Should We Pray for ISIS?

The following post from Russell Moore can be read in full at The Gospel Coalition. These are some great thoughts about the juxtaposition of justice and justification.

“Over the weekend many of us watched with horror and heartbreak as reports of terrorism came from Paris. At least 120 people were killed in what appears to be a coordinated operation by the Islamic State (ISIS), a terror organization that has murdered thousands of innocent people over the last year, including many Christians.

ISIS is one of the clearest embodiments of persecution and evil that we in the West have seen in many years. Their very existence is a commitment to wiping out political and cultural opposition through violence. They prey relentlessly on the innocent, including children. There’s no question that ISIS is a menace that must be engaged through just war.

But is justice the only thing that Christians should pray for when it comes to ISIS? Should we pray that our military, in the words of singer Toby Keith, “light up their world like the Fourth of July”? Or should we pray that, as a friend of mine posted on social media, there would be a Saul among those ISIS militants, whose salvation might turn the Arab world upside down with the gospel?

These are not contradictory prayers, and to each of them I say, “Amen.”

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LGBT – Choice or Genes?

The science aspect of this question is rather simple. There is no “gay” gene. There never has been a “gay” gene. There never will be a “gay” gene. Modern scientists will strive in vain to find that which undermines and countermands the Word of God. The reason is because modern culture hates everything about God. It hates the Bible with a passion because it points out the sin nature that is found in every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. Modern culture wants to think that man is getting better and better. Because of this thought process, it demands that all must conform equally to whatever is considered to be the acceptable norm.

Enter the LGBT community along with their open and unashamed agenda for the total destruction of all that is right and wholesome. How have we come so far in such a short time?

There was a time when acts such as lesbianism and homosexuality were punishable as crimes, and we do not have to go all the way back to the Old Testament to find that such behavior has long been considered an abomination. However, if the only guide we had to what is acceptable behavior, we can go all the way back to creation to find that God made them male and female. Ultimately, the final authority belongs to God. He created marriage to be between one man and one woman, but sin has destroyed all of that. God created marriage to produce and populate the earth and to care for His creation, but sin has destroyed all of that.

The wickedness of the earth continues to grow as it rises in rebellion against God.

The advent of television and movies is probably one of the greatest contributors to the open acceptance of the perversions that run rampant in our societies over the last century. We found out that certain movie stars were womanizers, adulterers, fornicators, or living a life as a homosexual or lesbian, and we excused it because, “That’s just Hollywood.”


People acting in an effeminate manner were mocked but only for a short time. The so-called wholesome family shows soon began mocking the family unit. The role played by the husband was denigrated and they were made to look like bumbling fools. The beautiful picture of a lady quickly faded into obscurity as women were paraded into more and more masculine roles.

Bedroom scenes quickly moved from a man and woman sleeping in separate beds to the actors being filmed in risqué and questionable situations. Before long, that was not enough for audiences and the movies began to include partial nudity. Then, it became more open as the cameras relished in the depraved scenes mocking all that God created to be holy within the bonds of matrimony.

But that was never enough! Movies began to flirt with lustful relationships between two men or two women, then proceeded to make films and tv episodes where homosexuality and lesbianism was fully acceptable. Those who cried against these perversions were mocked as being prudes and as those “Christian types who really don’t understand that God is love and that He loves everybody just like they are and that He even created some men to love other men or some women to love other women.”

Do we wonder why there are so many who have chosen lifestyles that are opposed to God? It is because culture has made it seem innocent. It has taken all that is good and holy before God and destroyed it a little bit at a time. What is acceptable now brings little more than a yawn to many, even to some who claim to be followers of Christ. Such portrayals on the screen 20, 30, or 50 years ago would have brought the wrath of much of America down on the heads of movie studios.

However, the movie producers were smart. Test the waters enough and before long, what is sin and wickedness will be acceptable. Now, social media like Twitter and Facebook has allowed those who live in open rebellion against God and His Word to parade their sin. Gay parades and the accompanying perversions of those who prey against our children is no longer headline news. Those who make the news are the “bigots” who stand in the way of cultural evolution as “the earth moves towards a utopian society.”

In just a few short decades, the LGBT community went from only wanting to be free to do whatever they wanted in the privacy of their homes to demanding that their perversions must be taught to impressionable young boys and girls. Believers got a little squeamish with the idea but began hearing from the pulpit that “God loves people just like they are. He wants us to accept people for who they are. Whatever they do in the privacy of their own homes is none of our business.” And we bought the lies. Churches began to accept the depravity a bit at a time.

Public schools were the breeding ground for the introduction of sexual freedom of all kinds to children. Children went home and the things not acceptable in homes was openly allowed to be portrayed on the televisions when they got home from school. The sexual revolution opened the door and now pregnancy out of wedlock and people openly living together with no commitment and no marriage is totally acceptable. To question a person living in such a lifestyle is to be a bigot.

Is it any wonder that once society accepted the perversions, and the family allowed the perversions on the screen, and then the church accepted the perversions – is it really any wonder that boys and girls are growing up in confusion as to what they were created to be? Today, judges are passing laws that demand equal rights for those who want to live in a fantasy world while demanding that those with any morals left be held in contempt of court.

Churches stopped taking a stand for truth. Pastors failed to prepare the hearts of the believers to stand for the truth because there were no more absolutes. Absolutes were only for bigots. Churches went from preaching the truth to accepting all lifestyles that were opposed to all that is holy to God. Pastors stopped preaching against sin because it was not popular and would cause a decline in the offerings every Sunday.

What sane person finds it acceptable for a man to walk into a woman’s bathroom because he thinks he is a woman? What sane person finds it believable that through the use of medicine and genital mutilation a person can actually change themselves from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man? Sorry, but Bruce Jenner will always be a man and he is no hero. He is a man who needs to seek forgiveness from the Most High God that he has offended and against Who he lives in outright rebellion.


What is next? Polygamy? Many false religions already allow for this and it will not be long before they will demand equal protection for their lifestyle. The polygamists of Utah and Colorado used to be a very quiet group who worked diligently to stay under the radar of the authorities. Now, television and movies have promoted this lifestyle as being acceptable. Judges are already throwing out cases that involve polygamy and it will not be long before polygamy will no longer be a crime, but will be openly acceptable behavior from any who choose to have more than one husband or one wife.

What else is coming? Bestiality? Lowering the age of consent to accommodate the agenda of the LGBT community? Yep, all of the above and even worse will be coming because our societies in the west are on a cliff-face headed straight for hell. If you doubt that the LGBT community has an agenda, then you are living like an ostrich with your head in the sand.

The Roman Empire was destroyed from within by its debauchery. Rome became a place where biblical Christianity was mocked while allowing polygamy, slavery, and the selling of boys and girls for whatever perversions were needed to satisfy a person’s lust was on offer. Our society will also soon be there because it hates God, but God will not be mocked. Neither will His judgment be withheld forever.

However, there is hope that is found in Jesus Christ alone. You will never find hope inside of a pill, or drugs, or a bottle, or illicit sex, or lust-filled relationships. The emptiness that is within the heart of each person can only be filled by Jesus Christ. When a person comes to the end of themselves and realizes that they are lost in the depravity of their sin, only then will they be able to understand the joy that belongs to true believers. Repent from your sin while there is yet time.

If you claim to know Christ, you cannot remain in your sin or your perversions otherwise the Bible makes it clear that you are not a true believer. If you are called to be a minister, you must take a stand for truth regardless of what it will cost you.

The video below is a clip from Dr. Steve Lawson giving forth clearly the words of life. If you are living in sin and rebellion against God, the answer is not reformation. The answer is not found in trying to be a good person. It is not even in seeking to live a morally upright life.

A Harsh Gospel?

There is a troubling trend found more and more within the ranks of Christendom, particularly within the American version. I already know that there are those on both sides of these issues that will disagree with me, some may even do some vehemently. This post is not really an attempt to change everybody’s mind but written with the prayer that the rhetoric will be toned down and that more will realize that while true biblical doctrine divides, principles and practices should not.

There is a huge difference between the ministry of the Old Testament prophets and the work of the early New Testament Church. First and foremost, there should be a clear understanding that the Old Testament national Israel was not, is not, and never will be the same as the New Testament Church. They are two distinct entities and each of them have a special part in the sovereign purposes of God, but they are not the same.

Second, the Old Testament prophets were with very few exceptions sent to proclaim a specific message of judgment to the tribes of Israel. Those messages of judgment were not given to the New Testament Church. So, whether we are looking at Elijah, or Jonah, or Zephaniah, we must be careful that we look at each prophet in the context of their message and the people to who they were called.


Strangely, when we arrive at the New Testament era, we find a unique message and ministry started by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. While He called out the religious rabble with firm words and righteous anger, His approach to unbelievers brought a message of hope, faith, and love.  The hope was found in following the truth that Jesus Christ is God. The faith was that which the Holy Spirit gave ears to hear and that faith was subsequently placed solely on Jesus Christ for salvation. The love was shown ultimately in the way that Christ died on the Cross because God so loved the world. Yes, the sacrifice was given to appease the wrath of God the Father, but there was still love from Christ towards mankind. Even in one of His final sayings on the Cross, we hear Him saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Zacchaeus found himself in a tree straining to hear Jesus Christ. He was approached by the Messiah with a message of hope that saw the salvation of a hated tax collector.

On several occasions, even the Gentiles came to hear Jesus Christ. Some of them believed the words and placed their faith in the Messiah for their salvation.

While on a walk through the country of the hated Samaritans, Jesus Christ sat beside a well waiting for a woman to approach. In the conversation, there was conviction of sin, hope of being able to worship something that she did not presently have, and ultimately faith was placed in the Savior. This woman then left her pots and went to the city to share the truth that there was a Messiah who could save them.

We could give many more examples, but I use these few to point out a vast difference between the love, gentleness, and compassion found in the New Testament with what I am seeing transpire today.

This post is not written with the intention of trying to stop any ministries from taking place. If you are under the authority of a local church and believe that God has placed a particular burden on your heart, then by all means, fulfill that to the best of your ability. Being part of the local church should help each person to be accountable to the means whereby God has given gifts. Today, there are far too many Lone Rangers who refuse accountability. Their best answer to troubles or questions about their style is normally best answered by simply unfriending the offending individual on Facebook or writing comments in a vitriolic manner all the while spinning strawmen to cover their lack of Biblical principles and Scriptures in defense of what they are doing.

So, what am I referring to? Let me give a few examples.

First, I firmly believe that the Great Commission is the responsibility of every blood-bought child of God to share with others the wonder of who Jesus Christ is and the message of hope that brings no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. However, I do NOT believe that each person is given the same task of how they go about doing that. Some may knock on doors, while others will pass out tracts at every opportunity they are given. Still others will stand on street corners and proclaim the wonders of the Savior.

None of these are wrong in and of themselves, but it is wrong for me or anybody else to declare that EVERY believer must do it JUST like me. There is NOT one example of the entire early New Testament Church all striving to exhibit their gifts in identical fashion on a Tuesday afternoon in the cities of Ephesus, Rome, or in the churches of Asia Minor. Paul makes it clear that we all have gifts differing one from another.

Second, in our messages, we are not the ones who are called to produce the judgment of God upon sinful creatures. We must be mindful that if it were not for the grace of God that we would each still be trapped in our sins. Ultimately, the only judgment that can be handed out will be from God. However, this does NOT mean we are to refrain from pointing out the COMING judgment to a lost and dying world.

Third, we are in error if we forget that the world is going to act exactly what it is – LOST. This means they will be willing to do, to live, to act, and to speak in every way that alienates them further from a holy and righteous God. Lost people do NOT act like believers. Lost people do NOT believe like Christians. Lost people do NOT care about God. Lost people do NOT care about the law of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, we must remember that our message must be one of compassion. I have seen many ministries through my own years of ministry that have stood on corners, pounded on doors, and screamed at places like abortion clinics for the wickedness that is found within. Sadly, all the yelling and lack of love will only make us look like nutjobs from Westboro Baptist Church holding their picket signs. The world mixes us together when our lives and our words do NOT reflect Jesus Christ.


The unregenerate person will NEVER like the message we proclaim, but it should be the message they hate and hear that brings them to conviction through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now with these few thoughts in mind, let me be a little more pointed.

Jesus Christ did NOT stand at the bottom of the tree and scream at Zacchaeus, “You filthy tax collector! You collaborator with those nasty Romans!”

Jesus Christ did NOT sit at the well in Samaria and scream names and nastiness at the woman who came for water and left with living water. He never yelled, “Hey, you adulterer, you two-bit low life!”

Jesus Christ did NOT hang on the Cross and belittle either of the two thieves and murderers who hung on either side of Him with words like, “You two thieves are just the scum of the earth! You deserve to hang there and pay the penalty for your crimes.”

The apostle Paul did not launch a campaign to go and picket Mars Hill. He was invited by divine appointment to stand and share the truth of the gospel. When he was done, some wanted to hear him further, while others left mocking the message. Not once do we find Paul blogging on the Jerusalem net about all the ones who rejected the call to salvation. Paul did not picket the coliseum in any city, and neither are we given any record of anybody else in the early Church doing that. Paul did not offer to take Onesimus back to Colosse and stand on the street corner outside of Philemon’s house railing about the evils of slavery and how Philemon MUST repent or they would never be able to fellowship together.

No, no, and a further resounding NO!

As believers, we are called to share the message of salvation. We are called to love the Lord Jesus with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Further, we are then called to love our neighbor AS OURSELVES. There is no third law to love ourselves. We do a great job of doing that already because of our sinful nature.

However, the message we share must be given with love and compassion. If the best we can do is shout and call names at those who pass us by, we will never accomplish what we have been called to do. We are NOT Lone Rangers, but we are Ambassadors of the Most High. Therefore, we MUST conduct our business for the Master in a way that reflects such love and grace as has been shown to us.

In conclusion, I do not wish for anybody to misunderstand my words today. I am NOT calling on anybody to stop standing outside of abortion clinics. I am NOT calling on street preachers to desist. I am NOT calling on individuals to stop passing out gospel tracts. I am NOT calling on anybody to stop warning about the judgment to come.

What I am calling for is more grace, love, and compassion in the way we minister. You will never be able to witness to the Mormon or the JW or the liar or the adulterer or the woman who had her baby murdered or the drug addict or the drunkard or anybody else when you are not willing to love them for who they are right now. It is not up to us to change them in order for them to become a new believer in Christ. That job belongs to God ALONE.

PS — Remember that we each will give account to God for what we do for Him, not to each other, and certainly not to the faceless comments on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media. We can each fulfill our ministry by being the part of the body He has called us to be, but that does NOT mean we cannot still fellowship with others who are a different part and who have a different role.

1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”


All Christians are Christians?

This may seem like a strange title, but after my comments on an article that I read this week on FoxNews, I think you will see the dilemma I am in.

However, before I continue with my comments on the article, I want to say that there are many who will take umbrage and be offended at what I will say here today. You see, we have become a nation of wishy-washy, whatever-floats-your-boat, don’t-offend-anybody, and don’t-judge-me church goers. Sadly, the transition was so gradual that most people never even noticed the shift.

There was a time that you would walk through an airport and knew exactly who the followers of Sun Myung Moon (also known as Moonies or members of the Unification Church) were and what they were trying to peddle. For those who have not looked recently, they are still around (normally older couples though) but they no longer wear their hair long in a braid. They do not have a shaved head, nor do they wear saffron-colored robes. Today, they are very much a modern organization that is still looking to attract followers to its mantra of global peace, defense of religious organizations, and extravagant marriage ceremonies around the world.


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Was Joseph of Arimathea a Secret Disciple?

I have heard whispers throughout my lifetime as a Christian that hints at the fact that a person can be a Christian yet be a “secret disciple.” The primary example all fingers point to is Joseph of Arimathea, the “secret disciple” which asked for the body of Jesus. Is this true? Does the Bible teach that we can be “secret disciples” of Jesus Christ?

When we read in John 19:39 about Joseph being a disciple but “secretly,” we are not reading a narrative of approval. If we want to know how John felt (underneath the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) about those that “believed” on Jesus but didn’t confess Him openly, we must go to the book of John Chapter 12:42 – 43. It states:

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (Emphasis added).

The chief rulers here included those that are typically known as the Sanhedrin, which Joseph was an “honorable” member of (Mark 15:43). What John reveals here is the symptom and the disease. The symptom is that they did not confess Christ before men. Why? Because the disease is that they loved the praise of men MORE than the praise of God. Interesting. Moreover, if you were to consider what John says about Joseph in light of these verses, it is plausible to deduce that he felt the same way when he exposed why Joseph was a “secret disciple” in the first place. It says in John 19:38 that he was a disciple secretly “for fear of the Jews.” If someone is trying to justify that it is possible to be a “secret disciple” because it says so here, they would also have to consider the exposition of the rest of the verse and ask themselves whether or not this is a badge of honor. That is like saying, “Hey, I am proud to be a secret disciple because I’m scared.” While maintaining the position of being a secret disciple, it is inevitable that you would be biblically declaring your sin. Now, even though I have revealed all this, there are some good things that we can learn from Joseph’s mistake despite him being secretive about his belief in Christ.

Let us first consider that Joseph was known as being honorable and having a good reputation (Luke 23:50). Apparently he was also rich (Matt 27:57) and was held to a prominent position in the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43). It is also worthy to note that his faith in the Old Testament Scripture was genuine as well understanding that he was looking for the Kingdom to be come and be fulfilled (Mark 15:43). Finally, he was also of those among the Sanhedrin that did not consent to the unjust manner of Christ’s trial and death (Luke 23:51). So what we are dealing with here is an individual who was indeed sincere in his dealings, just in his judgments, and desirous to be a disciple of Christ, but he was confronted with what every person who wishes to follow Christ is confronted with – fear of man.

In my book, “Apocity: The Greatest Omission,” I reveal why the sin of not evangelizing (apocity) is caused by fear. Fear is one of the giants that seek to slay us when it comes to our open confession of Christ in any shape or fashion. But can we continually be a fearful “secret disciple” and still be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? I think the Scriptural answer is no! Here’s why. As we already stated, Joseph is not painted in a positive light when it says that he was secretly a disciple. The Scriptures and history teaches us pretty plainly how one is portrayed when they deny Christ in any fashion. Also, when you read how John portrays Joseph asking for the body of Jesus, it is clear that John is making a parallel. In order for Joseph to ask for the body of Christ, he essentially had to do two things:

  1. He had to forsake his worries concerning what the Jews were going to do and boldly ask for the body of Christ. Some Greek expositors say that Joseph literally had to “summon the courage.” Why? Because he knew that doing this was going to cost him his position, his reputation, and his standing among the Jews.
  2. In forsaking his position as chief priest, he willingly defiled himself with a dead body, even though Leviticus 21 teaches that priests are not to do so.

The only dead bodies priests were allowed to make contact with were the bodies of their immediate relatives (see Lev. 21:1-4). This presents a spiritual illustration that is powerful if you have ears to hear. That being said, we clearly see a bolder Joseph. Although I am speculating by saying this, it seems to me that John was somewhat putting his stamp of approval upon Joseph at this point. It is kind of like saying, “this man, who was once a ‘secret’ (insert sarcasm here) disciple, now boldly and unashamedly asked for the body of our Savior, even though he knew it would cost him everything!” Finally, John points out how even Nicodemus, “who first came to Jesus by night” (John 19:39), is now also putting himself at risk by day! This is what we should exemplify! Not secret discipleship! If you are of the persuasion that you can continually follow Christ secretly, here is my final plea.

quoteWhen someone justifies their apocity (in other words, their reluctance to share their faith in any way) by using Joseph of Arimethea as an example, it should sadden us considering the much happier and bolder ending to this man’s story. When we take the negative aspects of a person’s character in Scripture and we use that as an excuse as to why we can continue in sin, whether apocity or any sin, we miss the mark of what Scripture is teaching us. God’s word shows us our flaws so that His grace can abound, and so His goodness can lead us to repentance. Not only that, it serves as a warning to us to be obedient and NOT make the same mistakes (Romans 15:4). Although in the grand scheme of things, a person who is a professing believer will have seasons of shame, if the Holy Spirit truly resides within them, they can’t but speak the things which they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20). So if you are reading this, and you believe you can be a faithful witness of Jesus Christ “secretly” through fear, I beg you to consider the sin which you are justifying. Do not think that just because Scripture exposes Joseph of Arimethea as being secretive that you can continue in the same fashion. There is no shame in being a Christian. The shame we feel only comes when we refuse to openly declare that we are Christians, knowing that Christ openly bought us, bearing our shame that we deserved.

Special note: I foresee some making an clamorous rebuttal to what I have stated above by revealing the work of those in foreign countries whose work in the gospel in very “secretive.” The problem is context. Those who are “secretive” are so in a difference sense than Joseph of Arimathea. To point out the covert work for the sake of the gospel is not the same as being silent for fear of man. Not only that, shame on those that try to use the work of those who are missionaries overseas as a means to justify our fearful silence in America. It does not compare. Let’s remain steadfast in our witness. It’s one thing to use discretion concerning when to speak the gospel, it is quite another thing to succumb to fear. I pray the Holy Spirit will teach you the difference.

What Does John 3:16 Teach?

The following is part of the book I am writing, from a section on the gospel which is a necessary element of a biblical church. th

There are truths in God’s Word that rub our flesh the wrong way; predestination is one of them. I refer the reader to Appendix 5 for a biblical defense of this doctrine. We must embrace the truth of Scripture, even if it goes against what we’ve learned from me. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) God’s Word is sharp and, as wielded by the Holy Spirit, cuts like a scalpel, bringing healing to our broken souls. False teaching is seen as less threatening, like a butter knife. And it works the same way – tearing the flesh as it pierces, bringing destruction rather than healing. Good counsel presents the truth of Scripture; this is biblical love – even though our beloved traditions may have to be abandoned.

Many who disbelieve predestination run to John 3:16, as if this verse disproves it. Let us briefly examine this verse to see what its message truly is. Here’s the verse, from the King James: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That settles it for many, who do not stop to see if the words may have had a different meaning when written 500 years ago than they do today; including Baptist preachers who ought to know better. But contrary to a popular hermeneutic which declares, “when the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense”, the plain sense of Scripture often contradicts the true meaning of Scripture and our common sense often makes no heavenly sense. The genre of the text we are reading will indicate how we are to read it – poetry and apocalyptic books cannot be taken literally, and even historical narratives are full of word pictures that must be interpreted rightly to get God’s view of His Scriptures. The Jews of the first century had common sense and they took certain prophecies in the plain sense. This caused them to look for a king like David – a man of war – and miss the true meaning of their own Scripture.

In regards to John 3:16, let’s examine a couple of key words upon which the meaning of this verse hang. In English, the word “so” can be either an adverb or an adjective. We see it in verse 14: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up (KJV). Here, the word “so” is an adverb, meaning “in like manner” or “in the same way” – describing the nature of something. Many people think the word “so” is an adjective in verse 16 – describing the degree of the thing that follows: God loves the world SO much. The problem with this view is that the Greek word translated as “so” in English (houtos – Strong’s #3779) is rarely used as an adjective. Strong’s Greek and Hebrew dictionary defines it only as an adverb. Houtos shows up more than 200 places in the Greek New Testament. In only four occurrences it is definitely an adjective: Galatians 1:6; 3:3; Hebrews 12:21 (houto); and Revelation 16:18. In more than 97% of the uses the word houtos is an adverb. ( accessed 25 May 2015) Now looking back John’s gospel, let’s read a little more for context:

John 3:14-16 (KJV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Is there a compelling argument that John’s use of houtos changes from the common adverb in verse 14 to the extremely rare adjective in verse16? If its use in verse 16 is as an adjective, the Bible tells us God loved the world to a great degree that He sent Christ to die for the same world He said we are not to love (1 John 2:15). Since Jesus said Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) we must interpret Scripture with Scripture and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), even if the plain sense makes common sense to us. Our common sense is our understanding, not God’s. I don’t have space here to examine “the world” and how it’s used; but since not everybody at all times in every nation, tribe, and tongue has been forgiven, it’s reasonable and in keeping with Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17 that Jesus did not come to save the whole world in the comprehensive sense some assert. As noted in Ephesians 5:25, Jesus gave His life for the church, not everybody in the world. And since “the world” often means a region (Luke 2:1; John 12:19), or the system which lies under Satan’s rule (John 15:19; 17:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12), we have no reason to assume this term means everyone everywhere as regards salvation, as the Lamb of God died for the redeemed, not the damned.

The argument is not whether or not the death of Christ is sufficient to save everyone – His death is more than sufficient for the entire human race. The question is, did Christ die for all men – is the atonement universal? One English Bible translates this phrase, “in tasting death He should stand for us all” – those for whom Christ stands are the redeemed. The word, man, is not in the Greek text, meaning the original phrase would be “should taste death for the whole” – the whole body, the church for whom Christ gave Himself (Ephesians 5:25); Jesus died for every son God brings to glory. God the Father chooses only some to be saved – election is not universal. God the Spirit regenerates only some to bring them to new life, He only seals those who are born again – the Spirit’s work in saving and sealing is not universal. For Christ’s death to be universal, it would mean that some of His blood, some of His trials and suffering under the wrath of God the Father, was for those who are spending eternity under God’s wrath. Any blood or work done by Christ on their account would be wasted! And if the death of Christ was universal, it would put Him at odds with the Father and the Spirit, because their work in salvation is particular, not universal.

Let’s read the passage from John 3 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

This is more in line with the common use of the Greek and keeps consistency within the passage and with the whole teaching of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus.

What Price Revival?

Fathers, the best gift you could receive today would be the overwhelming desire to seek repentance from the thrice-holy Almighty, the One whom we have long forsaken for the pleasures of the world. Paul reminds us that we are to set our affections on things that are heavenly, not on the things of this world. We need revival in America and in England, but at what price will it come?