given new hearts, and as noted in Acts 2:38, they are also given the Holy Spirit to dwell within them. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit empowers believers to live out a life of humble, loving, thankful obedience to the Lord for all He has done, and because of who He is. (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Peter 1:14; Philippians 2:13-14).

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. – Ezekiel 36:26-27

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. – 1 Peter 2:14

13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning – Philippians 2:13-14

Let us today raise our Ebenezer upon the grounds of Christ’s perfect righteousness which has been imputed to those who believe on Him.

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. – Galatians 2:16

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:26

A Few Words on Richard Abanes and Repentance

Richard Abanes says: “Ken Silva’s stubbornness is to blame.”

Richard Abanes says: “Taking sides” is to blame.

Richard Abanes says: “Everyone else” is wresting scriptures to “advance an agenda”.

Richard Abanes is presently engaged in a vain attempt to justify his reprehensible, unjustifiable and un-Christ like behavior all around the Christian blogosphere.

Richard Abanes is in denial.

Richard Abanes is in desperate need of repentance.

I’m sorry but the hubris on display by Richard Abanes (RA) in the present “Abanes/Silva Dust Up” is simply breathtaking. Do such a statements as those quoted above strike anyone else as sounding eerily familiar? To me it sounds exactly like the first resort of the red-handed – namely blame shifting.

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12)

For those who may be unaware of the present situation one Richard Abanes – Saddleback apologist and PDL insider – violated scripture in a self-centered, flesh pleasing effort to have an article that personally offended him removed from the website of one Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. Much has been said and written on this sorry situation and a simple Internet search of Abanes/Silva” should give the interested reader plenty to chew on.

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